HOLD ON TO THE EXCELLENT

My brother-in-law said something to me a while back was very profound. He does that a lot, as he is a deep thinker. He told me to make sure I didn’t hold on to the good at the cost of the excellent. That may not be a direct quote, but that was the meaning. I gave it a quick thought and readily concurred with him. That was as far as it went.

Isn’t it sad that so many of us put the good advice that we freely receive to such little use? My brother-in-law mentioned that he had noticed I had begun to miss the odd day with this column. After starting it last May, I have found that some days the material for a good column just isn’t there, or perhaps I just can’t pin it down. Those days when a thought does not readily present itself, I have to peruse the latest happenings until I come up with a topic for the day. It takes up some valuable time, but it is something that I truly enjoy doing.

My children are great. They respect my time while I write, and understand that I do not wish to be disturbed. If I get interrupted mid-column, I pretty much have to restart writing the entire thing over, as my train of thought is missing most of its cars and is usually on the wrong track.

I noticed this weekend that they looked bored, my children that is, so I figured that I had better get into gear and spend a little more time with them, thus the missing column Saturday and this very late one which may have to pass off as an early Monday column.

I got the little one’s dressed up, slacks and dress shirts, and got out the video camera today. They love doing Little Rascals skits with the neighbourhood kids so I thought that they would enjoy my idea. We grabbed one of our favourite tracks, Come Unto Me, by an artist we know who records under the name of D.J. Bradbury and we set out to utterly destroy it.

In the authentic style of Milli Vanilla, I became a lead singer in a matter of minutes. My 12 year old son became the fiddler; a natural choice since he has taken violin lessons for the last 2 and a half years. My 10 year old was the harmonica player, and my 7 year old became proficient on the guitar in a matter of moments.

There we were, listening to the track come out over the speakers, playing our parts in unison. My children wondered how on earth we could ever convince anyone to listen to the clamor that we were making. If you knew me, you would know that I love to sing. That in no way makes me a good singer, simply a happy one. Well, I sang my heart out, keeping perfect time with the cd, if I may say so. My son’s played their instruments off key, out of chord, and with no resemblance to the actual song, but they were in for a huge treat.

It was fun watching the light bulbs get brighter in each of them as one question after the other surfaced. “How come we are recording that part again? Why don’t we do the whole song at once? Why do you keep moving the camera?” We even had an equivalent to the famous “Are we there yet?” It sounded something like “Do we have to sing that part again?”

My children have made their own movies, but they do it chronologically. I gave them a taste today of how different angles of the same thing were important, and they loved watching the project evolve with the different angles and shots. They ate it up. One by one they saw the answers to their questions materialize, and it is great watching the point of recognition arrive in their eyes.

Throughout the day, after I worked out all of the bugs on my PC, I fired up one of the coolest programs that I have, that being a video encoder and mixer. You can lay tracks down, and edit the video, audio, and throw in some effects. I know little about the process and understand even less than that. That, however, did not dissuade me from digging in and getting through yet another afternoon of self tutorial.

It was worth it. It is now after 11:00 pm, and I have just finished burning the finished DVD of our little session. Watching my children light up throughout the day as we (I) finally managed to figure out the next step in our project was a nice reward. Whether it was figuring out how to blend the next track into the previous one or how to chop out some unwanted video footage, it was a satisfying feeling to be able to do it together as a family.

The best moment in the day? My 10 year old looked up at me and said, “Dad, I’m glad that God made you my father.” Now we have a DVD production that is top notch; not professional but excellent. We did something together today, and we grew closer together in the process. Our bonds were made stronger.

I may be late with my column today, but the excellent took precedence.