A Mother’s Mark

I’ve got a good mother.

Her voice is what I hold dear.

In her eyes, I see something near.


It’s said that mothers are home builders. That’s inherently limiting and not nearly reflective enough of a mother’s role and value.

Life can be chaotic — jobs, pain, hopes, kids, grief, everything in between and outside of that.

Amidst this chaos — what we call life — mothers have always been expected to build homes. Minds have opened and roles have changed, but societies from the distant past until now, archaic though some of them may be, have told us this is how it is. It’s nature, so they say. It’s nurture, so she gives.

It’s a fact that mothers are more than this (patriarchal) rigidity.

Mothers are women. Mothers are foundations. Mothers are sensitive. Mothers are strong. Mothers are vital. Mothers are moon and mothers are sun. Mothers are imperfect. Mothers are superheroes. Mothers are human beings.

They don’t just build homes, they build children, families, us. All while building themselves.

A mother’s mark is in this building, and this building is a monument.

A mother’s mark is in the way her offspring treat and view the world.

Mothers are like spring, providing an environment for their children to blossom and unfurl.

We are reflections of our mothers, and we are lucky for this.

We are protected by our mothers, and we are lucky for this.

A mother is a teacher. A guide. A friend. A lawmaker. A judge. An occasional executioner.

A mother’s mark is in the way that we cope. It’s how we understand hope.

A mother’s mark is constant, a force while she’s present, an even bigger one when she’s absent.

The mark of a mother is something I don’t think I’ll ever fully comprehend.

Mothers live. The luckiest of us have them for a long time.

Mothers also die. Yet a mother’s spirit, power, influence, and place in our memories never does.

I’m not sure about God. But I’m sure about grace, humility, compassion, dignity, and love. Why? Because I’ve seen these things in my mother.

If every word I said for the rest of my life was thank you, it still wouldn’t suffice, the debt I owe her would remain unpaid. Such is a mother’s mark.

Whatever good I am, I am because of my mother.

I’ve got a good one.

Her love is what I hold dear.


This piece is dedicated to all mothers, and to my mother, Christa Gampp.


Christa and Paco Gampp.

To Earplug Or Not To Earplug

… That Is The Question.

Dog rocking out, full blast. (Don't do it.)

Dog rocking out, full blast. (Do not try this at home.)

I refer to the age-old quandary that I’m sure many have faced when going to see a concert. Is aural protection a necessity? The question is a tough one to answer. On one hand, no one wants tinnitus that lasts for hours or days. Even worse, no one wants to end up like Foxy Brown. Hearing loss accumulates slowly over time, so often it’s difficult to notice until it’s too late. The sobering truth is that once those little hairs in our ears are gone, they’re gone for good.

On the other hand, the connection to whatever live music is being experienced is immeasurably better with no aural impediments. It just is. I’ve watched quite a few shows with earplugs, even more without. I’m beyond resolute in saying that the shows I felt a deep emotional/spiritual connection with were always the ones where I didn’t wear earplugs.

Having fun at a concert, sans earplugs. What'd you say?

Having fun at a concert, sans earplugs. What’d you say?

Sure, most earplugs provide good functionality, and you can hear pretty much all the sounds that emanate from the source (perhaps there are even sounds that one can hear with earplugs that one couldn’t if bare-eared), but there’s just something that’s lacking. It’s not the volume per se. I think it might be the energy. When you’re free of aural encumbrances, you’re closer to the source, where the connection to the band/singer seems so much more natural. I don’t recall ever having any goosebump moments at shows I wore earplugs to. I know I helped my hearing by wearing them, but I feel as though I missed out on the truest form of the experience.

I also think earplug manufacturers can do better — much better. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to have an earplug that fits comfortably in the ear, doesn’t fall out, and offers protection yet doesn’t take anything (or much at all) from the experience. I don’t think we’re there yet, and that’s sad.

What are you saying bro?

I hear you bro.

I believe another point worth nothing is that listening to music (or all sounds for that matter) is an art in itself, a talent that some have, and many can learn. It’s analogous to someone who has a fantastic palate, 20/10 vision, or acute olfactory abilities. I believe some can listen to loud music and not “ruin” their hearing because they don’t have to dedicate the full power of their ears to the endeavour. Whatever sounds come in, although fully internalized and experienced, don’t tax the ears and those little hairs that allow us to hear.  Who knows, maybe I’m way off with that idea, but I don’t think I am.

In the end, to earplug or not is a personal choice. One has to be aware of the consequences of frequenting concerts without protection. Though the connection to the art is always better for me when my ears are free of encumbrances (there’s a condom joke in here somewhere), there are risks to living on that edge. Ideally, earplugs would offer comfort and stability while taking nothing away from the experience. I’m looking at you Google. Help.