I’m Joe Biden and I approve this message. pic.twitter.com/TuRZXPE5xK— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 20, 2020
I’m Joe Biden and I approve this message. pic.twitter.com/TuRZXPE5xK— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) September 20, 2020
RBG was an amazing woman and Judge. A towering American figure. She will be greatly missed. Her passing reminds us that one human being can make a difference.
I expect there will now be a brutal political battle over her replacement. I hope the Democrats fight tooth and nail to prevent the Toxic Clown Prez's nominee, whoever they happen to be, from being confirmed. It should not happen.
Let's elect a new President, a new Senate and then confirm a new Supreme Court Judge. This is an existential fight. We need to fight for our Democracy. Democrats, stand up and be counted. Get Up, Stand Up, Don't Give Up the Fight.
Great sleep. Disturbing dreams. That's new. They are also so mundane. So real-world. Sometimes I am working at a company I hate. Or I am engaged in conversation with people I don't like. Or I'm taking a test (damn, I'm always taking a test), and missing something important, like the location of where the test is being held, or, hilariously, I can't find a pen, or, well, of course, I don't possess any of the knowledge needed to actually pass the test. A mission of failure.
Still waters run deep. I think I'm doing fine. That all is well with the world, but my mind is a warring, whirling, disturbing thing. Yeah, and then making the coffee this morning, I think, well of course, the message is crystal clear: You Just Can't Pass the Test.
Seems so damn pessimistic. I mean, I think I have decided that that is a "lie in my space." Fuck that. I don't need to live up to anyone else's conception of what my life is supposed to be, or what my life means, or adds up to. Even if these doubts, slings and arrows are coming from my own overheated mind, my own consciousness. My own "judgement." WTF?
I decide to choose a alternate narrative. At least in my waking hours.
The a.m. soundtrack - U2's "All That You Can't Leave Behind." (2000). I play this one this morning as an affirmative act of defiance. I actually play the first track twice. Loud. In the kitchen. Feel the adrenaline rush. "It's a Beautiful Day." ! Exclamation point. This record looms as a major statement. It didn't seem like that when it first came out. But today, 20 years later, it looms as some grand opus of optimism, hope, grace. It acknowledges loss, death, pain, separation, but still the sound, the intensity, the passion in the grooves carries you, lifts you up. Recorded before 9/11, before the Iraq Debacle, before the Torture Regime, before "hatred of the other" became a national pastime, before the Economic Meltdown, before Obama, the Toxic Clown and the Raging Global Pandemic. Like they say, a more "innocent time." Although of course, no one was innocent then either. It's a beautiful day, you got a problem with that? Beautiful, yes, test, or no damn test...
When I am pushed up against the wall by the gruesome daily news and circumstances out of my control, I reach for a lifeline. I turn to Art. A great movie, (for instance, yesterday we watched P.T. Anderson's great magnum opus, "Magnolia"), or a good book (lately I have been reading r&r origin stories - Television, Patti Smith Group, Talking Heads, Ramones). I turn to My Tribe. Who and What constitutes My Tribe? Artists. Creators. Filmmakers, Writers, Musicians, Poets, Painters. Anyone who does the Good Work of creative expression.
This has been my go-to mode most of my life. I mean, since I was a Wee Lad. It started with Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island." I found Freedom and Adventure in the pages, the words, the images conjured up in my head. Later it was the Beatles, Stones, The Who, Bob Dylan that totally captivated me, took me to other places beyond my little room.
I have spent most of my life in that land. It is a land without borders. It is filled with wonderful characters, I mean, Saints, Holy Fools, Prophets: Sam Shepard, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, John Lennon, Dylan, Patti Smith, Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, Paul Bowles, Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Heller, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Jimi Hendrix, etc.
You can time-travel in an instant. Fill yourself up with the Power and the Glory of words, sounds, creative explorations of all kinds...
I recommend it.
It's hot. It seems it's always been hot, and always will be.
It's cold. It seems it's always been cold, and always will be.
It's always changing. Sometimes slowly, sometimes in a flash. We adjust in the moment. Don't even realize we are adjusting. Then one day we wake up and we realize everything is different, everything has changed; the air, the tilt of the sun, the temp, the cells in our bodies, the lines on our faces, the hairs on our heads.
It happens by the hour, by the day, by the month, by the year, by the decade, by a lifetime. Time. We have nothing but time, time is fleeting, time is ephemeral, time doesn't exist, time is everything, time is nothing.
Take your pick.
It's finally good sleeping weather around here. Long, restful sleep. Except for the dreams. Lots of dreams. Strange. Familiar. Disturbing.
Last night, I was at a large building, supposed to take an important test. Can't find a pen, can't find the room, can't find the test, have no place to sit, don't really know what I'm doing, where I am, who I am. Frantic. Unsure.
I finally get my hands on the test. It's in a language I can't read. Hah! So yes, I guess my dream was a message, or a display, a little performance. Reminding me of my life in the day-time world.
A bit like a stranger in a strange land, sometimes hot, sometimes cold, always changing.
Yesterday, I got lost deep down in a rabbit hole. I mean, between a pizza party, watching the last episode of that glorious documentary on the Chicago Bulls dynasty in the 90's, "The Last Dance," (such a superb movie, inspiring, exciting, entertaining, heart-breaking, beautiful, oh so human, tells the story of an amazing group of human beings, changing the world. It's a world I know well, I lived thru it too, and now it's a time and place long gone, before 9/11, before the Iraq War, before the torture regime, before 8 years of Bush/Cheney hell, before financial crisis, before Obama, before the Toxic Clown years, before the raging global pandemic, a way of life that can never retrieved, except in film and memory), and a long, meandering bike ride on the lakefront, I was chasing sound. I am working on a musical project. Lost in the sound-waves, riding the vibes. It's all very spontaneous, intuitive, improvisational. I have no clue if any of these tracks will ever see the light of day, if they will ever find life beyond my own headphones. There is something so exciting about working on a project, something so cool about totally submerging into the flow. It is freeing. You drop your ego and give it up to the moments of sound. I love the process. First the inspiration, the exploration, the experimentation, the total abandonment of "play." Then there is the futzing, the editing, the culling, and trimming and sometimes trashing. You go thru the stages. It's all very satisfying. Finally, you have a few tracks. You think they're pretty good. You wonder if anyone will ever hear them. Maybe. Who knows?
I slept. Had disturbing dreams. I dreamed I was back in business. Selling computer software. A fraud of a company. I felt like a fraud too. There are great chunks my life (decades long ago), where I spent time with people I didn't respect, didn't trust, didn't like. I did a lot of acting & pretending to get along. Years of Fear & Loathing. WTF was I thinking?
I mean, I was young, clueless, didn't really know what life was about, and how I was gonna navigate thru it all.
Not a very healthy or rewarding way to live, or to make a living. Living lies in cahoots with other folks lying too. I think much of our economy, most of the jobs available, are all about living with lies. The successful folks are ones who have perfected living with the lies. I found there were always much better liars than I. So even in that I felt a bit like a fraud and a failure. I couldn't really carry on the charade all that well. I think I lived with the fear of exposure. And the fear of realizing that I was truly wasting away.
I don't do kind of thing anymore. It's a soul-killer. The things I do are things I truly like to do. I keep it simple. Don't make lots of $, but I feel like I earn my money honestly. I think there is nothing wrong with working hard, doing a good job.
I like living simply, humbly, honestly. I don't lie to myself or others. It's cleaner, clearer and just all-around healthier.
Anyway, in my dream I was back in the fraud biz. And I couldn't hide it anymore. I was heading for a confrontation. A "come to Jesus" moment. The dream was about a reckoning. I didn't get to the end. Don't know how it all turned out. I have a weird a.m. hangover this morning. Glad to be alive, awake, aware. Living with clarity...
We all do it. I remember living thru the 1980's (just picking one decade out of many possible candidates). Now long gone. I mean, totally, that world does not exist. You can name Presidents, you can list events, but you can't really conjure up the days, the smells, the air, the vibes, the moments, the tiny tick-tocks in which you lived. The years are like passing rivers. They rush over you, you can't cling, you try to swim or float along, you are carried, sometimes you sink.
You look up and there's another decade, a random collection of years, gone.
Today we wake into The Raging, Global Pandemic 2020 (Year One). A strange time in which to find yourself. Lots of things you used to do, you don't do. You spend lots more time thinking about bacteria, and the danger of other people breathing on you.
Spending long days at home or riding a bike. Writing songs, playing music. Streaming movies.
Life just ticks along. Everything is different today. And tomorrow will be different too.
We can open our minds, fire up our imaginations, put ourselves in other times and places, times and places in which we lived, we were there, but we are not there now. In fact, there is no "there, there" now. Oh yeah, there are some foggy memories. Events. Photos, movies, literature reflecting those times, but of course those are just glimpses. Not the real thing. The real thing evaporated moment by moment, then, and now.
The a.m soundtrack - A dark, rainy morning in the Heartland. Listening to Natalia Lafourcade's "Hasta la Raiz." (2015). A blast of sunshine. Gorgeous vocals, great band. In Spanish. I don't understand a word. The cover of the CD conjures up the past. The music mashes up sounds from the past, present, and future. The future is in the grooves. Great record.
Hope. Yes. Can't be afraid to Hope. I mean, you have to nudge Hope out there to conquer the Fear. You have to let it float. They will shoot at you, try to knock you down, try to steal that Hope and turn it to Fear. But you must hold on tightly. Keep it close. And at the same time let it loose, let it fly. Let it see the light of day and soar into the clouds.
Is there really anyone on planet earth who doesn't believe this story is true?
Trump: Americans Who Died in the War Are are 'Losers and 'Suckers. Read it and weep.
Come on. Are you sentient and alive? Of course this man disparaged our fallen soldiers. Haven't you been paying attention? This creep, this toxic swamp of a human being, disrespects everyone that isn't him. Of course he would refuse to visit the graves of fallen soldiers if was going to get his hair mussed. Of course he would call the fallen ones, "losers."
If you know anything, you know this man goes out of his way to knock down bronze star soldiers, fallen heroes, anyone who normally, and rightly demands respect. Come on. I mean, even the folks who like this guy, know that this is how this guy acts.
No doubt. No kidding. Of course. It's a total shame and disgrace, but really, come on, that is how this human paraquat rolls...
One day, the highlight is a conversation of art, life and what's it all about (see previous post). The next day, the highlight is almost swallowing a hornet. Yikes.
Almost. I mean, we're sitting on a bench, sipping ginger beer, reflecting on a beautiful summer day. A "sit-down" in the middle of one of our rambling bike rides on the lakefront.
The cicadas are buzzing. The trees are swaying in the breeze. And yes, there are a few bugs buzzing around our heads. We have been forewarned.
I take a cold, refreshing sip of ginger beer, and I can feel something on my tongue, something foreign, something alive. Yikes. I have an immediate, instant, reaction. I spit out the mouthful of liquid onto the ground below. At my feet, there's a little, soggy hornet, soaked in ginger beer. One wonders if he feels like he hit the jackpot of sweetness and sugar, or does he too, realize he almost got swallowed into the gaping maw of death?
He staggers away into the grass. My friend conjures a dire picture with words: "You could have swallowed that hornet. He could have stung you. You know a hornet like that can sting multiple times. He could have stung your tongue, your throat, stinging you all the way down. Who knows, maybe you have a bad reaction, your tongue blows up, your throat swells, you can't swallow, you can't breathe, you turn blue, I have to call 911, the ambulance comes to get you... I mean, oh... my... goodness..."
I reflect on the scene of mayhem. Scenes of my life pass before me. Life. It's a funny thing. I realize I've dodged a bullet, instantly, luckily, escaped an existential threat. Shite. Just sitting on a bench, sipping a ginger beer, so innocent, so unaware. Danger lurks, even in a simple sip, the stinger is just a sip away. Everything hinges on one word. Almost. Yep. Almost did. But didn't...
Yesterday afternoon I was interviewed for an art project I am working on. Funny. I can really talk. I mean, once I get going, who knows where my mind will go? I was rambling on about the "singing Universe," about how everything in the Universe is musical; alive and vibrating. How Planet Earth sings at a certain frequency. How rocks & trees, and dirt, and stars and beings are all alive, made of the same stuff, both waves and particles, how every is connected. I was a on a roll. I talked about the fundamental mystery of the Universe, how we are on a journey of discovery. How meditation and contemplation has helped me focus and tune into this glorious reality.
I sometimes forget all these ideas are trapped inside me. I talked about creativity, spontaneous creation, pure sound, dropping the ego and synching with a greater force. I talked spirituality, creative visualization, psychedelics, playing guitar, exploring new instruments, open tunings, fooling myself into an undifferentiated, unconscious flow. Yes, I talked flow activities. Getting lost in the moment. Being alive, aware, awake to everything.
I talked about r&r, jazz, classical, r&b. I talked Kerouac & Zen. I talked basketball, Michael Jordan and the Bulls, Lebron James, social activism, and Black Lives Matter. I talked about the deep divide in America. Those with eyes and heads open and those deaf, dumb and blind. I talked about growing up in Catholic grade school. Rebelling against the Nuns. My insight that yes, indeed, I was going to hell. No doubt.
I recounted my adventures in Jamaica, in Edinburgh, Scotland. A trip to France. My hitchhiking adventures across USA.
We connected, my interviewer and I. We agreed we were both committed to the Progressive agenda of Justice, Equality, Love & Empathy, Art. We talked Art. How it's important to do the work. The work is more important than the latest trend. That sometimes you tune out the noise, and connect to a deeper sound. We agreed the new "mindfulness" was a movement worth exploring.
Yes, well, the words just spilled out of me. Not sure what it all added up to. I can talk. My mind is a roiling landscape with lots of threads, detours, and rabbit holes. Afterwards I was tired, empty. I wondered what the hell was that? Did I say what should be said? Who knows? The words, they just rolled out...
Could it all get lots more nasty and stupid?
Yes. Indeed. Expect it.
The Toxic Clown Prez will not go down easily. Expect the worst. The absolute worst. It's not hard, he is a bottom-feeder, a toxic-troller of great range and distinction. As his sister said on a secret recording: "He has no principles." He doesn't care if the country burns. In fact, he'd love to make it happen.
What to do? Be cool. Take it easy. Tune out the noise. Keep your head. Keep calm. Wear your mask. Avoid those MAGA-hat wearing hordes. They are Ignoramuses. The Barbarians at the Gate. How stupid can stupid be? Very, very stupid.
The antidote: Meditation. Silent contemplation. A good book. A great record. Play. Have fun. Take care. Sleep well, eat well. Go for a long walk. Smell the roses.
Stay positive. Vote Blue. Vote early. Main thing, vote: Biden/Harris 2020. Blue Wave America...
Melania's Rose Garden. If we are going to kill the American Dream, it will be with bling, corruption, lies and Authoritarianism...
One of the things required of an "intelligent" human being (is that an oxymoron?) - the ability to embrace contradiction. To hold opposing ideas in your head.
For instance: America is a great country. A melting pot. A democracy. A fabulous experiment in melding peoples and cultures. A multi-cultural extravaganza. Born in Revolution. Land of the Free. Home of the Brave. Walk the streets of New York, Chicago, L.A. amazing. Think of the American characters that have inhabited the place, characters born and bred here (just a few names off the top of my head that inspire me): Mark Twain, Herman Melville, Patti Smith, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, Lucinda Williams, Crazy Horse, MLK Jr. Barack Obama, JFK, Malcolm X, Spike Lee, Oprah Winfrey, Andy Warhol, Black Elk, Sam Shepard, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Tweedy, Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, James Baldwin, Jack Kerouac, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, David Foster Wallace, Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, Ceasar Chavez, Otis Redding, RFK, Mahalia Jackson, Muddy Waters, FDR, Dorothy Day, Gloria Steinem, Howling Wolf, Sitting Bull, Thomas Merton, RZA, GZA, Wu-Tang Clan, D'Angelo, QuestLove, David Letterman, Georgia O'Keefe, Jerry Seinfeld, Joe Biden, Aretha Franklin, Robert Johnson, Townes Van Zandt, Tom Petty, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, John Belushi, Wes Anderson, Bill Murray, Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bill Gates, etc.
On the other hand: No doubt, the country has deep, entrenched problems. It was birthed in revolution. And forged in Genocide. We totally wiped out the American Indians. We built our economy on Slavery. Human abomination. We built a society based on White Supremacy, and it is reflected in all of our institutions. It all may seem like ancient history, but it's not. You can see the results and the scars, and the pain & suffering in the streets today. We have a lot of work to do to get to that better ideal of a land of Truth, Justice, & Equality for all. We aren't there yet.
So yes, the contradiction. Wonderful ideal of a country with a bloody, sordid, unjust, unequal history. The goal: a more perfect union.I was texting with a friend. He tells me he doesn't post about wearing masks, racism, Trump, BLM on social media. He thinks it destroys friendships. I pointed out "some friendships aren't worth the time." I prefer to weed out the racists. You know, life is short, no time for assholes. Also lately, I think "Silence = Complicity." Also, lately, getting my advice from PUSSY RIOT!
Things I've learned since my first cup of coffee this a.m. listening to the radio...
1. Racist people really, really don't like being told they are racist. It really, really pisses them off. They won't accept the idea of racism. They will do anything they can to deny, deflect & defend themselves. They will happily vote for a racist to prove they aren't racist, by pretending that the racist they are voting for isn't racist. They will happily support a racist America, because well, their racism is just fine and dandy, and actually doesn't even exist and even though America was founded on Slavery and Genocide, and the Constitution was written to exclude lots of human beings, that history is just fake news, right?! I mean, in their minds, racism isn't a thing. Even though institutional racism is deeply entrenched in all aspects of our society and has been since the founding of the country and every day, even up to today, racial justice and equality is not a given, it's a struggle, a vision, a way forward, the progressive ideal, but no, for them, anyone talking about Black Lives Matter is just a lying liberal who wants to take something from them. I mean, can't we just leave all those poor, god-fearing, racist people alone?!
2. The planet is on fire. We human beings have really fucked up the interconnected fabric of life, the ecosystem that allows our species, and all the other pretty creatures that live here, to live here. We humans will try to adapt: we will flee, move to higher ground, turn on the A/C, etc. But we are having a real hard time dealing with this issue. For instance we are still clinging to fossil fuels. We continue to burn, burn, burn thru our resources and damn the torpedos. Seems lots of fire, storms, flooding, & fleeing is in our future. Will be burn our pretty little blue planet to a crisp? Hmmm...
3. White Christian Evangelicals really do have their heads firmly up their asses. Seems their Jesus is a White Supremacist, he is also anti-Gay, anti-Abortion, and Pro-Trump. Holy Shite. I'd like to reclaim Jesus for the Peace-Loving Hippies. Jesus was a bit of a left-wing radical, he was most-certainly a "person of color," his parents were refugees, his mom was an unwed mother, impregnated by an Angel. Jesus was always on the margins of society, hanging with street people & prostitutes. He was a champion of the "little people." He was always preaching Love, and Forgiveness, and non-violent protest. He also raved against the money-changers, and he railed against rich people and powerful church-types. He lived in a commune (primarily with other men), turned water into wine, multiplied fishes and loaves (talk about "socialism" and a free lunch!!), walked on water and partied with the best of them. I mean, hell, whatever happened to Peace, Love & Understanding?
Yes. Still thinking about Joe Biden. I think he will make a great President. Why? He's a common man. Decent. Empathetic. Genuine. When he said his campaign was about "Love, Light & Hope." I truly believed him.
USA 2020. We all chase the bling. 24/7. We crave attention. We want to be rich and famous. We all want our 15 mins. (Warhol knew). So many of us are loud, proud, opinionated, always chattering away, always consuming, always "be closing."
The loudest and the proudest are those who "know" the least. There is the constant, needing, wanting, grasping. We are insatiable. Gobbling up resources. Gobbling up the air. Gobbling up each other.
Maybe it's time for a little common decency? You know, maybe a little more humility, grace, silence, contemplation? A movement of Care. Caring for each other. Caring for the planet. Caring for all that lives. Hint: everything lives... everything is holy.
This is so "counter-cultural." Maybe it really is time to "live with less." Instead of acquiring things, we lose them? Let's get back to basics.
Simple, common, decency? That would be a start. Yes, let's say this is the new movement, the dawning of a new era.
Words. Powerful or paltry?
I believe in the power of words. It's probably why I start every morning writing in this blog. It helps me clear my head, find out what's on my mind. Try to make some sense out of the crazy reality that surrounds me, or to try to find some light and clarity in the darkness.
Writing words down. Can it change the world? Who knows? I tend to like to think so. I do think being a writer, or thinking of myself as a writer has been a defining thing for me. Even if the words I write down can't change the world, it may change me, and well, that's a start.
Taking the time to contemplate. Running thru the crazy thoughts in my head. Trying to "make sense."
Thinking/hoping a well-placed word can enlighten, can lead to understanding. Or at least maybe a cogently posed question can lead to further exploration?
Yes. I do think we live in a world of "magic." Words have power (see previous post). The right word, whispered in the right ear, at the right time, can move mountains. We know words can enlighten and confuse. Words can open and close doors. You can conjure up incredibly beautiful worlds, and create incredibly dark dystopias with words.
Words. Double-edge sword. Use with careful discretion, Grasshopper.
It's the same with "creative visualization." Conjuring pictures in your head. Very powerful. You can create images of incomparable beauty, and of complete darkness and ugliness. These images only reside in your head, but they are little bubbles of energy. They can change your being, from the inside out.
Funny. Some of our most powerful tools and weapons are just on the tip of our tongue, on the page, conjured up in our minds...
Joe Biden gives the speech of his life, and the speech really does seem to be the perfect expression and response to the moment in which we find ourselves. I watched and listened, and was totally blown away. I wondered to myself, "Is this the best political speech I've ever heard?" Maybe. I mean, it ranks up there with pretty much any speech I have heard or read or remember. Maybe it seems like the greatest, because it is so "of the moment." And this moment seems so dire, so important, so defining. "Fighting for the Soul of America," indeed.
Makes me wonder about the power of words. The Poets and Magicians of old believed that words themselves had power. Power to conjure, power to animate, power to influence, power to change events, power to cloud men's minds, power to clarify, power to envision an outcome, and power to make an imagined outcome a reality.
Probably the greatest speech of all time starts with the words... "I have a dream..." You know, MLK, conjuring a vision. A vision that has slowly, oh so slowly been rolling out over the last few decades. The words are powerful. The vision is clear. People were inspired, animated, willing to march, to protest, to vote, to legislate, to live and dream, to back up those words with actions.
But you know, everything takes time. And it feels like we are running out of time. Today, time seems to be slipping away. Our American Dream seems to be morphing into a Toxic Nightmare. We really, really need to change course. Yes. So, one simple action: Vote Blue, Vote Biden/Harris 2020.
Who knows, maybe it will be the first step in a new era? One can dream...
Black & White.
Maybe it really is that simple. A country birthed and built on the blood, sweat, tears and the untimely deaths wreaked by Slavery & Genocide. Yes. USA. That is our heritage.
It seems like ancient history, but it's not. You can see the scars, the pain, the aftermath, the result in the streets across the land and in the faces and hearts of the people from all walks of life.
Some of us hope and strive for a "better union," a new day, a more equal America. Surprisingly, some of us just don't.
I truly believe many of those in the GOP are the "basket of deplorables." They are the folks who just don't care. They don't like Black people. They don't like immigrants. They don't like Liberals. They don't want to care. They have no heart or empathy. And they just don't want to feel guilty about it either. They are also enemies of Democracy. They don't want folks to vote, because they are out-numbered.
And their not-caring, their blind hatred has led to deep bat-shit craziness. They are truly lost. They are unreachable. They are terrible people. They really, truly are. Haters. Racists. Folks who just refuse to care about themselves or others.
I mean, I suppose it's our duty to say, "Hey, if you'd drop the hate, you'd be welcome too." But it seems this is a deep unbridgeable divide. LBJ famously said that when he signed the Civil Rights Act of 1965 that the Democrats would lose the South for generation. Maybe longer than that. It's true. That was when the GOP became the home of racists and they are welcome there today.
We are still living in this deep divide. Last night Barack Obama gave a speech. It truly says everything that needs to be said. Do yourself a favor and watch it. Wake Up America. I mean WTF. Vote Biden/Harris 2020. We must reclaim our hearts and souls and a better American Dream.
We watch the little ducklings follow their mother swimming around in the pond. She never lets them stray too far. They do what she does. They duck their heads in the water, after she ducks her head in the water. They eat the kelp, when she eats the kelp. They go to shore, when she goes to shore.
The kids at the tennis court follow the tennis pro around on the court. He shows them where to stand on the court. He explains what the lines on the court are called. He shows them a backhand, they do a backhand. He shows them a forehand, they do a forehand. He shows them how to volley they volley. If they "mess up," He tells them, "Don't worry, stay positive."
We ride our bikes on the path. The mom, wearing a mask is pushing a stroller, in the stroller the child is wearing a mask.
Modeling. Right?! That's how we learn. "Monkey see, Monkey do."
If you hang around with cool, classy, intelligent, creative, dynamic people, well, some of that might just rub off on you.
If you hang around with assholes... well, you know, I mean, you get my drift, right?!
I remember reading a Herman Melville book about life on a merchant ship. Choose your job, choose your friends wisely, Grasshopper. If you work in the hold, expect darkness, hard labor, sweating, straining, a confined, cramped existence. If you work in the crow's nest, (job for clear-seers, enlightened, aware, awake), it's light and sunshine, and stormy weather, and sometimes a scary ride, but a much more expansive view, lots of time to yourself.
Yeah. I consider myself "crow's nest" material. Head in the clouds, sun glimmering in my eye, sensitive to stormy weather, tossed and rocked, easily.
It's important who you hang with, what you choose to do with your time. It really does define you and your life and opens or closes opportunities accordingly.
Strange days, indeed. That would be an accurate description of our present circumstances. It feels like the planet is off-kilter, spinning madly, frantic, wobbly, or as the Temptations once sang in another contentious era: "Ball of Confusion."
Except now, more people, more madness, more confusion, more ignorance, more churn and burn, more hurly-burly. I mean, how much hurly-burly can human beings take on?
Uncertain times. Uncertain days. The Great Cloud of Unknowing descending across the planet. It has never felt quite like this before, I mean, I am speaking personally, now. Other times in my life there seemed to be an illusion of normalcy, of certainty, although, I think I always knew that was a false sense of security.
My father used to say: "No one ever promised you a rose garden." Roger that. Whatever promises were made, or implied, never really materialized. Life is just an improvisation. Long-form. One step at a time.
Where is it all going? No one really knows. We just carry on. Do the best we can. Pray the pieces don't fall on us. I come up with the same cliches, the cliches that guide my life: Lean to the Light. Stay Humble. Find some Grace and Joy in the doing and the being.
Create. Oh yeah, I am big on the Creative Process. I live for Art. I believe that Art can change a life. How does it do it? Just by the doing. So yes, I think of myself as an Artist, doing his Art. The hurly-burly is just mulch for the process.
Time. It is fluid, fungible. Relative.
"The days run away like wild horses..." (hat tip: Charles Bukowski).
One day sort of schmears into another day. Woke up not knowing the name of the day. Just another one in a long line of days. Lately, thinking back to early days, some of my earliest days are my most vivid days. Alternatively, some decades just seem like a mist, a fog, a great cloud of unknowing. I mean, I know I lived thru some decades, but can't really grasp them. My memories don't really reside there.
Memories connect me to people, times and places that no longer exist. Times and places long ago, in a galaxy far away. So weird.
What is alive in me today? I guess we shall see...
I woke up early. Ok. It was more than early. It was still pitch-dark out there. I woke with a thought about "rituals." Thinking we need rituals.
I thought of my early church days, as a child, in catholic school. There was that amazing ritual of the communion host and the golden cup of wine. Somehow it was transformed before our eyes by the priest into the body and the blood.
I didn't totally buy it, but I did marvel at the theatrics. Add in that stinky incense the priest would spread around the place, and all your senses were captivated.
Now it's much more, simple, basic, maybe mundane, but still powerful rituals.
I have read many, many books over the years. Uncountable. Lots of wisdom in those books. I have probably forgotten more than I remember, but maybe, everything counts, maybe every sentence, every word really was recorded somewhere in my consciousness? I mean, once in awhile that wisdom comes crashing back in.
We can't really "fix" the world, unless we "fix" ourselves first. Tend to your own garden, mister. This is not a selfish thing, it's practical, pragmatic way forward. You work on yourself; you cultivate a better you. And then you try to lead by example.
So act like the better person you'd like to be. I mean, if you have to, "fake it to make it." Yes. Gentleness, kindness, compassion, love, empathy.
Be that kind of garden.
More tips for better living (you realize, I am primarily talking to myself):
Always best to be onto the next thing.
Keep yourself occupied with projects.
Lose yourself in the doing.
Dream of Better Days.
Do things you don't normally do.
There really is no normal.
You might find that you can do things you never knew you could do.
Better than you thought possible too.
Tune out the noise machine.
Tune out the nay-sayers.
They don't know shit.
How to "fix" the world?
Encourage & Cultivate Better Human Beings...
Empathy, Compassion, Love, Intelligence, Justice, Equality, Diversity, Inclusiveness, Creativity, Heart, Spirit, Mind, Soul, Grace, Humility, Gentleness, Silence, Meditation, Contemplation, Mindfulness...
That would be a start...
If you've been following along over the years, this will be no surprise. I am wildly, totally, enthusiastically, supporting Joe Biden for President, and Kamala Harris for Vice President. I think it is a fabulous, exciting and inspiring ticket. Two really great people. Full of intelligence, great ideas, experience, empathy and compassion. All qualities sorely lacking for a long time now.
It is time to remake, renew, rebuild, re-imagine a better day, a better America, a new American Dream. Let's end the nightmare years on November 3rd 2020. Vote Blue 2020...
Let's say for the sake of argument, you get some really good news. I mean, like uncommonly, unbelievably good news. I mean, like news that fundamentally impacts & changes your life. Seemingly for the better.
I mean, so, what do you do? Do you throw your fist into the air and shout" Yes!" Do you do a little dance in the living room? Do you decide to have a pizza party? Do you celebrate? Do you tell yourself, you knew it was gonna happen all along, and really, well, WTF, you deserve some good news. Right?
Do you doubt the news? Are you suspicious? Do you tell yourself, "It can't be true." Do you search the small print? Do you figure there is a catch, or that someone is conning you? Do you suspect that you are a fool for even falling for the hint of good news? Do you surmise that really, this good news, must be bad news in disguise?
I mean, do you live in world where "good news" is even possible? Or is it all just illusion/delusion? It's one of those existential questions, right? Is there Good? Is there GOD? What if you could (as RZA suggests in his book, see previous posts), "harmonize with God?" Or you know, "run the gold?" What if you could be in tune with the Goodness of Life? What if you could imagine things sometimes working out for the best?
Ok. Well, as they say, maybe it's best to not "look a gift horse in the mouth." Maybe you accept the gifts that come your way, no questions? Maybe you decide to enjoy the good news until further notice. Yes, why not? I mean we are talking hypothetically here...
So, yes. The two of us, long-time collaborators, we sheltered in the late summer afternoon under a magnificent canopy of trees. They are my new best friends (see previous post). I mean these trees have been around for a long time, I finally checked in with them. I have been observing & communing with them. They are breath-taking, and breath-providing, beings. They provide much-appreciated shade, and, well, of course, much needed oxygen. And they absorb carbon-dioxide, which we humans have been spewing into the atmosphere for much too long. We really shouldn't take trees for granted. We should thank them, honor them, and bow down to them in humility. As my friend always reminds me: "The trees don't need us, but we need the trees."
Our new "pandemic ritual" has been to imbibe a freshly-brewed, on-tap, kombucha from our local micro-brewery. So zingy, zesty and invigorating. Takes a bit of the edge off too. There we were, under the trees, sipping our special brew, working on a new song. Actually, my new thing, we weren't "working" we were just playing. The songs "come when the come." They truly are gifts. And we were being gentle with the new chords, the new lyrics, letting them flow together. Just trying out different sequences, different accents and cadences. It's a gentle alchemy.
I was playing a borrowed guitar, an old Martin, made in 1972. A pretty amazing instrument. Old Spruce with a Mahogany neck. Martin is the American-made, acoustic guitar of choice. You have heard all the great players, play a Martin. The older, the guitar, the better. Their guitars mellow and deepen as the years roll out. The wood opens up with age. This one was a vintage, D-18. One of the finest in their line of fine guitars. Strum a chord and it rings out forever. It was an honor just to hold it in my hands.
So we played, and played, under the shade of the trees. Something so pure about an acoustic guitar, and a voice. Playing for the trees. Brand-new lyrics. An old Spruce guitar giving voice to the chords, sending out vibrations into the air, floating on the breeze. Will this song ever be played for an audience, will it ever be recorded? Who knows? There was just the purity and beauty of the moment. Can't hold onto it. Let it ride. A little dance of creativity in the late afternoon. Pandemic Summer 2020.
Okay. This doesn't occur every morning, but it does occur many mornings. I wake up with no clue where I am, and I find these burning questions on the tip of my tongue:
Where am I?
Who am I?
Why am I here?
What am I made of?
Of course, there is never a satisfying answer to any of these questions. I just stumble through my days in a great cloud of unknowing. I do the best I can. This morning I wake up in a neighborhood of wealth and luxury. It's definitely foreign territory. I don't really belong here. I am surrounded by enormous mansions, some of these gargantuan homes are over 100 years old. Big, looming, houses, near one of the largest, of the quite large, Great Lakes. I have no clue how anyone can afford to live in such a neighborhood. Unimaginable wealth.
I am surviving on a "wing and a prayer," I am a marginal character, on the fringes, relying on the "kindness of strangers." It is so odd to be here, knowing that I don't really belong here. It's all just smoke and mirrors, luck and pluck. I can't even trace the chain of events that brought me here. It's a long, crooked path; one with scenes of failure, adventure, misadventure, bad & good luck. I mean, it's all quite strange. Not totally disagreeable. I mean, in some ways it is totally, thoroughly, amazing.
I am in some luxurious paradise. Like I said, I don't belong here. A "Stranger in a Strange Land." A bit like Dorothy or no, maybe more like Toto in Oz. Funny. The last few days it has all been about the light. I really noticed the light of the days. And the trees. I am surrounded by these magnificent trees. I mean, the trees are even more amazing, enthralling, inspiring and profound than the homes. I do feel a connection to the trees. Once I noticed them, it's all I can do now: observe the trees. I am drawn to the trees. I study them, commune with them, meditate under them. They almost seem holy. I think really they "own" the neighborhood. I mean, they are the "real" inhabitants. We are just guests. All of us Human Beings. Maybe all the people are actually squatters, invaders? I'm not sure, but definitely I feel like a squatter, an invader, a being, out of place...
It's a matter of light... the tilt of the sun, the shadows stretching across the grass, the glow in the crashing waves, millions of tiny grains of sand sparkling. You can feel summer ticking by, a slow, gradual fade the daylight, getting slightly, oh, so slightly shorter. There is a glow in our faces and hands, a spark of light in our eyes, we know this isn't forever, the night descends, a blackness with a hint of light, luminous-luxury, the fading moments of another lost summer.