Final 2 Book Events in Central Indiana.

Final 2 Book Events in Central Indiana.

Join us in downtown Indy on Monday, 1/26 at 7:00 PM at the Center for inquiry Center on the Canal.  I will cover the full book and take questions about it’s inception, development and realization.

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On Wednesday, January 28, 2015, at 6:00 PM, we will gather at the Runcible Spoon in Bloomington for the final signing in central Indiana!  Please stop by and say hello!

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Permanence

I have a disciplined approach to writing, and am prone to stick to my blogging schedule: a commitment I have made to myself and my readers.  I develop the blog during the week, map it out on Friday and Saturday, and post it Sunday evening.  But today, I feel compelled to interlude.

I’ve been reflecting on permanence in our culture, or at least the concept of permanence.  I have come to the conclusion that I agree with Francis J. Underwood, that much more than permanence, I seek harmony.  That moment when all is right within the circle I recognize as my life.  A brief moment of perfection imprinted upon my mind that reminds me of the true essence of who I am.  In harmony with myself, my intimate partners, my beautiful sons, my tribe of dreamers and the Spirit that continues to evolve within me.

In many ways my life is a microcosm of this belief.  Moments of sheer joy extruded through music, art, dance and the written word cleanses me, and reflects the greater beauty inherent in the universe.  Neither monuments, power, money nor beauty instills this within me, or  the human consciousness at-large.

We have a monumental debate about the nature of poverty, wealth and power ransacking our national consciousness.  We live in the most affluent culture the world has ever seen, and we debate whether poverty-riddled people should make a livable wage.  Blue-collar, minimum-wage jobs are the gateways to the middle class, and our economic system is built upon maintaining a powerful middle-class.  Providing resources will assist people in leveraging their time toward gaining a better education, more opportunities for their children and a wealth of services industrious people should be able to access.  How much is enough…on both sides of this issue?  It is the essence of permanence within the universe.

On a much more important level, this would go a long way toward instilling a deeper sense of dignity and honor within our color-blind system of generational poverty.  It is my experience that people who deride this have no friends who subsist on a minimum wage income.  If you are against this, go talk to your friends and loved ones who are working to make it on $8.00 or $9.00 an hour.  If you look around, and you do not have any friends who struggle like this, you need to get out of your bubble, lay what you have been given aside (for we have ALL been given much), and make some friends in this sector.

The greatest monuments to our success is not something built of steel and stone;  it is not an enviable investment portfolio, nor a professional career that provides the resources for our dreams.  There is nothing wrong with working for financial gain, but when it comes at the detriment of an entire sector of our civilization, then it is not industry, but greed that is our god.

When we see people, not platforms;  families, not statistics, the compassionate-humanity of this reform is compelling.  It is possible for us to live in harmony.  We contribute our voice, and that voice finds others with which to harmonize.  When we realize the interconnectedness of our species, the essence of our humanity, this understanding will pave the way for the type of world we know awaits!

Listening, I Hear Differently

Prelude, Act 3, Lohengrin

September 1975

I was a freshman music student at a small teacher’s college in the panhandle of Texas.  I had spent my time in high school immersed in the humanities and the performing arts, but the small farming community of Vernon, Texas had little to offer in the way of culture.  I had not merely, “gone off to college.”  No, I had “expressed mailed” myself to a land of ideas, thoughts and experiences bigger than the world I had grown-up in.

     No surprise then to find myself at my first, live symphony orchestra concert with the Amarillo Symphony.  A decent orchestra, the Amarillo Symphony employed most of the faculty members from the university where I attended school, and was the only cultural icon for hundreds of miles.  The $5.00 ticket was easy to come by, but finding someone to go with me was not.  As it turned out, none of my music school chums wanted to go.  Their reluctance was mysterious to me, but I went ahead with plans to attend.

     The Amarillo Convention Center had a large performing arts hall. I remember being awed as I entered the lobby for the first time.  In those days, attending the symphony was a formal event. Many of the men wore tuxedos, and the women had fancy party dresses with furs and jewelry.  The lobby bars made the conversation lively, and the droll of noise was hypnotic.  As I entered the hall, I recall the experience as if it happened only a moment ago: One large, rectangular box with red-carpeted aisles paved the way to the stage.  The running lights looked like small runways where Lilliputian aircraft could soon take flight.  Though no aircraft flew or landed that night, there were to be soaring ideas birthed and a new vision of the world would be launched.

     The orchestra entered the hall.  I was struck by the beauty of the black and white tuxes against the polished wood of the string section.  The conductor entered, and the perfunctory Star Spangled Banner began.  The audience rose to their feet and began to sing. Though a patriotic overture to ritual, the musical effect was more muddled, and left me a bit disappointed with such a lack-luster opening for the evening.  West Texas-drawl did little to enhance the musical ambiance, and I was beginning to think my friends understood something about this I was only now learning.

     I didn’t know the literature programmed for the evening.  The only composers I knew were the ones who wrote the music my high school band and choir had performed, and I assure you, Richard Wagner was not on the list!  “Prelude to Act 3, Lohengrin,” sounded pretentious and boring. I didn’t even realize it was from an opera!  At this point, my life was pretty small. I had big ideas, and felt inner stirrings that had been coached into life by the English Department of Vernon High School, but these were inner, private stirrings I had not yet fully discovered, much less exposed.  Pat Miller and Lois Jo Selman had  sculpted us into writers with meticulous style, creativity, and form.  As a result, ideas were no stranger to me, but they had come mostly in the form of the written word:  essay, novel, or poem.  Imagine my surprise and delight as the opening strains to this monumental work began.  A flourish of brass, winds, and strings combined to mark the beginning of the concert. I was shocked.  What was only a moment ago a social event for wealthy people had transformed itself into an Idea.

The conductor was smart, precise, and eloquent. His arms lifted and we were transported; they fell, and the orchestra responded with the gentle thunder only Wagner could bring to mankind.  By the second phrase, I noticed my heart racing, and my face flushed. My palms were sweating:  my mind a blur.  Overcome with emotion, feeling, and the rush one gets when in the presence of a powerful lover, tears gently rained from my eyes .  At this moment, they were the only part of me capable of expression; the totality of my being now locked in a spiritually-choreographed ballet of Wonder.

It took another two phrases for me to realize that I was weeping. Not from sadness, but pure joy.  As Wagner hammered my reason and intellect, the molecular structure of my artistic voice was reshaped by this joy now planted into my soul.  I remember the feeling of being separated into many beings. Floating, swimming, creating…these entities channelled me into a world I had anticipated, but until now, had never experienced.  By the time the oboe solo came, I realized I had been standing for quite sometime.  Completely absorbed in the passion and fire of the moment, I had stood: trying to get closer to the orchestra, I guess.  Alone…standing…among the myriad patrons of a sold-out gala, there was no thought for concert etiquette or ritual. I was in pure ecstasy.  The moment became a lifetime, even as my future was condensed into the black hole of this singular event.

     The remainder of the three-minute piece I remember as a single recollection.  There was no time, no cadence, just an experience of floating on sound.  The orchestra neared the end of the piece as thundering percussion hit me in the gut of my soul.  It was as if Wagner wrote the piece for this moment, for me, for my pleasure and inspiration.  Transfixed, this last explosion of sound brought me back into consciousness while the entire audience joined me in a standing ovation.  Four stage calls, and a solo bow for the oboist brought the applause to an end, and the audience to their seats;  but a door had been opened for me to a world of beauty, passion, creativity, and delight.  On that September night, among the panhandle-prairie grasses of Texas, I stepped through the looking-glass of that door and down the rabbit-hole to countless adventures, ideas, experiences, and emotions strung together in the tapestry that is my life.  Still weaving….

…drummers

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

– Henry David Thoreau

I can only speak for myself, but I feel enormous pressure from “the world” to conform.  If only I would be what it expects me to be, love whom it expects me to love, think the way it wants me to think, then all it has to offer is available to me.  The only problem is, I adore the dreamers! I exalt those enlightened spirits who inhabit the fringe of possibility, revel in the idea itself, and want to bask in the warm light that unconventional lends to my life.  This leaves me mostly…unaccepted; a terrible price to pay for being unique.  Edward Young said, “We are all born originals-why is it so many of us die copies?”  I’ll tell you why, because convention exerts enormous power to maintain firm control over us.  We are conditioned to conform at an early age, to “color inside the lines” to be and do what everybody wants or expects.  Conformity is not coded into our DNA. In fact, our continued evolutionary continuum proves quite the opposite.  We honor the creative ones, the entrepreneurs, the gifted members of our society rather than accept them.  In so doing, we add our own personal energy to the thought serving convention’s controlling interest:  “…without proper control, anarchy will emerge. We must control the population while utilizing the gifts of those who wrest power from the mob to launch new trajectories, but we must never accept as a species, the delight of being different.  To do so imperils the very structure of the world we have built.”

The “drummer” inside me has cadenced silently long enough. Perhaps now is the time for each of us as unique creations, manifestations of divine light, to emerge en masse and take what rightfully belongs to us:  ourselves.  It takes courage to challenge such powerful thought, but the time has come for us, as the true guardians of our own creative nature, to regard such action as not only beneficial, but essential to our survival.  We must give ourselves permission to love: ourselves first, others next, and then draw from that love to build a more powerful, beautiful, and unique world in which to live.  We ought to not only accept those who are different, but glorify them.  We must inculcate in every corner of our person the desire to uncover the unique and precious insights we were gifted to deliver to the world.   Imagine the world we could build…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRhq-yO1KN8

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