Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Censorship and driftwood

Well, after much soul searching, I decided to return the blog to the website.
There had been a fiasco with a blog post I made. Apparently there was offense taken, so I self censored and took the blog off totally.

Now, hopefully with wounds healed, and my voice back, I will write. Not often, but when I do it will be my truth, and in this freest of countries, without censorship. A blog really isn’t for any other purpose except to pen outwardly your inner voice. For the most part, no one else cares what your inner voice has to say. It would be lovely if blogs really did change minds and alter belief systems. But maybe not… then we’d all be the same and what would be the point of the inner voice or the blog at all? The exercise in typing words to page in the off chance that someone else will read it is just that. An exercise.
And maybe, the person reading will connect and maybe not. You can’t please everyone all the time and everyone should NOT be or think just like you do! So opinions, beliefs, thoughts, memories, and voicing any of them should be mostly kept to oneself, and if allowed outside the confines of the mind, then others can chose to read, or not, chose to agree or not. In this cyber age, all one has to do is to ‘back out’ of the page and go someplace else. And that is the risk of the writer and the responsibility of the reader…

We have been in the loveliest of landscapes, and meeting the most wonderful people on this tour. We always love our job, but somehow this past month has been more vivid and fulfilling than ever. The paying of bills is at the bottom of the list of why we do this.
And while we have often thought over the years that our work was not that essential to the world, and that it takes us away from family and community, there are other gifts we receive that give us a different perspective.

Here is the short list of wonderful diverse people we’ve met in the past few weeks: a world champion sea kayaker, an explosives expert for the movies, a psycho therapist, a music teacher, someone born in a Japanese internment camp, an old cowboy, an Indian, a painter, a dancer, a titanium engineer, a medical engineer, a lawyer, an arts advocate, a classical pianist, a hairstylist, a postman, a balloon pilot, a traditional Mexican ‘chef’, a theater/drama teacher, an English teacher, a choir teacher, an expert on sea chanteys, lots of school children of all races, nationalities, sizes, shapes, level of education and income… What other job could be so infused with humanity? What other job could prove to me that I am but a fair-skinned drop in a universe brewed to perfection? What other job looks back at the ancestors for stories and learning, while performing for the immediate audience, while teaching the next generation? What other job teaches me more with every experience, than I could ever possibly bring to it?

At our advancing age, we discuss the future… how long can we keep up the road life? How many more ‘bags of finger food’ can we consume? How many more cheap motels, or expensive motels, or gas stations, or weather delays, or… How many concerts will people be willing to pay for when they stare at wrinkles and gray hair? How many students will be willing to participate with ‘grandparent’ types? What is the smallest amount of money we can make and still be viable? How can we keep our music skills honed and our creative juices flowing in the face of a world with deeper problems than our tiny efforts can effect?

Constant questions that we have carried in our back pocket, since we started this insane lifestyle. Questions that seem to have no answer, either internally or externally.
We keep going, while we can. We can’t think of an alternative, nor can we imagine not doing this. It will need to be reckoned with at some point, but I feel like Scarlet…
‘I’ll think about it tomorrow’….

A poem:

The definition of adventure
Once grounded in earth and air
Plump and heavy
Stuck here
Rushed there
Soaring on wings of water
To other possibilities
Casting away bark
And exterior hardness
In order to allow
A different kind of life
To absorb deeper
Into the grain

It seems happiest
When afloat
Dark, soft, slimy
And oh so free
In creek, river, sea
High centered on land
Causes a skeletal gray
Atrophied limb waiting for rain
To re-plump cells
And maybe
Just maybe
Raise the tide enough
To carry it away

Is the definition
Of adventure

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

There is a dangerous journey
That is not to lofty granite peaks
But inward to the core of self
The perils are not raging oceans
But silent springs bubbling up from below
The threat of exposure
Is not an arctic blizzard
But in the arms of the beloved
Death of the known world is not when eyes close
But when eyes open

Today I journeyed to my center – my nucleus of being. The raw unfiltered emotion of pure love rushed over me unexpectedly and caught me unprepared, three times! I used to feel this often, but it has been years and my greatest fear was that I had lost the ability to feel it… that it might never come to me again.

The first wave of clarity came at the sight and meeting with Bud. My teacher. My spirit tutor. My mentor in the natural world. My friend and adopted father. How I have missed him. How I feared coming back in his presence lightly. The separation of the white world and the Indian world is palpable, and I find it difficult to move back and forth between them. I am only a ‘guest’ there. And yet when I arrive, I am at home there too. While there is a hesitance to return, the spirit voice tells me always “when you enter this place, never take the ‘outside’ world in, but always take this place back with you”. Tossing my heart into the Indian presence I regained my own truth. I located my true north and felt all that he has ever taught me re-enter my psyche and inhabit my cells. Thank you Grandfathers!

The second wave came at the bend in the river. My sacred holy of holies. The keeper of my truest love and healer of my deepest wounds. Every sense peaked at this reunion – I was transformed again to the vivid dreams this place offers me. I hear again with my spirit ears, see again with my spirit eyes and come alive from the waking numbness. This place saved my life once. It saves me again: sounds, smells, colors, chickadee, ponderosa, buzzing insects, jumping fish, crying hawk, dragonfly… all greet me as ‘friend’. I did not forget them, and they did not forget me! Thank you Grandfathers!

The third journey to the core of my being – my time with my beloved teacher and friend, Charlotte. Her grace, wit, compassion and beauty, elevates my intellect and infuses me with wisdom. The hunger to learn – to accept others – to bless all – delicate and fierce at the same time. She is my feminine hero.

And so it is that I’m exhausted. The intensity is not describable with language. The complete submission to the truest of loves consumes – then re-kindles to consume again. And the hunger to return, for there is no joy like this joy, no pain like this pain… means I am alive again!
Thank you Grandfathers!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Concert of Reckoning

So there is a time in every performers life, when you give all the passion your heart can give and the audience remains in another orbit of another star in another galaxy. No matter what you do, you can’t win them over. You study the experience instantaneously as it is happening, trying to gauge what they are thinking. Why they are not reacting like other audiences. What are you doing wrong. How can you do it differently right this second to make it better for them. And when the lights go off, and they go home you beat yourself up over why you failed them and yourself and the music gods.
It has only happened a couple of times in 20 years, but it happened recently and it makes for a messy autopsy of the heart! The second guessing of the career choice. The dismal crushing of any self esteem that may have been lingering in the corners of the mind. “I quit”! I resound! “I’d rather sweep the floor at the mall” I decide. Anything but put heart and soul out in front of people to have it be disrespected.
And then I remember my mantra… ‘a bad day as a musician is better than a good day as a __________(fill in the blank with a desk job, a filthy job, a mindless job, no job)’.
And then it happens… the following day… 90 teenagers we taught dance to, all applaud and tear up when the final dance class is over… I guess I’ll keep going a bit longer…

The Accordion and the Applause

It’s bad enough
Flaunting her under bright lights
Stretching her to her limits
Deflating her in front of gawkers
Allowing my inadequate skills
To blurb obnoxious notes publicly
When she is capable
Of so much more

But the worst sin of all
Exposing her to the glares
Of an unappreciative audience
To torture her with mediocre applause
To put her in her case
Still warm from my hands
Without a single adoring fan

Sheltering her from my reality
I try to carry the weight of it
I analyze and agonize
Theorize and reprise
The slow slicing with rusty blade
Of my own jugular vein
To spare her the bleeding
Always smiling in her presence
So as not to tarnish her pure existence

I dissect their small brains
Put shock paddles to my heart
Give mouth to mouth to my limp musical soul
Take the tourniquet off my nearly amputated
Say the rosary, turn three circles anti-clockwise
Curse Zeus and Batman
And just before I latch the latches
Whisper to her that it’s not her fault
And it will be better
Next time

Monday, March 15, 2010


This was written three weeks ago... I delayed getting it posted...
Harry has indeed graduated, throw your cap dear one, throw your cap!

“Make some music, drink a toast, he’s about to graduate” she said.
I love the metaphor of graduation. Our culture calls it death, or passing away. Solemn and sad words for such a joyous life and brilliant man.

The definition of a graduate is a person who has received an academic degree or diploma. Not only does Harry have several of those physical items to prove his intelligence and achievements, he truly is going to graduate.
He does not believe in heaven or hell, he does not buy into any dogma that tells him what comes next. But those of us who know him and love him, know that he is about to receive a degree in higher education. He wouldn’t settle for anything less than another learning experience.

This is a man who challenged his religion, his government, his family. He went to Cuba to work side by side with farm laborers. He worked in the inner circle with Martin Luther King Jr. He traveled to Spain not to learn Spanish, but to become bi-lingual. South America and Russia were part of his journeys of inquiry and learning. He never stopped learning and writing and teaching… never. Not even in the face of his cancer and his paralysis did he ever stop learning, and teaching. So how could anyone say the word ‘die’ in the same sentence with his name?

Weepie when we heard the fast decline, then celebratory that we shared with him a deeper heart than most.
Our true ‘anam cara’. So many people only dream of such a rich connection to another soul, we are grateful for the opportunity to experience that with Harry. He understood passion, and commitment, creativity and the muse. He spoke in terms of truth and love, and while always trying to change the world with words, he was willing to hold the placard and march. A hero in the true sense of the word, because there are few who put their deeds where their mouths are. Few who are brave enough to take on the status quo and fear not. Few whose mind and intellect could outwit with love the way he could.

And so the final weeks of this tour, we will sing for him. We will raise a glass for him. We will burn sweetgrass and celebrate his graduation. We are not beside his bed, but we walk the halls of learning that he created for us. We will engage our minds and hearts as he showed us how to do. We will question and work and teach and create in his honor… and that is where he would have us be.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

House of Memory

A new year, a new decade, an older person…
I love Colorado weather. Today we ate sandwiches on the deck in the warm sunshine. Ok, we had coats on too, but it was oh so pleasant for January 6. By 3:30 the fog and frozen mist rolled in from the east, along with the first flurries of a storm. The fickle moods of this place we call home, the planet, the continent, the state, the county, the tiny acreage in the woods… all narrow down to a pinpoint and move me to ponderings.

I really dislike looking backwards and we humans insist on doing it at New Year’s time. There is a melancholy surrounding memory. Whether real or imagined, the memory is not reliable.
I could start with ‘it was the best year EVER’, or I could start with ‘it was the hardest year EVER’ and both would be correct. Every blooming year is also decay so why do we spend time and energy with the re-tilling of already tilled soil? Because we cannot deny the house of memory which encases us in the illusion that it was not all for naught.

When I swoon over my memories, I do not do the present justice. When I relive experiences through the lens of a past memory and then double the correction with a lens of the present, I alter the clarity of both vistas. And yet I look back. Especially when I see what is in front of me disappearing.

Bedside watch for someone who fights the solo fight to stay alive is a very humbling experience. It makes the memory and the heart race at the same pace. Your own soul amps up its courage in a helpless situation. Your breath matches the breath of the warrior before you, and you hold a frail hand with all the tenderness you can muster. When the countdown is not for midnight cheer, but for an unknown number of days or weeks, there is no glowing ball or confetti. There is a second by second contemplation and hesitation… don’t leave… don’t stay… don’t worry… don’t cry… don’t hurt…

The deathbed vigil…
“you’re beautiful”: repeated to everyone who comes in the room
“thank you”: repeated to everyone who comes in the room
“I love you”: repeated to everyone who comes in the room

Fear – pain – fear – anger – fear – frustration – fear – morphine – more fear

And yet he never stops saying…
“you’re beautiful”
“thank you”
“I love you”

When my skin is so thin, that my soul shows through…
What kind of soul will be exposed?
When my existence is reduced to a few breaths per minute…
What words will I whisper?