Monthly Archives: April 2009

Another great reason not to tweet

OK, I rest my case now.

I am, however, almost talked into Facebook. Still not sure it’s worth it, though. I mean, it’s not like I’m hard to find on the Internet, after all. And I really don’t give a rats ass about other people’s baby pictures. They all look all wrinkly and scrunchy and red anyway. And your vacation pictures only make me envious.

But wait — there’s more. Good grief, people — get lives.

And oh, yeah — facebook makes people dumb.

Dream

Oh yes. I could do that, too. My voice coach in college wanted me to try out for the San Francisco Opera, but I never did. I wish I had her courage.

Everyone has talents. Everyone can do things you can’t imagine. We are all extraordinary, really.

Go Susan.

There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
And they turn your dream to shame

He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came

And still I dream he’ll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.

“We are too cynical,” Amanda said, addressing Boyle after her performance. “Everyone was rooting against you.” It was as if Amanda expected this one moment where art conquered all, where the sincerity of song and execution softened every heart, to allow us to believe we had somehow been purged of all our cheap, superficial ways. Susan sang, and shrugged her shoulders and tossed her gray locks, and now we were changed, changed utterly by this transforming performance. Now Piers and Simon and Amanda and you and me, we were all going to move forward with openness and acceptance in our hearts for all kinds of people in all kind of packages. As if by approving of this one dorky but brilliant outsider, this world would be granted forgiveness for all the meanness, bullying and tawdry acceptance of the third rate that is its usual fare.

But instead of changing us, Susan Boyle’s explosion into fame is much more likely to change her. Already she has appeared on Scottish television with her hair seemingly darkened and somehow forced into submission. Please please please, Susan! The vintage women of the world beg you: Don’t lose a pound. Don’t buy a new wardrobe. No highlights! No Botox! Don’t touch chin one, or chin two.

Remember Ella Fitzgerald, and just keep singing.

Handing out the glue

teapot
No birds in it this year. I accidently broke our nice blue teapot, so i made it into a birdhouse.– dcollie42

“It is very important to know how to unleash people’s inborn creativity. My concept is that anybody has creative ability, but very few people know how to use it.” — Akio Morita

“A young person with the right talents needs to have infinite desire and never give up. I apply a simple test with young students: smash a teapot into pieces and then hand out the glue. Those who rebuild the teapot won’t make it, those who create phantasy animals and spaceships will. ” — Hartmut Esslinger (founder of frog design)

“Creativity is a lot like looking at the world through a kaleidoscope. You look at a set of elements, the same ones everyone else sees, but then reassemble those floating bits and pieces into an enticing new possibility. ” — Rosabeth Moss Kanter

“Conditions for creativity are to be puzzled; to concentrate; to accept conflict and tension; to be born everyday; to feel a sense of self.” — Erich Fromm

“Creating one thing at a certain point in the river feeds those who come to the river, feeds creatures far downstream, yet others in the deep. Creativity is not a solitary movement. That is its power. Whatever is touched by it, whoever hears it, sees it, senses it, knows it, is fed. That is why beholding someone else’s creative word, image, idea, fills us up, inspires us to our own creative work. A single creative act has the potential to feed a continent. One creative act can cause a torrent to break through stone.”
— Clarissa Pinkola Estes

“Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.”
— William Pollard

“One has reached the ultimate levels of creativity when one has mastered a skill so thoroughly that it can be forgotten. Look at heaven and earth. Do they think about creating the weather, the seasons, and the cycles of growing? They only go on revolving according to their nature, and the rest is generated without any thought or work on their part. This is truly effortless action and is considered the highest skill that a follower of Tao can attain.” — Deng Ming Dao

“The recognition and understanding of the need was the primary condition of the creative act. When people feel they had to express themselves for originality for its own sake, that tends not to be creativity. Only when you get into the problem and the problem becomes clear, can creativity take over.”
— Charles Eames

“Creativity is merely a plus name for regular activity. Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right, or better.” — John Updike

“Living creatively is really important to maintain throughout your life. And living creatively doesn’t mean only artistic creativity, although that’s part of it. It means being yourself, not just complying with the wishes of other people.” — Matt Groening

“Most of what you will create is for your enrichment or is a stepping stone to other better, more insightful work. Maybe once or twice in a lifetime you will be recognized with the kudos of the public, so in the meantime, create for yourself.” –Don Hahn

“But, if you have nothing at all to create, then perhaps you create yourself.” — Carl Gustav Jung

Most of my broken pots end up in the garden helping to mulch the plants. I keep wanting to do some mosaics, but never get to doing any. There’s a woman at the craft market who makes beautiful mosaic tables and things, really inspirational pieces.

I suppose I’ve actually been the most creative at putting the broken bits of myself back together again. It’s been years since then, and somehow I’m never depressed anymore, rarely down. It seems sometimes when you build something new from the broken pieces, it can become even stronger and more whole than before. Strange, but true. Sometimes all you need is some glue…

The Get-Out-the-Song Effort

Darrell Brown is another one of those people I’m proud to say I went to high school with. Until recently I hadn’t realized how exceptional our high school actually was at inspiring and motivating us to do something with our lives, to be what we could be if we tried.

But I’m very glad that it was, and that so many of my friends have done well for themselves and made a difference in the world.

Darrell has a new book coming out he’s written with Leeann Rimes, “What I Cannot Change”, and co-wrote many of the songs on her album, “Family”.

The Get-Out-the-Song Effort

In 1979, I moved into a one-bedroom apartment adjacent to the Hollywood Bowl with my rental piano in tow and began trying to write songs. I didn’t have a clue how to get started in the music business, or even where to get good advice. But I had the blind willingness to put myself out there and see where life, love and God would lead me. The first of many mysterious events unfolded when I met a guy in my building who co-owned a recording studio in downtown Hollywood. The technology anyone can use now to record music at home was then neither readily available nor affordable. This person was a miracle find in my book. A miracle.

Eventually I made him an offer: I would bring local clients to his studio and split the proceeds with him if he would let me use the studio for free for my own work. The pitched worked — he said yes. Not long after I had my first cuts hit the radio airwaves — in the form of jingles I produced — and I thought that maybe-kinda-sorta I was on my way.

It’s not that the jingles were great (they weren’t) or that anyone besides my family and friends knew that they were on the radio (they didn’t). Yet I felt I had broken through some invisible wall that the gatekeepers of the music world had put up. There I was, just a young mutt barely paddling upstream. I kept paddling. There was no shore in sight, but at least I was figuring out how to paddle. And I was happy.

My next step up the ladder of the music world came when some of my original songs were cut by extremely unknown artists on their own indie labels. The kind of cassettes — yes, I said cassettes — sold in night clubs or bars, usually set up on a card table down the hallway of a sticky-floored nightclub where people would pass by on the way to the toilet. But each night it felt so great that people were hearing, dancing and singing along to songs I had co-written with the band. It felt great to know that the band was selling some product and that I was getting my share of the sales as a songwriter.

I found it was important to keep getting myself out there, physically, to the clubs in town or the coffee shops where singer-songwriters would perform. The more I hung around these places, the more artists I met. That led to more co-writing, and eventually, more recorded songs. Of course, there was a non-monetary benefit to all that hustling to make a few bucks from my work — I got better. I was learning so much as songwriter from everyone I was working with. It was the best education I’d ever received. Since then I have been an enthusiastic student at the School of Getting Off Your Butt and Doing Something. Nothing ever happens if you just stay locked away in a room somewhere.

I also kept reading music magazine and trade papers. I memorized the names of producers, songwriters, musicians, engineers, record company executives — the gatekeepers who had the ability to open doors for me or slam them shut. If I came with the goods, I believed, the best work I could muster up at the time, things would continue to happen for me. I was right.

As I kept reading these trade papers I came to see that the music world wasn’t just here in the good ol’ U.S.A. but in practically every country on earth. So I started contacting publishers, producers and record executives in other parts of the world and — wouldn’t you know it? — I started getting a couple of cuts per year with foreign recording artists.

The way I looked at it, no opportunity was too small. I quickly found that no matter how unknown some of these foreign artists might have been in the States, each new cut I placed with them gave me a story to tell the next musician or producer. It gave me some hope to hold on to, and built up the confidence I needed to go to my room and write again and again. It made me feel that I was on the right path, and most of all, it brought me absolute joy to know I was becoming a working songwriter.

I loved, loved, loved hearing my songs being sung in choirs in schools and in churches for holiday services and special shows. I got my songs put into small local theater presentations and found vocal groups around town to perform them at special corporate shows and fundraisers. I had singers sing them at piano bars. I wasn’t restrictive or choosy — anyone who wanted to sing my songs was perfectly O.K. with me.I believe that this is the way it should be. I write songs. And to fearfully shelter a song, afraid that someone might ruin it or not record it correctly or sing the perfect “first” version of it — that seems wrong to me. Of course I have had those fears. Like everyone else, I’ve been afraid that I was not good enough or that someone might ridicule my work. But in my life, I have seen too many brilliant men and women turn down opportunities to have their songs heard — simple ones like the church choir gig or the jingle — and then years later put down their pen and paper in bitter disdain for a business that has proven to them that it doesn’t support art.

I’m not saying that if I have an unbelievable gift of a song come out of me that I won’t take it to the artist I think could make it a timeless smash — I’m not crazy. But I do know that one can never know or truly predict in the raw stages of a career who the next Madonna or Garth Brooks or Michael Jackson or Frank Sinatra is going to be. So I am open to all possibilities to be amazed, surprised by joy and hit records.

And so I keep traveling forward, hopeful for the willing ear.

via The Get-Out-the-Song Effort – Measure for Measure Blog – NYTimes.com.

Arete

The most articulated value in Greek culture is areté. Translated as “virtue,” the word actually means something closer to “being the best you can be,” or “reaching your highest human potential.” The term from Homeric times onwards is not gender specific. Homer applies the term of both the Greek and Trojan heroes as well as major female figures, such as Penelope, the wife of the Greek hero, Odysseus. In the Homeric poems, areté is frequently associated with bravery, but more often, with effectiveness. The man or woman of areté is a person of the highest effectiveness; they use all their faculties: strength, bravery, wit, and deceptiveness, to achieve real results. In the Homeric world, then, areté involves all of the abilities and potentialities available to humans.

[ since arete also means a sharp mountain ridge or peak, this also implies this is the origin of the idea of peak performance]

Nurture the darkness of your soul
until you become whole.
Can you do this and not fail?
Can you focus your life-breath until you become
supple as a newborn child?
While you cleanse your inner vision
will you be found without fault?
Can you love people and lead them
without forcing your will on them?
When Heaven gives and takes away
can you be content with the outcome?
When you understand all things
can you step back from your own understanding?

Giving birth and nourishing,
making without possessing,
expecting nothing in return.
To grow, yet not to control:
This is the mysterious virtue.

— Tao Te Ching: Chapter 10
translated by J. H. McDonald

“Always do the right thing. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”
— Mark Twain

Embracing the Way, you become embraced;
Breathing gently, you become newborn;
Clearing your mind, you become clear;
Nurturing your children, you become impartial;
Opening your heart, you become accepted;
Accepting the world, you embrace the Way.

Bearing and nurturing,
Creating but not owning,
Giving without demanding,
This is harmony.

— Ta Te Ching 10,
translated by Peter Merel

Maude: “Vice, Virtue. It’s best not to be too moral. You cheat yourself out of too much life. Aim above morality. If you apply that to life, then you’re bound to live life fully.”
— “Harold and Maude”, Collin Higgins

Carrying body and soul and embracing the one,
Can you avoid separation?
Attending fully and becoming supple,
Can you be as a newborn baby?
Washing and cleansing the primal vision,
Can you be without stain?
Loving all men and ruling the country,
Can you be without cleverness?
Opening and closing the gates of heaven,
Can you play the role of woman?
Understanding and being open to all things,
Are you able to do nothing?
Giving birth and nourishing,
Bearing yet not possessing,
Working yet not taking credit,
Leading yet not dominating,
This is the Primal Virtue.

— Tao Te Ching 10,
translated by Gia-Fu Feng

“The Tao has no place for pettiness, and nor has Virtue. Pettiness is dangerous to Virtue; pettiness is dangerous to the Tao. It is said, rectify yourself and be done.”
— Chuang Tzu

“The Greeks invented the idea of nemesis to show how any single virtue, stubbornly maintained, gradually changes into a destructive vice. Our success, our industry, our habit of work have produced our economic nemesis. Work made modern men great, but now threatens to usurp our souls, to inundate the earth in things and trash, to destroy our capacity to love and wonder.”
— Sam Keen

“As far as I’m concerned, I prefer silent vice to ostentatious virtue.”
— Albert Einstein

“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.”
— Winston Churchill

“There is…an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents…. The artificial aristocracy is a mischievous ingredient in government, and provisions should be made to prevent its ascendancy.” — Thomas Jefferson

“I cannot love anyone if I hate myself. That is the reason why we feel so extremely uncomfortable in the presence of people who are noted for their special virtuousness, for they radiate an atmosphere of the torture they inflict on themselves. That is not a virtue but a vice.”
— Carl Jung

“Moral education… is not about inculcating obedience to law or cultivating self-virtue, it is rather about finding within us an ever-increasing sense of the worth of creation. It is about how we can develop and deepen our intuitive sense of beauty and creativity.
— Andrew Linzey

“Genuine honesty, assuming that this is our virtue and we cannot get rid of it, we free spirits – well then, we will want to work on it with all the love and malice at our disposal and not get tired of ‘perfecting’ ourselves in our virtue, the only one we have left: may its glory come to rest like a gilded, blue evening glow of mockery over this aging culture and its dull and dismal seriousness!” — Friedrich Nietzsche

It only takes a moment…

“And if there is not any such thing as a long time, nor the rest of your lives, nor from now on, but there is only now, why then now is the thing to praise and I am very happy with it.”
– Ernest Hemingway

“Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.” — Voltaire

We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand… and melting like a snowflake. Let us use it before it is too late.- Marie Beynon Ray

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this.” — Henry David Thoreau

“Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going” — Tennessee Williams

“We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and mystery. — H. G. Wells

The other day a man asked me what I thought was the best time of life. “Why,” I answered without a thought, “now.” — David Grayson

Don’t worry, darlin’
No baby, don’t you fret
We’re livin’ in the future
And none of this has happened yet
— Bruce Springsteen

Sing for the day sing for the moment
Sing for the time of your life
Come for an hour stay for a moment
Stay for the rest of your life
— “Sing for the Day”, Styx, (Tommy Shaw)

It only takes a moment
For your eyes to meet and then
Your heart knows in a moment
You will never be alone again

I held her for an instant
But my arms felt sure and strong
It only takes a moment
To be loved a whole life long…

And that is all that love’s about
And we’ll recall when time runs out
That it only took a moment
To be loved a whole life long!

— “It Only Takes a Moment” from Hello Dolly, Jerry Herman

On Twitter, no one knows you're a plant

This explains so much… now if I could just understand facebook… although I know a lot of people’s pets are on facebook…

Ok, for anyone not on Twitter, it’s time to reevaluate: These days, even plants are doing it. And successfully, too—Pothos has 2,300 followers, and when it tweets, it almost always gets what it wants.

Granted, all it wants is water, but when plant owners are forgetful or just don’t have a green thumb, their green friends often go thirsty. The solution? Botanicalls, a device that sends wireless signals to Twitter. It’s made of soil moisture sensors that transmit information (too much moisture? too little?) through a circuit board to a microcontroller, just like a mini-computer.

The software has settings that allow you to program specifically for the type of plant and the unique qualities of the soil, and the language sent to Twitter can be customized—so the message can vary in tone from the polite “please” to the urgent “I’m desperately thirsty”—or, as Mr. Ikea Plant will tweet, “I’m wicked thirsty.”

Co-creator Kate Hartman now feels guilty when she doesn’t water her plants because everybody will know. It’s like the Little Shop of Horrors has gone high-tech. Not to mention more polite: The plant also sends “thank you” tweets once it’s been fed.

via Your Plants Have More Twitter Followers Than You—Literally | Discoblog | Discover Magazine.

Desire


Desire — Justin Simoni

That was no beast that stirred,
That was my heart you heard
Pacing to and fro
In the ambush of my desire.
To the music my flute let fall.

– “Neither Spirit Nor Bird” (Shoshone Love Song), trans. Mary Austin

The Tao is infinite, eternal.
Why is it eternal?
It was never born;
thus it can never die.
Why is it infinite?
It has no desires for itself;
thus it is present for all beings.

The Master stays behind;
that is why she is ahead.
She is detached from all things;
that is why she is one with them.
Because she has let go of herself,
she is perfectly fulfilled.

— Tao Te Ching: Chapter 7
translated by Stephen Mitchell

Heaven and Earth last for ever.
Why do Heaven and Earth last for ever?
They are unborn,
So ever living.
The sage stays behind, thus he is ahead.
He is detached, thus at one with all.
Through selfless action, he attains fulfillment.

— translated by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English

Transcending the ego is equivalent to transcending suffering. Your ego, which is your false self, keeps you identified with your mind. The ego keeps you tied in thinking about your past and it also makes you think about the future. The ego wants you to be anywhere other than where you are at this moment. The ego makes you believe that something is lacking in this current moment that is keeping you from being at peace. Maybe you believe that you need a new car or a dog or a shirt in order to feel better. There is nothing wrong with purchasing any of these things or wanting any of these things but if you believe that they will make you feel better then the desire is probably ego-based. Unfortunately, under the rein of the ego you will never be at peace and you will never transcend suffering.

The ego is the source of desire. When you remove desire you can remove the ego. This is definitely easier said than done; however, just being aware of the impact your ego will help to remove its grip in your life.

The next two hindrances are raga (attachment, desire) and dvesha (aversion). Within these are the more specific hindrances of attachment to pleasure, or sukha, and aversion to pain, or duhkha. Sukha and duhkha in themselves are simply natural human reactions. Sukha and duhkha become raga and dvesha when attachment is present, for it is in the attachment to pleasure and the aversion to pain that we get into trouble. — Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat

“The man whom desires enter as rivers flow into the sea, filled yet always unmoving — that man finds lasting peace.” — Bhagavad Gita

So much desire in the world today
So much of everything you can’t give it away
You could be happy but you’re feeling so bad
About what you never have
Because you can’t look at nothing without wanting it
And you know that’s the truth

There’s always some scene you think you got to break into
Or a new sensation to intoxicate you
Ain’t it a drag
Staring through the glass at something doesn’t touch you really
Or bring you laughter or roses or stroke your hair so tenderly

Desire
Stealing you away from me
Desire
You’re living in a dream
Desire
Is getting the best of you…

Who was it told you
You have to have everything you see
Same one who sold you that last fantasy
Roll up your sleeves and use those hands for something
That’s gonna work for you baby
To fill your arms and your heart with joy

Desire, Boz Scaggs

Joe Bageant: Escape from the Zombie Food Court

Love this imagery… a latchkey nation…

Americans are conditioned to reject any affective attachment that does not have a happy ending. And in that, we remain mostly a nation of children. We never get to grow up.

So we tell ourselves the Little Golden Book fairy tales — that we are a great and compassionate people, and that we are personally innocent of any of our government’s horrific crimes abroad. Guiltless as individuals. And we do remain innocent, in a sense, as long as we cannot see beyond the media hologram. But it is a terrible kind of self-inflicted innocence that can come to no good. We are a nation latch key kids babysat by an electronic hallucination, the national hologram.

via Joe Bageant: Escape from the Zombie Food Court.

Valley Spirit

valley_of_flowers_uttaranchal_full_view
The Valley of Flowers, in northern India’s state of Uttarakhand

The valley spirit never dies;
It is the woman, primal mother.
Her gateway is the root of heaven and earth.
It is like a veil barely seen,
Use it; it will never fail.

– Tao Te Ching, 6

The Valley Spirit is deathless,
It is called the Dark Mare.
The door of the Dark Mare,
Is called the root of heaven and earth.
Continuous, it seems to exist,
Yet in use it is inexhaustible.

— translated by Ellen M. Chen

( I like this use of “Mare”, which could be a female horse or Ocean. It brings in the image of the dark ocean, open and receptive, which really fits into the idea of the Tao. Interesting. )

“Taoists use the metaphor of gu shen, “the valley spirit.” A valley supports life, feeds the
animals who live there and provides fertile earth for agriculture. It can do this only because
it is empty. It accepts the flow of the river because it is most low and most humble. It
receives the warmth of the sun because it is wide and not filled with anything to block the
light. It brings forth life because it supports all who come to it.”
– Deng Ming-Dao, Scholar Warrior, p. 182

“One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.”
— G. K. Chesterton

“A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand. Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain?” — Kahlil Gibran

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of death I will fear no evil, for I am the meanest son of a bitch in the valley.” — Joel Rosenberg