Discovering Wang Wei

I know no good way
to live and I can’t
stop getting lost in my
thoughts, my ancient forests…

You ask: how does a man rise or fall in this life?
The fisherman’s song flows deep under the river.

That is a poem by Wang Wei I found in The Overstory.

Wang Wei (Chinese: 王維; 699–759[1]) was a Chinese poet, musician, painter, and politician during the Tang dynasty. He was one of the most famous men of arts and letters of his time. Many of his poems are preserved, and twenty-nine were included in the highly influential 18th-century anthology Three Hundred Tang Poems.

(Wikipedia link)

Later I found another poem by Wang Wei, a reply to Subprefect Zhang, that is of a similar nature:

Now in old age, I know the value of silence,
The world’s affairs no longer stir my heart.
Turning to myself, I have no greater plan,
All I can do is return to the forest of old.
Wind from the pine trees blows my sash undone,
The moon shines through the hills; I pluck the qin.
You ask me why the world must rise and fall,
Fishermen sing on the steep banks of the river.

The tone is familiar and reminds me of Lao Tzu and Hanshan.

The biography of Wang Wei speaks of many ups and downs. Promoted, promoted, demoted, promoted, demoted, demoted, imprisoned as a suspected traitor, promoted and then Deputy Prime Minister.

I discovered Ryokan when I was 22 and then Hanshan, also many decades ago. It informed how I tried to live my life and, perhaps, saved my musical life. You are the greatest, you are the worst. Okay. You can say what you like and I will just continue making music.

I’ll add Wang Wei to the list of people I will read whenever I am wondering about the affairs of humans:

Chuang Tzu
Lao Tzu,

And, believe me, human affairs baffle me much of the time. :-)

Why a Tree Is the Friend We Need Right Now

I suppose one has to celebrate the little steps, for example when Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal has an article about the value of trees that haven’t been cut down.

Why a Tree Is the Friend We Need Right Now – WSJ

Trees have a lot to teach us. They know a thing or two about surviving harsh years and thriving during good ones—they can show us the importance of taking the long view. They’re masters at resiliency, enduring fallow periods every winter and blooming anew each spring. They’re generous—they share nutrients with other trees and plants and provide clean air and shade for the rest of us. They certainly know how to age well.

And trees provoke awe—that emotional response to something vast that expands and challenges the way we see the world. It’s the perfect antidote to the way we’re feeling right now—a pathway to healing. Research shows that awe decreases stress, anxiety and inflammation. It can quiet our mental chatter by deactivating our brain’s default mode network—the area that is active when we’re not doing anything and that can get absorbed by worry and rumination, according to Dacher Keltner, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley and faculty director of the university’s Greater Good Science Center, who studies awe. It can improve our relationships, making us feel more supported by and more likely to help others, more compassionate and less greedy.

Bare Wood 2 update

Bare Wood 2 is nearing completion. Jon finished recording upright bass for the new pieces and he really sounds on top of his game. I have to complete a few melodies for one of the pieces. There are percussion parts for three or four pieces to be recorded during the next couple of weeks and then I need to finish mixing and mastering the album. I am planning to release Bare Wood 2 at the end of this year or in the beginning of next year but, of course, you will hear some of it here first.


Do people pick their instrument or does the instrument pick their people? An instrument certainly changes people over time. Bass players become bass players, drummers become drummers, guitarists become guitarists and even if they didn’t start out that way the instrument will mold them into those archetypes over time. It is inevitable.