Two

Woke up around 0255. Maybe I had a nightmare but couldn’t recall it. Felt heart beating. Read for a while. Wrote something down that was on my mind and then went back to sleep.

Instead of computers becoming like us, we are becoming like computers. We are becoming binary thinkers. Zeros and ones, yes and no, good and bad, heaven and hell, blue and red, with me or against me, acceptable books and not acceptable books, the backlash against non-binary gender, 😊 or ☹️

Binary thinking isn’t exactly new, or limited to the age of computers, but it is becoming more ubiquitous and extreme. Perhaps it’s due to the two hemispheres of the human brain, but it has undoubtedly been amplified by the machines we made. It’s either too hot or too cold. Music is great or sucks. Animals, or plants, are deemed either useful or considered pests or weeds.

Robby told me, on Monday, that some kind of magic happens when one mixes one part of oatmilk with one part of H&H and adds that to coffee – so half and half actually becomes a quarter and a quarter – sorry, I couldn’t resist, but it’s my birthday and so I allow myself to write it. Fixed my morning coffee like that. Double espresso with Oatly and H&H. Nice. Not sure whether it’s magical but pretty damn good.

Walked three and a half miles and listened to On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. I am glad I am listening to the book, instead of reading it. The author reads his own text and he gets the rhythm just right. The rhythm of words. Rhythm is the most important part of poetry. Rhythm is everything, isn’t it. Drumming is Life!

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When Robby plays the djembe it’s easy to forget he also plays Chopin on the piano, has perfect pitch and a masters in composition… Playing with Robby and Jon is incredible. If you had asked me for advice about performing or how to put an band together I would tell you this: play with the absolute best musicians you can find and always, always look for musicians who are better than you. You will learn and they will lift you up. And listening to them will give you pleasure, night after night. A career is a marathon, not a sprint. Listening to Jon’s solo on Butterfly Dream energizes, encourages, and inspires. This is the stuff that keeps you going night after night and improves you.
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At home I had a second cup – actually a glass – of coffee. Still enjoyed the oatmilk + H&H mixture. Thought about what I wrote in the middle of the night.

We are clearly binary creatures. Two arms, two hands, two legs, two feet, two lungs, two eyes, two ears, even two nostrils, the brain’s hemispheres. Perhaps it’s a bad design, destined to lead to war. Perhaps it is just a good challenge. Something to outgrow and overcome.

Don’t focus on the weather, whether the sun shines or a storm is coming… above the storm the sun always shines. I think somebody said that better… (quick search) yes:

You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather. – Pema Chödrön

Perfect.

Artists and Laozi

I think Jon Gagan is one of the finest bass players in the world, right at the top of the field of electric bass guitar and upright bass players. I feel very lucky that the man decided that he did not want to live in Manhattan, L.A., or Nashville, the three music centers of the country. He chose to live in Santa Fe and we have been making music together for over thirty years. Worked out well for me… ;-)

It makes me wonder how many amazing painters we never heard of because they didn’t want to play the game and do the gallery hustle. How many outstanding poets never searched for a publisher? How many incredible actors decided to work in a local theater in the countryside because the idea of Hollywood was too odious.

I am reminded of Laozi who, according to legend, very reluctantly wrote down the thoughts which became the Tao Te Ching. How many men and women have walked away, unwilling to deal with publishers, galleries, record labels, the public. We know that the person who wants the job the most is not necessarily (in fact rarely!) the best _________ (leader, politician, painter, musician, author etc.).

Especially true for politics, isn’t it!

Poetic

I walked exactly three miles. First I listened to rough mixes Jon sent last night. Upright bass for two of the Rain Music pieces. The bass sounds amazing in his hands. The man is at the top of his game. The notes speak of experience and life and depth… no notes for the sake of playing notes. What will we sound like in ten years? I am reminded of the words of Pau Casals who, when asked why he was still practicing cello daily at age 80, replied Because I think I am making progress.

I do believe I am making progress. I like where music leads me. As age slows my body down, I can, perhaps, imbue each note with more of something. One has to acknowledge the changes. When it is hot outside, wear shorts. When it’s raining, wear a hat and a waterproof jacket. When young play as many notes as you like. It might help you to explore. When old concentrate on the notes that really mean something. Move toward depth and essence.

After the Rain Music I listened to an audiobook called On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, by Ocean Vuong. Very poetic and very sad. Those two often go hand in hand, don’t they, the poetic and the sad?

We Are a Verb

There is no witness, only witnessing.
When the body falls away, all that is left is witnessing.
Consciousness is a verb.
Bodies – people, animals, trees, rivers or mountains are obscured witnessing.
Like a balloon containing air. Like fog hanging over a landscape. Like a webpage fronting the code.
The bodies are all made from the same building blocks, sharing most of their DNA.
Consciousness has no flavor, no color, so shape, no movement, but it feels like a flow, like a quiet lake or an ever so slight breeze.
I am just imagining that, between moments of witnessing.
Putting words to the experience seems futile and yet also like a most deserving effort.
Oh well, I tried. And I’ll try again.

02022

What a year it was. More information, more data, more news than ever. I think we are left with a data hangover. Looking back, what do we remember? I think we remember the little things, the sunlight hitting something just so, a surprise smile from another person, the sound of rain, the smell of a meal.

Some of my favorite moments were related to music, of course. Performing with Jon and Robby and leaving a stage glowing because we made some beautiful moments of music together. Performing with Kaz Tanahashi for Roshi Joan’s 80th birthday. Rediscovering my Flamenco Negra guitar, which Keith had worked on. Figuring out how I want to record new music and recording three new pieces, two of which I recorded in my apartment in Lisbon. Making the decision not to distribute new music through the same old channels. I also want to mention that I did several private performances throughout the year and that there is something so special about simply sitting somewhere and playing guitar. No amplification, no stage, no big deal. It feels so pure.

Spending time in Lisbon in the Summer and becoming familiar with the layout of the roads, discovering views, parks, new favorite trees. Also, discovering that I don’t need much. When I moved into the house in Santa Fe in 01992, I accomplished the move with two pick up trucks, driving twice from the little studio apartment I rented on Garcia street, to the house on Camino Militar. Stuff accumulates and a larger house, and studio, accumulate more. When I moved in the Summer of 02021 I gave away a lot, I donated a lot, and I still filled a huge container with stuff I threw away. What was left still filled a U-Haul truck pulling a trailer. When I spend time in Lisbon I realize I can and I should pare away more stuff. So that’s one of the things I want to do in 02023.

Planting five trees in 02022, all of them fruit trees. One of them, in particular took off as if possessed. The little thing was less than two feet tall at the end of April and now it is over ten feet tall.

Reading! I read a lot this year. Forty books. A few of those were audio books, but I do love reading. There were several books I borrowed from the library but where I soon felt compelled to buy the ebook because I like being able to highlight, bookmark, and notate them.

02023:
finish a new album – current working title Rain Music
gather the best blog posts from the last 30 years and put a collection together
get rid of what I don’t need
create a new slideshow
walk the Kumano Kodo trail

May 02023 be a good year for you.

May all be happy.
May all be healthy and safe.
May all have enough.
May all be at peace.

Creativity

Since 2016 I have been using the DayOne journal on my laptop and phone. While I was looking through some old entries I found this little paragraph I thought was worth sharing:

I believe creativity is where humans go after they have exhausted playing for wealth or power. Maybe that takes a few lifetimes – I don’t know. Eventually wealth and power become utterly boring, uninteresting and pointless when one discovers creativity.

Indeed!