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As I See It

As I See it: On the Purpose of Art, Music, and Poetry

I believe that all of the arts help us to understand ourselves, each other, and the diversity of life more fully, in each of our unique expressions of life and spirit.

“The human life is the most complex narrative of all; it has many layers of events which embrace outside behavior and actions, the inner stream of the mind, the underworld of the unconscious, the soul, fantasy, dream and imagination. There is no account of a life which can ever mirror or tell all of this. When telling her story, all a person can offer is a sample of this complexity. The best stories suggest what they cannot name or describe.”

John O’Donohue – “Beauty” – P.137

Experiencing diversity in my life is a deeper cultural narrative than just my surface communication or conversation. It is a rich complexity of my experience through the lens of my psyche, my perspective, and my life choices. That there is more than one way of understanding intelligence is put forth by Howard Gardner in Frames of Mind. According to him, we all possess within us multiple intelligences: verbal, visual, musical, and several others. The richness of experience comes to each of us differently. Thus, each of our lives is going to have a slightly different presentation with each individual and each cultural background. One very good example of cultural diversity for me is the Native American understanding of BEAUTY, particularly emphasized by the Navajo who believe that beauty is finding a balance between the natural world and the world of spirit. So, in the Navajo Night Chant they talk about “walking in beauty”.

This is an introductory preface to my book, “Contemplating the Miracle”, which is available on Amazon.  You may sample some of the poems by selecting the book image on the right.

My Voice

man-1845432_1280

Oh, this trembling uncertainty,
wanting a place
to voice my feelings
in this chaotic seeming world.

I follow my heart.
I follow my dream,
as the gibbon moon crosses
high in the sky –
I dream of beauty and love.

A voice out of somewhere asks:
What have you to give songsmith?

I reply that
I am finding my voice
and bringing you my harmonies
and rhythms
in this disharmony,
I Am

Memoir

boy-and-father

To My Father
(Perhaps this poem is about seeing
the Fullness even in the Emptiness)

I stare now at this cup
half full and half empty
like a funny Zen poem
looking for the plenty.

I listened to the sermon:
“He’s in another place,
and won’t be here now with you.
Go to school and wash your face.”

Learned to learn real good,
to write, to run, to talk.
Feelings all tapped down
except on lonely walks.

But friends were there to play
Sing a song or play a game.
I managed the routines,
though my heart found other ways.

Though I learned well not to cry,
When I found you had to die.
My heart knows well the time
when your love was by my side.

Touch My Heart With a Song

young-girl-with-accordian

It was a dark night. I was feeling detached and tired as I listened again to my still small voice within; it said,” Go in and sing with her”. I picked up my guitar and songbook, and went in and asked her if we could sing together. Her answer was an affirmative “yes”, though I knew she was shy and embarrassed about her own singing voice because in growing up her family had poked fun at her singing voice.

Nonetheless, I started with a rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In”. She had shared that that song was the last song in a funeral orchestration that her best friend had put together for her own last rites. That song was heartily sung by everyone in the service, sending her friend rousingly into eternity. I was moved by that story recounted to me by her and her other friend when they returned from the service.

After that song I followed it with a song I had written specifically for Nancy called “Nancy’s Song”. She loved it and I sang a few more songs out of my songbook with her. All her agitation and moodiness (she has dementia) melted like butter with the music. After a few songs she began to talk about experiences with her family growing up, and I recounted experiences with my family, growing up in Detroit. It was heart to heart conversation. It was truly breakthrough in relationship at least for the moment.

This story and experience illustrates what music is to me. First it is a tool I use to free myself from my logical, left brain. Music can often free us emotionally and from stress. I believe that music is both an avenue from and to divine spirit or consciousness. I don’t limit this to one particular religion. Lastly, I believe music connects us to our own deeper self, to each other, and to Source or to God. This is what music is to me.

This is what I love, my passion. What is your passion?

Self Acknowledgement

Man with Guitar

2017 is just in its infancy, and I’m embarking on creating a new music CD, and what’s coming up is this inner voice of holding on and self-criticism which is saying that what who I am and what I’m doing “is not good enough”. I say to it, “Enough”. It’s been a challenging time caring and working with someone, but I’m on the other side of that assignment, and it feels good and I can acknowledge myself and her for the time spent. Rather than the critical thinking and self-criticism from my early conditioning in growing up, I am practicing love, self-acknowledgement and acknowledgement of others more in my life this year. This will move me ahead on my music project and in my life this year.

Criticism has been a familiar aspect of the American social environment, especially in its blatant exposure in last year’s political race and beyond. I don’t believe criticism helps to heal or unite us personally or socially, rather it divides us up culturally, racially, economically, or in other ways. It lifts up one point of view and downgrades and attempts to discredit another. That is not what I believe or will stand for.

Touch My Heart with a Song

sunset-oak

I was feeling detached and tired as I listened again to my still small voice within; it said,” Go in and sing with her”. I picked up my guitar and songbook, and went in and asked her if we could sing together. Her answer was an affirmative “yes”, though I knew she was diffident about her own singing voice.

Nonetheless, I started with a rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In”. She had shared that that song was the last song in a funeral orchestration that her best friend had put together for her own last rites. That song was heartily sung by everyone in the service, sending her friend rousingly into eternity. I was moved by that story recounted to me by her and her other friend.

So, I started with that song in our singing together. I followed it with a song I had written specifically for Nancy called “Nancy’s Song”. She loved it and I sang a few more songs out of my songbook with her. All her agitation and moodiness melted like butter with the music. After a few songs she began to talk about experiences with her family growing up, and I recounted experiences with my family, growing up in Detroit. It was heart to heart conversation.

Music has been a wonderful tool for me to connect more deeply in this and a few other situations, as I see music not abstractly, but as a way to connect with others and connect with my own deeper heart and soul. Creative music and song lyrics can be a way to talk about our experiences in life, and it can inspire us to recall and talk about those experiences we’ve had. Specifically, as in this instance, it can be a tool to give a senior the dignity and connection he or she desires at this point in their life.

The “Good Morning” People

park“A Day in the Life”

Walking before 9:00
meeting all the “Good Morning” people,
joggers, walkers, some city workers,
and a bum on a bench.

The wind this morning
is blowing across the water,
creating a soothing ripple effect,
refreshing my senses –
the sun is bright yellow-white radiating.

It feels good to be here.

Yet another person
with a dog
smiles and says, “Good morning.”

We’re in the “real morning”,
the silence, the smiles, and the wind
are singing in harmony.

That’s the feeling
One of tranquility –
No effort.

At 9:00 however,
they all disappear somewhere.

I walk past
an unsmiling, somber man
with dark glasses
wearing a mask.

My dark glasses,
I take out of their case,
but I keep ready
with a smile.