Categories
Arts & Entertainment folk guitar folk music music

Back Story: “Early Morning Rain”


In 1964, Gordon Lightfoot wrote one of his most memorable songs: Early Morning Rain. Lightfoot, a Canadian singer-songwriter, has become a folk legend. Along with his crystal clear singing voice and accomplished guitar playing, Lightfoot has written a library of outstanding folk songs depicting historical events and all manner of love relationships. To single out a smattering of Lightfoot’s top hits is to do the man an injustice. “Early Morning Rain” appears on his 1966 debut album Lightfoot! Before he released the song, another Canadian duo, Ian and Sylvia, recorded it in 1964. Many other folk singing notables (Peter, Paul, and Mary) also adopted the song.

The genesis of “Early Morning Rain” can be traced to Gordon’s 1960 stay in Westlake, Los Angeles. At the time, Lightfoot became homesick for his Canadian roots. He remembers going to the Los Angeles International Airport on rainy days to watch the aircraft take off and land. The memories of the flights launching into the overcast skies stayed with him. In 1964, while caring for his 5-month-old son, Lightfoot remembers thinking, “I’ll put him over here in his crib, and I’ll write myself a tune.” In that moment, “Early Morning Rain” was born.

The lyrics refer to someone down on his luck who stands at an airport fence to watch the thunderous take-off of a Boeing 707 airliner. The theme of the song suggests a jet-age musical allegory to a hobo of bygone days loitering at a railroad yard to steal a train ride home. Lightfoot credits the popularity of the song to his steady improvement as a songwriter.

I’ve always loved this song. Lightfoot strums it. When I heard Eva Cassidy perform the song using a picking technique, I had to learn it her way. Unfortunately, there were no guitar tutorials available. Since Eva plays “Early Morning Rain” close to her version of “Kathy’s Song,” I was able to figure out how to play EMR three-quarters of the way she does.

Why do I bother to learn how to play these songs the way these great artists do? It’s simple. I become a better guitarist with each song I learn. Here’s my cover of the song. Enjoy!

Thought for the Day

Am I doing the world a favor if I add one more sad voice to the wailing, no matter how artfully I express it?

Categories
Arts & Entertainment ebooks humor Novels

It’s Here!


Now Available on Amazon Worldwide

When Jacob Cassel and his telepathic AI companion discover a dead body on a lonely Florida beach, it is only the beginning of an adventure that holds the fate of our world and the destiny of other worlds in the balance.

Each book in The Silver Sphere series is “free-standing.” You can read these books in any order. The author provides enough background information in each novella to orient readers to the characters and other relevant details.

Here’s an excerpt from one of first editorial reviews to come in:

What I liked most in the novella was the flippant, often tongue-in-cheek humor that made it a light-hearted read, with witty dialogues and evocative descriptions. The characters are vividly drawn and the three-way relationship is realistically established early on. It’s not hard for the reader to suspend his disbelief and join the trio as they careen toward their ultimate goal of saving the planet. The writing is clear, literate, the vocabulary is perfectly attuned to the genre, and it is a real page-turner. I read it in one day and I am looking forward to reading Book 3 when it is available. Anyone looking for an enjoyable day curling up with a fun book will not be disappointed.” 

Francis Mont for Reader’s Favorite Book Review

Five Out of Five Star Review

Categories
Arts & Entertainment folk guitar music

Kathy’s Song Eva Style


drizzle of the rain

Who doesn’t remember Simon and Garfunkle singing Kathy’s song? The answer is probably tons of people under the age of thirty, but who’s counting? The remarkable Paul Simon wrote Kathy’s Song. It was released in 1966 on the album Sounds of Silence. Along with the title tune, Kathy’s Song remains one of the duo’s most popular tracks. It is poetic, lyrical, and deeply moving.

Nearly thirty years later, along comes Eva Cassidy with her celestial voice and consummate guitar playing. Her version of Kathy’s song is characteristically unique and beautiful beyond words. If you like this kind of music, I urge you to listen to Eva’s version on YouTube. Eva doesn’t need an orchestra or a band to back her up. She plays and sings Kathy’s Song solo, and steals your heart away.

I’ve enjoyed learning how to play this song “Eva Style.” I found a good online tutorial by a guy who calls himself Ivor Sorefingers. Here’s my version.

Categories
Arts & Entertainment ebooks Science Fiction

The Long Awaited Sequel


It’s not really been that long. I just said that to get your attention. Have I got it? Good.

Coming Soon!

When Jacob Cassel and his intra-galactic associate, Arcon, discover a dead body on a lonely beach, it is only the beginning of an adventure that holds the fate of our world and other worlds in the balance.

Categories
Arts & Entertainment folk music memories music

The Clancy Brothers: Re-Imagining Irish Folk Music


The Clancy Brothers Wore Aran Jumpers On Stage
A Little Boy Wearing an Aran Jumper

Paddy and Tom Clancy came to America intending to develop lucrative acting careers. Little did they know they were destined to succeed enormously in the music business while making a tremendous contribution to the form, awareness, and appreciation of classic Irish folk music.

After arriving in Greenwich Village in 1951, the enterprising duo quickly established themselves as successful Broadway, Off-Broadway, and television actors. During this period, the brothers also created their own theater production company which they named: “Trio Productions.” To help raise money for the new company, Tom and Paddy sang old Irish folk songs they had learned as children. They rented The Cherry Lane Theater in the Village and performed shows regularly on Saturday nights. Soon, they were joined by notable folk singers like Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and Jean Ritchie.

Liam, the youngest of the three brothers, came to America in 1956. He joined his brothers in the singing group, along with his good friend, Tommy Makem. The group came to be known simply as “The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem.” The group distinguished themselves with their rousing style of singing Irish folk songs and ballads, while staying true to some of the slower and more mournful tunes.

The group adopted a trademark uniform after their mother, it is said, read about the inclement New York winters. She sent her boys Aran jumpers (sweaters) to keep them warm. The boys wore the sweaters for the first time at the Blue Angel nightclub in Manhattan as part of their regular winter attire. The group’s manager, Marty Erlichman, had been searching for a kind of logo-look for the group. When he saw the sweaters, he knew he had found the “special look” he was searching for. Erlichman asked the group to wear the sweaters for their first TV appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. After that appearance, the Clancy Brothers and Makem wore the sweaters whenever they performed.

The Sullivan TV appearance aired to an audience of forty million. The TV show and the group’s nightclub appearances attracted the attention of a Columbia Records executive. They signed a $100,000 recording contract (a staggering sum at the time) with Columbia and recorded seven albums with the studio. While the members of the group changed from time to time, their success and influence on modern folk music has endured. In all, the group recorded 24 albums on various labels. In 1964, their albums accounted for one third of all the record albums sold in Ireland.

I first saw the Clancy Brothers at Carnegie Hall when I was a callow lad of seventeen. I went to the concert with my best friend. He remains my best friend today, even though he is half a world away. The song I’m about to sing has two names: “Will Ye Go Lassie Go” and “The Wild Mountain Thyme.” It’s a Clancy Brothers favorite. This one’s for you, Danny Boy.

Categories
Arts & Entertainment music

Where Does The Time Go?


futuristic super sonic Jet

Fifty years have flown by at supersonic speed. I can flash back on memories of my childhood and adolescence and remember them clearly as if they happened yesterday. I try to be present for each remaining moment. I forget. I get lost in my head. Again and again. A week slips by in a day. Does time go slower when we are young? I think it does.

How is time going by for you?

I thought Joni Mitchell wrote and popularized “Who knows Where The Time Goes.” It turns out a British folk rocker named Sandy Denny wrote the song and Judy Collins made it famous. A little research can go a long way. Here’s my version of the song based on the way the late great Eva Cassidy played it.

Science Fiction Writing Tip For Today:

“You have to be out of your mind while knowing what you’re doing most of the time.”

Jacob Casell

Best-Selling Author

The Silver Sphere

Volume 2 Coming Soon

Categories
Arts & Entertainment folk guitar music

Beauty of the Bells


Have you ever heard of Steve Gillette? If you were alive in the 1960’s and liked folk music and folk ballads, there’s a chance the name rings a bell. Gillette never made it to the top of the charts, but he’s a very talented singer/songwriter. Many of his songs have been performed by artists you have heard of like John Denver, Gordon Lightfoot, Ian and Sylvia, Nanci Griffith, and Linda Ronstadt.

Steve has recorded seven solo albums. In 1989, Steve married Cindy Mangsen. Together, Steve and Cindy have recorded seven albums while touring across the country for decades. Steve and Cindy are truly wandering minstrels.

The Bells In The Evening appears on Gillette’s debut album released in 1967. In my opinion, the album, simply titled “Steve Gillette”, stands as one of Steve’s finest recordings. “The Bells” is a bittersweet (actually sweet bitter) song of love blossoming in the spring and fading away in the fall. It’s a song full of immense joy and sorrow that combine in a mixture of awesome beauty. The song is also replete with imagery. When you listen, what images come to your mind?

Please enjoy my version of “The Bells In The Evening.”

“Our actions entrench the power of the light on this planet. Every positive thought we pass between us makes room for more light.”

John Lewis

Categories
current events inspiration music

Is There Anything I Can Do?


Prayer for Peace

In these troubling times, it seems like the world could go off a cliff at any moment.

I remember what it was like in the nineteen-sixties when we lived under the threat of nuclear devastation. Today, we live under the veil of multiple threats: COVID, cyber attacks, totalitarian regimes, Jihad, the environmental crisis and a few others topping the list. Taken together, I believe these threats have made the world a more dangerous place to live in than ever before.

Can I/we do anything about these threats? Let’s try to answer the question with some self-inquiry.

I’ve noticed on WordPress that there is a lot of blogging about the pain of life: heartbreak, lost loves, loneliness, anxiety, and more. Sure, pain is part of life, and people can relate to it. My question is: Is there something else?

The news carries stories constantly about the daily tragedies that occur around the world. Last night, for example, I was listening to a CNN report about a horrible flash flood in Germany. It’s good to know about these things, but is there something else I can focus on?

If I am a compassionate person and I listen to the suffering of others, is there someplace I can go to find peace, strength, and even, God forbid, Joy?

How many people in the world interrupt their complaining to find this place? Does it exist? Have you found it?

And finally, if I find peace within myself, will the world be a better and more peaceful place to live in?

Think about it.

Before we close, I’d like to continue the inquiry with some questions surrounding the hot topic of vaccinations.

If you don’t want to get vaccinated because the short or long-term effects are unknown, do you stand a better chance of survival if you get the more virulent COVID Delta Variant?

Did you know if the rate of Delta infections keeps rising, there is a very good chance the virus will mutate into even more virulent strains? Quite possibly, these new variants could be immune to our current vaccines.

Do you realize that not getting vaccinated puts not only you, but everyone else in the world at high risk?

If you are in good health, what is your reason(s) for choosing not to be vaccinated?

It seems I can’t end without singing you a song. Talking about the sixties, here’s one that goes back there. It’s from Steve Gillette’s debut album released in 1967. In my opinion, every song on this album is outstanding, except maybe the first one. Steve Gillette never made it to the top of the charts, but he’s a very talented artist.

“Back On The Street Again” is one Gillette’s best known songs. The song is about a lost love (there I go contradicting myself). It’s also about getting back up and moving on. I find the song to be touching and stirring. Maybe you will too.

“The universe buries strange jewels deep within us all, and then stands back to see if we can find them.”

Elizabeth Gilbert

Categories
Arts & Entertainment folk guitar folk music Interviews music

An Unfinished Life


“I live for a sense of a feeling of purposefulness in this world, you know, that I could stop my life at any point and feel that my life has been worthwhile; that the people I’ve loved and my children have all reached a point where their lives are now going to come to fruit. And as far as something I live by, it’s to try to be as alive as possible and feel free to make my mistakes and try to be as honest as I can with myself.”

Kate Wolf–Singer Songwriter–1942-1986

Perhaps Kate Wolf had these thoughts in mind when she wrote the song “Unfinished Life.” It’s a haunting ballade filled with hard won wisdom, exquisite beauty, grace, and focused determination. The song is also ironically prophetic. Kate Wolf died tragically of Leukemia at the age of forty-four. Despite her abbreviated life span, she wrote over two hundred songs and performed them at venues in her native state of California and around the world. Kate’s life was, indeed, unfinished, but she left behind a treasure trove of beautiful music.

I first recorded “Unfinished Life” using a free-form guitar strumming method. Recently, while driving in my car, I listened to the song with a different pair of ears. I noticed the unique and highly effective guitar picking technique Kate used to express the words and melody of the song. After some trial and error, I’ve come up with a version that approximates Kate’s unparalleled recording.

“The future is not some place we are going, but one we are creating. The paths are not to be found, but made. And the activity of making them changes both the maker and the destination.”

JOHN SCHAAR

Categories
Arts & Entertainment ebooks fiction Science Fiction short stories

It’s Coming–No Time to Waste


Actually, IT has arrived. The eBook–Not the catastrophe.

Download the eBook Free on Amazon Now Through July 11th, 2021

The Silver Sphere started out as five episodes posted intermittently on this blog. I’ve deleted the posts, re-written the story, and now it is available on AMAZON worldwide for only $1.49. Download it today and treat yourself to an engaging, fun, Science Fiction thrill ride. To whet your appetite, here’s Part One. Click on the Spotify button above if you’d like to listen to a professional narrator read it.

Man Walking On A Moonlit Beach

PART ONE

Jacob

IT WASN’T REALLY a sphere.

I found it on the beach. Right at the water’s edge. Actually, I’m not entirely sure I found it. The sphere may have found me in some karmic sort of way. We’ll have to wait until later to sort it out because, as I will soon learn, time is in short supply.

First things first.

My name is Jacob Casell. Two days ago, I left a comfortable beach house to go out for a stroll in the middle of the night. The full moon and stars were my sole companions. I needed to think about the ending of my latest novel. I found the water and the salt air helped to stimulate my creative thinking.

The night was clear. I splashed my feet in the tips of the tides. I
felt the crisp ocean breeze ruffling my longish hair as if it were saying, tell me your story. Before I could answer, I almost tripped and fell. A thing about the size of a basketball rocked gently in the water at my feet. I had the distinct feeling it was looking up at me, even though it had no discernable eyes.

The thing at my feet was a shiny silver sphere punctuated by streamlined indentations on its sides. It had a hole in the center which, in the moonlight, revealed nothing but bottomless darkness. Hardly an eye. Not a human one, at least.

As I examined it, the sphere began to pulsate. I stepped a few feet away. The sphere flashed on and off like a strobe light. I wondered if the damn thing was about to explode. Suddenly, the sphere stopped strobing. Then, it spoke to me. A voice inside my head spoke in stilted English.

“Do not be alarmed,” the thing said. “The lighting effect was me
reanimating my systems. No sense wasting energy while I was waiting for you to happen along. You certainly took your time, didn’t you? And, by the way, I’m not a ‘thing.’ I am a highly evolved organism. You can think of me as artificial intelligence. I am actually much more than an AI, but your mind is not capable of conceiving what I truly am.”

I drew back a few more steps thinking, I must be dreaming. This can’t be happening.

“For a man who writes novels, you display little imagination,” the sphere said.

I felt strangely comfortable speaking to the machine, as if speaking to a telepathic silver sphere was as everyday an occurrence as eating a tub of macaroni and cheese for dinner.

“How do you know I’m a writer?” I said out loud. I wasn’t in the habit of communicating telepathically, after all.

“I’ve absorbed quite a bit of information about you in the short time we’ve been together.”

“I’m not sure I like that.” I didn’t say it out loud this time. I thought it.

“It doesn’t matter if you like it or not.”

“It matters to me.”

It seemed like the machine was surprised by my response and needed time to process it. I pushed the advantage. “It sounds like you were expecting me.”

“I was expecting someone. I suppose you’ll do.”

“Uh huh. Do you have a name?”

“You can call me Arcon. A-R-C-O-N.”

“Got it. I suppose you came here from some far distant solar system?”

“Next you will ask me: ‘do I come in peace?’”

“Do you?”

“The answer is yes and no. I’m not here to hurt anyone, but there will be worldwide chaos if news of my mission leaks out.”

“That sounds ominous.”

“It’s nothing compared to what will happen if you don’t help me to complete my mission.”

“Since you appear to know everything about me, you must realize that I’m not at liberty to help you. I’m past my deadline for turning in the final draft of a manuscript. My editor calls to scream at me daily.”

“There is a much bigger picture here than your manuscript. I’ll dispense with the formalities and call you by your first name which, naturally, I’ve learned without your help. I’m getting cold and tired of soaking in this sea water, Jacob. Please take me back to the beach house your wealthy friend has lent you.”

“But I just told you—”

“Pick me up, Jacob. If I miss my deadline, you won’t have to worry about yours.”

Categories
ebooks fiction humor Novels

The First Day of Forever


This is the prologue to the new edition of “Three Days to Darkness.” I’ve extensively rewritten the original novel (first published in 2010) to bring it up to date. It’s amazing how the world has changed in eleven years, but some things never change, like the themes grounding the story. I’ve also added a paperback edition to the digital edition, along with a spiffy new interior design. Don’t miss this heartwarming, humorous, and action-packed saga available at major online retailers worldwide.

Darius McPherson never saw it coming. His thoughts were elsewhere. On the kids. The ones he could save. They weren’t kids, really. Some of them were older than him. They were all tough and uneven around the edges, but a few of them were diamonds in the rough. They were the ones he considered his kids. They had real potential. They just needed someone to care about them. They needed a role model and some inspiration. Darius was happy to provide both. Not a bad summer gig for a guy waiting for his first year of law school to begin.

He pressed the bell on the side of the barred wooden door. The royal blue paint under the ugly bars gleamed in the direct sunlight and looked completely out of place in the burned-out industrial neighborhood in midtown Detroit.

He waited patiently to be buzzed into the youth counseling center. “Be right with you, Darius,” his supervisor said through the intercom. He liked Allison Turner. In her late thirties and twice divorced, she had managed to stay kind-hearted despite rough circumstances. She was also extremely capable. Allison had taught him more about inner-city teenagers than he could have learned in a decade on his own.

The door opened and a group of youthful offenders burst into the street. Darius knew several of them. They were attending classes at the center as part of their plea bargains. Darius smiled at them, even though he knew most of them were as dangerous as plastic explosive wired to detonate at the slightest provocation.

“Hey La Vonn” Darius called to the tallest boy in the group. “I hope you learned something today.”

“Yeah. How to stay outta’ the crowbar hotel,” the slender boy replied.

“Do you mean learning how to game the system or how to stay out of jail?”

Darius noticed La Vonn’s eyes open wide. He turned around in time to see a gray Lincoln Navigator with shiny, twenty-inch wheels and dark tinted windows round a nearby corner. No rap music blared from inside the car, which made Darius suspicious. He heard the sound of footsteps running away from him. He thought it undignified to run. And why would anyone in the neighborhood want to harm him? When the windows came down in unison, a cold chill went through his body. Darius saw young men wearing ski masks inside the car. He had no time to react.

The first shots hit the cinderblock wall of the youth center. Not unlike fireworks on the Fourth of July, Darius remembered thinking before a bullet pierced his chest. At first, he felt like an ice pick had stabbed him in the heart. Then there was a burning sensation. He remembered seeing his body lying on the cracked sidewalk in a pool of blood. The last thoughts that went through his brain were of his parents, his older brother and younger sister, and of course, Rebecca. After that, he sensed his awareness swirling down a dark tunnel opening at the far away end into some kind of scintillating light.

eBook and Paperback Available on Amazon and Online Retailers Worldwide

Categories
Arts & Entertainment music relationships

“Fields of Gold”


Guitar,Solo,Sting,Song,Love,Ballade,Relationship,Commitment, Eva,Cassidy, Fields of Gold,

“Fields of Gold” is one of Sting’s most famous songs. It is a stunning and thoughtful track about the journey of commitment. The song first appeared on Sting’s 1993 solo album “Ten Summoner’s Tales.”

Sting wrote the track after he bought a house near a barley field. The sunsets and the colors of the field helped inspire the lyrics, along with Sting’s love for Trudie Styler, who he married in 1992.

“Fields of Gold” can be seen as a fulfilling romance from beginning to end. It is about courtship, marriage, and finally, death.

The romance of the couple in the song is so strong that even the sky and “its jealous sun” are envious of the relationship.

Before the male narrator dies, he tells his lover that she will never forget him and the time they shared. They will always walk and lie together in golden fields of sun drenched barley.

Here is my version of the song played with Eva Cassidy‘s guitar technique.

Loving Couple Laying Down After A Picnic In An Open Field

“The heart is always the place to go. Go home into your heart, where there is warmth, appreciation, gratitude and contentment.”

AYYA KHEMA

Categories
inspiration poems poetry

BELOVED


Beauty, Beloved, Consciousness, Peace, Joy, Bliss, True Happiness

I see a woman shopping in a shoe department.
She is long and lean, quite beautiful
and unmindful of my lustful stare.
She is like so many women men like me desire.
I am a fool, of course.

What I want can never be satisfied by any woman.
Even the most beautiful woman in the world cannot quench the flame that burns within me.

The joys and sorrows of my relationships come and go like passing clouds. I need them, but…

I often forget what I truly want: You, my beloved.
Beyond the fantasies and small desires
conjured by a deceitful magician. Mind brandishes multi-colored shrouds in a deft attempt to lure me away from where You reside.

Your palace is more luxurious, more enchanting
than any abode the world has to offer.
Beyond words.
Beyond imagination.

Beyond the boundaries I call myself.
Sometimes I catch a glimpse of You.
A flawless diamond.
Perfection itself.

Too beautiful for these outer eyes to see.
More precious than a hundred Spanish treasure ships.
Waiting to be discovered.

Golden Treasure, Priceless, Beyond Imagination, Boundless Wealth
Categories
Arts & Entertainment folk guitar music

Throw A Stone In The Water


THROW A STONE IN THE WATER

Kate Wolf left a legacy of over two hundred songs that she recorded and performed in live concert. I’ve played a number of those songs here and in online groups. I’ve tried to embody and share Kate’s love, beauty, compassion, pathos, and joy. Now, it seems my journey with Kate’s music is ending with a few songs from her last albums. Here’s an upbeat one titled “Stone In The Water.”

Bonus Track

Linda Ronstadt made this song famous. I’m playing Eva Cassidy’s version of “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” close to the style she used to perform it. Paul Anka wrote the ballad for Buddy Holly, and Holly was the first to perform it in 1958. The song reached number 13 on the charts at the time.

Ronstadt and Cassidy, two great artists, are no longer with us. They both sang like angels and their legends have grown over time. Their music lives on and is enjoyed by a worldwide audience. This track is dedicated to the memory of Linda Ronstadt and Eva Cassidy.

My version of “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”

Categories
Arts & Entertainment folk guitar inspiration music

The Gathering Of Spirits


Folk Artist, Composer, and Singer
Carrie Newcomer

I had never heard of Carrie Newcomer before a friend played one of her songs (“The Gathering of Spirits”) in an online gazing/meditation class. The song bounced around in my head until I finally had to learn it.

I bought Newcomer’s album of the same name, and I have to say the other songs on it are, for me, an acquired taste. However, I’m glad I was introduced to Carrie’s music and to this song in particular. She’s a unique individual and an unusually talented artist, as you’ll see by clicking on the link above. Here’s my version of “The Gathering of Spirits.” *

In case this blog is too short, here’s my version of another song by Kate Wolf titled “An Unfinished Life.”

*On the album, Alison Krause sings harmony on the song.

Categories
folk guitar music poetry

Gentle Love


Singer, Songwriter, Folk Music, Folk Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Musician, Poet

Born in San Francisco, Kate Wolf started her musical career in the band Wildwood Flower before recording ten records as a solo artist. Her songs have since been recorded by famous artists such as Nanci Griffith and Emmylou Harris. “Poet’s Heart,” recorded in 1985, is the last album Kate released before her untimely death at the age of forty-four. During her life, Wolf’s music was not widely known beyond the borders of her home state of California. Over the years, Kate has attracted a broader audience of millions who appreciate her beautiful voice, poetic song lyrics, and guitar/piano artistry. “Poet’s Heart” features several songs which have touched me deeply such as, “Slender Thread,” “Brother Warrior,” and the title song, “Poet’s Heart.”

Here’s my version of “Poet’s Heart.”

Kate Wolf, Acoustic Guitar, Love, Beauty, Peace, Memories
Categories
Arts & Entertainment inspiration music paintings

Appreciating The Beauty Within And Without


A photographic interpretation of the Kate Wolf song “Muddy Roads.” Visit http://www.davidgittlin.net for the full post titled “Through Her Music.”

Lately, I’ve been posting on Facebook images of late 18th century impressionist paintings and 1930-40’s Art Deco cars and architecture. I’ve also been listening to and playing a lot of Kate Wolf’s music. I believe the unifying theme of these adventures is BEAUTY.

What I’m about to say may seem odd, self-inflated, or downright delusional, but what the hell. I’m going to say it anyway. It seems that I’m undergoing a dramatic shift in consciousness. I’m focusing on, feeling, and sensing the beauty and light within me and around me.

I’m choosing to focus on this beauty, not as some kind of self-improvement practice. It’s something I want to do. I don’t have to impose it on myself. You might say “the sun in my heart is rising,” finally, after all these years of struggling to arise out of the negativity in and around me. It’s not that the negativity has gone away. It’s just easier and more desirable to focus on something better.

It’s something that comes from inside and outside of me. It’s something that is beautiful, peaceful, and fulfilling. It’s something that beats the hell out of the over-controlled grind of daily life.

I started with the intention of sharing a selection of the beautiful images and music I mentioned earlier. I may have gotten a bit side-tracked along the way. So, without further delay:

Frank Lloyd Wright's 1935 Falling Water House at Twilight
Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1935 Falling Water House shown here at twilight.

This is a truly beautiful painting. “Daisies and Peonies in Blue Vase” by Paul Gauguin.
This is a truly beautiful painting. “Daisies and Peonies in Blue Vase” by Paul Gauguin.
Painting by Claude Monet from his famous water-lilies series. Monet painted about 250 water-lily studies from his garden during the last thirty years of his life.
Painting by Claude Monet from his famous water-lilies series. Monet painted about 250 water-lily studies from his garden during the last thirty years of his life.

My version of “Poet’s Heart” written by Kate Wolf Copyright 1985


.

Categories
inspiration music

Awakening Vision


There is beauty within us. There is beauty everywhere in the world. All we have to do is to want to feel it and see it.

Even in the midst of darkness, this is the dawn of a new age. It may be difficult to believe it or see it, but it’s happening. Nothing can deny us our destiny in love. Not doubt. Not ignorance. Not fear.

Some of us are on the cutting edge of this new world. Kate Wolf was one of these visionaries. I’m a great admirer of her work and her music.

“At this time when the earth is waking.

To the dawn of another age.  

I tell you now.

There is no reason to be afraid.”

Excerpt from “Brother Warrior” by Kate Wolf ©1985

One of these days I’ll get a band to play with. For now, here’s my cover of “Brother Warrior.”

Spiritual Awakening
Categories
Science Fiction short stories

To Engage With Time


Edward Hopper, Nighthawks, Oil painting, Americana,

What makes Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks” painting one of his most celebrated works? Created in 1942, Nighthawks is considered the incarnation of existential art, capturing the alienation and loneliness symptomatic of modern urban life. The following story is inspired by the painting.

I mount the time machine and dial the year nineteen-forty-two. I have a keen interest in the war years. Activities like storming the beaches of Normandy are not high on my priorities list. I stay far behind the front lines. I find the study of American culture during the war years fascinating. I stay away from heavily populated cities to remain inconspicuous. You might say I’m not truly adventurous, excluding, of course, time travel and my voracious appetite for knowledge. I’m a scientist, first and foremost. As soon as I’ve perfected my time-traveling technology, I intend to unveil it in a white paper report and work with a team to use my discoveries for the betterment of mankind.

I finish entering all of the pertinent data into the onboard computer and push the launch button.  Seconds later, the machine deposits me in the small town of Independence, Ohio. On this trip, I find myself on a corner across the street from an all-night diner. My trans-spacial watch tells me it’s two-thirty in the morning. Materializing in small towns on deserted streets in the middle of the night is a proven method for avoiding stampeding crowds.

Illustration of a time machine from the story "A Lesson In Time" by David Gittlin

I’m a bit freaked out by the feeling of emptiness the town exudes. I console myself with the thought that I’ve arrived in the middle of the night and everything is closed except, it seems, the diner across the street.

Through the panoramic window, I see four people sitting at the counter inside. My curiosity peaks as I begin, once again, to study life in the past, this time eighty years ago. This morning will be different than the others in one important respect. It marks the first time I will interact with people and environments of the past. I feel that I’ve learned enough from my previous trips to take this momentous step. And, I can no longer resist the urge to relate to people instead of simply observing them.

As I cross the street, I check my reflection in the large window. I’m dressed appropriately for the era in a blue business suit and matching tie with black wingtip shoes and neatly barbered hair. I’ll blend right in. Swinging open the glass and chrome door, I enter the cafe and take a seat at the counter a measured two seats away from a man sitting by himself. 

The small diner smells of stale cigarette smoke, fresh coffee, and the faint scent of body odor from the man two seats away. To my right, half the wall is fitted with small bins containing tempting muffins, cakes, and breads.  Across the counter, a nice-looking middle-aged couple sit demurely drinking coffee. The man is wearing a gray suit with a matching hat, blue tie, and he’s smoking a chesterfield unfiltered cigarette. The pack lying by his hand on the counter tells me the cigarette brand. The man looks like a lawyer or a doctor. The woman is wearing a green silken cocktail dress. It sets off her blazing red hair nicely. By the looks of the two-carat diamond ring on her hand, I figure the couple is well-off and married.  I suppose the couple is drinking coffee to sober up for the drive home after a festive dinner party.

The man behind the counter approaches me. He is undoubtedly either the owner, or someone related to him. This is an independent operation as so many of these places were before chain automats and eventually Starbucks put most of them out of business.

“Coffee?” the man behind the counter offers. Wearing a blazing white uniform, he’s a smallish man with wire-rimmed glasses who is going prematurely bald.

“Black,” I say.

“You must be new around here,” the man says.

“You could say that,” I reply.

Lifting his eyes from his coffee cup, the man across the counter stares at me. He tips his hat revealing bright blonde hair. Combined with his deep blue-grey eyes, he’s a dead ringer for Peter O’Toole in his signature role as Lawrence of Arabia.

“My name’s Kendall,” he says in a friendly tone.” I wonder if it’s his first or last name. I happen to hate my first name. Who names their kid Saul forty years after the war? It would be a good name for my grandfather. Not for me.

“And I’m Allison,” the woman next to him says.

I’m surprised by the couple’s friendliness. Maybe it’s the late hour and the intimate setting. Maybe people here are friendlier to strangers than they usually are in the other the small towns I’ve visited. Maybe–just maybe–this will be easier than I thought it would be.

Illustration of time travel from the story "A Lesson In Time" by David Gittlin

“My name’s Saul,” I say to the couple. “Nice to meet you.” I turn to the man next to me, half-expecting him to introduce himself. It suddenly occurs to me that the guy hasn’t moved a muscle since I came through the door.

“Ignore him,” Kendall says. “He’s just part of the scenery.”

“I’m sorry for that unkind remark,” I say to the motionless man. He’s heavy set, dressed in a brownish green-striped suit, and looks every bit like a non-descript traveling salesman.

I turn back to the man named Kendall. “If that was a joke, I don’t think it’s funny. People have feelings. Didn’t your mother teach you that?”

The last thing I want to do is get into an argument with these people, but I can’t help saying something.

“You don’t have to worry about his feelings,” Kendall says.

“And what do you think?” I ask Allison. On closer examination, she looks uncannily like Julianne Moore in her role as Clarice Starling in the sequel to “The Silence of the Lambs.”

“Allison is new,” Kendall replies. “She’s still in training. She’s not supposed to talk much.”

“Wait a minute,” I say. “Who are you people?”

Kendall leans down and pulls a strapped leather briefcase from below the counter. He extracts a file, opens it, and begins reading.

“Let’s see. Saul Grossman, age thirty-two, engineer/designer employed by Raytheon Technologies, assigned to jet engine development, invented and now operates a time machine in his spare time. Does that about cover it, Saul?”

I am beyond shocked. Fear and anger compete to control me. Somehow, I manage not to panic. I don’t want to hear the answer to my next question, but I have to ask.

“How do you know so much about me?”

“You’ve been on our radar,” Kendall says. “Now that you’ve decided to interact with the past, it’s time for us to step in.”

I’m still in shock, but a ray of hope may be peaking through the gathering storm clouds. “Are you time lords, or some sort of benevolent time control agency from the future?”

“Sorry to disappoint, Saul. We’re your local branch office of the NSA. We made some adjustments to your time machine after reading your time journal in which you wrote, ‘I’m now confident that I can interact with the past to make the present better.'”

“So, you broke into my house without my knowledge or consent.”

“That’s about the size of it,” Kendall confirms.

I feel my intestines start to melt. “What sort of ‘adjustments’ are we talking about?”

“For starters, we’re not in the past. We’re in a computer simulation where the only thing that’s real is you.”

I try to imagine how this can be happening. Am I talking to naked human bodies floating in an electrochemical solution inside giant Pyrex glass tubs? Are they fitted with electrodes attached to their heads to facilitate thought-transference-voice-activation to their virtual avatars? Or is it a cutting-edge holographic computer program capable of interacting with a real-live me?

I reach into my pocket to push the button on my remote control extractor. I’m not going to stand still for this. Literally. I’ll be out of here and back in good old 2021 in no time–or a few seconds.

Nothing happens.

I try again. Still nothing.

“I forgot to mention we disabled your extractor,” Kendall says with a cheeky wink of an eye.

“So now what?”

“Now you stay here for the rest of your natural born existence, my friend.”

“You’re kidding. Right?

“Afraid not, Saul.”

“You can’t do this.”

“Would you rather be thrown in jail?”

“On what grounds?”

Kendall takes the last sip of his coffee. “We’ll think of something. It won’t be pretty.”

“I can’t believe this.”

“It’s an unfortunate situation, Saul. You’ve become a danger to yourself and the rest of us. You played with fire, and now you’re burned. The good news is we know how to use your technology better than you would have used it.”

Kendall grabs the briefcase and guides Allison to the front door. Before they leave, Kendall and Allison wave goodbye. “Have some fun,” Kendall says. “You’re an inventive guy.”

“Don’t leave. Please.”

“We’ll check back with you in another thirty years, if you’re still around,” Allison says with a cheerful smile.

Outside the door, I watch Kendall and Allison dissolve into ghostly vapors, then disperse into thin air.

The Time Travel Spiral

Copyright 2021 by David Gittlin. All rights reserved.

Categories
folk guitar music parenting

Feeling The Heart


Mother And Daughter In A Field Talking About Life

“The time that’s left is yours to keep.” These words come at the end of the chorus in the song “See Here She Says” by Kate Wolf.

While I find all of the lyrics in this song beautiful, this sentence hit me smack dab in the heart. I can picture a mother teaching a child about life. She is telling the child about the importance of dreams, and to use his or her time wisely. Use it well, not only for yourself, but also for others.

Certainly, love, beauty, and a full range of human emotions come through Kate Wolf’s music. Perhaps I can feel her heart even more, now that she has passed into spirit.

Here is my cover of “See Here She Said.”

Loving Couple Laying Down After A Picnic In An Open Field
Categories
folk guitar music poetry Videos

Through Her Music


I choose to wander in sunlight to avoid the riptide of darkness threatening to engulf our world.

I prefer to see and hear beauty.

I endeavor to open my heart to love. Not the love that comes and goes. Rather, to eternal love.

I am human. I need love and beauty as much as air and water.

Lately, I’ve been bathing in beauty, love, and light by listening and playing music. Specifically, one person’s music. Listen to my cover of Kate Wolf‘s “Muddy Roads” recorded on her last album (1986) Poet’s Heart. Tell me what you hear and feel.

“When we are connected — to our own purpose, to the community around us, and to our spiritual wisdom — we are able to live and act with authentic effectiveness​.”

MALIDOMA PATRICE SOMÉ

Gratefulness.org

Background Music Credits For Intro Video:

The Edge Will Follow by Javolenus (c) copyright 2012 
Ethereal Space by Snowflake (c) copyright 2011 
Homework by gurdonark (c) copyright 2010  
Reverie (small theme) by ghost (c) copyright 2010 

Categories
folk music music Videos

Love In An Open Field


“Lay me Down Easy” is technically a blues song. To me, the song sounds upbeat with a whisper of the blues in the background. And there’s definitely an element of wry humor in the mix. Maybe “bitter sweet” is a better description of “Lay Me Down Easy.”

I’ve been playing many of Kate Wolf’s songs lately. The beauty of Kate’s music steals its way into my heart the more I listen to one of her songs. As illustrated by the photos, I’m feeling the joy and the love in the song more than the backdrop of the blues. Listen, and let me know how you receive it.

Loving Couple Laying Down After A Picnic In An Open Field

Photo by Vlada Karpovitch on Pexels

We must continually choose love in order to nourish our souls and drive away fear, just as we eat to nourish our bodies and drive away hunger.

ELISABETH KÜBLER-ROSS AND DAVID KESSLER

Categories
folk music music Videos

Beauty In Blue


Beautiful Cornflowers Blooming In The Morning Sun.

I first heard “Cornflower Blue” as the opening song on Kate Wolf’s 1983 double album “Give Yourself to Love.” As I listened to the album many times over, “Cornflower Blue” grew on me (no pun intended). I began to appreciate the exquisite beauty in the lyrics and in Kate’s lovely singing voice.

Oftentimes, songs like this one will find their way into my heart and I feel compelled to play them myself. With this song, I had my doubts. The chances were good that I might not pull it off. Learning how to play “Cornflower Blue” like Kate does was like learning how to walk again. The style is completely counterintuitive to what I’m used to, but I’m glad I made the effort. I hope my cover of the song conveys some of the mystery and beauty of the original.

Categories
folk guitar folk music music Videos

Looking Back On Warm Times With Friends


Kate Wolf Playing The Trumpet Vine. Folk Guitar, Pop Music, Folksinger,

“With a voice that has all the sweetness of a California morning and the loneliness of the sea beating against its rocky shores, it’s a mystery why Kate Wolf went unnoticed for so long. Listening to her songs, you never feel like you’re hearing studio recordings made many years ago. Instead, it feels like the singer’s sitting next to you, picking a guitar and telling stories near to her heart. With just a few words, Kate Wolf creates a great sense of intimacy.”*

Certain songs speak to me. Kate Wolf’s “The Trumpet Vine” is one of them. It typifies the aching beauty of her music. Here’s my cover of the song.

*Excerpt from an article written by Kasper Nijsen

Categories
fiction humor short stories

What’s At The Bottom Of The Staircase ?


Architecture, Art, Spiral, Curve, Design, Interior, Stairs, Stairway, Staircase, Tower

Six years ago, I attended a seminar presented by Saniel Bonder titled “The Sun in Your Heart is Rising–Activating Your Embodied Awakening, Wholeness, and Unique Purpose.” Nine people attended the five-day event at Kripalu Yoga Center in western Massachusetts. One of the exercises in the seminar is called “Heart Seat Share.” Each person in the group speaks for seven minutes about what is going on in their lives with time allotted for feedback from the teacher and group members. I’ve decided to revisit this post, polish it up, and hope it brings you some inspiration.

Here I am. It’s my time to share. I imagine myself walking down a circular staircase in my throat. I arrive on the first floor of my chest cavity.

Leaving the staircase on the bottom floor, I encounter a winding corridor with no doors or branches. At least I don’t have to decide which way to go, because I basically have no idea.  I just need to put one foot in front of the other and have faith that my feet are taking me where I want to go.

winding corridor to my heart

Finally, I see a doorway in the distance.  The overhead lighting becomes increasingly bright as I reach my destination.  It’s a wooden door painted gold with an intricate star pattern splashed on the surface. What does it mean? Maybe it’s just a goddamned ornament put there to look mysterious. Who knows? I decide it looks inviting.

Elaborate Wood Door With Intricate Star Shape Pattern

I grab the brass handle, turn it, and nothing happens. The door is firmly locked. I knock a few times and wait. Seconds go by and then a full minute.  No response.

“Anybody home?” I call out.

Total silence. Not even the sound of air-conditioning.

“You know, I’ve come a long way to get here.  The least you can do is answer your fancy door.”

I’ve traveled this way many times before, but I always get lost. Not this time. I’m convinced this is the real deal.

Futuristic Corridor, Heavenly Corridor, Journey's End, Seeking Light, Seeking Truth, Seeking Wisdom, Truth, Wisdom,

I’ve been told by numerous teachers that someone or something dwells deep within the recesses of the heart.  I’ve always believed this to be true.  I never doubted it.  Yet here I am, standing around like an idiot.  I’ve heard some vague rumblings from time to time from the other side of the door.  I’ve had a few inklings, maybe even heard a faint burbling sound, but that’s about it.

“This is getting embarrassing,” I say to the elaborate, mysterious door.  “I’m here in front of the class, and I need to sound halfway intelligent.  Can you please give me some material to work with?”

“Like what?” a voice says from the other side in a slightly irritated tone.

I almost fall down.  These two words are more than I’ve heard in thirty years.  It’s a clear, unmistakable, somewhat irritated voice.  I quickly regroup before the voice loses interest.  I must take advantage of this opportunity.  I have to get right to the point.  I imagine whoever is speaking to me is quite busy.  I’m not even going to imagine if it has a shape.  I can’t risk wasting its time.

The Infinite, Integration, Divine, Divine Human, Nexus of the Divine and the Human, Reality, Peace, Love, Joy

“Okay,” I begin.  “Can you tell me why we haven’t met yet?”

“It’s a very long story all having to do with you that we can’t get into right now because it would exceed your share time.”

“Okay, okay.  Well, then, can you tell me when it might be possible for us to meet.”

“I really can’t believe you haven’t figured this out yet,” the voice answers wearily.  “I suppose I’ll have to spell it out for you.”

There is a long pause before the voice speaks again.

“You aren’t ready to meet me.  And PUHLEASE, don’t ask me when you’ll be ready.

Another pause.

“You’ll be ready when you’re ready.”

“I feel like I’m getting ready,” I say like a little boy holding out a shiny apple for the teacher.

“Good.  Keep it up. Let me give you one word of advice: Patience.  Everything is timing. Have you heard that one?”

“Of course.”

“Then practice it.

I wait for more words of wisdom.  There are none forthcoming.

I’m suddenly impelled to ask, “Is that it?”

I wait anxiously for a response. When none comes, I turn to leave. Then, from behind me, I hear:

“If it makes you feel any better, you’re right on schedule. THE SUN IS ACTUALLY RISING IN YOUR HEART. As a matter of fact, it’s rising in everyone’s heart, some faster than others. Pray that you are one of the faster ones. Remember these words, David:

“WISDOM IS EASIER TO ATTAIN IF YOU TRY VERY HARD NOT TO BE OBTUSE.”

“Now, If you’ll excuse me, I have work to do. Hopefully, we’ll meet again in less than a few hundred years.”

Categories
music

Simple–Honest–Transparent–Beautiful


Young Woman Playing Acoustic Guitar

In a ten-year career tragically cut short by Leukemia, Kate Wolf wrote and performed over 200 songs. Her music is poignant, simple, honest, and transparently beautiful. She performed at venues throughout her native state of California. Since her passing in 1986 at the age of 44, Kate’s audience has grown steadily as people like me discover her music. “September Song” (recorded on Kate’s 1979 album “Safe at Anchor”) is one of my favorites.

Here’s my cover of the song.

Categories
Arts & Entertainment

Vincent: A True Lover


The Starry Night, Famous Oil Painting,

“Starry, starry night/ Paint your palette blue and grey/ Look out on a summer’s day/ With eyes that know the darkness in my soul.”

Those words came to Don McLean as he looked at Vincent Van Gogh’s 1889 painting “The Starry Night.” Soon, he had a masterpiece of his own: “Vincent,” a 1972 hit that he released right on the heels of his defining epic “American Pie.”

Like Van Gogh’s painting, Mclean’s “Vincent” has touched a wide range of creative spirits over the last 50 years. The song, the painting, and the book “Dear Theo,” written by Van Gogh’s brother, have certainly touched my heart again and again. I’ve always thought that Vincent’s style was at least in part inspired by his mental illness. To me, the brush strokes reflect an altered state of perception similar to the hallucinogenic patterns seen under the influence of Mescaline or LSD.

Famous Oil Paintings By Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh labored in obscurity until his self-inflicted death at the age of thirty-seven. He sold only a few of his paintings during his lifetime. Today, Van Gogh is a household word, and his paintings each sell for fifty million dollars or more. “The Starry Night” is one of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings.

Here’s my interpretation of Mclean’s homage to the masterpiece.

Categories
inspiration Making Changes motivation musings poetry

If I Dare To Leap


Clouds Interacting With Light. Lightness. Darkness. Hope. Despair.

“The path forward may sometimes be unclear. And it may be messy. But the shared heart is calling, and we have an opportunity to make lasting shifts toward love and justice in our world.”

Kristi Nelson/Executive Director of Gratefulness.org

On a rainy day there is no place to go

Except inside

To a safer place

To a better place

A place where I can spend days basking in meditation

Soaring close to the Heart Sun

Inevitably, I must arise and live in the world

Where the only way to move forward is to take a leap

Into the deep unknown

Into who knows what

Or where

I don’t want to jump

I’m not looking for trouble

Or confusion

Or more suffering

But walking in weary circles leads to “nowheresville”

As my Dad used to say

And holding on doesn’t work

So, a path cluttered with dried leaves is unveiled

Beckoning me towards a seemingly un-crossable crossroad

A paradox or a dilemma

The wise ones say, “Be who you are where you are”

Really? What if that place is constantly under water?

Unless I do something

Like making lemonade from demon lemons

I want to feel real love

I want to feel real peace

I want to feel real joy

If I take the leap

Will I find these delights?

Within reasonable bounds (if reason is necessary)

And so, I am pushed by unseen forces

To the edge of a cliff

Where I must decide

Without knowing

Man At The Crossroads. Decision Time. Jump. Cliff Edge. Dilemma.
Photo By Pagie Paige On Unsplash

Categories
music

“Give Yourself to Love”


Female Folk Singer Image Representing the Late and Great Kate Wolf

Kate Wolf came to prominence during a ten year period from 1975 to 1985.  Tragically, Leukemia brought Kate’s life and singer/songwriting career to a premature end at the age of forty-four. In the brief time she had, Kate managed, in her gentle way, to become a major influence on the folk scene with songs like, “Give Yourself to Love,” “Across the Great Divide,” “Green Eyes,” “September Song,” and many more.  In all, she wrote over two hundred songs, a prodigious output considering Kate’s foreshortened career.

The appeal of Wolf’s music is the same today as it was when she released her first album on her Owl Records label more than 30 years ago. Millions of fans around the world remain loyal to Kate and her music. She continues to attract new fans, like me, with her abundant legacy.

I want to thank Gena Netten for introducing me to “Give Yourself to Love” and the incredibly beautiful music of Kate Wolf.

Give Yourself to Love
Categories
humor short stories

The Goddess And The Tree Stump


A beautiful young goddess from another planet crash lands in the desert. crash la

There once was a Goddess who preferred to talk to fully grown trees rather than people. While searching for a splendiferous tree, she instead encountered a gnarled tree stump–a whole forest of them, actually.

The Goddess, named Marsha, was quite young. She was one-hundred-and sixty-two years old, which, in Goddess terms, is merely a teenager. Her parents, Atara and Gringold, lived in another quadrant of the galaxy. They had not heard from their daughter in over one hundred years. Obviously, they were very concerned about Marsha’s welfare.

Since there isn’t space in a blog to artfully parse out Marsha’s backstory, I will give you the bare bones and then move on.

For starters, Marsha really isn’t Marsha. Atara and Gringold gave her a proper Goddess name: Savasanti. It means “Beautiful Peace.” Like almost everything her parents tried to give her, Marsha discarded the name in favor of something else. This is not to say there is anything wrong with the name Marsha. I am only pointing out that it is unheard of to refuse a given name in the world of Gods and Goddesses.

As the dual suns beamed down on the idyllic world of Aleya, an argument ensued between Marsha and her parents in the parlor of their majestic mansion built on the highest bows of a giant Grazanga tree. (The fruit of a Grazanga tree resembles a football-sized pasticcio nut, by the way. They make a delicious and nourishing grab-and-go meal for a God or Goddess, either raw, roasted, salted or unsalted).

Shouting on Aleya is a rare event, especially between parents and their children. Nevertheless, the shouting between Marsha and her parents was audible on the marshy plain thirty feet below and outward to the neighboring tree mansions. As the conflict escalated, Atara and Gringold reddened with embarrassment and anger while Marsha’s spirits soared. Marsha always felt powerful when she irritated her parents.

Whereas they had every right to lose their tempers, Atara and Gringold, like the good parents they were, did not. However, the decibel count of the exchange increased to a level where it became necessary for a peace abiding neighbor to call the tree police to restore the tranquil vibrations of the neighborhood. The arrival of the tree police only served to heighten Atara and Gringold’s level of frustration and embarrassment with their daughter.

Exasperated, Atara cut Marsha off in the middle of a tirade. “As long as you live in this house, you will obey our rules.”

Marsha looked back at her mother, literally fuming with her long auburn locks ablaze.

“Our patience with you is at and end,” Atara added. “Your father and I expect you to curb your insolence, your selfishness, and your complete lack of gratitude.”

“If your behavior doesn’t improve,” Gringold said, “I will send you to Marsh Point where they will teach you discipline and how to act like a proper Goddess. This is your last warning, Savasanti.”

Marsha, as she was known to herself and a handful of insolent friends, glared defiantly at her parents.

After a few tense seconds, Atara implored, “If you won’t listen to us, talk to the trees. They are wise.”

“The trees are stupid. They say the same things you say.” And with that, Marsha stormed out of the room trailing behind her a long mane of smoke.

The next day, Marsha abruptly left home for worlds unknown.

Due to her premature departure, Marsha never learned the arcane secrets of navigating billions of light years across the galaxy and landing gracefully at a pre-determined destination. She arrived in Earth orbit, because the planet looked inviting from outer space, only to plunge like a meteor into the sands of the Gobi Desert in a failed attempt to land smoothly. I assure you that “failed attempt” is an exceedingly kind description of the event.

Marsha spent nearly a century at the bottom of a deep crater gouged out of the shifting and scorching sands of the Gobi Desert. The immense force of the impact left Marsha in a coma for most of this time. To be exact, the impact left Marsha’s cells in a coma because she no longer had a body. Her tissues lay scattered across a concave pit in the darkened depths of the crater. Over time, Marsha’s body reassembled, cell by cell. When her body was whole again, it still required a decade to recover from the shock of the explosive landing.

And then one day, Marsha’s eyes blinked open. She remembered nothing. She wondered, Who am I? What am I doing here.

For days, Marsha lay in the pit of the crater. Memories fluttered into her brain, slowly at first, and then quickly, like a drought stricken lake fully restored in a deluge of spring rain. She knew who she was and where she had come from.

With every beat of her heart, Marsha grew more curious about the planet she had landed on. She knew there was more to the new world than the desolate hole she found herself in. She remembered seeing lush land masses and vast oceans from her orbit in outer space.

Without another thought, Marsha jumped into the embrace of the darkness and flew out of the crater into the harsh sun and endless sands of the desert.

In any new situation, the first thing to do was to talk to a wise tree. This was especially true if you were not fond of people, as in Marsha’s case. Any dummy knew speaking to a tree first in a new situation was the smart move. And Marsha was no dummy. She had told her parents that trees were stupid just to aggravate them.

She kept flying until the land below turned from deathly pale sands into thriving shades of verdant green. After several clumsy and near catastrophic attempts to lose altitude, Marsha managed to ease into a cruising altitude near the planet’s surface. Ahead, she spotted a menagerie of trees in all shapes and sizes. Perfect. It appeared to be some sort of tree garden.

Full moon overlooking a Japanese tree garden.

She landed in a field of pink roses. There were no people or houses of any kind in sight. Marsha figured she had come to a public park, or perhaps the reserve of a very rich family. Whatever the case, Marsha felt safe enough to lie down and take a nap. The long flight combined with a century of bodily dismemberment and reconstitution had taken its toll.

Marsha had no idea how long she had slept. She awoke in the dead of night staring at a canopy of stars overhanging a ghostly full moon. The sight reminded Marsha of the museums her parents had taken her to as a child. Those were happier days, centuries ago and billions of miles away.

It was time to begin her new life. No sense laying around and reminiscing. Lifting herself up from her bed of roses, Marsha marched towards the tree garden. And then, Marsha saw something grotesque. She had never seen anything like it before. A ring of tree stumps surrounded the tree garden. Upon reaching the ring of stumps, she stopped suddenly. “Who would do this and why?” she wondered aloud.

“It’s unfair,” the nearest tree trunk replied. “We grew too tall and blocked the view of the garden. So the humans cut us down.”

“But–“

“I know. It’s abominable. The humans can’t communicate with us. Don’t ask me why. My name is Earl, by the way.”

“Marsha. Pleased to meet you.”

“Are you from around here?”

“No. I’m from the other side of the galaxy. I’m a Goddess.”

“You don’t say.” The tree trunk made clicking sounds, as if it were thinking.

“Maybe you can help me,” Earl the tree trunk said after the clicking stopped. “I’ve heard that Goddesses have powers. Is it true?”

“I’ve just met you and it sounds like you want something from me.”

“I need help badly. Look at me.”

“I suppose you want me to restore you to your former glory. That’s a big ask.”

“What can I give you in return. I once had powers of my own.”

“Can you show me what I look like?”

Like most Goddesses, Marsha’s outer beauty was beyond compare. She was, however, unaware of her looks. You see, there are no mirrors on the planet Aleya. No one needed mirrors because the Gods and Goddesses on Aleya were all astoundingly beautiful. And looking at oneself in a mirror was frowned upon.

“I can do that if you restore me to my ‘former glory,’ as you said so poetically. How long has it been since you’ve seen yourself, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“I do mind. Do we have a deal?”

“Yes. Absolutely. If I could pinch myself, I would do it, to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.”

“You aren’t dreaming. I’m sympathetic to your cause. Where I come from, no one would dare to cut down a tree.”

Earl breathed a deep sigh. “That’s reassuring.”

And so, Marsha raised Earl the tree trunk back to his former glory as the other tree trunks looked on in astonishment. They all began to clamor, “me too.”

Marsha ignored their cries. Business was business. It was time to collect her boon. She flew to one of Earl’s uppermost branches where she made a graceful landing.

“Alright, show me what I look like,” Marsha said impatiently.

“Happy to oblige,” Earl chirped. “Come closer and look deeply into the knot.”

Leaning forward, Marsha gazed into the whorl embedded in Earl’s skin, or more correctly, Earl’s bark. The whorl transformed into a mirror. Upon seeing the image in the mirror, Marsha gasped and turned away. “That can’t be what I look like,” she said in a tremulous voice.

Inner Portrait of a Recalcitrant Goddess.

“It’s what you look like on the inside,” Earl sneered. “Best case recalcitrant. Worst case, evil. I’m leaning towards evil. You don’t deserve your powers. I’m going to take them. Then I’ll rain hell down on the humans who reduced me to a stump.”

Before she could move, Marsha watched the bony ends of branches enter her arms and legs, and then her mouth. She tried to scream, but it came out as an impotent gargle. The pain was excruciating. It felt like the invading branches had set her blood vessels on fire.

As her strength ebbed, the same thoughts pounded in Marsha’s mind like a kettle drum, over and over again.

I should have listened. Why didn’t I listen?

A faint voice whispered in her ear. It sounded, no, it couldn’t be, but yes, it did. It sounded like her mother, Atara, speaking to her with some good advice for a change.

Marsha set herself ablaze. The torturous branches inside her body recoiled and withdrew, setting Marsha free.

Free to fall.

Marsha spread her arms to avoid another crash landing.

“Without anyone nearby to dowse the fire,” Marsha screamed at Earl,” “you will surely burn to ashes for the wind to scatter into oblivion; a fitting end for a criminal tree.

A nearby tree in the garden called to her.

“What do you want?”

“To apologize,” the stately tree said. “The humans cut down the circle of trees for a reason, but not because they grew too tall. They were infected with a virus that would have killed us if the humans had left them alone. I’m sorry your path led you this way.”

“Thank you,” Marsha said. “I, too, regret finding my way here. No offense to you.” She waived at the tree. “Live long and prosper, as someone once said.”

Then, Marsha looked skyward, and flew far away, determined to find her way home.

Categories
music

Rebirth


We Will Emerge from the CV Crisis With More Skills, More Compassion, and Better Ways of Doing Things Large and Small., more skil
Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash.com

Like the title of the song “Back On The Street Again,” we are all, in a sense, starting over thanks to the CV pandemic. It has caused untold suffering for millions of people around the world. And yet, in the midst of this dark night of the soul, it is becoming obvious that we will emerge, like a new-born butterfly, into the sunlight. We will resurface in these baptismal waters with more compassion, new skills, and better ways of doing things large and small.

“Back On the Street Again” originated on an album simply titled “Steve Gillette.” Released in 1968 by Vanguard Records, Gillette’s debut album became an immediate success. Many of his songs have since been recorded by other well-known folk music artists. “Back On the Street Again” and “Darcy Farrow” are two of Steve’s most popular songs. I’m also a big fan of two other songs on the album: “A Number And A Name” and “The Bells In The Evening.”

Enough said. Here’s my cover of “Back On The Street Again.”

Categories
fiction humor

What Is Your Desire?


Man and Woman Having Passionate Sex in Bed

Pencils on their own are dumb creatures.

Put them in the hands of children, and they are apt to draw Moms and Dads, third-grade teachers, tulips, and dragons.

Pencils in the hands of adults are apt to write brilliant plays or novels.

The work of Robert Ludlam and Lee Child comes to mind.

In adult hands, pencils are also useful for solving complex mathematical problems.

Or sketching landscapes, faces, and naked bodies.

Or drawing just about anything, like plans for an invention to wash, dry, and put away a month’s worth of dirty dishes.

What if pencils came with the option of connecting to a vast reservoir of primeval energy?

In order to make your dreams come true?

How does it Work?

First, you’ll need a supercharged pencil at a cost of three-million-five-hundred-sixty thousand dollars for the special writing implement. Then, you’ll have to cough up another one-million-seven-hundred-fifty-three thousand dollars for the one-time primeval energy hookup.

The primeval energy bubbles and bursts somewhere deep in the bowels of the Earth. The exact location is kept under wraps for the sake of National Security.

Visually, I’m told by confidential sources, the energy resembles molten lava amped up on mild steroids.

The connection to the energy is wireless.

The special pencil allows the user to manifest (bring to life in three dimensions) anything the operator’s heart desires.

If you are thinking: where do I get one? please be advised that the item is backordered well into the next century.

And you must pass a battery of exhausting psychological tests to have the privilege of placing an order.

Due to the long lead times required to process many of the orders, the manufacturer assumes science will develop the technology to extend human life spans and thereby delivery dates.

If science fails to adequately extend human life spans, or if a purchaser tires of his or her two-century life, then the buyer will have the right to bequeath the order to a qualified heir.

If you lack the patience or funding, then try making your dreams come true the old- fashioned way.

Good luck.

Now, then. What is your desire?

Beautiful Woman With Mysterious Look

Categories
poetry short stories

The Storm And The Sea


Night time at sea.

No land in sight.

The ocean is calm. It speaks to the pale moon in glittering reflections that please the silent orb.

A giant freighter laden with shipping containers sails through the reflected light, trudging on its way to ports unknown.

All is well until…

A violent storm arrives, unexpected and unannounced.

The sea is perplexed.

The moon remains silent, unemotional, and mysterious.

The storm spews banshee winds and battering rain.

“How dare you disturb my tranquility,” says the sea to the storm.

“You have no governance over me,” says the storm.

“No governance? I am your Lord and Master. You obey me. I do not tolerate insolence. Be gone, and do not return, unless I ask you to.”

The heavens explode with lightning and raucous thunder.

To the sea, the thunder sounds like haughty peals of laughter.

“Renegade! You flaunt the laws of nature.”

In protest, the sea conjures up twenty foot waves.

The furious waves boil, rise, and crash back down to the surface of the sea.

Looking on, the full moon remains aloof, wrapped in shrouds of gray mist.

A wave jerks the massive freighter upwards at a seventy-degree angle. When the wave rolls on, the ship smashes down as if an Olympic weightlifter had dropped it to the floor, thundering, after a six-hundred-pound overhead lift.

“I’m sorry for your troubles,” the sea says to the freighter. It will take me a while to control this storm. Until then, you will have to abandon your cargo if you want to survive.”

“My hull is impregnable. This puny storm is no match for my sturdy strength. I will shake off this weather like a dog shakes off water after a bath.”

“You will drown if you don’t listen,” the sea answers. “I can’t allow this impudent storm to do as it pleases.”

The freighter deigns not to answer. It lumbers along stubbornly, until it is lifted precipitously by another wave, and battered cruelly by howling gusts of wind and driving rain.

“Arrogance. Idiocy. Rebelliousness. Will it ever end?”

“I am the sea. Ageless. Alive since this planet’s birth. And yet, I must suffer fools, it seems, until the end of time, which may come, alas, much sooner than expected.”

Photo By Elias Sch on Pixabay


Categories
Essays humor inspiration motivation

The Next Step


The next step isn’t always clear.

What an understatement.

Motivated people always know where they are going, the voice in my head tells me.

Nope. Wrong. Turns out we all must live with uncertainty. Talking to others more than I have in the past has served to underline this truth of daily existence.

Uncertainty is a driver. The question is: How do I keep it from driving me nuts?

Best way to beat it, I’ve found, is to stay connected to my family (thank God it’s functional) and to surround myself with people striving for the same goals. A community of like-minded people. I’m being deliberately vague here. Everyone has his or her unique tribe.

Most days I have a certain set of goals to accomplish. Some small. Some not so small. I always leave at least a little time to make it up as I go along. Some days are broad canvases waiting to be painted with…whatever. Other days are jam packed with things to do. Most of my days are consumed with a combination of survival needs and creative projects crying for attention.

Twenty years ago, I made the transition from the binding ties of a corporate job to the freedom of planning my days according to what I wanted to do.

Most people dream of this freedom, but I’ve learned that it comes with a price. Freedom is worthless without a purpose.

Without purpose, my mind wanders into bad neighborhoods. Worry. Anxiety. Depression. You know what I’m talking about.

I’ve discovered that my purpose changes as I change. I am like a sea captain adjusting my course as my inner landscape changes. My course also changes depending upon the feedback I get in response to my actions.

If I can’t get over an obstacle, I get around it. If I can’t do either, I find something else to do. When it becomes painfully obvious that I’ve hit a dead end, it’s time to move on.

There is a fine line between quitting and wisdom.

Recently, I had to admit to myself that, after spending twenty years writing screenplays and novels, it was no longer in my wheel house to do it. It hurt deeply to come to this conclusion. Once I got over myself, I realized that I’m much happier writing blogs to people who can appreciate them. I hope that’s you. I’m doing this for both of us.

Life is full of challenges. At this point, I believe the central point of human existence is to set up positive challenges as much as humanly possible. I don’t look for trouble. I try not to create unnecessary problems. Life is already hard enough, thank you very much.

Creating positive challenges helps to relieve my anxiety. They also take my mind off of the uncertainty.

I listen to my heart. I accept my needs and limitations. I move forward from where I am.

Still, the future remains stubbornly uncertain. All I am given is today. Let me make the most of it. I wish the same for you.

Categories
fiction poetry short stories Uncategorized

The Time Traveler


Time Portal

In troubling times, it helps to get out of our heads. Try this flight into fantasy on for size.

Rush hour traffic

Reading bumper stickers

Bumper to bumper

What if

Suddenly

Time jogs out of joint

No traffic

Traffic-less

No highway

A tunnel

Swings into view

Sea shell music

A pulsing oval

Misty edges

The silver sedan rolls and rocks

Sideways

Front ways

Like a Disney ride

Nothing solid

Out of body

The sedan morphs

Into something else

Sleek

A magnificent steed

The tunnel pulsing faster

Strobe lighting

Compressed

Into atoms

Super nova

Lost in a sea of light

Memories stir like fall leaves in the wind

The broken bridges from here to there

Streaming through the eye of a needle

In multi-colored rainbows

Standing on an orange crate

Selling apples, pears, almonds and honey

To strangers who do not even know they are hungry

Bright sunlight becomes

The dead of night a millisecond later

The traveler astride the platinum saddle of the time machine

Racing through the vortex of centuries

Time Travel Vortex

 

Categories
fiction humor life short stories

Tips for Staying Sane Now and Forever


Gravel splashing from stock car drifting on dirt track.

Is the car running away from something? Is it running towards something? Or is it just some dumb kid with a lead foot accelerating off of a dirt shoulder? If you picked option three, you get an all expenses paid free night at a Comfort Inn in Sawdust, Idaho. Here’s a more detailed description of what happened.

The cop who gave the kid a speeding ticket has left the scene. The kid is angry. He’s also trying to impress his sixteen-year-old girlfriend sitting next to him in the bucket seat of a restored 1971 Pontiac GTO.

The kid is basically a nobody, despite his ability to restore vintage cars, who is trying to prove he’s a somebody. It doesn’t help that he’s preternaturally short and stubby for a seventeen-year-old. It does help that he’s been blessed with freakish good looks. And, he’s never had a bad case of acne. His girlfriend, Luisa, is an average-looking teenager who started wearing braces later in life than most of her peers. Fortunately for Luisa, a company called Invisalign has invented a unique clear plastic brace that doesn’t look as bad as metal braces. These braces aren’t even called braces. They are called “clear aligners.” Isn’t that clever?

(Please note: I had never heard of Invisalign before I wrote this post. I was vaguely aware that something like clear braces exist, so I Googled “Clear Braces.” Invisalign came up. For all I know, the claims the company makes are pure poppycock).

To be perfectly honest, Luisa’s good fortune regarding her braces is completely beside the point. The big question is, as I’m sure you are wondering by now, why does Luisa hang around with the kid? There is no cut and dried answer, as is the case with many things in life. It may be that she is a good listener. The kid does most of the talking in the relationship, and, as far as Louisa can determine, she is the only person around who takes an interest in what the kid has to say. Another factor is that nobody besides the kid is beating a path to Luisa’s door. So, a bird in the hand applies.

There are other subtler reasons to account for the kid’s presence in Luisa’s life. We don’t have time to get into all of them. Mainly, and to her surprise, Louisa has admitted to herself that she likes the kid. A little. Upon further examination, she has realized it’s impossible not to form a connection with someone you spend regular time with, unless that person turns out to be a serial killer.

I’ve been remiss in mentioning the kid’s name. It is Elmore. The name is another cross the kid has to bear. His father was an avid fan of the writer, Elmore Leonard. Hence the  first name. Shit happens.

Elmore likes to impress anyone who will listen with his knowledge of fast cars. He likes to put adults on the spot by asking them questions like, “Do you know what the letters GTO stand for?” Occasionally, an elder will know the answer, but most of them say, Grand Touring…Uhh.

Elmore stands there smugly and says,  “It stands for Gran Turismo Olomongato.”

A pregnant pause normally follows. Elmore proceeds to explain that Gran Turismo Olomongato is an Italian phrase denoting a race car that is officially sanctioned for grand tour racing competition. Upon hearing this, Elmore’s audiences generally find an excuse to peel off in another direction, leaving Elmore to ponder why such a phenomenon happens with maddening regularity. He then consoles himself with the thought that most people beyond the age of twenty-one have become passionless souls obsessed with boring careers.

I’ll have to end here, because I know that people don’t like to read long blogs. I started writing this by randomly downloading the picture at the top. I recommend it as a fun exercise if you have no clue what to write about. If I had something socially redeemable to write about, I would. If you are looking for a theme to this blog, try this: To Stay Sane in the Midst of a Worldwide Pandemic, Sometimes It Helps to Write About Nonsense. This is probably a good practice any old time.

Questions abound as to what will happen to Elmore and Luisa. How will they grow as characters? Will they fall in love? Who besides these two will enter the story? What is the central conflict. And who is the antagonist? If you have any interest, let me know and I’ll continue the saga. And, if you have any story ideas, don’t be shy to suggest them. Your thoughts are welcome.

Categories
current events Essays humor inspiration issues life motivation personal growth

Where Does Peace Begin?


Connecting to Inner Peace

I am constantly amazed that people wander around all day staring into their smart phones, as if these devices somehow magically fulfill all of their needs except possibly eating and procreating.

Before we continue, let me assure you of a few things, gentle reader. Despite a lack of addiction to my iPhone, I am fairly certain that I am not an alien.  I do not live in an ashram.  I have not recently arrived here from the year 1910 by time machine. I live a conventional life blessed with wonderful people around me including an extraordinary wife and daughter. I even liked my mother-in-law, may she rest in peace, which is the only thing that makes me unusual. Come to think of it, I also read paper back books regularly, which also makes me odd.

Like most people, I want to connect. Personally, I am content with fewer connections than most people I observe. At the same time, I admire people who can connect extensively with others while managing to live constructive lives focused on a positive purpose. (I’m not entirely sure people like this exist in large numbers these days, especially with respect to common sense coronavirus safety precautions).

I am sure, however, that a great deal of “over-connecting” is going on these days in a frantic effort to fill a space in the makeup of a human being that was designed to be filled from within.

Studies have shown that the generations born after the Internet boom have difficulty concentrating on a single task for extended periods of time. For example, today’s student typically has trouble writing papers and reading course materials with a high degree of comprehension. The studies attribute the difficulty young people have concentrating to the habit of constant multi-tasking encouraged by the endless flow of entertainment and information available on the Internet and social media interaction.

Where does all of this “outer-connecting” and constant external focus leave us?  Unfortunately, IMO, a little empty inside. Perhaps lonely too.

I believe we have to spend more time connecting with ourselves. More specifically, we have to connect with a place inside that is an oasis of peace, harmony, and love.

I’m fortunate to have found that place inside. It is better described as an option to go within to experience a feeling of peace and completeness. It’s something I discovered more than thirty years ago. This feeling has stayed with me through changes, ups and downs, good and bad, and a shift into a new and different spiritual community. It’s not usually a strong feeling. It’s often subtle. But it’s there.

I balance my active outer life with a serene, fulfilling inner life. This balance has helped me to be happier, more productive, and more positive. You might say what I do on the outside has more meaning and is more effective because of the peace and harmony I have found within. It’s not an idea. It’s not a thought. It has nothing to do with my mind. It’s a real experience of peace and fulfillment emanating from my heart. (I’m speaking in ideal terms here to make a point. As my dear departed mother used to say; “Some days are diamonds and some days are gold.” Mom had a great attitude. I have to add: And other days are, well…fill in the blank). Moving on…

Peace begins in the heart, as does love, joy, compassion, and hope. We have the choice to make these feelings a bedrock of our lives. Or, we can continue to pollute the garden of our hearts by planting the weeds of hatred, cynicism, and despair. It takes a conscious effort to cultivate either one. Which choice will you make?

 

Categories
inspiration parenting relationships

Parenting: Instructions Not Included


Young couple with father who is too busy to be a parent.

I had a good childhood compared to what kids are going through these days in a complex, ultra-competitive world. There was one weird thing about my upbringing, however, that I’ll always remember. I feel it bears mentioning because it’s something that parents can easily forget, even though it’s so obvious.  I’m talking about the simple truth that children aren’t born with an a priori knowledge about the way things are in this world.

My father, Morton, was a good one as fathers go. He was a good provider, a mensch in every sense of the word. But I swear he had the idea that kids were born with a full set of instructions enclosed. Like a model plane. I don’t know how he acquired this orientation. Maybe he forgot what it was like to be a kid. He once told me his parents were “teachers.” Then why wasn’t he like them?

Morton grew up to become a super-busy entrepreneur with the responsibility of two growing businesses on his shoulders. There wasn’t much left of him when he came home after the pressures of a twelve hour day at the office. Really, though, Morton needed to make more time and save more energy to be a father. It seemed like he just wanted us to be around him and grow up straight and tall, all by ourselves.

Morton fully grasped the idea that things don’t happen by themselves. He built two businesses into thriving, large scale companies. Why, then, did he think that children can grow up properly without constant attention? My father died eleven years ago, so the answer will forever remain a mystery.

I imagine most parents are great teachers. They know how much fun it is to teach kids something new. Children love to be taught about mostly anything, especially by a caring parent in a gentle manner. I suppose, therefore, this article is intended for my Dad and the few high achieving, constantly busy parents who have missed out on the joys of bringing up a child.

I started saying things to my daughter when she was only two years old. I knew she wasn’t going to fully understand these things until later in life. Something told me to start pouring the positive instructions in as soon as she began to speak in full sentences. One of the most important things I feel she heard from me early on was this: “You can do anything good you put your mind to.”

I don’t think anything in the world can replace positive, enabling statements like this one spoken at an early stage in a child’s development.  Simple statements like, “You’re so good,” “You are beautiful,” “You can do that,” and “Good job,” can make a huge difference in a child’s motivation, achievement, and sense of well being as an adult.

It doesn’t take much time to say something positive to your child every day. Keep it simple and keep it literal.  Young children don’t barricade their minds.  Whatever you say to them goes straight into their subconscious. If you have to correct your child, do it in a way that engages their cooperation.

From early on, I spoke to my daughter as I would to an adult, always respecting her feelings and intelligence.  To be honest, it wasn’t that hard because my daughter is an only child, and she had good qualities to begin with (thanks mostly to my wife’s DNA). We are fortunate that our daughter began life with good characteristics. Most children do. Obviously, it takes more than good ingredients to make a happy and successful adult. It takes good bakers (parents) to make the cake.

Today, my daughter is happy, enthusiastic, and married to a great guy. She is a successful Assistant State Attorney. To extend the clichéd metaphor; “the proof is in the pudding.”

Looking back on my life, I ask myself: “What have you done that is truly important and beneficial to this world. I have to say my greatest contribution, by far, is my daughter.

Categories
Essays inspiration issues life motivation personal growth

Towards an Unshakable Foundation of Peace


Waiting for a connecting flight from San Francisco on my way home to Fort Lauderdale, I look around me at the faces of my fellow early morning passengers. The feeling of happiness within me contrasts sharply with the reflections of dulled spirits I see sitting row after row at the departure gate.

In defense of my fellow passengers, it can be argued that even the hardiest soul has a difficult time smiling at the ripe hour of six in the morning with nothing to look forward to besides a long, cramped flight in cattle-car-coach. Yet here I am, feeling a sense of contentment so overpowering it compels me to share it with a young lady sitting two seats away. We enjoy a pleasant, meandering conversation before going our separate ways.

By all rights, I should appear as glum and bored to the other waiting passengers as they appear to me.  I’ve logged barely a few hours of sleep thanks to a five AM wakeup call. Yet I feel so alive and awake it seems like a miracle. My spirits soar like a nimble 757 jumbo jet taking flight from a short runway.

Let me assure you: I’m no stranger to boredom and depression. And I most certainly don’t feel this happy all of the time. What I’m feeling this morning is the direct result of attending a weekend retreat with Saniel and Linda Bonder.

Before I discovered Waking Down in Mutuality, now co-named Trillium Awakening, happiness had become an increasingly elusive commodity. I had my own ideas about where to find happiness, all of them external, and I pursued each and every one of them with zeal. And then the zeal began to ooze out of me like a rubber raft with a big hole in it. Fortunately, before all of the air in my psychic tires escaped into the ether, I had my first introduction to finding happiness and peace within me.

Thirty years later, my path took me in another direction. I discovered a local group on MeetUp. The group description that captured my attention went something like this: “You don’t have to be a saint to awaken to consciousness. You can awaken as yourself, right where you are. Now.”

Eventually, I discovered to my surprise that people in this group had actually experienced an awakening. Hundreds of them. It was’t just talk.

That was eight years ago. Since then, I’ve been nurturing an inner experience that is  alive and real. I haven’t had an awakening yet, but I’ve experienced more peace, joy and, love in my life than ever before.

And, most recently, I’ve had an opportunity to bathe in this experience almost on a daily basis. Thanks to the Trillium organizers and volunteers, daily online gazing and meditation sessions are being offered, free of charge, to support people through the coronavirus crisis.

The major life goal that remains for me now is to realize in greater depth an unshakable foundation of joy, peace, and love waiting to be uncovered inside me. You may be thinking, “give me a break.” People have told me your goal isn’t a goal. It’s nonsense.

I disagree.

I believe it is possible to experience peace, love and joy on a consistent basis, and radiate it out to others. Not every moment, of course, but certainly more consistently than every once in a while.

It is said that what you can conceive and believe, you can achieve. As Saniel and Linda Bonder often say, “The Sun in Your Heart is Rising.”

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.

Categories
Essays inspiration life Making Changes motivation personal growth

Hidden Treasure


What Do You Really Need?

There are things in this world that promise satisfaction, and we launch into the quest to have these things thinking: “Wow, if I had that, I’d be happy. I’d be fulfilled.”

What we actually find is the dream turns into eventual disappointment. Because the gratification that accrues with the attainment or acquisition of something outside of ourselves vanishes, as if it were never there to begin with.

But if you were to find what you truly needed, then your satisfaction would remain and increase over time.

Because this particular satisfaction evolves. Your understanding of it deepens.  Your experience of it intensifies.

When you finally grasp, at the core of your being, that “what you seek is already inside of you,” then your inner peace, love, joy and fulfillment begin to truly blossom.

Then, you can begin to enjoy every aspect of your life. You don’t have to become a monk. You don’t have to wear a chastity belt. You can be “you” more fully, more expressively, and more powerfully.

When you know all of yourself, then you will be at peace with yourself and the rest of the world. And, when you find your inner treasure, then you will have something of real value to give to others.

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.

Categories
Essays humor inspiration life Making Changes memories positive thinking reflections

Grain Burgers and the Door to the Infinite


The moment arrived unannounced during a set of solitary yoga postures on my plush, living room rug.  A long stretch to relieve the tension of the day popped something open inside me.  It was not a ligament or a tendon.  It was my hardened heart.

In the Hollywood version of the story, the hero manages to crawl to the phone, call 911, and then wakes up in a hospital bed after a miraculous, life-saving operation by a brilliant, open-heart surgeon.  The experience impresses upon our hero a number of crucial life lessons.  After the crisis, the hero’s character and actions towards others change profoundly for the better.

Unfortunately, life does not resemble a Hollywood B movie.  My physical heart had not split open while in shoulder stand on the rug.  A more subtle heart had opened, and with it, a door to a new world and another destiny.

It all started with Jorge, the new employee I would never have invited to lunch if my regular lunch buddies had not run off without me.  Jorge was Mexican, the only Latin guy on in the executive suite of a wallpaper distribution company that hired mostly Anglo-Americans when Miami’s transformation into a multi-cultural city had begun in earnest in 1981.

Jorge was in his early thirties, average looking, average height, dark hair, brown eyes, and a thin mustache.  He was the kind of guy who could get lost in a crowd easily.  I had no idea his unheralded arrival would trigger a seminal occurrence in my life.

My company hired Jorge for its fledgling export division.  Jorge’s mission was to open up markets in South America and the Caribbean (approximately one quarter of the world) all by himself.  He had the ability to speak Spanish and, I presumed, super-human sales skills coupled with a pioneering spirit.  I didn’t envy Jorge one bit.

I considered myself above Jorge.  I was the high and mighty Marketing Director—Jorge the lowly new sales recruit.  I had served my time in sales.  I was grateful beyond words not to have to spend my days selling wallpaper sample books to dealers who had no more room in their stores for them.  I figured, if nothing else, I could learn something about the export market by going to lunch with the new recruit.  Besides, Jorge was the only soul left on the second floor other than myself.

Jorge suggested we eat at a quiet, natural food restaurant in Miami Springs.  My lunch prospects had just been elevated from a singular, fatty, McDonald’s affair to a tasty, low cholesterol engagement.  I happily agreed.

Over salads and grain burgers, I discovered Jorge was a vegetarian and practiced meditation daily.  Here was a subject I had some interest in, having experimented with various forms and teachers of meditation over the years.  You might say I was a semi-serious spiritual seeker.  And, I had reached a curious crossroads, a sort of impasse in my life.

I had everything a thirty-something American male could wish for: the perfect job in a field I enjoyed; a great boss; a townhouse bachelor pad; girlfriends, a few pals to hang out with; a sports car and club memberships.  I had scrupulously followed the prescribed formulas for success.  I had cobbled together many of the accouterments of an ideal life.

Yet I felt restless and unfulfilled.

I was terrified there was something terribly wrong with me.  I felt the cold winds of middle age blowing in my direction.  I saw myself dating one girl after another well into my eighties, until I finally abandoned the search for true love when my body and spirit caved in from old age.

There I was, sitting across from this lowly new recruit munching on his iceberg lettuce.  He casually mentioned losing 80 pounds after becoming a vegetarian.  I commented that it must have taken a great deal of willpower.  He answered, “Not really.”

I began to pepper Jorge with questions.  The guy was unlike many of the salespeople in our company I regularly rubbed elbows with.  He had a depth and an intensity that I found intriguing.

I asked Jorge what kind of meditation he practiced.  He said it was not a “kind of meditation.”  He launched into a passionate discourse about a profound experience of peace the meditation opened up for him.  He invited me to a presentation scheduled at a hotel on Miami Beach that evening.  I told myself there was no way I was going to drive all the way from South Miami to the Beach to attend some dubious spiritual seminar.

That night, I found myself sitting in a lime green, orange accented meeting room at the Carlyle Hotel.

Curiosity—and some undefinable vibe emanating from between Jorge’s words at lunch had picked me up from the chocolate brown pit sofa in my living room and deposited me in an uncomfortable chair surrounded by a room full of strangers.

Indian music played from six-foot speakers flanking a makeshift stage.  The only thing that kept me in my seat was the absence of Hare-Krishna-like chanting.

I glanced to my left and caught a glimpse of Jorge, who smiled kindly at me.  Someone took the stage and began speaking into a microphone.

The Indian Music and the microphone are the only details I recall after the program began.  My perspective slowly shifted from an external focus to a pleasant inner experience.

A succession of three speakers addressed the gathering that evening.  I do not recall a single word any one of them said.  I just remember feeling relaxed.  I had an experience that can only be described as feeling at home with myself.

For the first time in a very long while, I had actually enjoyed myself without a great deal of effort or alcohol to help me along.  I felt like an invisible hand had knocked off a layer of caked mud from my body.

It is difficult for me to describe what happened after that evening.  I can only say that it marked the beginning of a long journey that lasts to this day, to this very moment.

In the days and weeks after the event at the Carlyle Hotel, I met Jorge’s teacher, who essentially introduced me to myself.  I thought I knew myself pretty well.  I began to see that the image I held of myself was only a faint glimmer of a deeper, broader self, filled with possibilities.

Many years later, my life remains full of challenges, but I face them with real joy and optimism.  I have discovered that life can be every bit as beautiful as you want it to be.  It takes some courage and effort, but the possibility is real for anyone willing to step up to the plate.

I look inward now for satisfaction, rather than chasing it on the outside.  I shake hands with myself on a daily basis through meditation.  I feel more grounded.  I feel more love from within, which reflects positively into my outer life.

It occurs to me that I should have picked up the tab for Jorge’s lunch.  Jorge, my friend, if you’re out there somewhere and can read this, please know that I owe you one.

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.

 

 

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Essays inspiration issues life personal growth philosophy reflections

Serenity


To experience serenity, I think of the word “see.”

To feel serene, I remember that a wise person sees the big picture.

From this heightened perspective, I am free from the tension and anxiety that too often pushes its way into my awareness to eclipse the spontaneous joy my soul wants to feel.

I think of the big picture as a three hundred and sixty degree panoramic view of a beautiful countryside from the top of a mountain. This view is always available and waiting for me when I want to experience serenity instead of struggle.

To go to the mountain top, I change my point of view from being the center of the universe to being a part of it.   I remember that serenity and boundless joy are my birthright.

I have found it is a good practice to take time daily to sit alone in a peaceful environment to claim my birthright.  A daily dose of serenity has changed my life for the better. Peace is inside of everyone.  The awakening person seeks peace first before everything else.

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music Videos

From a Texas Town to the World Stage


Nanci Griffith is a popular singer/songwriter who came to prominence in the 1980’s. I bought one of her albums recorded in 1988 and then tracked back to discover more and more of her music. She wrote and performed her first song at the age of twelve.

Griffith was the daughter of musical parents, and she spent her childhood involved with theater and literature as well as music. She began playing clubs around Austin at the tender age of 14 and continued to perform during her college years at the University of Texas, as well as during her stint as a kindergarten teacher in the mid-’70s. Nanci finally decided to make music her full-time ambition in 1977.

One observer said of Nanci, “She found it easier to deal with the cowboys in bars at night than she did with her kindergarten students during the day.”

Nanci Griffith’s world tours are now the stuff of memories and Youtube videos, but her heart and soul will endure for years to come. She recorded and released more than twenty albums during her brilliant career. The video above features me playing one of Nanci’s rousing  songs titled “Say It Isn’t So.”

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing. He plays guitar as a hobby.

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current events Economy Essays inspiration issues life motivation musings poems reflections

I wonder


If we removed anxiety and fear from our individual and collective psyche, what would remain?

Would it be deafening silence? Would it be peace? Would it be clarity? Would it be joy? Would it be all of the above?

I wonder.

In these troubling times, try to look up and not down. You are still loved.

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels.

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Essays humor inspiration motivation personal growth reflections

Becoming a Human Light Bulb


Light bulbs, by definition, radiate light. I’m told that we humans are essentially comprised of light. So, it follows that I (we) are radiating light all of the time. The truth is closer to this: I (we) constantly radiate something, but it isn’t necessarily light. What we radiate depends upon the inner reality that I (we) cultivate.

In my case, meditation helps me to cultivate peace and therefore I radiate a peaceful vibration. But thoughts also come into the picture. Thoughts affect emotions which influence moods and demeanor. So, it pays to cultivate the kinds of thoughts that contribute to the transmission you want to radiate as a total being.

I’ve found that the key to positive thoughts is to have something joyful or pleasurable to look forward to. It’s best to make whatever I (we) look forward to something that contributes to wholeness and well-being. Activities such as snorting cocaine or abusing alcohol are not recommended. Discretion is definitely suggested on the path to becoming a human light bulb.

It helps to find a source of light and bathe in that source daily. Light sources come in various shapes and sizes. Each of us has his or her own version. The one thing light sources have in common is that they all inspire us, and most importantly, THEY ACTIVATE THE LIGHT WITHIN US.

Believe it or not, light is much more enjoyable to experience than darkness. It would be wonderful if the news media, for example, discovered this simple truth. These days, most of the material coming at us does not support our whole being or wellness, to put it mildly.

If you haven’t already, find your light source. Find a whole bunch of them if you like. Change your light source if you’ve outgrown it. Whatever you do, take some time to bathe in your light source daily. Bathing in light every day increases your joy. That’s a promise. The most advanced ones among us have found their light source within them. Good for them. We all are destined to do it sooner or later.

David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.

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inspiration life relationships

Remembering a Special Loved One


My mother-in-law, Muriel Erens, was a simple woman. She died last week at the age of ninety-three.

We called her Merel.

Merel was special in her unassuming, fun-loving way. She never complained. She laughed easily. She never asked for anything. She lived independently with a positive attitude for thirty years after her husband, Marvin (Sonny Erens) died.  She listened patiently to everything I had to tell her. She sincerely cared for her family and few friends. She thought of others before herself.

Merel joined us on every holiday and special occasion we celebrated as long as I knew her.  In the last few years, I took her to the racetrack to split two-dollar bets on thoroughbred horse races at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida. We always had a good time, even when we lost, which was often.  And Merel was a sore loser, but we laughed about it.  I have decades of memories of the warmth, love, and laughter we shared.  Merel was the best mother-in-law any man could ask for. The night before she died, I told her she was like a second mother to me.

Merel endured the loss of her husband, her son, and her daughter-in-law before she herself passed away.  Her husband (Sonny) died suddenly of a heart attack shortly after my daughter, Danielle, was born. I think God timed it that way to reduce the blow my wife (Bonnie) and Merel suffered.

Merel carried the burden of these losses without complaining or souring on life.  She kept on. She kept on smiling. She became a phenomenal grandmother to Danielle.

In a sense, Merel was the last remaining spoke in the wheel of an older generation, including my mother and father and aunts and uncles. Now, all of the elders of our tribe are gone. It can be a desolate feeling.

My wife and I plus a few long-distance in-laws are the elders now.

I am blessed with a wonderful wife, daughter, in-laws and friends, yet it remains a difficult transition to live in the world without the sense of security, guidance, and light the older generation provided. I will have to find a way to carry on with a smile, just like Merel did.

Merel Erens will never be famous, but she leaves an indelible imprint on those of us who knew her.  We will remember her strength, her laughter, her light and her wisdom.  Merel’s sudden death was a blessing because it spared her more suffering. I pray that my dear mother-in-law is enjoying peace and love in the world beyond this one.  God knows she deserves it.

Merel Erens 1926 to 2020