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
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:

This stunning, four-story mansion in La Paz, Mexico is owned by former vice president Fernando Lopez. It is unlike the other ornate, classical-style mansions in the city. Designed in the 1930s by architect Fernando Ocampo Senior, the mansion is built in the Art Deco style with sleek, curved walls and eaves, and horizontal linear ornamentation. It is called a “Boathouse” because of its resemblance to a ship with portholes.
This stunning, four-story mansion in La Paz, Mexico is owned by former vice president Fernando Lopez. It is unlike the other ornate, classical-style mansions in the city. Designed in the 1930’s by architect Fernando Ocampo Senior, the mansion is built in the Art Deco style with curved walls and eaves and horizontal linear ornamentation. It is called a “Boathouse” because of its resemblance to a ship with portholes.
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” from the album of the same name by Kate Wolf released in 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
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
inspiration psychology

Are You Stuck In Shades of Gray (And Black)?


Are you stuck in the land of sadness? Do you always come back to this all-too-familiar place, no matter what you do to get out?

Surprisingly, I’ve found very little in the annals of Psychology relating to prolonged periods of sadness besides labeling these states as some variation of depression. It may be called Clinical Depression, Major Depression, Schizophrenia, Anhedonia, or some other name neatly categorized in the manual of psychological diagnosis.

What if the primary cause of, let’s call it, “sadness for no reason,” was emotional “stuckness.” It’s like being stuck in first gear, or being emotionally tone deaf. It’s like feeling only grays and blacks instead of experiencing the full spectrum of human emotion. I like to think of the full spectrum as the colors of a rainbow.

What if there was a way to change emotional mono-tonality into a state of emotional multi-tonality?

What causes emotional mono-tonality? The most likely answer is fear of being hurt. The little boy or girl inside us needs protection from some form of emotional criticism, non-acceptance, or abuse. The subconscious response is to dampen or completely shut off the emotions. It’s a good strategy for a defenseless little boy or girl. However, it becomes a problem later in life when a void of emotions and the program cutting off feelings continues to run causing depression, limited capacity, and self-destructive behavior.

I can vividly remember the moment when I shut down my emotions. I was a thirteen-year-old boy standing in an open field outside my Junior High School. As I recall the experience, I’m struck with feelings of uncertainty, insecurity, and something I can only describe as the raw pain of existence rushing in. These feeling were overwhelming.

I reacted by flipping a mental switch to turn off the uncomfortable feelings. Maybe I was a Yogi in my past life. Who knows? I just did the deed, oblivious of the effect it was destined to have on my future self.

After a morning meditation yesterday, the idea hit me that prolonged, “unreasonable” periods of sadness can be the result of “frozen emotions.” Emotions are supposed to circulate rather than remain fixed. Could my constant effort to control my thoughts and emotions be the cause of the lingering sadness on the sea bed of my emotional psychosphere?

“Of course it can”, I told myself. A frozen emotional state is like a river or a lake frozen solid. Nothing moves.

No movement leads to stagnation. Picture a pond where the source of fresh water has been blocked. What does it look like eventually?

Emotional stagnation leads to sadness and depression. Constantly struggling to “stay positive” can easily lead to the opposite result. Fixing thoughts and emotions on a single desired state of feeling/being is the definition of “freezing.” We can wind up trapped in a state of grays and blacks.

The big question is where is the fine line between over-control and adequate control of thoughts and emotions. There is an interesting theory presented by Doctor David Burns in his famous book, “Feeling Good.” He says, basically, that thoughts determine emotions. I believe there is a fair amount of truth to this idea. In his book, Burns goes on to identify a series of self-defeating thought patterns that lead to sadness, depression, and unproductive behavior. All of this makes sense, and Burns claims to have had a significant success rate with his methods for reversing self-defeating thought patterns.

I’ve tried Burns’ method. It can help, especially in the short run, but I find it incomplete. Talking back to misconceptions becomes too mechanical and laborious after a while. And, it really doesn’t get to the root of the problem: the feelings themselves.

My personal experience teaches me that over-controlling thoughts and emotions can lead, ironically, to sadness and depression. Why? Because emotions need room to breathe. They need time and space to unwind and, if necessary, to heal.

It would be lovely to constantly walk around in a relaxed and released state of being. I’ve been advised to let go of my emotions and allow them to just “arise.” Sounds wonderful. I wish it worked for me.

Here’s the paradox. The demands of everyday life don’t provide us with enough time to allow our emotions to unwind, express, and heal. If you don’t have to work; if you aren’t in relationships; if you have no goals, then, by all means, go ahead and feel however the hell you want to. Just don’t be surprised if you find yourself alone and homeless.

So what’s the answer? It’s obviously an individual thing. We’ve all heard and read that it’s necessary to carve out alone time to rest and recharge. It can be a long walk in nature. It can be painting a picture. It can be anything that helps you relax and enjoy. For me, it doesn’t stop there.

I’m currently using a psycho-spiritual approach to get my stuck emotions moving. With no intention of sounding overly dramatic, it’s also something I do to approach my “existential dilemma.”

What I’m about to say is not an attempt to advocate or promote anything. If it resonates, then fine. If not, we can still be friends.

My approach begins with regular meditation periods of about thirty minutes in the morning and just before bedtime. During these periods, I let my emotions out of their corral. In open fields, they can romp and kick without doing any damage to myself or any collateral damage to those around me. I do this meditation in conjunction with a tangible energy field that I tap into through my connection to the Trillium Awakening community of teachers and practitioners. I’m able to reach levels of peace, love and joy within myself aided by the Trillium energy transmission. I know. It sounds crazy, but it works for me.

One of the benefits of this practice is an activation of my emotional core. What gets stirred up isn’t always pleasant, but it’s movement, and, I believe, steps in the right direction.

I’ve also discovered an underlying program that affects my thoughts and emotions. It feels more like it is embedded in my body rather than in my mind. So, it is coming from the bottom up rather than the top down. The program needs to be understood and accepted. I might say “befriended.” Then, hopefully, it will unwind and lose its effect. Or transform into something more conducive to good feelings.

My approach may sound totally bonkers to you. No problem. Find your own way. Whatever you do, let’s discover pathways to breathing in and breathing out the full spectrum of human emotions. Let’s experience the rainbow.

Feature photo by Pop and Zebra on UnSplash.com

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
inspiration poetry

What Lies Deep Within?


Exploring an Underwater Cave

Go beyond the mundane mutterings of mind

I tell myself

Into a broader perspective

Into a deeper reservoir of peace and love within

Dive

Explore

I tell myself

It’s there

It is really there

Deep within

I’m told there is no end to the depths

Yet, here I am

Standing on the shore

Barely scratching the surface

Despite all of my sanctimonious efforts

I’m okay with it

I tell myself

Better to taste the drop

Than to taste nothing at all

Exploring an Underwater Cave

Categories
current events inspiration life motivation Politics

What Would Happen If We Made Life Simpler and Less Difficult?


Simplicity and serenity in Japanese zen garden concept for balance and concentration.

To say there is a lot going on these days is an understatement. To say most of it is very troubling will not shock anyone. To ask, “What can I do about it?” is a worthwhile question.

Can I trust politicians in this country, Republican or Democrat, to protect me? No.

Can I change the world through the political process? I don’t think so.

What can I do, then?

Here are a few ideas.

I can become a better person.

I can take precautions to keep myself coronavirus free and not infect others.

I can reduce the time I listen to the constant drumbeat of bad news.

I can use the extra time to pause and reflect upon something sublime for a change. I can look at life from a different perspective. I can ask myself these questions:

What if consciousness became curious and created this world, including you and me, simply to have the pleasure of experiencing itself?

What if consciousness had already created millions of worlds and dimensions before it created this one for the same simple purpose?

In other words, what if we owed our existence to the natural tendency of consciousness to expand and play?

If this is true, then why do I take myself so seriously?

If consciousness wants to have pleasure and play through me, then why is there so much destruction and suffering in the world?

Do we bring most of the suffering and destruction upon ourselves?

What if we found a way to make life less of a struggle?

What if we opened ourselves to the love and joy that must exist somewhere within us?

What do you think would happen?

Categories
current events Essays humor inspiration

Jet Propelled


Stylized Boeing Jet Engine

I downloaded this image randomly because I had no idea what to write about. Let’s see if we can have some fun with wordplay.

Airplanes have always interested me. They still do, as long as I don’t have to ride in coach. I used to make model planes as a kid. I only made the plastic variety, because the technique for making paper and balsa wood models always eluded me. They made it look so easy. And the finished product looked beautiful. Expert model plane makers painted them in custom colors. I never met anyone who could make one. You must possess a god-given talent to do it. You have be an artist, in the model plane sense. Chalk it up to an early encounter with limitations.

Talking about limitations, they didn’t bother me as a kid. Like most kids, I just went on to the next thing. No big deal.

Later in life, limitations became a big deal. It hurt to bump up against them. It hurt to see my dreams go down in flames. I had to learn to accept my limitations. Accepting limitations is a wise thing to do, but it’s definitely not fun. That’s why god gave us imaginations.

Q: Without imagination, where would I be?

A: I’d be Stuck in a cramped, bad news, and boring world. (There is only one event that can make the news worse these days: Nuclear War).

If I imagine ten things and can only make one of them happen, I’m better off.

If I imagine a better world for me, automatically the world around me changes for the better.

Okay, back to jet propulsion….My mind won’t let go of this imagination thing. No one, except myself, can stop me from having a jet-propelled imagination. People can laugh at me, including my wife, but I don’t care. I’ve pretty much lived in an imaginary world up to this advanced stage of life. I’m still here. I will not try to fix it if it ain’t broke. As you can imagine, living eighty percent of your life in an imaginary world has it’s advantages. It also has it’s disadvantages. And so on. 

If I don’t do a better job of sticking to the topic, I’ll have to change the title of this post to “The Benefits of Using Your Imagination,” or something self-helpy like that.

Jet propelled. Hmmm….Who am I? Well, certainly not jet propelled. That narrows it down a bit. I can list all of the things I do and who I am in relationship to others, but I don’t want to bore you.

So, Who am I? Really?

I’ve learned that I’m essentially consciousness experiencing itself. I understand the concept, but the experience, the reality of it on a consistent basis, stubbornly refuses to ground itself in me. Another one of those limitations? Not really. I’m infinite and limited simultaneously. I believe it, even though it isn’t my everyday experience. I know people who experience it daily. It’s amazing that I even know them. There aren’t many people walking around who can honestly make this claim. Not that I’m special or anything. I’m just crazy enough to hang around with this tribe.

Okay, so I’ve successfully (for the most part) avoided the subject of “jet propelled.” I’m still going to leave the title as such, because most people will not be interested in the other stuff I’ve talked about.

If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading.  May all (or most) of your dreams come true.

Jet Plane Taking Off at Sunset

Categories
inspiration life Making Changes motivation personal growth

Money is Good (Happiness Too)


Spirituality and Money

I’m taking a ten-week online course about awakening to consciousness. One of the teachers in the course made some statements in a video about money and happiness that irritated me to the bone.

The teacher said, in effect, that the pursuit of happiness and money in our culture is the cause of many of the problems we are experiencing today. He also said our pursuit of happiness and money doesn’t work, and that we are undergoing a “paradigm shift in consciousness,” presumably to something better. He went on to indicate that the pursuit of happiness is not one of our primary drives. He said it is something that our culture has conditioned us to do. I thought my earbuds had malfunctioned when I heard this.

Because these statements are broad, they open the door to misinterpretation. I may have misunderstood what this fellow was saying, but the statements moved me to bring up a few points.

This teacher may be talking about the way we seek money and happiness, and there is a certain truth to this. But I also picked up from the discourse a bias against the acquisition of wealth and our traditional pursuits of pleasure.

It’s easy to get lost in the wilderness when we are breaking new ground.

While we can always do better, we have to use discretion in the ways that we effect change in ourselves and the world around us. Positive change is gradual. We don’t want to drive off a cliff and explode in a ball of flames. We want to be careful not to “throw the baby away with the bath water.”

We all need pleasure. We all need love. We all need happiness and, dare I say it, joy. We need them as much as food, shelter and clothing. And there is nothing wrong with having all of these things, not just marginally, but amply, in any pursuit, including awakening to consciousness.

I’m sure, at least in myself, that the search for happiness is my primary drive. The big “shift” came when my experiences as a young man taught me to look for happiness within myself first.

If I am happy and fulfilled within myself, then I will have something worthwhile to share with others. It may be that I can’t grasp and hold onto happiness, but I can surely point myself in the direction of experiencing more feelings of joy, peace, and love which, in my book, are foundational to well-being.

This teacher also makes a point that money does not provide security, peace of mind, or happiness. While it is true that money alone cannot provide these things, I am certain that a solid financial base contributes substantially to our individual and collective health and well-being. Not having enough money is a distraction. If I have to constantly worry about where my next meal is coming from, or the roof over my head, or having enough clothing to wear, there will be little or no time left for achieving anything besides survival goals.

And the sad truth is that most people in this world today are financially vulnerable to the point of distraction. With the added burdens of the pandemic, our survival needs are more than a distraction. We are faced with the threat of severe illness and death every day. Life was hard enough before the pandemic hit. It’s nearly impossible for many of us now.

However, if we take the pandemic out of the picture, and, at the risk of sounding unsympathetic, our economic problems don’t stem from our democratic government, our culture, or any other external factors. As Shakespeare’s Cassius said, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

We have the freedom to choose what we do with our lives. If our opportunities for economic advancement are limited, we have the power to change those conditions.

We all have resistances in our bodies and minds to the realization of personal happiness. With the application of intelligent free will, we can overcome these barriers.

Having enough money is a blessing. It is a resource that enables us to feed and protect our families, to have a semblance of peace of mind, to achieve higher goals, and to help others.

I’ve managed my life so that I am free to pursue higher evolutionary goals. I am not a slave to anybody or anything. I am relatively free. I’m certainly not free in the sense that the Buddha was free. But I’m free enough to operate in the way that I want to operate. If I screw up, it’s on me.

I’ve seen too many broke and unhappy “spiritual seekers.” They use their quest as a haven from their failures in life. It’s an easy trap to fall into. It’s a cop-out.

Whether or not we are actively pursuing an awakening to consciousness, there is nothing wrong with striving for happiness. Happiness is a choice and an attitude. It doesn’t fall down from the sky into our lap. It’s a constant learning process. It can be extremely tricky. It can be very simple. It requires discretion. It can be a struggle. There is only one obstacle that can prevent you from realizing our vision of happiness. That obstacle is us.

If we are on any consciously intentional path to awakening, there is nothing wrong with striving to attain financial security. We only have to know how to use money for our own betterment, and the betterment of mankind.

There is nothing to hold us back from achieving our goals besides the worn out saying that goes: “You can’t have your cake and eat it.”

You can.