Archive for May, 2009

The song inside you

Posted on May 29, 2009. Filed under: Health, HowTo, Music, Musings, Philosophy, Spirituality, Travel |

Don’t go with your song still inside you“, advises the theme song of a film I saw Sunday, called either The Shift or Ambition to Meaning, depending on who you ask or where you look!

Here is the video (not embedable, so please click!)

The song runs during the closing credits, and was filmed on location at a place I’ve spent many happy days. Asilomar Conference Center on the Monterey coast in California is exactly as beautiful, stark and exotic as it appears in the video. I love that, towards the end, they filmed all the other guests at the facility singing along, and then the staff, too. How great! There’s another video at the same link which contains a wonderful meditative piano piece, with even more stunning photos of the place.

After watching the film, I felt as if I’d spent a day at Asilomar, not just the two hours it took to watch. This was the highlight for me, revisiting a place where I was very happy and experienced remarkable openings. I have a coffee mug I bought there which says “A place where lives are changed“. Indeed. I’ll say that our lives are perfect in every moment, and don’t “need” to change, but there are times and places when the desire comes bubbling forth, and a profound shift takes place.

Although I had no idea who Dr. Wayne Dyer was when I attended conferences and trainings at Asilomar some years ago, I have since heard him speak in person and on television, and have read several of his books. The film centers around a documentary being made about him, sort of a “film within a film”. I find I’m generally in agreement with about 70% of his philosophy; it rose to about 80% in this particular presentation. I don’t resonate with some of his notions about “ego” or about “service”. I know there are those who feel that a little Dyer goes a long way. Still, if I allow myself to hear the message, and suspend judgment, I can appreciate his sincerity. Since he chose Asilomar as the place to put his life philosophy on film, he must be doing something right! ;)

The song is presented by the very laid-back jazz quartet Ethan Lipton and his Orchestra. There is a tongue-in-cheek, whimsical quality to it, as in much of Lipton’s music, but it contains a very profound message, and really sums up the entire movie. The place, the music, and the message began to merge for me as I revisited old feelings and realized how far I’ve come in so many ways; yet have become more essentially “me” each year.

One conference stands out as particularly poignant. I’d been at Asilomar for three days of the week-long program. When I arrived, I very much still had “my song inside” me. “No one wants to hear MY song”, I thought. “It’s not particularly unique, or relevant, or tuneful.” I won’t go into all the specifics, but by the end of that particular day, I had discovered that the voice saying those things covered up the authentic me—the one with the amazing “voice”. Any time we put ourselves down, or say we’re less than or not enough, is actually a blunted form of (and here’s Dr. Dyer’s word!) “ego”. A façade had formed to protect our authentic selves from harm for one reason or another (or five, or 622) over the years. When we were born, I was told, the universe was delighted with us, and we with ourselves. We had to “learn” to hold a different opinion, and that “learning” could be “unlearned”.

By the end of my week there, I had actual “fans” for my “song”! I haven’t kept silent since. :D

Obviously the phrase “the song inside you” is a metaphor; it can refer to any kind of gift you want to share and develop from who you really are. In my case, it did involve music. Little bits of music had “leaked out” during my childhood and teen years; I was never completely without it. As I grew in confidence, I stepped into my music, rather than just letting it seep through my façade.

Now, as much of my work is in Arts Administration, I feel I am allowing out more and more of “the song inside”. I get to actually perform music—that’s almost a physical need at this point—as well as use my natural leadership ability (which I didn’t know I had!) to facilitate Arts experiences for others, both as performers and audiences.

The song in the film gives us a gentle warning: “Don’t GO with your song still inside you”; it says. I see the word “go”, in this context, in many ways—from going out the door, today, to the final “going”, the one where we leave this earthly flesh behind.

However you wish to interpret it, I wish for you, and for me, that we continue to discover the ongoing song, and allow it to come forth, strongly, beautifully; with passion and purpose.

Asilomar

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They got to me.

Posted on May 25, 2009. Filed under: Culture, Music, Philosophy, Spirituality |

I’m not, generally, what one would call a “patriot”. I don’t “love” my country (I don’t dislike it, either), as an entity. I love many things about it. I don’t “honor” those fighting in wars; I commend them upon doing what they feel called upon to do. Serving with honor, to me, means being in alignment with ones personal values.

Today, my country, along with many throughout the world, commemorated Memorial Day. It’s a day, we’re told, to remember those who sacrificed in wars to “keep us safe”. I’ve never really paid a lot of attention to this holiday, either in its patriotic or its picnic garb. I was looking forward to having a nice, quiet day at home, and a nice walk; both of which I did have. There is a curious dearth of new television programming in these parts during the last week of May and the first week of June; the spring season has wrapped up their series, and the new summer programming hasn’t started yet. I usually like to watch an hour or so of telly of an evening, and there’s only so much Home and Garden Television I can take! (I watch HGTV a lot more than I can justify, given that I’m not very domestically inclined.) I saw, in my local TV listings, that “The National Memorial Day Concert” would be broadcast on public television tonight.

I’ve enjoyed these types of concerts in the past. They generally include some of many kinds of music. Tonight’s offering had Broadway show tunes, Country Western, classical, opera, and pop. They generally also include a few pious and patriotic speeches, and tonight’s was no exception. We heard from patriotic actors Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinese. We heard from patriotic retired General Colin Powell. We honored veterans of the US Civil war (on account of its being the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln this year), posthumously. We trotted out a few remaining WWII vets, and some from the Korean, Viet Namese, and current conflicts. This is the sort of over-the-top, flag-waving fervor I generally dislike.

“These war thingys; they’re in the past”, I would say. “Let ‘em go; get on with things.” OK, yes, there are those who served, and continue to serve, but, currently, that is by their own choice, as my country is not currently drafting people. I’ve had relatives who served in various wars, with various feelings about them. I’ve had some who have sought deferment, conscientious objector status, and even one who ran from the draft. I’ve accepted all these decisions and respected the people who made them.

Today’s lineup of speeches and film clips were different than those I was used to. They showed film of people actually getting killed, and injured, and maimed on the battle field. They showed caskets containing bodies of those who returned without their current manifestation of life. They showed many scenes of disabled soldiers receiving rehabilitation in hospitals and veteran’s centers. I began to feel that those who were profoundly disabled had made what’s called “the ultimate sacrifice”—usually thought of as death. “The people who died, just died”, I thought. They don’t have to live with the consequences of their government’s actions. Those living for 40 or 50 or 60 more years without limbs, or mobility, or all their mental faculties have sacrificed more. They have every chance of living a wonderful and meaningful life, and I believe this is possible and often the case. But their lives are forever changed. “And for what?” I ask. Some government doesn’t like the way some other government is running things. That’s it. Bottom line. Simplistic, I realize, but true nonetheless.

The Memorial Day commemoration I watched included an in-depth story of one family. One mother, daughter, and son. One soldier whose helmet encountered a grenade as he and his driver (who was killed) were on their way to report a suicide bombing. This soldier lost a good part of his brain. I believe, based on what was reported, that this young man would not be alive today if his mother had not insisted. Their story was dramatized in great detail. The mother and the sister (only 21 at the time) gave up everything: their lives; their jobs; their friends; their home, to care for this young man, whom the doctors gave “no quality of life”. Three years after he came home, the man uttered the word “Mom”.

I admit it; I was in tears. The television continued to cause me to weep as it featured musical numbers which reinforced the deep sadness, and hope, and love such situations bring forth in us. flaglobe

I was going about my business, thinking I’d just tune into a nice holiday concert, as there was “nothing else new” on TV. I’d managed to ignore this patriotic holiday—pretty much. It took television—that box in my living room; that window on the world—to bring me back to the raw emotion; the beauty; the tragedy; the glory; that is the human condition. I’m profoundly grateful.

Whoever you are, as you read this, I thank you for your service to humanity.

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treks, stars, angels, demons, colliders

Posted on May 13, 2009. Filed under: Culture, Philosophy, Science |

Each of the words in the title of this post has at least a double meaning in my life this week. I have called the last week—from last Thursday until now—the busiest week I’ve had so far. I don’t know if this is strictly true, but, certainly a lot of things came together at once. First there was work. A lot of it. I’ll talk about that and brag about my accomplishments in a minute, but while it’s fresh I want to tell you about my day.

On Wednesday, I finally had a day off; a day where I wasn’t expected to be anywhere, and had only small or upcoming projects I could safely ignore—for a day, anyway.

Did I spend the day catching up on my blog friends’ blogs? On posts and stories and lives I’ve sadly neglected? Although I’ve missed you, and haven’t been around, and haven’t expressed concern for some things I know some of you are going through—No. I. didn’t.

I spent the day with Science Fiction, Reality, and Fun. I really needed the break, so please forgive me. I went to see a movie (guess which one), went out to lunch, and then went to a science lecture in the evening. I know the movie and lunch might sound like fun to most of you, but, a lecture? That’s more like work, or a class, or something. For some. For me it’s fun, stimulating, and relaxing all at the same time. This particular lecture was exhilarating! It was called Angels & Demons: The Science of Antimatter and the Large Hadron Collider. I haven’t seen the movie Angels & Demons yet, as it doesn’t open for a couple of days, but apparently, in honor of The Year of Science, many universities throughout the USA were presenting similar lectures this week.

atom3The talk was wonderfully entertaining. There’s nothing like a funny physicist to capture my attention. He was able to address the science in the upcoming movie in way that educated and enlightened scientists and non-scientists alike. I learned that much of the science discussed in the film is true; real; something that I wasn’t expecting. The Large Hadron Collider, which is planned to be activated later this year, plays an important role in Angels & Demons, and several of the physicists who’ve worked on the Collider teach at the University of Arizona, where I attended the lecture, and were present there. All the images and properties of the collider discussed in the film are accurate, we were told. The only s-t-r-e-t-c-h, perhaps, was the potential of the bomb which is the major threat in the movie. I’m impressed that so many of the highly-scrutinized science premises are well presented.

Six hours earlier, I was delighted with Star Trek, as well. Awesome; Credible; Very-Nearly-Perfect. I’ve seen every episode of The Original Series at least six times, and I thought the way the characters were handled in this film was surprising, but fit with the physics we know, without losing any credibility or violating the history of the franchise. There have been some viewers who feel the JJ Abrams film didn’t adhere to the Star Trek we know and love—I disagree, I think the story was handled in a consistent way with physics we entertain today. As I said; surprising. I’m not giving it away though! Go see it, even if you are not a particular Star Trek fan. (Do I know such people?) ;) It’s a great space adventure whether you’ve heard of Kirk or Spock, or not. I, and my geeky, Trekker fans waited a long time for this film. I’m looking forward to the continuing voyages.

Here’s what I needed a break from: Two major events for two of the organizations I work for in ONE weekend. And all the buildup to them, and fallout afterward, including me getting promoted, or voted-into, really, the directorship of one of the groups. (Good for me! Yay!) I’m going to have a very busy year, but I have a little breathing room for a couple of weeks to catch up with my online reading.

All the science was a refreshing change for me, after being up to my ears in arts and cultural groups (even if one of them has its scientific elements). Tomorrow is my day to clean house, read blogs (alternatively blog-clean-blog-clean; it works better for me that way) and plan to move forward in my new role. Cheers, and thanks for your patience! :D

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One person’s frustration is another person’s…

Posted on May 9, 2009. Filed under: Games, HowTo, Musings, Philosophy |

I said I was going to write about multiple blog identities, and I will, I really will, but, it’s just that this other thing came up in the meantime. I was working on a project (actually a blog) for this organization, and, I got an email from a colleague who is unhappy because this organization’s blog does not come up first when she types the org’s name in “googlesearch”.  It’s kind of strange to maintain a website for an organization, because each individual in it wants something different. Or doesn’t want anything at all from it: “Website? What is Website? What for we need Website?”

So, this person’s unhappiness with me manifested itself in an email saying she is extremely frustrated that when she “googles” the org, the first listing is a sort of anti-us blog post. My first impulse is to tell her to stop “goggling” us then! As I am somewhat nicer than a person who would actually say that, my second impulse is to explain how it takes time for site info. to “propagate” across the web, and how I’ve installed some Search Engine Optimization tools, etc.

My third, (and finally the one I’ve acted on) impulse is to not respond until I am clear with myself on why I’ve allowed her frustration to become my frustration. My “job” in that moment was not to ease her frustration, but to look at the situation objectively, see if there were any action steps I could or wanted to take now, and assess whether and how to respond to the colleague.

So many times we hear from someone “I’m frustrated” or “I’m mad” or “I’m not happy with your work” or “I don’t like what you’ve done and you need to change!” We tend to have a “fight or flight” response to this. First reaction might be “Oh, yeah?” or might be “I’m sorry, I’ll try to make it better.” When I allow myself to think about it, I realize neither one of those extremes is appropriate. The problem is not (emphatically, NOT) the other person’s frustration, or unhappiness, or dissatisfaction. The problem, if there is one, (I tend not to believe in the theory of problems, other than in a mathematical sense) is in how the actual situation or piece of work is working.

The truth (according to Muse) is that my colleague’s “frustration” is none of my business. It is an emotion she is experiencing. It could have been triggered by any number of things, and unless I’m a psychotherapist, and she is my client, it’s not my job to make her feel better. Now, if I do an honest assessment, and realize, as I did here, I wasn’t doing all I could, as well and as quickly as I could, to change the situation which (apparently) triggered her “frustration”, I may be able to offer a solution which, in turn, allows her frustration to dissipate.

The danger in any of these business relationships (again, the Truth as I See It) is in creating solutions with the GOAL of making people feel better, rather than, as in this case, making the website WORK better.

As I look back on a childhood dynamic which seems sort of hilarious to me now, although it plagued me then, I see how we can become caught up in wanting to help people to feel better. Worthy goal, you might think. The only issue with it is…it can’t be done!!! The only way for someone else to become happier (or less frustrated) is for them to examine within themselves what would be a next step towards that. We cannot change people’s feelings about themselves. We can hold up a mirror if we choose, but that’s about it.

So here’s the family dynamic. Picture me: Cute Teenager. I’m minding my own business, expressing my opinion, and doing whatever it is I do. My father comes to me and says “You know, your Mom is mad at you!” If this happened now, I would probably say something like “Really?! Well, I hope she feels better soon.” Back then though, my first thought is “I screwed up again. What can I do to make it right? OR Well, she can just be mad, ’cause I’m not changing anything!” Both of these are reactions. Both assume that I was somehow responsible for her “feelings”. I’m not; never was. The funny thing to me, looking back on this, is that she used my father for her henchman. She wouldn’t tell me she was mad at me herself, she’d complain to dad, and then HE would tell me. I gave up asking what he’d suggest I DO about that.

These sorts of dynamics translate to adult relationships. From there, it is my “job” to sort out what dynamics I wish to include in my beingness, and which no longer serve me. It’s a dicey game. Sure is exhilarating, though! ;)

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Twitterupdate

Posted on May 4, 2009. Filed under: Culture, Games, Health, HowTo, Musings |

Here’s what I’ve noticed so far. Of the three networks I’ve recently joined (Twitter, Library Thing, and Gaia) I use Twitter the most. It’s so easy, and so enticing, to just pop over there for a second and see what’s up. Even so, I don’t post there very much, really.

I have noticed that I tend to complain just a bit more at Twitter than I do in my  blog posts; or at least it seems that way. Wonder why? I’m deciding right now as I type this, I don’t want to do that. Because if I focus on the things I don’t like, it will give them more attention, and thus more power! (Isn’t that what I’ve been telling me all these years?) I sorta kinda already knew this, but the tweets, these strange short little outbursts, seem to bring out the complaining. I want to do only mostly positweets. (Trying to be realistic, here, and not make “rules”, just preferences.)

So, I use Twitter the most. The one that uses me the most is Gaia. It’s this spiritual/conscious sort of network, and I’m a little…surprised at how much marketing is involved. I checked the box that said I wouldn’t mind receiving an “occasional” email from them with “special opportunities” for “people like me”. I have been a member for nine days, and I’ve received 10 emails from them. Guess I ought change my preferences. I know we all need an income, etc., and I might have bought buy some of their products, but I’d rather the focus be on the interesting discussions. Which I haven’t participated in. So I’m not sure what I’m really doing there, other than it seemed like a gathering place for people with some of my interests. We’ll see.

And I haven’t put any more books up on Library Thing, yet, but I’ve had a very busy week, and I will soon have more time for that. They are good folks and I like the site. I’m looking forward to trying out the one Care recommended, too.

Let’s see if I can remain positwitterific! {Can’t believe I said that!} :)

P.S. Oh yeah, I now totally get what people mean when they say that the appeal of Twitter can’t be explained, but must be experienced. It’s very different than I thought it would be. If this keeps up, I might even join facebook!. Nah!

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My brain is getting fuzzy!

Posted on May 2, 2009. Filed under: Games, Health, Music, Musings, Philosophy |

energybrain …or something. I like to watch YouTube videos of classical choral performances. Or, more to the point, I like to listen to them, and it’s easier for me to find pieces I want to hear on YouTube than on ITunes. I don’t know why. I’ll watch the chorus and the orchestra and the conductor, and unless I know some of those people, it gets kind of boring after a while. Most choruses are not very animated, in spite of conductors admonishing them to be so…So, at some point, I’ll usually open up another tab and start playing a game, like Free Cell or Spider Solitaire.

I like those, because I don’t have to think too much and can still listen to the good music. But, those games, especially the Spider one, come with their own sets of noises. I’m the kind of person who leaves their speakers off most of the time, unless I’m watching a video or the news or something. So, when I play these games, on their own, my computer is usually mercifully silent. And that’s another thing. For someone who is a musician, I like silence a lot more than you’d think!

So, it’s kind of weird to be listening to a very serious sacred piece and have my game make a strange carnival type noise. It does this when it’s not pleased with me or my move, so it makes it that much more disconcerting. Usually, the game noises conflict horribly with the nice music I’m listening to, but, tonight, I played Spider Solitaire while listening to Haydn’s “Little Organ Mass”. {Go ahead; snicker, but that’s really the nickname of this work.} I found myself clicking on “Show an available move” in the game menus, because the “Ta-da” sound it made was a chord in the same key as the Haydn! They were perfectly in tune. So I asked the game for help even when I didn’t need it.

Anyway, here’s the fuzzy brain part (or was that already it?) I’ve played Spider Solitaire a lot, lately, letting it act as one diversion or another. And I play the “easy” version, with only one suit (spades) because that way I win most of the time. I get grumbly if I don’t win most of the time. I’d played so much Free Cell, that I just needed a break. At first, it was strange putting a black card on a black card, as in most other Solitaire games I’ve played one must alternate the colors. I got used to it, though.

Tonight, after playing the Haydn-Spider combo long enough for the novelty to cease to amuse me, I went back—after probably ten days—to Free Cell. I felt disoriented! Just seeing all those red cards mixed up with the black ones felt as if I’d slipped into another dimension. As perhaps I had.

You know how if you look at something like a black and white spiral design for several minutes, and then look at a white wall you’ll see an “after image” of the colors opposite to what they originally were? It was like looking at something like that, but also like I was playing a brand new game. I could hardly remember where to put the cards. I forgot how many I could move at a time! My brain felt fuzzy!

It seems to me, from this unintentional experiment upon myself, that intense focus on a specific over time can begin to make one lose ones broader perceptual abilities. I’ve always played my share of computer card games, but on this occasion, I felt a little seasick. It felt as if someone had plucked me out of the Sonoran Desert and plunked me on a beach in Hawaii (hmm, not a bad idea) but without any warning or travel time. Have you ever felt this way? And if so, what caused it? I’d really like to know!

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