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Sunday, December 25, 2011

We Can Work it Out

Ok. Here's the deal. I started this post in the middle of November. I had a few things to talk to you about, but, wasn't sure exactly what to say and how to tie it all together. Of course I still have no idea, but I've put it off too long. So please be patient while I figure all this out. Ok? Ok.

It's not even Thanksgiving yet but of course Christmas advertising is in full swing. It started before Halloween actually. Sure, it started small. Tree shaped candy at cash registers for those impulse buys. Stores putting out their boxes of strung of lights and other regalia. All for your convenience. If you'll be celebrating that is.

The notice has been hanging on the bulletin board at work for quite some time now. Since before Halloween. It's a Save the Date notice for the company Holiday party. Yup. A Holiday party.

Now, a lot of people I know get all het up with the term Holiday. You know. Holiday instead of Christmas. Happy Holidays, Holiday party, Holiday what ever else you can think of. Many people feel put upon feeling like they're pandering to people who aren't like them.

If some one wished me Happy Chanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Boxing Day or, even Happy Festivus; I'd be ok with that. I'd know they weren't forcing there views on me, just sharing whatever happiness within themselves they could.

And another thing -

I sure am glad the issue of immigration is new to this country. Never before in our history have people come to our shores (or borders) looking for opportunity. A better life. There have never been sections of towns where people who have come here have settled together to feel something safe and familiar.

Here's a bit of something you've probably never heard before;

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless,
Tempest-tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Recognize it?

It's on the Statue of Liberty.

Ok, ok. Sorry for all the sarcasm. I know some of the issues of immigration facing us might feel different now a days. I know many people worry over our jobs going to illegal aliens. Our tax money going to support people who don't pay taxes to begin with. And on and on I suppose.

Here's something else -

We are the 99%. Occupy Wall Street. Occupy Oakland. Occupy. Protest the rich and powerful ignoring the people they've climbed over to get where they are now. Protest the legislators who are so out of touch with what people really really need. Legislators who only listen to what special interests say and can't hear the world protesting. Protest people who have more money than they know what to do with whining about taxes. And of course protest the government protecting them.

Protest until We are the 100%.

So all of that was written long ago and far away. What on earth could I have been getting at? Just ranting? I don't know exactly, but I doubt it.

In any case here's another thing -

To paraphrase Charles Dickens, I've always thought of Christmas as...

"A kind, charitable time. The only time when men open their shut up hearts and think of all people as fellow travelers to the grave and not some other race of creatures bound on other journeys".

Next time someone says Happy Holidays remember that in this land filled with people insisting on individuality, where hardly anyone really knows anyone any more, it's meant as something to tie us together somehow. If you're a Christian who finds that phrase offensive, turn the other cheek, do unto others, judge not lest ye be judged. Or you know, just go ahead and say Merry Christmas. Or if you know that person celebrates differently than you wish them happy Channukah, Three Kings Day or whatever.

A friend of mine asked a while ago when people ever realize that we're all the same; that we're all connected.

I haven't a clue. At the rate we're going now, it's gonna be a while. Until then I keep the faith that we can work it out.

So, with out proselytizing, or evil intent. Merry Christmas!

Peace



 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Glory Days

So, what's new with you? I always go on and on about what floats through my head and I thought I'd give you the chance to vent a bit if you wanted. I'm not being nosy, just reciprocal. Are there any big changes in your life? Job, sickness, new romance? I'm sure there must be something. If you wanna share please feel free. Me? Well, there is a post that I have half written that I just can't tie together yet. It's all about being proud to be part of a certain group yet some how insisting on individuality.  Whenever I'd think of something that would finish it up I wouldn't have the time to type it up. Then I'd forget it. I'd sit here trying to jog it loose but it just wouldn't come.

I had to change course though.

Even though I've written about change and how good it is in an earlier post; I'm gonna do it again.

Sort of. Well you know differently though. Things change.

The opportunity to change comes to us every day. Sometimes we stare change in the face while it yells and waves its arms to get our attention and we choose to ignore it. Other times it slips past us like a soft summer breeze that tickles us on the way by and leaves us yearning for it to come back. For if we knew it was coming, surely we could have been better prepared to savor it.

Every day we change a little bit. Watching the simple act of a child can change our thinking in a thousand ways, with or without our awareness. With or without our permission. Change careening and crashing through us with out a care about how we feel about it. So many people are scared of change. They want everything to be the same and comfortable all the time. The same drive to work. The same Friday night pizza. The same. The same. The same. Some would never even dream of choosing change. Yuck! Avoid that at all cost. How easy it is to be stuck in the same go nowhere job, that dead relationship. How easy it is to stick with what you know and not take that chance, to not choose to change.

But what happens when change chooses us? Well, we deal with it right? We do our best. We either forge on and deal with what there is or we feel affronted that something could so rudely interrupted and act as expeditiously as possible to fix what we might feel is broken. We react. Why do we never proact? Ok, that's not really a word. Sorry.

And what's wrong with being proactive? Yup, that one's a word. I guess I don't really mean proactive though. That would mean praparing for change. Knowing what's coming before it comes. I suppose I mean embracing change somehow.

Here. Here's someone who said it much better than I'll ever be able to:

"If, like a Cherokee warrior, I can look at the new year as an opportunity to stand on the new ground, then strength and courage are on my side. I will remember that things do work out, bodies do heal, relationships mend, - not because I said it, but because I believe it. But it is time to make things right, to stay on the path. As water runs fresh and free from woodland spring, so new life and meaning will bubble up from my own inner source. I will be still and steady, because there is nothing to be gained by showing fear in a chaotic world."
                                                                                          Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Embracing change gives us so many opportunities to better our lives and realise dreams.

Change is hard, I know.  Just today I was sifting through a box of memories purging what I really wanted to keep or not. Thinking of the glory days I suppose. The thing is though that the glory days are now. The glory days are where you are right this second. And every second after this one. And the next and the next. It's just up to you to know it.

So I'll congratulate you now ok? Congratulate you for choosing change. For not letting circumstances and habits stand in the way of what you want. For embracing change and showing no fear in this chaotic world.

Ever onward my friends.


  

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Losing My Religion

I am always surprised at the things I don't know. Oh, yes, there's plenty I don't know. There's no denying that. Sometimes though finding out something I had no idea about just blows me away.

I was sitting with a group of people a while ago. We were looking for something to do and ended up rifling through all the questions of a kids trivia type game. Actually it was called something like The Game For Boys. I don't remember the age range of the game, but as I remember it was kinda young. The questions were hard too. I almost think they put the wrong questions in the box. We weren't playing the game though. We were just reading the questions aloud and trying our best to answer them.

One of the questions really got me though. It was something like - Name the top ten world religions. The actual number they asked for may be different but that's close enough. We rattled off Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, Shintoism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Then I slowed. I think I guessed Greek or Russian Orthodox, but if I remember correctly they weren't on the list. In fact I think much of Christianity was lumped under just that term, Christianity. Anyway, we were down to the last one or two and just couldn't get them. Finally we gave up and asked the person who read the question to give us the answer.

If we had two answers left I don't remember them both. I only remember one. I was too stunned to even hear the other I think. I was stunned by the answer I heard. It was number 3 or 4 on this list.

The answer was Bahá'í.

For anyone lucky enough (ha ha) to spend, oh, more than two minutes with me has found out; if I don't know about something I reach for my hip, grab my phone and google it just so I'll know.  Well what I read that night blew me away.  I knew at that moment I had to write about it here in some form.  I just never knew.  I have lifted the next few paragraphs directly from Bahá’í.org/

Founded a century and a half ago, the Bahá’í Faith is today among the fastest-growing of the world’s religions. With more than five million followers, who reside in virtually every nation on earth, it is the second-most widespread faith, surpassing every religion but Christianity in its geographic reach. Bahá’ís reside in more than 100,000 localities around the world, an expansion that reflects their dedication to the ideal of world citizenship.

The Bahá'í faith's global scope is mirrored in the composition of its membership. Representing a cross section of humanity, Bahá’ís come from virtually every nation, ethnic group, culture, profession, and social or economic class. More than 2,100 different ethnic and tribal groups are represented.

Since it also forms a single community, free of schism or factions, the Bahá'í Faith comprises what is very likely the most diverse and widespread organized body of people on earth.

The Faith’s Founder was Bahá’u’lláh, a Persian nobleman from Tehran who, in the mid-nineteenth century, left a life of princely comfort and security and, in the face of intense persecution and deprivation, brought to humanity a stirring new message of peace and unity.

The essential message of Bahá’u’lláh is that of unity. He taught that there is only one God, that there is only one human race, and that all the world’s religions represent stages in the revelation of God’s will and purpose for humanity. In this day, Bahá’u’lláh said, humanity has collectively come of age. As foretold in all of the world’s scriptures, the time has arrived for the uniting of all peoples into a peaceful and integrated global society. “The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens,” He wrote.

It takes a distinctive approach to contemporary social problems. The Faith’s scriptures and the multifarious activities of its membership address virtually every important trend in the world today, from new thinking about cultural diversity and environmental conservation to the decentralization of decision making; from a renewed commitment to family life and moral values to the call for social and economic justice in a world that is rapidly becoming a global neighborhood.
For a global society to flourish, Bahá’u’lláh said, it must be based on certain fundamental principles. They include the elimination of all forms of prejudice; full equality between the sexes; recognition of the essential oneness of the world’s great religions; the elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth; universal education; the harmony of science and religion; a sustainable balance between nature and technology; and the establishment of a world federal system, based on collective security and the oneness of humanity.

Wow!  Full equality between the sexes?  Eliminate extremes of poverty and wealth?  The oneness of humanity?

I'm not trying to indoctrinate you into a new religion or anything.  I lost my religion long ago.  I mean I am glad that there are so many people out there that find fulfillment through this religion.  If you have read any of these other posts though you know it's all about treating each other with care.  With dignity and respect.  It doesn't have to be organised, presided over or dictated.  You just have to want to.  You have to want to know you are doing unto others.

Ok.  This time I think I've even had enough of me.

I'm pullin' for ya.

Peace



Saturday, October 8, 2011

I Me Mine

I got to go to my very first sneak peek of a movie the other night.  I had seen previews for Real Steel at a few other movies.  The story line appealed to the underdog/hero fan in me.  Of course the action and special effects of 9' tall boxing robots didn't seem too shabby either. (Really)  I was surprised while standing in line to see two men with wands searching people before letting them into the theater.  I had to wonder aloud what was going on.  Ah.  Looking for video equipment.  Huh.  Then sitting in the theater it was announced that the light of a cell phone wound mean automatic expulsion for the person with the phone.  Wow. That seemed pretty hard core.  It happened to be the last night of the baseball season and my team's fate came down to the last night of the season.  I almost asked for permission to check scores once in a while but thought better of it.  

I know I've mentioned this some where else in this blog but, I'll say it again; I can be an absolute sucker for movies.  I can laugh and cry with the best of 'em.  I can get emotional while watching a trailer on TV if it moves me in the right way.  Real Steel was an absolute roller coaster ride for me.  It's kinda funny.  I'm not sure what demographic Disney was shooting for exactly.  It's probably meant to be a movie for the whole family.  I mean it's definitely a movie for kids; one of the main characters is a kid after all.  There's a love story element for moms I guess.  There's the washed up boxer story for dad.  And of course the 9' tall robots for everybody.    

In the post I'm a Believer I talked about how a director sometimes hits you over the head in order for you to get a message.  I think director Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum, Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Date Night) was a little more subtle. I think.  I say I think because the same message kept hitting me over and over.  I don't know.  It's probably just me. 

The overriding theme for me was all about ego.  All about letting go of ego.  Ego vs. true self.  I sat there in the theater saying to myself over and over. "It's all about ego".   Every single character had to overcome ego in some way or other.

But what is the ego?  Is it good or bad?  Seems as though the ego mostly always gets a bum wrap.  And that's where it gets hazy for me.  I don't really know enough I guess.  Let's do a little studying. 

From dictionary.com:

e-go  (eeg-oh) 
  
1.
the "I" or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought.

2.
Psycholanalysis; the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primative drives of the id and the demands of the social and physical environment.

So, we all have egos.  As a baby we don't really have an ego though.  All of our experiences are outward.  We have no real sense of self.  Only over time do we become aware of self.  The problem is is that before we can know our true self a reflected awareness of our selves takes over.  It's not our true selves.  It is ego.  It's us filtered through how others see us.  If mommy loves you and cares for you in the right ways then it's all good.  A good ego is born.  If you are not cared for or loved or appreciated then all you're stuck with is an ill ego.  So we have two centers really.  That center which is your true self and the center that is reflected ego. 

In many ways the ego is a good thing. Right?  One needs a strong sense of self and a feeling of confidence to succeed in many a situation.  I guess it's when an ill ego starts taking over every thing that problems start.

The ego take over?  How's that?  Aren't we in control at all times?  Well, sorry. no.  Most of us aren't really in control all the time.  I wish I was.  I try most of the time to think about what I'm doing.  To consider others feelings.  To remember we're all in this together.  When I fail it's almost always ego at the heart of the matter.  When I am feeling unworthy or unlovable or sabotage a relationship, it's the ego that is doing the hard work for me.  All I have to do is stand by and watch.       
You might be familiar battling an ego that clings to old ways and old beliefs.  An ego that  will cling to those things that it knows. Those things that give it power. Those things that keep you from realizing your true self. Your true power.

Someone you love or respect dares to hint that you might be mistaken about something?   Even if you know in your heart that they're right the ego snaps to attention like a soldier.  The ego will mostly defend itself against all suspicion against all doubt.  I mean jeez, you don't want that person to think of you that way do you?  Ego to the rescue! 

Want to ask that person across the room out for a date?  What's the worst that could happen?  Oooo they might say no!  That would feel bad for a minute.  Ego can help with that.  Soon you will convince yourself that it's probably not even worth the effort.

See the ego is all about I, me, mine.  I, me, mine.  It craves atte

All right.  So what?  What's the big deal?

Are you really willing to be satisfied not knowing your true self? 

Taking power away from ego is scary.  It makes you feel confused and chaotic at first.  Ego will fight long and hard to stay in power.  Our battle need not be so fierce though.  All you really need is to be mindful.  You have to keep watch of ego.  If we are mindful ego will fall away of its own accord.    

And without ego?  That real center is the soul, the self, the god, the truth, or whatsoever you want to call it.

I'm pullin' for ya.

Peace.





Thursday, September 22, 2011

Money (That's What I Want)

The pizza place had just opened.  It was around 11:00 a.m. and I had decided to sit in the bar to order my pizza to go.  The waitstaff was sitting around waiting.  All the TVs were on with 9/11 tributes from all the different stations. The waitresses were talking about their weekend so far and watching stories about the heroic exploits of the FDNY.  Some stations had live coverage at ground zero while the list of victims names were read aloud.   Others had interviews with all sorts of people from first responders to evacuees to loved ones left to deal with tragedy.

I've got one eye and ear on the TV.  I've got the other set on the waitresses.  Each person is going through their own personal ritual.  Hair up just so.  Apron tied this way, not that.  Order pad tucked here or there.  One of the women was talking about dancing so much at a wedding the day before that she was exhausted.  In a good way.  Another was talking about living in NY in '01.  She remembered so much I couldn't possibly do justice to it here.  The bartender was sharing a funny text exchange from the night before.  The wedding dancer was saying that her aunt (I think) had been exhorting her to go catch the bridal bouquet. Evidently there was no way she was gonna get up there to try and catch that bouquet. 

"I don't like all of that tradition stuff". That was one of the other waitresses.  There was a buzz of responses to that. 

I didn't really hear any of it though. 

I'm watching ground zero on TV.  People there are making rubbings of names on the monument.  Water is cascading over the wall of the fountain disappearing into that black, black square in the middle. 

All the noise in the bar quickly fades as I hear that young woman's words swirling through my brain.  I'm suddenly alone in a room full of people.  I am amazed at the words I've just heard.  Even though her statement was about weddings I am immediately thinking of so many other things.

From Dictionary.com

tra-di-tion
(truh-dish-uhn)
noun
1. the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, especially by word of mouth or by practice; a story that has come down to us by popular tradition.
2. something that is handed down; the traditions of the Eskimos.
3. a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting; The rebellious students wanted to break with tradition.
4. a continuing pattern of culture beliefs or practices
5. a customary or characteristic method or manner; The winner took a victory lap in the usual track tradition.

Where would we be without traditions? In so many ways our lives are driven by tradition. I mean when you get right down to it. Aren't they? It doesn't matter your religious leanings or your political views; we mark time - the passing of seasons and years, well so many things really, in some traditional way.
I don't know how many times I had a toss with my daughter or son on the first warm day of the year just to loosen up the ol' arm.  It's a tradition taken up by many fathers.  It's a tie to the past and a hope for the future.  Or that walk in the woods we always took in the spring to see the green shoots coming up through the winter weary ground.  On family trips there was always a particular place we'd stop.  That highway rest stop that marked a leg of the journey.  It was something you could count on.  Watching a certain video at Christmas time just to make sure you were getting in the spirit of things.   There are so many life affirming traditions.  So many things we hang onto to let us know everything's gonna be all right.

We traditionally commemorate dark times too though.  The memorial at ground zero is of a tradition ages old.  People have gathered to remember lives lost in many places.  Auschwitz, Gettysburg, Hiroshima, Chernobyl; these are just a few of the places people go to remember, to mourn, or just to try and figure out how we could do what we do to each other.

Yup.  People travel to these places.  In fact people travel to these places so much there's a term in the travel industry for it.  Dark tourism. Or of course death tourism.  In an article on Miller-Mccune.com











I must be gettin' old.  I never thought the phrase "Isn't anything sacred?" would pass through my brain pan.  I mean it's about death and how people deal with the unknown we all must face.  It shouldn't be about making sure you have a nice stay at some hotel just so you'll remember and use them again on some other trip some where else.  Ya know?

Well, I'll see ya 'round.

Peace.




          




 


     

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Homeward Bound

My life blew up a few months before I started writing Notes. So...

I lived in a motel for a year and a half.  It's on one of those busy roads littered with strip malls and shops for miles and miles.  Carpet stores and bed stores. Big stores, little stores.  It's a divided road with two lanes on either side.  One of those where you have to go out of your way sometimes just to make a u-turn to get where you really want to go.  Really it's a commuter road now a days for people who want to avoid traffic on the highway.  And though not exactly a no tell motel, all the places on this strip are known for prostitutes, drug deals, teenage parties, and of course police visits.

I lived tucked away in room 101.  The first room in the front of the building.  Away from the hustle and bustle just a few yards around the corner in the main section.  I was never aware of the reindeer games going on in the busier section.  I'd come back after a day's work with some kind of cheap fast food and close the door on what ever the future held in store out there.

The thing is though, one doesn't really live in a motel.  In fact the first year or so I was there I had to check out for one night every three weeks and find some other place for the night.  Of course they offered to let me store my stuff in the room.  Well, you know, for a charge.  No mail could be received either.  If they let you get mail you would be establishing residence.  NO establishing residence!  No packages either!

I was a person of No Certain Address.  Wow.  I never in my life imagined I would be able to; have to really, say that.

I knew all along that there were some people that did stay there all the time.  No checking out.  No shuffling off hither and yon.  I always wondered what I was missing.  Why I couldn't just stay.  Until one day.  One day I went into the office to pay up and the woman I always saw behind the counter gave me permission to stay.  "I trust you now" she said.  I could come in and pay for the week and just stay.  No more hassle.  My weekly wonderings of "Why not me" were over.

I was in limbo though.  I didn't have a home.  Some times home just isn't where you hang your hat.  For various reasons I'd allowed my life to stagnate.   

Various reasons?  Well sure.  I had started over in this life a few different times.  I've crammed clothes in bags and belongings in the car and left.  I've planned things out, set a date and left.  I guess I was in no mood to start over again this time.  I didn't want to set up a life again.  Get used to something again just to eventually move on.

Then one Sunday morning I got up and got a newspaper.  I was determined suddenly to move on. 

See I was teasing somebody at work one day and they thought I was serious.  So being an adult, this person said something he meant to hurt me with.  Classic malice aforethought stuff.  Cut to the bone stuff.  It didn't hurt though.  It woke me up.  "Is that what things look like from the outside" I  thought.  He was one of the only people who had a chance of really understanding what was going on in my life.  Evidently he didn't.  He did make me think though.

I'm renting a room in a duplex now. 

I answered an advert in that newspaper.  I went and looked at a few rooms in this house and chose what I thought was the best.  I came back a few days later to pay my first and last and move my stuff in.  As I was doing that the manager of the house presented me with a piece of paper to look over.  It was a list of the rules of the house along with a list of things I was supposed to read and initial.  Things like; You will come to weekly meetings, You will submit to random drug tests, You will allow your room to be searched at any time.  I was getting more frustrated with each line I read.  "Really?" I asked in response to what ever I read first.  I was ready to take my money and go.  "You can't be serious!"  "Dude, you really should tell people this is a half way house before you ask for the rent money" was the last thing I said before I handed him the money.  "Transitional House", he said.  He wouldn't call a half way house.  More like a two thirds house. He envisions this as a last stop before real life for most of the people who will be staying here.

Huh.

I'm in transition.  I didn't even know!  Although we all are in some way or another I suppose. 

I have an address now.  Is it home? Nah, I don't think so.  But I am homeward bound.  It may not sound like it, but it is a step up from the motel to me.  I'm sure I'll be tellin' ya about some of the people who pass through here and what lessons we could learn from them. 

Had enough? 

Yeah, me too I guess.

Keep your stick on the ice.

Peace.




   

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bad Karma

Well, I made it. 

I waited a whole month. 

See, I lost my iPhone.

Well, I left it out somewhere at work and it was stolen.  I had to wait a bit before I could  get a new one.  Much cheaper with an upgrade you know.   

For those not in the know, that was my tether to the ether for the longest time.  It was my only device to communicate with the world.  I had no other phone.  I had no computer.  I couldn't go on line any other way.  Finding myself alone in middle age my phone was a constant companion.  I suppose I was as addicted to what that phone did for me as I seem to be to cigarettes.  Unfortunately another constant companion right now.  As my smart phone it was my blogging tool, my Face Book, my Google and my MapQuest.  As a simple tool it was my calendar, appointment book and alarm clock.  As my toy it was my Angry Birds and the like.  As my camera it was my record keeper.  Oh yeah, and of course it was my phone.  I got a very cheap replacement while I waited for my upgrade.  It was, to say the least, barbaric.      

I could shrug it off and say it was my fault.  I could.  I could even say I was lucky it didn't happen before that.  Really, I could.  Not gonna though.  Nope.  I'm mad.  And I'm disappointed.

I say I'm mad, but I think I'm more disappointed.  Disappointed in myself and in whoever took my phone.

Oh don't be too hard on yourself Nightguy.  Phones are lost or stolen all the time.        
More than 37 million cell phones are lost, stolen, or damaged every year in the United States.  Wow.  That's a lot of phones.

My problem is that it happened at work.  For me there are a few rules to follow in the workplace.  One would be don't say anything to anyone you don't want repeated.  Where I work if you want to make an important announcement make sure to tell someone in low tones that you're sure no one else can hear.  By lunch time everyone else will know.  It's that simple.  Forget the loudspeaker or bulletin board.  Just tell one person.  The other rule is don't leave anything around for too long.  Whether it's lunch in the fridge or a tool you need to use to finish a job.  Everything has legs.  Some one will always need something more than you do.  Always.

So I broke one of my own rules.  That my friends is the disappointing part.  I knew better.

The person who couldn't turn my phone into lost and found knew better to.  That's kinda disappointing too.  Although we spend a ton of time with our co-workers you just don't know them.  Oh we grow close to some. Befriend some. But you just never really know.  Who know what evil lurks in the hearts of men?  (The Shadow knows, btw)

I guess that's where karma comes in to all of this.  I have paid some karmic debt.  I have a few guesses as to which debts might've been lined for payment.  Then again maybe I don't.  Was it some instant karma thing for some action I don't even remember? Or was it indeed some sword that's been hanging over my head for longer than I know?  'Course it coulda been just dumb luck.  Luck though means that we just wander through this life.  We have no control.  No sense having goals or making plans.  Everything is a 50/50 shot.  Or should we even bother worrying about all of that?  Maybe we are here for no real purpose.  No lessons to learn.  No reason to grow. 

It seems most people only think of karma going one way.  I only hear people talk about karma when they've been wronged in some way. You know?  There is always some satisfaction knowing that the person who has done something to you will pay in some way.  That everyone is responsible for their actions in one way or another.  In this life or the next.  (If you're into all that)  Ah, but it works both ways yes?  When is the last time you worried about the bad karma you drag along like the chains of Marley's ghost?  Have you ever come to a point and realized that you may actually be gaining good karma?

I don't know.  I hardly ever think of karmic ramifications.  All I really know is that it feels better to be nice.  Feels better to do right.  To be better than you might think you can be at any given. moment.

Well, I made it.

I've officially written my first post on an actual computer.

I had been holding out writing a new post 'til I got my new phone.  The only glitch with that is that I happened to get a used computer somewhere along the way.  I really wanted to stay true to writing this on my phone.  It took some internal struggle but, I finally decided to see how it would feel to sit and write at a computer.  It was ok.  The new phone isn't even jealous.

If you've stumbled upon this and stuck around to read it; if you search for Notes From the Night Shift on Google or Bing or even Yandex once in a while - why not consider subscribing.  It's really easy and you get new posts delivered right to your inbox or your homepage depending on which option you choose. 

Like Red Green always says "I'm pullin' for ya. We're all in this together."

Peace
 

    



        

Saturday, July 23, 2011

One Love

We were standing around the smoking area talking the other day. I honestly don't remember what brought us 'round to this but, we ended up touching on the slaughter of animals for consumption as food. We didn't go into very gory detail. Some of it was about the large corporations and how they don't care if animal dies in transport as long as it's alive when it gets on the truck. How you don't really want to know how you get some of the food you do. How one guy's father (I think) worked in a slaughter house years and years ago and still wakes up thinking about it. How slaughter has become so much more humane. If you call more quickly and more violently humane. Anyway, as he was explaining some of the advances in, well... you know... I blurted out "So much for the idea of the animal gladly sacrificing its life for us". He gave me this kind of funny look. Eyebrows raised, half a smile and a nod. I'll have to ask him some time but, I don't know if he was surprised I'd know of such a concept or if I said something he'd never thought of. It must be the former. I mean everybody has seen a movie or heard some tale about olden days where the hunter thanks the dying animal for its sacrifice. I mean, right? A sacrifice that the animal accepted freely.


How do we know the animal accepted this covenant with our ancestors so so long ago? Why would any creature accept such a fate? Would any concscious being volunteer for such a thing?

Hey, wait a minute; we made it up, didn't we? We created the idea to be able to cope with having to kill something in order to live ourselves.

So says Joseph Campbell anyway.

Ever hear of him?

Those of you who have can skip the next paragraphs. I've been lazy here and took this next bit from Wikipedia. Just for a taste of who he was.

Joseph John Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987) was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience. It was his ultimate goal to demonstrate similarities between Eastern and Western religions. As a strong believer in the unity of human consciousness and its poetic expression through mythology, through the monomyth concept, Campbell expressed the idea that the whole of the human race could be seen as reciting a single story of great spiritual importance. As time evolves, this story gets broken down into local forms, taking on different guises (masks) depending on the necessities and social structure of the culture that interprets it. Its ultimate meaning relates to humanity's search for the same basic, unknown force from which everything came, within which everything currently exists, and into which everything will return and is considered to be “unknowable” because it existed before words and knowledge.

Wow. See he could take any belief system and show how it related to any other. He could show that even though the myths might be slightly different we are all searching for the same thing. In startlingly similar manners.

Christianity and Buddhism are miles apart right? Lets look briefly at Jesus and Buddha. Both Jesus and the Buddha were born of royal blood lines and of ritually pure and chaste women (Mary and Maya), who had conceived miraculously following heavenly nocturnal visitations and then gave birth while on a journey. Those births were celebrated by celestial beings and accompanied by unusual astronomical activity, and drew wise men from afar to behold both infants and bestow them with precious gifts. Within a week of each birth, an old seer beheld the infant at a naming ceremony, and predicted great things for him. Only one canonical story is told about the childhood of each Master, and in both cases, it is of a young boy showing amazing knowledge beyond his years.

Google the similarities between Jesus and the ancient Egyptian God Horus some time. The story of their lives is almost identical. Really.

Ok. I'm getting that itchy feeling now. Let's see if I can wrap this up.

We are all connected. It's as simple as that. We all strive for the same things. Really. Those things are wrapped in different guises sometimes but we are.

We are all one.

Right, I'm outta here. Go find Joseph Campbell's interview with Bill Moyers, The Power of Myth, on DVD or in print. Or get The Hero With a Thousand Faces. It influenced the likes of George Lucas while developing Star Wars and front man for The Doors Jim Morrison.

I wrote this and couldn't post it through Blogger on my phone. Then opened an account with another blogging site. Then I lost my phone. Now I'm at the library to at least post this. Funny it always seems so long on the writing on the phone.  Full screen here at the library I realize how puny it is.

Don't know when my next post will come along.

Probably in a month or so.

'Til then...

I'm pullin' for ya.

Peace


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Starry Starry Night


I have been hemming and hawing over starting this piece for almost two weeks now. Nothing was grabbing me. Nothing started my brain swirling; nothing wrenched my heart enough to get me going. Some times I wonder if I'll ever grab hold of my muse again and make her tell me a story I can write down for you. I guess I always expect instant gratification. I always expect the bulb over my head to glow bright enough to completely illumine what I need to write about. The problem is it takes a while for my eyes to adjust to the light to be able to peer into the nooks and crannies where all the best stuff is. Don't know why I fret so. Something always happens to remind my muse to whisper in my ear.

As I was on my way home from work Monday I could see police cruisers with their lights flashing from a good mile away. I figured it was an accident or a speeder pulled over. I put my seatbelt on. Oops. As I got closer I realized they were right in front of my building. Even closer and I can see that its not one or two cruisers. There's a mess of police cars strewn across the parking lots and lawns of my building and the one next door. I can't park in my normal spot due to all the official vehicles. As I make my way to my room I can see people talking and peering around the corner if the building. I take a peek and see police tape and an ambulance and official type people. I turn and ask some one what happened.

Some one shot himself.

We mill around a bit. Some few peek around the corner to try and glimpse tragedy. See if they can some how identify the person.

The ambulance leaves. Its lights flashing but the sirens silent. Somehow not a good sign.

I don't know who he was. I've never known anyone who has taken their own life. I'm sorry if you have ever felt that sting. Or still feel it.

In a way the identity doesn't matter. I'm not being mean, really. This place and the one next door aren't places one would ever plan your life around ending up. They're places that foster anonymity. They are places to watch your laundry lest you come up a pair of socks or a shirt short of your original load. Some life circumstance has led each and every one of us to this place. Some of us know things will be better. Others lose sight of the joy that is life.

See, but, that's the thing. We need to experience life. When we hold on to ego, when we name and classify every experience attaching it to something in the past; we lose our sense of identity with the universe. We must experience every moment and live it. Every laugh and every tear. It means we're alive. No where else will you feel rain falling on you, the winter wind nip your nose, pride in your child or sadness or grief or joy or anything except here and now. I can think of no better thing than being alive here and now. Every moment is bliss. Every moment you're alive.

Heavy stuff.

Oh, I know. Easier said than done, right? Yes, probably. Wouldn't you rather feel that way every day though than after oh, I don't know, a car accident or a health scare or something?

Google suicide warning signs or depression warning signs. Someone you know may very well need somebody to recognize the signs. Please.

For any Warren fans out there; Enjoy every sandwich.

Ok, 'nuff of me.

Keep your stick on the ice.








Friday, June 10, 2011

Across the Universe

I sent some one an email the other day. Just a short note.

The end.

Well, sorta.

It was maybe two days later when I received one in return. I almost didn't open it. It was a forwarded message. You know, joke of the day kinda stuff. I'm sure you know at least one person whose seemingly sole purpose is to forward whatever lands in their in-box. I just don't use email like that. Mostly if someone I know forwards something, it's gonna be good. I have asked a few different people to take me off of their list. I just don't need what turn out to be mostly a waste of time. In fact that was my first thought. "Gotta tell him to take me off".

My thumb paused good and long. Hovering. Waiting for my brain to tell it swipe the touch screen and delete the email.

"Eh", I thought, "Let's see what kind of stuff he sends".

I opened it.

Not only did I open it, I'm gonna make you read it. Oh, I know, you are welcome to skip it if you'd like. If you read this blog though, I'm sure you'll like the email.

PERCEPTION
. . . Something To Think About . . .

THE SITUATION

In Washington , DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About 4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw
money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At 6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At 10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After 1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.


This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

*In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

*If so, do we stop to appreciate it?

*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?


One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . .


How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?

I won't make you read much more, but I had to get you to think about this.

There is something beautiful in every one and everything. All you have to do is take the time to notice. Yes, one must look pretty deeply sometimes to find that beauty; I bet though that history's most nefarious characters started out just like you and me. All pink and fresh and crying and whatnot.

The world truly is an amazing place. Take the time to look for beauty in unexpected places. Be ready for unexpected beauty. Be mindful about it. Make that your intention. Throw your intention to across the universe.

I'm pullin' for ya.

Peace





Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I'm A Believer

It's a funny thing about actors and celebrities. Because they allow themselves or even crave the public eye, share their tragedies as well as triumphs, we feel we know them. Know what they're like. Who they are. The thing is we don't really, really know them. No matter how many times you hear an actor say that they've put a lot of themselves into a role; no matter how closely you watch a particular film, there's very little revealed about who an actor really is. After all it's just memorized lines, someone else's words, under someone else's direction.

Ah, the director. Now that's someone you can learn a little about by watching their work. After all it is usually the director's vision we see. The director calls all the shots. How a scene is lit. How a scene is framed. What mood we experience. What message we're supposed to pay attention to. Sometimes directors hit us over the head with meaning. Make things so obvious that we can't possibly miss what they're trying to tell us.

If I say the name Clint Eastwood - I know, I know, I just did - what do you think of? Dirty Harry? Rawhide? The Eiger Sanction? Ooo, I know Play Misty for me? Gran Torino maybe? There's a lot to choose from. Mostly people probably remember him as an actor. I have no hard data to back this up, but I betcha. I mean isn't he most famous as the tough guy?

It's as a director though that I think we get a glimpse here and there of Clint Eastwood. The first movie that I consciously watched that Clint Eastwood directed was Bird. I had seen others that he directed, but that was before I started keeping track of things like that I guess.

Yeah, that's nice an' all, but where ya goin' with this Nightguy?

Well, I finally saw Hereafter. Directed by... Yup, Clint Eastwood. If you haven't heard of it, it's the story of three people and their relationship with the afterlife. One is a medium who feels cursed with his gift. One is a French journalist who has a near death experience. The last is a young boy who loses his twin.

I guess the hard part about it for some people is the fact that it takes place in three countries. Including scenes spoken I French with subtitles.

It would seem to me though that that is one of the key threads of the movie.

Remember me saying how the director can hit you over the head sometimes? What good ol' Clint - if I may be so bold - hits us with comes in a set of lines stating that we are all one. To paraphrase, we are all the same cell. I think that was it. Sorry I don't remember the exact line. It wasn't just stated though. If I'm remembering at all correctly the way the scene is set up it's very dramatic and emphatic. Something set up so we couldn't miss it.

I am in no way comparing my self to Clint Eastwood, but I have directed some few plays. It is ever my hope that an audience walks out of a show I've directed and understands something of what I believe. I still don't know Mr. Eastwood. Haven't the faintest notion of what makes him tick. But I think I know something he believes. Something he probably lives with.

We are after all all connected. You breath the same air that I do. Heck, you breath the same air that any of your favorite famous people have breathed. You may even have some of the same atoms weaved into you.

We have the same hopes and fears. The same moods. The same feelings. The same home. We are all, each and every, made of the same magical mix.

Let's play nice.

I'm pullin' for ya. We're all in this together.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Revolution

Ok. Right. Two things.

1.) Kinda feel off track with Notes. The last four posts have ended up being sort of a serialization about the goings on in the play I was involved in. All very fascinating reading I'm sure, but still sort of a threaded story. Originally each post was a stand alone individual. Gotta get back to where I started from. Gotta get back to individual stories. Oh, I'm sure you'll hear about it if I'm in another production. Just don't want to make that the thrust of this whole thing. Unless of course you WANT to hear of the joys and frustrations of producing a show. Feel free to comment if you wish.

2.) Osama bin Laden is dead. So much is swirling around my tiny brain about this. I barely even know where to begin. Here's a smattering of what's going on.

Was it right for Americans to cheer outside the White House after the announcement? Yeah, I get the whole thing - really, but what does that moment in time tell the rest of the world about us? I imagine if most of the people partying over someone's death saw the same actions from some other group in some other country they be disgusted. They were acting like the people they revile. I don't know. I just never imagined that reaction I guess.

Did you want proof of his death by the way? Did you want pictures? John Stewart made a good point the other night on The Daily Show. Basically he said maybe we needed to see the picture to remind us that war and the death it causes are real and not people don't just disappear like in video games. After all some people only have to look out their window to see the effect of war and terrorism. Can you imagine if we lived in a place where bombs and loss of innocent life were an almost daily occurrence?

Really, I do get the whole evil enemy inflictor of death we got our man thing, but does it really matter that he's dead? There are so many people ready to step in where he left off. I remember a snippet of an interview years ago with a woman saying it won't matter if we kill bin Laden. Women all over the Middle East are naming their babies after Osama. Sure we'll get a lot of information from all the computers and thumb drives and such that we pilfered; that will ultimately be a set back for al-Qaeda, but there is no stopping it.

See it's not really just a religious thing, this enmity towards America. It's more a twist of fate thing. The play I'm reading now called Two Rooms by Lee Blessing says it very well. It's a play about a man taken hostage in Beirut and his wife back home. I can't really quote it directly without permission. I'll try to give you the gist anyway. To be a person in a tiny country, speaking a pretty isolated language, worshipping an old god is worse than death. To be that person without a revolution or the promise of one is to be imprisoned for life. So men revolt. Revolt against what they desire yet what they detest.

I watched an interview with some kids of people killed in the towers. They are relieved that bin Laden is dead and feel avenged. But they know their lives will never be the same. They know there is no going back and getting what is lost. They know the world will never be a safe place.

So, what now? Where do we go from here exactly. Well if you've read any of my other posts I'm sure you could take a stab at it and come fairly close.

We can't spend our time worrying about things in the world that we can't influence. What we can do is take care of ourselves and those around us. Make choices to be the best you can be. Show those close to you that they are respected and cared for. Make your reality dependent on what you believe, your truth, and not events half a world away.

All right. I'm outta here.

I'm pullin' for ya.

Peace

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ramble On

D.N.R. Anybody familiar with those three letters? Do Not Resuscitate. That is the latest status of the play. The female lead has dropped out. That was the last straw. You know the one. It broke the camel's back. No sense beating a dead camel, uh, horse as they say. It's about as dead as it gets. Except for some of the lines that I was especially fond of still running 'round the old brain pan. Those too will recede, only to be thought of in the oddest of moments. The one that sticks with me most right now goes something like; "There is no present or future. Only the past happening again and again, now. You can't get away from it". I imagine a few of us have memories we can't escape. Good or ill. Usually ill though, huh? I mean in my experience people have a hard time keeping the cream rising to the top. It's the times there is no cream that are remembered. Those are the times we let degrade our relationships, our memories.

The catch phrase among a few of the actors was "I'm not having fun". I can understand that sentiment. Acting, using your creative energy should be fun. There were so many things working against this production though. So many things gone wrong. I don't think fun really fit into the quadratic formula, the iambic pentameter, the Pythagorean Theorem of the whole thing. Sometimes the fun is in perfecting your craft. Sometimes though it's just not fun.

On a personal level I had a hard time with this production for much of the struggle. I was not able to keep up the optimism of the director or even some of the other cast for very long.

I was originally cast in a much smaller roll which was great. I knew all along that if I got a part it would most probably be a smaller role. One scene. I hadn't done anything in years and years so anything would've been good. Anyway I wasn't what the director was looking for for any of the other roles open to me. The person originally cast in the part I ended up with was a plain ol' no show from the beginning. The director decided to trust me with giving the performance he knew I could even though I wasn't the physical type he had envisioned. Then there was the original leading lady. She dropped out two weeks into production. A family medical thing. Luckily we had an understudy. There were still two parts uncast though. Finally we found someone for the last major role and rehearsals really got going. Only they didn't really. Each rehearsal seemed like we had never done it before. My first two scenes happened to come toward the end Acts I & II. It wasn't too bad sitting around for an hour and a half before I went on. At first. Until the interruptions started. There would be more discussion and arguing than actual rehearsing. As time went on I would be ready to make my entrance and inevitably there would be kerfuffle on stage and I wouldn't make it on. Then when I did finally get on my concentration was shot. Not blaming anybody, that's just the way it was. Sometimes you just have to soldier on.

Using your imagination and adding yourself and your thoughts to someone's written words is what acting is all about. You get to interpret words and actions in the surroundings of a scene. That's your job. One must balance that with what ever vision a director has for a scene or the message of the play in general. Whether you agree or not. Oh sure there is a give and take to the process. Compromises on some line interpretations, blocking moves, etc. I disagreed with the director on his choice for the tone of my biggest scene. Something that big though there was no real compromise. I mentally shrugged my shoulders and tried to give him what he wanted.

Well, I suppose I've ended up beating a dead horse huh?

Remember the part before about the line running through my head? There is no present or future? Some would say that all there is is the present. Live in the moment. But take away our memories of the past and our hopes for the future and you take away our humanness. Hopefully our actions now are based on lessons learned. Hopefully our actions now will positively impact our future. Without hope for the future we're all just plodding along for nothing.

Now that i think about it I guess really it's a pretty fine line. Remember the past and what made us us, but don't dwell on it or be afraid to learn and grow from it. Embrace the future, but not so much we forget the effects of our actions now.

I'm just rambling now I think. I'll let you go for now and come up with something better next time. Promise

I'm pullin' for ya.



Thursday, April 7, 2011

Can't Buy Me Love

For those who have followed the saga; the play is on life support - the deadline of the 25th to be off book for Act I was completely missed. Not so much missed as never even attempted.

Ok, here's the scene. Rehearsal is slated to start at 7pm. It's about ten til when one of the other actors walks in. Wow, first time he's been early that I can remember. I'm in the middle of talking something over with the Assistant Director so I don't exactly see the actor ask the director for a private conversation. When I finish with the AD I look up to see the actor and the director off in another room talking. Uh oh. In my mind there are two possibilities at this point; either the actor is warning the director that though he knows his lines it will still be very rough, or he's admitting now he's unprepared and saving us the trouble of running the act only to find we need to cancel the production. Either way I just know it's not very good. Turned out to be something different though.

Family illness will make continuing in the play impossible. Well yeah. Just being in the play is taxing enough. If you suddenly find yourself having to care for someone, of course that takes precedence. No one would ever begrudge you the time and effort you would need to help a loved one recover from a sudden illness.

The cast feels bad for him having to give up the show for such a reason. We believe that he wouldn't lie about something like that just to wriggle out of memorizing lines. Mostly. We all signed a card and sent it along to whatever address we had for him.

So we're doing a staged reading. Since the set is built and costumes procured and all that we will be reading from scripts while walking through our blocking. I haven't been keeping up with my lines since the decision to have a reading. I think though that I will try and perform without my script.

I got no nifty transition from opening feint to knock out blow here. We'll just plunge ahead as if I had been witty enough this time to ease into the next topic.

Ready? Go!

Do you stick to a budget? Do you pay bills first then mete out some spending money? Is it more of a week to week thing like it is for so many people?

Maybe you operate like the U.S. Government? Tax and spend. Well, earn and spend for us non elected people. Deficit spend. Yeah, we all have credit cards. Spend and spend. Trillions in debt. What is a trillion anyway? Bickering over budgets and cutting back. Slashing money from some essential program only to spend it somewhere else you think is more important. Tax breaks to billion dollar corporations. No taxes at all for some. Heck, let's give 'em refunds while we're at it. A trillion, by the way, is to a million as a million is to one. Can you imagine that?

No matter what political label you put on yourself the fact of the matter is almost all of us like to buy and own things. It's the paying for it we hate. That seems to be the way our government works. It's a very stupid reason our politicians hate it so much too. They didn't think of it. Every new Congress, every new President, every new Governor, every new Mayor, every new Dog Catcher is paying for something someone else spent money on. Whether it's war, arts, education, or plain ol' pork. And, oops, there's none left for them to spend. What's that? No money left? Bah! Use Social Security. We've plundered that already? Hmmm... No wait, give me a sec... Ummm... Hey! Let's print more! Let's bail out Wall Street and Big Banks so they can continue the important job they do in this country. Oh, I mean so they can make more money off of you and me. I don't know how much longer the American public is going to stand for the current form of government that can't balance a checkbook and keeps expecting us to pay the overdraft fees.

The thing is, what really gets me sometimes, is is that money doesn't really exist. It's a concept. Especially in today's world where there is direct deposit for paychecks and debit cards in almost every wallet. Some people who believe we are nearing end times posit that soon we will be offered an RFID chip under the skin to take care of all our pesky transactions. You know, mark of the beast and all that. We could name anything currency. Anything. Shells were once very popular around this area. Are you worth your salt? Worth your weight in gold?

But you can't buy what's really important in this life, right? I was watching a dad and his kids in a restaurant the other day. They were having so much fun. I wanted to stop and tell him to keep up the good work. To treasure these moments 'cause you never know when they'll be gone. I just put on my coat and left. I don't think he needed me to tell him that at that moment. He knew. I will beg of you though dearest reader be good to each other. We're all in this together.

Even if Washington can't remember that.

Keep your stick on the ice.

Peace







Thursday, March 24, 2011

With a Little Love

I wonder what I could possibly find to talk about for this post. Japan. I mean nothing has really happened around here for me to comment on. Earthquake. There are only two weeks left to rehearse for the production I'm in. Tsunami. One of those weeks is devoted to something we call tech week. Radiation. Final touches are put on the set, costumes, lighting, and whatnot. Text redcross to 90999 to donate $10 to help with relief for Japan. The only problem is the actors are not ready. There's a problem it seems with memorizing lines. There are deadlines set in every production for when actors are "off book", meaning lines for whatever act you are working on must be memorized and you must be prepared to run a scene without the comfort of the script in your hand. That can be a scary moment, but that leap of faith pays off in so many ways. You can really start exploring what the heck you are doing in a scene once you are not staring at that pesky script. We had a rehearsal the other night where it was painfully obvious that not only were deadlines missed, but we'd never be ready in time for opening night.

To be fair it is a whackin' long play. The script is 106 pages long. That translates to about a three hour run time. Very few lines are two or three sentences long; there are pages and pages of paragraphs to wade through. I am extremely lucky that my role is the smallest of the main characters and have pretty much been able to keep up with the deadlines. That's not meant as bragging. I breath a sigh of relief at every rehearsal that I am not saddled with having to learn one of the other parts.

I thought for sure we would have to end up canceling the production. Turns out though by a stroke of luck we are able to postpone for a month. Better that than letting everything go for naught. We have a new deadline though. Completely off book Act I by Friday night the 25th or the show IS off. No ifs ands or buts. Cross those fingers everybody. I'll let ya know.

Though he never really talked about it, my father was a WWII vet. One of the two or three things I know of his service is that on August 6, 1945 he was on a boat headed for Japan. That was how he spent his 21st birthday. He was a paratrooper. Why he was on a boat I'll never know. Simple transport to some airfield? I'm sure I could do some research with my mighty mighty iPhone and find his records.

I'll never know how he really felt about what he went through. He didn't talk and I didn't ask either. One glimpse I got however was a comment he made long ago when Japanese cars started really taking off in this country. Some thirty odd years after the fact he just couldn't understand why Americans would buy cars from companies that made the engines for planes that killed so many U.S. soldiers. A very common sentiment for men of that time I know.

I think though he would've understood the importance of reaching out to those in need in this case. War time foe or not. As tough of a father as he was he still knew a little love and some tenderness went a long way.

I know with so much going on in the world - heck in your neighborhood - it's tough to be mindful of the strife of strangers half a world away. I know we all pick our own battles and causes and projects. Maybe one of them could be some little thing to help some poor soul whose entire town has been washed away. Where would you turn if everything you've known was suddenly gone. Everything. Just gone.

I'm pullin' for ya.





Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Say What You Need to Say

This is one time of year I look forward to. Even though it is wet and rainy today the wind is mild and spring fills your nostrils with the promise of things to come. You can almost feel your body relaxing from it's constant bucking of the cold of the last few weeks.

Ok, look, I was going to go on for a bit more about the weather getting warmer and the rites of spring; you know, baseball's spring training, hikes on mushy trails to observe the rebirth of life in the woods, coloring Easter eggs - all the good stuff about life's ups and downs and how no matter how bleak the winter seems at times, we survive.

It seems though I suddenly have other things on my mind.

For those not in the know, I am currently involved in a production of Eugene O'Neill's A Moon for the Misbegotten. I have the role of James Tyrone, a character based on O'Neill's brother Jamie. Haunted by his mother's death, James is a jaded alcoholic on the verge of drinking himself to death. He is the landlord of a shabby farm in Connecticut where the action takes place. As a gambler and actor on Broadway he has spent many a drunken night in the company of tarts and gold diggers. He yearns for a relationship with Josie the daughter of tenant farmer Phil Hogan, the only woman he really cares about. He cares so much though that he doesn't want her involved with someone as jaded and full of self loathing as he is.

Though there a few light moments, it all turns out to be pretty heavy stuff.

The director and I ended up talking after rehearsal the other night. We were talking about how people seem to do anything but communicate directly. He used the word obfuscate. How great it would be if people would just come out with it sometimes.

There are so many reasons we don't say what we want or need to sometimes. If I had to pin one word to it though, I'd have to say it's fear. Fear of lots of things, but it all starts within us. The fear of revealing what is really inside of us. How we feel. Don't want to let that mask, that eminence front, slip. Fear of confrontation, or letting someone down, or hurting someone, of taking a chance. Fear of being yourself.

But, how fair is that? How can you ever really know yourself; how can the important people in your life know you if you never really say what you need to say?

Say what you need to say. If you listen to that song by John Mayer it is almost like a mantra. In fact it was for me for a while. If ever I hear it now I still think what a cool think to be mindful of and cultivate. Don't you think it'd be better to get it out? Not bottle it up? How good can stuffing your thoughts and feelings be for you?

This is about the point in writing these posts where I feel like I'm going on and on. I always ask myself if anyone really needs to read more of me. On the other hand if you ever decide you just can't wait for my next post, you're in luck. I've added a few choices to Notes about how you can be notified each and every time there's a new post. I know, just breath through the excitement til you regain a little composure. If you look up top at the right hand side you'll notice there are a couple of ways to subscribe to Notes.

Just remember; we're all in this together.

Peace



Monday, February 28, 2011

Put One Foot in Front of the Other

There's a new planet? In our solar system? Have any of you heard about this? It's not like I'm a complete news junkie or anything, but how do you miss the possibility of a new planet? Well, ok, so it's not officially official yet, but geez.

Tyche is the proposed name for this new planet. It's supposed to be huge too. Something like four times the size of Jupiter. And far away. If the earth is 1 Astronomical Unit away from the sun, Tyche is estimated to be 15,000 AU's away. That's 1.4 x (10 to the 12th power), or 1,400,000,000,000 miles. It's a cold gaseous planet too. No wonder it took so long to find it.

I had to look up just who this Tyche (Fortuna for you Romans out there.) was. She was the goddess of fortune, chance, providence and fate. She is represented carrying a rudder for steering the affairs of the world, or with a ball for the unsteadiness of fortune, or with a horn of plenty. She governed good fortune and prosperity of cities. Each city venerated it's own version of Tyche.

So, as with so many things in those days, if your luck was running high you had someone to praise for it. Of course if your luck had run out you definitely had someone to blame. I found an Aesop fable that features Tyche. I got this directly from theoi.com. It seems she has grown weary of taking the blame for every misfortune.

"The Traveler and Tykhe (Fortune). A Traveler wearied from a long journey lay down, overcome with fatigue, on the very brink of a deep well. Just as he was about to fall into the water, Lady Tykhe (Fortune) it is said, appeared to him and waking him from his slumber thus addressed him : `Good Sir, pray wake up: for if you fall into the well, the blame will be thrown on me, and I shall get an ill name among mortals; for I find that men are sure to impute their calamities to me, however much by their own folly they have really brought them on themselves.' Everyone is more or less master of his own fate."

Dig that moral? Everyone is more or less master of his or her own fate. Aesop lived in the mid-sixth century BC. Something like 2650 years ago? Give or take? What book do you suppose he got that from? What website did he pull up on his iPhone? What? No printed books back then? No pocket computer? Huh. Seems ol' Aesop knew way back then what so many have forgotten today.

No one rules over us. No one controls us. Yes, yes I know - there are ups and downs in life; how we handle them, how we respond, is completely up to us.

We spend so much time wishing something would change. Hoping someone will set us on the right path. Thinking about losing weight, or joining that gym. Quitting smoking.

Well, it's up to us though, right? If you want change make it happen. Create a goal. Envision your result. Announce your intention to the universe. Make a plan. Take that first step. Put one foot in front of the other.

Had enough? Ok, guess I'll let ya off the hook.

Keep your stick on the ice. Peace.



Friday, February 18, 2011

Burning Down the House

I think all the natives here in New England pretty much know what to expect from Old Man Winter. Most of us hunker down and wait for that red red robin. Oh we shovel once in a while. We complain about the people who drive too fast or too slow in the snow. We always hope for a warm winter so buying heating oil doesn't lighten our pockets too much. It's life. It happens every year. Now, I really do know that many many people are used to way whackin' cold and tons more snow than me and mine. This winter we have had more snow than I can remember ever having. Towns are hiring kids who are old enough to shovel snow off of school roofs. Schools are closed for fear of accidents because bus drivers can't see around corners as they drive. Towns are considering dumping snow into the sea just to get rid it. When the kids of today tell their children or their grandchildren that it doesn't snow like it used to, they won't be making it up.

I have heard more people say, "So much for global warming" than I can count on my fingers and toes. The argument for all the snow this year is that it is a natural off shoot of warmer temperatures. I'm sure you've heard it. Warmer temperatures mean moister clouds. Moister clouds means more snow fall. I don't know where you land on the whole global warming thing, but c'mon. You can't really believe that we humans can contribute so much poison to the air; reduce the oxygen giving trees- all in the name of comfort and ease, and not have some kind of effect on the ecosystem. Unfortunately when it comes to this looming catastrophe we are all from the Show Me State. We all need some kind of proof we can believe. The problem is is that you're not just going to wake up one day and BAM it's 20 degrees warmer than it should be. You are not going to leave for work one day and discover you suddenly live on the shore.

Just after I started writing this post I heard a story on NPR about global warming. A study was done using thousands of computers to test weather patterns with and without global warming. This was done in England and was so massive they had to find volunteers around the world who would let their computers be used to process information. Without global warming the weather patterns were pretty much as normal as expected. With global warming? Heat waves, blizzards, droughts, stronger hurricanes. Some are taking this study as definitive proof of global warming.

So I guess this is the point where I have to ask where this leaves us. You and me.

Sometimes it all seems too much. There are jobs and kids and bills and homes to keep up and cars to take care of and commitments and loved ones fighting wars a long way from home and unrest in other countries and vanishing wild life and on and on and on. And apparently global warming.

I mean what can we DO?

Seven generations. Ever hear of that Native American philosophy? Try to weigh some of your choices as though they'll matter seven generations from now. Let's be stewards of our planet not just passengers on some galactic roller coaster. Get those reusable grocery bags. Check the air in your tires once in a while for better gas mileage. Put your computer to sleep if you keep it on all the time. Try the dreaded curly florescent light bulbs. Not only can you find some ways to save money, but you might help future generations enjoy a habitable planet.

Thanks Lysa

Don't forget, I'm pullin' for ya. Peace



Sunday, January 30, 2011

Feelings

Why do we have feelings?

Someone posed this very simple question on Face Book the other day. There was already a comment or two by the time I saw this post. It seemed like a real question, but the comments weren't taking it seriously. Of course I know the person who posed the question to begin with. It's a confusing time for this person. I couldn't help it, I had to jump in.

So, why do we have feelings? The question is simple enough, no? The basic answer is too. Aren't our feelings supposed to be triggers for us? How else can we know the difference between right and wrong? Good and bad. It is through our feelings that we know not to take that candy bar without paying for it. How we know comforting a crying child is the right thing to do. We instinctively know if our feelings are suddenly in turmoil what we are doing or experiencing is not good for us. It's all so simple.

Pretty much.

The problem with it all starts when we begin to ignore our feelings. Or we lie to ourselves. Well, we do it every day. Knowingly or not. I over eat for example. I know I really need to lose some weight and get back to the gym. I know it every day. I don't feel the best about myself though, so I ignore it. I eat to stuff some feelings. Some people are in bad relationships. Every day something doesn't feel good. Every day is full of worry about what might happen today. What stops us from getting out, from making changes? For some it's a fear of being alone. A fear of not being loved. Some people believe they don't deserve better. Or that having better is impossible. In any case we are always fighting our feelings.

I wonder why?

You already are the best possible person you can be. You may not see it or feel it, but it's there. The true path of your existence is already inside of you. Everything you need to live a truly contented life is just waiting for you to put your hand out and grasp it. The thing is you have to bring it out. You have to want it. You have to do the work. You have to be mindful of it. No one else. No group, therapist, priest, or sooth sayer can do it for you. Oh people can help, but really it's just lonely ol' you.

That might seem like a scary thought, being open and honest with yourself. Once you are, once you do the work and learn that you are already perfect; the struggle for self improvement ceases and you are able to release perfection that is you.

I'm pulling for ya.

Peace

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Quick One

It's 3:13a.m. Sunday January 2nd. I have two hours and forty-seven minutes left to my shift. When I walk out of here at 6:00 I will have ended my time as the Night Guy. I wonder what it will be like. It's only been two years but, it's become part of me. Will I be able to sleep next Thursday night, my first night not working? What will the weekend look like I wonder. The last 104 weekends have been pretty much a blur. Little sleep and lots of work.

It is now Friday night January 14th. This is my second Friday not working the night shift. To be honest I'm sort of discounting my first week of normalcy. Seems I was extremely tired. I slept at the drop of a hat. One minute I'd be watching TV, the next id be waking up wondering what time it was.

It is almost the 20th now. I have continued writing this post in my head over and over. Some one will say something that will trigger my thoughts toward this blog. I'll think, "That's IT. That's what I'll write about". I have been putting it off though for some reason. I couldn't figure it out for the longest time. I think I've got it though.

I auditioned for a play recently. There was a time when I was involved in theater in one way or another year round. I had performed various tasks in community theater for years. I have acted, directed, stage managed, produced, built sets and hung lights. I really enjoy giving people the chance to see something new in themselves or others through live theater. I used to have this picture in my head during a performance of this self contained shell. The glow of the lights shining on the stage illuminating the faces of the audience in a darkened theater. This private world shared by the actors and the audience floating suspended some where all on it's own. Every one learning or experiencing something new. The actors and audience share this bond of learning. Though every performance presents the same lines, the same blocking, the same scene changes, each performance is different. Each audience take away something new. I love the process of learning the lines. The blocking. The muscle memory. I love giving the author's words meaning. I think that last part is the key to my dragging my feet about completing this post.

The author's words. See it's not me right? I assume this roll and let loose with some one elses words, and even though it was undoubtedly me writing Notes it was through the Night Guy. We are in Act II of our story and the Night Guy has no lines. Does this make any kind of sense? When I first realized I would be giving up the night shift I kind of asked around about whether I should keep the title of this blog the same or if I should change it. There was no strong consensus. So unless I get a flood of objections or spontaneous wailing in the streets breaks out, I will keep the name the same.

Next time we'll get back to discussing life and it's ups and downs. I just wanted to get this quick one under my belt as I wonder what Act II will bring.

As the temperatures here head for the single digits, keep your stick on the ice.

Peace