Tuesday, July 31, 2007

As the storms of life rage around us, finding the harbor where we can tie up and be safe is essential. The harbor can be inside, as well as out.
We live minute to minute, believing every moment is life or death. No wonder we're stressed out. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Pacing is key.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Free to be me

I was talking to a friend about quirks, and the different ones we have. It's those things, those ticks, those idiosyncrasies that make us interesting. That chat, and seeing a Saab 9-3 hatchback, made me lament the wringing out of quirks around us. That Saab was different from most cars--the hatch, the mudflaps between the wheels, the ignition in the console--it reveled in difference. It was proud of being apart from the crowd. Then General Motors bought Saab. And proceeded to ring the fun and quirkiness out of the machine. Eventually, GM killed the hatchback (Americans don't like hatches) and took a small Subaru and badge-engineered it into a Saab. The public, as smart as they are, wasn't buying it. (I'm not knocking Subaru--they have quirks themselves. I once coveted this car). Big companies hate quirks, because quirks represent risk, and risk is not good for the bottom line. But how can you get a reward if you don't risk? And have fun and be cheeky at the same time? Audentes fortuna juvat.

Ramblings (from the afternoon)

Is it another step toward certainty? Or uncertainty? Who knows where this journey is going. Maybe this way, maybe that way. The hardest thing is not having any control over the process. All you can do is watch what might happen and be ready for whatever comes.

Feeling woobly

Gotta push the reset button on my vision. Nothing major, but I want to make sure I'm taking the right steps to where I want to be. I feel a little unmoored and want to get right. This is a good exercise to do occasionally to make sure you are driving on the right road.

New stuff

I've been derelict in updating the tumblelog, but there are some new articles of interest up. They cover building the proper mindset for abundance, how to switch to an online job, and a key point to remember about Zen.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

When you wish upon a star

When it seems like the whole world is caving in on you, it's hard to find hope. Crushed under the weight, you look for any sign of daylight, any life preserver to cling to. Then little by little, you dig and dig, clawing your way through. Sometimes the hole looks like it's closing, but you keep digging, because daylight's there--you know it. And then, a breakthrough. You're out, on our feet, relieved and looking back at the perilous journey you survived. And thankful you made it.

That what happened to the Iraqi soccer team today. They beat Saudi Arabia 1-0 to win the Asian Cup. For a country that's had its butt kicked for lo these many years, it was sweet victory indeed. The team earned this one--having to practice outside the country, not having equipment, not having the proper hotel rooms when they arrived, trying to keep together a team nominally divided by religion--they were tested by fire, and came out stronger for it. That's a deep lesson to keep very close.

Sacred spaces

On the way back home last night, I listened to a podcast with Bernard Henri-Levy, and he was talking to travel guide/talk-show host Rick Steves about his book "American Vertigo." The subject was on the differences between U.S. and French cultures, and Henri-Levy mentioned how the French make a break between work and home. The two are separate, while here, we seem not to be able to break away from the BlackBerry.

Really, how hard can it be to break away from the office? Shouldn't we all have a time and space for ourselves and our families, away from phones, email, faxes? I want a space and time where I can keep the world at bay for awhile. The world will always be there, ready to grab me and pull me back into the storm.

But it can be hard to achieve, because we are a striving people, we don't like sitting still. There's something inherently wrong with that. But what are we striving for? Things?

I heard another radio show host say that the recent sports scandals are symptomatic of our culture, of the striving for things we really don't need, or can't handle. The things in life can be nice, but it's the moments you remember.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Riddim section (under a full moon)

I was in New York tonight, and traveled out and back with my train buddy, Mr. Jobs' fantastic plastic machine. It's such a boon on a ride that can be interminable. Some people say if you put it on shuffle, it can somehow since your mood. Poppycock, right? Check out the four songs that came up after we left the station--"Land of 1000 Dances" by Wilson Pickett; "This Cowboy Song" by Sting; "Waiting for You" by Seal; and "It's Not Right" by Whitney Houston. All four had a rhythm that matched the pace of the train. So maybe it's not poppycock after all. Just a weird coincidence...?

Let the rain come down

I was getting ready to go to bed last night, when it started to rain. After a few days of beautiful, but dry, weather, it was a gratifying sound to hear. Of course, it took me back to that place, and listening to the rain fall on the windows of my old place. It's amazing how you can still carry a torch for a place

Friday, July 27, 2007

I know how he feels

These are really deep lyrics, and I can understand where he's coming from. Especially the third stanza. All I can do is try with what I've got around me. It's never easy.

More riffs

I heard this song today in the local coffeeshop, and it brought me back to this post. AS hard as it is, you can't give up on it. It would give up on you.

(It's not enough to read the lyrics--you have to listen to the song. One of Stevie Ray Vaughn's finest.)

Up, up and away

The stock market lost 300 points the other day. Ouch. The markets have been going up for awhile, so you had to wonder when the bottom might fall out. It couldn't have kept going up forever. It's never done that, yet people have an expectation that it will. If it loses some steam, that's fine. Markets are like people or machinery. They can't run at 100% all the time. The stress and strain on the system running at max will ruin the system. Best to have some planned downtime to allow the machinery to cool off, recharge, and prepare to go higher. (I want to say this is called queuing theory, but I'm not 100% sure.)

It's a fine balance: You have to know when you're tired and need to pull back, when you're rested and ready to jump back in. But most importantly, not be afraid to call a timeout.


Eric Dickerson was on a radio talk show saying some the same things I wrote about Michael Vick. And saying how it's usually black athletes in this position, and how they put themselves in these predicaments. It's what fighter pilots call situational awareness: knowing where you are in a given space at all times.

Clarity and the driver

There comes a moment--mostly fleeting--where everything comes together. The look, the feel, the sound fit like a jigsaw puzzle. And when the moment comes, you don't throw a parade, or shoot off fireworks. You simply note the moment inside, for future reference.

I spent about 20 minutes hitting golf balls this morning. I'm not a golfer, but it's good exercise and a good release. The first few balls were being sprayed all over the driving range. Then I started hitting a few straight and long. I wasn't really trying hard, just seeing the ball, then striking it. The moment of clarity then came--The way the club felt as it struck the ball, the sound it made, how straight it flew. And the precise moment when I hit the ball felt right. Everything in its right and proper place. The moment didn't last long--maybe a second or so. But went it came, there was no mistaking what was happening.

There is the temptation to want to bottle the moment, as if it will not happen again. That's the wrong attitude to take. That sort of moment will come again. Maybe not on a driving range, but somewhere. The key is to be open to allowing the moment to happen.

Why can't we be friends?

I've been thinking lately about friends. Should I get a new circle of friends? Why should I? For a shy, retiring type like me, my friends are a good leveler for me. In other words, they are all nuts, in their own sweet way. They're a fun, good group to be around. The shop talk we engage can't be avoided, but sometimes I disengage to protect my sanity. Otherwise, my deepest laughs are with this bunch.

I'm not trading my group in, but Michael Vick should have. This column says it best--once he became a superstar athlete, his life changed. But he still kept the circle of friends he had before fame and fortune came knocking. He moved into another orbit, well away from his friends, and maybe, at the very least, reconsidered who he hung with. I'm not saying he should have dumped his friends wholesale, but reassessed where he was, and asked himself if this is where he wanted to be.

And found another hobby, like fishing or knitting.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The circus returns to town

Richmond, Va. often leaves me running hot and cold. It's a naturally beautiful city, sitting on the James River. If you visit Belle Isle, you'd swear you were in the mountains and not in the middle of the city. It's got a great music scene (these guys used to play there often), a great arts scene, some great neighborhoods. And a skyline better than any city of about 200,000 should really have.


While it didn't suffer the outright evils of Bull Connor in Birmingham and the rest of the South, the legacy of race sits over the city like humidity on a summer afternoon. Seemingly innocuous things (the Ashe statue, the murals) become a pretext for, ahem, discussions, on race. There was a point in time that Richmond's stature in the South was greater than Atlanta or Charlotte. Some still think that, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And it can be quite provincial.

When Richmond hits the national headlines, it's usually not good news. Sometimes it's quirky, like...

And now, Michael Vick. The circus surrounding his troubles pulls into the Capital City today, complete with satellite trucks, national news people, and protesters. And one more notch in the quirk belt of the city. Oh well. Maybe the visitors will enjoy some barbecue. Except the PETA folks.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Cross purposes

Sometime opposites don't make sense, don't mix. Conventional wisdom says two things on the opposite side of the spectrum should never meet. Or can they? Here's a quote from Albert Murray's book "The Hero and the Blues" that I think should shatter that idea.

Nevertheless, the image of the sword being forged is inseparable from the dynamics of antagonistic cooperation, a concept which is indispensable to any fundamental definition of heroic action, in fiction or otherwise. The fire in the forging process, like the dragon which the hero must always encounter, is of its very nature antagonistic, but is also cooperative at the same time. For all its violence, it does not destroy the metal which becomes the sword. It functions precisely to strengthen and prepare it to hold its battle edge, even as the all but withering firedrake prepares for subsequent trials and adventures. The function of the hammer and the anvil is to beat the sword into shape even as the most vicious challengers no less than the most cooperatively rugged sparring mates jab, clinch, and punch potential prize-fighters into championship condition.

Heroism, which like the sword is nothing if not steadfast, is measured in terms of the stress and strain it can endure and the magnitude and complexity of the obstacles it overcomes. Thus difficulties and vicissitudes which beset the potential hero on all sides not only threaten his existence and jeopardize his prospects; they also by bringing out the best in him, serve his purpose. They make it possible for him to make something of himself. Such is the nature of every confrontation in the context of heroic action.

We never wish for the trials and tribulations that we all go through. Who would willingly walk through a fire if they didn't have to? But sometimes flash fires flare up, and we have no choice. But as Murray says, the fire prepares you for battles
yet to come. They test you, stretch your ability to handle turbulence. And as difficult as it seems to fathom, the fire is your friend. It's working for you, not against you. Seriously. It's hard to see how bad situations are helpful. But bad situations are ephemeral--they never last. And they make you stronger.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Why is it that on some days, some songs sound better than on others? I'm listening to "The In Crowd" by Ramsey Lewis, and it just sounds better this morning. Maybe it's the weather (sunny and 67 today). But some (rare) days, music drags. It's probably not the music, but me and my mood.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Rainy days and Mondays

It's rainy and 63 degrees out. If I didn't know any better, I'd think it was March and not July. There's something weird going on.

This is one of those days where I'd rather be writing than working. I've got things in the hopper that I can cover, but I need to just do it. Or maybe just listen to some jazz for awhile...

Sunday, July 22, 2007

If it weren't for bad luck...

Here I was, all ready to write about how golfer Sergio Garcia won today's British Open using a belly putter--the first to win a major championship with one. See, Garcia has had trouble with the flat stick, and switched to the belly putter for a change. Most golfers steer clear of them, though--an ego thing, I think. And through 54 holes, it was working for him. I was going to write about how you sometimes have to changes tools to achieve the result you want, no matter how many people guffaw in your direction.


His nearest competition was Padraig Harrington, who had the lead at 18, then lost it as his ball became good friends with the infamous Barry Burn. All Garcia had to do was use that belly putter, make par, and the claret jug was his. Instead, his putt lipped out. And all that putter was good for at that point was to rest his head on and question why the gods of golf treat him with such cruelty.

Garcia's confidence shot, he faced Harrington in a four-hole playoff. And lost.

What's the lesson here? For Garcia, who still has to wear the mantle of "greatest golfer never to have won a major," acknowledge what happen, and push on to the next tournament. He's good enough to win a major. But he can't let this be a burden. That's the toughest test. For Harrington, who sounded like he was about to walk away from golf if he lost, perseverance pays off.

And the capper? During Harrington's victory speech, the sun came out, and a rainbow appeared. Somebody was trying to say something there.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A great sentiment

These are great words to remember, and to live by.

The greatest game of all?

The Great Game normally refers to the power play between the British and Russian Empires for control of central Asia. Later, to a lesser extent, it referred to the Cold War. I think (have thought for awhile) it refers to the greatest game of all--the game of love. Or trying to find someone to love. It's a delicate process. No, really. When two people attempt to come together, they bring all of their collective experiences to the table. It's akin to a chess board, maneuvering not to gain the best advantage, but to understand the person better.

Another way to look at it is like engaging in a sort of kabuki dance, where the principals maneuver around each other, feeling each other out before actually touching. How you maneuver and how you feel out is the rub of the matter. Meeting a mate isn't the same thing as picking out a car. That other person is animate, with thoughts, feelings, idiosyncrasies and "issues"--just like you. Making peace and being compatible with the other person's traits--and being honest about it--makes the dance worthwhile. You also have to make peace with yourself. That makes the board and the dancefloor easier to get around.

Friday, July 20, 2007


One morning, I was sitting at my desk, looking at the clock, and wondering, "Gee, I should head out to the airport if I want to make my flight home." Then I stopped: what flight? Even though it was the middle of the afternoon in Brussels, and I would have missed that flight, my body (or something) was telling me I had to be at the airport.

Tonight, I was thinking,"Gee, I should really get moving if I want to get to the jazz club downtown." Here we go again--Even though it's the middle of the night in my old home, I still thought it was mid-evening (about the time I'd normally head out if I was there.) I'm losing my mind.

Or I really, really miss the place.

Suitably impressed

The little town I call home is between two major cities. As such, there isn't much of a social scene. I usually have to go elsewhere for entertainment. So imagine my surprise when I pull back into town after a mind-cleansing drive, and hear the distinct sound of a saxophone and drums outside my local coffeehouse. I do a long u-turn, and walk to the corner to hear these four young guys wailing on a Wayne Shorter song. When I say young, I mean none were older than 17 or 18. And as young as they were, they sounded good. A little heavy on the pyrotechnics, but still good. Then they went into a Sonny Rollins number. Again, I was rather impressed by these guys, and their grasping for the taller rungs. I hope to hear more of it.

Addendum (emphasizing dumb)

Following up on this afternoon: Another championship fight, another group of knuckleheads who can't wait till the actual fight. This has to be the lousiest week in American sports.

Oh yeah, nearly forgot this one, too.

Momma said there'd be days like this

I've had bad weeks. But nothing like this--NBA referee reportedly bet on games--or this--Vick may be asked to take paid leave.

What in the world has happened in sports? Has everyone seemingly lost their collective minds? A ref possibly on the take and a star quarterback possibly involved with dogfighting? It's hard to build--or rebuild--trust in sports these days, with astronomical players' salaries, publicly funded Taj Mahals, drugs, guns, and general knuckleheadedness. A big scandal means taking the heat that will come (and oh man, is it gonna come with these guys), minimizing the damage that will hit (and hit hard), and then start the long, long road to recovery. The thing with these two guys is--the storm is just starting.

For what it's worth, Michael Vick probably won't play a down of football this year. He's going to be too much of a distraction to the Atlanta Falcons to be on the field. And lots of people have wondered about the NBA's refs and why are they as bad as they are. Then there's the whole conspiracy thing with the league. This is going to get ugly.

I'm just not feeling it

I know I need to be writing. I should be writing. But I'm not quite feeling the writing bug right now. And that's ok, too. I need some rain for my well. Then I can get back into the maelstrom.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dreaming while you sleep

Lately, I've been sleeping well through the night, with some help. For whatever reason, though, pzizz kicks off some dreams. Last night, though, it very strange. I felt like I was dreaming all night. Good dreams, mind you, but weird--I felt giddy when I woke up. I can't explain it, but I want more of it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

In the still of the nights

For the second night in a row, the summer air is perfectly still. It's been raining off and on all day, leaving the air damp. There was an orange sky again tonight. There's no breeze to speak of, and a light fog is rolling in. A perfect night? If you want it to be.

A ray of enlightenment

Is it ok to be selfish? Let me put it another way: Why should you always sacrifice yourself for others? What about you? What are you doing to take care of yourself? You work eight hours (or more) a day so someone else can take the glory? Who's looking out for you? You have to be your own best advocate, as a wise sage once told me. I'm definitely not dumping on giving to others--in the right spirit and right proportions, it's perfectly good and needed. But if you give too much of yourself, how much do you have left to give to yourself? Your well runs dry every so often--all of ours do. We all need some rain occasionally to fill us back up, so we can keep growing--and giving.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Are you experienced?

I heard a radio talk-show host say the other day that life isn't about the things you have, but your experiences. The truth of this can't be overstated. The repo man can take your house, car, trinkets, photos, your favorite lava lamp. But he can't take away your first trip overseas, a walk in the snow at night, that kiss with that woman, or that dinner party that lasted until sunrise. Memories you always carry, and cherish, because you wanted to experience life and take a chance with the unknown. Rolling the dice and savoring life as it comes.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

This or that?

We are presented with stark choices in life--a or b; 1 or 2; black or white; up or down. We crave definition in a time of ambiguity. Here's another choice: innovation or imitation? Which one do you choose? A better question is does it have to be either/or? Why can't it be a mix? It is a mix. We imitate and innovate every day. What we copy may be small, and our changes may not light the world aflame, but in our own small way, we make things our own while standing on the shoulders of others. So what should the proper mix be? I don't know--haven't got a clue. But I think you need more innovation than imitation. And yes, you do need both. They build on each other and feed off each other. Everything is derivative., but changes make the innovation, not blindly following directions or rote thinking. Be an active participant in life.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Softly as a morning sunrise

This morning, I woke up to ...

  • stillness
  • tennis players
  • birds chirping
  • a train passing by
  • thoughts of a wonderful friend
It's better than caffeine....

Friday, July 13, 2007

Think different(ly)

Apple is one of the world's most creative and innovative companies. Whatever field they enter, they become a game-changer. They constantly amaze and confound consumers and competitors alike. The Economist recently ran an article on four ways Apple out-innovates other companies. My question is: how do those points relate them to personal development?

1) Innovation can come from without and from within. Apple has never been afraid to look outside for good ideas and incorporate them in their designs. The article says that the idea for the iPod came from an outside engineer. That idea, melded with Apple's mantra of making their products easy to use, made the iPod a hit.

You have to be open and receptive to new, good ideas. They are always around, ready to be picked up and used for good. If you're walled off from the world of ideas, how can you ever grow, change, be the person you want to be? All good ideas don't reside inside of you. The Economist calls this "network innovation." You have a network of friends, books, CDs to pull from and to grow with. Take advantage of it.

2) Apple's products are designed for the user, not the engineers who geeked out and made something only a rocket scientist could love. They are accessible to the masses, who don't want to spend their weekends trying to figure out how that new toy works.

What works for you? Probably the simplest thing, habit, form, directions. Then go with that. Easy. Often in life we want to make the simple difficult, possibly because we can't imagine life being easy. We need to get out of our way. As legendary jazz bassist Charles Mingus said, "Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity."

3) This one can be a little scary. Apple and CEO Steve Jobs tend to not listen to want the market says, instead relying on instinct. That's not to say they don't pay attention to the market--they do. They don't subject themselves to the changing winds and whims of market forces. And they stick to their plans in the face of ridicule.

Simply put, know what YOU want. Not what your friends, parents, colleagues may want from you. Now, their advice and guidance shouldn't be cast off to the side. They may have (really, they will have) great pointers for you, and comfort in the rough times. But in the end--it's you and the decision in front of you. Ultimately, it's your call.

4) Fail wisely. Apple's had failures before, and they have looked into those mistakes and have not repeated them. In fact, they've grow from every stumble. Failure is ok, as long as you learn from it.

Another quote from another legend--Miles Davis: " Do not fear mistakes. There are none." That may be extreme thinking, but remember how innovative Davis was. As the times changed and moved, Davis's music style also changed and moved. He wasn't afraid to change, or to fail. He had his share of stumbles, too, but never stopped searching for new sounds. We tend to be scared of failure, scared of not knowing how to recover when we do. It may take time, but we can always recover.

Jobs' Stanford commencement speech is a classic and a must-read.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Heavy things in a heavy bag

I have two mobile phones. I know, overkill. One is a Treo, the other a Razr. I was charging up the Treo yesterday morning, and when I picked it up, it felt heavy. It is heavy anyway, but it didn't feel right in my hand. I didn't use it yesterday. I don't know why it didn't feel right, but as I feel myself getting lighter, physically and psychically, extra weight and constraints become noticeable. I got new frameless glasses a few months ago, dumping the the thick frame I had for years. Little things like that.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Welcome to the big show

In the 1990s, Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann put ESPN's Sunday SportsCenter on the map with their great repartee and tongue-in-cheek style. Now, Patrick is leaving ESPN after 18 years. Why? He was starting to take the job for granted. That's never a good place for anyone to be. Whatever you do--from taking out the garbage to being with your significant other to anchoring a national sports broadcast--it has to be fresh in some way. Droning on and mailing it in everyday shuts you off from the experiences of life, the little things that make it at least tolerable. Patrick did what we all should do: recognize there's something amiss, and make a change.

Don't give up

ESPN is doing its annual fund-raiser for the Jimmy V cancer fund. Jim Valvano was a college basketball coach who died of cancer in 1993. Two images of him will forever stick in my mind. In 1983 his team, the North Carolina State Wolfpack, shocked the basketball world by winning the national championship. When the game was over, he was giddily running around, looking for somebody to hug. (key point starts at 30 seconds in). And then his speech at the ESPYs in 1993. His friends, Mike Krzyzewski and Dick Vitale, helped him to the stage. There, he spoke from his heart and soul about life--what to do and how to live it. It was funny, inspiring, emotional. He left the stage with this thought:

"Cancer can take away all my physical ability. It cannot touch my mind; it cannot touch my heart; and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever."

Valvano died two months after the speech. But his spirit and his legacy remain strong.

Paralyzed by fear

The immigration debate in the U.S. scares me a little. A lot of folks seem to be frightened of the possibility of illegal aliens taking jobs from those already here. It's a little absurd, since most of the jobs are menial and ones most would turn up their noses at. What's the fear? Is it a false notion of scarcity, our ability to make sense and cope with a world changing faster than we can comprehend? Fear makes people act abnormally, move them to do things they would never do. Why can't we embrace our fears, take them and look seriously at them? Understand what they are and understand why we react to them? Or is that too much work, too much to ask for? Acting out of fear is never a strong position to be in.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

You'll Never Walk Alone

It's Liverpool FC's anthem, and it's a way of life on my morning walks. They're only 20 minutes long, but invariably, there are four or five people out at 6.30 in the morning taking a constitutional. Joggers, walkers, cyclists, dog walkers. Some say good morning, others don't (A woman on a bike always scowls at me). The walk was a little tougher today--the air was stagnant, no breeze. But it feels good to never walk alone.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Connecting the dots

I started this morning a little down, not sure how the day's going to go (a false emotion?). I turn on TSF jazz, and the next song they're playing is John Coltrane's "Naima." It's possibly the best ballad I've ever heard. And it's a song I've wanted to learn. I don't know if I'm looking for comfort, or comfort is looking for me, but there it is.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Riffin', part 3--motor city

I love cars. Since I first read Car and Driver in high school, I've been a car nut. Nick at Nite used to show Route 66--basically, two guys in a 1960 Corvette driving around the country. I died and went to heaven.

Fast forward to today. There's something about Detroit that bothers me. The Dodge Charger, Ford Thunderbird and Mustang, and the new Camaro. They aren't fresh, clean sheet designs. They are updated versions of old classics. Is there anyone willing to try something new, daring? How much courage would it take to think of something that will make people oh and ah, or make them angry. Car design should be visceral, risky and willing to take chances. Instead, tried and true is the watchword. Shareholders hate bold.

Riffin', part 2--bend it like Becks

David Beckham is one of the world's most well-known athletes. At least outside the U.S. Nobody give a rip about the game here, but it's steadily finding a toehold stateside, and Mr. Posh Spice is expected to start playing here shortly. This New York Times article points out the slow growth track Major League Soccer has taken in the 10 years or so of its existence. That is in contrast to the North American Soccer League, which grew meteorically with the likes of Pele and Beckenbauer on the pitch. And it flamed out just as quickly, having grown too fast and expanded into the wrong markets. There's nothing wrong with growth--it's vitally important to expand and spread your wings. But you have to grow and be smart about how it's done. The MLS honchos have seen the error of NASL's ways, and--here's the really important part--learned from mistakes of the past. Failing's ok--but fail smart.

And for my money, I'd rather see Ronaldinho play than Beckham.

Riffin', part 1--kicking the tree

Not really a riff, but...

There's a TV commercial for Wendy's, where a bunch of people are mindlessly kicking trees, and one of them, a guy in a red ponytailed wig finally wises up and understands the futility of kicking. He rises up and leads the people out of the forest. Are corporate cube farms that forest, and are the cubes the trees? Why keep kicking when you know how futile and rote it is? Why are we scared of what happens when we stop? Why keep droning on? What else is out there? You have to be conscious of kicking the tree, and the futility of it. Then decide what you want, and despite the fears you may have about what happens when you stop, know something has to be better than mindlessly kicking a tree. Especially with a red wig and ponytails.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Late-afternoon interlude

John Coltrane's excellent "Out of This World" is spinning in my head now. I read Ashley Kahn's "A Love Supreme" a few months ago. It details the journey his quartet took to make the seminal album. Now, lots of people have listened to it and have described it as a near-religious experience. I don't doubt them, but I didn't feel it when I listen to it. I do get that feeling listening to "Out of This World." The first time I heard it, I thought there was something really deep going on. I couldn't put my finger on it then, and can't quite now, but if you listen to it, you can feel it.

Going in the right direction

In the middle of an ocean storm, it's difficult to know which direction you should be going in. Are your navigational systems giving you the information you need? Do you trust them? We all have doubts about the direction we should travel. You can't tell if that wave in front of you is five feet or 25 feet tall. That little voice inside your head says it's five--it's ok. Rough but ok. Then that nagging voice says 25--danger. There's a lot of interference. Which voice to listen to? Remember what I said yesterday? That's the way to go. Yes, it'll be frightening, dangerous, and the doubts are monumental. The rewards are satisfying, though.

Beth Orton, again

I can never really explain why certain songs go off in my head at certain times. This morning it's Daybreaker, by Beth Orton. Best as I can surmise, there's something in the lyrics or rhythm that matches the mood I'm in. Or something in my head is fighting off the doldrums.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Energy to spare

Some nights I don't feel like going to bed. I have too energy, anxiety to fall soundly asleep quickly. When I was in college, I used to feel this way a lot. To burn it off, I'd hop in the car and drive. For six hours. Really. Do I long loop, an out-and-back, and when I returned, I could drop off to sleep. I fortunately don't do that anymore. For the past couple of weeks, I've been using pzizz get to sleep, and it's dropping me off into never-neverland rather quickly. Albeit, with some strange dreams tagging along.

The best way

Robert Frost once said, "The best way out is always through." In life the adversity that we face is daunting. It's difficult to face head-on. The monsters, demons and dragons in the way are tall, ugly and soul-sapping. That's enough to not start out, or continue, the journey. Sometimes those dragons are of our own making. That hurts the most. Getting out of our own way to achieve the things and reach the places we want. There must be an art to it. It takes trial and error to figure out what works, and usually what works is those small habits. They don't seem to work in the beginning, because we expect a flash of lightning and crash of thunder to herald its arrival. Yet it comes like snowflakes, quietly and gradually changing the landscape. Unlike snow, the habits won't melt. But they will build and build, changing you inside and out. The journey will be hard. Days will come when you can't journey anymore. But when the day comes and the sun stares back at you, you'll be grateful for making it through.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Orange sky

"Red sky at night sailors' delight; red sky at morning, sailors take warning."

I was eating a nice dinner at the local (!) jazz club this evening, and in between darting my eyes among the baseball game, the poker game and the jazz trio, I noticed how orange the sky had become. Well, not really orange, but enough to give the sky an orangish tint. It's an alien look right after a late-evening rain. Just odd.

This morning

The song in my head as I woke up was "Don't Wanna Know Evil" by Beth Orton. Interesting...

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


Over the past few days, I've noticed the thoughts in my mind come and go, like clouds drifting in the sky from west to east. But this afternoon I had a brain cramp at work, and forgot something I had just done a minute earlier. And the look I garnered for that was priceless. So why do I hang on to it? Why haven't I let it drift off toward the sea? I don't know. Maybe it was the look I got that I can't shake. But how much does it really matter? It doesn't. So stop writing about it and walk away.

A declaration

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one person to dissolve the old ties that have bound him to old ways of thinking, believing, living. Bonds that have held back, retarded, impeded progress as a fully formed, fully vested human being. A human being entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These truths are self-evident, and inalienable. Through several points, that pursuit has been slowed, subverted. Let the facts be submitted to a candid world.

  • living on autopilot
  • droning through the day
  • lacking awareness
  • living in fear and not abundance
  • living in too much solitude
  • lacking gratitude
  • not getting enough exercise
  • not eating intelligently
  • not living consciously

At every stage of the journey, small upsets have been made into major disappointments, which are unnecessary. In the face of these disappointments, the time has come for a new day to dawn. A new day where living consciously, eating consciously, thinking consciously living with abundance, shall be the norm, and not the exception. The life once led is hereby absolved, and from this day, a new life shall begin.

Monday, July 2, 2007

A bright, sunshiny day

Another morning of lazily, dreamily waking up, with Jimmy Cliff's classic in my head. Today's not a walking day, so I didn't have to or need to wake up and go anywhere. Just stayed in bed, drifting awake, an unusually cool morning to greet me. The start of another good day? What am I doing today to make it better than yesterday?