Hiromi

Last weekend, my friend Win wanted to go see Hiromi in Boston. I had wanted to see her ever since I discovered her – thanks to my friend Andro – about a year and a half ago.

When I saw the video he posted, I immediately thought: “Who is this piano player?”

After that, I began perusing the internet in search for videos of her. The moment my wife got home from work I said, “You have to see this piano player.” In typical fashion, she wasn’t readily impressed. But by the time the video finished, she was hooked.

For my birthday, she bought me 5 Hiromi CD’s. They are all excellent. She is my all time favorite keyboardest, and when I went, Taryn was jealous. She knew I was about to experience something magical, something special… an evening with Hiromi.

Win and I had dinner at the adjoining restaurant, and Hiromi sat at the adjacent table, not 4 feet from me. I was respectful. I didn’t let on to knowing how close I was to immortality. That is what she is. No bullcrap. Hiromi is a world class pianist.

Although I love to be wowed, I reserve that status for the deserving. Few have ever achieved it. I remember King Crimson at The Pier in the 80’s had me wowed for hours. I am sure Frank Zappa achieved that status over the myriad of Halloween shows I saw.

Recently, I was wowed by The Tao of Drumming. This was yet another Win-musical-fest. Win told me about it, and I went with my daughter. That was one of the best shows I have seen in a long time, and gets my highest recommendation for anyone who has ever believed music has the capacity to move them.

Hiromi.

You know when someone tells you you have got to see a movie, because it is the greatest movie you will ever see? You know that feeling of disappointment you feel when it fails to live up to the hype?

Nothing could ever live up to my expectations for Hiromi. She was placed on a pedestal reserved for the best ever. After all, she was a she, and couldn’t, therefore, be worthy of ‘ultimate’ status.

Hiromi failed – – to disappoint.

After seeing the first of her 2 shows, Win and I went to the adjoining bar to imbibe at great cost to our wallets, health and mental well-being. Then we went back in to the second show and caught her last few songs. Win said to me: “You mean we could have been here instead of up at the bar?”

Apparently so.

Hiromi is, in my opinion, the best piano player in the world. I tried to diss her after being wowed, I really did. I thought, ‘well, she is fast, but can she play with feeling and emotion’?

I saw her live. The jury is in, and spent no time on that decision.

It is my hope to treat my wife to an upcoming Hiromi Concert. She deserves it, and I deserve to treat my wife to this event.

I’ll suffer through, if I must.

More than love

Is love ever stranded?

The recent trial of Casey Anthony created a brand-new parenting conundrum: How many weeks should pass before you face the realization your 2 year old just isn’t coming home? During the investigation into your missing child, are you justified in lying to the police? Finally, are the tatoos on Tommy Lee more obscure than the parental neglect of Casey Anthony?

Parents do for their children, out of love. While it can be a singular gesture, it is always interactive. Love is never an oasis.

When thay are young, we love, nurture and protect our children. This same love sends them out into the world to face all of it’s challenges, and danger, when they get older.

Protection – like a credit card – has it’s limits. Despite the fancy newfangled pop-psych phraseology, overprotection isn’t loving too much, it is protecting the wrong thing. As parents, we need to protect our children from danger. When they get older, we need to protect them from reliance upon us.

If this is supposed to be easy, let me know. I must have missed the single-cell stage and went straight to the multiplex cinematic version in 3d with magic fingers and sensurround.

As a word, love never sits there. You can look at it, roll your eyes, and view it like a bed of moss: far too soft for stable travel. Conversely, your eyes might well up. Then it is you who is too mushy for travel.

Many say God is love. There is nothing in the natural world which would negate this. Since love cannot ever be stranded, we are an extension of God’s love. The first law of Thermodynamics is merely love interacting with science. Big-Bang Evolution claims existance sparked life. What else could it be?

Love needs embrace.

In order to have a beginning, something needs to begin spinning upon an axis, if only in the cosmos. It needs to move, live, breathe… love. Dogs can’t do science, but they must love. Dog owners feel what non-owners can’t begin to comprehend. You can never give to your dog what the dog gives to you, unconditionally. When ‘Spot’ starts putting spots on the carpet, we say, “What did you do?” We watch with amusement as the canine ears recede, the head goes down, and they shamefully acknowledge our displeasure.

At the end of a repulsive day, our dog never greets us saying, “What did you do?”

Unconditional love is boundless, even when it bounds towards our pristine fibers at the end of our less than pristine day.

Unconditional love is the lesson of parenting. My daughter just squeaked past her 11th Birthday. There is nothing she can do which would make me stop loving her. At times I wish she wasn’t aware of this, for me thinketh she takes advantage herewith.

Faith & Love

Let’s kill the mother f***er who has the gall to love us.

I was pushed into Catholicism – at 7:30 AM mind you – from a very early age. I was forced into St. Mary’s Catholic School on North Street in Greenwich, against my will. That lasted one semester. After a brief hiatus at GHS, I was in college and free from the confines of organized religion. I was not to return until age 37, when I met Father Gene, and subsequently got married in a Catholic Church. Father Gene re-established my faith, and even made me feel good about Catholicism. He retired a few months ago, and I am struggling with my religion, once again. The Catholic Church is so full of scandal that it is hard to feel any sort of loyalty to it.

But my loyalty is not to the Church. It is to the faith. I share my faith in Jesus with my wife, Taryn. I share my religion and faith with my daughter, (though my wife insists our beliefs are really Protestant.) Father Gene believes the semantics don’t matter.

Protecting priests who sodomize children has transcended the church: this is Catholic Legend. This is Sickness in Motion. This practice is so far removed from The Message, it reams the sphincter of Christian consciousness. The covert sexual conduct of Priests – and the Church protecting them – is not indicative of The Faith.

I have faith in Christ, and I attend Catholic service. My attendance does not make me a supporter of these actions. Paying taxes is not the manifestation of my support for the government’s actions, or their use of the funds garnished from my labor. There is a marked difference, though: Unless you regard jail time as a valid option, taxes are not optional. Church attendance is. So sue me.

A Jihad is not right, but neither is bombing those who are wrong. Warring factions are always – without exception – misinformed. The Jihadi might claim to be ‘warriors of God’, but misinterpretation of The Word can be found almost anywhere. The back of cereal boxes isn’t worthy of worship. Contributing to the demise of mankind isn’t what God had in mind.

“If what Jesus said was good, what can it matter if he was God or not?” -Kurt Vonnegut

‘Love your neighbor’, is hard to resist. But Jesus didn’t stop there. Jesus implores us to love our enemies. While we can’t expect such conduct to come easily to our mortal minds, this is what he asked of us.

Perhaps Jesus doesn’t understand the circumstances. Maybe it isn’t the right tact. We need to seek out, mutilate, and destroy our enemies! When the US levied missiles on hallowed ground, hatred fueled the fire.

Fighting love is a bit more daunting. The more you fight the more you lose. Eventually the walls of resistance always come down. It is just not possible to hate love forever. As my wife said: “The problem with hatred is that it ruins you.” Whenever we hate the haters we become our own worst enemy. It is like we have become suicide bombers of our own psyche.

At the root of any conflict is an internal struggle. Whenever you engage in conflict, you become conflicted. However, once grounded in your beliefs, the power of conflict evaporates like mist in the summer sun.

I recently watched a movie (available on Netflix) which was titled, ‘Lord save us from your followers’. I agree with the basic premise wholeheartedly. Followers mostly muddy up the message.

War is nothing less than a constant kindling of conflict. Peace is insupportable within these parameters. Supporting our troops became synonymous with supporting the war, early on. Oddly, there are many who want to defeat our ‘enemies’ so badly, they will pray for Jesus to give us the strength to drain them of their lifeblood.

Alas, Jesus never got the memo.

We are separated from our enemies through consciousness, and nothing more. Try as you might, you will never overcome that basic fact. When hatred reigns, you lose. That is why loving your enemies is the only possibility for resolution. Retribution never creates resolution. Even if you are victorious in battle, you have lost the best part of yourself.

Our political system is fatally flawed. It interferes with itself too much. Both parties try desperately to out duel the other. During a campaign run there is no scraping the bottom of the barrel. Political runs are good ol’ American Ugliness at it’s finest.

I have never been a believer in UFOs, at least insofar as spaceships from another planet are concerned. My reasoning is simple: Why are they only in the air? Why don’t they land? Still, if there is life on another planet – which creates ships able to cross galaxies – one thing is for certain: They are peaceful. They have managed to become an advanced civilization for one reason and one reason only. They did not destroy themselves. That could never happen on the little blue ball we inhabit unless we change our ideology.

We need to be warriors of peace, first and foremost. Perhaps Our Government needs to ask: What will bring us closer to peace? Only when peace is the goal do you ask the questions which resolve in peace. If peace is not the goal, we need to overhaul our government. We must insist on peace. It is the only resolution which will sustain our lives – not just for the moment – but for generations to come. The Mystery doesn’t lie in the White House.

Bruce Cockburn said: “You can’t be attached to the outcome of your efforts. Chances are you won’t live to see it, even if there is an outcome.”

Jesus died on the cross, saying “Forgive them Father, they know not what they’ve done.”

Love always wins, whether we are around to see it or not.

Compulsion Rules:

1.) It has to happen.

2.) There isn’t any option.

3.) Compulsion rules.

4.) Writing rules the compulsion.

Too bad the writing isn’t compelling.

Perhaps any compulsion is compelling, as compulsion propels the actions. The study of compulsion is compelling, even if the compulsion itself is not.

Take the hand-washing obsessionist. This isn’t a very compelling compulsion, though the fact that he washes his hands – to free the dirt which was picked up from the towel he used to dry his hands after washing them – is rather compelling. But writing is different. Writing is supposed to have meaning. Even those who write for no specific reason must find there is a meaning in putting it down. Otherwise, why would they bother?

I have read some really fascinating stuff recently. Much of it was from people who were inspired by Yaweh, while some was from the Good Book itself.

Parables are used in the holiest of places, and they touch all our lives. Still, I am left to wonder how a story extracts itself from parablism. Seemingly, every story contains a parable. Star Wars is a classic story of good and evil. It is a parable, is it not? Is it the complexity of a tale which wrests a story from potential Parable genreality?

The writing flies out of me, at times. Sometimes I am driving down the road at 70 miles an hour and I feel the compulsion to stop, find a coffee shop, pull out my journal and jog down the thoughts. They are always different once situated, but if they were strong enough, a skewed version bleeds out from the pen.

There is so much happening – right now – it seems. I am unaware of whether there is a shift in the makeup of the world at large, or whether my perspective is shifting, which is opening up possibilities all around me. One way or another things are great, and getting better all the time.

Have I have been distancing myself from the news that much?

I have been formulating a perspective paradigm, and trying it out in the real world. So far, it seems to be proving itself. Not that there is any other possibility. The premise is simple, and easily translatable to your life: Personal experience trumps information gleaned from any other source. It doesn’t matter what the source is, or how reliable you believe it to be.

Think about it. How often do you hear information from a newspaper, television or radio which compels your opinion? Your opinion gets filtered by external sources, then your experience is compelled to match that which you already believe. But what if you believed a certain thing, then tried to find sources which matched them, and discarded those that didn’t? While most people tend to keep pushing the buttons of information they favor, they fail to grasp the most critical part of this relationship:

The sources – not yourself – control your life perspective!

Taryn and I went to a Seventh Day Adventist Church a couple of weeks ago. There was a bible study, followed by the service. 4 and a half hours later we emerged. Wow.

This church felt very spiritual. We met many loving people who believe in God. Taryn and I are merely Christians. We have practiced our various ‘religions’, but we believe in essentially the same thing. She was brought up Baptist. I am a recovering Catholic. While we can engage in heated debate over The Word – it’s meaning and literary literality – we still fall under the jurisdiction of Christ. When you read The Book, you discover multifaceted, heavily documented discourse. There are wars. There is anger, pain and deceit.

Ultimately, there is love.

Yaweh is Spirit. The Spirit is Love. Jesus is Love Incarnate. The spirit of Jesus is in our blood. It goes round and round like that forever. (Hold onto your seat: here it comes again.)

When we pulled into the parking lot of the Adventist Church, there was a disheveled, middle aged man who appeared to be holding a joint. He asked if we had a bible, and Taryn handed him the one in her hand. I thought: This should be an interesting experience. I’ve never know anyone to get stoned and get high on Jesus. I had always separated them in my own life, but that is me. Jesus doesn’t make this divide.

He thanked us profusely, walked away with the bible, and lit up his hand-rolled cigarette. Taryn and I probably own a half-dozen bibles. I said to Taryn: “If we give away all of our bibles, I will keep buying them. It is well worth the money.”

The price of a bible is the antithesis of it’s value.

Having sought to write about the compulsion of writing itself, today I was compelled to write about God. As a missed assignment, it still gets credit. That is the beauty of writing. It all counts, no matter what happens. I am not dismayed over the divergence in direction. The fork has brought me here, and by that criteria alone, this is where I need to be.

I need to write more than I do, even though I write more than anyone I know. It is bursting out, now. There is my journal, my book, and my blog. Then there is all the meandering thoughts which still haven’t made their way onto the page, pushing to get out. They are incubations waiting for me to give them life. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by them all, but living Christianity puts things into focus. When love is the overriding message, the energy can be a bit much at times. These are the times you know it is real, so you can’t ignore the feeling. Why would you? So you share it, pass it on.

Here’s the bible, dude.

Sheer Potential

The loss is profound. This is life. Here is my wife, both carrying and giving life. What will they be? What kind of personality will they have? Will he be big into sports, playing whatever is in season and any that is not? Will he be the head of a corporation? With his parents love and guidance, will he carve a path that is uniquely his? Or will he be a she? Will she be a writer? Will she play music? Will she inspire others to greatness? With her parents love and guidance, will she carve a path that is uniquely hers?

Sheer potential takes on many faces. The parents dream of her, but they don’t really care how her life plays out. They just want her in their arms. The rest will work it’s way out. He will be what he will be. But why does the loss hit so hard? Here was a little person I never knew, never talked to, never touched. How can I feel such a deep loss? Was I in love with potential?

Love is sheer potential. I have lost love.

It isn’t as though I will never regain the love I lost. That love is but a well which constantly replenishes. The bottom is unknown. I will not feel this as deeply as Taryn, for I did not carry. This wasn’t a part of me. In time, the memory will fade, only to come surging back when someone refers to their own misfortune.

Love transcends time and space. Love can even transcend knowledge.

I loved a child I never knew. I love my wife more than I ever knew possible.

My Wife. The Rebel.

I should have known it before I married her. My wife is a true Rebel. No, it isn’t her flaming red hair, or the long skirts, or just the insistence on being gorgeous which prompted this action. No. That would be too simple. That would be too obvious. This one had to do with her ‘behavior’ in CHURCH.

Sunday I was in my semi-usual position of Lecturing, and My wife accompanied me into church. Naturally she was beaming her gorgeousness, and she was holding something in her hand. Those that know my wife also know it is quite common for her to curl up with a book. But there would be no curling. This was church. You can probably see where this is headed…

I have had many conversations with Father Gene about our faith. I have spoken to him about Taryn converting. This priest is rather a rebel himself, because he said, “Why do you want to do that? You both believe in Christ. Enjoy yourself. Enjoy your marriage. At some point she may decide to convert, or she may never. Just enjoy each other.”

Doesn’t Father realize this attitude doesn’t fuel the funds to funnel into the Catholic Church? Ahhh, but that is why I love him. Before Taryn and I got married, I timidly approached him about wanting to marry Taryn – a Protestant of all things – and my desire to remain Catholic. I asked if there was any way he could marry us. He told me he couldn’t, but gave this suggestion:
“Get married,” he said. “Go find a justice of the peace. The important thing is that you get married.”

Rebel Priest.

Father Gene believes in love first and foremost. Consistently, Father’s sermons invite us to eliminate the walls which divide us from each other. “Unless you have walked in a man’s shoes, don’t criticize. Reserve Judgement.” Father Gene’s messages are resoundingly about unity, forgiveness and love.

My relationship with Father Gene is almost a dozen years old. He isn’t just a priest, but a friend. It’s personal. When three churches consolidate into one in the fall, Father Gene will retire. While I am secure in my faith, I cling to the hope my Catholicism won’t be downsized without his guidance.

So here was my rebel wife, in broad daylight, walking right into church holding this book in her hand. Sitting in the front row she opened it up just a few feet from the altar: The Holy Bible.

I have gone to Catholic Church for nearly a half-century. In that time, I cannot recall anyone bringing a bible into church.

Is this the reason Father Gene isn’t pushing her to convert to Catholicism?

My rebel wife. Maybe she’ll start a revolution.

Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day and all through the house, not a creature was stirring except for The Louse.

The husband all snuggled up in his warm office, was doing nothing to kindle a dreamy romance.

The wife she lay sleeping alone in the bed, while visions of romance danced in her head.

Awakening shortly in search of Valentine’s clues, she finds one clawing cat, 2 whining dogs, and a fresh pile of poo.

Her husband has fled to find a last minute gift, which he hopes within her will induce a lift.

He will be forgiven of this he has found, their love is permanent and she gives him the crown.

He wears it with honor, for she is the one, he chose to Marry until life’s setting sun.

He will return and she will embrace, this man who has scurried back from the race

Elbowing, shoving, and near-bloody nose, to get a Valentine’s gift that really shows

All the love he has for her though cannot be achieved, for any gift given pales to what he received

The cup runneth over when she married him, looking upward you cannot even make out the brim.

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