What am I supposed to love more than food? Writing? Maybe. Music? Perhaps. Food is life. But food is also pain. And it’s purported to be a death warrant. My theory is that I can overpower one love with another love. Haha. Now that I write that I see that is silly. Isn’t it a famous truth that love doesn’t work that way? Maybe it’s a typical male interpretation of it. Blocky. Stacking one thing on top of another. You have to invite more love into your life. Love is invitational. Open. Love doesn’t understand turning off or trumping. That’s for the brain. The intellect. Since there seems to be no question that I love food, I must approach it from the standpoint of love relationships. Just listen to what my parents have said about love. That it cannot be analyzed in and out of existence. That it cannot be chosen like an item on a restaurant menu. It finds you, if you’re willing. If you avail yourself. Love. Oh, what a roaming relationship I’ve had with you. What a wild ride. You have been my companion since birth, haven’t you? Will I ever understand the wiles of your ways? You’ve made this life quite interesting. You’ve been a master of misdirection. I’ve used your name in vain many a time, haven’t I? But you’ve led me astray. You’ve given me life, and you will dig my grave. You’ve given me hope, and you lead me to despair and hopelessness. You refuse to guide and teach me – you are buttonlipped. I will miss you and yearn for you when I’m in the throes of death. You are synonymous with meaning. But you are just a word. Nothing more. At least in this context. You are indigestion. You are a hangover. A love hangover, a food hangover. Anything that you have asked me to binge on. You oppose moderation. You oppose a lack of passion.

What’s funny is that I think I will figure this out in a writing spat. i will figure this out and then I will go on my merry way with sufficient wisdom to change my evil ways. To love right. I don’t just write for catharsis, like has been proposed by a few. That is a side effect, really. I write to gain wisdom. Insight. Epiphany. That seems silly, though. Such an innocuous thing, putting words down. How can that make a difference to who I am, to my sheer essence? But what else has made such a difference? Am I supposed to go hiking every day to find wisdom? Am I supposed to go sailing or kayaking? Am I supposed to visit Europe or the Middle East? Am I supposed to volunteer at a soup kitchen? Or for a political organization? Am I supposed to work for a charity? Am I supposed to quit the Naples Philharmonic and try for a solo career? Will those things teach me more about life and love than writing? Am I supposed to write the great American novel? Am I supposed to write a self help book? Am I supposed to go to meditation retreats? Am I supposed to become a teacher in a school? What age group?

It’s funny that I forget how love has burned me. Whether it’s a few hours ago or a few decades ago. I have to forget, though. I have to love love. That’s my nature. That’s my calling. I am called to love. I write to balance some of the excesses of love. That’s one of the things I can do about this overactive love gland. I can’t have it amputated. I think I would die then. I can counterbalance its effects.


I have to doubt all things. I have to question. I sometimes wish I had a choice. But I think I know that I don’t, and that I don’t want one. Questioning is my way to grow. The depth that I want to change is probably equal to the depth of my doubts of what I believe. If I were to hold fast to a belief, then I would hit a ceiling of my potential for growth. I crave beliefs that can withstand my questions. That I can press for answers and continue receiving them. Lately I have come back to love as a source of wisdom and truth. If I love something healthy more than something unhealthy, I can rely on that as a way to sway my actions. I can lean on love. It can handle a lot of my will, or my questioning. We will see if it can withstand it in the long run. Sometimes I have to leave a notion for awhile while I am in a period of doubt, but I eventually am capable of returning to it for further investigation and use. I don’t think this is a problem anymore. It is a sign of engaging in a process. Not sitting still. No one has explained this process to me, not that I can remember. So I am inventing it for myself. Am I taking the path less traveled? I often feel like I’m not. Like I am just a drone, living in the shadows of others. Maybe my way is cloaked like that. It is true for me, but it doesn’t thrive in the limelight. Maybe anyone who bothers to look within the shadowy enclosure will find something beautiful and meaningful. Something that can affect the world in a meaningful way. Maybe my version of kindness and compassion is not destined to withstand advertisement. Of course it is also connected to shame. I wish it was only a good kind of shame, like tastefulness or decency. But it isn’t just that. I am ashamed. And I try to protect myself from the worst of it. I do things to hide from myself. I still hate myself. For whichever reasons. I love people who don’t hate themselves. I adore them. They radiate. They inspire me not to feel that way. Thank God for people like that. Or I’d be lost. I must be wary of that river of hate. Self-hate, that morphs into other hate. And meanness. There are many kinds of meanness. I strive to eradicate them. Once I can identify them.


Watching Starker’s master class is a bit like how Brahms must have felt with Beethoven looking over his shoulder. But I have realized something. Nobody can be a clone of anybody else. Starker tempts you because he is so decisive and incisive. Talking about laws of playing. Not that I totally disagree with his premise. He is brilliant, naturally.
However, his brilliance can’t discount my or another’s brilliance. One way of saying it is that… well, actually that. We can say the same or almost the same concepts, but in different ways. We don’t necessarily disagree with one another. But we have to find our way of expressing it. Like, when I discovered that the difficulty in the left hand stems from the existence and thereby impedance of the neck, it may be closely related to his law of circles. But my brain and my body cannot fully ingest his philosophy and concepts. I will choke a bit. My own truths will sound and look a bit different, even if they had similar roots.


Maybe once you’ve grown up, you easily lose that thread which connects your adult personality to the childhood experiences that shaped it. It’s hidden, that thread. It takes a special kind of observation to reimagine it, to recapture it. Not common observation. This place – Thailand – and this space – blogging – give my mind and heart allowance to escape their ordinary patterns. I question the sort of subject matter I lean towards here. But it is the most important stuff to the likes of me, at least. It would be a wasted opportunity if I didn’t go there. It is one of the very few places I can explore these deeply crucial issues.


That scene in Sleepers. It can haunt me. At times. That is one good reason why I journal. That is one reason I sleep with the XM radio on. Next to my head, yes. Things haunt me. I am affected by things, despite what I let on. That is why I am a good musician. I am affected. I am just not great at understanding and articulating and acting on those things. So I inact. Not enact.

I need friends and lovers to hold my hand. To help stabilize me. To help me walk. Life is too overwhelming otherwise. I can’t fathom the reality of it. Like in Sleepers. I can’t fathom the cruelty. The pleasure in being cruel.

I can’t believe I act tough. I can’t believe I act like I know it all. Do I have to do that in order to get along? In certain circumstances, yes. But I need to weed those out of my life, it seems. I need to find places in the world where I can be true to myself. I think I have done that to some degree.

Being in Thailand this month is once again opening a window for me. Turning on lights inside myself. I can see what hides. What scurries into corners, under carpets.


Maybe music allows for such a shriveled, spontaneous, fractured personality. Maybe music benefits from it. Maybe music requires it. The arts. Larger than life. Your problems, your passions, your dreams, your dips.

It’s nuts. I somehow latched on to one of the few things that flourishes in my insanity. It’s built in to our society. We allow for it.

Maybe I had a perfect childhood. Maybe I pick up everything, good and bod, so it could seem I had it bad. Maybe I am hazy because that’s the way I am.

That’s been my working theory for a long time now. That’s the beauty of theorizing. It is not fact, but it can be your version of fact until a better one trumps it.


I eat when I’m not hungry. I don’t drink when I am thirsty. I stay awake when I am tired. I remain sedentary when my body thirsts for exercise. I waste time in myriad ways when I have important work to be done. I am sad when life hands me opportunities for joy. I get distracted when I am in dire need of focusing. I get obsessed with useless, inane actions. I get angry when everything is fine. I am pleased when there are clear problems.

There are some good examples of my broken compass. I must go back to square one. I must be vigilant. In a sense I must do what George prescribes. Look for all opportunities where the contrasting action is right and my tendency/instinct is wrong. Maybe that’s why writing is good for me. It is somewhere in the nether region between inaction and action. It’s where I have a moment to reconsider what I’m thinking.


It occurs to me that everything can be explained if I determine that it’s been all wrong since the outset. Some combination of who I am, how I was raised, where I was raised and the potential pitfalls of my species have collided to make this leech. This hollow vessel. This moral nonentity. It reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where George realizes that all he has to do is the exact opposite of what he believes is right, and that will be what works.

I kind of have to do that. I think I have to make an attempt at starting over again from scratch. Really from the beginning. Not in fits and starts like I usually try to make changes. But wholesale. I really am topsy turvy. It’s all a mistake. From some rotten start. Maybe it was the incident in 1776 that did it. Maybe it was more recent. It seems there are enough good examples around me to give me some sense of what is really right or wrong.

It is that moral/personal compass thing again. Mine is broken. I don’t know how to make the right decisions. I follow others along their path, hoping that it’s a good one. Trying to sense their capacity for wisdom and joy. That would also explain my failed attempts at theism. It was an effort to find a guide. Too bad that it doesn’t take much effort for me to think my way out of that box. Box of nails.

Not having any clue seems to have its advantages. If I had a clue I could explain them. Maybe there’s an innocence, and openness. Maybe this condition finally explains my musical ability. There is much to draw from if you’ve been confused and suffering spiritually since your very early existence.

This also explains why I put only random titles on my blogs. I don’t actually understand what I am writing. The ruminations just pour out. It is cathartic. I don’t really know where it stems from, and I don’t know when I’ve completed my idea. I have minimal wherewithal. But I am a vessel for wisdom. Just as I am a vessel for musicianship.


I’m a badass. Not for the reasons you think. Depending who you are. It’s the little tiny things. It’s breathing. It’s writing. It’s the little victories. It’s succeeding where I have previously failed. Expressing myself here is an example of an instance where I previously couldn’t find the wherewithal to express myself. I learned, and I forged into unknown territory. I dared. For me, that is worthy of the moniker badass. Exercising control in a situation that tempts me to let loose, to forge directly into a favorite territory of mine, is badass.

In my case, badass doesn’t really look badass to an outside observer. Me acknowledging that I’m badass is badass, too. Standing my ground against someone who thinks they’re a badass is being badass.