Category Archives: everyday observations

letter

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.

shrivel

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.

bard

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.

Paultry

Haven’t posted for awhile. Imagine that. It’s a little like coming home though, isn’t it? Maybe my exploration into humanism explains that to some degree. This is a human, not superhuman, exercise and exploration. I never knew it, but I was raised and live my life as a humanist. Not as anything else.

I guess I thought I could notate a couple of discoveries I’ve come upon lately. I unhinged some degree of relief from my left hand pain. I haven’t really verbalized it yet, so it’s a bit foggy. One thing is that the bottom of my hand must be an equal player in this whole exercise. It’s not all about the top. The first realization I had, which I shared with my colleagues, is that the neck is precisely where my thumb wants to be, should be. So I experimented with miming the left hand on thinner, smaller objects, and it seemed to prove my theory out. That was until I tried it on a guitar. Then I realized that there is something else which must be an impediment besides the height of the neck. As it turns out, the width is just as much of a problem, just as on a guitar. Just realizing and acknowledging this issue already helped. Negotiating the obstacle course which is the cello neck will continue to be my task. That is why I started by saying I must give the lower part of the hand great credence in all of this. That is the part which deals with this maze from moment to moment.

The other discovery is regarding another favorite pet peeve of mine – eating. I now see utterly clearly why there are so many fat/chunky people walking around. Restraining yourself from eating til you’re stuffed is just really fucking difficult. And finding that delicate balance between undereating and overeating is nearly un-do-able. I am saying this because I have realized the most obvious thing in the world, the thing I’ve been reticent to admit all these years. You must eat less and move more in order to get to a happy physical state. And when you eat less, you will feel hungry, or at the very least hungrier. So, how horrible is being hungry? Perhaps not so much. Perhaps at my middle age I have discovered worse sensations in life than hunger. Your weight is not a static animal, it is fluid. It is unfair to judge yourself, either positively or negatively, for something that is in a constant state of flux.

harn

So it hasn’t been a fluke or a character defect after all. It is all about duality. Everything I do causes me to react back. Everything done looks for its opposite. Or some kind of contrary reaction, if an exact opposite isn’t available. Ideally, you don’t do anything. You sit and meditate on nothingness. Because once you do something (eat, walk, converse, laugh, cook) you are only asking for it. I suppose you can attempt to keep the doing to a minimum. Or you can constantly be on guard for the reactions. It seems, however, that being on guard can only mean one thing – meditating. All things come back to meditating on nothingness. On the void. I told Cody that that void is the truth, the reality. All else is distraction. Duality equals distraction. All that is dual is nothing more than a distraction, and it’s distracting us from the truth. It’s a game. Do most people see that? Are we doomed? Why do only a select few pursue that truth? Is it because of what I’m reading about sapiens? A little intelligence can only lead to trouble. It takes a greater amount to get out of it. Is wisdom acquired through knowledge and experience, or is it innate? Why is so much wisdom required to stop thinking? Perhaps the daftest among us are also privy to that fact.
The follow up question is whether this knee jerk reacting is hard wired or adjustable. Reading Sapiens, it would appear almost everything is hard wired to some degree or another. Hard wired biologically, socially, ecologically, culturally, and from the distant past or more recently. Maybe the idea of meditating is to unwire ourselves as much as possible. One wonders how deep you can go with that. You look for the deepest part of yourself I guess. It does feel like blogging taps deep parts, and unglues the adhesive causing stuck-nesses in one’s thinking and behaving.

tooler

It’s quicksand. The hole that I am constantly trying to dig myself out of. You think you’re up a bit. It’s a hoax. This journal is certainly a good example. How much journaling is enough to give myself that grounding that I can rely on? Does anyone realize just how much I’ve written? A lot. But the hole doesn’t necessarily fill in. My neuroses are signs of digging. They cause me to dig back in. I fill in some dirt, and I shovel it back out. It sounds ridiculous doesn’t it. How can everything be connected in that way? Are we spiritual beings having a human experience? Is that how? Is spiritual another way of saying soulful or emotional? Are emotions the modern day religious terminology? We took our feelings out of a God-based realm and into a scientific metaphor. It’s ironic. If we’re basically talking about the same thing, why the heated debate? Also why do I invest myself in the debate? What do I get out of it?

The point is I feel so weird when I’m released from my neuroses for a time. I can’t stand it. Even though it’s what I know I need. The neuroses are such a source of frustration. Whether it’s God, or journal, or new regiment, or happy distraction, or discipline, when something provides that respite, it saves me for a time. Too bad it’s so temporary. It’s that damn hole.

harness

If I am so cut and dry about my attachment to the cello, it will affect my approach. I noticed some of that today. It reflects in my mannerisms. It’s nice. Every word I write seems to translate to a physical idiosyncrasy. It’s kind of my dream. As much as I’ve enjoyed/loved writing in spaces like this over the years, I never saw an absolutely direct translation to my music. There are undoubtedly indirect correlations, which I’ve adored. It’s been possibly my chief method of improvement as a cellist – growing as a human being.

So with improvements on two fronts, will I again butt up with my usual problem of combining them? Does it take the wisdom of the ages and the patience of Job to handle 2 sources of growth in one moment? What seems to be a possibility is that endeavoring on only one of those is not sustainable as a manner of living. The undone one will always end up undermining the done. If I play the cello well but eat poorly, the ease and naturalness with the instrument will eventually revert under the pressure. If I eat well but play the cello unsuccessfully, the well-balanced eating will eventually fall away.

clammed

I know what was bugging George Michael. That voice. That voice from One More Try. It was golden. He could make any sound he wanted. He could evoke any emotion. And of course he was quite good looking. There were probably other exceptional aspects of his early adulthood. These things are not easy to see decay. Maybe the higher you fly, the harder is the fall. You need special people to guide you through the dark and unending mist of aging/growing. I have had many such guides. Even one lovely one who informed me that South Americans and Europeans find bald men sexy.

I can’t forget the feeling of wanting to hang it up. It may be my only hope. When all is lost, you will see the light shining like a tiny dot in the distance. When all expectations are gone, I stop the perpetual block. The block of judgment. The block of ranking. It seemed my friend Monica was gaining that sort of release and wisdom when we played together last season and recently. Maybe you have to play like you don’t care. Maybe I have to do that with more urgency that some others who are physically stronger. There have been other physiological issues in my life that seem to have forced me to live a bit cleaner and wiser than some others. Like I said in the last blog, pain and suffering have been important teachers for me. And it’s not for altruism’s sake. I see the writing on the Wall of Mortality. And I am constantly playing catch-up. More wisdom from another confidante. That life is not stacked in our favor. Which seems to apply to many subjects. On the other hand, we should be feeling lucky that we have the option at least to contemplate and grow. Moreso than the rest of the animal kingdom.

marshmallow

So maybe pain gets a bad rap. Is that like the Alanis Morissette song where she thanks a bunch of things that don’t usually get thanked? Maybe.

I usually don’t feel much gratitude for pain. But it is such a great tool. I’ve realized that if I’m not acutely aware of pain or discomfort, it is much harder to pinpoint things that I need to work on – and there are many such things. In fact, my best hope is to seek out the negative feeling that is eluding me within an experience. Naturally most people spend their time seeking all things positive. Maybe that’s the saddest thing of all. What if we need to heighten our awareness of pain and sadness? They’re there, if you take the time to look for them. Most of the time emotions are mixed up like paint colors jumbled in a can. That’s why they’re hard to identify. That’s probably why joy is also elusive.

Now it may seem I am mixing my metaphors. Physical pain versus emotional sorrow? I suppose I have learned that there is much crossover. If you look for it, you will find a great deal of subjects and categories that in fact commingle in the human experience and soul.

Example: Many people may not think off hand that the act of eating is intertwined with the rise and fall of emotions occurring minute by minute, hour by hour. But what if I told you that not permitting yourself to feel sadness causes you to eat very differently? The food ends up being an aid for distancing yourself from this spectrum of emotions. We’d like to believe we’re the ones who have control over these feelings. Not so. They are pulling the strings. Uncomfortably good emotions must cause similar reactions as well.

Pain keeps us honest. That’s why playing the cello is such a fascinating pursuit. You get nearly instantaneous feedback on what you’re doing right or wrong. You can learn for as long as you like. As an activity, eating is not so helpful. You often don’t know you’ve done anything harmful until hours later. It takes years to find out that you have been developing a gut. So you have to dig a little deeper to connect to where the pain is. It’s a moment by moment sensitivity. That’s why I went for my emotions. They are accessible anytime you want them. Naturally most of the time it is a dark emotion that you need to befriend in some way or another, in order to stop using the food as a buffer or escape.

stems

Ok, so I found a loophole or two.

And there are parallels.

There is the question of quality. Distinguishing between my passions for playing and absorbing music has to also include the quality of the music in question. I have a different soul reaction to different grades of music. I imagine there is also a difference depending on the format and instrumentation, too. Playing duos with Daniela can’t be equivalently comparable to playing Pops with Jack, nor is it the same as playing Masterworks with Andrey. They are all distinct. Maybe I have to acknowledge that somewhere along the way before I get to the stage.

A similar thing holds true for food. I may have a variety of cravings throughout a day, but are they all worthy of my energies? I must distinguish. I can’t go on autopilot. I actually have to start distinguishing between what ought to be considered my food passions and other inferior gastronomic propensities. My lower brain stem really, really doesn’t want me to bother with this. But look what happens! I need to be haughtier. Like P’Mew. Haughty. Snobby. I am for some reason resistant to do this. The reasons will become clearer after the fact, as they tend to. For now, maybe I’ll just have to stick with the theory that my lower brain faculties would like to have their way with me, and I’m going to have to call them on it.

I could extrapolate and say this theory also applies to a variety of other things – like exercise styles. I must distinguish those too.