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.
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.
Okay, this is important. It’s one thing to know right and wrong. It’s one thing to know what’s the right thing to do, and what’s the ill-fated thing to do. The trouble is, there are so many little tiny decisions in a day. How am I going to know until after the fact which path is the right one to take? I say that I am learning. Is that really true? Is that really the essence of learning? Accumulating information in order to make the right decisions more often?
Learning Without Accumulation is the title of a Krishnamurti book. I try to teach Cody the essence of wisdom and understanding.
It’s like a see-saw. Or a pendulum. On one end is the bad, addictive, unhealthy things one is attracted to. On the other are the pure antidotes that enact a recovery. I guess I am trying to manage that swing, and in so doing, learning. Little by little I swing less and less. I make fewer and fewer mistakes, and therefore need less and less extreme antidotes. But the pure antidotes instead are becoming a solace for me, a source of wisdom. I want to take them out of the realm of the see-saw effect. Maybe the midpoint, the fulcrum of the see-saw is moving in the direction of health, if I’m living right. So if it ever does eventually stop, it will be in a beautiful place.
Every time I break any of the commandments of health and wisdom, I feel I am back to square one. Even if I am not. I feel it. It is not so much a question of evidence. How could I possibly keep track of my progress? It’s not a life lived if you are only tabulating and charting all the time. That’s been a little achilles issue with me. Not living. Retreating to analysis. I do like to do it. (As is apparent here, I suppose.) (I’d like to think the not so subtle difference between analyzing and philosophizing distinguishes my process.)
Disappear. Reappear. I would love to be like the bird. Buddhists say it is better to be human. Humans are kings of disarray. Messiness. I think it’s funny to think I should be entertaining people with this blog. Entertaining is precisely the thing I should not aim to do.
I am extremely full. It is a shame. I always feel empty if I am not stuffed. It is an endless see-saw. So predictable and monotonous. Eating, waiting, eating, waiting. It is these sorts of see-saws that must be studied. Seen for what they are – irrelevant. They are everywhere, if you’re willing to look.
Reading Krishnamurti is like this writing space. It evokes that special meditatively magic feeling. It is things like this, unseen things, which seem to be just as crucial as seen ones. Always simmering. Always there.
What did I just do? Why? I just played a concert. But why? It matters. It is unseen, it is unidentifiable, but it matters at least as much as the content of the experience. Otherwise I am just an empty shell once again. An empty shell goes through the motions of experience, but is doomed to repeat them, see-saw-like, for the rest of his life. Even the greatest experience, done more than once, becomes banal, death-march-like.
Combining the two (or more) pursuits. Maybe it’s connected to the career path thing. I do one thing only. I guess I am in fact in the process of expanding my horizons.
I have put eating well and playing well at the top of my list. I seem to need lists. It’s an annoying grownup thing. Compartmentalizing. We were just talking about that with Cody. He doesn’t have to compartmentalize. He is just 6. He still has a pure connectedness to all parts of himself. Like a sinew. Everything is interconnected. They talked about that at Seacrest.
There’s an interesting question. Where (and who) would I be if I had been schooled differently. I suppose I would have had to have been raised differently in order to be directed towards a different sort of educational setting. So now I sit and journal, semi-publicly, in an effort to complete my existence which may have been stifled from early on. I feel a connectedness when I write. I could have written this way since the beginning. Was it something that wasn’t nurtured? Is that the problem?
I kind of decided enough was enough tonight. It’s not worth the pain. It’s not sensible or necessary. So then I really, seriously thought about the possibility of quitting. No more. Zip.
Then I thought, do I have a reason to be a cellist? Or to continue being one? An answer wasn’t immediately coming to mind. I guess I don’t really think deeply about that question. I just kind of do it. Maybe moreso in my old age? But I think I couldn’t even begin to address that question when I was younger and more naive. Life has given me some wherewithal to engage in productive contemplation.
So the meat of this thought process was occurring during the Brahms first piano concerto, with Grimaud and Andrey.
You see, last night’s concert found me in a different place at that moment. I was absolutely connected, in a semi state of nirvana, musically. I was in my typical state of discomfort cellistically, but I was soaking every bit of the Brahms into my pores. I don’t know if that gave me something in particular to draw on tonight. But I had been thinking this week about how I have spent much of my life as a listener to music, with the week’s program of the Brahms and the Schumann 4th Symphony as two of my favorites for cranking on the stereo. During the parts of the Brahms that the cellos rest, I was able to go into that state of immersion that I do when I listen off stage. I actually meditated to exactly that slow movement when I was in high school, during lunch period I think. I would lie down on the grass out in front with my walkman, and let Ashkenazy’s endless lines wash over me.
I wondered if the reason I am in this field is actually an extension of my love of listening to beautiful music, not really because I adore participating in its creation. This love has many physical and emotional side effects, mostly positive, but some negative, and I have frequently wondered if they are always an asset for the purpose of performing. Tonight I may have found a way through that question. It’s about passion. Finding my true passionate nature. It seems to be possible that my passion for letting music wash through me in fact touches a different part of my soul than the art of playing.
At the moment when these ideas streamed through my consciousness, something changed. It’s ironic, because the thought of quitting opened up something in myself that was trapped when I was supposedly sustaining my level of dedication, feeling I would never quit.
I have been trying to raise the bar on my overall level of well-being and happiness. Tonight was one of those nights where I felt the price was too high. The pain outweighed the pleasure. It’s possible that having now experienced the musical differentiation described here, I may find a way to live in tenuous balance with this art and craft.
Add new post. I can do that. Maybe that little suggestion helps alleviate writer’s block. I wish my arm didn’t hurt. It makes typing somewhat painful.
I had big plans to make a video journal entry about my recent epiphanies on cello. Or at least write about it here.
It’s hard to be shame laden. One hard thing is that you’re not only ashamed, but you feel shame about your shame. It’s a wonderful cycle. It inspires things like sarcasm. And unexpressed anger and rage.
I was thinking about Cody. Whether he would have to suffer the same mockery that I endured. That started me thinking about whether it was internal or external factors that led to my unpopularity. External – appearance, physical attributes and habits. Internal – self assurance, confidence, philosophical bent. I haven’t often thought it was internal. But maybe that’s what really carries the day.
All the self-medicating will inevitably kill me at a younger age. I am putting my body through the wringer.
The reason why you write is that there are words to be written and arranged. Once the words evolved through history, all future generations were required and honored and fortunate enough to utilize them. You can’t unlearn their existence. Once you know the difference between there, their and they’re, you feel an irresistible need to use them in their respective places, and not mix them up. There is a special kind of human clarity that is caused and experienced by the use of words and phrases. Once that is achieved, not making use of it is forever a form of devolution. Somewhere inside (and outside) of yourself, a price is paid for losing or squandering that clarity and expression.
The same holds true for music and music-making. Now that we have Bach and Mozart and Schumann, silencing opportunities for performing them has the effect of choking the human spirit. If you are a performer, you will forever be elevated by the act of performing great music, however that is defined. If you are a concertgoer, ending your exposure to live music-making removes an important outlet that enables emotional wherewithal.
I self-medicate for reasons related to this journal entry. I am not taking advantage of my humanness in some way. I am backtracking to my animalistic side. Maybe that is one definition of religion – elevation. Anything that elevates you taps into a spirituality. I do wonder if there are certain common experiences we can point to that would be able to be characterized as elevating – once they have been introduced to a society. The humanists would accuse me of making a false parallel from lofty human experiences to deities. Isn’t God just a word, though? Can’t I use it if I feel it fits the feeling? It’s a lot more succinct than a power greater than myself. My shrink would make reference to the chemicals swirling around inside us, that cause all sorts of feelings, and that you can invent magical explanations for.
Another question is, is it my responsibility to deny or apologize for my spirituality just because there are a bunch of assholes throwing around their God or Gods to rationalize their assholeness? I just want to be lofty. Not stuck in the mud. Can I please?
Why does it have to be one extreme or the other? Adam’s religion does not require such extremes. I don’t feel guilty for INTERPRETING the Bible. Not believing in it verbatim, nor completely dismissing its worth. It’s allowed to be an historic fable that moves me and helps me to find MY God. If my version of God happens to fall in line with many millions of others’, I still want to call it God. A God that I can connect with on my own. Or sometimes when I’m with others, too.
I feel like my only hope for not being a sheep is a path towards my truth. Maybe that’s redundant. But if it is, it doesn’t seem to be very popular.
Been awhile. I still adore you. I’ve had to do some solitary work, some secretive soul searching. At this juncture, I have taken to drinking (a bit), I am working my way through the Bible (just started Numbers), I’m uncomfortable with my long-standing 12 step philosophy, I just got a fabulous bow rehair from Goering, and I built a rolling basketball system as a result of Cody starting in a mini basketball team.
My Bible reading and uncomfortableness with 12 stepping are interconnected, as you might have guessed. I have been struggling with a definition and/or verification of a higher power since I began my spiritual/religious journey, but every once in a while I have gotten a whiff of a feeling associated with my childhood religion. So it wasn’t completely forgotten, apparently. It is in there.
I’ve really been trying to find the meaning in the 12 step programs. I guess when you’re seriously striving to do that, you dig deeper and deeper into your spirituality, otherwise it seems you will continually reach an impasse within the steps. So I kind of went to the source, as it stands for me. It seems the words and the stories and the chronology of the Bible have resonated quite deeply. I even have tried out a Bible study group. But along the way, I attended a High Holy Day service (Yom Kippur, post- the Kol Nidre performance), and it struck a deep chord, so I may end up becoming willing to convert back to my original religious persuasion. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am still deeply rooted in an atheist’s mindset and philosophy. So I imagine my version of Judaism will be unique, incorporating personal quirks that allow me to remain true to myself. I guess this wasn’t meant to be easy for me.
I’m also suspecting that it may not be possible to be a believer and a non-believer simultaneously. I mean, it is possible, but it’s not productive. It keeps your spirituality stuck in second gear. Are atheists supposed to possess spirituality? There’s a continuum, between atheism and religious devotion. What if you want some of each? Are you asking for the having and the eating of the cake?
On a different note, playing the Beatles tribute tonight was pretty religious. In the sense of the religion they espoused – love, love, love; peace; incredible harmonies, tunes and musical manifestations; fellowship; friendship. It was rather cathartic given what transpired in our country this week. I wondered what the largely Trump-supporting audience gleaned from it. It certainly made me wish the fab four were still around spreading their philosophy. We could certainly use it. I think I will have to do whatever I can to encourage those sorts of ideas and sensibilities in my circles.
Not believing in some kind of a higher power is a vice in itself.
It is a defect of character.
As I just witnessed with Cody, a higher power gives one a starting point for developing curiosity and wonder. It is a springboard for conversations about big questions which may be hard to pinpoint exact answers to.
Nowadays steps about the higher power force one to address the question of the age – science vs religion.
Why is writing this down so awkward?
I think “should” is not such the dirty word it’s been made out to be. Maybe that’s why god is ok to use, too. God implies responsibility to something, something to answer to all the time. Someone, even.
Faith without works is dead. Like written music without performers is dead.
I was thinking that even with all the good reasons to follow the steps – they work, they’re good for the world – the idea of “should” cannot be ignored. Because I said so. You have to truly believe in the things that you “should” do, but in the end, some of it is just because I said so. You are free to vacillate back and forth between finding justification for it and doing it out of sheer duty. Maybe you need both.
It’s like my eternal question about bridging faith and work. Or bridging a lot of things. Eating well and exercising for example. Not one or the other. Not one in spite of the other’s absence. You vacillate. You don’t count one out.
I have a million zillion vices. Where would I begin? There’s the problem. Identifying the problem is a great exercise. Practicing the solution – that’s the great part. Problem / solution. Multi-tasking. Right? Don’t be afraid. Be afraid. Ha. Go for it. Be utterly cautious.
The solution lies out there. Somewhere, someday, someplace. Somehow. In the ether. In the future. Futurepark. I see it. I have seen it. In my dreams. I live in the bright light of that special glowing place. I have tasted it. Here. There.
The solution is….. looking at my vices in real time, as they say. Trusting that a life without them is a better one than with them.