Categories
musings Writing

Displaced

LavenderAt age 7, I used to lay on the grass lawn of our suburban home, head cradled in my hands, staring at the clouds drifting past.  I was acutely aware of the sounds reaching me and they would begin pulling pieces of me to their sources; the dog behind the house barking, above and to the left a small plane passing by, the swish-swish-jerk of the sprinkler across the street, the passing cars, and in the distance a tractor trailer roaring past on the highway.

On summer nights, when it was too hot to sleep in the beds, my father would leave the front door open and lay out bamboo mats on the living room floor.  I would lay for hours taking in the night sounds.  There was a party going on several blocks away and suddenly, I was there, dancing to the music, wandering around the party, only to sneeze and find myself back on the living room floor.

Or the sound of the train whistle from several towns away would have me wondering where it was going.  Where would I want to be going at this time of night on a train?  I couldn’t wait to grow up, to get out there and explore the world of these sounds.

When I reached my teens, I realized that I could chart my own course towards futures that  used to seem out of reach.  I devoured piles and piles of books, building new worlds inside myself, and forever living in this imagined but very real future.

As I grew into a young man, I continued living with this future focus.  It astounded me to see others glide into new abilities and graceful poise with ease.  I continually felt “late.”  It was like everyone else got the invite a couple of years ago and I just found out about the party.  I was always feeling like a “late bloomer.”

A sense of being out of sync continued.  But it swung the other way.  I was in constant angst, frustration and impatience for the future to hurry up and arrive!  I dove into technology, innovation – anything ‘new and improved’ caught my eye.  I lived on the bleeding edge of innovation, always the way-early-adopter and impatient for the rest of the world to catch up.

Other times I would be walking down the street and see someone looking at me.  I would see them and think, they look kind of familiar…where did I see this person? Awkward.  They would turn out to be someone I worked with at a job just last year and would be miffed I couldn’t even remember them.

And then I met M.

She was my opposite in so many ways.   I didn’t think too much at first, but within a week, I was smitten, enchanted; I couldn’t stop thinking about her.  I loved the way she would stop me in the middle of one of my “big fascinating idea rants” and say, “Don’t you love how those flowers smell?”

“What?  What flowers?”

“On that tree we just passed.”

“Um.  Oh yeah.”

At first, it would drive me nuts when I was talking about some big amazing new idea that was oh-so important and her eyes would drift over to a baby in a stroller walking past.  She would start talking to the baby and I would just stop and wonder, what was I saying?”

After a while, I did start to notice these “little” details.  It was like I was so far in the future that I couldn’t even notice the present.

It’s been over two decades since beginning my re-entry into the “real world.”  A part of me still feels like I’m late, but in the last few years, I’ve begun to get this sense that perhaps I’m a bit early.

You know that Seinfeld episode where Elaine is dating the bald guy?  Jerry says, “What is he, from the future?”

Categories
news of the world

The Paradox Of Plenty

Living with Abundance And The Embarrassment of Riches?

What if we don’t need so many people working anymore?  What shall we do with all our leisure time?  Can we afford it?  What’s the solution?  J. Bradford Delong poses some of these questions and more in an article at the Global Times.

In the US, just three out of 10 workers are needed to produce and deliver the goods we consume. Everything we extract, grow, design, build, make, engineer and transport – down to brewing a cup of coffee in a restaurant kitchen and carrying it to a customer’s table – is done by roughly 30 percent of the country’s workforce.

The rest of us spend our time planning what to make, deciding where to install the things we have made, performing personal services, talking to each other and keeping track of what is being done, so that we can figure out what needs to be done next. And yet, despite our obvious ability to produce much more than we need, we do not seem to be blessed with an embarrassment of riches. One of the great paradoxes of our time is that workers and middle-class households continue to struggle in a time of unparalleled plenty.

See more at Global Times website.

Categories
Fiction and Poetry Writing

Stopping Time; Thoughts About Meditation

Thoughts on Meditation
My head is high above the clouds…

My head is high above the clouds. The air is cooler up here and there is a gentle breeze from my right. I can see down into the darkness the long string that is tethering me to my body. It goes down, down, down until it disappears into the dusky depths. Somewhere down below is my body seated in lotus pose. Or at least it’s trying to stay in that pose. It seems that lately it’s been easier. The clouds of thoughts drift by below. Far below I can just make out the lights of my ideas rushing past.

Sometimes I drop 10,000 feet in a sudden rush of forgetfulness and I’m in the traffic of my thoughts – loud, brash, stinky with fumes and the accompanying adrenaline rush that goes with it. But today, I’m staying afloat high above. It’s so quiet up here. It’s like the only thing that is here is the gentle wind and a slight whisper of my voice from time to time, checking to see if I’m really here.

Meditation is so strange. It’s like a stopping of time. I think today I’m closest to ever getting it all to stop. Other times I’ve thought I succeeded only to find myself deep in slumber, snoring and dreaming away.

Categories
art drawing joyful living lettering

Giving Myself Permission…

Or Releasing The Fears And Rules Of Others To Get Back To Your True Self

I’ve recently realized I need to draw/doodle  for my own sanity.  Back in high school, I was a pretty good visual artist and actually had to choose art or music as a career path.

I chose music, but I’ve felt something amiss in not drawing anymore.   I didn’t feel like I had permission to waste time doodling or drawing – there was work to be done!    [Note:  You could insert any activity here really: drawing or painting or writing songs or anything you passionately love.]  But yet, it was like a part of me kept bugging me, like a piece of grit in my gut that was forming itself into a pearl.

Cartoons

I’ve always envied the life of the independent cartoonist.  I was never really into comic books like Spiderman or Marvel stuff.  Instead, I was attracted to people like Bill Watterson (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) and Gary Larson (The Far Side)  who could command their own worlds and enjoyed international fame and fortune.  But problem is, I couldn’t really see myself writing and drawing my own comics.

A Seed Is Planted

Years ago, I read Hugh Mcleod‘s amazing book Ignore Everybody.  I was so envious, jealous even!  How did he escape the big ad agency and claim his own life!    At the time I was still involved with interactive advertising world.   And to think that Hugh was not even an Art Director, but a Copywriter who drew these crude cartoons!  Though I didn’t do anything about it, it planted a seed deep within me.

 

 

ZenTangling

About a year and a half ago, I came across a book about this process called Zentangle which had this entire process of making simple abstract art from rules.  It was like a drawing meditation and I started to play around with it and found I really liked it.  I also got to buy myself some really cool pens and pencils!

This was fun, but it still felt a little bit like I was wasting time and needed to go and do real work.  It’s amazing what your previous programming does to you.  I was hearing the voices of authority in my head from parents, teachers, society, etc.   But, it felt so fun!  And, I was only doing a little bit each day.  It’s like my version of sitting on the couch watching television, which I don’t really do.

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SketchNoting

Then I came across this great book, the Sketchnote Handbook about note-taking using drawings!   This was so cool!  It’s kind of like giving myself permission to draw because I was doing some thinking work at the same time.  (Or I was note-taking at a meeting or I was learning a new subject.)  This also re-awakened in me an awareness of hand lettering and calligraphy, something I used to know about back when I was a teenager.

Starting to feel a little inspired, I bought this great book called Creative Lettering, Techniques and Tips from Top Artists by Jenny Doh.  It was actually hard for me to justify doing this, so I think I used some points to purchase this book.  And what a breath of fresh air!  It is a review of beautiful lettering by many different artists.  I loved it so much, I started to add little lettering features to my daily list of lesson plans for my music students.

Here’s some examples.

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Then about a week ago, I was in a coffee shop and came across an artist sketching some beautiful abstract designs in his notebook.  It turns out, he does this just for fun too.  He has a real job in technology, but you could tell this really turned him on.  We spoke a long time about ideas, letting go, pens, paper and giving yourself permission.

It seems that we often don’t honor our true nature.  Instead of doing what feels good and right, I was trying to do the “right thing,” which paradoxically is not so.    The other thing I haven’t been doing enough of is writing fiction. But that’s another long post!

I Give In

So I’m going to start a series of hand lettered designs.  I live in Brooklyn and it’s apparently the center of the Universe, according to those who live here. 🙂    So stay tuned for my series of hand drawn Brooklyn.   I’m feeling better already.  It’s like going through life with one arm tied behind your back.  Now to get the kinks out and get the blood flowing again!