Gratitude List 1559

(1) After waking up ornery over this & that, I figured a two mile run would set me straight.   What I noticed afterward is that everything I was mad about was easily resolved simply by overlooking the offense.   Scripture says: “A person’s insight gives them patience, and it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”  (Proverbs 19:11).  Different people are offended by different things.  Just because someone offended me, doesn’t mean that they’re wrong.  Thankful for insight.  Thankful for running.  Thankful for letting go.

(2) Got a new column published in Spokane.  That makes 24 now in that one city, including one in the Spokesman-Review.

(3) Sitting at the Round Table, I saw all four of the Sullivans all come in at once.   Of course, you probably don’t know who the Sullivans are, but it’s always a joy to see such a well-adjusted, happy family.

(4) Had a great session with Keva yesterday.   I taught her the singing part to Now That There’s You, and we did a new version of “I Am the Blues” which she and I had both regarded as a practice take.  Slowed it down to a smoky smooth jazz groove, and that chanteuse knows exactly what she’s doing.  I’d be jealous if I weren’t so grateful.

(5) Last I checked, I’ve already received $1050 toward the $1500 goal of my fundraiser.   Danielle’s been holding the money for me, for which I’m glad.   Also, Zazen and Matt both came back to the team last week.  Things are looking up, and I’m grateful.

“When life at times makes us stumble and fall…we may limp for awhile…struggle to walk for awhile…but before long we are up and running again…not away from life but towards it. For each time we fall…we only become stronger.”
–Ash Sweeney

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Re: Expect the Best

“Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.  All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no one could have dreamed would have come their way.  Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”  

          –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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Expect the Best

Kelsey and I talked this one through two days ago. Since then, another person from the previous workshop has signed on for the summer workshop, and more money has been raised for summer honoraria. It’s a challenging time in the history of this planet — but there’s more hope than we know. Kelsey Chapman and Andy Pope do the talking on May 24, 2021.

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Tuesday Tuneup 109

Q. Where would you like to be?

A. In a place of lesser anxiety.

Q. Are you more anxious than usual?

A. Well, duh! Why else would I have answered as I did?

Q. Why are you being flippant?

A. I don’t know.

Q. Any ideas?

A. Probably a combination of being annoyed by you, and the internal function of anxiety which tends to increase the extent to which I drift onto tangents.

Q. Do you think of your flippancy as a mere tangent?

A. It wasn’t a mere tangent, just a tangent.

Q. What else was it, besides being a tangent?

A. Are you saying it was rude or sarcastic?

Q. Didn’t I ask you?

A. All right then, it was rude and sarcastic, as well as flippant and tangential. Any further condemnation of my character?

Q. Why are you on my case?

A. Why are you on MY case?

Q. Didn’t I ask you first?

A. All right, so I’m not in the best of moods. Too much to do, not enough time to do it in. But that doesn’t give you the right to nag at me like you do.

Q. You think I’m nagging you, do you?

A. Yes.

Q. Was there someone else in your past who nagged you? Why are you transferring your failed personal relationships onto me?

A. Because they are unresolved.

Q. Why aren’t you grateful?

A. Grateful for what, may I ask?

Q. Hasn’t one such relationship been resolved?

A. Oh my God – I almost forgot!!

Q. Waking up now?

A. Yes.

Q. Fully awake?

A. More-or-less.

Q. Grateful?

A. Immensely.

Q. How do you feel now that your friend and you have been reconciled?

A. I feel as though a huge blob of congestion has been removed from my body. I literally feel ten pounds lighter.

Q. May I remind you of something?

A. Remind me later. I’ve got too much work to do. Let’s talk next Tuesday.

The Questioner is silent.

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Tuesday Tuneup 110

Q. Where would you like to be?

A. In a place of greater efficiency.

Q. Why do you say this?

A. I feel as though I’m not managing my time very well.

Q. Has time management typically been an issue for you?

A. Let’s put it this way.  I once wasted an hour in a bookstore looking for a book on time management.

Q. How much time do you think you waste per day?

A. At least half the day.

Q. What can you do about this?

A. Well obviously, I gotta get off my rump.

Q. Do you see yourself a lazy person?

A. Not exactly lazy — that’s not my M.O.  I’m a person who generally enjoys working.   But I’m more like a spacey person — you might say, a scatterbrain.

Q. Absent-minded professor?

A. Adjunct comes closer.   Not exactly a full professor . . .

Q. But an absent-minded person?

A. Yessir.

Q. How long have you been this way?

A. All my life.

Q. Why do you think this is?

A. Something in my mental make-up.   My nature is to be more interested in what’s going on in my own head than in what’s happening in the world around me.

Q. When did this first begin to trouble you?

A. In 1976 when I was a student at the UOP Conservatory of Music.

Q. What happened then?

A. I found that I couldn’t concentrate on the reading load.  Especially Music History.

Q. What did you do about this?

A. I approached them and said I was having difficulty concentrating.

Q. What did they do about that?

A. They threw me into an intense kinda Freudian therapy group.   It had nothing to do with reading comprehension.  I was there with a bunch of other people who were having problems, and the facilitator of the group was this really mean guy who kept telling me how horrible I was.

Q. How long did you stay in the group?

A. Too long!   I finally walked out after six months or so.

Q. What happened then?

A. The head of the group essentially put a curse on me.   He said: “If you bail out now, you are going to be f—-d up for fourteen years!

Q. Fourteen years??

A. That’s exactly what he said.   The number fourteen.   I’ll never forget it.

Q. What happened throughout those fourteen years?

A. Well naturally I could never stop think about the curse!   I had good times and bad times, numerous office jobs, a few musician gigs, a couple failed efforts at college degrees, but I mainly just couldn’t get it out of my head how f—–d up I was supposed to be.

Q. What happened when the fourteen years were up?

A. This is the weird thing.  I know I was an impressionable young man, otherwise I wouldn’t have stayed in that ridiculous group for as long as I did.   But I believe the effects of the curse from a stern male authority figure were deep-set.

Q. How so?

A. There came a day in the year 1990 when I had just finished a long-term temp contract with PG&E, and I had no idea how to pay my rent.  I was stuck in a tiny town near the Contra Costa Power Plant, feeling sorry for myself.   Then one day I got up and something was different.  I immediately went out and ran two miles and did a set a push-ups.   Then I got into the shower, and for reasons unknown to me, I started shouting:

“I am a child of God!  I am a child of God!!  I am child of the Most High King!  I am a child of God!!”

Then, stepping out of the shower — feeling absolutely wonderful — I saw that there was a message on my answering machine.  It was from a pianist whom I hardly knew who wanted to tip me off on a job she’d been offered.   The job was at a place called Gulliver’s Restaurant, in the city of Burlingame California.   This pianist, whose name was Tracy Stark, had decided to play on a cruise ship instead.  (Much better money).   So she was spreading the news of a possible gig.   (Musicians do help each other out this way, you know).

I put my best duds on, drove my Oldsmobile Cutlass down to the Bay Area, and hit the keys of a piano for the first time in six months.   It was a Yamaha C-3 baby grand, by the way.   When I touched the keys, I breathed a sigh of relief.

“Aahh!!” I exclaimed, feeling as though I was back where I belonged in life.   I then played my medley of “My Favorite Things” and “Orphan in the Storm.”   The manager handed me a W-9 and said: “Welcome to Gulliver’s.”

The rest is history – or my own history anyway.  I sat on that piano bench four nights a week for the next nine years.

Q. What do you make of all this?

A. The therapist was a sadist, and I was a gullible, vulnerable young man with all kinds of insecurities that he played upon.   The “curse” was nothing but power of suggestion.   I gave the fellow that much power.   When fourteen years had past, God intervened.

Q. Say, is there a name for your condition?

A. I didn’t learn this until fairly recently, but it’s ADHD, of a severe variety.   And people nowadays say I’m neurodivergent, and somewhere on the autism spectrum.

Q. What can you do about it?

A. I think the answer is clear.   It’s the same answer for us all.   Trust in God – whomever you conceive God to be — and believe in yourself.

The Questioner is silent.  

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Gratitude List 1558

(1) I’ve started running again after a lengthy lull.  I seem to be more dedicated, and I’ve already done three two mile runs – Monday, Wednesday and Friday of last week.   Also did 17 push-ups today (though in two sets, 7 in the first and 10 in the second.)  Tonight after work I plan on doing three miles, and taking it from there.  I feel more motivated these days in general — and I’m grateful.

(2) I’m loving my new job so far.  I’m on the 4-8pm shift now, having had three Zoom meetings today before four.   I finally feel like I’m doing something for the community (other than to try to keep getting everybody to produce my musical.)

(3) Kelsey and I met this morning on Zoom for an hour and fifteen minutes.  I believe I can trim it down to a half hour podcast for Wednesday.  We appear to be on the same page about the summer workshop and about the imminent completion of final stages of the project.  For this and other reasons, I’m getting a really good feeling about the Summer of 2021.

(4) All you have to do is click here to see the phenomenal progress that has been made in the past two days toward reaching our goal of having all money for honoraria for the summer workshop secured by July 9.   This is the first time in my life that I’ve organized a fundraiser that actually looks as though it stands a chance of succeeding!

(5) Best news of all: I have been reconciled with a dear friend of many years whom I thought I would never see again.  We had a falling out in 2013 over something rather trite, and I ought never to have overreacted to his words the way I did.  We met for an hour on Zoom today, and our friendship is reinstated.  I am grateful that, among many broken relationships, at least one very meaningful one has been mended.   Grateful for my good friend Phil.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting our trespasses against us. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”  — 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

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Tuesday Tuneup 108

Q. Where would you like to be?

A. In a place of greater security.

Q. You??

A. What do you mean, me??

Q. Since when have you cared about security?   Aren’t you a risk-taking adventurer who will not sacrifice your freedom for all the safety in the world?

A. I am not a Trump supporter, no.

Q. But traditionally, have you not always favored freedom over security?

A. Is that even valid question?   Are freedom and security diametrically opposed?   Or mutually exclusive?

Q. Why are you asking me?  Why don’t you answer that for yourself?

A. Okay well let me think.   Freedom vs. Security.   One is reminded of an oft-misquoted Ben Franklin meme.   Something to the effect that those who would sacrifice their freedom for a little temporary security deserve neither.

Q. Would you sacrifice your freedom for a little temporary security?

A. Depends on how temporary.   I’ve been secure for almost five years now, compared to how “free” I used to be.   And that freedom I knew when I was outside was very tenuous.   Free of schedules, free of deadlines, free of the Mainstream.   But not free from accusations, threats, and assaults.   Trading the security of house and home for the chaotic pseudo-freedom of outdoor living isn’t quite a 50-50 trade-off.

Q. Then why aren’t you feeling secure now that you’ve escaped it?

A. My lack of security is on another plane.   I am not safe from my foibles and defects.   I am not safe from the consequences of the words that emerge from my mouth.  I am not safe from — well, to be honest with you, from PTSD.   I never know when the trigger will strike and lead to a flashback.  I thought the last time it happened was the worst it could ever have been.   But what happened six days ago took the cake.

Q. What happened six days ago?

A. I was at a meeting and I blurted out an opinion that certain people whom I might characterize as “Far Left” do not believe is a valid opinion.  An argument with one such person ensued after the meeting.   They seemed quite calm in apparently advising me that my opinion was unacceptable.   The result was, in a word, reactionary.

Q. Reactionary?

A. Yes.   While I ordinarily lean a wee bit Left of Center, I suddenly was hurled into a right-wing reactionary mode.

Q. Did you temporarily become a Trump supporter?

A. No — but I suddenly became about as conservative as I was about forty years ago.

Q. How conservative were you then?

A. Enough to prefer Ronald Reagan over Walter Mondale.

Q. Were you less enlightened then?

A. I’m not very enlightened now, to be honest with you.  I was just younger, more gullible, less discerning, and less informed.

Q. What about when you were on the streets?

A. Libertarian.  Voted for Gary Johnson against Obama.   Slipped right into the mode of most of my White middle-aged companions who had fallen on hard times.   We were very assertive as to our personal rights and freedoms.

Q. And that changed once you got inside?

A. It began changing before I got inside.   It started changing around about the time Bernie Sanders was competing with Hillary in the 2016 primary.   I registered Democrat then, to vote for Bernie and against Hillary.   Moved up to North Idaho (largely Libertarian & Independent) and have not changed back yet.

Q. Are you planning to become a Libertarian again?

A. Not sure.   The Party here leans too far to the Right.

Q. Why would you even consider it?

A. Um — I recently met a Libertarian who is very open about his views.   He also seems a very happy person.  He has reminded me of certain ideals that the Party embraces.

Q. Such as what?

A. Reverence for the Constitution.   That’s valuable.   We need that to hold the country together.

Q. Can the Libertarians hold the country together?

A. Not as long as we’re all perceived to be a bunch of lunatics.

Q. Why would that perception have evolved?

A. It seems that the party clings relentlessly to ideals that don’t always pan out positively in the modern world.

Q. So you may remain a Democrat?

A. Probably.

Q. What about your conservative streak?

A. Between the two main parties, I would say that at this point the Dems are doing a better job at upholding traditional conservative values than the G.O.P.

Q. Would you repeat that, please?

A. Between the two main parties, I would say that at this point the Dems are doing a better job at upholding traditional conservative values than the G.O.P.

Q. How can traditional conservative values help us in the modern world?

A. Well, if everybody stopped sleeping with multiple partners and spreading STD’s and screwing around on their spouses and increasing the rate of abortions and alienating everybody with their incontinence, that would be a good start.

Q. So you think the problem is sexual abandon?

A. It’s a large part of it, yes.

Q. May I ask a question?

A. Please do.

Q. May we index this discussion for a future time?

A. Fine with me.   My ride will be here in a couple minutes.

Q. Meet again next week?

A. Sure.

Q. Anything else?

A. Yes.  May we not talk about politics next time, please?

The Questioner is silent.

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Gratitude List 1557

(1) I thought I had offended someone who is important to me, and it turned out that I had not offended them — in fact, whatever it was had nothing to do with me.    Grateful for the positive connections I have made on WordPress and elsewhere.

(2) Really nice chat with Cody yesterday, whose positive energy and tireless enthusiasm is always a blessing.  We wound up each having root beer floats at the A&W after our meeting yesterday.  It’s particularly refreshing to hear the ideas of those who genuinely think for themselves and think things through, who bring new and inviting ideas to the table.   He’s of that ilk, and it’s inspiring.

(3) Well, the meeting went well yesterday between myself, Cody & Liam.  I believe we will have a more solid and structured workshop this summer that will also provide more incentive for those involved, and that most of the players from the old team will be on board.   (I would say: “third time’s the charm!” but I don’t think I can quote chapter & verse on that one.)

(4) I put all of me and Keva’s stuff on a playlist in case anyone wants to tune in from time to time.   There are three songs on there now, and there will be more, and they will continue to be refined.   I’m lucky to have these people interested in my work here, because it keeps me from doing something rash (such as grabbing a sleeping bag and one way to Seattle — which believe me has crossed my mind lately.  Grateful for nice weather, though no need to prove it.)

(5) I want to let my readers know that this is not the happiest time of my life, and that I find myself to be troubled by situations that are beyond my control.   However, I remember some of the first words I read when I first opened up a Bible circa 1980, when I was very much hassled by same:

“In the world you will have trouble, but take heart — for I have overcome the world.” 
    —  Jesus Christ 

Tuesday Tuneup 107

Q. Where would you like to be?

A. In a place of greater balance.

Q. Is there something about your present place that is particularly imbalanced?

A. Definitely.  In fact, almost everything about it seems imbalanced.

Q. However did it get this way?

A. Gradually, I think, over time.

Q. When did you first become aware of the imbalance?

A. Oh, I think I’ve always been aware of it.  It’s just that lately it’s seemed particularly noticeable.  It interferes with easy access to a manageable reality.

Q. Has reality been unmanageable lately?

A. Not entirely.  Elusive would be a better word.

Q. Reality eludes you?

A. Yes.

Q. Why is this?

A. Because day after day, I find myself to be overbalanced in the realm of the creative imagination, which by definition creates a world of its own – separate from and independent of reality.

Q. And you wish for a greater measure of reality in your daily balance?

A. Hmm – well, now that you put it that way, it doesn’t sound too desirable.

Q. But how long can you get around reality?

A. Oh, I don’t know.  Probably a while longer.

Q. Do you really think it wise to avoid reality completely?

A. Doesn’t sound quite wise, no.

Q. Then why don’t you just face reality?

A. Who’s to say what’s reality?

Q. I don’t know – who?

A. Beats me.  So how do I know it’s even reality that I’m avoiding?  What’s real to one person might be a dream to another.  A dream — or even a nightmare.

Q. Is it a nightmare to you?  Or only a dream?

A. Will I ever know?

Q. I don’t know — will you?

A. I don’t know.

The Questioner is silent. 

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Gratitude List 1556

1) Though we’re rapidly returning to real-life settings in these parts, I am thankful for the experience of Zoom and for the Zoom meetings I will continue to enjoy.  I imagine this would include my weekly Monday afternoon meeting with Kurt the linguistics expert.  Although it hasn’t happened yet, I always enjoy it, and usually learn new things.

(2) I’m thankful for all the professors I met in the two theology groups I discovered a while back.  On Thursday I met with Nick, a professor emeritus of philosophy who was the director of religious studies at the University here.  We had a wonderful conversation, in which he expressed his interest in my musical as well as theology.   I’m thankful he’d listened to Talking Shop Part Seven and Reaching for Your Hand, because he had useful observations as well as encouraging things to say.

(3) In the past year and a half, it seems that a niche has been prepared for me in the local journalism community.   I now count 22 columns I’ve had published in Spokane Faith and Values, where I’ve met numerous journalists with whom I am able to network.  Also thankful for all the local journalists I’ve met here in town, and at the University.

(4) Keva and I met again on Sunday.  We dd a new recording of “Reaching for Your Hand” in which we used two iPhones spaced strategically in different spots near singer and piano.   I’m in the process of mixing it down for my SoundCloud.   We also did a video of a song I wrote called “I Am the Blues.”  On examining her work closely, I told Keva she should feel free to interpret my songs as she chooses.  She does have that power, that gift.

(5) I’ve been meeting one to one with people who are interested in reinstating a musical workshop for the summer.  It won’t be the same exact team, but I am encouraged by the genuine interest and enthusiasm I am finding in those with whom I meet.  It’s been wonderful to have slowly realized in recent months that I am not the only person who enjoys working on my musical.   It’s been wonderful overall to have gradually discovered that I am no longer isolated, no longer alone.

“I realized if you can change a classroom, you can change a community, and if you change enough communities you can change the world.”
   — Erin Gruwell

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The Meaning Behind the Masks

This post was first published early today under the title “Finding Meaning in the Pandemic” on the religion-related news site, Spokane Faith and Values.   

When I was 14 years old, I made two very important discoveries.

First, I discovered the world was beautiful. Here I was in sunny Naples, Italy, waking up to the sights of Mt. Vesuvius and the Isle of Capri. Also notable were the young Italian women, whose beauty I was likewise now at an age to appreciate. I learned how to play the guitar in the summer of 1967, sitting on the balcony of the large villa that my military family was renting. With hormones pulsing in post-pubescent bliss, I played my first gig at the Allied Teen Club, hung out with groupies, and enjoyed my first kiss.

The second discovery I made was equally important. I learned that the world was horrible.

Every day I listened to the death count. The family television, continually blaring, reported just how many men had been killed daily in the unpopular Vietnam War. These were young men, only a few years older than myself. That could be me, before long.

On Italian television, I saw images of an America on fire. Protests were raging. Buildings were burning. There had been four major assassinations of powerful American figures in the past four years. The Cold War continually threatened to become hotter. The world, despite all the wonders of its beauty, was in reality a very precarious and volatile place.

Like many, I feared the worst. I feared that the end was just around the corner. If the world were not blown up in its entirety, I myself would probably be blown up in Vietnam. There seemed no way for beauty to prevail over ugliness, or for what was worthy to prevail over what was shameful.  We were all stuck on a violent planet composed of violent, greedy people.

But the years went by. The end did not come. When I was 18, I got a high number in the ’71 lottery, and was thus spared the draft. The 70’s went by, then the 80’s and 90’s. Here we are in the year 2021 already — and the world has not yet ended.

One might be tempted to become complacent, or even cavalier. Some already have:

“We’ve gotten through everything else so far, we’ll get through this too. Climate change? No worries!  It’s all under control.”

But in resorting to such a stance, one essentially defaults to a fallacy identified in Scripture:

“They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ He promised?  Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’” — 2 Peter 3:4

To think that just because everything has always proceeded in a certain way, it therefore always will, is pretty faulty logic. Backing up a bit, to think that everything today actually is proceeding as it always has is pretty funky reasoning as well.

Limits of Denial

When I first discovered that the world was at once beautiful and horrible, I collapsed under the force of that disparity. What was I to believe? In which “world” would I live? The cognitive dissonance was overwhelming.

But as time went by, I noticed that I could choose to live almost exclusively in the “beautiful world.” By hurling myself full-force into my various endeavors, I was able to wipe the horrible stuff from my mind. This worked wonderfully, as long as the horrible stuff was not right outside my door.

In fact, it worked wonderfully throughout most of my life. As long as the bad stuff was only seen and heard from a distance and not directly experienced, I was able to construct a reality that overlooked the overall state of humanity.

While years of living on the streets put a significant dent in that illusion, the pandemic destroyed it completely. It was now impossible to ignore the critical state of the planet, because the most significant planetary story was no longer being presented strictly through the media, but in plain sight, everywhere I went.

The Masses Masked and Unmasked

Everywhere I saw people wearing masks. The sight of the masses in masks is not something from which one can easily hide. No matter what one believes about the value of mask-wearing, one cannot deny the unavoidable nature of the phenomenon. In seeing humanity in masks, we see a living symbol of a massive human wound.

That wound has been exacerbated and its healing delayed by the fact that many people have denied it. They see the wearing of the masks itself as the problem, and in so doing fail to acknowledge the much more serious problem that is the reason why people are wearing them. In seeing humanity half-masked and half unmasked, we see another living symbol: that of the war between human acceptance and human denial.

We have waged that war within and among ourselves since the beginning of time — since the Garden. But never in my lifetime have I seen it displayed as brazenly as it is today. The cultural division, once displayed mostly on social media via our personal devices, is now manifest in real life, right before our eyes.

It is one thing to block out information being received on the Internet. Accounts can be blocked, subscriptions terminated, devices disabled. It’s quite another thing to block out the obvious. Those who try are only trying to do what I and many others did for years. We succeeded in constructing our own little worlds and reveling in them, in order to sidestep the disturbances of the greater picture. But we can no longer do so. The pandemic has changed all that.

That insular cubicle in which I crafted my custom-made reality can no longer contain me. The cradle in which a sheltering parent nurtured me can no longer rock me.  I used to walk about Moscow, Idaho thinking: “This is such a nice town!  Look how everybody smiles!” Now, when I walk about my home community, I walk in the presence of the problems of the planet.

And you know what? This is a good thing. It’s no longer just my world. For better or worse, it’s our world — where each of us has a part to play. In the years to come, we may look back on this unique period of our history, when one way or another, our lives were determined by a deadly disease that had impacted the entire human race. When we do so, we may well see in hindsight how the pandemic provided a needed turning point in our shared life and our common culture.

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Tuesday Tuneup 106

Q. Where would you like to be?

A. What?

Q. I asked you: “Where would you like to be?”

A. Is that what you’re going to ask me this morning?

Q. Well, I just asked you it, didn’t I?

A. I imagine you did.

Q. Well, you gonna answer it?

A. I suppose so.

Q. What do you mean, suppose so?  

A. Just what I said, suppose so! 

Q. Well, what’s your answer?

A. I would like to be in a place where . . . hmm .  . . where I am free of fear, and where I am fully authentic.

Q. How are the two related?

A. They’re related because it’s fear that keeps me from being fully authentic.

Q. What are you afraid of?

A. I’m afraid that my real self will not be acceptable.

Q. Acceptable to whom?

A. To people whom I need.

Q. Do you really need these people?

A. Yes.   We all need people.   

Q. Are you afraid that if you show your true colors, you will lose them?

A. Yes.

Q. So what colors do you show them instead?

A. False colors, obviously.

Q. Can you give me an example?

A. Well, take the other night, when I was preparing the podcast for tomorrow.   As soon as the devices were rolling, and I knew I was being recorded, I became completely uptight.  I tried to compensate for my uptight state by putting on a stage voice.   At the time I thought it was the right thing to do — the professional thing to do.   But later, when I listened to the recording, I felt that I sounded forced and phony. 

Q. Can’t you just record it over again, and try to sound less affected this time?   And more like your real self?

A. Not possible.  There were two people involved in the podcast, and I would inconvenience them to ask them to meet a second time.

Q. Do you think the other person may also have been nervous?   Perhaps they too were not their true self?

A. Again, not possible.   As I listened to the recording, they seemed perfectly relaxed and at ease.  Totally natural — calm, rational, genuine — in fact, all the other participants have been little short of excellent — in all their spoken contributions.  It is only I who cannot measure up to the level of authenticity and integrity that I desire so strongly in myself and others.  I am the one who fails at his own endeavor . .  it is I who —

Q. May I interrupt?

A. Please do.

Q. How can you possibly believe that your perceptions are accurate?   

A. What do you mean?

Q. Is it logically possible that all these other people are performing perfectly, and you alone are in error?

A. I guess not.

Q. You guess not?

A. Okay – I know not.   But still it bugs me that I can’t find my authentic voice.

Q. Aren’t you confusing your inner voice with your speaking voice?

A. What’s the difference?

Q. Isn’t your speaking voice a mere anatomical apparatus?   Isn’t your Inner Voice the Voice of the Heart – the True Voice – from whence the True Self shines though?

A. But shouldn’t the speaking voice be a reflection of the Inner Voice?

Q. Does everybody have to be a good speaker?   What about somebody who can’t speak at all?   Does this deny them the right to access their own Inner Voice?  

A. Well, it shouldn’t. 

Q. Then why can’t you just let your speaking voice be?

A. Because it’s — lousy.

Q. Is everything about you lousy?

A. No.  I’m good at some things.   You know what they are.   

Q. Then why not focus on what you’re good at?

A. Are you saying, you don’t want me to make any more podcasts?

Q. Did I say that?

A. No.

Q. Do you think you should give up on the podcasts?

A. Well, no — because the information being exchanged is potentially very valuable — at least to certain sorts of people who are potentially very significant — and therefore the positive content of the podcasts outweighs the negative nature of my vocal delivery.

Q. So you’re going to keep up the Spoken Word projects, even though you don’t like the sound of your own voice?

A. I’m not sure.   It takes an awful long time to edit these things, though I do enjoy the process.

Q. So there are other variables to be considered?

A. Indeed there are.   

Q. Will you see me again next week?

A. Will you ask me a different question?

Q. Why should I?

A. Because this question didn’t lead to a conclusion.   I mean, there’s got to be a question that will get us where we need to go more quickly.   Don’t you think? 

The Questioner is silent.   

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Gratitude List 1555

(1) Though I’d felt tired and innervated for weeks, my energy level definitely increased throughout last week and on into the start of this week.  Walking into town, I easily turned left and scaled up a hill that often has intimidated me.  A roundabout route through campus was not only beautiful, but brisk.  Moreover, I notice I’m getting to bed early these days and waking up like clockwork at the same time every morning, very naturally.   Grateful for the gift of health.

(2) Wrote a column for the religious news site, first one since the five-week series.   Kurt had a chance to go through it with suggested edits, many of which I accepted, prior to turning it in yesterday.  (It’s about hidden meaning that may be found in the pandemic.)  Grateful for this writing gig, and for all the journalists I’ve met here who encourage me.

(3) Had a wonderful experience yesterday providing special music at the United Church, where Cody is the regular church pianist on staff.  He played the service with great sensitivity, and Pastor Jodie preached a provocative sermon.  I played my “very Irish” version of Be Thou My Vision, and it was a warm, spirited occasion.

(4) Keva’s delivery of Reaching for Your Hand is almost too good for me to listen to.  She was practically sight-reading off of a score on her smartphone — that’s how little we had practiced it – and yet she nailed it.  I knew she was good, but I didn’t know she was that good!   I gave her another song I wrote for female voice called “I Am the Blues” that we’re practicing to record on Sunday.

(5) Getting up at 4:30 every morning again has been good for my spiritual health.  My friend Danielle in Georgia leaves at 7:45 to drive to work, and so at 4:45am PST we often have a conversation.  Lately the conversations have been very encouraging, mostly about how to be forgiving, in an ongoing way, in human relationships, and how we can feel free to solve our problems knowing that we are forgiven, for we can see ourselves without shame.  It’s inspiring how both Danielle and I have been positively influenced by our respective churches over the past few years.    There is new life all around me, and I am grateful.

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.
   –Martin Luther King, Jr.  

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