Gratitude List 1793

(1) For the first time, I received a substantial donation to Eden in Babylon from a name I did not recognize. Maybe that’s a sign that things are looking up.

(2) This is the most consistent I’ve been with running since I moved to Idaho. I did 2 1/2 miles last night, 2 1/2 miles two nights before that, and 4 miles the previous morning. I’m sure I’ve lost significant weight, though have not yet been to a scale.

(3) Got another column published. I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to express my thoughts as to how some aspects of Christendom in contemporary American culture are extremely off-base.

(4) Am officially signing a W-4 and beginning my new job at the United Church next Sunday. Yesterday was Cody’s last day. I provided special music, and we had a ceremony afterwards in which Cody’s five years as their pianist was honored. The anxious fire that incessantly burns within me was once again soothed by the spirit of love and peace that prevails over this most accepting church.

(5) Zazen committed to a month’s worth of vocal coaching and I have my first official private music student since moving to Idaho. It’s wonderful how many new possibilities have opened up in my retirement, to permit me to do the work that I most love.

Hard work is painful when life is devoid of purpose. But when you live for something greater than yourself and the gratification of your own ego, then hard work becomes a labor of love.
— Steve Pavlina

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About Who to Ask for What

This is a completely spontaneous request of my readers to give me feedback on a delicate issue.

When I was homeless, I spoke the words “can you spare some change?” exactly once. From the reaction of the two men walking past me, I told myself instantly I would never put myself through that awful combination of guilt, shame, embarrassment, and anger again.

From that moment on, I either busked or sat silently flying a sign which read:

BROKE AND HOMELESS
OFTEN HUNGRY
PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN

If I had it together well enough to busk (e.g., had a musical instrument I could keep from getting stolen or from the fear thereof), I would sometimes make up to $100, and on one unusual occasion got $100 for a single song (that I was singing while playing drums on my pants legs). The guy who gave me the $100 (a Ben Franklin) later turned out to be a street dealer suspecting me of being a “meth-head” and looking for a customer.

I never talked to him again and in fact $60 was stolen from me later that evening. (I didn’t like to keep cash on me because it would get around, and one of the local alcoholics had witnessed the deal from nearby.)

I don’t think anyone particularly likes to ask for money in any context. I feel weird about even having a donate button sometimes. But there is a parallel between “flying a sign” and a “donate button.” In each case, I am not verbally requesting money. I am only presenting the fact that I would like some.

I know some fairly well-off people in town here, who will testify to the truth that I have never asked any of them for money for personal needs, although they have seen the “donate” button on my blogs and newsletters.

What are your feelings about asking for money? On the one hand, I don’t like to go through that awful sensation. On the other hand, I sometimes think that — given my circumstances — I am just too afraid to ask.

I also do ask God sometimes for money, and sometimes later on somebody gives me some money, sometimes even the exact figure I asked for. This leads me to believe that God probably wants me to ask Him first, no matter what choice I make later. But those events are far and few between. God doesn’t just dish out the dough like a sugar daddy.

Matthew 6:33

Gratitude List 1792

(1) Had a nice talk yesterday with my dear friend Holly in California.   Hadn’t touched base for several months, and it was good to hear from her.   Nice to have friends.

(2) Though I am still as spaced out as ever, and though my spacey nature continues to inconvenience me, I have noticed that I am much more content with being a total space case now that I no longer have a bunch of hard deadlines to meet.  It’s a lot easier to accept the fact that it’s taking over an hour to find your smartphone when you don’t really need it.

(3) Though the morning started off with a strange blast of forgetting to put the filter in the coffee maker and ultimately getting coffee grounds all over the kitchen, the good news is that it gave me the final burst of motivation I needed to attack the dirty dishes in the sink.   (Coffee tastes pretty good, too.)

(4) There’s a 50/50 chance on a paid composer gig for a new musical.   The other guy being considered is a pretty huge Broadway guy, so I might not get it.   But that guy might also not be interested in the material. He’s looking over the script right now, and if he declines, I’ll get the gig.   I got jazzed talking with the playwright about it — and “jazzed” is usually a good sign, when it comes to this sort of endeavor.

(5) Ran unusually fast yesterday.  Joined the Palouse Running Club.   I want to be as earnest about it as I was when I was President of the North Bay Chapter of the Christian Runners Association back in the 80’s – just older, wiser and stronger — God willing.  His blessings abound.  The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?   The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  I will offer Him sacrifices with shouts of joy.  I will sing and make melody to the LORD.

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Gratitude List 1791

(1) Beautiful weather following a much-needed rain.   Bright, crisp & fresh.   This will be a nice day for a long bike ride and maybe a jog down the Latah Trail.

(2) Caught up on my sleep, this doppio tastes great at the One World Cafe, with cinnamon roll.

(3) Decided on what five songs from Eden in Babylon to use for the demo and have posted them here for free, and in a more elaborate and costly form on BandCamp. With script & score essentially intact, I feel that our ongoing workshop has been a success.  Grateful to be feeling greatly relieved of a huge perceived burden attached to preparing this musical for production.

(4) It looks like I do have the job and have actually officially been hired.  Pastor Jodie hired me to be the pianist for the United Church, replacing Cody who is departing on October 1st.   I provided special music this Sunday — an improvisation around the main theme from Finlandia by Sibelius, seemingly suggested by the profound yet gentle spirit in the pews that morning, and very well-received.

(5) Crafting a new stage in life of spending about twice as much time outdoors, exercising about twice as much as before, and spending about half as much time behind the computer screen (or playing with the new-fangled smartphone device) — so far so good.    It’s not so much how much I am able to accomplish, but the quality of life in the process.   Thankful for freedom, rightly applied.

“If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.”
—  Benjamin Franklin

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Zazen’s Version of “Secrets”

You may not have caught this earlier. I’m not sure how widely it was distributed on or around January 22nd of this year, when it was first created.  I recall being critical of my accompaniment at the time in a way, and I believe that was my reservation..  In any event, such petty grievances are immaterial to the outstanding performance of Zazen Matossian on “Secrets” from my musical, The Burden of Eden.  

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Gratitude List 1790

(1) Running is actually going well this time, and I don’t sense I’m going to slip into another slump. I’m actually keeping it up, still losing weight, and becoming more efficient and effective in my day to day life.

(2) I’m nowhere near as gluttonous as I was about a year ago.. Though I haven’t been to a scale, the reason I know is because the prices if I buy a meal at the Co-Op — which are determined by weight — keep getting lower and lower. What used to look like a decent full meal would sometimes cost me $12. Now it’s more like $6 or even $4, though my perception of what constitutes a “full meal” has not changed. Therefore, I am eating smaller and smaller portions of all meals I eat, and I cannot help but lose the unneeded weight.

(3) Tracy published a column of mine in her “Understanding Prayer” series. She chose the image, headline and sub headers, all other words are my own. I think both of us did a fairly decent job. Also, my friend Danielle has been contracted to write for the site as well. I’m about halfway through the first draft of a new column about which I am excited, and I am very grateful to have the opportunity to write for this site.

(4) The summer workshop is officially complete, and I count it a success. Web site is being redesigned to place greater focus on the submission of this musical, and the demo is already up and live.

(5) A departing pianist at a church position has recommended me to replace him. It’s not a 100% shoo-in, but it looks good. Just the fact that my name would even be brought up in such a context is a far cry from my previous life on the streets of Berkeley California. I have a lot to be grateful for today, if I really stop and take a look at it.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. The former things have passed away; all things are are becoming new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

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G-List Counting

This is a bit anal, but I really wish I could figure out where I started counting wrong in these gratitude lists. There’s a whole series of lists in the 1600’s and all of a sudden we’re in the 1500’s.

Knowing me, what I probably did at some point was mix up two digits, not notice it, and proceed. While I truly do wish I could figure it all out, there’s something unnervingly OCD about a guy who needs to number all his gratitude lists.

Maybe that’s the inherent life lesson that always resides in all our weird worldly experiences. If I never figure it out in this world, God will know once we get up to heaven. Then again, once we’re in heaven, why would we care?