Gratitude List 1567

(1) It’s nice for there to be a café here in town where they say, “Hi Andy!” when I come in, and “Bye Andy!” when I leave.  It makes me feel welcome (quite the opposite of my experience in the San Francisco Bay Area, where they’ve had been more likely to suspect me of stealing something, and at the same time, didn’t really care what my name was, because they’d figure I’d be giving them an alias anyway.)

(2) Did a really fast 2 1/2 mile run yesterday morning because I was mad at the time.  Passed my doctor twice on the path.  (He looked encouraging the first time and concerned the second.)

(3) As I rode into town this morning through campus, it dawned on me just how bike-friendly this town is, compared to just about any other town where I’ve ever lived.

(4) The new sound designer and I agreed on a certain figure for his services, and I was able to procure the full fee as of yesterday.

(5) Filled in for Cody at the United Church yesterday.   Aside from being a paid gig, it was a warm experience.  Most of the small congregation consisted of older couples, and we enjoyed each other’s sense of humor.   The ‘Joys and Concerns” period was particularly moving.  Also, it was the first time since 2017 that I’ve played an entire church service somewhere (thereby confirrming for me that I still know how to sight-read hymns out of hymnals lol).   Very fine occasion, and I’m thankful for my home community.   

“When ‘I’ is replaced with ‘We’, even the illness becomes wellness.”
       —Malcolm X

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Tuesday Tuneup 113

Q. Where would you like to be?

A. In a different place.

Q. What’s wrong with the present place?

A. Too small.

Q. Your apartment is too small?

A. No.  This town is too small.

Q. Too small for what?

A. For my comfort.

Q. What do you mean?

A. Things get around.

Q. What did you do?

A. I lost my cool.

Q. Why?

A. Somebody pressed my buttons.

Q. How?

A. They kept making this mistake.  But they didn’t know it was a mistake.   And I was too afraid of hurting them to be open about why it was a mistake.  To this day, they don’t think they made a mistake.  But that itself is a mistake.

Q. But how did this press your buttons?

A. It didn’t — until they started to blame it all on me.  Then I blew my top.  It wasn’t all my fault.  What was my fault was that I kept pretending everything was okay, out of not wanting to hurt them, and not wanting to lose them.   

Q. Did you lose them?

A. Something like that.   Or maybe they lost me.   But it doesn’t matter.  I just want to be in a different place.

Q. What kind of place?

A. A larger place.   A place I can call home.   A place where you’re allowed to have problems.  Where you’re allowed to make mistakes without risking it becoming small town gossip.

Q. Where would this place be?

A. I don’t know.   I’m used to the big cities.  I’m not used to the small towns.   Even now, after nearly five years, I’m not used to it.

Q. What about the workshop?

A. It might be a good idea to record a few songs — piano and singing only — using our respective smartphones.  I’ve noticed the iPhones have very good sound quality.   I don’t want their hard work to have gone to waste.

Q. Can you stick around long enough to do this?

A. Probably.

Q. Where will you go if you leave?

A. North and West.  Spokane first.   Then maybe Seattle.  

Q. What about money?

A. It’s a matter of timing.   The wherewithal will emerge if it’s in His will.

Q. Are you in His will?

A. I believe so.  I believe I have an inheritance in His kingdom.

Q. How large an inheritance?

A. At this point?  I’m sure it’s pretty small.  It might become larger, if I hang around and start doing the right things.  Whatever they are.  

Q. Anything else?

A. I’m tired.   And I want to go home.

The Questioner is silent.

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Gratitude List 1564

(1) Nice 2 1/2 mile run on that pleasant shady trail called Paradise Path.   Didn’t time it (heaven forbid!) but I clearly ran faster than usual.   It is an intriguing source of great gratitude that an O.G. like me can even still be running, after all the toll life has taken on me.

(2) Sure feels nice to be in the air-conditioned Co-Op on a day when many businesses are closed because it’s too hot for the workers in their buildings without air conditioning.   Nice that the Co-Op has reopened completely, and nice to be enjoying a salad of my choice for the first time in over a year.

(3) The fifth draft of the Vocal Score and Draft 5-T of the EIB Script are complete and have been uploaded on the Box links now indicated.   I am pretty sure I’m done, except for I need to insert a Table of Contents in the vocal score, which attempted task grossly challenged my aging nerves.

(4) Great conversations with my sponsor Matt lately, who is interested in my tutoring him in Music Theory.

(5) I can’t explain it, but I feel a bit freer than usual.  Something about the Kids, something about the workshop.   All’s well that ends well, I suppose.  Nothing like quitting when you’re ahead.   A folded hand is better than a hand spinning out of control.  At least I was able to finally love.  Only a small, select group of people received it, but I finally knew that what I experienced — for one — was Love.

“Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.”
— Alfred Lord Tennyson

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Gratitude List 1563

(1) Trying to get in shape is actually working this time. I’m not bailing out on my morning runs, I’m doing healthy nice long walks, and I’m up to 18 miles on my bike rides. Up to 20+ push-ups in two sets and losing the pot belly.

(2) Found an editor for my book deal who will work closely both with me and the publisher. Very excited to finally be publishing an anthology of all my writings so far on the subject of homelessness.

(3) One thing I can appreciate about the current heat wave is that it’s decreasing my rather huge appetite, so I’m probably eating half as much as usual. I’m also drinking at least five times as much water. So I feel like the heat wave is helping to flush out my system.

(4) As of our fifth rehearsal for the summer musical workshop, many problems were solved. It’s the first time that I think we all felt that we will actually meet our goal – and then some. The three part female harmonies are become slicker and more “angelic” in places. Most of all, I heard my lengthy four-movement piece “Awake the Dawn” performed from start to finish for the first time since having composed it in 2012. It brought a tear to my eye, because I never thought I would live to see the day.

(5) I provided guest music for a church service yesterday. During the service I felt the Lord’s peace, and He convinced me that I am forgiven. This meant more to me than even having to forgive myself – which in my case is much more difficult. I truly believe that this is not only a new day, but a new season. His blessings are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.

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Classism, Stigma and Long Distance Running

This is going to sound horribly crass, but I keep thinking that only rich people are supposed to be about long distance running.   I keep thinking that we poor people are supposed to be wasting all our money on drugs, cigarettes and alcohol in order to cope with all the miseries of poverty.

But as I analyze that sentiment, I begin to wonder about it.  Let’s cite three specific wonderments, for the record.

(1) Why on earth would I be relating something so simple as health and fitness to financial status?   

Well, I think it’s safe to say that criminalization of the poor is a real phenomenon.  Impoverished people in our society are not only criminalized by those who are well-off.  We are criminalized by some of the very poor people we find in our midst.

Often, when I mention to someone in my financial bracket that I am going on a “run,” the word “run” is interpreted differently than I intended.

“A food run?” one might ask, supposing I’m about to go to the Food Bank or grocery store.

“A drug binge?” one might ask, since a “run” is colloquial for a bender.

When I tell them what form of running I mean, I have sometimes heard this reply: “You’re not going to see me running anywhere, unless I’m running from the law.”

Why is it that when a poor person is seen running, it is associated with running from the law?

For one thing, I don’t exactly have fine Nike shoes and Gore-Tex running suits.  I run in my normal duds, wearing old beat up shoes with holes in the soles.  I’m lucky if I even own a single pair of shorts for that matter.  The ones I run in now have tears in the sides.  But hey – how much of a priority is it to get good running clothes when one goes broke midway through every month?   At the risk of further crassness, let’s get real.

If a person is a bit better off, they can afford expensive running gear, and expensive race registrations, for that matter.  Not so with the poor folks.   So we have the association of visible poverty with criminality.  This cannot be overlooked — but let’s move on to the second question.

(2) Who dictates what one is “supposed” to be doing in the first place?   

While this is a very important question, I don’t think it warrants much extra analysis.  Once a person is a grown adult, no longer under parental guidance, no one dictates what that person is “supposed” to be doing.

No one but God, that is — and even in the case of God’s “dictates,” there is plenty of grace and room for personal preference.   The idea that poor people are “supposed” to be spending all their money on cigarettes and alcohol is only a social stigma.   That many poor people do smoke is quite true, and quite sad.  Cigarettes cost a lot of money, and poor people do not have that money.  But cigarettes are also very highly addictive, and that addiction is hard to break — for rich and poor alike.

(3) Is poverty really all that “miserable?” 

Personally, I don’t associate poverty with misery.  I associate poverty with inconvenience.   But inconvenience and misery are two different things.

Say I have a number of errands to do, as I did yesterday.   Say my bicycle is in the shop, as it was yesterday.  The errands take a great deal of time.   At one point, a drug store that I was depending on turned out to have gone out of business.  I then balked at making it all the way over to the next nearest drug store, which was miles away.   All of this stuff is inconvenient.

But was I miserable once I had finished my errands?   Not at all!  To the contrary, I felt great satisfaction in getting them all accomplished, even though the process was time-consuming.   In fact, if I had a car, I would be paying for upkeep and maintenance, if not car payments.   The bicycle consumes more time than a car, but it’s a wonderful way of getting around — given good weather conditions — and one gets one’s daily exercise in the process.   It also points to the beauty of the “middle place” – that beautiful place where one finds a healthy balance between extremes.

The Bible makes it clear that many blessings are afforded to poor people.   And no one relates God’s blessings to misery.  In fact, the words “happy” and “blessed” are interchangeable in Old Testament languages.   The words “Blessed are the poor” appear verbatim in the Gospel According to Luke, and slightly qualified in the Gospel According to Matthew.   The words “blessed are the rich,” on the other hand, are nowhere to be found.

Now the Word does say: “The rich and the poor have this in common: The LORD is Maker of them all.” (Ecclesiastes 22:2.)  This is one of many fine Scriptures, along with Colossians 3:11 and Galatians 3:28, that point to egalitarianism.  (Even the Scriptures suggesting that women are to be submissive to their husbands are usually followed by Scriptures suggesting that husbands ought to be submissive to their wives — but for some reason we don’t like to look at those parts.)

Outside of Scriptural documentation, common sense suggests that we are all equal in the eyes of God, and that we should be equal in the eyes of each other.  In my opinion, the only people who need to be robbed of certain rights to liberty are hardened criminals who should remain behind bars, as they would otherwise remain threats to society.   But whether one is rich or poor — or anywhere in between — does not alter their essential humanity.  We have a lot more in common with people in other social classes than we think.   We are all human.

The Bible does however go a bit harder on the wealthy.   There are scores of warnings delivered in the Word to those of high stature.   James 5:1 and Mark 10:5 come to mind immediately — but there are many others as well.  On the other hand, very few warnings are delivered to the poor.  In fact, the Prayer of Agur is just about as close as they come:

Two things I ask of You—
do not refuse me before I die:
Keep falsehood and deceitful words far from me.
Give me neither poverty nor riches;
feed me with the bread that is my portion.
Otherwise, I may have too much
and deny You, saying, ‘Who is the LORD?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
profaning the name of my God.
—  Proverbs 30:7-9

This also points to the beauty of the middle class: the middle class that is gradually disappearing from our social structure.   We have recently seen billionaires in the Cabinet.   Decent people — I repeat, decent people — are strewn about the streets of Seattle and San Francisco, drowning in a culture that no human being should be forced to endure.

But in the middle place there is balance.  One will neither think of God as unnecessary, nor curse God for apparent failure to provide.

If this new job works out — which so far, I am sad to say, it does not appear to be — I may be able to reach that middle place.   If not, the words of St. Paul still ring true:

“For we brought nothing into the world, neither are we able to carry out anything. But having sustenance and coverings, with these we will be content.”  — 1 Timothy 6:8

There is a certain measure of comfort in that directive.   That comfort may be felt by anyone who is human, and who believes.   But to equate a quest for greater health and fitness with having the money to afford high quality health food and fancy running gear is to miss the mark.

Digest the Word.  Soak it in.  Find in the Word the Beauty and Truth thereof.   “It will bring healing to your body, and refreshment to your bones.”  — Proverbs 3:8

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Gratitude List 1560

(1) I’m up to three miles now running on Paradise Path.   I’m moving faster and more breezily through life, and people tell me I look thinner.

(2) I finished the Vocal Score on Friday, formatted more neatly than earlier.   It encompasses everything that was learned during the Pandemic Workshop.   I must say I am grateful to Karlie for proofreading it and to Kathy the church secretary for coil-binding ten copies of it on her last day of work before retiring.   Also grateful for all the Kids who helped me to refine it during the workshop.

(3) In a period of eleven days, I raised over $1500 toward honoraria for the summer workshop.   This is the first time I’ve conducted a fundraiser that has actually succeeded.   Grateful for the show of support from those who contributed, and the very encouraging words that they wrote.

(4) A publisher in White Plains MI has agreed to publish an anthology involving much of what I’ve written about homelessness in the past five years.   I’m in the process of organizing it all in .docx format.  Grateful not to have to mess with self-publishing and all that, glad someone’s interested.

(5) Slept six hours last night from 8:40pm to 2:40am, deep REM sleep with vivid dreams.  Woke up and read Romans 12, which is always inspiring.  Then my daughter came on Messenger as she was just going to bed.  A very nice way to start the morning.   Birds are chirping, the sky will soon be light.   God is Good.

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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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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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Gratitude List 1554

(1) It’s been great getting to sit in the café lately, where a number of people have told me I look more relaxed and healthy than ever before. Funny too, because I haven’t been running and I think I’m fat. But if I transcend the personal perception of potbelly, I can be thankful for the compliment.

(2) Just sold a Pensive CD for $15 on the site. Thankful for my first sale.

(3) Looking forward to meeting with Kurt the retired linguistics professor this afternoon at 3:30 as usual on Zoom.  I continue to be grateful for the ongoing search for knowledge and purpose that I have found here on WordPress, as well as in my University community, among all the scholars whom I’ve been privileged to meet.

(4) Keva did an amazing job on both of those songs yesterday.   We’re planning to do another version of “Reaching for Your Hand” once she doesn’t have to read it off of her phone, but even so, it’s the best anyone I know has ever sung that song — out of many singers, over the years.  I’m grateful for Keva as well as for all the other young performing artists who recently have shown an interest in my work.

(5) Beautiful day, cool and breezy.   Nice running weather.  I may be a slouch but I am grateful I have two strong legs and two long lungs.   They’ve come in handy, here and there, throughout life.

“Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.”
— W.B. Yeats”

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Gratitude List 1549

(1) Exercise appears to have been reinstated, with corresponding weight loss in the works.   I ran 2 1/2 miles three days ago, walked four miles briskly the day after, and eight whole miles yesterday – though it was only brisk throughout the first four miles thereof.   Though innervated today, I’m confident I’ll have a good run tomorrow morning.

(2) Working on the 5th and final column of my five-part series for Spokane Faith and Values.   This one should drive the point home.   I’m grateful for the opportunity to have aired this particular viewpoint, at this time.

(3) Beautiful weather we’ve been having lately, which made the walk up and down the hills circling campus very pleasant yesterday, as well as quite brisk on the uphill at the start.   Today’s a shade on the cloudy side, but I like it a lot.   Reminds me of San Francisco.

(4) We closed out our pandemic-based Eden in Babylon workshop yesterday, with tears of joy and thanksgiving on my part.  I’m deeply moved that these people seemed to show up out of nowhere — talented, dedicated singer/actors, who helped me more than they know.   We also recorded three more songs — “Midnight Screams,” “Daylight,” and “The Urban Elegy” — with piano, singing and professional sound design on the part of Liam Marchant.   The band will keep rehearsing every Monday indefinitely, but outside of further future podcasts that Kelsey Chapman and I are planning, the involvement of the singer/actors is formally complete.   The whole having been uniquely beautiful, I’m sure we’ll all stay in touch.

(5) I finished the new version of the script on March 12th, the first revision since December 21st, incorporating everything we learned in the workshop, and then some.   I’m standing on new ground spiritually, and thankful, and taking heed lest I fall.

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Gratitude List 1645

(1) The other day when I was running, it crossed my mind how great it is for people to recognize the reason why I’m running — that is, for health and exercise.   In my previous life, up until a few short years ago, if someone saw me running, they generally assumed I was a criminal who had just committed a crime and was running from the law.

(2) Although I will admit to having been intimidated by the prowess of the highly skilled musicians in whose company I have suddenly found myself, I can truthfully say that I am much more enthused than intimidated at this stage.  I’m grateful for the great musicians who think well enough of my music to want to help me bring it to life.

(3) Grateful for my apartment.  I’ve lived here quietly for over three years now.  It’s a true place of shelter from the storm.   I’m grateful I’m not homeless anymore.  It took its toll, but it’s a relief not to be living in all that chaos.   Grateful for peace and quietude.  

(4) This may sound weird, but I’m grateful for the wake-ups that sometimes come my way.  There were a couple of them this past week.  They don’t feel good, but they are good — because they happen for a reason.   And once again, at the risk of sounding prejudicial or stigmatic, I am extremely grateful no longer to be living in California, and more than grateful to have discovered North Idaho.

(5) This Christmas Day was really the best one I’d had in years.  I think it’s because I lowered my expectations so completely, I didn’t even expect it to be a bad Christmas, let alone a good one.  The exchange of well wishes all throughout the day made Christmas what it ought to be — the hope of peace on earth and goodwill toward all.  

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Gratitude List 1637

(1) Great meeting with Kelsey this morning on Zoom. Interest in the project was revitalized after a lull over the holidaze. We touched on a lot of good stuff and she’ll be working with Cooper on Friday. Thankful for her — I am certain she is the right person for this job.

(2) Had a nice three mile run. I’d have gone four miles as usual but had to be somewhere. It was good I could fit it in between Zooms.

(3) Counseling went well today. I had a lot to talk about, because the PTSD was triggered first thing in the morning and I was pretty disoriented. But it’s good to have talked it through.   This is the first time since we’ve been doing the weekly sessions that I was actually upset about something at the time of the counseling.   So naturally it was the best place to be.

(4) Unearthed this speech I gave in 2018, because it came up when talking with Kelsey.   Aside from that one would think it natural that the speaker be angry about what they’re speaking about (in this case), I want to express gratitude that I am not as angry a person today as I was 2 1/2 years ago. Also, I’m truly grateful to have unearthed the speech, because I think it says what needed to be said. I forwarded it to the group thereafter.

(5) Rough morning, and I thought I’d never recover.  But I’m grateful to have had things to do today on a strict schedule.  It distracted me from the trigger, and when I was able to talk about in therapy, and it was helpful.   Grateful for my life.

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Gratitude List 1634

(1) For about a day and a half, I found myself in a place of self-pity, in which past regrets played a greater role than present hopes. The way I got out of it was through prayer. I twice prayed on a walk to the nearby twenty-four market, and when I got back home after the second prayer, I noticed that the regrets over past mishaps and breakups had disappeared, and had now been replaced by an appreciation of the present day and an enhanced sense of hope for the future.

(2) I am grateful on this Thanksgiving morning for my church. In the past four years, they have put up with my unusual personality and have seen me through all kinds of trials. My pastor/counselor has been particularly patient with me, and I have learned that I can be completely honest and open with him, without fear of judgment. The church has given me my own code to enter the building, they have let me play their Baldwin grand piano whenever I choose, and they even have let my musical team rehearse our project free of charge in the sanctuary. No other church I have known in my life has offered me any of these things.

(3) This may sound trite, but as an extremely absent-minded person who loses at least five masks every month and has taken to buying multiple dollar readers at the beginning of every month at the dollar store (since I can’t possibly hang on to a single pair of glasses throughout an entire month), I want to give thanks that in the past four years, I have never once lost the gray beanie that I wear “for security reasons” at almost all times. (Currently, however, it is hanging up to dry in the bathroom, after I unwittingly wore it in the shower.)

(4) In a few short hours, I will observe the Thanksgiving tradition I’ve held sacred since 1976. I will go out for a four mile run, having missed only three years that I’ve counted since I first began running on April 9, 1976. (It’s always possible I counted wrong about there being only three years I missed. In this case, however, a “recount” is not possible.)

(5) There’s a lot for us all to be thankful for, and to look forward to after many of us got the crap kicked out of us by 2020. It looks like there’s a vaccine on the way, and the upcoming administration is at least putting an emphasis on unity and healing, rather than on perpetuating division in order to retain power. But in my personal world, I have to give thanks that, after basically being laughed at for years and told that my priorities were all screwed up, I have found a number of talented young people who believe in me and in my work. It may not seem like much to my naysayers, but it’s a start — and a good one. And my naysayers have nothing on me. I’m thankful that I’m a survivor, and that I’m not the kind who gives up for good.

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Gratitude List 1626

(1) Thankful for the phenomenon known as “sleep” and for a safe place in which to obtain it. On three hours sleep, staring at all those black musical notes on a Finale template, they might as well have been a bunch of flies I was supposed to be swatting. What happened after six more hours of fine, unadulterated sleep? The picture is considerably prettier.

(2) After a good third session of pastoral counseling this afternoon, I find myself thankful for the current overload. At least it’s not an “underload” — an idle brain being the devil’s playground, and all that.

(3) Thankful for a very positive friendship with my one and only daughter. How many dads can claim that they get to talk to their daughters every single day? Maybe more than I know, but I still feel very fortunate, and blessed.

(4) Thankful for the good friends I’ve made and kept throughout my life. About to catch up with my friend Holly down in California by telephone. Good to have friends.

(5) Thankful for the cooler temperatures lately, it being only 58F degrees right now, though it’s three in the afternoon. I no longer have to restrict my daily exercise to the early morning or late evening hours. Looking forward to a nice run, round about four. Life is good. :)

” Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.” — Philippians 4:8

Gratitude List 1623

(1) I’m developing good friends in this town among vibrant young people who I can relate to –people with ideals and values not unlike my own. Had a three hour Zoom conversation with one such person on Saturday when she was on a long drive. Hadn’t had such an in-depth meaningful talk with anyone for a long time. It was reflection of God’s love on the Sabbath, and it made me feel warm inside.

(2) My four mile course is becoming my favorite loop to run. I’ve done it on three consecutive runs recently – and it’s starting to feel a lot easier, too. I walked four miles last night, am going on a bike ride today, and I get to run the course again tomorrow. Exercise is good.

(3) People are starting to tune in to the Zazen Interview– with some happy results. I then asked Keva if she wouldn’t mind being interviewed this week. I’ve never done any audio interviewing before — it’s kinda fun, and as well as useful. The acoustics are really good in the church sanctuary, and the iPhone 11 that my daughter got for me has a fantastic microphone. Plus, I get to edit it and spice it up with Audacity later, which is even more fun. Thankful for new horizons.

(4) My daughter Angela wrote a new song that I love. She’s also doing really well these days. New horizons seems to be the order of the day.

(5) When I sat down on the lawn chair for the outdoor evening service last night, I realized I had not even left the house since Thursday, except for running four miles on Friday night. Getting out for errands on my bicycle now. I don’t mind sheltering in place, and I don’t mind being alone. But making sure to get outside once a day really helps. Which brings up another thing I’m grateful for — I’ve got decent snow boots, I like cold weather, and I don’t mind the snow. Every cloud has a silver lining.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” — Helen Keller

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Gratitude List 1615

(1) Yesterday I finished making all the adjustments in my musical script that were deemed necessary after an intensive three week reading and critique.   Grateful for the current team, without whose insights I’d have never made it.

(2) At the end of the day, I submitted the show to some people who might have the power to produce it.  And then, right after I did, I felt a huge sense of peace.    I felt relieved, realizing that I don’t have to mess with that script anymore.  Now I can focus on the music, and on other things.  

(3) Got my iPhone working that my daughter helped me to obtain.   Nice to have a phone again, and I can see why people like this one better than the Androids.

(4) This may sound weird, but I want to say that I’m grateful to be an Introvert and also the kind of person who doesn’t really feel a need to be in a relationship or very dependent on human touch.   It’s true that I haven’t touched another human being for about six months or so.  But it’s also true that I wasn’t very attached to human touch to being with.   So I didn’t have much to lose.   

(5) About to embark on a long slow run.   Very grateful for this particular form of exercise.  I always feel kinda “cleansed” afterwards.  There’s something about running that’s like a sacrament.   I’m glad to have rediscovered it at this time in my life.  It really makes a difference – it really does.   

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Gratitude List 1607

(1) It used to be, people either begrudgingly tolerated me or completely avoided me. That these young people not only do neither — but actually appear to look up to me and admire me — is almost more than my fragile ego can bear.

(2) I’d assumed it was still the heat wave when I first stepped out the door to check my mail at around noon. To my surprise, it was cloudy, cool — and perfect running weather. My sunset run is scheduled to be sweet.

(3) Finished sequencing Sirens of Hope last night – check it out. It’s the opening number to my musical – the Kids will be singing to that track in lots of big harmonies. Lyrics are right here. Thankful for being in the position to move forward with this project, after all these years.

(4) I believe I may have found a good therapist at Community Care. They take both my forms of insurance, and I believe the therapist is versed in issues pertaining to PTSD. We begin on Wednesday.

(5) Meeting with the Professor of Journalism on Zoom in three minutes. Still kinda blown away that people like professors with degrees would even associate with me — but on the other hand, why wouldn’t they? Glad I’m finally going to get some help.

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Gratitude List 1600

(1) Increased exercise has been having benefits I’d not expected. For one thing, I’m sleeping more – and sleep is good. For another thing, I’m drinking more water — and water is good. The many “fringe benefits” of aerobic exercise are making themselves known. Not to mention, I’ve also lost 15 pounds; plus, my scaphoid fracture has healed, so I can do my push-ups again.

(2) The musical project is also going surprisingly well. It takes a lot of effort to prepare a full-scale musical for production. There have been many critiques and revisions. What’s happening now is a fine-tune polish. I’m grateful for the dedicated and talented people who make up the present team.

(3) In the past couple weeks, I’ve learned at least three things about myself that may prove very useful. A little surprised I didn’t see these things before. I’d elaborate, but I’ll leave them for tomorrow’s Tuesday Tuneup.

(4) I seem to have a lot more energy than I did earlier.

(5) The pandemic collides with an almost untenable national and global crisis in such a way that we have all been forced to snap out of a gigantic laxity that we probably did not even know we had been engaging. The human race has an uncanny propensity to ignore its difficulties till the very last minute — and just as uncanny a capacity to bond together at the last minute to save the day. We will weather this storm, for we are the Human Race.

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Gratitude List 1573

(1) I’m in an unusually good mood today, but I have no idea why.   If I find out, I’ll be sure to let you all know.

(2) Running at five in the morning has got to be one of the more pleasant experiences in life.   I took a few days off, then ran three miles yesterday, and three this morning.   Each of those runs felt effortless.  I’m sure I ran faster too.   Looking down at my “tree trunk” legs, I noticed they weren’t quite so trunky.   I’m not only losing weight — I’m actually getting into shape.  

(3) Did my first push-ups since the wrist injury, and did okay.  Did 5 three days ago, and 7 today.   I’ll be back up to 25 in no time.

(4) Check out this cool Scripture: “While physical exercise is of some value, spiritual exercise is of total value.  For its value is not only the present life, but also in the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8).

(5) Whatever else has happened, I gotta say that this new team I am working with is anything but flaky.  These Kids are professional, punctual, enthusiastic, talented, and above all: RELIABLE.  There may be hope for this project yet.

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
—  Winston Churchill 

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Tuesday Tuneup 82

Q. What’s happening now?

A. Just waking up.

Q. Now?   At 9 in the morning already?   Don’t you usually get up much earlier?

A. Usually at around 4:30.  But lately I’ve been getting up at 3, and this morning it all caught up with me.

Q. Why have you been getting up at 3?

A. Not tired anymore.

Q. What time are you going to bed?

A. That’s another thing.  It used to be, I’d go to bed at 9:30, and get a good 7 hours sleep.  Now, I don’t go to bed till 11.

Q. And you sleep till 3?

A. Yes.

Q. No wonder you’re so tired.   But doesn’t this remind you of something?

A. Yes it does, now that you mention it.   It reminds me of the time I always used to go to bed at 3, and get up at 7.   Very similar dynamic.   

Q. And when was that?

A. It was in 2003, right after Mom died.  Every night I stayed up till 3.   Every morning I got up at 7, and drove to the private school where I taught music.   That was the job that I lost in 2004.   I mentioned it in an earlier tuneup.

Q. Weren’t you having a first-time manic episode at the time?

A. Yes.  

Q. Are you afraid of having another one?

A. I don’t think “afraid” is the right word.   But I’m concerned.   I’m always concerned about this, as well I should be.   

Q. Is there any medication you can take to address it?

A. Perhaps.   I’m a little sensitive about it, being a runner.

A. What’s being a runner got to do with it?

A. My physiology is a lot different than someone who does not run.   So medications don’t have the same effect on me as they have on people who are more sedentary.

Q. Can you document that?

A. I can try.  I’m only stating my experience.   

Q. You haven’t always run, have you?   You’ve gone through periods when you don’t run much at all, right?

A. That’s right.

Q. How do medications affect you when you’re not running?

A. More like they’re supposed to, I think.  But check it out.  I didn’t run from about 2000 to mid-2003.   And I got super fat, by the way.   I was on 2400 mg a day of Gabapentin.

Q. Whatever for?

A. They believed it would be a good replacement for the Klonopin I had been on earlier, and less habit forming.

Q. But the Klonopin did not make you fat?

A. Not at all.  In fact, I requested they return me to the Klonopin, after I’d gained approximately 75 lbs.

Q. Did they accommodate your request?

A. Yes.  And then my Mom died, later that afternoon.

Q. So you think the combination of the medication switch and your mother’s death triggered the episode?

A. That’s my thinking, yes.   And psychiatry seems to agree with me, by and large, on this one.

Q. Does psychiatry often disagree with you?

A. I cant say that, no.   What I can say is — as a runner — I am always engaged in an experiment with my own body.   George Sheehan, in his book Running and Being, called it the “experiment of one.”  Since I continually experiment with my own body — that is, I develop theories, test them out, and draw conclusions — it disturbs me that someone who doesn’t know my body as well as I do should be experimenting with it.

Q. You don’t like doctors, do you?

A. I didn’t say that!  I just went to one yesterday, and I liked him very much.

Q. So what are you saying?

A. That I just have to hold this thing in check.

Q. You?  All by yourself?   Don’t you have a therapist?

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A. That’s right, I gotta find a good one.

Q. Were you going to a bad one?

A. Can’t exactly say bad — he just seemed, kinda like, he thought too well of me.

Q. Can you clarify?

A. I think he thought I was a lot more on the ball than I actually am.  First session, he kinda looked down as though guilty, and said: “You’re about twice as intelligent as me!” He said it in a tone of great self-pity, as though he were about to quit his job or something.

Q. He was insecure?

A. Yeah.  And now we had TWO insecure people in the room.

Q. So you left that guy?

A. Actually, he eventually quit the job.  And when he was leaving, he told me I should open up a private practice.

Q. And where did you go then?

A. To my pastor.   

Q. How did that go?

A. It was different.   Extremely intelligent, insightful, compassionate.   But somehow I felt as though something was cutting into my core — almost as though trying to create a disruption within me —

Q. Why would he have wanted to do that?

A. Oh, he wouldn’t have wanted to do it — not intentionally, not by his own self.  It was just an inadvertent effect of the logical progression of our mutual thought.   I left eventually, once I felt that something sacred within me was about to be desecrated.

Q. Sacred?

A. Yes.  Like an inner temple.  An adytum, if you will.   Something inside me that is so critical to my being, that no other influence has any business there.  Nobody, not even me, ought to tamper with that inner temple.

Q. So you felt threatened by the pastor, and you left that room as well?

A. You have such a crude way of putting things.   Yes, I left — but only because I then found a Masters Candidate who could see me for free, three times a week for five weeks, in order to fill out her hours for her Masters Degree.

Q. How was she?

A. Excellent!   I learned a lot in those five weeks.   But then she was done.

Q. Can’t you continue to see her?

A. Do I have $150 an hour?   

Q. Well then, what are you going to do?

A. I believe there are psychotherapists in my vicinity who accept MediCare and MedCaid.

Q. You gonna look for one?

A. It seems the humble thing to do, yes.

Q. Whoever called you humble?

A. No one yet.   May I be excused?

Q. Why?

A. Time for my morning run — and half the day’s gone already.  

The Questioner is silent.

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Gratitude List 1568

(1) Made it to my new doctor for the first time this morning.   He’s knowledgeable and respectful, which is what I was after.   Had all the lab work done, and was diagnosed with “nausea.”  (Unsurprising, considering all that’s going on in the world today.) 

(2) Got up a little early today – 3 am instead of the usual 4:30.   This enabled me to get more work done on the arrangement of the third number in my musical.   It’s coming along.    I’ll post it (along with the lyrics) once I’ve gotten from A to Z with it.

(3) The running’s been better than ever lately.   Got weighed at the clinic, and I’ve lost 11 lbs since last time I was at a scale.   No need to provide the exact figure — let’s just say I’ve got 24 more pounds to go.

(4) Did all the wash.  It’s not only nice to have clean clothes, it has a way of motivating me to clean up the rest of the house while I’m at it.

(5) A young journalist who has a job with a certain newspaper is urging me to apply for one of a couple positions they have open — and I’m following through, so wish me luck.  I’m grateful for the positive impression I’ve managed to make on everyone I’ve met in journalism, and for the sense that out of all the times I’ve lived through in my relatively long life, these times are the most worth writing about.   

“Be as you wish to seem.  The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”
— Socrates

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Gratitude List 1563

(1) Even though I haven’t run for almost a week, I’m still losing weight.  Bike rides of up to ten miles, plus brisk walks of two to four miles, are helping.   I’m grateful for the new role of daily outdoor exercise, in providing a healthy change-up from sheltering in place.

(2) The interactive scoring of the third number of my musical is coming along.   Grateful for this new “solo project,” which appears to be ideal for working from home.   

(3)  Last Tuesday we held the first scene rehearsal on Zoom with the new people, Cody and Keva.   I was amazed at how well it went.   We’re also meeting at the church tomorrow to learn the singing, and there’s another scene rehearsal online on Thursday, hopefully with additional people to fill out the missing parts.   Despite the obvious obstacles, a momentum is taking place.   

(4) I really enjoyed the weekly book study on Zoom on Wednesday — we’re going through America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America by Jim Wallis.   This is an important and timely theme, one that ought not be shirked.   I’m honored to be able to participate in this study, and in the sharing of experiences with others.    

(5) This past Sabbath was in a way the most effective, in that I actually succeeded in resisting the temptation to work, all throughout the twenty-four hours.   As a result, all the work I’ve done since then seems somehow blessed, because I kept that day holy.  Somehow throughout Saturday I felt as though the Universe were expanding, and my own role expanding, as well.  It was as though, as soon as I stopped to listen, I could hear the Universe breathe.    

Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.”
    — Albert Camus 

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Gratitude List 1560

(1)  Grateful for a decent six hours of solid sleep after running in the evening last night.  Glad I’ve been sleeping reasonably well lately, in general.

(2)  Painlessly did the 2 1/2 mile course at around sunset yesterday.   I’m definitely both eating less and running more these days.   At this stage, that’s something to be grateful for.  

(3) Amazing that the two new singer-actors K. & C. have emerged, desiring to portray the male and female antagonists in a Scene Two audition preparation.   They’re even learning the song together.   (True that I had something to do with this happening — being as I was the one who asked them if they were interested.   But still, I find it wonderful that two very talented people like K. & C. would actually be interested.)   I’m feeling a lot of gratitude that almost everything that’s happened lately with respect to the musical has been really positive and encouraging.

(4) I gotta say I’m grateful for Finale 26  music notation software and for the very sophisticated Audacity freeware that I use to edit sound files.   I’ve been refining the interactive tracks for the opening number and the second number, and moving on to the third.   I’m grateful to have such an interesting and meaningful project to be working on.

(5) In seven days, God willing, I will have lived in this city and spent every night indoors — usually all alone, usually in quietude, in a dwelling place of my own choosing — for four entire years.  Five years ago I’d have never dreamed it possible.  Oh, I dreamed it all right — but I never thought it would actually happen.  I and everyone else I knew assumed I would die a miserable death in a Bay Area gutter.   Instead, I am a healthy and happy man today.   I am very grateful that I am no longer homeless. 

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Gratitude List 1556

(1) This morning I ran 4 miles in 57F degrees along Paradise Path.  It was my first decent run in over a week, and it felt really good.   I feel kinda cleansed now, and grateful.      

(2) Enjoyed a second scheduled video chat with my friend Lynne Fisher this morning on WhatsApp.   Thankful for our friendship and for WhatsApp, which makes it seem as though my friend from across the ocean is right there sitting in front of me.   

(3) I keep adding to the arrangement I’ve been working on, and it’s getting closer to being finished.   It will be interesting how it sounds with the singing over it, once we reach that stage.  Thankful for Finale music notation software.  

(4) Rehearsal went well on Tuesday, and it looks as though we’ve another one scheduled for Wednesday.   Thankful that the church has been letting us meet once a week in small groups, observing social distancing.   Even more thankful that most of the progress on the project is being made by individuals sheltering at home.   

(5) I must say once again, I’m thankful for my apartment, that I have all to myself in solitude.  I got up at three in the morning and spent the quiet hours reading and writing as I pleased.   Then, when I came home from running, I downed a Gatorade and plopped down on the sofa exhausted.   Now I’m smelling the coffee.   Sheltering in place is a lot nicer than living in a place where there isn’t any shelter.   Believe me — I’ve done both.   

“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”
   — Abraham Lincoln 

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Gratitude List 1552

(1) Nice to be inside, out of the rain.

(2) I’ve been realizing that I don’t have to believe all the things that people at my church believe, or swallow the pastor’s theology hook, line & sinker.   We can “agree to disagree” at this church, and this is beautiful.

(3) Ran three miles surprisingly well last night.   Being all off schedule, with many things weighing on me, it will be a beautiful night for a light jog once the rain lets up a little.   Glad to be living in a place where it’s safe to run at night.   

(4) Rehearsal went remarkably well on Tuesday — excitingly so.   I was so jazzed afterwards I dove into a full arrangement of my Opening Number and mapped out a plan to create a complete Piano-Conductor Score.   After that, I really will be done with this baby.   People will be able to do the show anywhere, without my even having to be on board.    Maybe I can even find a date for Opening Night.    Maybe I’ll win a Tony Award for Best Musical of the Year.   The sky’s the limit when you’re on a roll.

(5) I’ve been feeling more hope for the future lately, despite things having been rocky.   If we don’t drop the ball, we might even win in November.

“The fool speaks because he has to say something.   The wise man speaks because he has something to say.”
        —  Plato
 

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Gratitude List 1546

1. My voice is coming back now after a treacherous bout of laryngitis.  I’m especially thankful for this, especially as I have to sing a solo on our interactive presentation of my song “Ode to the Universe” from my musical Eden in Babylon. 
 
2.  The thunderstorm two days ago was a deterrent to exercise, but a brisk five mile walk yesterday beat most of the heavy wind and rain.   Great five miles to Staples & back to get a mouse, stopping only at the café for doppio.  Winds are only 5mph in light rain and I’m about to go on a run in the sunset.   Thankful–and somewhat amazed–that I can still do it.
 
3. Grateful to have finally landed on a definite plan on the presentation.  All I gotta do is stay on the even keel, and it will show consistency to the Kids — and they’ll come through.   Bowen is confidently turning in a great part, Maria emailed me to get together to practice in real-time, and I just heard from Richard, who want to jam at my house later in the week.   It’s not as though the Kids are not into it.  I just somehow have to rise to the occasion in ways that have challenged my comfort zone.   I’m getting the hang of it now, though — I can tell.
 
4. There are a number of similar things that I’ve been doing differently since sheltering in place.  Allow me to enumerate:
 
(1) I’m reading a lot more, especially news articles and scientific or psychological articles.   Up to  15 or 20 per day, I who didn’t think he could read.
 
(2) I’m listening to the music of others, having finally tuned into Spotify for a free three-month Premium account.  It’s great to have music in the background, something that usually wouldn’t have crossed my mind.  (I’m planning to do the same thing with movies, like with Netflix maybe.  It never crosses my mind to watch movies either, but it would enhance the quality of life.)
 
(3) Purged and cleaned the Lenovo desktop, and now the desktop is organized for optimal use.
 
(4) There’s a variety of different kinds of foods in the cupboard and fridge.   This is similar to the variety of different kinds of music I’ve been listening to..
 
(5) I’ve been cleaning up my website, making everything simpler and easier to access, and less confusing.
 
(6) Rather than keep hiding the ASUS laptop with the broken screen, keyboard and touch pad in the dresser drawer, I now have it all set up in the bedroom with external keyboard, monitor, and new external mouse!   I even got a wireless mouse since I will never remove the ASUS from the house and can always keep the plug in the port.   So now I have two computers at home, one that I can carry with me outside, and one that stays.
 
(7) In order to make room for the ASUS, I finally removed the big bookshelf that was such an eyesore in the bedroom, and all its shelves.   It was right in front of a power outlet anyway, and that’s the logical place for the other computer.   I’ve got two other dressers and another set of shelves anyway.   Bedroom looks great now!  I even made the bed.  
(Anyone who knows me knows that ordinarily I would have never done any of those things, but would have continued to reduce the quality of my dwelling space to that of a largely unattended “crash pad.”  Sheltering in place has brought out the better part of me.)
 
5.  There’s is a light rain outside my window, I got my work cut out for me, I don’t have any interfering appetites, and I’m eager to run in the rain.   After that, I’ll come back into my house and feel grateful to be inside, and out of the rain.  Come to think of it, I can’t lose.
 
“No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.”
      —  Albert Einstein

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Morning Call to Nature

A call to Nature in the early morning is of the Spirit.

One ought to seek Nature early in the morning, and go for a run, or walk, or bicycle ride – as one is able — or even find a spot and sit somewhere outdoors (weather permitting) — if for no other reason than to commune with Nature.

When I was homeless, I was forced by circumstance to do this one good thing; that is, to be outdoors in the early morning, often before the dawn, to watch the sunrise, and to participate in the waking of the day.

Since I’ve lived inside, I am no longer forced.   For a while, I was lax.  Then I learned that, unlike when I lived outdoors, I can only keep the morning sacrament through force of habit.   

But it’s a very good habit to have made.   

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A little bit goes a long, long way. 

 

Gratitude List 1532

(1) I am thankful that my daughter is in my life today.   It makes me feel good to know that, whatever might have gone wrong, I’m not the type of dad that I keep hearing some of these Kids tell me about.   I’ve made mistakes — but at least I care.  Some of those so-called fathers did not even care — and worse.

(2) Thankful for this desk.  For my Lenovo IdeaPad, which safely returned from a warranty fix-up.    Thankful for Audacity free audio editing software, because I got into the multi-tracking and the mixing last night or the first time, and it was all I could do to stop mixing Zazen’s song, I was so thrilled.  This opens up a whole new world of creative possibilities.  I can actually even place musical underscores at key moments in my oral presentations.  It’s amazing what technology can do, if properly utilized.

(3) Grateful for the revelation that when I lost my cool recently, I was basically mad at all the other people on the team because I wasn’t doing my job.   True, they weren’t doing their jobs either, but it’s my job to make sure they do their jobs, and they’re definitely not going to be about doing it without pay and without pressure of definite deadline if I don’t kinda gently get on them about it, now and again.   So, I’m glad I saw the light.  I got my work cut out for me now.

(4) Just ran six miles — my longest run since I’ve been in North Idaho, I’m ashamed to say — and it feels great.  Looking forward to getting a lot of work done tonight.

(5) Looking forward to meeting my new student on Zoom for the third time tomorrow, and to having coffee thereafter with my buddy Tom, the fellow who helps with the four-hand job of putting the smartphone on the tripod.  But other than that once-or-twice-daily step-out, I mostly continue to be grateful to be sheltering in place.  It’s teaching me to be grateful for the place I have for shelter.   For a long time, there was no such place.   Things really could be — and have been — a lot worse than they are today.

“I believe I am better than the people who are trying to reform me.”
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

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Tuesday Tuneup 61

Q. What are you doing here?

A. I’m fulfilling the requirement.

Q. What requirement?

A. I’m required to come up with a Tuesday Tuneup every Tuesday morning.

Q. Is that a requirement?  Or just a desire?

A. Okay, it’s a desire.  A requirement sounds a bit harsh, you’re right.

Q. Did I say anything about a requirement being harsh?

A. No – I suppose you didn’t.  But what is your question?

Q. My question is, why would you feel obligated to produce a Tuesday Tuneup if you don’t have anything in particular on your mind?   

A. Because it’s not really possible for there to be nothing on my mind.  The mind was designed to think.   And you have a way of drawing out what’s on my mind, even if I don’t know what it is at the start.

Q. What is on your mind?

A. What’s on my mind is how there really doesn’t seem to be anything on my mind this morning.

Q. But isn’t that on your mind?

Wellness Clipart | Free download best Wellness Clipart on ClipArtMag.comA. Ha — this is the kind of stuff that happens during meditation.

Q. Have you been meditating too much lately?

A. Well, uh – more than usual.  I don’t know it it’s too much.

Q. Do you think that meditation is clearing your mind of its thoughts?

A. Not exactly.  Otherwise none of this would be happening.  These are my thoughts, aren’t they?

Q. But didn’t you just say there was nothing on your mind?

A. Uh . . . I guess I was . . . a bit premature in presuming to pretend I had precluded all premediation from my — 

Q. From your preschool mentality?

A. Now you’re getting downright insulting!

Q. But aren’t I just playing off all the things you’re saying to me?

A. Jesus!   Now I know why meditation is such a menace.   I’m lacing up my shoes for a run in the snowy snow snow.   Laterz.  

The Questioner is silent.  

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A little bit goes a long, long way.

 

Sleep Paralysis

I never knew what it was called until they came up with a name for it about five or six years ago.  I’ve been having it since I was 14.  I believe my brother has been having it since he was 15.  My daughter has it but her mother, my ex-wife does not.

The reason why I’m bringing it up is because, although I’ve been dealing with this phenomenon at varying levels of discomfort throughout my life, it has never been as bad as it’s been in the past ten or twelve days.   I’m having it day after day; I’ve been to Emergency about it; I’ve even had a guy from my church come over and perform a kind of charismatic exorcism.  

I’ve probably averaged three or four hours of sleep a night for the past ten days or so.  Only on one night did I get a good seven hours sleep.  The night I went to Emergency the doctor there gave me 0.5 mg clonazepam on my request, which was the same medication I swore off cold turkey on May 10, 2004.  A reaction to a prescription of 6mg / day I was given on the morning my mother was to die caused me to start behaving very strangely, uncharacteristically.   Anybody who’s heard my story knows that between October 9, 2003 when Mom died and May 17, 2004 when I spent my first night homeless at the Burlingame CalTrain station, I lost everything I had.  I took clonazepam (klonopin) all that time till I quit cold turkey on May 10, 2004.  

The reason I bring this up is that I don’t ask for a clonazepam lightly.  But I’ve known that a low dose like that is usually sufficient to get me from a waking state to sound sleep without stopping at that horrible zone where you kinda feel like this:

What Are Your Experiences With The Sleep Paralysis Demon Like?

Seriously.  Something from somewhere is pressing upon you.  You don’t quite see it, but boy do you feel it!  It’s one of the most terrifying experiences I know of.   

The night of the exorcism (not quite the right word; I think he use the word “intercession”) I slept very well.  It seemed all sense of such invasive entities had stopped completely.  But last night the invasion resumed.  I jumped out of bed pretty mad.   When is this thing going to end?

I was so mad, I ran three miles at midnight, did eleven push-ups, then wiped myself out enough to conk out from about two till six in the morning.   My vital signs were good at the doctor’s visit – lost eight pounds, medium to low blood pressure, heart rate 56.  Lots of exercise lately, and not much rest.  That could be a factor, but man, I am getting tired of this!   

I called the guy from my church and we prayed I would just get a decent night’s sleep.  I’ve been contacting old friends, and preparing for the worst.   I’m not sure how much longer I can hold up.  I have never had it night after night, day after day, on the bus, in the doctor’s office, sitting on my desk, sitting in the cafe — it’s horrible.

I’ve alternated between thinking that the loss of my medication might have something to do with it, but it was happening before that as well.  I’ve thought the medication itself might be involved, but one way or the other, I don’t like it.

I know this isn’t my usual post, but I’m not sure I’ve got much longer.  Every night I wonder if I’m going to get to sleep, or if I’m going to wake up, when it’s done.   So, if I’ve seemed to be weird the past few days, this is why.   

Today is the third year anniversary of the day I stepped off that bus on July 27, 2016 to start a new life.  If you pray, please pray that the new life will manifest fully from here. I’ve been feeling like I’ve been half asleep and half awake. Half in Cali, half up here. Half outdoors, and half inside. I’m in paralysis. I want to be full and complete from here on in, and paralyzed no more.

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A little bit goes a long, long way.  

 

Hermit

I believe that we who write lyrics and music tend to remember the music we write better than we remember the lyrics.   At least, that is true of me, and especially if the song was written long ago, and then more-or-less abandoned.

The song that is featured today is something I wrote in April of 1976 in an effort to come out of a long period of isolation and creative famine.  I remember it took me a month to write the song.   This was also the first month of my now 42 years as a long-distance runner.  Writing this song was part of a complete lifestyle change.

Since it took me so long to squeeze it all out of me, I remembered the music very clearly, and continued to remember it over the years, even though I hardly ever played it.  But I forgot a lot of the lyrics, which I never sang.

At some point in the 42 years since I wrote the song “Hermit,” I forgot all about it.  But this past week, the song for some reason resurfaced in my consciousness.  This time, it had been so long, I didn’t even remember some of the music.   But as the week progressed, I remembered more and more of it; and I practiced it several times on the piano.

As for the lyrics?  Here are the ones I remember:

Shifting back and forth
Between one reckless thought and the next,
Trapped inside a rented room
Behind a world that’s too complex.

And later:

Your life is just a rented room!

Still later:

We all need our time to think –
But how much?  That’s all I ask!
You could spend a lifetime claiming you’re close to the cure,
But when life itself is such a task,
You’re never sure . . .
Never sure . .  .

Interesting.  I was 23 at the time.  I wonder why the song came back to me this week?  I hadn’t thought about it in years.  Here’s what it sounds like.

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Tuesday Tuneup 16

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. Sure do.  You’re a creation of mine who always questions everything.   

Q. Why have you summoned me?

A. Because I can.  I have the power to do so — the God-given right, and the authority.

Q. Are you my authority?

A. Yes, I am.

Question AuthorityQ. Are you proud of that position?

A. I am indeed.

Q. But why, specifically, have you summoned me today, sir?

A. For the usual reasons.  I summon you every Tuesday, when I need to do a little introspection.  You might say, a tune-up.  I’ve done it 16 consecutive Tuesdays in a row now.

Q. Are you proud of that accomplishment?

A. As a matter of fact, I am.

Q. Why?

A. Because it represents consistency.  And consistency represents stability.   

Q. Are you usually unstable?

A. Yes.  Or so I’m told, anyway.

Q. Who tells you this?

A. Stable people.

Q. Such as?

A. I decline to name names.  But I’m sure you know the type of person I mean.  The kind who can hold down a 9-5 job, stay in one town for a long time without wanting to vamoose, and so forth.

Q. Are  you unable to hold down a 9-5 job?

A. Not for very long.  

Q. Why not?

A. I’m not sure.  But I do know that the last time I held down a 9-5 was in the year 1990, and I didn’t last through the year.

Q. Why not?

A. Got fired.

Q. Why?

A. Got beat out in the competition.

Q. With whom?

A. With a more stable person, obviously.

Q. Are you sure this is the real reason for your not holding down a 9-5 job?

A. You paint me into a corner, you  do.

Q. How’s that?

A. You force me to seek out a deeper reason.

Q. Such as?

A. Such as maybe I just don’t want to hold down a 9-5.

Q. Why not?

A. Because I have no confidence that I won’t be fired.

Q. Why not?

A. Because every time I start out with confidence, I wind up getting fired anyway.  So I’ve developed a —

Q. Block?

A. Maybe.

Q. Disdain?

A. Closer.

Q. Frustration?

A. Closest yet.

Q. So why do they fire you?

A. Three things.

Q. Namely?

A. Number One, I’m extremely absent-minded.  I space too many things out, and it frustrates my employers and co-workers.

Q. Number Two?

A. I show up late.  I keep looking for things in my apartment that I’ve spaced out, things I need for the job, and can’t find them.

Q. Why don’t you just leave them at work?

A. My glasses?  My keys?  My wallet?  Come on.

Q. What’s the third reason?

A. Can’t handle stress.

Q. What happens when you’re under stress?

A. I implode.  I shut down.  I can’t function.

Q. Is that why you’re on disability?

A. Pretty much.

Q. So how do you spend your time on disability?

A. Doing things I can do.

Q. Such as?

A. Play the piano.  Sing.  Write music.  And write.  Oh – and run long distances.

Q. Why is it that you can do those things, but not the normal 9-5 office type things?

A. I think it has to do with the fact that they can all be done while I’m totally alone, with no other people around.

Q. Does being around people stress you out?

A. Somewhat.   Although I am in a relationship now, and I spend a lot of time with my flame.

Q. How’s that going?

A. Amazingly well.  We seem to compliment each other nicely.

Q. But don’t you get stressed out sometimes being around her?

A. Sometimes.  But we take the time to work through the stressors, and wind up the better for it.

Q. Then why can’t you do the same thing with your office mates on the 9-5?

A. Because they don’t give me the time.  Everything is done according to deadlines, and time pressure.  

Q. You don’t work well to deadlines?

A. Not at all.  I cease to function completely when under time pressure.

Q. But you work well without deadlines?

A. Look at all the stuff I’ve accomplished.  All over this website.  Were any of those things accomplished according to deadlines?

Q. I don’t know – were they?

A. Not at all.  They’re all labors of love.  And no deadline has been involved whatsoever.

Q. What about the Tuesday tuneups?

A. I space a lot of them out, too.  Some are composed over the weekend, or late Monday nights.  Some I don’t even get around to until Thursday.   But I’m trying.

Q. Why are you trying?

A. Because I’d like to show the world some consistency.  Some stability.   So I figured I’d set some mild deadlines for myself, and see if I could keep them.

Q. What other deadlines have you set?

A. I’m supposed to come up with a Scripture every Sunday, a Gratitude List every Monday, this tuneup every Tuesday, a speech every Wednesday, a substantial essay-like blog post every Thursday, and a piano video every Friday.

Q. Who says you’re supposed to?

A. I says.

Q. And if someone else says?

A. No can do.

Q. Problem with authority?

A. Hey!   What are you trying to insinuate?   

Q. Does it . . . seem like I am . . . trying to insinuate something?

A. You heard me!   You’re insinuating that I have a problem with authority, aren’t you?

Q. Am I?

A. Of course you are!

Q. But aren’t I . . . only . . . doing my job, sir?

A. Don’t put words in my mouth!   You actually have the audacity to insinuate that I, your sole Creator and Absolute Authority, have a problem with authority?   What authority?  Who’s my authority? 

Q. Well . . . isn’t your own Creator your authority?   I mean  . . . isn’t God your Creator and your Absolute Authority?

A. GOD??  And who, pray tell, would be God’s Creator?  And His own Absolute Authority?

Q. Why do you challenge me with such intellectual matters, sir?

A. Because it’s your job, damn it!   I summoned you to do your job!

Q. Are you going to fire me, sir?

A. I just might!  And if you don’t want to get fired, young man, I suggest you keep your big mouth SHUT!!

The Questioner is silent.

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Anything Helps – God Bless!

 

Rat Race or Human Race?

Please say a prayer for me.   I may not have any money in life (or care) – but I have so much going on in so many areas right now, I sense the ugly scepter known as Mainstream Stress beginning to rear its head.   This is the form of stress known to give people heart disease, various cancers, and all the other ailments that I effectively avoided by dropping out of the so-called Mainstream in 2004.

The world, the schedules, the agendas, the being-in-a-specific-place-at-specific-time — these are all the things that I swore I would never buy into again.   But today they leap out at me — yea, they lunge.  Even in this small idyllic town that seemed the answer to all my prayers, there is no escape from the Mainstream. 

But all of its arbitrary hierarchical structures have nothing whatever to with the Natural Hierarchy of Nature.  And yet, it is that Natural Hierarchy that everybody seems to be desecrating.  Look at our mad rush, replete with road rage, as we become desperate to get to all these specific places right down to the very nanosecond.    What society would create an absurdity so monstrous as a Casio runner’s watch?    Why do we need to place pressure on the natural pace of our genetic dispositions that was naturally put in place by the Maker in the first place?  Genetically?  Naturally? 

hurryWhy on earth should any of us ever have to present our physical bodies, especially in this Internet age, at a specific place in geographical Earth-related space-time, when all of that hurrying is only destroying us all?  It robs us of our love for others.  It robs us of our love for life.

Arbitrary scheduling inflicted upon the human spirit by pseudo-authorities representing a random hierarchical structure runs in direct opposition to the Natural Order of Nature.  This cannot possibly be good for the Human Race or anybody in it.   It has created gridlock.  It has created road rage.  Is it really so important for me to get there at exactly 9:01.01.003 in the morning?  What about the other guy who needs to get there by 9:01.01.002 in the morning?   Am I any more important than he is just because he will get chewed out by his boss a thousandth of a second sooner than I will by mine?

Does the fact that his boss is a thousandths of single second more of a hard-ass than my boss make him my inferior?

Ever since I’ve had to “rush” again, I’ve become more absent-minded.  The greater the hurry, the greater the absent-mindedness, and the less likely it is that I show up on time.  I lose my keys, my wallet, my phone  – I lose everything.

There was a blissful long past day when I didn’t have any of those things to lose.  Am I losing something more critical to my humanity than my keys, my wallet, and my cell phone?

I really hope that the Day will come when none of us, for any reason, will ever have to show up at a specific place at a specific time again.   When we finally have enough faith, when we finally have enough love, we will finally trust that if the person is a few minutes late, then there was probably a good reason for it — and the rest of us will just have to learn to be patient.  But this rat race, even creeping in to the most distant, far-removed country college town I could find – is not for the Human Race.  It’s not even for rats – but that’s what we make of ourselves when we run around like we’re doing.

Now granted I may have a wee bit of a chip on my aging shoulder, do ya think?   A certain member of my extended family doesn’t seem to have any trouble doing three things at once and racing around the Big City in her fancy car and doing all the things I used to do before my breakdown in 2004.   So some people are obviously more in tune with this level of mass demoralization than others.   But that extended family member makes all her decisions based on fear — not on love, or faith, or God — and these are the sorts of people who “succeed” in this world. 

Me – I was never quite able to manage large super-schedules including five towns on Tuesdays even before I decided to convert all my personal shortcomings into a world vision for humanity. 

So it’s not as though don’t have a subjective ax to grind, but I’m telling you — all this scheduling that we inflict upon each other’s bodies has nothing to do with the schedule of the One who scheduled the whole show before time began.   So I shall divert the course of my will in deference to the One to Whom it is wise my will must yield.

In other words, in conclusion:

I’m too old for this shit. 

Where’s my quiet life?   It sure isn’t in my head.   My head moves me so fast from one thought to another anyway, without the entire culture giving me the message I’m supposed to be moving even faster.

I suppose this is a disease of some sort and there’s some pill I’m supposed to take for it.  But we can discuss that at some further future time, when none of us is in a hurry.  In the meantime, you all have a good day, and a good week ahead.  And please — don’t move too fast on my account.   Peace be to all, and Amen.

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Anything Helps – God Bless!