Wisdom

Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,
for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.

She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.

Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
those who hold her fast will be blessed.

–Proverbs 3:13-18

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Tuesday Tuneup Nine

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. Yes.

Q. Why have you summoned me?

A. Because it’s Wednesday.

Q. Uh – isn’t the Tuesday Tuneup supposed to take place on Tuesday?   And haven’t we been here before?

A. You asked me two questions at once.

Q. What’s wrong with that?

A. And now there are three unanswered questions!   Really, sir, you overload me.  And I’m already overloaded.

Q. Why so overloaded?

A. Perhaps you haven’t heard. 

(Takes a deep breath.)

when_opportunity_knocksI’m engaged in this huge process of getting all these singers and musicians to learn my music, so as to record three songs from my musical Eden in Babylon and have the long-awaited demo recording finished by Sunday night.  It isn’t often that a decent sound engineer offers me free studio services and resources, and his availability will not last forever.   

Q. Do you mean to tell me that you are actually working to a deadline?

A. (sighs) Much as I despise the concept, ’tis true.  

Q. Now why do I find that so hard to believe?

A. Probably because I am noted for espousing wild philosophies I picked up after years of living on the streets.  I’ve even gone so far as to say that no human being should ever be required to show up a specific place at a specific time.

Q. But don’t you work better when you don’t have a deadline?

A. I do, yes.  Others do not.  But the point is that my own work as the composer-playwright of Eden in Babylon is already complete.  It’s only a matter of getting a finite number of people to respond accordingly.  It may well be that these people work well to deadlines.

Q. And when is this deadline?

A. Four days from today.

Q. Have you — er — succeeded in getting the money together to pay these singers and musicians?

A. Almost.  I am prepared to pay the remaining $150 out of pocket the at this stage.  But I would have to wait till the beginning of the month, which might inconvenience a couple of the singers who are strapped.  And of course, I am also strapped.  I have made myself strapped in order to succeed in this venture, as any other devoted Artist would do.

Q. Won’t you become even more strapped after contributing $150 from your fixed income?

A. Of course.  And I’d prefer the $150 come from somebody who can actually afford it.  Still, the joy of seeing this leg of the project finally coming together after all these years is certainly worth a lot more than $150 to me.

Q. But – but – won’t you starve?

A. I prefer the word “fast,” thank you.

Q. Are you not parsing words?

A. Not at all, sir.  When a starving artist decides to fast in order to produce a work of Art he believes in, it is no longer a matter of health.  It is a matter of Spirit.  For Art is a spiritual matter.  It is a matter of the Heart.

The Questioner is silent.

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Is Poverty a Choice?

I occasionally encounter the “poverty is a choice” mentality, but I can’t help but notice that those who say this often have never been poor and have no real idea what the details of poverty are like. There’s something a bit odious about a rich person trying to tell a person who has been poor and disadvantaged since birth that their poverty is a “choice.”

That said, I have chosen to remain poor at this time in my life, largely because I dislike the effects that having a lot of money has had on certain lifelong old friends of mine. I’ve watched them pursue money, property, and prestige — and I have not watched them become happy. Some of them are downright miserable.

I also dislike the effects that having had a lot of money has had on me. There have been times in my past when I had more money than I knew what to do with. I can sit here without money and dream about all the nice things I would do with a few thousand dollars, but the actual reality is that whenever I encounter money upwards of $5,000 or so, it has a tendency to vanish very rapidly. This leads to a lot of anxieties as to who my actual friends are on this planet. They sure do show up when I have money – whoever they are. I think I’ll remain poor, thank you.

As a poor person, I do not have to worry about who my real friends are. Nobody ever asks me for money, because I don’t have any. A rich person often wonders if somebody is actually his friend, or if they only want their money. I don’t have that worry. If somebody happens to like me, I know that it’s me they like – not my money.

wiser still though poorAs a poor person, I get to work on my inner spiritual issues around money without fear of spending a whole lot of it in the process. Nobody is advising me to go on an expensive retreat or pay for long-term psychotherapy, because both those options are financially out of the question. I find this refreshing, because an hour’s conversation with a caring friend usually works better than several sessions with a psychotherapist. Not to mention, the friend actually cares about me, whereas there’s a good chance the therapist mostly wants my money.  And of course, the friend probably won’t “charge” me anything more than the price of a cup of coffee.  

As a poor person, I actually enjoy running out of money on around the 10th of each month and challenging myself to live without money for the rest of the month. I have found that this is not at all an impossibility; and I believe that I have become a stronger person as a result of this challenge.

As a poor person, I have been able to sit down and write an entire musical — book, music & lyrics — about Homelessness in America. I wrote it from the heart, because I felt the themes I was putting into musical and dramatic form.  When I was a working composer, I wrote money for commission.  I felt forced to write songs, and the pressure of deadlines drastically reduced the authenticity of my work.   

My point? It has to do with integrity. As a poor person, I have developed integrity, and I am proud of the person I have become. When I had money, I had no integrity. I only had money.

When I say, for example. that I am looking for money to pay for singers, musicians, and studio costs to create a demo recording of a few songs from that musical, I mean what I say.  The money will not go into pocket, because I have trained myself to live on minimal means. This is a much happier choice than the earlier kind of choice I made, at a time when I had no inclination to detach myself from worldly concerns.  When I was well-off, my life was all about worldly stuff — passing stuff.  My life as a poor person is all about spiritual stuff — everlasting stuff. Does that make any sense to anyone?

If it does, I’m glad. At this point, I think it’s a lot more likely that 1,000 poor people will each kick down five bucks apiece for me to package this musical of mine, than it is that five rich people will each kick down a thousand bucks. When I talk to wealthy people about my ideas, I have to filter though all kinds of annoying perceptions that they think I’m some kind of a “con artist” or “scammer” or “hustler” trying to put one over on them somehow. When I talk with poor people about my ideas, they usually say: “Great idea, man! I hope that works out for you!” Which experience would you rather have? I think it’s a no-brainer, quite frankly.

Poverty in America is not, for most people, a choice. It is a condition. I myself have made the choice to remain poor, because I don’t care for the effects that money has had on myself and others. Therefore any money toward this project goes to my assistant Danielle — because I have a problem with money (obviously!) and she does not.

I will now cease these deliberations, lest I be construed for having a hidden agenda. My agenda is not hidden — it’s about as open as they come. Information on my project is on my home page, in case anyone’s interested in pursuing this theme a bit further.

I’m not a person who wants money or fame. Been there, done that, too old for all of that. I’m a person who wants to get an important message across about Classism in America. I placed my message in musical-dramatic form — because that’s where I’m strong.

Money is where I’m weak. So, while poverty may not be a choice in most parts of the world, it is my choice. Any other choice, in my 65 years of life experience, has led to disaster.

Thank you for hearing me out.

Note: this post was first submitted on the site Quora, which I am acknowledging in honor of their terms of service.  

 

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Tuesday Tuneup Eight

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. I really wish you would quit asking me that.

Q. Why did you summon me?

A. Because it’s Monday.

Q. Um – isn’t the Tuesday Tuneup supposed to take place on Tuesday?

A. Supposedly.  But with my track record, if I began writing on Tuesday, it probably wouldn’t happen till about Thursday, if at all.    And anyway, it will be Tuesday in about a half hour or so.

Q. Why are you up so late?

A. Sleeplessness.

Q. Why are you sleepless?

A. I don’t know.  Runs in the family.  My dad, my brother, we all have insomnia.

Q. But you don’t have insomnia every night, do you?

A. Not at all, sir.  On most nights, I sleep rather well.

Q. So why the sudden insomnia?

A. I don’t know.  Restless.  Stuff on my mind.

Q. Like what?

A. Wow – you sure do ask a lot of questions, don’t you?

Q. Isn’t that what I’m supposed to do?

A. Never mind.   What’s on my mind is, quite honestly, my own shortcomings.  My flaws, my faults, my mistakes.

Q. Is not to err human?

A. What?

Alexander_Pope_by_Michael_Dahl
Alexander Pope

Q. Is it not human to make mistakes?

A. I suppose so — at least according to the descendant of an ancestor of mine.  But I am not divine, and I just cannot forgive myself my mistakes.  There are too many of them.  They are too huge.   And try as I may, I never seem to make any progress toward correcting them.  

Q. Do they need to be corrected?

A. What do you mean, do they “need” to be corrected?   What kind of a question is that?  They’re mistakes!  If things are wrong, they must be made right.

Q. Why?

A. What do you mean, why?

Q. Why can’t you just let them be wrong?

A. You mean – not even try to correct the mistakes?

Q. That’s what I said, didn’t I?

A. Are you honestly trying to suggest that I make no effort to correct my mistakes?

Q. The mistakes are past, aren’t they?

A. They occurred in the past, yes.   I think the last one was about fifteen minutes ago, but it’s still past.

Q. Can you change the past?

A. No, I cannot.

Q. Then why are you trying to do so?

A. I don’t know, sir.  I honestly do not know.

The Questioner is silent.  

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Gratitude List 806

1. It amazes me how well Jan and I are getting along.   It’s as though my best friend has come back into my life, and vice-versa, she claims, according to her.  It’s uncanny, in a good way.  And it feels so right.

2. It was an incredibly warm family feeling for me when we all three were here together throughout the day yesterday after church, and Echo and I were both working on our music, in different rooms, and getting things done.

3. Not to mention I really like the rug, the dining room table, the clean bathroom and kitchen, and the decent wholesale organic coffee every morning.

4. Slept well and long last night for the third night in a row, not arising till 7:30 am.

5. Nice of Norman to bring by that flat panel.  Resolution and clarity while working on Finale is amazing.

6. Wiped clean Polaris and downloaded Finale on it, registered Finale on the new / old computer.   I can carry this one forth, considering the Asus needs to stay at home now.   Also, there is a printer now.

7. Just about done with the “Hunted” score, so all scores are done for the demo session, except for my need to rewrite six lines of Molly’s lyrics in keeping with her character and her relationship to Winston.

8. Echo so precious.

9. Weird that I wrote to Erika in the morning yesterday with those bizarre reservations toward Midnight Screams and related matters.  Anyway, everything is done as soon as I do the formatting and divvy the parts accordingly via email.  Then at least my colleagues will note my attempt at professionalism, even if the modern-day Internet-related standards for academic excellence never cease to intimidate me.
 
10. God is Love, and Love is God.

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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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Tuesday Tuneup Five

Q. Do you know who I am?

A. I have some pretty good ideas.  But I can’t say as I’ve figured it out completely, as of yet.

Q. So why have you summoned me?

A. Because it’s Tuesday.

Q. Um — isn’t it — Thursday?

A. Darn. Must have lost a couple days there. I know – it’s unlike me. I’ve just been very distracted of late.

Q. Distracted?   By what?

A. What do you think?   I’ve got my daughter coming up with her mother on Saturday, I’ve offered her Mom a place to stay here, my daughter’s going to get her own apartment and apply to the University here, I haven’t even seen my daughter since I left Berkeley almost two years ago, haven’t seen my ex in over fifteen years – that right there is enough to distract a guy.

Q. How did this family reunion, so to speak, come about so quickly?

A. I don’t remember.  I think it started when I began to want to help people to get out of the San Francisco Bay Area, especially if they were struggling or on the verge of homelessness, and basically nobody took me up on my offers until I made the right offer to the right person.

Q. Your ex?

A. Exactly.

Q. When was the last time you lived her with her?

A. If I counted right, I believe it was 29 years ago.

Q. Isn’t this a little bit unheard of?

A. It is indeed.  That’s what I like about it.  ;)

The Questioner is silent.

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