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Nothing New Comes From Normal

I’m not crazy about being uncomfortable. But my doctor told me that, if I don’t exercise to the point of being rather uncomfortable, I get weaker and risk a shorter lifespan. Some level of discomfort is needed to build up muscle, especially as we get older (and the natural discomfort of physiological development is not really a thing).

If I’m not intellectually or socially uncomfortable, I’m barricading out different ideas. Maybe I’m not dealing with the reality that there are folks who don’t see things as I do, and that their perception does affect my life and I will need to decide how to respond. Maybe I become dismissive of all their opinions, and avoid ideas that I should actually think about in order to have a more complete understanding of given situations myself.

In the early days of social media, there was a great hope that it would be a place where people with different perspectives would actually have discussions with each other, and that it would be the starting point of a new and invigorating democratic discourse.

Since then, we’ve discovered that we have a tendency to gravitate toward people who already agree with us, and that the tightest and most rigid clusters of people are those who tend to feel most insecure and most judgmental, usually at the same time.

So sometimes I may have to disrupt my routine or consider what it might be like to live in and with different circumstances. Because if I don’t, I learn less, my relationships become increasingly vulnerable as my understanding of reality becomes increasingly inflexible and deluded, and I fade away into a weak sort of fantasy life rather than a robust engagement with life in all its dimensions.

The word ‘spiritual’ has become something of a euphemism for impractical, deluded, and disconnected. It should be about a wholeness of perspective and an internal capacity to deal with reality with an empathetic outlook and a clear sense of personal identity at the same time, established in a confidence in authentic love and a belief in freedom. If we build walls to keep others out, the ultimate result is a kind of rot that diminishes our own capacities to be fully human.

Here are the lyrics to my song “Nothing New Comes From Normal” (not yet released).

Every day
starts the same way.
Become something of a ritual.
Take a hot drink to a screen,
check news and messages for me,
and on and on as usual.

Our routines provide us with a feeling of security.
They define our normal.
But does the comfort that we feel
make our experience unreal?

Nothing new comes from normal.
Things get strange before they change.
Nothing new comes from normal.
There’s a discomfort that’s essential.

I don’t hear the voice that calls
when I have my headphones on.
Is my soul soothed or controlled
by the siren of the song?

Almost everything is good in its own time.
But am I mesmerized by chime
of pentameter and rhyme?

Nothing new comes from normal.
Things get strange before they change.
Nothing new comes from normal.
There’s a discomfort that’s essential.
Nothing new comes from normal.
Nothing new comes from normal.

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No Place To Go But Rising

My music and song writing stayed on the back burner for many years.

‘No Place To Go But Rising’ is about beginning to work on my music more seriously after a long period of neglecting that aspect of who I am. It’s about trying to be authentic, while recognizing my family responsibilities and financial obligations.

Just making money isn’t enough to nurture a person’s spirit. Making a living, on its own, isn’t enough to give meaning to life. For me, life is about nurturing significant relationships and about authentically living out who you are while in the process of contributing to community.

It’s okay to feel like you’re beginning something fresh and from out of nowhere. Like the song says, “…(at) least I(‘ve) got my direction”.

Ironically, when I did this one in the studio, I didn’t really have any ‘direction’ for the ending. So I kind of just went with what I felt, and in the end I’m pretty pleased with the energy that emerged.

Here are the lyrics.

No Place To Go But Rising

No place to go but rising
Least I got my direction
From here any more surprising
Come from dregs of perspiration

Need to figure out what’s to get ’em
To part with they money
Right now my upper crust
Is a long way from milk and honey

Make my way with dignity
Nobody buying desperation
Maybe someone gonna sing with me
Maybe get my compensation

Gotta do what I was made for
Even getting what I need
Gotta have some joy here
Though there’s someone here to feed

Nowhere to go but up
Up is where I’m looking
And right now I’m getting up
For going up

Up for going up
Up for going up
Up for going up

Up for going up
Up for going up
Up for going up

No place to go but rising
No place to go but rising
No place to go but rising
No place to go but up

No place to go but rising
Least I got my direction
From here any more surprising
Come from dregs of perspiration

Nowhere to go
nowhere to go
nowhere to go but up

Nowhere to go
nowhere to go
nowhere to go but up

Up for going up
Up for going up
Up for going up

Up for going up
Up for going up
Up for going up

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Finding The Pieces; Being Supportive of Family

Cost of living increases have outstripped the rise in the average wage in the last couple of decades, in my city as well as in many others. This trend of rising costs in the context of lower average income makes it more difficult for young people to get established. Also, getting into college or university is more challenging than it was when I was a kid, as more students compete for fewer spaces.

An appropriate response to these challenges, where possible, is to offer young adult children more support in getting started, if they need it. It should usually be possible… our average family size is smaller, and our average house size is bigger. However, I’ve come across a couple of situations where parents have chosen to kick their kids out of the house as soon as legally possible – even on their child’s birthday. Possibly some parents stubbornly hold to the belief that kids should be forced to move out and make it on their own early, as a kind of ‘sink or swim’ challenge. I don’t share that belief.

To whatever extent possible, without infringing on the independence of our offspring, we hope to appropriately support our children as older teens and young adults – to nurture their independence, but not to create unnecessary additional obstacles to their success. Life is tough enough already.

Our kids have already shown their resourcefulness, even in the toy building block structures and creative digital designs they’ve made. Once in a while they are open to help or suggestions, and with just a bit of a nudge here or there they are good to go on their own.

My song ‘Finding the Pieces’ is about continuing to be there for the next generation, supporting them in their goals and as persons.

Finding the Pieces

Your interlocking building blocks
would be spread out on the floor.
You were making another masterpiece
you’d work at for an hour.

Some small but essential pieces
seemed impossible to find.
You’d call for us to help you,
and in a way I didn’t mind…

Finding the pieces,
searching most unlikely places…
spending time down on our knees, hoping to find them,
knowing you would be so pleased….

And sometimes once of your brothers,
with a keen and practiced eye,
would see one camouflaged in carpet
and would kindly bring it by.

Or sometimes it was your mother,
on a break, taking the time…
or we would find another way
to make the build sublime…

Finding the pieces,
searching most unlikely places…
spending time down on our knees, hoping to find them,
knowing you would be so pleased….

Now you have gotten bigger,
and your projects bigger too…
You work so hard on all the problems
life presents to you.

Some small but essential pieces
may seem difficult to find.
You can call on us to help you,
‘cuz you know we wouldn’t mind…

Finding the pieces,
searching most unlikely places…
spending time down on our knees, hoping to find them,
knowing you would be so pleased….

Finding the pieces,
searching most unlikely places…
spending time down on our knees, hoping to find them,
knowing you would be so pleased….

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Disencumber; a time to let go

“I should have….” There’s such a weight attached to words like that, when you let them sit in your mind.

How much of our busy-ness is what we create to distract us from having time to think of the negative thoughts, doubts, guilt, or regret we may carry with us? But if that’s the case, then a life-disruption – like a significant injury or illness, or loss of steady employment, can lead to a devastating term of confronting all the negative issues that we’ve tried to avoid by scheduling our time full. At least, that can be a danger for me.

There comes a time to give ourselves at least the same grace, the same opportunity to rest and/or move forward, as we are prepared to offer others. There is no burden so great as one that people of conscience place on themselves.

If there’s something that a person has done wrong, then – if the person learns from it – that’s experience. You can castigate yourself for an error, but if it’s an error you could then avoid on another occasion – that might put you ahead of a new person without that experience. Anyone can make a mistake. Everyone can grow. So we need to give ourselves permission to let go of past errors and let ourselves continue to grow and thrive through whatever changes are ahead.

Here are the lyrics to my song ‘Disencumber’.

Disencumber

No one can judge me more harshly
than I already judge myself.
The bar of my own expectation is higher
than anything others expect.

I need to leave that big box of deficiency
right up there on that high shelf.
The daily rocks that I add to my pack
accumulate so I’ll get wrecked.

There’s a time
to disencumber…
a time to embrace some peace.
We gather up messages of “not good enough…” –
we need some news of release.

There’s a time
to disencumber,
to put aside how we self-reject.
Don’t look for bad news
you can do nothing about,
and find some good tunes to select.

I’m not saying to walk around blindly,
but it don’t help to stare at the light
in the interrogation room inside your mind
because it won’t leave you feeling so bright.

There’s a time to disencumber,
a time to walk around free,
among people who maybe I know nothing about
but at least they also don’t know me.

Disencumber – we are human,
equally valuable, all of us flawed.

Disencumber – it’s okay.
None of us can claim to be God.

There’s a time to disencumber…
time to embrace some peace.
We gather up messages of “not good enough…” –
we need some news of release.

We need some news of release.

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Early Morning Silence

The best part of 6 a.m. is that, except for the dog, I generally have the house to myself.

I’m not a naturally linear thinker. My mind tends to go all over the place, and I’m wired for sound. Any possible auditory distraction has the potential to send me off track. It’s part of why I like music – it combines sounds into purposeful direction, and often in community. But being easily distractible and non-linear, it’s tough for me to get organized to successfully accomplish what needs to be done in a day.

So I’ve come to love those early mornings when everyone else is asleep. I can look over my tasks, assemble a list, and also just drink my coffee and watch the sun rise (depending on the time of year, of course). Nurturing positive thoughts and generally getting into a productive mindset for the day is part of it too.

When I wrote the song Early Morning Silence, I wanted to express all of that, because if such a time is precious to me I thought there must be others somewhere in the world who might be able to relate. Just expressing the ideas in words, though, seemed wrong. I didn’t want the song itself to function as an intrusion on someone’s thinking time because of an excessive and unnecessary repetition of lyrics.

So even though whistling is a really unusual accompaniment to songs in our time, I decided that whistling the melody to accompany the chords the second time through would function as a non-verbal portion of time that represents a kind of purposeful wordless background that a person could just think their own thoughts to.

Speaking of lyrics, here they are;

Early Morning Silence

Wishing I could gather
this early morning silence –
save it for sometime later
in the day –

When everything around me
is full of sound and fury, need
a space in my mind
to make noise go away.

And I would just remember
all the time we’ve spent together
so even in the moments you’re not near…
all the love and warmth of those thoughts would close around me
like a blanket guards from coldness and fear.

As the sun rises
and the world begins to wake,
my soul energizes –
I will do what it takes.

But as I take my place,
I’ll bring along a little space
that the early morning silence gave.

But as I take my place,
I’ll bring along a little space
that the early morning silence gave.

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Meet Again (My Old Friend)

Reconnecting with old friends over social media is exciting. And kind of nerve-wracking.

Because we all change over time. We encounter various challenges that confront and perhaps alter our assumptions about what life is and how to live it. Perhaps we understand each other more… and perhaps we move apart.

Still, for me, I feel a need to integrate my past with my present and my future hopes. So I reach out to people I once knew, try to establish conversation with them again.

It’s about remembering good times, or about being grateful for important influences in my life, or about making amends – or any combination of those, and more. Sometimes that results in a real world meeting.

When I was a kid, it seemed like many friendships came about by chance or by parental influence, or around common connections like school. It’s not like kids get to choose a lot about their lives. So reconnecting with childhood friends, particularly, carried a certain level of nervous anticipation for me.

Once I got together with those friends, though, it became apparent that it wasn’t just chance that drew us together in the first place. Although shared experiences definitely help to forge relationship, maybe kids could have a better handle on the intangibles of friendship than adults do. Kid have fewer preconceived notions of what a good friendship should look like, so maybe they can be better at recognizing -on an intuitive level- when it’s happening.

Even though I don’t always occupy the same space on the political spectrum as all my longtime friends, and other aspects of our lives and notions don’t align, I’ve found that renewing those acquaintances has flowed into more natural interactions than I had hoped for. And that has been great.

Here are the lyrics for my song Meet Again (My Old Friend)

There’ll be a little bit of ‘Hallelujah’,
And a whole lotta ‘Remember when…?’
But will we wonder, ‘What’s it to ya?’
When we meet again, my old friend?

Will we feel the need for some ‘I’m Sorry’s,
Or has the river washed ’em ’round the bend?
Is there precious mettle still in those quarries,
When we met together my old friend?

And I know… there’ll be holding on, and letting go.
There’ll be letting things run with the flow.
And a bit of ‘You old so and so…’
– Then listening about the things we didn’t know.

And so… as we’ve traveled these years apart,
There have been moments that have brought you to mind.
And those memories we made long ago
Have become a kind of guide.

I think that is what tugged my heart
And made me really want to find
The person that I used to know.
I feel no need to hide.
I feel no need to hide.

So I’m glad that we have reconnected.
And I think that we’ll find in the end –
Once everything has been dissected –
It’s been good to see you, my old friend.
It’s been good to see you, my old friend.

There’s been a little bit of hallelujah
And a whole lotta “Remember when…?”
So I’m glad that we have reconnected.
It’s been good to see you my old friend –
It’s been good to see you my old friend.

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