Monday Morning Wake-Up Call

True story: One summer, years ago, I went tubing…The sun was blazing, and the water was cool. It was a perfect day to close your eyes and let the current carry you. I was enjoying myself, until we rounded the final bend and saw the parking lot. I leaned back to get my arms in the water and I started to kick and paddle. In a froth of churning water, I passed my mom, my sister, my boyfriend and my brothers, and as I reached the dock, I shouted out, “I won!”

That’s me. All my life, I’ve made lists and set deadlines, never content, or even able, to just glide.

That kind of drive has served me well when aimed at challenges within my control, like writing a novel…I never stopped hoping that if I worked hard enough, wanted it badly enough, I’d finally get the acclaim that I craved…

That did not happen. And my brain, which had propelled me toward so many successes, could not push me past disappointment. Instead of focusing on everything that had gone right, including how lucky I was to make a living as a writer, it got stuck on what had gone wrong. Let’s think about it! my brain suggested, like a Roomba endlessly butting itself into a corner. Let’s think about it a lot. Especially at 3 in the morning. Let’s go over every single choice. Let’s dwell.

I tried yoga. I attempted meditation. Nothing helped. Instead, each spiritual setting and inner-growth-focused class presented new opportunities to compete: I held that pose for longer than anyone in the class. I’m way more Zen than she is. Finally, I remembered reading about how learning something new — creating new neural pathways — was a way to send your thoughts in different directions.

And so, after a 35-year hiatus, I started taking piano lessons again.

I had been an indifferent piano student as a kid…By high school, I had bumped up against the limits of my natural abilities. So I quit. I turned my attention toward activities at which I could excel…


Photo: videvo

That blank page…just laying there. Daring you to write on it.

Highly (Highly) recommended. (On Netflix now)

An excerpt:

She had these ethnic features, coal-black hair, Italian olive skin, and when she was young, she wore that red lipstick that was very fashionable in the 50’s. And she’d be looking down at me with a look that, for me, was like the grace of Mary, you know? Made me understand for the first time, how good it feels to feel pride in somebody that you love, and who loves you back. She let that town know that we are handsome, responsible members of this shit-dog burgh, pulling our own individual weight doing what has to be done day after day. We have a place here that we have earned. And we have a reason to open our eyes at the break of each day and breathe in a life that’s steady and good. Now, my mom was truthfulness, consistency, good humor, professionalism, grace, kindness, optimism, civility, fairness, pride in yourself, responsibility, love, faith in your family, commitment, joy in your work, and a never-say-die thirst for living, for living and for life.

~ Bruce Springsteen, describing his Mother

and another…

Your life laying before you like a blank page. It’s the one thing I miss about getting older, I miss that beauty of that blank page. So much life in front of you. Its promise, its possibilities, its mysteries, its adventures. 

That blank page…just laying there.

Daring you to write on it.

~ Bruce Springsteen, 69

Share Your Gifts


New Apple holiday film tells a story of a girl who is bursting with ideas but is afraid to share them.  Music: Billie Eilish with come out and play

Saturday Morning

Here I am alone with silence.

I have discovered that it is enough when a single note is beautifully played.

This one note, or a silent beat, or a moment of silence, comforts me.

~ Arvo Pärt, in Arvo Pärt by Paul Hillier


 


Notes: Quote Source – Your Eyes Blaze Out; Portrait of Avro Part by K. Kikkas

How wonderful life is while you’re in the world

John Lewis’ 2018 Christmas advertisement tells the story of Elton John being gifted a piano as a young boy. The story begins in present day and works backwards chronologically through Elton’s life and musical career, leading to the moment he received the special present of his grandmother’s piano that changed the course of his life. (Source: The Telegraph, November 15, 2018)


Thank you Lorne

“The most beautiful music I’ve heard….”

Bob Boilen — “It’s as if the pianos were haunted. Somewhere about midway through this Tiny Desk, as Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds performed on his electronic keyboard, two upright pianos were playing lilting melodies behind him, absent any performer at the keys. And yet these “ghosts,” along with Ólafur’s band of strings and percussion, put together some of the most beautiful music I’ve heard at the Tiny Desk, made all the more mysterious through its presentation…”

I’m Not Going Anywhere

I tripped into David Ramirez and this tune on Billions, Year 3, Episode 6 – “The Third Ortolan”. He’s an American singer-songwriter from Houston, TX, currently based in Austin.

“The best damn songwriter you don’t know yet”. – Paste Magazine

“Soulful, stirring, heartbreaking. David makes you hang on the turn of every phrase”. – The Civil Wars

“He knows no luxury. He wants no satisfaction. All he needs is an acoustic guitar and the words in his mouth to tell the true stories of a wandering man. But to see him live, with only that acoustic guitar in hand, spitting those words into rings of fire, is to experience something real…something that cannot be reproduced.” – Rudyard’s British Pub


Notes: Find David Ramirez’s Album “We Not Going Anywhere” on itunes and Amazon. Find his website here: davidramirezmusic.com.

Sunday Morning

 

From the stillness around you a high glassy sound descends, like first light. Each new sound seems to breathe — emerging from and receding back into the stillness — and the glint of bells, like desert plants, here and there. Almost imperceptibly the music swells and continues falling in pitch. From somewhere above — like a gleam of metal, like sunlight emerging from behind a ridgeline — comes the sound of flutes. You are in a strange landscape. You don’t know how to read the weather or the light. You are unsure how long you will be here, or how challenging the journey may be. “This is beautiful,” you think. “But will anything ever happen?”

You resist. Yet the sound draws you in. You resolve to suspend your impatience, to listen as carefully as you can, as if watching a sunrise. You notice your breathing becoming slower. Falling, still falling…The music continues floating upward, growing more and more distant, until at last it dissolves into a deep and resonant stillness.

~ John Luther Adams, from “What It’s Like to Hear the Desert in Music” in   The New York Times, March 23, 2018)


Photo: saoud with Desert

I’m sure I’m going to pay in the next life.

Richards thinks about how it all started, when he was just a kid dreaming of getting out of his London suburb. “I had no idea I was a songwriter,” he says. “I wasn’t sitting down and trying to be Gershwin. I can’t read a note of music. It’s all in the ears and from the heart—that’s all it is. I can’t believe I pulled it off, really.

“I’ve been so lucky, I don’t believe it,” he continues. “I’m sure I’m going to pay in the next life. Hell is really going to be hell for me. I don’t know why I’ve been given all this. You couldn’t dream it up, man, you couldn’t write it.”

And soon, back to work. More shows to play, more songs to chase. The Rolling Stones must go on, for the generation that grew up with them and the generations that don’t know a world without them.

“Now, there’s the air that you breathe, there’s the water you drink, and there’s the f—ing Rolling Stones,” says Richards. “We’ve been here forever—that’s the weirdest thing, ‘Oh, they’ve always been there.’ Wait till they’re gone, pal.”

~ Alan Light, from The Wisdom of Keith Richards (wsj.com, February 28, 2018)

Nuit Blanche


Thank you Nan Heldenbrand Morrissette for sharing “Nuit Blanche” (Sleepless night) by the Tarkovsky Quartet.

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