Thursday, September 11, 2014

Maybe we are complex magnets....

The oddest things can happen sometimes. It's interesting to imagine why.
Some years ago I was traveling alone returning from deep in the hills of western Kentucky. I wanted to get home so I was pushing into the night and began to feel sleepy. As I entered Ohio near midnight, I stopped at a roadside rest to take a walk and decide if I should keep moving or find a room. After a few minutes of pacing around, I heard a deep male voice call my name. I halted. Wondered if I was hallucinating, and I heard my name again. I looked to the sky. Then I looked around to see a friend from work standing 10 yards away.
He, too, was pushing and hoping to stay awake another 2 or 3 hours to get home from another direction. Our paths converged at just that moment and that place. After that, I had no trouble staying awake to drive home - all the while marveling that I would would chance meet a fellow worker with the same goal at the same moment, on the same path, yet coming from different places.
What does it mean? Is it purely coincidence - law of chance?
Some would say God intervened. Others might say our own energies just converged and acted like magnets. Others would say it was just chance - big odds - but statistics show....
We had no personal connection. And I would guess we have no great shared spiritual beliefs. We knew each other from work but didn't share any projects of significance. Neither of us knew the other was on the road. Shortly after that, he moved on to another job so I never had a chance to ask if our running into each other that night helped keep him awake and driving on as it did me. I'm guessing it did.
I tend to believe in some mystical force that plays a role in our existence. And I tend to think we are the larger players in that mystical force. If two people (or more) are seeking the same thing at the same time, I do believe they create a connective energy that is more than the individual alone can create. It's kind of like what happens when you have two magnets. A certain distance apart - nothing happens. The each have energy - positive and negative - but apart from one another, nothing is noticeable.  Bring those magnets close to one another and something noticeable happens - they repel each other or attract each other. I believe we are all connected somehow to all things in just that way. We either create an energy that pushes away or an energy that pulls together.
It's just a simple law - a simple truth.

Monday, September 8, 2014

My Musical Trail

Oddly, I don't think I've written here about making primitive instruments and how that came to be. A few years ago it captured my imagination and my interest is growing as are my skills. It's interesting to try to understand why it is such a passion.
It really has to start with my Dad. I grew up around tools and he wasn't afraid to teach me how to use them. He was building an addition onto the tiny house we lived in and I was riding my tricycle around the frames of the new room. It was fascinating to watch the rooms take shape and I wanted to hammer nails. Soon I had a little toy hammer with a peg bench that I'd hammer one direction, flip over and hammer the pegs back the other way. Quite likely, but I don't recall, at some point I took the real hammer and some nails and pounded them into something.
By the next decade and a major house project, I could swing a hammer well enough to work with him - side by side. I learned to make cement, lay block, trowel, use a power saw, do roofing.... Meanwhile, I watched him take discarded materials and create something. He made us an awesome little go cart with old lawn mower parts and re-purposed steel from wrecked cars. He built a truck camper. He took an old wooden boat - fiber glassed it - used re-purposed parts for a front split window that opened - and made it look like the new boats of the day.
A seed was planted - with a little imagine - it's possible to create something from what most people might call junk. Through the years I've tinkered and always have a variety of tools. Mostly working with wood has been most fun but I didn't develop the patience for fine woodworking. My tinkering never came to much. I made thousands of sticks for simple marionettes. And I believe there is a very large wood burned and jig sawed coat of arms I did that hangs still at the Venango PA Golf Course.
But a few years ago it seems to have all come together with primitive instruments and I expect to be dabbling with variations for the rest of my days. It's a culmination of three interests - making something from what others may discard, working with wood and musical instruments. As I dive into the history of primitive instruments - starting with cigar box instruments - it makes greater sense to me why I love it so.
As a very simple, very enthusiastic folk singer and guitar player with limited natural music ability - I want others to experience the joy of singing and playing something. On Holly's front porch, as a group of neighbors and friends gathered, I wanted to find those simple to play and learn instruments. Google popped up a list of cigar box guitars, single string canjos, and the imagination set my hands in motion. The journey began. With this journey, my understanding of music is growing as well.
Who knows where it will all go. All I know right now is that it makes me happy and seems to be spreading a bit of that around. How good is that!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Do you realize how connected you are to all that is and ever was?
We can see our lives in chapters - beginnings and endings.
Sometimes we see terrible events as terrible events. But somehow those events were connected to something else. Because that event happened, something else happened. We met someone. We did something. We went somewhere. Something happened because of that event.
There are beginnings and endings but those chapters are linked to the next beginning and ending. It is an endless chain that is interconnected. Try to imagine an image that represents it. It's kind of a chain but the chain is interwoven. It's kind of a quilt but the quilt is not exactly in blocks. How can you describe this?
The choices I make influence the person closest to me. We are all creating ripples in the waters of our time. We make a huge splash or a little splash.  We create a tornado or cloud. We create. We do something. Everyone around us is somehow affected by it.
Ok-what is the determining factor? We are all connected. What affects us? What is the effect? Truth is - we get to decide!
You can decide.
You can decide!
Do you want to end the world's suffering?
You can.
You Can.
End your suffering.
End it.
Be done with it.
You are connected to all that is an ever was.
You are a link to an never ending chain.
Stop it!
You can.
You Can.
I will inflict no pain.
I will expect nothing from someone else that I cannot do myself.
I will be thankful for this moment I am given.
Just be the person you are,
Give the gift of you.
Love those who are around you.
Be connected. There is evidence that you are only 6 steps away from any single person in all the world. That means you - YOU - are connecting in a very personal way to billions of people. YES - you matter. Your "small"voice resonates, your voice carries. You are a ripple in the pond. The pond is likely much larger than you realize.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

In the depths of despair...

Total despair, hopelessness and the deep belief that there is no end to the misery are not foreign feelings to me. There can be a moment in time when there seems to be no better day ahead. I have been there. I have been there more than once.
Some may say it's selfish to think of ending your own life but in that moment it truly feels as if it will matter to no one. The pain feels so great and the troubles so large that talking about it to anyone - reaching out to anyone - will only be a burden to them. Why burden anyone else? I recall thinking that it was my problem - my decisions - my consequences -  and no one else could offer a solution if I couldn't find a solution myself. My fight was over and I was ok with that. There was no where to go. I just wanted this life to be over. I wanted peace.
As I wrestled in the turmoil of it, I typed something in a Google search. I can't remember what I typed but I landed on some page on a website in the UK or so it seems in my memory. I could never find it again. Basically, it said - "Ok, so you have decided to take your own life. Please read on before you do. We are not going to talk you out of it. We just want you to consider...."
Then I recall reading pages and pages of things to consider. In the pages that followed were many practical things but also often a reminder that, "if you wait a day or so, you can still...but please read on...."
Of course, I waited a day or so. I discovered that inner strength to move to  better days. But in that moment, it could have ended. It wasn't about selfishness or selflessness. It was about being done. I was done with life as it was and believed that there would be no end until it was ended.
It was about cycles and circles that seem to repeat and have no hope of changing. But somewhere on that remote website far away, something suggested that maybe, JUST MAYBE, I could change that cycle. If I took a day to think about it, maybe an answer would reveal itself. And in the days that followed, hope and answers followed as well. Now years have passed. And I treasure these years as the best of all. That night years ago, I could not have imagined these days. How could I imagine? And I now see these days in a different light. They may have never happened - if not for an odd website on a fateful night - just one more day....
Give it another day. Believe that you can find a way. Today is not an end, if you make it a beginning.

Friday, August 22, 2014

ID Laws

Here is how the new ID laws in Florida play out. It's supposedly intended to protect us from terrorists and the non-existent fraudulent voter problem. But the reality is that it creates a lot of unnecessary stress and costs people money.
Below is a description of the ID requirement for renewal of a driver license.
So, a 79 year old woman from Pennsylvania goes to the Florida DMV to renew the license she has had in Florida for a decade. She has her birth certificate, her social security card and her expiring license.
Issue #1 - her birth certificate bears her maiden name. She needs a marriage certificate to explain the name change. But she has been married twice. Now she has to prove two name changes. She must provide both marriage certificates and a divorce or death certificate to explain the end of the first marriage. She has to call a registrar office in one county and a registrar office in another county along with a call to the prothonitary office. Each document costs $10. Cannot be faxed or emailed because they must bear the county seal.
Issue #2 - Her birth certificate is from the hospital and does not have a stamp. Another call. Another $10.
Already the renewal fee is rather high at $48 but turned into $88 to protect us from the potential 79 year old female terrorist or voter impersonator.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What Color is Your Spirit?

Somehow spirit, spiritual and religion have gotten all jumble up and twisted into knots. Sometimes religion and spirit or spiritual seem to be at opposing ends of the spectrum.
Generally when we talk about someone "getting in the spirit" it's about connection, joy, unity and enthusiasm. We have team spirit when we cheer for our side. We get in the spirit of holiday gatherings when we happily celebrate together. Being "in the spirit" is an uplifting experience and a shared experience.
Shouldn't our spiritual experience be about connection, joy, unity and much greater than enthusiasm - pure awe? Is it not about our deepest spirit? Shouldn't our spiritual journey be about creating a healthy space within that is able to connect to all that is - including the all encompassing spirit that surrounds us all?

We all have a particular spirit about us. It's what people feel when they are near us. If you have ever spent time around native people of North America, you may notice that they seem to stare - perhaps not directly but a long stare in your direction - especially if they do not know you. They are looking for your spirit - tuning into to the deeper you.
It's said of some that they light up a room when they walk in. Others have a commanding presence. Some can bring calm into any situation. It's their spirit. They tap into an inner strength that emanates out into the room. Meanwhile, others are like wall flowers remaining nearly invisible.
What color would you associate with each of these examples of spirit?
What color is your spirit?
When a person is said to "light up a room" are they yellow or white? Is the commanding person more orange or even red? Is the calm person more blue? Is the wall flower simply a very dim color we cannot see? What color is a mean spirited person? What color is God? What color is religion? Is all religion the same color?
Imagine the spiritual color of those at work, in your family, in your community. Are they bright as the sun or dimly shaded? What color is your spirit?
A spiritual truth will shine bright and clear for all and it will bring brightness to all. Some religions don't teach that but rather encourage separation and a belief that light can be split so one person has light and the next has darkness. That is just darkness and damages the spirit of those believing it as much as those they believe it impacts those who must endure darkness. Doesn't the sun shine the same for us all? When we practice that kind of thinking, we feel it in our spirit as a burden. We display it in what we do and say. Those things we do and say shed darkness.
What color are the words you say? What color are the beliefs you hold? Are they bright for you and dark for someone else?
What color is your spirit? What color are the words, beliefs and actions you feed your spirit? What color is God?

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Very Good Place..A Very Good Time

Days pass so quickly. It seems we are always wishing for a day to never end or wishing for a day to come. In a blink, the day we are in is gone.
More often than not lately I've been thinking about how fondly I will remember these days. It won't be the things or events as much as the sharing of those things and events - the people in these moments of time. It's about sharing thoughts, dreams, and joys. The dreams and joys will grow larger and whatever concerns we face will grow smaller.
At the end of each day, as I close my eyes to sleep, I count the moments that mattered in the day. Sometimes it's a funny comment or kind gesture from someone. Sometimes it's the faces of the people I treasure. It may be a milestone or an accomplishment big or small.
Quite often I am reminded of the words of a friend when we were in a far away place with customs quite foreign. "We could have been born here," he said. I could have been born anywhere. How different life could have been. So many things could have been different. But I am here and here has turned out to be a very good place to be at a very good time to be right here.