Saturday, September 20, 2014

Connection fabric

Have you ever considered the intricate connections that are interwoven throughout the events of your life? In every moment, at every turn, whether we are aware of it or not, one thing leads to another and another and another. Nothing is independent or isolated. Nothing.
Pick one event in your life and try to eliminate it without impacting all the things connected to it. You cannot. When I look back, even at the most trying events, I can see connections that I would not like to loose. I learned something I needed to learn. I met someone I needed to meet. Those events launched something greater that I would not choose to give up.
Some say "everything happens for a reason". That statement has always troubled me because it implies that some greater force is orchestrating the events of our life in ways beyond our control. For many the idea that a wiser benevolent force is guiding all these things is comforting. I'm troubled to understand our personal responsibility in this context.
It seems to me that we are a great deal more responsible for the reason everything happens and for discovering the reason beyond the happening. We are the weavers of the fabric of our lives and we must learn that every strand has significance.
Is there a greater force? Yes. It's the connection. The strands of my life are not separate from yours. A thread has little strength and can easily be broken. Woven together - they have great strength. The more we understand that concept, the greater our strength. We can imagine this as strands of events in our life - interwoven with strands of events in other lives - interwoven in strands of events of the past and the future.
If I could talk to my younger self in times of trouble or in times of great decision - I would stress this. Everything that happens right now is tied to both yesterday and tomorrow. Choose connection. Choose to see the potential for strength and growth. Be connected now.

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.