2-1-13 The Name Of The Rose

spacerpink rosered rose

"All the World's A Stage"

dulcimer set up with people walki down the streetThe people just flow by like water. Scene after scene, the beautiful people, old and young, like characters in a play that I have been in for a very long time. I know my part, and play it well, and I know the other characters well, too, no matter who is playing the part. "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players…" Though I would disagree with the "merely". I tell people, "since we're all players, might as well be a character!"

Everyone tells stories, everyone has a story.

Sometimes the people have the same story, one I hear from many people. I experience the consciousness of the people, a crowd-sourced flow of information and anectdote. People have similiar experiences, and sometimes have the same response, sometimes have different conslusions. I hear the modern myths and fables, the stories going around, the latest truths, and lies, the latest jokes, and the latest news. I know both the wisdom of the crowd and it's folly.

Sometimes there are people with great, unique stories, who have lived different lives, or done unique things, as many people do. Though often people travel down the given way, the highways of life, each is still on their own road, their own path, their individual and unique experience and perspective. Sometimes they left the staus quo for a time and stepped out into a different path for a while. Sometimes life itself swept them up and took them on a ride. Sometimes there is a single experience that changed their life, is their story to tell.

walking down the street pulling my accoustic dulcimer on a luggage cart, with my white wolf-dog on a lead and her puppies walking along all around ussnow-coverd dulcimer at night with many colered city lights reflecting off wet brick sidewalk I have lived a life very different from most, and have a lot of stories to tell, but there are many with great stories, more significant or adventurous than mine, certainly. I am still just a simple folksinger. I didn't seek adventure, or try to do great things, did not seek fame or fortune, though perhaps I have tried to do a simple thing greatly.

But we still live in the same world, and go through a lot of the same experiences in it. We are all human, have the same emotions. For me, part of art, and especially of the songs I sing, is about transcending the experiences that seperate us and finding that common ground. Great art, and a great song, is a window into other's lives, to see them as people "like unto ourselves", human, in all it's diversity, it's flaws, failures, and greatness, allowing us to bear witness, and learn compassion, and understanding, by seeing through other's eyes, walk their road, stand in their shoes, and step out of our lives, and ourselves, for a moment. "A good song is like a pretty picture, a great song, like any great art, is like a mirror." Great art is a mirror, where we see ourselves, our lives, reflected and know that we, too, are human, and that others have shared our feelings, even our experiences. We know that we are not alone, but while unique and individual, also part of a common humanity. While we are seperate, we are also one, all the fruit of a single tree.

"The Name of the Rose"

a bunch of strange-shaped pink roses in a small vaseSome scenes are harder than others, though I have made a peace with them, more or less, since I know the scene so well, the character I play I with, and my part. It is an old story I have told many times, I think, over the years, written many songs. The story of meeting the haunting girl, once again. This time, as it usually is, it is the scene with a beautiful, sensitive young artist, who stops, and stays, and we talk for much longer than I should, till it is time for her to exit, stage right.

It is always a balance, there on the street, I am there to meet people, and talk to them, to be there for them. But I am there for the People, and have to balance when it is important to focus on one person, and when I am being distracted by the conversation, or distracted by anything. It is often a subtle struggle to get down to what I am there to do, a subtle resistance in myself, an inhibition, even after so many years. It makes me postpone setting up, by searching endlessly for a place to play, or just staring out at the river, trying to feel unhurried, or getting a cup of coffee I don't need. I spend time tuning, trying to get the dulcimer sounding great, when it is long past being good enough. Though there are times that it is a struggle to get it good enough, and it takes a long time, and patience to keep at it. It won't work, even if it is not obvious, it it doesn't ring.

the dulcimer set up with a couple walking away togetherAnd she calls to me, to my lonely heart and spirit, the solitary gypsy folksinger, as I play for her, a beautiful scene. Though I know it is not real, just another scene in the play of the street. Or maybe that is the story of the play, that she will go away, as they always do, and I’ll go on alone, maybe I’ll write another song.

I always understand that it really has little to do with her personally, just the character she is playing in my life, and one must never confuse the actor with the part they play. I am not a fool to think a play is real, though I also know I have to accept that it could always be, I certainly do not know, and that is part of the scene as well, the hope that springs eternal. But I lost any expectation that a woman would really be there for me long ago, after the play is done, and I pack up and go. Expectation is a requirement for disappointment, which is always depressing, and in this case, easily avoided. Hope springs eternal, but when something never happens, eventually, one stops believing it will happen, rationally enough. I don't have a problem accepting reality. It is easier to accept the reality of my life of loneliness, and focus on doing what I am here to do, what I do have, which is great, and you can't have everything. Though I have to accept hope, because it springs eternal, so I can't succeed in giving up hope, so I don't try. I just don't let it lead me into believing there is something real when there isn't. I let it lead me into what is real, the dream, which is a great dream. I can enjoy it, let it lift me, a positive force, a good dream, turn it into great music, and a beautiful scene that makes me smile. Though I know it is a dream, a beautiful dream, and there lies sanity, and safety. So I play the scene, live the dream, of this beautiful sensitive, artistic woman, appearing somewhere as I play, and stopping to talk, and listen to me play for her, till it is time for her to go. It is a good scene, though there is a sweet sadness in it, I am at peace, content, glad to see her smile, and have that sweet warm light shine on me once again.

large multi-flora rose, yellow, pink, white, with touches of red
I can look back and see the many faces of the rose. How sometimes she is one of the few who are an intense and deep experience, every few years, the shock when we first meet. Sometimes it is just a passing glance, or a few moments of conversation, the normal simple, sincere, uncomplicated and not serious flirtation that is natural to humans, a little spark. Sometimes it is a kindred spirit, feeling the good connection, stopping to share a little time with a new friend, when we've just met, and probably won't meet again, but we can pass a little time in pleasant conversation, as I show them the dulci and what I can do with it, then we go on, each on our own road. I understand from the beginning that it is how the scene goes, so I enjoy it for what it is, in all it's beauty, joy, sadness, warmth and pleasure. It is simply the old story where people love the music, but not me, personally, though they like me, beneath the character I am playing, and that is great. the truth is, the rose doesn't know me, just as I do not know her. I believe there is a deep emotional, spiritual recognition, love, that ignors such things as personality, and it can sometimes transcend personal differences, different lives, and sometimes it can't. red rose with electric red-pink centerVery occasionally, when it is one of those few who ring deep, so I have to take the risk, the pain, in case she finally is the one, and I live the dream for a while, let myself get lost in it, though it causes me some pain, it is good to love, even if it is a dream. I write the best songs from those experiences. But I don't take it seriously, don't take myself seriously. It is a basic principle for me be serious about life and everything in it, but not to take it seriously, or take myself seriously. Yet I know I have to give it a chance, give her a chance, even if I have no expectations, from long experience. And now I am old, far past the time when it would seem likely or useful in my life. I know that I can't assume I know anything. I wrote a great song about these things, "You Watching Me Watching You", after I left one dream behind. I've written a lot of songs about this dance, as many people have, a way of expressing those emotions, the reaction to latest experience of that old dream. It is a good dream for me is when I get a good song from the experience. I realize that I have more freedom because I never do believe, have no expectation, except that I will keep on the road I am on, alone. In fact, if a woman ever did come into my life she would first experience my natural disbelief. Though I wouldn't resist, though I know she might be dreaming as well. Then we could both get lost in that beautiful dream, and perhaps stay there the rest of our lives. I have always been and will always be a romantic. It has it's costs and it has it's rewards, life is hard and painful, but the sunsets are beautiful, and the music, yes, the music. It is magic.

opening bud rose with pink bud and yellow outer petals streaked with redAnd of course, so was the rose, as sweet by any other name, and so she was. She stopped, and stayed, smiled, and laughed, and talked to me, then she went away, like a brief beam of sunshine on a cloudy day, shining on me. She would haunt me, once again. "She'll always be beautiful to me, even as the years wear down and dim the memories…," a small price to pay, and I am able to smile at the memory of the scene, enjoy it, and the sadness as well, because life is sad, and that is often just what I sing about. "What I do, as a singer, it to take something painful and hard to hold into something beautuful so that it can be carried more easily, that I take something sad and make it sweet, something painful and make it beautiful." Bittersweet perhaps, but that is better than bitterness alone, and so life goes on, like a song, sad and sweet, the thorn and the rose.

pink-white rose just opening
"I often wonder if the reason I never met the right woman long ago, and have lived this lonely life, is so I could write all these great songs, that I wouldn't have if I had been a happily married man."

Perhaps I could, or should, hold the rose, grasp it despite the thorns, if I chose to extend my hand, to act, rather than let her walk away, again and again. Though I always sought a rose that I did not need to hold, but would simply walk beside me, of her own free will. Just as I walk this road I am on, of my own free will, but also because I have to, because it is the road that is there for me, and no other can walk it for me, because nobody else will, except me, and it is my task to do, or no one else will? I say that, there are time when you have to do something because if you do not do it, no one else will. I say that "There are things you can do, and things you want to do, and things you should do, and things you can do that no one else can, no one else will. That is the road I chose. And is that road a road that someone else has to walk, if they choose, because they chose, "This Road I'm On"? That is a question I cannot answer, as no one knows which road another should, or has to, walk. Which is, of course, another song I wrote, coincidentally enough.

looking over the dulcimer with a view down the streetI also see what I do with the music in the same light as the professional ethics of a doctor or the sacred duties of a priest. It is an ancient and essential bond between the storyteller, the singer, and the people who listen. I want people to open their hearts and allow me to speak to them, let me move them, fire their emotions, and that is an act of trust that I cannot violate. I want a woman to be able to feel the sincerity and emotion in a love song while being able to trust that there is nothing personal, no reason to have defenses up or even ready, to know intuitively that there are no ulterior motives to what I do, because there are none. But in consequence, though I meet many women when I am playing, there is never any personal connection. Partly it is probably because I am, obviously enough, a streetmusician, not really an acceptable class of person in America. But I think it is also because if a woman is showing a personal interest, I wouldn't respond, I wouldn't even notice, as this is just not part of the place I am in. When I am playing, I am there for the People, and even more, I am manifesting something beyond my self, I am channel for the music, for the magic, and a first step is to set my self aside. I reach a state where I am a pure spirit, creating an experience as personal as a mirror, yet I am as imperceptable as the mirror is, the music, the ecperience, is everything, and I am simply the vessel, as impersonal in my power as a force of nature.

It is a basic principle of my life, that I am dedicated to what I am doing with the music and the consequences for my life, personal considerations, are not part of it. I am called, and I could not refuse, no matter what the consequences.

"Only choose art as a life unless you have no other choice, if you just can’t live without it, without pouring your heart and soul, your life into it, and once you decide, don't look back, and accept the consequences, knowing you have no other choice."

The Unbroken Chain

But this story is not the simple old story of an old man meeting a young girl, which, though I enjoyed it, as I enjoy the beauty of a flower in passing, a warm beam of sunshine through clouds, shining on me, a part of the beauty of the world, a gift from it, but not something serious, something that will change my life, or something that calls on me to act, awakens my sense of duty, the part I am here to play, the Folksinger.

playing the dulcimer sitting on the sidewalk many years ago with kids sitting in front of meLike when a child stops, drawn in by the music, it is my duty to play my best for them, be thee for them, and to try to inspire them to play, if the music is in them. Music is an unbroken chain stretching back to the origins of our species. I have to do my part to forge the new links. So whether it is playing for a child, or letting them touch the dulci, try playing it, see how it works, that they can make a sound, get that experience, it is something I consider a duty, and a priviledge. Just like if I was playing a guitar and someone walked up and asked if I could show them some chords, teach them anything, it is my duty to try and pass smething on of what I know.

Beyond that, it is just giving them a chance to participate in the scene, be more than a passive observer, to be freed from the restraint that is a normal and necessary part of their life as a child. They can't hurt the dulcimer, unlike many instruments, and the motion of drumming is so natural even a baby can do it. It is a also the chance to let them try something, act on their curiousity and desire, and give it a try if they want. And I let grown-ups try it, too.

my old greeting card, with a poem, Burn with A Fire, and a picture I drew of me playing the dulci on the street on one side and playing flute in the mountains on the other and a big quartz crystal betweenSo the scene is also about an old artist meeting a young one, seeing them just starting out on that road. That is an important thing to me, because I see being an artist, and even deeper, a "sensitive", as a natural, though uncommon, even rare, breed. It has been a gift, and a burden, and the defining reality of my life. So I feel a duty, and a great desire, to do whatever I can to greet one of my own kind when we meet, and especially for one who is young and just finding their way, encouraging and inspiring them, and answering any question I can, sharing anything from my experience that might help them. I talk of being sensitive, of being an artist. While I like meeting people, I particularly enjoy meeting other artists, other sensitives, whatever their chosen path. Just as I especially enjoy showing the dulci to other musicians and playing for them. They understand more deeply what I am doing, and what I have done, and we have a similar perception and talent, and a common interest. I find it interesting that sensitives do not always become artists, per se, as all artists do not have the same talents, and not all talents are artistic, but there are certain paths sensitives follow, often enough, where our particular traits draw us, that make use of the essential nature of what we are, "Sensitives". Whatever the neuro-physiological traits are that make me what I am, there are others like me. So to some degree, we share a common experience, that is different from the rest of the world, and I particularly enjoy meeting them, playing for them, and showing them the dulcimer.

Like many traits, some are perhaps simply a matter of degree, as most people enjoy music, and some are particular to what makes some people different from others. Our species has succeeded through evolving individual diversity, just as some species all the individuals are very much alike. We are pack animals, our strength is in being not individuals, but the sum of a group of individuals, a community, each contributing their skills, so as a group, we are much more successful than any individual could be. So we have many types, from the obvious physical differences to obvious and subtle differences in our neural makeup that expresses itself ostensibly as personality, but as importantly in ability and inclination, and traits that make us successful as what what we are, as specialists or generalists within the fabric of the community. I can see the human race as made up of many breeds, like dogs, and as we mix, as we do, different traits come out in our children, just like physical traits, and they use them to become who they are and choose to be. It could be said that these traits even drive those choices. "Artists can be a little strange, excentric, but we had socially redeeming factors, so we survived as a species." "We are all a little tweaked in our own ways, the idea is to channel your idiocincracies or excentricities into doing good things, positive things, so you could call what I do (indicating the dulcimer) socially responsible hyperactivity and obssesive/compulsive behavior. After all, the technical definition of any mental state being a problem is that it is a problem, interferes with life, drives negative actions. If it produces positive actions and consequences, can it be called a problem? Though of course, being a sensitive person in an insensitive world can be a problem for the sensitive, and often artists have to choose to suffer. "You can cover yourself in armor, hide from the world, because the pain hurts, or accept being sensitive, and face the world wide open, despite the pain, and the sunsets are so beautiful." And so are the roses.

spacerarctic sunseta huge hedge of the pink rambler roses

"A Rose By Any Other Name"

But that's still not the story I was trying to tell, but just another facet of the scene, setting the stage. When it began, I was just talking to a couple of young sensitives, artists, photographers out with their cameras, a man and a woman, on a shooting expedition. This is an old scene for me, important, but not that memorable. And once again, I met the rose, and she smiled at me, and it was good. But that, too, is an old scene, that I have been through many times, but it is still beautiful, and leaves me with a smile. But then there was something else that happened, a scene more significant than helping forge the unbroken chain, even deeper and more significant than the rose, and the thorn. Something that stayed with me, as some scenes do, and most do not, remaining in my mind, haunting me as I try to sleep, pulling a core thread in fabric of my being, so I find myself staring into space, in the dark night, in the morning while my coffee gets cold, as I pause in my work during the day, grappling with questions I can't answer, wondering what the question is, facing the great mystery. That is the story I want to tell.

spacermy old greeting card, showing part of the poem, everywhere you stop and take a stand, echoes with the singing of a man, and a drawing of me playing, but the energy is visible, flowing into me from above, flowing out into the people around me

me, standing on a mountaintop facing away. arms extended out and upWords mean different things to different people, and I can't easily define what I mean by "magic", though it is the word that I have always used, for something I can't explain. I have a whole section of this website dedicated to trying to understand and explain my philosophy, in thought and action, and in the terms I use, in reflection on something that I lived, and evolved, and didn’t really need or try to explain as a whole. I can’t begin to do that now. But this is the story I am trying to tell, the thread that surfaced.

I have always spoken of trying to achieve magic moments when I play, when the music "casts a spell". It is one of my personal motivations, is to reach that magic place once again, when everything is "So Fine". People often call a great performance "magical", and people have called my music that as well, as a pure reaction, without thought. I also use it to refer to other things, beyond that. Call it magic, or mystic, psychic, spiritual, extra sensory perceptions, or whatever works for you, "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet." I can't draw a clear line between any of it, either, define what it is, as naming a rose does not define more than the experience or it. When you chose a word, the reality shapes the word, for yourself, but doesn't necessarily define the reality, doesn't explain it, and runs the risk that words have patterns of their own, and those patterns may or may not be applicable to the reality. After all, what do "moon" and "June" have to do with each other except as a convenient rhyme in English poetry and songs?

clouds flowing over a mountain like a wave, lit by the sunriseGenerally, I see it as all part of some aspect of reality, natural not supernatural, another fact of physics rather than something that transcends the "laws of nature". It was clear to me when I was very young, obvious, really, both that it was there and that I could sense it. As one person asked me once whether magic was obvious or obscure, and I said "obvious", though it can be strong or subtle, like light, or sound, or smell, though most do not see it, don't consciously notice it. It is natural, part of the fabric of reality, and like any other form of energy, we sense it, and I think most people are aware of it, unconsciously. Others sense it but deny their senses, or interpret it in another way, use it without acknowledging it. Others are conscious of it and try to come to terms with it, literally, finding their own words, using it, though like all explainations, words, terminology, can create relationships that do not exist, and there are plenty of traditional and modern theories and doctrines that try to explain it all on pretty scant evidence. I have chosen to accept it, use it, without believing that my terminolgy or understanding is anything more than my tool for gripping something I don't understand, what I call a "practical illusion". And like all illusions, I also know that it might not be real, or more, like many things in our world of ideas, it could have no reality outside my head, but it would be a mistake to think that ideas are not real. And if it works, it works, and the sun is hot, whatever I believe it to be, and whatever I believe it to be is fine as long as it keeps me from getting a sunburn.

So, by any name, I have been aware of sensing it, and making magic, all my life. For a long time now it has been an essential part of what I do. I used to call it practical magic. But I don't try to do anything anymore, I let it happen, naturally. Just like the zen I practice, like the scenes in the theatre and stage I perform in and on. I watch it happen, even as I am the one doing it, I wait for it, and it is those magic moments that make it all worth it, even though I can't easily explain it. It is one definition of "magic" for me, a quality that comes into a scene, of depth and beauty, a moment that is "magical". Like the story I tell introducing the song "So Fine", "when the cosmic clockwork clicks into place and life is perfect, and life is So Fine." It is also the scenes of "terrible beauty" that I seek, mostly in nature, a beauty that is awesome, transfixing, terrifying in it’s force, incredible and wonderous in it's beauty, the shimmering rainbow scales and the pearly sheen of the dragon’s teeth as you stare into it's gaping mouth. But it also has to do with coincidence, following the strange thread of improbability, of coincidences, that is "The Way". It is a sense, like any other, and for me, it is like hearing, like listening to music, following that thread of melody, of harmony, the pattern within the noise. Then trying to play along.

spacerawesomely beautiful arctic lanscape of sunrise-lit, pale rose pink, snow-capped mountains, and ragged, layered clouds, with shimmering water in the dark valley below

And I could go on, but that is why I dedicated a section of the website to it. Because that is still not the story I am telling, from the scene that lingered, and the thoughts it stirred up in me.

the dulcimer set up where I was on the street for this scene, looking over it from behind at an angleI'll try to share the scene in detail. We were talking about the street and the dulcimer and the music, as we always do, and she said "It's like magic!" I replied, "It is magic." The thought flashed through my mind as I glanced at her that maybe this one was fey, she said she'd taken a trip to Ireland, she had the look, perhaps she had the gift, the "second sight". This crazy beautiful sense that has dominated my life. Then, I did something I have not done in a long time. Though in the moment, I was just a boy, entertaining a girl, dancing for her, a simple scene. But what I did for her was make magic.

But the story I am telling is of a single scene. I was talking about a boy and girl, meeting on the street. And I was the boy, but I did something I have not done in a long time, unconsciously, and naturally moved by the desire to please her. I extended myself and intentionally made magic, right before her eyes, casually and without a doubt that I could. We'd been talking of the burden and the gift of sensitivity, the pleasure and the pain of being a sensitive, and the I was talking of the music, and the street, the scenes, when she said it was "like magic", and I said "It is magic. Just watch. I play the dulcimer…" and I begin to play, "Starry Starry Night", about the terrible beauty, the pain, of being a sensitive, and I extend my energy through the music, and instantly, the people walking by pause, some kids run up and stop before me, and I have smoothly shifted into a happy kid's tune and the words I know how to say, and I have cast a spell, and a scene full of magic and beauty blossoms in a moment, fountaining up, and I let it quickly crest and fall and pass away as quickly, smoothly, and dissolve in another moment, and the people wake from the dream, and pass on again, smiling, still glowing and happy from the experience, the whole scene a single graceful gesture, a single smooth step in a dance, a kata, and I turn back to her and say, "see?" It was only a few minutes. She was satisfactorily impressed, and that made me smile, a boy and a girl, though perhaps it was a bit much, or perhaps she was fey, and would know that I know just what I did. That is perhaps what I seek most, a girl who is fey. But that is not the point.

Perhaps it was just the Way, knowing the exact right moment, in that place, to do something just right, so magic appeared. The key point is the boundary between acting upon what I sense, like using intuition, like the Way, guiding myself to be at the Right place and time, and do just the Right thing, to make a magic moment appear, like a surfer, who rides a wave but controls nothing outside themselves, like playing music. Or am I actually using some ability to act on some level, to extend something and manipulate something using what I sense? a close-up of the dulcimer hammers sitting on the strings above the snow-covered dulcimerDo I simply know how to coax the magic out that is there naturally, waiting to happen, or can one actually "make magic", choose the time and place, within the limits of effort and ability, within the limits of physics, like all actions? That is a huge difference and question. It seems to be both, though I have chosen to follow the Way for years, not try to use force, but that could be a simple illusion to hide what I am doing from myself, because I don't want to know what I can do. Once I pushed the limits, to see what I could "do". Then I stopped, for various reasons, including not wanting to be able to do things I couldn't explain. It was fun at first, I took it for granted, casually, then it became too much. I absolutely do not like or want power, perhaps because with power comes responsibility, as we are responsible for our actions, or inactions. It gets complicated when you don't even know what you are doing, much less how. I didn’t like doing things that I could not understand, couldn’t understand how I could do them, going "on beyond Zebra", into another reality, where the boundries of reality and illusion become vague. "The problem with openning and going through the doors of perception, is that you can’t go back." Later, I stopped caring how I did what I did, and focused on just making it happen, and not doing too much, just a simple scene, in a simple life, "a singer on the streets, a wanderer in mountains," a sailor on the sea. I believe in mystery, in "The Mystic", in things we do not understand, may never understand, but can know well. It is something I have been on many sides of, and troubled by, and known well, through much of my life. That is the story I am telling, now, the thread that surfaced. It is not simple story, and I don't know where it goes. But a small accident of fate created a powerful quake in my deepest waters.

The Name of the Rose

a perfect arc of red roses rambling off an arbor postAs for the young artist, I don't know how she saw what she experienced. I don't know what she saw or sensed. It doesn't really matter. That is her business, not mine. It is really nothing personal. My reality is mine, and no one else need share it, since it could certainly be my personal reality, "a separate reality." Though I did what I did because of something she said, she triggered the event, that is what make me feel that she might know, consciously or unconsciously, however she comes to terms with it. But again, her life is not my business. "Many are fey, though we are few, and fewer realize it." I believe many have the gift, most are certainly sensitive to it, like with music. It is like with music, and I feel they are related, the perception used is similiar, "good vibes and bad vibes". Most are aware of that there is something beneath the surface of manifestation, an energy, call it spiritual, mystical, psychic or magic. Not as many are conscious of it, even fewer accept it, even fewer make it the primary sense, the driving force, in their life. But people have to live their own lives. What I believe, what I do, only matters to me. So it goes.

a wild rose on the arbor forming a huge dome of small blossoms, with a red rambler behind and beneath it.But even after she walked away, back to rejoin the guy she came with, I wondered once again if perhaps she would have stayed longer, if she could. I certainly stretched the experience longer than I should, because it was a simple pleasure, before my responsibility as a Folksinger, and my needs as a street performer, forced me to get back to work. But it need be nothing personal, just kindred spirits having a pleasant conversation, a great thing, and rare in my life. I certainly don't expect it to be anything personal, as it never is. I have been through this scene so many times, too many times, perhaps. She can easily get in touch if she wants to, though I wouldn't know what for or what to do. She may send me some photos for the journal, which would be great, and simple. I do seek a simple, uncomplicated life. I gave up on having apersonal life decades ago. Though as usual, it isn't me, really, but the dulcimer, and the music, or the moment and the magic, I think, not me she seeks. Perhaps she will seek that magic, if she can see it, accepts she can, if she can, can sense it, follow it, wherever she finds it, wherever it leads her, and then finds it where she learns to make it appear. if she is strong-willed enough. If she Knows. If she can't forget. Just like me. I hope she does, if it is her Way. Thoug it is a hard road, and once you have gone down it, you can't go back. I expect I probably will never see her again. Though I will meet the rose again, whether I wish it or no. The roses are such a constant thread in my life, as are the thorns.

the dulcimer, set up on the street, a view past it to the parked cars and buildings behind itBut that is not what the last part of this story is about. It is not what lingered in my mind afterwards, and filled pages in my journal. It is about that moment, when because of a girl, I casually but consciously made magic appear, once again, there on the street. It is what I always intend to do, wherever I go. But in that moment I faced the fact that I fool myself all the time. Though it is what I do, consciously and intentionally, I do not accept that it is something I can do, as I once did. I act as ifitis something I find, rather than something I create. Though I still cannot accept that it originates from within myself, that I create it, but like the music, I only let it flow through me, that I am a vehicle for something beyond my self, "a glove on the hand of god". It is a subtle yet deeply significant difference in perception, whether I shape reality, bring things into being, or whther I simply manifest the potential that exists already, like a sculptor finding the figure within the block of stone, recognize the exact time and place when and where the highly improbable is highly possible, even inevitable, sense and follow the way where coincidence is as constant as flagstones on a path, or beads on a thread. But whatever it is I did, it has little to do with the dulcimer, or the music, anymore than what a painter does is about paint. And it is a question I have both pondered and ignored since this last summer,when I retreated to look at everything. Yet it surfaces to trouble me again, in thought, and reflection, and conversations with friends and strangers, or staring at me in the aftermath of a simple casual action to please a beautiful girl who stopped and was kind to me. I write of it in my journal, and now in this one, as I am still struggling to write about it, generally, and even right here and now.

This is what this journal entry is about, and ends on, the question that haunts me, that I have no answers for, as much and more troubling than the rose, and the thorn. What am I, that I can do these things? What is it that I am doing, beneath the paint? What is this magic? And even if I don't know, what perhaps should I be doing with it, beyond the dulcimer? Should I, as I once thought, set up a lab to study it scientifically? Should I, as I did long ago, strive to use that ability, wield it as a force, as power to shape the world about me, see what I can do, if I can do anything? Is that just an illusion? It feels a bit crazy to even discuss it, and the fact is, the subject is fraught with superstion, doctrine, and nonsense, as much as anything spiritual and philosophical, anything that delves into the mystery. Thjough magnetism and electricity were just as mysterious once. Is it's true nature not as a power one has, but like the surfer on a wave, only the power to balance upon the wave, not the power to control it, and the force is something beyond control, the pattern exists outside the self, and the power is only yours when you go with it, Ai Ki Do. But it is just as much an illusion to think that it does not flow through us, that we do not act. Perhaps it is written, but we also have free will, and we do act, and our actions have power, whever that power comes from. Do we create? Do we simple reveal the creation within the block of wood? Can we tell? Does it matter what we believe, as long as we act? These are questions I ponder these days, as I try to understand what the choice to "do more" really means, in concrete and practical plans and actions. As I wonder if I should focus on the magic itself, rather than just the music. I wonder if I should focus on whatever it is I am, that has let me do what I do, what I have done. I wonder what comes after the dulcimer, what could be beyond it, what perhaps I could or should do beyond it, what it distracts me from doing. Perhaps I should focus on making magic, rather than just making music. Perhaps I should focus on making different scenes, on a different stage, than the street. Or creating something else, building something else. Or perhaps being something else, playing a different character, a different role. What is the answer, is there and answer? what is the question I should be asking?

spacermy chair and my open journal on a tray table before it, in front of picture windows full of blooming pink rambler roses outside them

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