CONCLUSIONS: Over the course of a year, or years, in the course of writing these journals and the longer personal journals I keep, there has always ended up being a conclusive idea for all the experiences I go through, that comes out at some point to explain how I feel. Sometimes it is one simple concept that sums it up for me, after months of thought, or in a single brilliant moment of clarity. Sometimes there are themes that thread their way through dozens of conversations with many people, but surface again and again, till they are refined into a simple expression of a thread in my life, one strand that helps explain the whole. I gather them here, since they stand in a different place from the journals, distilled from them perhaps, or the foundation below them, or both.

“The Way Is The Music, The Music Is The Way”

After my retreat in to the wilds in Alaska I had a simple phrase, as I often do to culminate my thoughts and feelings from the retreat. It was “The Music is the Way, and The Way is the Music.” I am a person dedicated to a philosophical-spiritual path, this is “The Way”. Without trying to explain it, it means that it is a “how” or doing things, living by a code of honor, living a certain “way”, so that it isn’t what you are doing, but How you are doing it. It isn’t where you are or where you are going that matters, or what road you are on, as long as you are on “The Way”, following the Way, living and expressing the Way, following it and going where it leads you. So my “simple phrase” means that for me, The Way has always been the Music, that is my road, and how I express the Way , and in my life they are really indistinguishable, so that if I am following the music, which is easier to define, I can have a certain confidence that I am also on the Way, which is sometime harder to see clearly. The music is a means, a practice and discipline, to reach that higher consciousness and awareness, like other physical arts can be used the same way. The music also includes reaching the people, the interaction and exchange of energy, so that it is not enough t just play music, but I must seek to embody the Way through the music, as a perfect and beautiful practice to embody and express the Way. It also means that whatever it is I might want in life, or lack, or simply need to go, whether a home and family, a mate, or friends, or social action, or things I can’t imagine, they will come through the music, by following the music. That is my road, my Way. My problem in life has been trying to find things through other doors, other roads, not recognizing that the only way I will find any of these things is through the one door that is the music. Like “all roads lead to Rome”, all my roads are on the road that is the music, all places are on that road,through that door, along that Way. So to follow the Way, I must follow the music.. “The Way is the Music”. And to get to wherever it is I want or need to go, I need to go through the music, because “The Music is The Way”.

Epilogue: Threads in the Tapestry of a Life

Of course, I still feel incredibly frustrated in watching plans that have been so clear for so long delayed and postponed again and again by circumstances not of my making and beyond my control, while knowing I have no choice but to do what is Right. I have no questions about that, no regrets about doing what is Right, am glad to be able, to be capable, of doing them. The central tenet of my philosophy is as simple as just doing what is Right and forget the rest. But it doesn’t make me happy about having to put off these too long awaited projects. And it doesn’t quiet the insistent demands of these long deferred projects. The fact that I have made the big change, “settled down” to take on these big projects, and the fact that I am nearing completion of the first, does make me feel like I am getting somewhere. Even if the music projects have remained on hold, I have a more solid sense of certainty that I am on track and they are next, and this time next year, some of those projects will be complete as well, and I’ll be on track to complete more. It is a good feeling. Though it is still difficult because I am just not used to this. I am used to juggling many different projects and keeping them all going in a regular circuit, and did it successfully for years. But only through constant attention to keeping up with every aspect of the whole, and giving each what it needed in its time to keep everything smoothly up in the air. It isn’t hard to focus on one project, I am good at working with an intense focus on one thing, though usually for only a short period. I have a hard time ignoring everything else and not feeling like I have to keep tabs and do something about them, I can’t seem to accept that I have laid all those pins aside, and they are relatively safely on hold, not about to fall if I don’t pay attention to them. I am too used to keeping track of and maintaining a wide range of different things to be able to stop thinking about them without some anxiety that I should be, I just can’t help it. It is hard for me to accept unconsciously that I really only have one pot on the stove, and that’s all I need to stir.

I still do not rest easy. I am troubled. I feel the desire to give it up, to just get back to the simple life of music I once had, not take on these projects to “do more” with the music, when I am not quite sure what I have to do to fulfill that promise, and if what I am doing will be enough. Maybe it’s just being alone.. celibacy is no fun and I’m not the type to sleep around, too emotional.. and when it comes down to it, my real need is emotional and spiritual, not just physical. Fact is, I have almost no personal life, though I used to interact with so many people when I played the street, I seldom have time to spend with my few friends, and without the street, I am pretty well isolated in my work. Though the occasional sing-alongs and jams are nice, the people there and I still have so little in common, beyond the music. They are all career professionals who like to play music when they can. I live the music. I walk such a unique road, so it goes. Maybe it is the terrible state of the country and the world, as so much of what I value erodes into intolerance and fascism here in America, and the unsustainable culture of America that I fought against continues into deeper denial and steady destruction of the world, environmental and economic disaster, and a troubled world, while mostly the rich get richer as the world burns.. I guess, corruption, war and destruction is good for business. Though I am trying to fulfil my promises and have so much to do with family and the music, one of my main life-long motivations has always been social action, and I feel like I am disconnected from that, and it troubles me, especially as the times get inevitably worse without major progressive social change.

Maybe I just as much a need to play more, to keep from getting down. I try to take time here to play the guitar or piano, and the jams do leave me upbeat often enough. Music does that for me, a real endorphic charge. I could also be more creative, more progressive with the music, instead of just doing the same things I’ve been doing so long. I mean, I still love doing the old songs, but I think I need that other side, not just playing, but also where I am creating and learning new songs, new styles, continuing to evolve and grow musically. I am looking forward to treating it as a “9 to 5” job and shutting myself in the studio for 8 hours a day and working.. then doing whatever else in my “spare time” like other people. As soon as I complete these projects, the music will probably demand more touring and performing. I cannot let my energies be diverted and distracted by the land and the boats, by anything. I need to keep to a patient philosophy of keeping those dreams on track, making steady progress, but not letting them take priority from the music and the spirit that drives me. Like buying the land, as long as I can feel satisfied I am working towards a better future, a time I can settle down, places I can be more productive in things that require me to settle more, then I can turn my attention to other things. I can focus on the things I feel are important, which aren’t what I can do for myself, but what I can do for others, to serve the music, to serve the people, to try and make a better world. And the fact is, that no matter what is happening and what I am doing, if I am playing and singing a lot, I feel better about everything.

Maybe I need to finally get back to my CLA work, my conciousness/raising social action aspect of the music. Lost causes aren’t so bad as long as you are fighting! Though really, it is never lost until you give up or die, and even then you are just passing the torch. Perhaps it is that is my lonely and solitary life, I have always felt my comrades in the struggle, through all time and around the world. I stood with great company, and was never alone. Its not really about how bad it is, I always knew America would probably never change its ways quickly or easily whatever reason and rationality indicated, the entrenched forces that profit by the status quo are too strong. But when I was actively resisting, at least I felt better about it. Its easier to accept the hurts when you are fighting back, even indirectly. The world is definitely heading into tough times, and “I told you so” is remarkably unsatisfying. I just have to do my best to deal with the disasters they have accomplished by refusing to listen to us long-haired hippie-type environmentalists advocating peace, freedom, and justice, truth and rationality, love and compassion, sensitivity, consideration, and unselfishness. It somehow pains me when the ideas we promoted 40 years ago are being discussed as if they were some amazing new ideas no one ever thought of, not ones long suppressed. While the counter-culture that raised the cry of sustainability, alternative energy, environmentalism, etc were subsequently persecuted. I have to admit, I did consciously decide to give up personal escape to an economic ark (and a haven of peace and rationality) in the form of a organic homestead back in the mountains in favor of activism on their ship of fools, though I’ll be on it when it sinks. Well, as I say, at least they haven’t burned us at the stake lately, though I’m sure they would like to. But there’s nothing like being a persecuted people to inspire good folksongs.. as the saying goes, they may have all the guns, power, and money, but we have the songs. And we were (and are) right.. always one of the worst of crimes. Unfortunately the reality isn’t much fun, and I’m afraid I sort of lost the amusement somewhere ten or fifteen years back. I find it an added strain to deal with the daily news of corruption, stupidity, and disasters that could be avoided, the irrationality and lies, the whole pathetic mess. Watching the old karmic wheel come around as the consequences of all the things we warned about slowly bear their bitter fruit is pretty harsh. Especially when I am so far from any chance of doing much about it. It makes me too angry, too harsh and hard, to disgusted and discouraged.. not a good place to make art from. I have spent my life trying to help people get it right, but it’s like trying to stop the inevitable. They are bound and determined to wreck the boat, and the rich are having a field day running things, and at least half the people are either totally oblivious or sucked into their fantastic illusion of lies and outright denial and arrogant ignorance and stupidity. It is very much a pain. Time go sing some blues!

More simply, perhaps I just want to be free of plans. I once lived in a very pure zen state of being. Free of the unrelenting pressure of promised to do things so long delayed in happening, things that should have happened years ago. For most of my life I accomplished so much, in a very practical way, juggling a lot of things, without really being locked into “plans”. It was like an unchoreographed dance. It worked, everything flowed smoothly as I focused on the smooth flowing, on following the way, and everything happened that needed to, when I needed to do it, without trying to, effort without force, forceful but not forcing, neither pushing ahead nor holding back. I want to go with the flow of energies, not this constant over-drive I’ve been on, and more, the rigidity of all these necessary actions.. agenda (“that which must be done”) after agenda, pages of lists of things I have to get done, and I do, every day, but it is a mountain that takes me away from that old spontaneity, the intuitive, mystical life I once had. I want to be free to go where life leads me, where people need me, where I can serve best. That is the way. I am not happy or comfortable focusing my energy on my own life, in serving myself. It is not my way. I have focused on what I have to give, not what I get, and I can’t really change now. And yes, I am tired, and scarred, but I can’t stop now, I am just as determined as ever, just as dedicated. Social activism is the one thing I haven’t really felt I’ve gotten back “on-line” again since the personal disasters of the 90’s, and that mystical, magical, spiritual life and discipline I once had, from doing my stretches and forms to walkabouts in the wildlands. It was once the very center of my life, and the work of conciousness raising was part of it. Music started out really as a means to that end, tho I had no “end in mind, but it was what I was, where I was, when I was just being there (if that makes sense at all). I lived in a strange mystic dream-time, a whole different world of perception I can’t really explain, living totally by “intuition” or some “other” senses, and it worked to amazing perfection on a practical, pragmatic level, with none of the “supernatural” la-la land stuff.

But through it all, there was still the music, from the very beginning. Only recently have I recognized that my music had a real value, and made it an end in itself. I think about the cultural exchange program, and the local school programs, or even the street as being a goodwill ambassador representing the other side of America, the progressive left that is responsible for so much that makes America great. More specifically, I want to take the old, low fi VHS recordings of my old social conciousness raising campus shows and digitize them so I can re-master them to release on DVD and the internet. Perhaps it is the last part of my life to come back simply because it is so deep. It isn’t as simple as the other things, what I need to do is not so clear. It also makes the greatest demands upon my heart, mind, and spirit, which are all still in the process of healing, of having what it takes to shine. Often I still feel very far from recovered.. I often feel like I may never get really over it, never be the same. So be it, I can still manage to do a lot, despite my problems.

I also want to be practical, and perhaps it is time to start building an ark, so to speak, but I can’t even see that saving myself is that important, that my personal life is important. Selfishness is just not something I really am cognizant of, even in the most basic terms. Though I am also very strict about always being totally self-supporting and self-reliant, never dependent or beholden to others, never in need, never asking for anything, never needing to. In fact, I am so to a fault, having to struggle to accept what people want to give without feeling indebted. So while I am not interested in building myself a personal retreat, I want to be ready to take care of myself, and not be dependent upon others, a burden if times get hard. Still, I have bought the land in Alaska and I keep the sailboat simply to still that small voice of practicality within myself that says I should have a place to go if I need to where I can get by on a little, living off the land or the sea, and not be a burden to anyone. When in fact, my skills could make me a provider for others in a subsistence situation. Oddly enough, I have the knowledge of how to survive, and homestead, how to live off the land and the sea, how to make do, and get by. People need to survive and it is true that I could lead some people to safety so to speak. Though don’t get me wrong, I really don’t buy into all the disaster fantasies or armagedonist philosophies. Life will go on, but times could get harsh, too. Though really, I am used to living without the “comforts of civilization” so I won’t miss them so much as others. My earliest plans where to form a cooperative self-reliant community of homesteaders to build a sustainable lifestyle blending voluntary simplicity and appropriate technology. Maybe its time to try that again. I do not know what to do, really, though I feel a mounting frustration as I start to have the energy to do something, so I look for some place to start at least. Some small ways to start that energy moving again in my life. Yet honesty, I don’t see myself doing anything but travelling and playing music and trying to talk to people and raise conciousness

Though I must admit, the situation is not good! My hope is that disasters of the magnitude America is achieving will finally force the American people to recognize their responsibility, and the necessity, to build a sustainable economy, a just and equitable one, instead of an exploitive one run for the benefit of the few. It will force them to recognize the environmental unsustainablitiy of their consumptive, exploitative, un-sustainable and irrational systems. It is a world I envisioned so long ago now, when there was a chance to avoid the cliff we were headed for, though I knew somehow they would not. I’ve often said we had the solutions long ago, the answers, but nobody wanted to listen, and nobody did anything as the corporate rich who’s profits would be effected crushed us. My great fear is that the enormity of American responsibility will just keep feeding this guilt-driven denial, make it impossible for them to admit their mistakes till it is way too late, even afterwards, like addicts. It may already be way too late as far as that goes… The American people are really ignorant, deluded, misinformed and manipulated to the the highest degree money and power can manage. It would be almost funny if it weren’t so frightening and the consequences so dire. But there is still lots of hope, if people only come to see, if reason overcomes ignorance and superstition, if compassion overtakes greed. The younger generations are often amazingly misled and ignorant, at least we had access to a lot of knowledge they have been denied. Still, like most people, they still have good hearts, though also so often, like many people, twisted and warped. They are also young and rebellious, and have a almost instinctual knowledge, or just the clarity of vision that is the strength of youth, to see things as they really are on one hand, and to see things as they could be on the other. They at least have somehow maintained a healthy skepticism of “authority” and the wit to search out the real answers, the real questions.. not “just say yes, or just say no”. There is hope in every person, that they will see. Its not the end of the world, I know that. It’s just the slow, dark, painful beginnings of a world. It’s been a long, hard road to make it as far as we’ve come in the struggle.. singing all the way. “…deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome, one day…”,”and all that you have is your soul…”,”and you know, the darkest hour, its always, always just before the dawn..”,

“these songs of freedom, are all I ever had…”

“because when I sing, people stop to listen, and if they listen, maybe they will hear,

and if they hear, maybe they will understand, and if they understand, maybe they will see..”

“living for each day, and traveling on the way..”

, Love
, Freedom, and Justice