Studio Journal 11-18-11 Getting It Done

the dulicimer by the piano at 1213

It is again many weeks since the last entry. I’m writing this entry as I did before, first, to fill in this gap in the journal, try to maintain some continuity during this time when there little time for anything but the job at hand. While this is a major chapter in my life, it is not a normal time of my life, and not sure how of if it fits in a studio or tour journal. I have never really tried to seperate the life from the music, the two were really woven together as one fabric, and I had no life outside the music, outside of being a folksinger. Though that includes regular breaks, a steady wave, out to the wild to recover, visits to friends, days on the road, it was all part of the life, different beads on one thread. There’s been only a few times in my life that I have stopped playing and done something else, and this has been one of those extraordinary times. In the end, all I can do is keep telling the story.

I aware that I have been totally out of touch with the world. I was focusing all my attention on getting through this, since it won’t be forever, and the more I focus, the shorter it will be. As part of the process, I also stopped the newspaper, the TV, the internet, and was left with the radio, which was usually not where I was, and usually didn’t have anything I wanted to listen to the few times I turned it on. Honestly, the last wave of news, the debt ceiling and debt issues, made me so disgusted with everything, the level of stupidity, ignorance, and sheer idiocy just was more than I could take, in my present over-worked, over-stressed, emotionally disturbed state of being. I didn’t need to deal with more irritation, more negative feelings, at this time. Everything sounded so idiotic it didn’t feel worth my time to even pay attention, since I would if I felt I had to, no matter what. As I have paid attention for decades, though the situation was really not much different, and was just as painful to watch. I have had more important things to deal with, real things, and very difficult times, while I don’t expect much will have changed while I have been out of touch, unfortunately.

Though it’s possible I can take up the music again at last, or at least start. I am still not totally free to focus on my life yet, I have reached a point where I can start seeking some balance of both, both continuing my task here to some conclusion, and making progress with the music and my life once again, in fact, I have to.

As it often is, what I do is less important that the landscape of thoughts and feelings, critical experiences, the threads of energy woven into my life, the life of a Folksinger. For the music, and everything about it, is a thread of that fabric, not something seperate. I have lived the music, so the whole cloth must be shown to make any true picture, not just one thread.

The Short Story:

As expected, I have been working so hard on settling mom’s estate there’s been no time for anything else. This is a road with a clear end, and I want to get it done so I can move on. If I had even taken off just one day a week, I would be a month behind where I am now. I have only left the house for estate business and survival shopping, except for a series of weekly dental appointments for long-delayed work. I pushed hard, was staying up all night once a week through September just to get that much more done. And I did. I have passed all major milestones, stayed more or less on schedule and had things go as expected, and have finally reached that watershed, where the estate is resolved, and I can finally close the accounts after almost 6 months.

Though I am not done with my promises to ma, there’s still her personal stuff and the house. I also have my own agenda to complete so I can leave here. Just yesterday I called a highschool friend of ma’s I did not know existed, and had never contacted with the news, till I got a birthday card she sent ma. So I remain in this transitional phase. But some pressure is off, enough for me to consider outside activities, like going out and playing again, and this journal. taken apart van engineThough I have tofocus on the practical, mostly, what I have to do before I go, like finishing the major repair on the van, replacing the head gaskets. Though again, if I had time, I might have done a more comprehensive rebuild for the trouble of dismantling the engine, but I have to accept the fact that I am being pressured, even if there is no reason or need, in the end, and need to get it done as quick as can. Summer is gone and weve hit freezing and cold rain, though it was warm again before the rain. More important, though not so practical, is recording the new CD. Considering that, I really need to practice more than go out. Playing three songs at an open mike is insuffucient, though getting out among people again would be good for me. I have lived in near isolation here too long, focused on the job, getting it done. Lately, I’ve started to try shoot video, any playing is practicing. Though it takes a lot of time to try and get it right, which is a distraction from practicing. Producing video to finish the website is still a priority on my agenda before I leave here, if I can. I try to find some balance, but always hard starting, deciding on priorities, and whether I should focus on just one or two things, or try to do more, though progress on any is slower. In my life, that is always the main balance.

a timeline of mom's life

It has been a time of many emotions, of course, but even more, a time of deep thought. I am a philosopher, and have always spent much time in thought, grasping at the deeper foundations of life itself, and my life in specific. I have been one who followed a life of principle, motivated and guided by philosophy, by ethics, by beliefs and ideals, by heart and soul, rather than material things, or by personal desires. I find it difficult to be concerned with my self, unselfish to a fault, dedicated to service. I have seldom thought about what I want, and find it hard to do, now.

The present passage has just emphasized all these things. Everything I have been doing these last months have had a profound effect. There are too many experiences to try to descibe them, it becomes a kaleidescopic collage of photographic experiences flashing through my mind. When I put together the memorial service for ma, I made a timeline of mom’s life, looking at all she did, the life she led, what a great person she was. I deal with all the reactions and responses to ma’s death, from so many people, so many conversations. I see and think about the many different ways people are, revealed in this so normal yet so significant event. I faced my life, as I packed up all of my old stuff left here, dredging up memories from my past, the thoughts and plans I had then. I ponder life, when faced with mortality, of course, with three deaths in the family recently, and unanswered questions about my own health.

What do I really my life’s work to be? What would I want to do or get done if I had little time left, and what really doesn’t matter? I made a simple list. It is mostly concerned with keeping my word, the few promises I have made. Many people asked the same things of me, over and over, till it became really a request from, and a promise to, the People, in my mind. It is also simple to feel the regrets for things undone in life, when there is no longer time, and it is clear that waiting didn’t work, or fate was not kind. I ponder whether if I had time, would I do different things, try to manifest things that seem to be missing, a lack in a summing up of my life. Yet I also accept many regrets, that is the nature of life, that I gave up some things to be what I am, and would do it again.

a drawing of the energy of a singer on the street

Surrounded by ma’s theatre energy, the pillar of her life, and pondering my life, I reflect on the life of a performer, who choses to create something that is gone with the last echo, leaving only a trace in the hearts and minds of those who witnessed it. I chose to be a channel for energy, through me and into the people, create a magic moment. Not even video is the same as being there, in the moment, we leave only shadows, imperfect reflections of what we accomplish in the moments take the stage, yet they can be vivid memories and moments in people’s lives. The stage, theatre, music, singing, storytelling, is a incredible, amazing, important, necessary and powerful part of this world, and it has been my priviledge to walk that path, despite the regrets, the other things I could have done.

I am oddly reminded of my regular story about how, while it is hard to reccommend near death experiences, they do give you a perspective on what really matters and what doesn’t. After you have been charged by a grizzly bear, or heard live rounds whizzing by your head, or faced a storm at sea in a small boat, little things just don’t make it over the top, and you can’t be troubled by all the petty things other people trouble themselves and others with. Facing death, I have found the same feeling of perspective, where it is clear what matters in life and what doesn’t, what I would take time for if I only had a little time, what I regret and what I don’t and what I accept even with regret, and what I might do if I had time, realizing I still only have a limited time, no matter what.

Practically, there are some major decisions to make right now, that will certainly determine some of the shape of my life. I spend long hours thinking through scenarios, recognizing that there are not endless possibilities, but usually just a few major roads, with many possibilities within them. I have to start a new chapter, which means deciding what to do and where to go, practicalities which, in the end for me, still come down to "why". I have never been concerned with what I want, really, not sure I know how. I was never interested in making myself happy, pursuing selfish desires. I always find little things that make me happy, and mch that does not, in this world. I can’t look to them for motivation or decisions. Satisfaction is more important to me than being happy, and doing what is right, living with honor, doing my duty, isn’t about what makes me happy. I am more concerned that i may not have served as well as as I might, that I could have done more for the world with my life, though I was content to live quietly, to do small things greatly, rather than do great things. I was given great gifts, and I wonder if I could have used them better. I live a life on The Way, where what I do isn’t so important as how, and I am guided by seeking energies and directions, without focusing on just where they will lead me or in what form they will manifest. If it is “Right”, it is, no matter what it is. My life is more about "being somewhere" than "getting somewhere", about "being" rather than "doing". We always are doing both, but it is a matter of what perspective you view life from, are guided by. Like music, where I am not seeking a specific note, or specific effect or purpose, but I am seeking the "Right" note, seeking to reach a state of being where I will play the right notes, spontaineously and without thought or effort, because I am in the right state of being, without intention or expectation, leaping off the cliff and letting the music take me where it will. Yet there is a place for free will within this, and choices to make, still. Life is not quite as simple as a song, though that is the nature of physics, percieving and applying simple principles to the complexity of reality.

The Journal:

There aren’t many stories to tell, or maybe too many, but I can always find plenty to talk about. Honestly, much of the past 5 months is a bit hazy from sleep deprivation and the endless flood of details that I have no reason to remember, or just too many scenes to remmber them all. I didn’t go anywhere or do anything extraordinary, though it was an extraordinary experience for me. I have done a good job, once again, at an enormous and difficult task, and done it well, while passing through a emotionally and mentally turbulent time, stormy weather. It is too familiar a road.

dulcimer and piano

The music was still a thread in my life, as always. I kept the guitar handy, to help me make it through, stopping for a moment when it all got to be too much, to play a song, and get back to it again. The same with the piano. I played the dulcimer a bit at first, but in the end, it takes too long to tune, and I had to stay focused on my lists, avoid any real distractions. As the work here is resolving, I start making the effort to tune the dulcimer and play again, getting ready for the next stage of the job, which includes recording the new CD, and I need to be ready.

It is still an period of transition, when my old plan is suddenly done, but I haven’t been able to start the new chapter yet, an odd time, neither of the past or the future, yet in many ways, more focused on both than usual. I am freed from the present which is set and clear, while immersed in the past and deciding the future. A strange time, a strange experience, wrought with many hours and moments of roiling thoughts and emotions, and great steady calms as well. I maintain the state of being that has always served me well, as someone constantly dealing with storms of emotion and practical difficulties and discouragements. I just proceed steadily towards my destination, one step at a time, working my way through a checklist of tasks, like a freighter at sea, or walking a long trail, staying focused in the present, on the work at hand, on putting one foot after the other, while observing everything around me, but not letting it distract me, cause me to pause or deviate, maintaining a detachment by keeping most of my energy focused on moving forward. I follow an old mantra I made, "keep moving". Nothing happens if something doesn’t move, so I always keep doing something, no matter what. Once a week, I update the checklist, adding the next steps to replace what I have checked off that week, and week follows week, for 5 months now. I know the list is not endless, and one day I will reach an end of these lists. I’ll be making new ones, of course, when I start the next chapter.

Which I am getting closer to, much closer, as I reach a significant milestone, really a watershed, actually reaching the end of the master list that I made 5 months ago of all the financial aspects of ma’s estate, now all settled. Everything has been settled or transfered to the heirs, and I can close the accounts.

Ma's stuff

What still remains is dividing her personal possessions among us, and resolving what to do with the house, which now belongs to us as a group. But there is no specific deadline for this, and I am not concerned, and know it will work out eventually. As far as my work goes, keeping my word, really as I promised ma I’d get it done, like the finances, and done fairly, as quickly as practical and reasonable, though I think ma wanted me to take my time and do more here, complete the lans I made when I came, I am more inclined to want to get started on establishing whatever comes next, accept that my plans are cut short, and make a new plan to the same ends.

Though it has been a trial, and isn’t over yet. One difficulty has been with my relatives, each for their own reasons, rational or irrational, but just making the job harder, or take longer. I balance carrying this task through with giving them whatever time they need, since this is a difficult thing to face, and they have their own issues to deal with. I was better prepared perhaps, in many ways, both personally and practically. The situation wasn’t totally unexpected, though some aspects are discouraging. Luckly, resolving the estate required little cooperation, so I got it done. Mostly, I ignored the troubles, knowing they would pass, and really, didn’t make much difference in what I did. Unlike the estate, there is no pressing need to complete the resolution of communal property, ma’s personal possessions and the house. It has all been transfered to us technically, even undivided, so the estate itself is settled. I can complete the final accounts and close the books, and it is done. I have always kept that in mind, that whatever I am going through, it is just a transitional period, and it will all be behind me soon enough, as long as I keep focused on getting it done, step by step, keep up the pace, it will all be behind me one day, a closed book.

packing

It has also been a big, long, tedious job, 5 months so far. Cleaning every room and surface, clearing the attic and sheds, recycling and throwing away, sorting and saving, going through almost 50 years of accumulation here. I box up my stuff and load it in the van. Like during a long drive, or passage, or walk, and like during any simple, tedious job, since it was mostly that, the mind has a lot of spare energy to think as the hours pass, most often in an unfocused way. I believe this type of thought to be very important, as productive as focused thoughts. When the mind is not forced to follow the pattern and direction of preconceptions, it is free to respond to and follow the true patterns we often obscure with our preconceptions and conscious direction, with our desires and illusions. When thoughts rise unbidden and follow their own paths, in a type of dreaming, it is as important in its way, and complementary to, any conscious effort to "think things through". It is interesting to experience myself observing my mind, as it reacts, as I observe my emotions, or my body. Experiencing so clearly that "I" am not my mind, or the thoughts and images it generates.

It is a difficult job. I have my own emotions to deal with, as I cleared the attic of everything there, mine and my family and even friends of the family. As I packed up everything of mine from the attic and around the house, and put it in the van, ready to go. I handled all these things from the past, dredging up old memories, good and bad. I could open a box and be surrounded by strong smells from my past, while my mind turns electric. I pack up the binders of old photographs, and can’t help looking at them. I have done a lot, though, a lot I can be satisfied with doing. It was not that did great things, but I lived a intense life, experienced it, which was the life I chose to live. Thpough all I have to show is "boxes of old junk, odds and ends". It is funny, when I wrote those lines I was actually thinking of the attic here, all the boxes of stuff representing both the things I did, and the things I didn’t. Though I only filled half the van, not that much stuff, I had to rebox everything, as well as books and tapes, in a very short time I went through a lifetime of associations, good and bad. my old junk spread on a table while repackingIt is an experience that is chaotic in my mind, a sudden flashing cascade of images, but the sheer intensity of it is absolutely vivid. I had to deal with being unable to deal with it as well. I have no time to decide what to do with it, whether to keep it or throw it away. Actually, it is not that much can be thrown away, I kept lots of valuable arts and crafts supplys, fossil ivory and antler, and many of the tools and supplies for gypsy skills, from painting to hairwrap and facepaint Some was no good, useless, and I threw that away, but most is not. The question is more, will I ever use these things? But I have no time to find the right people to pass them on to, though I know they are useful. There are things I have collected for the homestead I never found, for the house I never built. Whether it is wiring and cabinets left over from remodelling this house, or just posters, pictures and kitchen tools, books and saved magazines. I have to ask myself if I will ever have a homestead, or a house, to save these things. I can only pack it all up and get in the van so I am ready to leave by the memorial service, so no one can say that I am holding up the process because I am not packed up. Though most of the time was spent going through all of ma’s accumulation here, and the stuff my sisters left, separating out the junk from the personal possessions to keep, things I feel I have no right to decide about, even if they may be thrown away. But dried out cans of old paint I can be pretty sure no one wants and I haul them to the dump.

ma's office bulletin board

I also have had to deal with the emotions of friends and family, be there for them, be of service. Yet it was also a intense experience in my own life, all the conversations, all the memories. It has comtinued to be a profound and beautiful experience seeing what a mark ma made in the world, her energy coming back out of so many. The ex-students who spoke at the memorial were great. As I prepared for the Memorial I went through audio interviews I made with her back in 20o1, listening to hours to select a minutes to include in the service. Though I haven’t packed up her things, I still handled many, both in passing and in preparing for the service. I made a timeline of her life, finding old photographs, actually learning things about her life I never knew as I filled in all the years, really seeing it for the first time. I had to think that this was an exercise I used to do annually, look at, and add to, a timeline of my life, see it as a life, and what I had added that year, have that perspective. It has been a long time since i have done that. I took the bulletinboards that used to hang in her old office before we moved it out to the livingroom and displayed them at the service, so impressed by this simple window on ma’s being. I was surprised and moved to see so much of my stuff there, though I shouldn’t be. We kids were another pillar of her life, of course, but Ma and I shared a common ground as performers, and as people. I also saw how much wisdom she had instilled in us. I am just so impressed and humbled by what a great person ma was, and perhaps troubled that I have not done more.

More difficult has been dealing with the different characters of my sisters, very different from my brother and me, and each very different as well. It has been discouraging and depressing to see the negatives revealed, though I can understand somewhat, I think. They have had a lot more problems relating and coping, in the years I have been here with ma, then through her illness and then death, and the now settling the estate. I try to be understanding, while I try not to believe I understand others, when I may not. There is more than I know. I do not walk in their shoes. We are a strange family. It is nothing I did not already know, but it is still difficult to face. It has been easier to simply avoid the conflicts of our different natures over the years, mostly through the simple expedient of not seeing each other often. I should not even say "they", and I don’t want to be more specific. "They" are each very different, and realistically, it doesn’t matter.

Perhaps what is harder is to experience how little I am understood, my motives and intentions, or even harder, how I am misunderstood. Though the simple truth is, I care, but have become fatalistically accepting of the reality. I don’t know if I have ever been understood, even by the friends who love and accept me, till I gave up trying to find one who did. For my family, and probably for my friends as well, I am the strange fey brother who was uninterested in the rewards of this society, chose the road untravelled, travelled off to live in the wilderness, on the road, and on the street, a mystic gypsy folksinger, living a life they really got rare glimpses of, in the videos, stories, and pictures I brought in my short but regular visits. Ma was much more interested, and understood much more, and was more like me, than my siblings. That’s why I was glad to be able to spend this time with her. I don’t think my sisters ever really wanted to know or understand, I was just too far out. My brother understands much more, being part of the counter-culture as well, which my sisters counter-rebelled against. He also chose to be a performing artist for many years, and played the dulcimer. But I think he also knew I was something else, further, somewhere "on beyond zebra", to some place he recognized but didn’t understand. He could see the road I had taken, and that I had crossed into some other place, unknown to him. Though one never knows what someone else knows or doesn’t know. And I could never really explain. We really went different ways and met seldom, though regularly, and shared a lot of common ground, though we seldom talked. He has been supportive, appreciated what I have done, but unable to help much since he both lives far away and his wife was terminally ill, dying just before Ma’s memorial service, so I did not ask much from him. My sisters live relatively nearby, but have full time jobs, and young kids. They simply need patience and I will get it done for them.

There is really no great need, because much of what I have done there was no way to help, someone just had to do it, deal with all the phone calls and paperwork. I was the logical volunteer, already taking time from work, without a family, no kids to raise, and so ma and I had planned it this way. I have really been working for her, keeping my word, rather than working for them. I could have used help cleaning the house and all, made it go quicker, but the fact is, in any big long job like this, while help is appreciated, it has to be considerate, helping me, not disregarding and disrupting the pattern I have established. Even just being considerate of the fact that I live here, this is still my space, my place, and that always needs to be respected. my old junk spread on a table while repackingTheir lives are not being totally disrupted, but mine is, though I deal with it, I also try to balance it. Still, it is an added difficulty for me, practically and emotionaly. And I couldn’t count on that, unfortunately. Even the best intentions can still cause problems if the helper doesn’t understand the work in progress. In the beginning, I expected cooperation, encountered unexpected craziness, and decided it was best to glaze over that and focus on the work to be done and do it, I long ago stopped expecting appreciation and consideration from people, but accept and appreciate it gratefully and gracefully when it does come, and it is still painfull when it doesn’t, though i do not blame people for being what they are. I always try to see any single person’s behavior as just one of many like them, as just a reflection of the society and culture we live in, and the life they have led, the responsibility of society. Excptional people might rise above circumstance, but they are the exception, and you can’t blame people for not being exceptional.

I remember once telling dad that he might understand me better, or perhaps be able to accept my behavior better, if he thought of me as having gone into some religious priesthood. My not chosing to achieve something within the status quo with my talent, intelligence, and ability, or my voluntary poverty, dedication to service, and willingness to live a humble life, without ambition or ego, trying to do what is best for everyone, refusing on principle to participate in systems I could not ethically. All that might make some sense to him in that context of spiritual dedication, which is a fairly accurate description in part, and it did help. Though it wasn’t the whole the truth, in some ways it was a part. Though I have charted a new course in some ways, perhaps, I am not unique, I believe that there have always been people like me, fey, strange ones, though we each have chosen our own path, whether the given way or a road less travelled, or untravelled.

Press On by Weston Farmer

I really do live by ideals, though not religious ones, more the old romantic ones, selflessly and without any personal motive, trying to do right. I don’t believe in my infalibility, feel no righteousnes, so can’t justify imposing my will on others. Also, I believe everyone must make their own choices, live their own lives, chose their way. That is essential. How can someone learn to find the answer if you tell them the answer, and I cannot tell them what road is theirs, I only know my own, what is right for me. There are so many things I do not feel are important, that it is easy for me to yield, or appear to, to get out of the way of people charging ahead full of ego, desire, or righteousness. I remain undeterred, certain, determined, committed, like water and wind, pursuing my own ends without seeking resistance, easier that way than wasting energy in conflict or competition, useless distractions. Yet, I do not choose the path of least resistance, and overcome obstacles if that is the way I have to go, what is right. If it does matter, I do not yield at all, ever. And I am very strong, I know the ways of stone as well, and steel. And of course, how to burn with a fire.

I do not blame people for being who they are, only deal with it as I must. I feel that in human relationships, it is important not to take things too seriously, the drama of life, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing". Ma was a drama queen, certainly, and I could live with that. My own emotions are burning passions, raging storms of lightning and thunder, a storm inside a bottle, usually. Carefully decanted and served up in the music. So I have learned to respect emotions, and respect and understand what triggers and drives them, which are important, just without taking the emotions themselves too seriously. A huge dramatic moment can be oddly insignificant the next day, or the next hour, and forgotten in a month or a year. As I have said before, you can only expect of people what they are capable of, expect them to be who they are and act accordingly, doing what they will.

As far as the presnt goes, well, I have only to act as needed, keep my promises to ma, and the inevitability of the situation will cause things to resolve, there is no need for me to try and force anything on anyone, while at the same time I keep on steadily doing the job I promised ma I would do, so I can eventually move on. There are, luckily, few decisions involved. While I try to be considerate, at the same time, I have to get it done, and I do. Or I wait, unworried and unhurried, and do somethng else. And while I do, I ponder the nature of human character, emotion, and motivation.

A hard thing is not going out and playing music. I am living in relative isolation, except dealing on a business level with many people. Though I need to practice and prepare for the studio, I find it hard to play in an empty room. Though I have gotten the camera set up to try and produce video, it is not the same as performing for people. I also like talkng with people, interacting, which is why I liked the street, more than the stage, for the easy interaction of being on the same level, the spontaineous converstations that are so great. That has been my life, and I miss it.

I feel troubled by being in limbo, not being able to make definite plans for my own life. My life usually runs quite practically and pragmatically, it has to, the sea and the road and the wilderness demand it, the seasons demand it, while also giving endless possibilities for the spontaineous, as long as the practicalities are maintained. Partly it was simply not knowing how long it will take, so I could not commit as I once did, when the seasons were a schedule I could depend on. It is also just like I tell people, that I try not to expect things to happen on a time schedule, since that is so hard to know for certain. I proceed down the list, working steady, whether I encounter smooth progress or delays. Partly it is that there are definite forks in the road ahead, and I don’t know what I am planning for. Even such small matters as packing up all my stuff, rather than trying to decide what to get rid of now, except for the obvious, just so I would be ready to go ASAP if need be. Though it would be easier to have reduced the load now, I can find someplace to go through it all somewhere down the road, without any pressure. While it is partly due to the lack of cooperation from my relatives, rational and irrational, in resolving some issues, there are other decisions I need to make. But I want to wait till the situation here is resolved, not rush to some decision, and then be second quessing again since I can’t act, becoming confused. In time, the decision may be obvious, so why struggle with making a decision till I must, when I may not need to? Then make a decision, best I can, and act, and for better or worse, it is done and I move on. If i make a mistake, maye I can go back and do it over, maybe I can’t. Sometimes you never know, sometimes it is obvious, once you have acted. So it goes.

1213 kitchen

One of the bigest decisions I face is if the family does decide to just sell the house as is ASAP, and take the lowest value, essentially, do I want to take on the house myself. I won’t go through all the pros and cons right here, which seem pretty balanced. I may have already, since I laid out the scenarios soon after ma died, but the family couldn;t decide, and tey have to decide what they want first. Though of course, it makes a big difference what I do here, in terms of packing, f I am staying.Though I still packed up my stuff regardless. I could finish the rennovation, but to afford the mortgage I’d either have to find room-mates so I can do it slow and keep a base here, or do it fast and rent it out the house entire. So I have to hold both possibilities in mind, and I find myself appreciating the house a lot. Between ma and I, it is a great lace, aesthetically. It does reflect oour natures, which were similiar. Though a house is a house, and I would built something like this if I built, open and airy and with walls of windows. And I’ll miss the plants, the yard that I have slowly nurtured in a wild natural landscape of selected plants for flowers and forage for wildlife, birds, and butterflys. It is so easy to spin endless scenarios of what could be, what I could do, that I don’t try to hold on to them, but let them pass like dreams, till I know what road is ahead, then I can follow those dreams to plans and realities.

Though when the tasks here are resolved doesn’t really matter that much, I can take whatever time it takes, or even go away and come back, though that feels unnescessary. Also, at a certain point, I will not be rushed unreasonably either. I made that effort, and I could have left for the West, and Alaska, during the summer, but I can’t in the middle of winter. The passes are closed. The fact is, if I hadn’t been taking care of the house and estate for everyone, I could have had my stiuff ready and headed West in July. If I accept the consequences of their actions, so must they. I will listen to reason, but not be motivated by the unreasonable. If I am in a more difficult situation personally than would have been otherwise, because timing is so critical for me, my life and my work, well, so what? I deal with what comes, for better or worse, as I always have. If I can, because there are limits. Still, I am very capable, and patient, and determined, if I chose to be. In the end it will all be past, and I make a plan that works no matter how it works out.

If I have any expectation, it is that I’ll be able get back to Alaska next summer, really as I planned to before ma died, driving the van and the trailer, and possibly the Hurley, West, visiting Monatana again, and restablishing my urban base in Seattle. Though it is not certain. So I don’t worry about it, till it becomes certain, even inevitable, or something else comes up. I have no problems leaving off making decisions till I am able to see clearly what is ahead, sometimes it is obvious, sometimes not, and generally, there are only a few possibilities, though anything might happen, and the best laid plans are moot.

I have spent time talking to my buddies in Alaska, Montana, and Seattle, and everything looks very positive for centering my life and work out West again. It looks like I’ll base out of Seattle, relatively, though I wonder how "based" I will be anywhere, after this short sty here, and how much I’ll return to the road. I want to focus on the music, and need to balance touring, with the fact that my musical buddies are in Montana and Seattle, and Seattle is a great place to play. I wonder how the East will work into my route now, and my plans for travelling internationally. I have family here, and in Florida, but I don’t need to maximize my time in either place like I did with my parents while I still could, a wise decision, of course. I still have my sailboat in Florida, though the situation there is changed, and I don’t know where it will go. But as with many things, I don’t need to know. I am self-sufficient, capable, and can play anywhere and get by. So I can take it as it comes, without expectations, see what the future brings, as I focus on a clear and certain direction, the music, and go where it leads me, by chance and circumstance, and coincidence. That is the essense of travelling on the Way. Sensing that subtle thread of energy and following it, wherever it takes me, whatever it is I end up doing.

spacerhammered dulcimer in videostudio

A final story. My friend Moss, out in Seattle, and I had an interesting discussion, as we talked about the possibilities when I get out there again. Among other things, he broached the idea that he’d been thinking about collaborating not just on music, but on writing "autobiographies". Quite a coincidence, this is a subject I have been pursuing myself for a while. Which led to a long conversation covering all the threads I have been weaving about this idea. All my life, people have told me I "should write a book" and I promised I would, and I am a man of my word. But I said I was too busy living it to write it. Well, that promise is one on the "life’s work" list. I have documented my life very well, with my personal journal, photographs, video-tape and now digital video. Though again, I haven’t produced anything with it. This webjournal, and the website itself, was also a conscious beginning at publishing, in a new form, which I since often pondered, since the beginnng of the web, how to evolve a new form of book, combining all the interlocking and interlinked text, pictures, audio, and video that modern computers and the web is capable of. I also realized that I wasn’t really as interested in writing an autobiography of me personally, but about my life only as an example to explain and illustrate the culture and philosophy that I manifest. On one hand, it is a matter of not wanting to tell the story of my life, but to tell stories from my life, as a way to explain some things and communicate things harder to exlain, like many books. On another hand, it is simply not knowing what I want to explain, or how to explain it, but knowing I have lived it, so by telling the stories of that life, perhaps people can understand what I can’t explain. On a third hand, it is feeling like I have explained it, in those stories, and in my journals, and all I need to do is edit and package and publish what I have already written into a comprehensible form. He talked about the value of just the conversations we have had on the phone, and when we meet as I toured, and made videos, like back in the AK2K tour journals, but we didn’t really video our conversation. But he tought of thsat format. He barely started to mention ("Have you seen this movie..") and I named the title, “My dinner with Andre”. The fact that, there could be many ways of trying to "publish", to share the knowledge and experiences we have.

It is very interesting to see that Moss has come to such similiar conclusions. Just yesterday, a week after this conversation, I notice a note I made about doing something essentially the same as Moss was talking about, the "fireside chat" stle of conversational video as another format, compared to the solo narration style I used in some of the studio journal, just me talking in the studio narrating as a foundation for video clips on top.

More essential is the common idea that we were born into a crucial time, and place, and in families that allowed us to pursue our inclination when we were young, and we somehow evolved into something new, culturally. It was a small window of opportunity that allowed us, unconsciously in many ways, to somehow pioneer new frontiers of culture and philosophy. And there is a value in telling that story, that others might learn from it. The fact is, we were never really aware of how far rom the norm we were, and still are. Or that there are people seeking knowledge we take for granted, and are always suprised to find that people are hungry for that knowledge and experience. We were ourselves, and couldn’t perceive, or perhaps accept, how exceptional we were, though it is obvious all too often. The final point being that by collaborating, we both provide motivation to each other, and as important, keep it from being one person’s story or philosophy, and make it a story of something else, something outdside us, which we both were lucky to be part of, to express in our lives, in different ways.So what we are talking about isn’t an "autobiography" in the real sense, a story about a person, but using our stories to tell the story of something else, of what we found, in a special time and place, and lived, each in our own way, which is very different story form the story of a person. It could as easily be, and usually is done, with a fictional character, but I feel is is better using real true stories, for better or worse. The truth, after all, is allowed to be stranger than fiction. And there were a lot of pretty wild and srange scenes in our lives. Which is the point.

Towards the end of the conversation, he mentioned an incident where he had been at a festival, playing around the campfires, and at one, suddenly realized that someone was talking about me, telling stories about me, and things I had done, decades before, when I was still in highschool actually. I don’t know why they were telling the story, what point they were making in that circle, neither did he, since he caught only the end of it.folksinger's greeting card Yet I recognized that I have been that mystic gypsy folksinger, a mythic figure and the living character, because I did it, more than anyone can know, "as god (and my dog) is my witness". It is still strange to know that I have been the stuff stories made of, though it is nothing new, and even I have heard stories about this person I realized was me. So perhaps it is true that I should tell the whole story, just because it is a great one, and in truth, it doesn’t need to have a point. I don’t know if there is one. It is perhaps more that there are many points, and pieces, captured in this strange life I have lived, that people might learn from, each in their own way. And that is the point, all my life, to try and raise consciousness, in each person I met, in whatever way I could, which is really to say, in whatever way they needed me to, that I could be helpful or catalytic.

It made me realize once again what I know, that I should be out among the people, playing that part again, for whatever time I have left. I have been damaged and withdrawn, for a while, then distracted by all the demands from family and disasters that took me away from the life I lived once. I never really got back to it, as every time I started, something happened to demand my attention, whether it was family matters or the Hurley getting sunk. I still did it regularly enough as well, as the videos testify, but I also spent a lot of time doing other things.Some which might be nescessary to "do more" and reach more people, like this website and journal, others were not, though justified, and not selfish, I could have chosen to not give up so much of my life to them, like saving the Hurley. I failed, or refused, to accept that I was something exceptional, that no one could take my place, doing what I had been doing as a folksinger on the streets and among the people, off the stgae and the business even folk music has become. Again, I wasn’t really playing music, I was doing something else, really, something more, and music was just the obvious manifestation of that. Though I would still argue that I wasn’t important, someone else would do all I have done. But it is not so simple, as history proves so often, specific individuals can be indespensible. I just never believed that I was one of those people, never wanted to be, perhaps refusing to be, seeking anonymity, which was a difficulty. I had told people that simple wisdom often enough. That there is that which you can do, and could do, that you want to do, and that you should do, and beyond it all, there is that which only you can do, and if you do not, no one else will. I fail to grasp my own importance, even in the anonymous and insignificant path I have chosen, and a couple decades passed. And time has grown short to do anything.

And it raised interesting questions about this webjournal and website, what my purposes are here, and the ways of going about them, the possibilities. If I want to keep focused on the music here , compartmentalize, or as I have always done, and tried to use it as another vehicle for the other things I want to say. Since that was the purpose of the music from the beginning, as the most effective means I had to reach people, with the words and music, to try and raise consciousness, raise awareness, compassion, inspire and draw people to feel with their heart and soul. But without needing to be always direct, yet other times able to say it like it is, and have people still listen, to put into words vague feelings and thoughts in a person or a people. This is still an experiment, a multi-pronged one, one of the beauties of the web and a site like this. I can try many things, so people might find what they need, what works for them, the door they are reaching for. Whether that is something here, or in the section where I tried to start explaining my philosophy directly. Or maybe they will take the plans I’ve provided for building a dulcimer and that will change their lives, as it did mine.

Yet I started this entry just to keep this going during a long pause when I have had not time for anything, no internet access, and am not doing anything interesting. Though I can never say I don’t have anything to say.

So! As I ponder mortality and the time left me, and think about what I would do with the time I have left I am left with two conclusions.

One is that I do want to try to put this documentary I have made of my life into a form, or forms, that can be shared with people, and passed on as a record as well, not as an autobiography, but as means to tell a story of culture and philosphy, the "Evolution Revolution" I talked about back in the 70’s. It is also like I say about the music, it is not about making a record but leaving one, and about giving the electric dulcimer a life of it’s own, shining the spotlight upon it, not upon me, and leaving arecord that others can use to follow a similiar path if they wish to, learn from my experience, even if I am gone.

The second is that I chose in my life not to "do" anything, but to "be" something. As such, it doesn’t matter if my time is short, because there is nothing I will not get "done", nothing I won’t accomplish, no matter how much or how little time I have left. Though I am still haunted by the feeling that I had a greater purpose in this world, with all the talents and intellegence and ability I have been given, but somehow was unable to find where I belonged, where I was suposed to be. Yet, I also can feel that I reached the goal of my life, long ago, like buddha under the tree, and there is no measure of that. Once there, it was simply a matter of walking down the road, being what I was, trying to be there for the world to use as they chose, to stop and listen or walk on by. I can simply be whatever I have been one more time, and one more time, and however many times I can, till I am gone. It is the greatest experience of my life, and what I seek to share with everyone I meet, if I can, when I can. I have made my life a work of art, a story, a character. I can sing another song, speak a few more words, tell another story, be that mystic gypsy folksinger passing in and out of a strange but memorable scene in someone’s life, making it a scene, of being caught up in something different, extraordinary, a sudden depth, the suddenly openning door from which wafts a breath of the mystic, of another sense of the world, a magic moment of terrible beauty.

And then it is gone, with the fading echoes, unique, yet still that same energy, manifesting, shining through me, once again, till one day, well, I’ll be gone, and someone else will carry on, since for all that I may have forged new links, done unique things, I feel that I am also part of an unbroken chain, stretching back into the unknown past, and after me, other will continue as I have wrought in my time.

ma's office bulletinboard

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