So if I upload this first version, take it as a rough draft, or even just a rough start. There is so much more to say, perhaps, or maybe not so much more, but like some picture puzzle, it doesn't always say what i want if it is missing even a few significant pieces. Right now it is pretty much something cobbled together over many days, late at night, lacking time to put it into some order that might show both the repititions and the omissions. Even more, often it fails to communicate what I mean because what I say is part of a bigger picture, and it doesn't make any sense without that perspective. Often I have a hard time concieving how someone else will percieve what I say, when we come from such different experiences and perspectives. Things I take for granted don't even exist for others. Some things I do not understand, myself, though I live them, live by them, though they are a mystery to me, so how can I explain them. I have gone places and experienced things that are probably important to understanding why I am how I am, but where to start? I don't want to write that book yet! And of course, with text, there is no way to use the subtle tones of voice that color words, so I have to speak in black and white, so to speak.
I might as well start out by saying that I really am way out there on the edge of the old bell curve, folks, no reason to deny it. Or maybe I should say that I am still out on the edge of the bell curve. I really am not sure how to explain the how I am, how I feel, the way I feel. I really don't know if I can, though I can try. I don't really think about it much, personally. I know where I am at, I don't ask "why" very often. How I feel about it isn't really part of the equation.I also am not really concerned with how I feel about my life. I do what I must, what I should, bound by my "code of honor", my duty, responsibilities, my concience and my word. I practice a way of life, the art of life. I've gone through a lot of troubles, and a lot of pain, and some serious traumas, but you know, so do a lot of people. The only thing I can say for sure is that all these things are true, but its not that simple.
I'm a troubled man, but it doesn't trouble me to be troubled. I'm not attached to my emotions, they flow through me, but I am not them, like I am not my body, or my mind. I dwell in my spirit, or with it, perhaps. Its pretty hard to explain really. Another fact is that I am just naturally over-sensitive, and then I chose to become even more sensitive. This is not a good way to be happy in the world people have built! Though I have no regrets about my choice, it has also led me to spend much of my life alone in the wilderness. When I wasn't on the street, playing and talking to people. I'm also a person with these great, over-whelming emotions that I have had to learn to deal with. Not control, that was not the answer, but keep them from controlling me, to keep my self in another place .. where that self is in control, naturally, and remains calm and centered. I've developed a lot of "self-control" or "will power" or whatever, though even that doesn't accurately describe what's going on. I've had to deal with a lot of negative feelings, but I take that as it comes, like the weather, or waves from a storm. I keep my balance and let them wash over me, neither going with them or fighting them, but being a rock they pass over and are gone, while I keep on doing whatever I am at. Sometimes my emotions are annoying and trouble my mind, sometimes they can be good, but they do not move me unless I let them. They are like a good horse, or a breaking wave, I ride them, try to use them, but stay in balance, stay in harmony, try not to let them toss me instead. They can make life harder, but so can the weather, and as I so often say, "so it goes." I am very pragmatic, practical, and accepting. I am a deeply troubled man, but most of the time it just doesn't bother me.. its hard to explain, but it doesn't trouble me that I am troubled.
It is important to say right off that Life has been great. It's important to know that I have done great things, had great experiences, in my quiet way, and have achieved a great place, great places, in some spiritual dimension. There was a time in my life when life was really great, in a spiritual sense of course. I was so strong on the Way, and things moved in a beautiful flow of energy. I was so in tune with the forces of nature and the energies about me, strong, sensitive, aware, alive, shining with light. But I had a bad break, so it goes, and I am human, and cannot last. It is the nature of life. Maybe I can reach that peak again. Again, though, it is something beyond happiness, or anything personal. I culd say that at that time in my life I was further from being anyone and more one with everything than I am now. I am a drop in a river, in an ocean, and for a while, I forgot I was that droop, and was the river, was the ocean. I have had great experiences, playing on the street, being part of such scenes of beauty and magic, of powerful emotion and energy, as the music flowed through me, as I was really there for people, made them laugh or cry. It was a honor and a priviledge to be there, being what I was, at those moments, that I would not trade for anything, no matter what. I have been places, and seen things, done things, in the music and beyond the music, that ae beyond description, though I have tried sometimes, mostly they just live inside me as dim memories of things I can only dimly recall compared to the brightness of their being. I don;t recall them often, even, but they are there, never-ending embers of a fire that burned so bright. Read the "further" passage in the Archives and you can get an idea of some of the places I have been. I just can't begin to explain. Yes I have suffered. Yes, it is all worth it and I would chose it all over again if I could.
I can reflect upon this year and what a year it's been again! I'm not sure how I end up in these situations, I certainly don't go out of my way seeking trouble or adventure. I just try to do what is Right, like playing music. This year has had a lot of frustrations and disappointments, but I don't feel bad about it. I'm not happy about it, that is for certain, but I am satisfied, because I did what was Right, and that is the core of my philosophy. I was certainly happy to be able to do what I have done. There were good and bad moments, but I managed to walk this road without feeling too stressed out, taking all the changes and shifts and troubles with a calm sense that I was doing Right, and getting it done, despite the fact that important things were delayed. Eventually, like water, I will continue on my way, while doing what I had to every step of the way. I wanted to be working on the music, and instead, I haven't played really since I left Alaska. I'd planned to work the street when I got back but instead I am banned from doing so, in blatant disregard of the first amendment, though I'd prefer to believe it merely ignorance. Though that is bad enough, Officials always think they can do anything, and never think about constitutional rights when they do. And I don't have time to fight it. Or I am just tired of fighting the same fight over and over? Its not just officials, major and minor, but so many citizens who either ignore or have forgotten the foundations of this country they pretend to uphold. The whole culture of America has backslid a lot in my life. Or maybe I just was born and raised in a short progressive period that didn't last very long. These days they preach freedom and practice tyranny, and many do not even seem to realize their hypocrisy, or that they are the greatest danger to this country. I am really ready to leave this country where hypocrisy is the status quo, where the people are so ignorant they don't even realize what they are doing, where "patriots" advocate fascism, persecution, oppression, and bigotry.
I can see the forces and feelings of the year, of my life, reflected in the story of Hurley. The frustration over events beyond my control controling my life and derailing my plans and priorities. The fact that I did everything Right, was responsible, but I pay for other people's irresponsibility and incapability. I get no help or bail-out from the authorities like everyone else, I just get threatened and hassled (though exceptionally, the code officer was ok), or ignored. The recurring situation in my life when things that aren't really significant, like the van or the boats, take priority over the significant things like the music, because they are still responsibilities and nescessities, important to maintain my life, though not significant in the bigger picture. Life, and this story, isn't all negative, either. I did a real hard job, despite everything stacked against me, I was tested and I proved my character and ability. Most people were quite kind, and often very impressed, though I felt what I did wasn't that great, just a hard job. Still, it felt good to get respect from people, because it is something I have so rarely experienced in America. Some of them actually asked to shake my hand. Many said some pretty kind things about courage and ability, to which my standard reply was that I was just stubborn. Perseverance is an ingredient of character, it is true. Through it all, I was just doing the Right thing, and doing it Right. It has to do with my relationship to the sea, and as a sailor to a boat. I have a responsibility to it, not to abandon a good boat. Just as I took time to get the green boat off the wreck, or stopped to secure a boat that was dragging, or just pick up garbage I see floating. It is a matter of character, I suppose, but beyond just "responsibility", it is about a bond, a commitment and a contract between me and a boat I've sailed. It served me well, and I could do no less for it. It may be a thing, but in some ways it has spirit, it certainly has energy. But more important, it is in how I treat other things, living or not, that I measure myself.
The things that really trouble me often are the deeper issues that are just surfacing again in the events of the year. The lifelong resistance and dissappointments I've had trying to follow the music outside the status quo, trying to live outside the status quo, playing modern music on the hammered dulcimer, playing on the street when I couldn't get gigs because of that, playing songs of peace, love, feedom and justice.. being a real folksinger. Standing up for peace and freedom and justice against the nightmare of consumerism and the culture of insensitivity and greed. I have served selflessly and still its just been a long struggle and well, I am just tired. While I may have made some difference, the present state of America is certainly discouraging.
I'm worn down by living in a country that persecutes and harrasses me. It was easier once. I accepted that it would be hard, but I guess I always believed that things might work out better for me in the end, some eventual success.. whether a better, more enlightened world or just someone to share this road, or maybe some recognition for my music, or just feeling I have done right by the music, used my talent. I am troubled that I could have done something else with my talents and abilities, maybe something more significant than the hammered dulcimer, than being a folksinger. I could have used my intellect, or that indefinable something that seems to be such a big part of me. I could have done well in science, in research, but it didn't seem right when the social problems would mean my achievements would only benefit a few, or be used to do wrong. I have always wished to contribute to society, to the world. Though I accept what I am and have been as being enough, I am still a visionary, and I see so many things that could be, if I had the time and resources. I used to say I was tortured by visions.. so clear, yet unreachable. Yet that has been my quest, to follow that star... the impossible dream that move all revolutionaries, all progressives, to strive for that better world, though we will most likely never see it in our time. I have been a conscientious objector to the American way of life, and I have constantly struggled with compromises. My self-imposed limits have limited my participation, for negative or positive change. I struggle where and how to compromise in participating in "the system", how to be principled without being fanatical, to know when and where to draw the line, and where to cut the slack, to know what is an acceptable compromise to be effective in working for change. What is Right is not always that specific, or that clear. Still, it is with the certainty that whatever the result, I have done what is Right. As a man of honor and principle, I truly believe it is not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game. It doesn't stop me from being angry or frustrated or dissappointed, but I would do it again, just the same, without question. I am a committed, dedicated person, and really, most often I see no "choices" in my life. The choice was to chise the path I have chosen, to do what is Right, to live by this code that most often leaves me little choice of what to do. "Live Free or Die".
I wonder sometimes if I am literally wearing out? I've never been able to afford medical care, I can't say what my health is like. Or am I just losing energy to keep pursuing the music in the face of so much indifference. Enthusiasm isn't an emotion I have felt in a long time. At least on the street I get recognition from the people, serve them, sometimes even get respect, and have been given enough to live and keep playing; while the business has been a waste of time for 20 years and more. Still, I said I'd try to leave a record of my music. I can try to make it available to people with the internet, and teach. I still dream of world touring and teaching. Also, the fact is that outside America I get respect for what I do, and that means more than money. While here I am a persecuted minority, as well as getting marginalized in my art. But in the end, social action matters more to me, conciousness raising. The music started as a tool to that end, then became an end in itself. Now, as I reflect on my life, struggling to make a better world is the only thing that really matters much to me. The world is such a painful place for me, life has been harsh, and the only response I can feel some peace from is to struggle to do something about it, even while I recognize I'll never know actual peace. I can flee to the wilderness, but even there I cannot excape the world entirely. And once I have recovered some equilibrium, I face the moral imperative to return to the struggle. The question is still how and where. To do as I once did with the music and the street, or start something new. I could take the staus quo and work for some righteous organization? Or I could write the book everyone keeps telling me to write?
I'm worn out by the loneliness or walking a road no one else wants to follow. It is the life that I have lived, so I still consider that I should accept it and make the best of it, and not try to accumulate things, not try to build anything physical, anything specific. Though I might long for a home and family, a place of my own, you can't have everything. When I am singing, I don't really think about it. When it comes down to it, I'll be more satisfied if I can do something to make a better world, struggling for peace, freedom, and justice, than anything I might do for myself. I just can't find any deep enthusiam for anything personal or selfish, I just don't think that way. Though the desire is still in there deep and strong from my youngest days, for the "cabin in the woods", the homestead farm. Though it also included the wife and family, maybe the most important part of the dream, if the most vague, though that seems even less likely at this point. This, of course, troubles me.. to live alone is not natural, and celibacy isn't either, but you can't have everything. If I learned one thing its that no one is better than the wrong one. My few personal experiences have not been good. I'm not even sure what a woman has to offer me, or what I have to offer her. I have so lttle time and energy, I need a partner, someone to make my life easier, not harder, not another distraction and burden. Its been so long since I even talked to a woman, I don't know how to begin to relate. Though I did try, I know life would have been a lot better if I had remained alone, that's obvious. Though I still believe life would have been better still if I had found the Right one. But to find one who would be happy living a life like mine, wants to live a life like mine? Find someone who is really like me? I accept that it is highly improbable, and though I have seen many improbable things happen, I don't count on them. No one is to blame. The fact is, I live in a different world, have lived a different life. I went one way, and American culture went another.. in fact, we seem to be in a seriously regressive period culturally, while I took off on the crest of a progressive wave and continued forward as it retreated behind me, and then the tide went out! Its like I am a man from a different time, some time in the future, when people are sensitive and considerate, gentle and unselfish, an enlightened world, free of the ignorance that plagues the world now. I feel like a modern person living in the dark ages, alternately irritated and horrified at the world around me. While the natural world sings in harmony to me. It is beautiful and terrible, demanding awe and respect, humility and strength, practicality and spirit, calling upon body, mind, heart, and soul.
I took the road untravelled, and I have no regrets about that, in fact, its more like I had no choice. I am what I am. In fact, I regret much more that I fell away from that, tried to be more "normal", tried to live a more normal life. A normal life, the status quo, just isn't in me. I long instead for the times in my life when I was so far out of the ordinary, a mystic wandering the wildlands, or singing and talking on the street. It was a life so full of something I can't explain, yet is the only thing that ever really had meaning for me, made me move. It was so intense, that the status quo just can't even make me wake up enough to notice it, much less participate in the roles they have for me. In fact, my real desire is to return to that life, and to go further.
I've had people ask me if I am happy, and I have thought a lot about how to reply. I have to be honest, but I do not wish to trouble anyone. The simple truth is that my life hasn't been about happiness, or even about myself. Happiness for me is perhaps something different than for most peole. I'm definitely not like most people, though I am still just another person, and interesting place. I chose to practice a certain way of life, though I don't know if I can explain it simply and be sure I am understood. I dedicated myself to service long ago, and to doing what is Right. This is not a moral or ethical statement, but more a fact of physics, and a sense like sight or smell. It could be related to music, where it is called "right" or "just" when two notes are in tune, when and instrument is in tune. Is that a moral judgement? no, it is just a fact, a sense. When I am playing music I can do it "right" or "wrong" and the difference is obvious. There is not nescessarily a single "right" note, because it cannot be judged outside the music it is part of, and many notes might be right enough, but each will be different, change the flow, and it matters where you are coming from and where you are going. But the energy flows or it is distrupted, hamony or dissonance.
I started out studying eastern philosophy, and my "Way" is drawn from that. Later, I studied Ai Ki Do, which means the way of harmony with the universal energy. I studied and practiced many things, to find my own path rather than follow any given way. All sharpened and heightened that essential instinctive and enherent ability to distinguish "right" from "wrong", or as much "right" from "not right", in tune from out of tune, harmony from dissonance, not just in music, or martial arts, but in all things. I have come to live in a world of energies and forces, where the manifest world often, if not always, secondary to that questing sense for the rightness. Often it feels like I am questing through a tangled web of vibrations seeking out the music that will let me sense what is right.. and again, often my sense cannot tell me "what" to do, only tell me as it happens whether it is "right" not, and I try to follow the thread of rightness. The thread of coincidence has also been a part of it, as I push aside the probabilities by "knowing" the "right" place and time to do something or as I follow a way that leads from coincidence to coincidence, following a thread through unusual circumstances that could not be planned or expected. Then I Know things. Often more than I want to know. But all that is beyond what I can or wish explain here. I have found that many if not all the essential aspects of life are found described in the short, older words of a language. There is an old word for people like me, "fey".
No, I cannot say I am happy. In fact, I would say that most often I am not. I am a troubled man, rocked by emotional storms, scarred by trauma, yet this does do not trouble me. Its like I am the rock the waves break over, I feel them, yet they do not move me. Its like when I am doing a hard job and get hurt, I feel the pain, but it doesn't trouble me, it's just part of the job, I feel it and I move on, it doesn't concern me. So my happiness or unhappiness doesn't concern me. Happiness is like sunlight on a cloudy day, I feel it as it shines on me, am unconcerned when it passes. Just as it doesn't trouble me that I am troubled. Considering my life and the state of the world, I might be more concerned if I wasn't troubled! All that matters to me is doing Right. What I am is satisfied. Not satisfied with my life as a whole, or the world, but satisfied that I have done Right, as much as I could. I am no saint, am not perfect, have made my mistakes. But still, I have for the most part done Right and every step. I have shown character, and I respect myself for what I have done, as I would respect another. I know the life I have lived, and I am satisfied with my self. I have accepted life, come what may. The simplest fact is that doing what is Right doesn't always make you happy, and I seek to do what is Right, not what makes me happy. I'm not even sure what would make me happy, since I never thought about it much. I didn't think about that when I dropped everything to take care of ma. I didn't think of that when I raised the Hurley. But I am satisfied I did the Right thing, without question. I find a deep satisfaction in serving others. I have done many many things I am satisfied with, proud of, would do again without question. For me, that satisfaction is more important than any happiness I might have achieved in my life, more important than the disatisfaction, frustration or unhappiness these things cause me.
For all that I am troubled and unhappy, unsatisfied with the world and my life, life itself isn't bad. I am happy when I sing for people and I see they enjoy it, are moved by it. Sometimes it is so beautiful, so magic, it is such an intense and powerful experience I feel priviledged to share. Though I just don't know if "happy" is the right word for what I feel. Singing isn't always joyful, it is deep and serious, profound, even when it is light-hearted. The emotions in the music are powerful and sometimes they are hard. That is one of the roles of music, to take something sad and make it beautiful, to take your troubles and let them out, express what is trapped inside, to share them with others and know they understand. But even then it satisfies something in me that needs to come out. I am being what I am in that moment, and the energy flows. It feels great, happy or sad. Does that make sense? I love playing with other people, when the energy comes right. I love all sorts of things where you feel the energy come into balance and flow, like sailing. I love to sing harmony, though I so seldom get a chance, those are some of my best memories. I love teaching, doing school shows is a great pleasure. It is great when I am able to reach someone, teach them, help them learn, help them make another step towards a more enlightened conciousness, a better attitude. The natural world is intensely beautiful, beautiful and terrible, and I love it. When I am out in the wilds, I enjoy the intensity, the harshness even. I live a hard life, but I do not suffer. I'm an outdoorsman, a gypsy, a sailor.. the things I consider normal aren't exactly comfortable, but I enjoy the intensity of the life, and the incredible beauty of the natural world. I am often oddly happy in the face of adversity, when the going gets tough, I get rather light-hearted somehow.
I don't know that I can explain the way I experience the world, my motivations and senses, what causes me pleasure or pain, and how I experience that. I don't know how in the little space I have here. I hope I have in some way helped you understand a glimpse of this road I'm on.
So it goes, I've gotten along a lot better than a lot of poor people in this world, at least I've managed to avoid prison, unlike many of my friends, and been able to manage a warm place to sleep, and something to eat, most of my life, unlike many people in this world. A lot of people have had to deal with a lot worse traumas than I have. I have managed to do ok, the way I see it. I've always been able to take care of myself, and while I'm not nescessarily happy, I chose the road I'm, as many do not, and I still do not regret that at all. It would be great if life had worked out better, but I'd rather my life was the same and others who suffer more had better lives, if there was such a choice. Personally, I feel priviledged to have experienced the true greatest depths of beauty and moments of true magic. At least I do not dwell in superstition, ignorance, prejudice and bigotry like so many of my fellows. At least I can escape to the wildlands where I need not live in fear, where I can let my sensitivity extend unrestrained. Though when I leave, I am constantly hassled by people, and criminals, and derelicts, and the cops, but at least they don't shoot on sight, yet. And there are good people to, of course, and ones in the middle. But realistically, often it seems that America has little offer me except persecution for daring to be different, for actually believing that I had a right to liberty, to freedom, for daring to speak out for truth and justice, for peace and love, for reason and rationality, for being right about too many things, as time has proven, for speaking out against selfishness and greed. Modern American culture pretty much turns me off, if I ever really bother to tune it in. Mostly I just ignor it, though there's probably some good stuff going on somewhere, well, so it goes. I'd rather watch a sunset than watch TV, but I guess the whole point is that I am not "normal" and am happy to be so. I am not totally out of touch, in fact, I read and keep up with the news, and even participate in many ways. I am satisfied to be way out on the edge of the old bell curve, satisfied I am doing good work, satisfied I am doing Right. Not much else matters.
I keep waiting for the tide to turn, waiting for the people to learn...I am what I am and have been what I have been, a vagabondi, the mystic gypsy, an unrepentent, unrehabilitated, unrelenting, idealistic evolutionary leftist, a practical romantic, a wise man, a fool, a spiritually-mystically motivated traveller on the way, and of course, a folksinger.