Sunday, September 19, 2021

Mandala #63: Song



















                                                                                   

A bird does not sing because it has an answer.  It sings because it has a song.

(Chinese proverb)

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

True names / September light 2021


















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My joy is like Spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.  My pain is like a river of tears, so vast it fills the four oceans.  Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and my laughter at once, so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Thich Nhat Hanh


Monday, September 13, 2021

Keep on Doing what you do (1982) / Woman Listening (1984) / Suzzy Roche & Lucy Wainwright Roche (2020)

Keep on Doing what you do / Jerks on the Loose

Nobody around here knows what happened to you
No one will ask you to explain
You have your arm around a drastic measure
All of your efforts down the drain
There might be something here you could get into
Or just be quiet by yourself
oooooooo. . .
Stare at the stuff up on the shelf
You work too hard to take this abuse
Be on your guard jerks on the loose
Look who did it to you
Joker over there with nothing to do
Don't let 'm get through
Keep on Doing what you do
Why don't you listen to my little pep talk
Instead of what that person said
And now I'm gonna open up the window
And you will come in off that ledge
You work too hard to take this abuse
Be on your guard jerks on the loose
Jerks on the loose
Jerks on the loose

(Terre and Suzzy Roche, 1982)

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("Woman Listening," drawn by am in 1984, chalk pastel on paper)

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Suzzy Roche & Lucy Wainwright Roche in 2020:


Friday, September 10, 2021

Am is all over the place today and it's a good thing that everything is connected


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Although I don't identify as religious, atheist or Buddhist or anything else, I listen to people who do identify. I found this to be helpful. 

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If I had any money to support this man's project, I would.  Scroll down to see his I-Ching imagery, the result of his 25 years of solitary work on this project.

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When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
(John Muir)

Monday, September 6, 2021

One of many unfolding stories that are becoming widespread


The small town where I live is one of the places that has long drawn people from all over the world because of its beauty and affordability and because it is a college town.  In the past year or so, affordable housing has become a thing of the past.  People who have lived here for most or all of their lives, who work hard and live from paycheck to paycheck are being given notice by property management companies that their rent is being raised by several hundred dollars.  We have a substantial homeless population.  People are selling their homes and moving to less desirable places in Washington and out of state because they can't afford the property tax here.

Although I have a tiny but beautiful low-end condominium that is paid for, I do pay monthly condo dues.  My sole income is my Social Security check of just over $1000.  Living simply, I have been able be oddly financially comfortable while aware of my financial vulnerability.  Because investors are buying condominiums in my complex, the owner demographics are changing from low-income and retired people, mostly women, to those who have substantial disposable income, mostly men.  Because this is a low-end condominium, like the one that collapsed in Florida, it has become clear that the condo dues need to be raised for numerous safety reasons.  The newer financially secure residents can afford steadily increasing condo dues.  Those of us who are already paying all that we can afford are suddenly aware that we may need to sell and move to a less desirable place because there is no way any of us could hope to afford to buy another condominium or to pay rent for the limited housing in our small town.

I bought my condo in 1989 for $50,000, which was almost more than I could afford at the time.  Today it is worth $300,000, more or less.  Watching the video and reading the comments, I see how widespread is the phenomenon shown in the video and am particularly struck by the comments about "company housing" and the affordable housing shortage:

"I owe my soul to the company store"- Sixteen Tons- Tennessee Ernie Ford. Funny how everything that's old is new again.


Bottom line the US has a major affordable housing shortage.


This makes me want to cry. We’ve truly failed the young people of this country


Oh. They only charge 1500 a month. Wow, that’s savage. We are literally going back to company towns. Even if they are paying 15/he and you work 40 hrs a week, that’s 60% of your gross pay. That’s evil


So, the average person can't afford to live in the cities or in the suburbs. GG America.

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What I am thinking this morning is that I will stay in my condo as long as possible and then sell it and hope that I can live on the proceeds, paying rent and applying for Section 8 help for the rest of my life.

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"Money doesn't talk, it swears."


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No easy answers to any one of these current crises that have been brewing for a long long time.

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Then I found this, not an answer but something that gives me a choice:

For many years, my students at Boston College have read Viktor Frankl’s sublime work Man’s Search for Meaning, a reflection on his experience at Auschwitz and a sketch of the psychotherapeutic technique he developed from that experience. I’ve wanted them to meet this remarkable man, and to learn something about how his experience of extremity forced him to confront the stark choice between despair and hope — and to choose hope. The quote above is a snapshot of how he responded: to retain what he describes as “the last of human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

Frankl was a sober realist: he details the horrors of Auschwitz and the moral corruption of those who worked there. His philosophy was not about wishing away problems or pretending they do not exist, but rather to acknowledge them in their grim reality. Yet in spite of this realism, or rather because of it, he describes how holding onto hope was literally a life-or-death choice. Those who lost hope, he said, developed a certain look in their eye, a fatalism that inevitably ended in death. They experienced an “existential vacuum” — his term for a complete loss of meaning, a loss of hope, a sense that nothing really mattered any more.

(am's note:  I was unable to adjust the spacing for the above excerpt)



Saturday, September 4, 2021

For R who was devastated as he watched the beginning of the war in Afghanistan 30 years after he returned, broken, from Vietnam / For wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and friends of soldiers throughout history

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"The fact that these 3 brave souls can disagree and not feel like killing each other - MAN O MAN. How I wish this spirit would be in us."

(Comment on YouTube video "Purple Heart Veterans React to the US Withdrawal from Afghanistan")

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One of the three Purple Heart Veterans says, "Why would I want my children to join the military?"

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More comments on the above YouTube video:

"I listened to Dire Straits throughout my time in Afghanistan.  Played out of a communication laptop attached to our armoured vehicle.  Kept me going.  👍👍"

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"This song has always been emotional to me, but it hits much harder after this past week. Thank you for this heart felt performance Mark. Thinking about everyone I served with in Afghanistan."

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"I'm a Vietnam Vet. When I heard this the first time I cried the tears of a baby. Only a combat vet can understand how much this song is true in every word. Don't think for one second that I believe any of you don't feel the words. I know you do. I'm talking of a visceral, deep in the bones, feeling. One that goes far beyond just feeling the song. Now it's so many years since this was released and still I cry when I hear it. Thank you Mark for writing this and for giving such a heartfelt performance each and every time. I love your work."

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"This is a song that kids should be taught in schools all over the world. Look after each other. Look after our world. Beautiful."

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BROTHERS IN ARMS

These mist covered mountains
Are a home now for me
But my home was the lowlands
And always will be
Someday you'll return to
Your valleys and your farms
And you'll no longer burn to be
Brothers in arms
Through these fields of destruction
Baptism of fire
I've watched all your suffering
As a battle raged high
And though they did hurt me so bad
In the fear and alarm
You did not desert me
My brothers in arms
So many different worlds
So many different suns
And we have just one world
But we live in different ones
Now the sun's gone to hell
And the moon's riding high
Let me bid you farewell
Every man has to die
But it's written in the starlight
And every line in your palm
We are fools to make war
On our brothers in arms

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I want to make it clear, however, that although I am deeply opposed to war, I am not advocating appeasement. It is often necessary to take a strong stand to counter unjust aggression. For instance, it is plain to all of us that the Second World War was entirely justified. It "saved civilization" from the tyranny of Nazi Germany, as Winston Churchill so aptly put it. In my view, the Korean War was also just, since it gave South Korea the chance of gradually developing democracy. But we can only judge whether or not a conflict was vindicated on moral grounds with hindsight. For example, we can now see that during the Cold War, the principle of nuclear deterrence had a certain value. Nevertheless, it is very difficult to assess al such matters with any degree of accuracy. War is violence and violence is unpredictable. Therefore, it is better to avoid it if possible, and never to presume that we know beforehand whether the outcome of a particular war will be beneficial or not.

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From Ursula K. Le Guin's translation of the Tao Te Ching:

AGAINST WAR

Even the best weapon
is an unhappy tool,
hateful to living things.
So the follower of the Way
stays away from it.

Weapons are unhappy tools,
not chosen by thoughtful people,
to be used only when there is no choice,
and with a calm, still mind,
without enjoyment.
To enjoy using weapons
is to enjoy killing people,
and to enjoy killing people
is to lose your share in the common good.

It is right that the murder of many people
be mourned and lamented.
It is right that a victor in war
be received with funeral ceremonies.

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Let every voice be heard.  

"... Let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late ..."

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Go outside / The best guitar lesson ever


Go Outside 

And welcome to my heart and soul
Miserable excuse
But tell the world of all the pain I've caused
I hope you don't forget these songs
And though I'm young life's been short
I'm only twenty-one
I feel as though we can relate on some
Of these words I've written down
So turn off, turn off this song
Find someone to love
Turn off this song
You can listen to it later
And go outside
And guys in bands
With vintage shirts and hundred dollar pants
Often think we do what no one can
We see ourselves above the rest
When faced with truth
I realize there is nothing I can do
Amount of talent or gift to bring
That is greater than the orphan song she sings yeah
Turn off, turn off this song
Find someone to love
Turn off this song
You can listen to it later
And go outside
Yeah you turn off, turn off this song
Find someone to love
Turn off this song
You can listen to it later
And go outside
And go outside
And go outside
And go outside

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Ten years later, this song remains as close to my heart as the first time I heard it.  Grateful to YouTube for drawing my attention to numerous versions, which brought me to this comment by Sonja R:

I met him.  He said he was visiting his grandparents in an old folks home and they weren't able to move around and go outside like they used to.  So that was his inspiration for this song.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Journey: Walking each other home


Photo and text from NPR:

Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento, Calif. [am's note:  Nicole is one of the thirteen Americans who died on August 28]

This undated photo provided by U.S. Department of Defense Twitter page posted on Aug. 20 shows Sgt. Nicole Gee holding a baby at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. Officials said Saturday that Gee was killed in Thursday's bombing.

U.S. Department of Defense/AP
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Flashing for the warriors whose strength is not to fight
Flashing for the refugees on the unarmed road of flight
An’ for each an’ ev’ry underdog soldier in the night

...

Tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an’ forsaked

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Vietnamerica: A Family's Journey by GB Tran comes to mind this morning.  The sorrow of war repeating itself at the end of August 2021.  The chimes of freedom flashing and tolling.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Butterfly / Transformation and Hope / Listening to the music of Ray Downey


Ray Downey lived a full life as a musician here in Bellingham until his death in 2014 and now there is a memorial music library website where his music can be heard.  I found a video showing him playing with Yambique in 2008.  He played with numerous bands throughout his life as well as a symphony orchestra.  He's the one with the pink and pale purple shirt.


The website says, "To request sheet music for an upcoming performance, please contact us