Saturday, July 24, 2010

I searched and I searched

Cootie knows (knew) that we can't take it with us when we die.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hello there my old friend...

I've been listening to the blues lately and it feels like I've rediscovered one of my oldest and best friends. I used to study the blues, I listened strictly to blues and I went to every blues show I could afford. I forgot how much I missed it.

One of the best performances I've ever witnessed was by an artist named Harry Manx. He played an instrument called the Mohan Vena and it was like nothing I had ever seen, probably because there are only a few westerners to ever learn how to play it. Harry is one and George Harrison of the Beatles was another. Manx actually went and lived in India for 12 years, 5 of them with the inventor of the Mohan Vena to learn the instrument.

For the performance I attended, Manx played solo on several different instruments including the Mohan Vena, and when he finished he announced that he was going to play another set inside on the smaller acoustic stage. At his announcement, the 2000 or so people at the venue proceeded to crowd into the bar sized acoustic stage and watch him play for another hour, completely ignoring the next national act to hit the big stage. It was one of the most profound things I'd ever seen happen at a concert. He was able to move the audience like no other performer I've seen.

For the longest time I couldn't find much about him on the internet. It was probably 8 years ago I saw him perform and at the time we didn't have youtube, myspace or google and many musicians still didn't have personal websites.

As I was writing this morning I decided I would search for him again and was pleased to see he's all over the web now and is still performing quite often.

For your listening pleasure I've posted a couple videos of Harry performing. The first, Manx tells a bit of his story and plays a beautiful song called "Rueban's Train" on the Mohan Vena. The second is a song you should recognize.

The Treat Before the Cage

Molly, my Doberman/Vizsla mix, is insane.

She’s far too smart for a dog and she’s got far too much energy for our little house. For this reason, when we leave the house, we have no choice but to put her in a kennel in the basement. She hates the kennel and for many months, she used her all her strength, energy, and wit to escape whenever possible. The first escape was simple enough for her. The steel kennel was collapsible so she collapsed it. After we reassembled the kennel, using about 2-dozen zip ties to make it un-collapsible, we thought we had her beat, but all it took was for her to figure out how to open the bottom latch and squeeze out. After we put a padlock on the bottom latch we thought we were victorious, but the task was far from accomplished. Soon she discovered the side door and worked its bottom latch and was out again. Soon we were using a total of 5 padlocks on the doors and yet when we made the mistake of leaving the key in one of the locks, she was somehow able to unlock it and squeeze out once again.

These days we use 5 padlocks and put the key across the room. We haven’t had an escape for many months and I think Molly has finally resigned to her daytime fate, but I do know if we ever forget to lock a lock, she’ll find it and escape to destroy our home again.

The point of this whole story is that when it comes to working a day job, I can relate to Molly. I work a good job, for a good company, but I still can’t help wish that I was free to roam the country, the world, or even just my musical imagination. Unfortunately, in this chapter of my life, it just isn’t possible. Don’t get me wrong, I’m testing the locks every day and if I ever find one that’s loose, I’ll escape, but it probably won’t be tomorrow.

One of the things that has helped me deal with my “imprisonment” is one of the things that seems to help Molly deal with hers. While Molly hates the kennel, she loves treats. These days, getting her into her kennel is as simple as grabbing a treat and saying, “Go to your room.” With this command she’ll run downstairs and sit in her kennel and wait for her treat and for me to triple padlock the door shut.

For lack of a better solution I use the same method on myself when it comes to work. While I don’t enjoy going to work, I do go to bed every night looking forward to waking up in the morning. I used to roll out of bed 20 minutes before I needed to leave, get around and then drive to work half asleep. Over the last couple years though, I've been waking up a couple hours early and using the time to sip coffee, practice piano, read, write or whatever else I feel I don’t have time to do after work. I also get to watch the sun rise every morning and its one of my favorite times of the day. How could I not look forward to waking up?

I run across a lot of people who are generally discontent with everything in their life. They don’t like their town, their job, they don’t have enough friends, enough money or enough anything, and for a long time I felt myself falling into this trap. Once I realized how big of a difference sacrificing an hour of two of over-sleeping made, to do some things that really mattered to me, I started looking for other unproductive areas of my life to cut away from and fill with things that mattered. I watch a lot less TV and movies now than I used to and use the time instead to walk the dogs and write music. I used to spend a lot of time reading online news and surfing the web but now I try to limit it and spend the time exercising or with Mindy doing things we both enjoy.

I still don’t have it all figured out and I still end up wasting a lot of time, but my general level of happiness has increased substantially.

I’m no lifestyle guru, but if you can relate to anything I just wrote, it might be worth trying out.