Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Do you really need more than three chords?...or She came in through the bathroom window

Entry 12 - March 25th, 2014

Do you really need more than three chords?...or She came in through the bathroom window

There's a fantastic scene in Jack Black's movie School of Rock where he is going to great lengths to explain the history of Rock n Roll to his students; complete with exploded branching diagrams of how each band influenced countless others and gave birth to enough genres and sub-genres to make your head spin. This is me any time I get a chance to speak with someone and share my musical passion...if you give me a few minutes and let me talk about any subject that I please it will either be Jesus, comics/movies, or music...so you have been warned. I have found that my love of multiple musical styles has kept me sane on long road trips and provided me with interesting conversation with people from all walks as pretty much everyone has a favorite band, artist or style that they identify with and the chances are pretty good that I'll find something to identify with in discussing it with you even if it doesn't happen to be something that I'm particularly interested in or familiar with. Contrary to popular belief I haven't heard everything there is out there and I'm constantly finding new music to enjoy and new artists to consider...even if their records are not exactly recent.

Why do I identify with that scene so much? I guess it's because whenever I hear a new artist...particularly in rock...I'm not just hearing them but all the bands that might have influenced their sound. Some wear their influences proudly; while others only hint at them subtly...either way it makes for interesting and entertaining listening. It also means that whenever someone mentions to me that they really like a particular band or artist I often think of three or four others that they might like just as much or that really played a part in the development of that particular style. I'll give you an example: a few years back a friend of mine told me that they really enjoyed some of the 80's pop that they had heard but didn't know much other than what was on a bunch of the one hit wonder compilations. All of that stuff is fun and cool but I told her there was so much more that came out in the 80s that might seem more meaningful than just A-Ha's Take on Me or Your Love by the Outfield. She was intrigued so I pulled together some music from Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, The Cure, Siouxsee and the Banshees, REM, My Bloody Valentine (yes I know this is technically 1990), The Police, etc...and that was really just one corner. It's hard to sum up a musical decade, but the point was to show that it was way more interesting and appealing than just the stuff that get's branded with the nostalgia tag.

I suppose this might make me sound like some kinda hipster trying to sound like I knew it all first but I'm far from that. I dislike the whole "I'm cooler than you because I heard them first, I was a fan when they were still practicing in the garage and giving away cassette demos" attitude that some people take with their favorite bands and I honestly don't see the point. Every band makes music to be heard in some capacity, and the vast majority wants to be heard on a large scale. I'm not saying that every band or artist is aiming for arena tours and a billion albums sold on a major record label - and that model is dying anyway...a subject for a whole different post - but they all want to be heard on some scale. the ones that don't want to be heard that are really just writing and playing for catharsis aren't being heard because they don't share their work. If they made a point to record songs and post them online or put them on a CD or Record then you can put money on the fact that they want someone to hear it so please stop with holier than thou superfan routine.

Anyway, in attempting to make some kind of point to all of this rambling I guess I'm saying that Music is meant to be shared. You should take the time to find new tunes and then tell your family or friends...find like-minded people who are into the same stuff and turn the volume to 11 and rock out or dance until you can't feel your limbs anymore. look at the bands that your favorite artist listens to and check out their stuff too; you might find that you like the same stuff your parents liked at your age. Above all, keep exploring beyond what you already know. Music is universal and somewhere out there is another person feeling the same way you do and about to press play on a song that just might change their life...and maybe change yours along the way.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Straining the Sands of Time...or a blip on the radar screen

Entry 11 - March 16th, 2014

Straining the Sands of Time...or a blip on the radar screen

I'm not quite sure when it begins to creep into your thoughts, but eventually the thought of your own mortality is something that you'll have to face. It might appear in the briefest instant when you notice a wrinkle or a gray hair in the mirror during the morning routine...maybe as a series of flashes when you brake hard in traffic to avoid the car in front of you and you're not quite sure you'll stop in time. For some it's when they reach those milestone birthdays that they dread and a party supply store makes a few bucks on black balloons and tombstone cards...or after they have a major medical procedure that they weren't sure they'd see the other side of. The point is...we're mortal. We have a finite span of time in which to spend our time on this earth and at some point we'll come face to face with just those thoughts...but what happens when you're not sure just how you fit into the allotted time that you have left on this spinning blue mudball?

Recently, my Grandmother has been in the hospital with some medical trouble and she's been really down. This recent bout is not the first time she's had a medical scare in the last few years and she has been increasingly aware of her remaining years, making us all aware that she knows she is nearing the end of her terrestrial journey and that she is ready to go home when the Lord calls. You can imagine that this doesn't necessarily make conversations easy since most of us would rather not dwell on the fact that she might soon pass on. I did get over to the hospital to sit with her a couple of times during her stay and in one of our conversations she alluded to the idea that she feels like a relic in our ever increasingly digital age. We watched as one of the med techs came in to check and replace the battery in one of the devices monitoring her vitals. It was a small box that had a few leads running to a patch on her hand and the tech explained that it was transmitting her data over a wireless signal to the main desk so the staff could keep an eye on her levels and he just wanted to make sure it continued to run smoothly. After he left she remarked on how out of place she felt amidst all the increasing technology. She didn't have a computer hooked to the internet for very long and apparently there was some sort of scam that they were almost victim of and ever since she is afraid that it could happen again. (the fact that some scammer called their house a few months back to tell them that I was in jail in Amsterdam and they needed money to get me released has not alleviated those fears...but that's another story entirely)

Grandma and Grandpa will both be 85 this year, next month in fact. The speed at which technology has been increasing and changing just in the latter period of their lives is staggering and I can see why it would scare her. The world being full of people that want to take advantage of the elderly just makes it worse and truly makes my heart hurt. It takes a person operating at seriously low depths to scam children and elders...we should be treasuring them and learning from the naiveté of the young and the wisdom of the old...not stealing from them. I could go on about that but it would take this into a whole different area and become a bit of a rant...which is not my intention.

I wonder what our digital world will look like when I reach 85...will I feel as out of place as my grandparents do? Will the technology cause me to fear I've been left behind in a different age? I like to think that I'm pretty savvy with this stuff but let's be honest...when I graduated from highschool 19 years ago we didn't even have a computer in the house...I could use one at school or the library. Now I'm on a laptop working wirelessly and my phone can do everything that first home computer we got in 1996 did...and more. So yeah, it's safe to say that - given 48 more years - the technology will increase 100 times over and it may be me who feels like a relic from another era that's long since past its expiration date. Of course there's also the question of whether or not I even make it to 85...but we'll save that discussion for another time.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

REM Sleep in Progress...or I touched the surface of Me and shattered

Entry 10 - March 9th, 2014

REM Sleep in Progress...or I touched the surface of Me and shattered

Continuing the theme of the previous post...There is a purpose to it all and if you take a chance and look into it on your own, without any preconceptions or idle notions you just might find something more than what the surface can see...you are more than just a sack of flesh and bone ambling through this existence...not an accident or some cosmic twist of fate...you were given the faculties to question and wonder...use them...and so it begins...

If I wonder long enough will this all make sense or is it only an illusion?

It's a question worth considering in the span between breaths, the fragile oxygen hanging in the space between the atmosphere and inhalation, on the verge of being the molecules that further this existence. The short frame of seconds is all it really takes for that first thought to creep in and take hold...giving birth to the wonder that will forever captivate the imagination with a spark and a light that never willingly goes out. But will it make sense? Will it be the realization that finally gives it all meaning and purpose and drives forward towards that place where the pieces all fit together and everything works out to the right conclusion? Or is it just another wisp of illusion, a sleight of hand in the fog and mirrors surrounding us? Can it be both? It's one of the things that invades my slumber in the apparition of a dream...this idea that maybe the illusion is as close to being what makes everything work as the reality we cling to...treading through the mundane and the trivial like they're the only things that are certain....and in the quiet moments when nothing stirs and the only sounds are the natural humming of the night intermingled with the mechanical revolutions and the breath of life filling and escaping from our lungs....the only time our guard comes down and who we really are is laid bare for the "not so" blind eyes of the evening...it's these moments when our most lucid thoughts play out on the theater screens of our minds....and we dismiss them as careless wondering and easy dreams, sometimes even nightmares....but what if all our daylight hours were the real source of fiction? What if what we consider our normal average daily routine was the real dream...a sort of broadcast image controlling our range of thought...to the point where no one openly considers the idea of there being anything more. Is this all we are? And if so then what's the point of wondering at all? Unless....unless maybe there is something more out there....maybe life is not so paint by the numbers cut along the dotted lines....maybe it's a mess and a dream and a hope in knowing that each day is another step....another chance to wonder....

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The smallest span between breaths...or the short story yet to be

Entry 09 - March 8th, 2014

The smallest span between breaths...or the short story yet to be

To be a dream...

The first waking moment is always the most alarming...It's that moment when you're most unsure if your surroundings are still part of some fantastical dream or terrifying nightmare....or the real world you know. But what if our whole life is someone else's dream? What if we spend all of our days chasing fleeting things that don't satisfy and only leave us desperate for one moment of contentment...a real sense of being loved? I think there are a lot of people out there living their lives in a dream world that they did not create nor did they ask for and yet there they are...shuffling along to the beat of some distant drum that keeps them in time with whatever seems to be popular at the moment. 

We are all born into this world with nothing...no possessions, no name, no previous experiences....and yet somehow we know that what we see around us doesn't seem to be all there is to the world. Over time some people numb this inside of themselves until it's nothing but a dim ember barely burning as a thought. The thought doesn't go away though, no matter how much we would like it to just disappear and allow us to live this self-absorbed existence. It grows and branches out into our thoughts until it can no longer be ignored or suppressed. It whispers to us in the moments when we let ourselves stop running after trivial things..."there is a world that you are missing"..."you are loved more than you realize"...."wake up o sleeper"...and these whispers can become haunting the longer we try to ignore them.

So where do we go from here? Where do these whispers take us if we follow them just a little, to look beyond the dream that we're living in?

Friday, March 7, 2014

Weighing the slings and arrows...or hey are you listening?

Entry 08 - March 7th, 2014

Weighing the slings and arrows...or hey are you listening?

The final installment in the Voice series....and the questions raised are not lost on me...this life is not something that you just make a single decision about and then never have to think about again...it's a constant evaluation of the path you're on...there's a plethora of easier ones branching out...but they only lead into the darkness...

The Voice of God is Clear

A single flame starts with just one spark. It sounds rather simplistic and maybe even cliché. But it’s true. Over the course of your time this week you’ve heard a lot of ideas and messages and it started. Right there in the back of your mind there was a tickle, a small voice whispering to you. And as the time has gone on that voice has echoed the things I’ve been telling you about my Father and about His voice. Are you listening?
My Father has the power in His voice to call forth the farthest-reaching galaxy and with that power He created the universe and every single thing within it.  It would seem that with a power of that magnitude He would be distant and unreachable, and yet He cares for the well-being of every single living creature, especially you. He is loving and kind and calling out to you amidst the cacophony of the world and pointing out a path that leads in a different direction than the rest. Remember that the enemy is very cunning and he’s out there constantly roaming around, calling out in the plethora of personae that he employs. All those other paths may seem different and sometimes they’re much easier to walk down, but they all lead to the same place. He’s even more persistent if you choose to follow my Father. The enemy would like nothing more than to drag you away from my Father as fast as he can because he knows that if you are following my Father it’s bad news for him. And while he knows that he can’t destroy you while you walk with my Father he will do everything he can to make it hard on you. Even with all this, when you’re following my Father there is comfort in His strength and in Him there is a joy that the enemy cannot take from you.

In the midst of that calling my Father is crying out for the lost and the broken, those who are hurting in this life. His heart breaks for them and He wants them to know how much He cares for them. He wants you to have a heart for them as well. The world is full of broken and hurting people, people I died to save. People my Father loves and cherishes and wants to come home to His family. He wants you to be the one to show them the way. Your life is quite possibly the only picture of my Father they may ever see and it hurts Him to see them turn away because you don’t take the time to show them that He loves them by loving them yourself. You have been given a great gift and shown a way to travel and He wants you to be excited by this and be willing to show others what you’ve discovered in your time here. It‘s as simple as giving a drink to someone who is thirsty or a hug to someone who is feeling a like the world is caving in on them.
My Father’s voice is calling out clearly and when you’ve decided to follow Him it becomes unmistakable. The longer you walk on the path the more you begin to recognize Him whispering to you quietly. Even with all His power He chooses to speak to you quietly in your hearts and guide you with a loving concern.

God is speaking. Are you listening?