Saturday, February 28, 2009

Upscale Umrage 2/28/09

Without rain there would be no life.

John Updike
Hello dreamer.
I like the rain.

Rain: the grand metaphor for sorrow, trouble, depression, frustration and inconvenience. "Into every life a little rain must fall." "Don't rain on my parade." "Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day." And so on, and so on. We run away from it or carry an umbrella to protect ourselves from it as if it was seven angels dumping plagues on our heads.

Well I happen to like rain. If Nature wants to water her trees, then she can water my head while she's at it. I know about sorrow. Tears can help clean the slate. I know about trouble. It's what makes you knuckle down and solve things. I know about frustration. I own a computer after all. Let the rain come. It can't hurt me.

I used to go hiking in the White Mountain National Forest whenever I could. Sometimes I went out in the rain. One day I took a trail that skirted the side of a cliff. It wasn't a long trail but it was steep and difficult, and very slippery because it began to rain. I donned my rain gear, a large pullover rain coat that came to my knees, with a hood. I also had my big walking stick. As I got near the end of the trail I heard something you don't expect to ever hear way out in the woods. I heard a car door slam.

I was approaching a area of cliffs. At the far end was a road where people could drive up for the view. As the rain was letting up a car came up there. When I reached the top I stepped out from behind the trees and saw a couple standing at the edge of the far cliff, admiring the view. I didn't move because I didn't want to startle them in their precarious position. But the woman saw me grabbed the man by the arm and he looked. They both ran back to the car and drove off as fast as they could.

I don't know what they thought they saw in my long coat, with the hood, my beard and my big stick. I was Jeremiah, John The Baptist, The Old Man Of The Mountain, The Ghost Of The White Mountains, whatever. They are probably still talking about the specter they saw that rainy day,

But think, if I had stayed home that day because of the rain I would never have given them that strange experience to talk about and I wouldn't have this story to tell.

Embrace a dream today

Friday, February 27, 2009

True Tendering 2/27/09

Everything comes to us that belongs to us if we create the capacity to receive it.

Rabindranath Tagore
Hail, dear friend.
Is there room enough in my life?

When I first looked at this Tagore quote I thought about making room for things that I believe are rightfully mine.

I'm a music lover. What if someone gave me a grand piano? I have a small apartment, would I be able to receive it? Of course I would. I would have to rearrange things: move the bed, change the location of my desk, find a different place for some of the books. But i could do it. Bring it on.

Now what if I got an idea for a new story or painting? Well the computer is ready for me to start typing. My easel is set up, I have canvas, paints and brushes. Send it in.

But what if my soul mate, the love of my life, should suddenly appear? What would I do with her? Where would I put her? As I start to think about that I realize how many more changes I would have to make. I lived alone for so long it's hard to imagine another creature in my life and what all I would have to do to adapt.. But, at least, with her around I would have help. I think it's doable. Let her in.

But now I think, what if the sky opened up and poured down the blessing of enlightenment on me? What if I got a totally new, fresh view of existence? What if the revelation I have been struggling to achieve should come in the blink of an eye and change my life forever? Is there enough room in my heart and my mind to receive it? What changes do I have to make now to be ready?

That's the question. Am I really ready to receive a higher selfhood and live it? That question pokes at my thoughts everyday. There is a closed door that seems to be locked, but isn't. And behind it is something I think I should fear, but don't. I believe the opening of the door is not up to me, but it is. Every time I pass it I knock gently. But one of these days.....

In the meantime I will have music, art, love and hope, if I keep myself prepared. I would have trouble with 8 maids a-milking, 7 swans a-swimming, 6 geese a-laying, etc.

But they don't belong to me.

Plan for Spring!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Serene Struggle 2/26/09

A man may be born, but in order to be born he must first die, and in order to die he must first awake.

Carl Sandburg
Hi. Come on in.
There may be no other event in our earthly life that is so difficult, takes so long and yet is so important as waking up. People just seem to resist it with all their adamancy.
"No. I don't want to wake up. I'm just fine the way I am. Let me turn over, pull up the blanket of ignorance and sleep for another decade or so."

Life is so much easier if you don't wake up, get up, face the cruelties and beauties of real life, handle and sort the discoveries, reason out the dust and ashes, and experience the inspirations that come from the horrifying realization that you don't know who you are, or anything else for that matter and that for all of your life you've been fooling yourself and being fooled by some sort of dream world. If you wake up you have to face the fact that things are not what they have seemed to be.

But what a glorious and exhilarating experience it is when you finally accomplish it. Knowing that you can and must let your old self die, like a seed going into the ground from a dead and rotten apple, to create a new tree. "Put off the old man" as the Bible says, drop the old apple and let it die. "There is a time to be born."

It is an amazing experience to see reality as it is, without the covers. Two things happen. First, you have to learn how to live in a new way, on a new path with no sign posts, you have to accept an adventure, with all of it's perils, but with also all of it's splendor. And second you have to see how everything you thought you knew and thought you knew how to do has to be discarded because it was useless. Nothing disappears except that which did not appear in the first place. But what remains now has new dimensions and new meanings. The floor still has to be swept, but the broom is no longer just a broom. What it is is invisible and indescribable.

The face in the mirror is the same face, in various guises, that you have worn all your life. But is it really your face? Or is it just a mask?

The best part of dying and waking up is the joy. It may take years to do but somehow, at some point along the trail, you come to know that the arrival will be happiness, a deeper happiness than has ever been experienced by you or anyone else, because it will be yours.

I'm still on that trail myself, still clutching my security blanket, still sucking my metaphysical thumb. But I have faith that I will get there, I believe that I will. And someday I will drop my belief on the ground like an old dead apple and let understanding grow instead.

DB Vagabond Journeys
Send good thoughts today to someone who needs them.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ribald Reductions 2/25/09

Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.

Will Rogers
Hi. Bring your smile and come along.
If I sold my parrot to the town gossip he and the bird would probably just sit around in stitches over the last 7 decades of my foolishness. I have finally come to the point where I can either laugh at the silly things I did that I thought were so serious and important at the time or else I can forget about them. I have also realized that you can't really draw wisdom from your nonsense and put it in its proper perspective until you can laugh at it. I have another quote, this one from Rochfoucauld, which says "He who lives without folly isn't as wise as he thinks,"

One definition of a farce is "A passion carried to a ridiculous extreme." Think of that. When a passion bites the brain and twists the heart we stand a good chance of becoming a farce, something to laugh at and laugh about in later years.

The truth of the matter is that we can't help it. If you live a busy, vigorous, expanding life your are going to do something stupid every now and then. It's inevitable. So you stepped in the doggie poop on the sidewalk did you? Well, join the club. What do you mean you forgot to record that last check you wrote and now you can't remember how much it was far? Why did you do such a thing? One night I went out on to the stage to play a romantic scene after a change of costume and forgot to zip up my fly. It added a whole new dimension to the scene, one which was not appropriate. I couldn't understand why the audience was laughing at me. I know a writer who was covering the US Senate for a major newspaper. One day he incorrectly reported all the votes. You can imagine the phone calls he got. He managed to keep his job. But how do we live these things down?

You live a practical, sure and well organized life, you have the respect of your family, neighbors and coworkers, you are known far and wide as a reasonable, reliable and dependable person. But one day, for some reason you will never know, you decide to go out and do something extremely wild. Your reputation is temporarily shot to hell and your self respect has plummeted to the basement. You look at yourself in the mirror (or maybe you don't) and wonder how you could have been so stupid as to do such a thing. What happened is that you have been very careful and worked very hard not to permit yourself any hint of ridiculous behavior and it all backed up on you until one day it came out like a volcano erupting. Believe me I know what I'm talking about. If you don't make room for the harmless wild and crazy you can be sure you will cause yourself a lot of trouble.

Moral: Do something foolish every now and then, but don't sell your parrot.

DB - The Vagabond
Are you still smiling? Good.

Comment from my friend Bob of the email lions

I hope I live my life in such a way that the parrot would have plenty to say, and I wouldn't mind the gossip knowing about it. In other words, that I had plenty to be embarrassed about, and I'm not the least bit embarrassed about it. Haven't gotten to that point, of course, but it's something to shoot for. Bob

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Qualitative Quest 2/24/09

Qualitative Quest

Atlas groaned only under the weight of the Earth.
Today we sweat under the burden of cosmic ideas.

DB - The Vagabond
Good day Earthling.

It may some day be proven that human beings are the most arrogant, and hence, most ignorant creatures in the universe. We used to believe and proved, we thought, that the Earth was the center of the universe. After having to give up that canard, many now believe, and think they have proven, that the Earth is the only inhabited planet in all of creation. But with the increasing evidence that there might be extraterrestrial activity, the question comes up: Is there life on other planets? So far that question has only two answers: Why should there be? and Why not?

Science fiction writers, astronomers and cosmological theorists have had a grand old time with this subject. If there is life elsewhere we will probably know someday. If there isn't, we may never know it but we will keep looking.

Reason tells us that there must be some form of life existing somewhere out there. But reason itself is a questionable thing. It is merely the way humans think. But man cannot truly classify himself as a terrestrial rational being until he meets a non-terrestrial rational being. And if he were to find totally alien creatures who reason as well as, or better than, he does, he would have to conclude that reason is not what makes him human, that we reason because we're human, and not human because we reason. But what if reason is not the standard of universal mentality?

It seems as likely that there is a superior mode of thinking as there is that pigs can fly or that roses can grow at the bottom of the ocean. That is only because we can't think of one. But what if there is? What if our dedication to reason and our ability to think things through in a logical manner is just another form of believing that the Earth is the center of the universe?

There are some earthbound religions that teach that there is a higher form of thought than reason and that it is obtainable by the enlightened. Maybe that is so, and maybe it is a cosmic form of thought, shared by those whose dwelling place is an all-inclusive mental realm, no matter where they may come from.

I am a reasoning creature, and will no doubt remain so, ,I hope, for I see no better way. But I retain the right to have an open mind about unheard of and undreamed of possibilities in the universe of ideas.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
If your sky is clear, look up and wave. Something may be watching.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Precise Purpose 2/23/09

Wear the old coat and buy the new book.

Austin Phelps
Welcome back.
In Puccini's opera La Boheme, Colline decides to sell his overcoat to buy medicine in a futile attempt to help prolong the life of his roommate's girl friend. Even though it's an old coat it's deep pockets have held for him the best of poetry and philosophy. He loves that coat. Before he goes off with it, he sings a farewell to it "Addio, addio." It's a very poignant moment.

I used to sing that aria. (No, I used to pretend to sing it.)

One of the minor fears I've always had during my life, is that I would find myself stuck somewhere without something interesting to read. When I worked as a broadcaster in New York my reading schedule was brief and irregular at best. Being a radio announcer is busy and often difficult work and don't let anybody tell you differently. I always had a copy of the New York Times with me. Tucked in amongst the chit chat about the latest crime or political scandal, the war stories, the fashion and entertainment news, the weather information, the stock market quotes and the ball scores, there were stories written by people who had ideas to express. They may be new ideas, old ideas in a new articulation or forgotten ideas recovered and brought to print.

Margaret Thatcher once said that whereas England was formed from history, America was formed by philosophy.

Wherever I went I always had a book in my pocket. My friends knew that. I remember one evening sitting in DJ Moran's on 57th Street in Manhattan having a beer. Three guys came in. I knew one of them. He said "Hey D. What's in the pocket?" I said "Cervantes." The other two guys laughed until I took out my copy of Don Quixote and put it on the bar. They were not very impressed. So what? I didn't carry the book to impress people. I had it to read.

The world is made of ideas. Primarily and ceaselessly of ideas. There is no question about that. So whether you buy the overcoat or not, buy the book. And read it.

DB The Vagabond
Time to put another stone down on that path you're building to your dream.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Original Observations 2/22/09

When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment.

Georgia O'Keeffe
Hi, come with me for a while.

When you look at a flower it's your world for a moment, but you are also its world. For the moment, other than itself, you are the flower's only world, your presence defines existence for the flower. Whatever invisible, intangible quantities you give off that the flower can receive are informing something to it. I don't know what a flowers consciousness is, who does? There may be, and probably is, a consciousness of plants that we know nothing about. But I think some of them are more intelligent than others, They certainly seem to have personalities. Some are miscreant bullies who take over everything, some are simple minded, persistent weeds who will crack a city sidewalk for the sake of sending up an insignificant sprout, others are gentle, friendly, vulnerable creatures who entertain with beauty. I'm not ready nor willing to accept the idea that the personality of a flower is a myth. Some people still think that animals are just "dumb beasts" while others, the more enlightened of us, know they aren't. Even though they don't gallop or prowl around, flowers have wondrous things to say and do, as becomes apparent when you get close to one.

A few days ago I wrote about the wisdom of a tree, Knowledge Kit 2/18/09, how it sleeps through the winter, and when spring comes, how it reestablishes itself in the world. A flower has a different purpose to perform in life, it stands at a different place on the stage of nature's spectacle, whether it's doing it far from human view and appreciation in some remote meadow or whether, like a domesticated cat, it's living out its destiny in your back yard,

I know people who talk to flowers. Why not? I'll bet Georgia did. If nature never repeats itself, no two butterfly wings alike, no two snowflakes, etc, then no two roses are alike, and each one deserves its own individual respect wherever it is. As Oswald Chambers wrote "'Consider the lilies of the field' they grow where they are put."

There's a world for you in the flower. There's a world for the flower in you. I say grow with it.

May your Spring come sneaking in early.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

New Notions 2/21/09

Aware of life's terrors, he affirms life without resentment.

Welcome friend.
One day I got damn sick and tired of "No." It seemed like all my life people had been telling me "No." "No you can't do that. No you can't go there. No that's not good enough. It can't be done, You'll never make it Give it up. Try something else." Etc.

A director told ne I couldn't possibly play a role I had just played at another theatre. Another director told me I wasn't right for a role I went on to play anyway, somewhere else. And another director told me I had given him the best audition he had ever seen but he promised the role to someone else. There was the temptation creeping up behind me to be frustrated, resentful and disgusted. To even say "no" to myself, about myself.

Well, I did get disgusted, but in a positive way. I got fed up listening to the nihilists and negativists and set about to change the direction in which I was paddling my canoe. I wanted to start hearing "Yes!"

I began to retool and reorganize my life and my career. I kept a record of how many auditions I had to take to get a job. I increased the number of auditions by going out for things that I possibly wasn't right for. It didn't annoy me when they said "no" because I was playing for higher stakes. And I found that I was getting cast anyway where I didn't expect to be. One director handed me the script of an Albee play and said "You're too young for the role, but you're all I've got so you'll have to do it. Do your best." I did. And I did so well that a woman who had been in the original Broadway cast came to see us, came backstage to tell me I was a "marvelous actor" and left without speaking to anyone else.

One night I saw Liza Minnelli, all by herself, on a platform in the middle of a packed Yankee Stadium in New York City sing to a cheering crowd. I said "Yes" that is what an entertainer can do!

Years later I was doing a play for an audience of about 3,000 people. When I reentered for my second scene they gave me an ovation. I was on stage by myself, I made them laugh, applaud and cheer. There is no bigger "Yes" than that. It wipes out all the "no."

DB - Vagabond Journeys
Life is like money. Save it, and spend it wisely.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Methodical Maturing 2/20/09

The more sand has escaped from the hourglass of our lives, the clearer we should see through it.

So there you are, are you?
The best friends one can have are those who point out your failings, you foolishness and your pretensions, laughing with you, perhaps, but not at you or scorning you. I am grateful to have had some friends like that in the past. And even though I may have felt resentful and tried to justify myself at the time, I look back now and see genuine love and concern.

I don't like to look back at my past life. There are a lot of events there I don't care to remember, but I can recall with amusement the times when I was passionate about some foolishness, putting on airs about myself, and trying to behave like someone I wasn't. Every time there is something about myself I don't understand, sand will fill up the hole for me.

One of the great advantages of getting older is that there is less sand in the way of becoming acquainted with myself. I could waste a lot of time being ashamed of things I did in the past But why bother? Now I can look through the glass and see the things I might be ashamed of ten years from now and know how to avoid them.

Don't forget that the sandman is the character who is supposed to lull us to sleep so that we will dream sweet dreams of who we are not, instead of seeing who we are. So wipe the sand from your eyes. The person you are today is much better than that silly, pretensions, ignorant, buffoon you used to be.

And don't watch the sand slowly escaping into the bottom of the hourglass. Look up to see where the light is coming through.

DB - The Vagabond
It's your world, treat it well.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Liturgical Links 2/19/09

It is a fine thing to establish one's own religion in one's heart, not to be dependent on traditional and second hand ideals.

D. H. Lawrence
Welcome to my musings.
Yestermorn a friend asked me what I want more than anything else in the world. My answer was that I want to be a spiritual man. But what does that mean?

To me it means transcendence and enlightenment. Two big words to describe big ideas. In simpler terms it means to learn to look past the limitations of this mortality, to see through the jungle of confusion known as my life, to seek and find the immortal, invisible realities of existence, and to live there.

I've been thinking lately that one of the dangers we humans face is complacency. I am weary of talking to people who wear a cross around their necks, or some other symbol of their beliefs, but who speak in worn out generalities about faith, who can quote scripture as if nothing else has been written on the subject, who are not willing to challenge their faith on the ball field of daily experience. I have almost always believed that there was more than just faith, or rather that there was more to faith, some inner power and reality to which faith is the door.

I think many people are afraid to challenge their religious beliefs because they might find that the wizard of their faith is just a man behind the curtain. I have a friend who is a Catholic priest and also a playwright (and if you are tempted to unwrap your prejudice about that, remember that the last Pope we had was a playwright in his younger years). One of the plays my friend wrote has a priest saying that his favorite article of clothing a priest wears is a tee shirt, because it shows that underneath all the pomp, ceremony and ritual, a priest is just a simple slob like everybody else.

Enlightenment, a state of bliss indescribable both to those who have achieved it and those who haven't, is the real purpose of religion as far as I can see. It is a mysterious consciousness which exists beyond, scripture, ritual, tradition and faith. It is the final overcoming of everything that is "not good enough," the place where we get a new name, where we no longer need angels, those messengers from Deity, because we become the message, where we have ultimately been translated from troubled, sorry, sick and fallible slobs, limited by time and space, into the grand creatures we were designed to be.

Why settle for anything less?

DB - Vagabond Journey
Look for joy today, and find it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Knowledge Kit 2/18/09

It appears to me that almost any man may, like the spider, spin from his own inwards his own airy citadel.

John Keats
Hello clever one.
So from what stuff does my "airy citadel" come?

I have a quote in my files from someone who says that in winter the trees are asleep dreaming of next spring's blossoms. And so it sleeps, and dreams. But when it wakes it begins to draw from the ground the faith that helps to spin those dreams into blossoms.

But that's not all. It gradually begins to send out its twigs, exploring the air around its branches, imagining what will occur.

And then the rain comes, and the sunlight, the inspirations of nature. The buds of hope appear and gradually open up to reveal the tree's desires. In the joys of expression the insects come and play. The birds and other creatures come and live in its strong, proud branches. As the buds have finished helping to pollinate the world with new ideas, they fall and the leaves of knowledge and wisdom take their places. Another full, fecund summer web has been spun.

Dreams, faith, exploration, imagination, inspiration, hope, desire, joy, expression, ideas, knowledge, wisdom. The airy citadel is made.

Vienna Teng sings "Nature makes creatures of our trees." So the next time you see a tree waving it's branches at you in a greeting, wave back and say "Thanks for the lesson."

May you be splashed in the face with some love today.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Jagged Journey 2/17/09

Genius means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an in habitual way.

William James
Happy Wednesday to you!
(I know it's Tuesday. I'm just getting my licks in early,)
In several ways this quote from James labels my philosophy. I'm always on the road to get people, including myself, to look at the outside and inside world with a fresh and unusual view point. Two things that are side by side may not belong together. Returning to the same place after an absence may not yield the same environment. When sure about something is the appropriate time to challenge it. "What if..." is a very healthy way to approach anything we see or think.

In essence it is the battle between good and evil, the conflict between the nice angel and the nasty angel. We are much more capable of controlling what we think than we think we are. Those who perceive, or think they perceive, the dark in some one else's thoughts or behavior are reacting to their own darkness. There are dark. sinister thoughts that crawl up into our thinking. The healthy way is to recognize that they are not our own thoughts, even though they do a very good job of masquerading as ours, and to kick them down the cellar stairs and replace them, or rather make them give way to the right thoughts. It's more than looking on the bright side of things. Looking on the bright side implies that there is a dark side. It's more like turning on a lamp.

We can, and do, spend our lives in this paradoxical state of chasing away the bad thoughts and replacing them with the good. But true enlightenment shows that the good/evil conflict is a false reality. It relies upon habitual ways of perceiving life, and the bad habit of looking for trouble and problems. I personally know of no one who has reached the point of enlightenment where there is no more struggle of perception, but I know there are people who have achieved it. It is a state to be wished and strived for.

DB - Vagabond Journey
It's a turning day. So turn the tables, but leave the worms alone.

Monday, February 16, 2009

From my friend Stuart about the last entry

I stopped to watch a bee working late in front of Memorial Hospital. He was moving in and out of some small flowers on a bush. He was working a flowering bush as the sun was going down. Oblivious of me. I criticized him. Dumb bee working late, for a queen in some hive miles away or around the corner, knocking himself out and not even asking what's happening to me. Why am I doing this. More than that, perfectly satisified he's got it figured out. The going, the coming,the packing in pollen, and the making of honey. Certainly none of his cronies or the queen ever say, let's knock off and do something else for a while. His culture may survive ours.

Immortal Incitation 2/16/09

A rare experience of a moment at daybreak, when something in nature seems to reveal all consciousness, cannot be explained at noon. Yet it is part of a day's unity.

Charles Ives
A warm good day to you.
I know very well the jump out of bed, throw on clothes, rush around and get things done business. I spent most of my life on that amusement park ride. Now I'm retired and I have no place to go and nothing to do except write to you and tell you stories.

But the great advantage I have now is to notice things. Not just look at things but be aware of them, which is another way of saying to become at one with them, attuned to them. In the morning the flowers open up and shine even though no one is watching. The birds, squirrels and other critters go about their business totally uninterested in what humans think about it. It is at those times that one gets the realization that the human consciousness is not the only one ticking.

There are moments like that all throughout the day, but when the hub and the bub start it's very hard to become attuned with them. It requires effort and commitment. It's a matter of importance.

Why do old men sit on the front porch and watch the world go by, or sit on the back porch and watch the grass grow? Well let me tell you it's not as stupid as it looks. What are we doing, waiting for something to happen? It's happening. Looking for something to do? We're doing it. Sitting around waiting to die? No, we're sitting around living.

Some people retire, get bored and want to go back to work. There's nothing wrong with that. But no one should avoid the treasures of thought and experience to be gained from one's leisure time. In fact, I think folks should program leisure time into their lives just as they do working, taking care of family, eating and sleeping. I wouldn't know this if I hadn't been coaxed into retirement by the circumstances of my life.

To paraphrase Mr. S.: Some are born with leisure time, some achieve leisure time and some have leisure time thrust upon them.

However you get it, use it wisely. Don't sit around worrying. There are universal messages waiting for you to see, hear and feel.

Imagine yourself climbing a tree today.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Hindering Hierarchy 2/15/09

Always listen to experts.
They'll tell you what can't be done and why.
Then do it.

Robert Heinlein
Happy Sunday to you.
I grew up in a very negative environment, at home and at school. I was always being told not to do something, or that I wasn't ready to do something, that I didn't understand or wasn't good enough or smart enough to do something. So I tried to believe it. I had a generally negative attitude about everything and I spent a lot of my youth convincing other people that they couldn't do things. I am deeply sorry for all of the less than courageous ones I convinced of the pointlessness of their desires and hopes.

When I came across people who listened to me and then went on do to the thing I was sure they couldn't do, I was resentful and to justify myself was critical of them and their efforts

I'm glad to say that as I grew into manhood I slowly saw the error of my ways and stopped being a dissuader. I was observing people who were accomplishing things that other people said couldn't or shouldn't be done. And after a while I became a doer of impossible tasks, in small ways, myself. And every time I did I was delighted with myself. That feeling of the joy of accomplishment took me to the other side and made me start to persuade folks to go for the things that seemed impossible. There was one very important event that caused me to become a permanent encourager. And here it is.

I worked for a year at a theatre company that toured schools, hospitals, prisons and other institutions. We performed a one act play, about 20 minutes long, and then held a discussion with the audience. Our audiences were groups that went from kindergarten to senior centers. One of the plays required a musical score. The director asked me to compose one. It was a strange score with bits and pieces of music and some sound effects.

When the discussions came the director would frequently turn questions back by saying "What do you think?" There were often questions about the musical score and various opinions were expressed. One day we played at a junior high school in a state I won't name. After we finished and were packing up to leave a boy came up to me and said that he liked the music and told me what he thought it meant. But then he said he was probably wrong because he was a "G" class student, or something like that, and therefore couldn't really understand those things. I boiled.

I was standing on a platform about a foot above him. I jumped off of it, stood in front of him and said that his explanation of the score was approximately what I had in mind when I composed it, which was true. Then I put my hands on his shoulders and said "Don't you ever let anyone ever tell you that you are incapable of understanding something ever again in your life!"

I will never forget that experience. Sitting here right now at my computer typing this story a great feeling of sadness is building up in me. I can only hope that fellow took my words to heart, that not too many students were harmed and that the state in question has discarded it's barbaric policy of classifying kids.

Try out a smile on yourself today, and see if it works.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Gibbering Greatness 2/14/09

Only exceptionally rational men can afford to be absurd.

Allan Goldfein
Happy heart-on-your-sleeve day.
I came of age as an actor at the same time the Theatre of the Absurd. Although the movement began at the end of the Second World War, it didn't hit the major stages of the world until the late 50s and 60s. The major "absurdist" writers who crossed my path then were Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Fernando Arabal and Herold Pinter. There are many others.

The term "Theatre of the Absurd" was pasted on them by a writer named Martin Esslin, a Hungarian/American author who wrote a book with that title. The "absurdist" writing arose out of an existential philosophy, notably that of Albert Camus, that looked at what appeared to be a senseless, hopeless life and tried to explain it, or at least find a place in it. And as with any important revolutionary movement in art, there has been more criticism written about it than there are plays.

The plays are a tearing apart of situations, places, language, characters and relationships, but that doesn't make them depressing or nihilistic. In fact many of the plays have almost a vaudevillian quality to them. For us in the theatre they were a joy to find and experience simply because "common sense," the rules of human behavior and rituals of conduct were thrown out. Characters did not behave in a rational way, nor was their world a rational environment. But throughout them there was the intellect working to redefine existence and establish new myths in order to make life comfortable in an uncomfortable, atom bomb world.

The great masterpiece of the time is Sameul Beckett's play "Waiting For Godot" which appeared on Broadway with Bert Lahr and E. G. Marshall. Audiences and critics didn't understand it. It was also performed at San Quentin prison. The prisoners understood it completely. Someone suggested that maybe the New York drama critics should spend some time in prison, which might not be a bad idea on several levels.

I had the great pleasure of performing one of the roles in "Godot" a few years ago and even at that late date people were still unable to grasp what the play was about: it has no boy-meets-girl, no detective solving a crime, no domestic drama. It's a play in which nothing happens but everything happens. To understand it one needs a sense of humor, a sense of the absurd..

Last Thanksgiving evening I was here alone with a stove/oven that didn't work, I had a stack of canned food to eat and, behold, my can opener broke. My Thanksgiving dinner was bread, peanut butter and bananas. That was theatre of the absurd, and if you don't think that was funny you've got no sense of humor.

The Vagabond Journeys
Someone is thinking good thoughts about you right now. Think back.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Facts Facing 2/13/09

Beware of the man who won't be bothered with details.

William Feather
Hello and welcome
"Aw, don't bug me about details. I can't be bothered with all those knicky knacky things. I'm a visionary artist. I just want to create!"

The only times in my career I ever had an argument with anyone it was always with a director or producer who was not familiar enough with the play to avoid making ignorant decisions. I admit to getting very angry, because a director is like an architect and builder of a production. If an architect doesn't concern himself with the details, the building will fall down. The director should never take on the responsibility of directing a play without a thorough knowledge of it. But that is, alas, too often the case. It is not an actor's job to teach the play to the director. I have been ridiculed too often for doing something that was in the script but which the director failed to notice.

"Don't annoy me with this stuff, I have more important things to do."

There are thousands of notes on the pages of a musical score. If a composer doesn't go carefully over those pages to make sure the notes are correct he's going to have an ugly mess which no one will listen to.

"You figure it out if you must, I don't have time."

Weaving, cooking, building, calculating, driving, teaching, nursing, painting, writing, the list is endless, Think of how important it is to get the right word in a letter, or other document. I worked part time as a proofreader for some major law firms in NYC and I was always finding strange errors in legal documents. There was the amusing one of the woman whose job it was to order electric light "blubs" for the company. Then there was the construction company that ordered 100 logs. If a proofreader hadn't caught an error they might have received 100 dogs.

"We've found that we don't need proofreaders at our firm because we have this wonderful system called 'Spell Check'" quoted from an attorney who was laughed back into his chair at a lawyers' conference.

Every proofreader knows that Spell Check can't tell the difference between "form" and "from" but it can get a lot worse. How about "bill" and "bilk"? "I'm bilking you for services rendered." And then there was the time when the word was "policies" the typist mistakenly typed "polikies" and Spell Check turned it into "polkas." (I have that one in my files.)

"Why are you wasting your time on that?"

In theatre and films there are fight choreographers and fight rehearsals because when the punches are thrown, the knives flash, the stabbing takes place and the blood flows, the actors have to wash up, come back and do it again, and no one gets hurt. All the details are carefully worked out and everyone involved knows exactly what to do.

"It's boring to go over all the details. I just want to play."

The next time you watch a football game (American football that is) if you ever do, don't watch the quarterback all the time, but if the silly TV directors let you, watch the offensive linemen. Those are the guys who set up the play.

For the want of a nail the shoe was lost, for the want of a shoe the horse was lost, for the want of the horse the rider was lost, for the want of the rider the message was lost, for the want of the message the battle was lost, for the want of the battle the war was lost.
Thank you for reading my journal.

Release a balloon of brightness somewhere today.
DB - The Vagabond

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Easy Enlightenment 2/12/09

There's plenty things you can learn every day. Every day.

Billy Eckstine

Are you ready for your valentine?
The first time I saw Billy Eckstine sing was on TV way back in the late 40s. In those days the only black entertainers one saw on network television were usually tap dancers. That was when we were told they all had "natural rhythm." Remember that?
(All rhythm is natural, folks. Ask any drummer, black, white or otherwise.)

Mr. B was born in 1914, started singing at the age of 7, and became a major influence in the jazz world all the way up to the 80's. He had his own orchestra, sang and played the trumpet. He gave many jazz greats their start.
The trick to learning things every day is being alert. The first thing I have to remind myself of is that there is going to be something there to learn, every day, Sometimes I go looking for it and sometimes I don't.

Then I have to notice the lesson when it comes. I have to remember to ask myself if it is something I knew yesterday. If not, I then have to wrap it up in my mind as a gift, to be opened whenever I need it. Sometimes learning the new thing means throwing out the old thing. So be it. I try to avoid sitting in the quicksand of the "tried and true."

I have stacks of books on all sorts of topics that interest me. Some of them are about things that have absolutely no vital bearing on my life. But so what? I'm learning about the efforts of the Indians to shake loose of the British Empire's control of their country. I'm learning about the origins of the biblical word "Leviathan," I'm learning about the difference between "vague" and "borderline" cases. I'm learning about the life of Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus). And I'm learning about classical realism in modern art.

Those things interest me. But they don't interest me until I start the journey, until I open the book and start to read or go outside and start looking around. And that's the other trick. I have to overcome the inertia of not looking for new things, not being open to grasp them and not paying attention to what is around me.

Knowing that is one of the new things I've learned.

DB Vagabond Journeys

Sweeten up your life a little bit today. You deserve it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Devious Developments 2/11/09

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter
Love and desire and hate:
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.

Ernest Dowson
This is a controversial entry. I know it. It's because of the thinking about Dowson's verse. Enjoy.

What a tangle life is! We weep today, we laugh tomorrow. There's love on one side, hate on the other and in between them there is desire.

Saint Paul said "the love of money is the root of all evil." George Bernard Shaw said "the lack of money is the root of all evil." In my opinion both of those statements say the same thing. Tennessee Williams said "the opposite of desire is death."

We desire the things we lack and if that desire becomes strong enough it turns into love. If what we desire is a home, or a job, or a soul mate we struggle to get them because of the desire. If we are poor we struggle to get wealth because of the desire. When there is great desire, great struggle, our lives are focused on the thing we want and the obtaining of what we want. It can't be done without love.

If we don't struggle, desire and love we don't get. Sometimes the struggle is so great that we would rather give up and "pass the gate," accept the opposite of desire, stop wanting and die. Robert E. Lee once said that the reason for his long life was because he was always wanting something.

We may believe that if we die all our troubles will be over. The weeping, the laughter, the love, desire and hate will end. Dowson only thinks so. He doesn't know because as Shakespeare said it's "the undiscover'd country from whose born no traveler returns." But if our troubles are all self made who's to say that we won't be making them again on the other side, without the safe guards of families, friends and communities we have on this side.

Maybe judgement day will come when you pass the gate. But maybe not. Maybe it will come later, or sooner. Maybe tomorrow. Or maybe it came one day last year when you didn't notice. What is written about you in the "Book of Life"? I squirm and shiver to think what is written there about me. But whatever it is I think it's just one big footnote.

I think I will just continue wanting the things I lack, loving the things I desire, weeping and laughing, for as long as I can.

Thank you for reading this entry.

The Vagabond Journey

May someone give you a sparkler of joy to pass along today.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Careful Comparison 2/10/09

The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.

Joseph Campbell
Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, whatever it is by you.

"One of these things is not like the others." Wasn't that the song they used to sing on Sesame Street? Or maybe they still do, I don't know. Maybe you were shown three triangles and a square and you had to guess it was the square that wasn't like the others. Or maybe it was an orange, a plum, a grapefruit and a softball. It's the softball that's different, of course, because the others are all fruits. But what if they took out the plum and put in a banana? Now you have three globes and a long, thin thing. Which one is different?

The game is supposed to help us to categorize things. But, even though the orange and the grapefruit are similar they are not the same, and neither of them resemble the banana. The fact is they are all different from each other. Even the two grapefruits are different. Which one of these things is not like the others? All of them.

Then it can get nasty. Here are three white men and one black man. Which one of these things is not like the others? Or even four white men or four black men can get categorized. "He's nice but he's not one of us." "He's not our kind."

To identify something or someone is worthwhile if, and only if, it is properly done. But making comparisons may rob a person of his individuality and either puts him into a group with a label, or it excludes him from others with whom he may have a lot in common. "Comparisons are odorous" Shakespeare says, and the smell may get obnoxious.

What's also bad is to label yourself as a member of some group of people in the attempt to find an identity. That is such an easy marching band to fall in step with, and we all do it sometimes. A fog of uncertainty about ourselves creeps in, the light dims and the band starts playing. It's so much easier to put the uniform on, get in line and not ask questions. So much more difficult but essential to our lives is to discover who we really are without making any comparisons with other people. It is our individuality that makes us different. You are the only one of your kind. You are not like any of the others and neither are any of the others. And being who you are is the great obligation and privilege of life.

DB - The Vagabond

Look at yourself in the mirror, smile at yourself, and mean it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Boundless Behavior 2/09/09

The life I touch for good or ill will touch another life, and that in turn another, until who knows where the trembling stops or in what far place my touch will be felt.

Frederick Buechner
Good vibrations to you.

If you are a Googlelander, you may have one of those NeoCounters on your journal? If so, let it scroll and look at some of those far places it lists. Even if the curious person from somewhere only made one hit on your journal he or she may have read something you wrote that has had an influence great or small on their lives. Or maybe not, but maybe the memory of it dwells in their minds to take it's place sometime in the future. We cannot trace nor measure the influence we have on other people. That's why it's so important to be aware of things that we might write, say or do in a careless moment.

More than twice I remember hearing things said to me that I once said. An idea that floated to the top of my consciousness and got whittled into a simple maxim, a trope or vagabondism has come back to me with new identity. "You know the old saying (so and so)?" I'm sorry I don't get the credit for "the old saying", but I'm not sorry that it has been tacked onto the wall of someone's thinking and tucked into their life's experience.

There is also no sure way of tracing down the ownership of good ideas. What may have appeared for the first time in the manuscript of some famous writer may, in fact, have been said to him by his nameless, forgotten, wise barber. And many good thoughts go through the hands of a lot of temporary ownerships. But so what? I believe in the protection of intellectual property. I've seen the thievery that has gone on when it wasn't protected. But the world of mentality is infinite and everyone has the right and ability to add to it their own simple truths and then let go of them. and let them do their work in the world.

The pebble of thought you throw into the air may transform itself into a mountain in someone's life. It's true.

DB - The Vagabond
(For Vagabond samples check out Joy In The Rain)

May you love your journal friends as much as I love mine.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ascending Articulations 2/08/09

When the word is yet unspoken, you are the master of it, when once it is spoken, it is master of you.

Arab proverb
Good wish filled greetings.

Words have power. That's why we have to be careful about what we say. Promises we can't keep, oaths we must break, confidences we let slip, insults we don't mean, criticisms that hurt, gossip, ridicule, lies, even attempts at being witty, clever and humorous at the expense of other people are fetters that bind us to the darker side of life, though we may not know it at the time.

It is difficult to always think before we speak, especially if we are in an animated conversation. And maybe if that conversation turns to finding fault with someone who is not there, we risk losing the attention and respect of the other people if we don't join in.

Dogs snarl at each other sometimes and cats may hiss, but why should humans do that?

I used to carry a card in my wallet that read "Keep your big mouth shut." Unfortunately I didn't look at that card often enough. As a result I have said many things in my life that I regret. So have you. They don't go away. It is so important to think before we speak, not to make sure we are expressing ourselves in the clearest manner but to make sure we are not going to regret our remarks. Words fly with articulate force but not always with ethical force.

Words can discourage, depress and destroy. Words can also describe, explain, teach and inspire. But the best words are the words that can heal. Even though I find myself tempted sometimes to say or write the angry, hating words, I try to follow a rare piece of advice I found somewhere and may use here some day which reads "Think before you think." With that advice I can think before I speak, write or stub my toe.

Vagabond Journeys
May you have warm sunshine or a cool breeze. Whichever you need most.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Zig Zag 2/07/09

Always know where the back door is.

DB - The Vagabond

Happy weekend to you.

I have often found that the best way out of a bad situation is not necessarily the same way you got into it. Back peddling is the tactic used most of the time, but it doesn't always work, and at worst it leaves one open to accusations of hypocrisy and infidelity. And breaking through a wall to make an exit is harmful and causes a lot of resentment. Knowing where the rear exit is is the best plan.

Being a bit claustrophobic myself, I always want to know what my means of escape are in case I want to leave a place. I was very uncomfortable when I had to work in the hermetically sealed office buildings in New York. I worked in the World Trade Center a few times and though it was very comfortable when you were in there, trying to get in or out was an indication of how ill equipped it was to allow for easy egress.

In concert with the sealed up office buildings was the sealed mentality that ran many of the businesses that tried to function in them. That was another thing I needed to escape from. Many of the people I met in those environments reminded me of Bob Newhart's "Buttoned Down Mind." Suits were wearing men rather than the other way around. I could sit there in a cubicle doing ridiculous things and tell myself how important they were. In my files I have some minutes of a Board Of Directors meeting. One paragraph clearly states: "Dress down Friday was discussed and all agreed it was a great success. The Board voted unanimously to have it discontinued." Quick! Where's the back door?!

Sometimes you can find the back door in a contract. Many a game has been lost because the winner knew the rules and the loser did not. A good agent will always negotiate an "out clause" into a contract simply to allow for getting out of a bad situation.

I gave my notice at a radio station I was working for. The boss was resentful and wanted to know where my loyalty was. When I signed up there was guaranteed job security. But the contract was renegotiated and firing without cause was inserted. I had to explain to him that if you take away job security you also take away employee loyalty. They go together. He wasn't bright enough to understand that.

Once in my life I was fired. It was from an actng job. But the vacuum heads who ran the theatre didn't know what they were doing and I had to go into the office and show them how to fire me. They didn't know about a termination clause in the contract, that I could work for two more weeks if they wanted me to, or they had to give me two weeks severance pay, and they had to provide transportation back to my home. It was all in the contract, which they never read. I was the one being fired and I had to teach them how to do it. You see why I have a sense of humor?

There were a few other sticky things they didn't know about and when all the legal mumble jumble was finished they probably wish they hadn't decided to do it. But I didn't care. I didn't like that job anyway. Firing people was not the only thing they were ignorant about.

I showed them the back door and had them hold it open for me while I made my exit.

I want to hear some joyful singing out of you today.


Friday, February 6, 2009

Yesteryears Yield 2/06/09

To be alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations - such is a pleasure beyond company.

Kenko Yoshida
TGIF my friend.

When I was a student in High School I had one of those rare but memorable enlightening experiences which changed me and set me going in a certain direction for the rest of my life. I had an English teacher named Mr. Bush who taught literature in such a way as made me realize that a book was not just a book and words on a page were not just words, but that behind all of those words was a human being, a mind and a heart. That the words were carefully chosen to exactly express the thoughts, feelings, life experiences and influences of that human being.

It became important to me to know who this man was who wrote these words, and I knew I would find the man in his books. It was a process of looking past the message to the messenger.

I thought about these writers and wondered what kind of lives they led and what they had to deal with in those lives. How current were the things they wrote about and the way they wrote about them. The love affair might be over but the pain of loss and rejection are still there, perhaps tempered with some wisdom of time and space. The stinging retort against the injustice of the world may be based on something simple or something grand but the words still hold the power of a sensitive soul, The rich evocations of people and things show a careful and observant mind and a wealthy imagination. Simple details that most people would pass by not noticing are food for the writer.

Then I wonder if he had to write for a living, if he had a needy household to support. Did he have to turn out a book under a deadline? How did he respond to the inane, carping remarks of critics? How did he deal with an obstinate publisher or an inept printer?

Slowly the author became a human being. When I hold a book in my hand I'm holding a man's life. And he has given me and the world a priceless gift.

Now I write. Most probably no one in the distant future will be reading my words but I have at least learned a new/old truth. An artist is an artist because he has to be.

Vagabond Journey
May something make you want to dance today.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Xenophilic Xylograph 2/05/06

I don't think my life will ever return to normal, because I can't remember what "normal" was.

Greetings You

What was it I wanted to do? I know there was a goal, a purpose of some sort way back then. What was it? I had to take a detour for some reason. And then I got interested in the scenery along the way of the detour and decided to stay until another detour came up. That one was not as nice as the other one but it was the road I was on so I stayed on it.

I knew there was a main road for me but I was on detours now and eventually I would get back to it. I thought. But then the going got tough and I had to unload some things I was taking with me for the goal I was going to get to. So I had to adjust. Set a different goal. Then another detour came up and I found myself in a foreign place with nothing to do. So I made some choices just to keep going and that defined my life. At the time.

People began to hire me to do things I didn't know how to do. So the goal became to learn them so I could keep working which I had to do to reach my goal, whatever it was.

There were more roads to take and more detours off of them. I got rid of more stuff because I couldn't remember why I had it. I acquired more stuff because I thought I needed it to achieve my purpose in life if, in fact, I had one.

I decided that there was no purpose in life, or if there was I didn't know what it was, so I became an actor hoping to find out what life was all about. If someone asked me why I was an actor I would answer that it was to achiever my purpose in life, If they asked me what that purpose was I would answer "Duh." People came and went, family, friends, enemies, and I still didn't know what any of it meant.

As far as I can see, life is going from one room to another, putting things that don't belong to each other in a box, having a bunch of phone numbers on pieces of paper of people I don't remember, stacking failures and frustrations in a corner and letting them gather dust, pasting the shards of a terrifying and exhilarating life in a scrap book which doesn't get opened, laughing at the silliness of all the busy decades, and every now and then, in a moment of reverie wondering what it was I wanted way back at the beginning of my vagabond journey.

You take good care of yourself now, you hear me?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wisdom Within 2/04/09

Labor to keep alive in your breast
that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

George Washington
A fond hello friend.

One of the things I regret the most from my youth was having to make unfair and unnecessary adaptations in my speech and attitudes in order to accommodate the people around me. If I expressed my own opinion about something it was usually belittled, ridiculed and criticized. Furthermore, it was generally agreed upon by everyone that until a person reached the age of 21 he was completely incapable of thinking for himself. So that when I did make a statement I heard a scornful "Oh, is that so." or "Where did you hear that?" or other such comments. People thought they were correcting me when all they were doing was disagreeing with me.

In order to protect myself from this moral misdemeanor I learned, early on, not only to keep my mouth shut but to act like I agreed with everyone. I got so good at it that I actually convinced myself that I believed in certain things that weren't true. I didn't realize then what a betrayal of myself I was causing.

I began to believe that certain behavior was all right because the group of people I was with behaved that way. I developed prejudices and biases that were based on nothing. I formed attitudes about things that conformed to those around me. I did whatever I needed to so that I would be approved of and not criticized and harshly judged by others. In short I gave myself away.

I did make friends, real ones. And at first I was puzzled by why they approved of things that I had convinced myself were wrong. But slowly my horizon began to change. I was actually opening up some closed doors in my own thinking and to accept ideas that had been hidden behind them gathering dust. I started to ask myself what I really thought about something and to reason it out rather than to fall back on a safe and previous attitude. My words became better and less judgmental and my behavior improved. I was discovering my conscience.

I felt vigorous about leaving the unreasonable behind and standing on better moral ground. Rather than to conform, I became a vagabond. Rather than to satisfy the normality, I became an artist. And rather than agree with the inane I found a sense of humor.

Such a thing doesn't happen overnight. It takes a life.

May you always have enough hay for your horse and wood for your stove.

The Vagabond

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Vital Visualization 2/03/09

The things we know best are the things we haven't been taught.

Marquis de Vauvenargues
A mid winter hello to you.

Any good teacher will say that the best way to teach is to set out the finger posts and trail markers that allow a student to discover knowledge and understanding on his own, and when he comes back to the teacher and explains how things are to resist the, oh, so difficult temptation of saying "That's what I was trying to tell you."

I have known people, myself included, who were baffled and bored by complicated instructions only to discover on their own what they were trying to discover in the classroom. I used to tell acting students "Acting is simple, it's just not easy." When one finally puts all the pieces together and develops out of them a system that works, it's usually a very simple one.

I used to teach a seminar in public speaking in New York City and one of my lectures was on the subject of using graphics to accompany a talk. I tried to explain that a good illustration can enlighten a specific event or point in the story, amplify what's being said and draw the listener into wanting to hear about it. Graphics are less than effective when they simply entertain or give a picture of what you are describing anyway. If a picture can do it better, then use the picture. Why describe an elephant if you can show a picture of one. On the other hand, if no one in the room has ever seen an elephant, putting up a picture of one before you say a word can create curiosity and attention to the talk.

Very few of my students got the point. One woman came in with a bunch of cartoon figures she had drawn. They were cute and funny, but they did nothing to create an interest in what she was saying. In fact they detracted from that interest. But the best use of graphics in the seminar was the man from somewhere down south who put a large pad on an easel and wrote in big letter across the top C B W T and left it there with no explanation. Then he drew a simple outline of Manhattan. He drew a small circle in the center and started his talk. He explained how he and his wife toured around the city, how they left their hotel, how they went down to Times Square, then over to the garment district, how they checked out the Village and Wall Street, walking all over the city. All the time he was speaking and describing what they had seen these letters C B W T were up there at the top. As he spoke he drew lines on the page, beginning at the small circle., The lines connected with each other to show where they went. The last line took them back to their hotel. Then he put the marker down, stood aside so we could see the whole journey marked out and then said "I call it the Country Boy Walking Tour."

We had been looking at those letters C B W T for the whole five minutes he spoke, it created a mystery, held our interest and did it's job as a graphic should. It was so much better than if he had written Country Boy Walking Tour at the top before he started. After the class that day I complimented him and asked him how he come up with that idea. He said that he didn't know what he was going to talk about but that while they were walking the title and the subject came to him.

All the teaching and learning is just to prepare yourself for the moment when the light bulb goes on, whether it's when your in the office, in the lab, on the stage or on the street.

Be a summer morning in a friend's life today.

DB - Vagabond Journeys

Monday, February 2, 2009

Unusual Understanding 2/02/09

The noblest function of an object is to be contemplated.

Miguel de Unamuno
Hello Friend.

It has been five years since Punxsutawney Phil has consented to an interview, so it's with pride and pleasure that I welcomed this opportunity.

DB Thank you for this interview Phil.

PP Yeah, well make it quick. I got work to do.

DB Sure Phil. Now about how long have you been the active ground hog here in Punxsutawney?

PP 15 years.

DB That's not too long.

PP Well, Dad had the job for years, but one day he decided he had enough, so he retired to Florida and I had to step in fill his shoes.

DB How do you like it?

PP It's OK. I get to come out once in the Winter, sniff the fresh air, have a look around, check out the chicks, know what I mean?

DB Sure Phil. Meanwhile how's life down in the hole there?

PP Not bad, not bad. The wife gets cranky when I don't take out the trash, but otherwise we get along okay. And the kids are great.

DB How many kids have you got, Phil.

PP A boy and a girl. I'm building extra room for them off the den, They're headin' inta the terrible teens now so I think they better have rooms of their own.

DB Good thinking.

PP Yeah. And my wife wants me to put up a patio when the warm weather comes.

DB Is she anxious for Spring?

PP She don't like the cold. Me, I don't care.

DB What's your favorite part of the job, Phil?

PP Comin' outside, scaring the ducks.

DB What don't you like about it?

PP The people.

DB You mean the people you work with?

PP Nah, the people who come and gawk and laugh every year. You'd think they'd never seen a ground hog before. The got cameras, they take pitchers, videos. They try and get me to talk. One of them said "Hey, Punx!" I told him, I said "It's Mister Punxsutawney to you, buddy." There's a guy over there sellin' T shirts. They got my pitcher on it. Another guy sellin' mugs. It's awful. The ducks I don't mind because they're stupid, but the people drive me nuts. Some years I don't even wanna come out.

DB What would happen if you didn't?

PP Nah, I got to. It's my job.

DB So what is it this year Phil, spring or no spring?

PP It'll be on TV..

DB Phil, before you go I wonder if you would give me an autograph.

PP Sure! Uh, how do I make it out?

DB Just "To the Vagabond, love Phil."

PP You're kiddin' me.

DB What?

PP You're the Vagabond?

DB Yes.

PP Whadda ya know. I got your blog, Vagabond Journeys, on my laptop downstairs. We read it everyday. Wait'll I tell my wife. She's gonna be so jealous.

DB Well Phil, see you next year?

PP Dogs willin'.

(Copyright by P. Phil, Inc. All rights reserved.)

May you have Spring in your heart every day no matter what the weather.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Taxing Truth 2/01/09

Loneliness is the most terrible poverty.

Mother Teresa
Happy Sunday to you.

This quote from Mother Teresa really hits home to me. I should say it hits apartment. I've never had a place that I considered "home" in my life. My vagabond career took me all over parts of the country and it provided me with temporary dwellings. But there were always people in my life. To produce a drama, a film or play, requires the conscientious efforts and cooperation of many people,if it's done right. And if one person is not doing his job, those around him have to compensate. Hence it is probably the most collaborative art form in the world.

Now that I'm retired and live alone in yet another temporary dwelling, with no friends or family to visit me, I feel the weight of loneliness. Young folks with dreams, plans and energy usually don't care to deal with old folks. Bless the one's who do.

We all make choices in our lives and then have to live with the consequences even if we didn't know what those consequences would be at the time. I try not to look back and wallow in memories. I don't like some of them, for one thing, and I'm more interested in my present and my future for another.

Loneliness is not just a matter of being alone. Sometimes we need to be alone. But to have no one with whom to share your joys and help bear your sorrows is a mean thing.

I wish you good companionship in all of your days.

DB Vagabond