Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dangerous Degradation 5/31/09

Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent instantly recognizes genius.

Arthur Conan Doyle
I beseech thee, join me.
One of the worst forms of imprisonment, in my opinion, is to be stuck in surroundings that offer nothing but old, worn out, inane and recycled ways of thinking. We that live all deserve to be always in the presence of inspiration, curiosoty and appreciation of the best. Why aren't we?

The typhoons of life rock the boat so severely that the desperate wish is to be calm in the water. That's normal. And it's a great relief when the storm is over. That's when the trouble starts. Rather than risk another storm we put into a safe harbor and stay there, never venturing out to taste the joys of the journey. Not facing and surviving the storms of life we have no idea what we are capable of. Not using the opportunities we can be given we never express our own talents to ourselves. The talents get buried under the ground like pathetic seeds and what grows out is mediocrity.

One of my art teachers, Marshall Glazier, an inspiring and humorous old curmudgeon, came into class one day and said "What's the difference between talent and genius?" A few people offered various opinions and Glazier finally said "Alright I'll tell you so that you'll know. A man of talent does what he can. A genius does what he MUST." Someone said "That's very good." Glazier said "You think that's good? I got it out of a fortune cookie."

I'm no genius, but I am a man of talent (at least that's what they paid me for for 50 years). It's a dangerous and scary thing to live off of your talent, but it is much more dangerous not to. Because I was out there in the storm I did recognize genius when I saw it. I even had the chance to work close to it a few times. If you do that once or twice you begin to recognize the spider web of mediocrity that you can get tangled up in if you're not careful.

"How you gonna' keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paris?" goes the old song. Dig up your talent if you buried it somewhere, use it, even if it's just a simple gift for crafting something and as soon as you see that it pleases people and moves you, you will start thinking about how to do it better or what to do next, you will be noticing how the geniuses do it, and part time or full time, congratulations, you're an artist and there is nothing mediocre about you.

Even if your talents lie in other non-artistic directions, the same rules apply. Trade in the old safe but worn out ideas about yourself and go for some risky rewards.

Make it a happy day for somebody.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Careful Creativity 5/30/09

Art is imitation, not of things, but of the nature of things.

Huntington Cairns
Hail, Important One.
Many people get to the door of art and the appreciation of art and stop. I don't know, maybe they assume it's locked, or something.

I remember some episodes in my later years when younger actors would ask me questions about acting. I frequently said that acting, like any other art, has to conform to natural law. When queried about that once I picked up a leaf off the ground. It was autumn. The leaf had a beautiful thrust of green coming from the stem up through the center, then fanned out to a passionate red and onto to a cheerful amber at the edges, with each color blending with the others. I said that in order to be an artist we have to come up with something as beautiful as that leaf. But nature creates them by the zillions every year and then just tosses them away.

Why do artists paint pictures of leaves and flowers? Why did Gustav Klimt paint The Sunflower? It sort of looks like a sunflower. But it is really the essence of that particular one of a kind sunflower. As a result it is a magical work of art.

Mimicry, which is different from mime, has its place in the entertainment world, but it does not describe the essence of what is being mimicked. I've known of people who have normal, not unpleasant speaking voices in real life, but give them a script and they immediately start sounding like Katherine Hepburn, Marlon Brando or John Wayne. It's a terrible habit because it leads right up to the closed door on creativity. It has nothing to do with art.

Here's a simple example of what I think, but it illustrates the point. The Little Black Box. It was a small plastic box with a toggle switch on the top. If you flicked the switch to "on" the lid slowly opened a crack, a small emaciated arm came out; switched it to "off" and fell back into the box which closed again. When I saw it I thought, This is great. It's a humorous design to illustrate the dedicatedly depressed mind. It says "Leave me alone. I'm content in the dark crypt of my hermitage." It tells the story with a laugh. It's going to be around for a while. Next time I'm in here, I'll buy it.

A few weeks later I came back and there was the little black box. Only now there was a slot for a coin. When you flicked the switch the arm came out and pushed the coin into the box. "Gee" some unenlightened person said "that would make a cute bank." Cute. But it said nothing. One was a humorous expression in art of the universal metaphysical essence of defeat, depression and avoidance of life. The other was a bank.

The next time you look at a beautiful painting or witness an excellent performance remind yourself that you are looking at a window.

DB The Vagabond
Throw some joy around.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Burning Birth 5/29/09

Change is the constant, the signal for rebirth, the egg of the phoenix.

Christina Baldwin
Come in and bring your brain.
The Legend of the Phoenix exists in some version the world over. It can be found in the ancient texts of China, India, Persia, Arabia, Egypt, and Europe. In Russia it's known as the Firebird. It tells of rebirth, regeneration, resurrection.

Briefly the legend is that the phoenix is a very large bird with many colorful feathers. There is only one phoenix. It lives for 500 to 1,000 years. When the time comes it builds a nest in a palm tree. It then sets the nest on fire which burns up both the nest and the bird. But out of the flames comes another phoenix who constructs an egg out of myrrh, frankincense, and other spices, some say cinnamon. Gathering the bones of the parent phoenix it puts them in the egg then flies to Egypt where it leaves the egg on the alter of Ra, the sun god, in the temple of Heliopolis.

One interesting Biblical reference reads: "I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand." (Job 29:18)

Some day I'd like to write about Heliopolis, an ancient Egyptian city of great leaning, visited by Herodotus, Plato and others, possibly Jesus, the place where monotheism was born and where Nebuchadnezer threatened to smash its obelisks but never did (one of which now resides behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC and the other in London, mistakenly called Cleopatra's Needles). The city was also known as On, whose high priest Potaphera's daughter married the patriarch Joseph and bore him two sons.

By placing its egg on the alter to Ra, the phoenix is celebrating the fiery rising of the sun again, the rebirth into existence from a nest of darkness, the continual change that signals the "always" of life.

In the tree across the street from me the bird who lives there has again built her nest and will soon have eggs to care for. Down below I hear the yammering of a class of young school children on their way to the library. Those things please me very much. They tell me that the sun will rise again tomorrow, that the eggs will hatch into baby birds, that the children will learn and grow and that life itself is immortal.

DB Vagabond Journeys
Smile at me.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Armed Amusement 5/28/09

Never get in a battle of wits without ammunition.

American proverb
Leave your pistols at the door.
Here's another story from my career.

I was doing a production of Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" playing the role of Sir Toby Belch. Some of us in the cast would sometimes go out on a day off and talk to a classroom of students who had seen the show. I always enjoyed that . The kids were usually bright and had interesting questions.

I went alone to one classroom where they were very interested in acting and theatre production. I determined from their questions that they didn't know much about live theatre. After a while the teacher spoke up and said "We all enjoyed your performance, but we noticed that you didn't handle the verse very well. Why was that?"

I decided to be a gentleman.
"You're the drama teacher here, aren't you?"
"Well then, you've probably just momentarily forgotten that the role of Sir Toby is written entirely in prose."
"But I'll be happy to do some Shakespearean verse for you if you like."
"Please do."
I did:

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least,
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, -- and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

I don't know all the Sonnets like Olivier, Gielgud and Burton did. But I know that one and some others, my favorites.

When I finished the students applauded me. I looked at the teacher to see if he had anything to say.


Moral: Make sure you know what you're talking about before you express a controversial opinion.

The Vagabond
Y'all come back nao, y'hear.

(My career is stilled and, no doubt, over. due to a stack of physical problems I can't afford to fix. Talent that is forced to lie dormant is a heartbreaking thing for anyone. I am thankful though that I can at least continue to enjoy the great literature, the ideas, the knowledge of human life and the friendship of a few people I came to know during the 50 years I worked.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Zealous Zap 5/27/09

Idealists will always be in society, and we will survive.

John Zorn
Ah, here again are you?
While at work one day, many years ago, a colleague brought in a bag of assorted buttons. Not the buttons for closing your shirt, but the ones with the pin at the back, with slogans and pictures on them. The crew gathered around and he told us we could take one. Most of them had what you expect to see: a peace symbol. a heart saying "Be Mine" and cute slogans, "Kiss me I'm Irish" etc.

But there was one button, and only one, that read "REAL LIFE ISN'T LIKE THIS." I knew as soon as I saw it that it was my button. Not only was it the only one, not only did I know that no one else would want it, but it expressed an idea that I knew I would enjoy wearing on my chest.

And wear it I did, for years. I still have it. I was very interested in what people would say who saw it. I usually got the classic nihilistic remark like "Sorry to have to tell you this, buddy, but what you see is what you get." Or I'd get some version of "If this isn't real life, what is?" or "Where did you get that idea" accompanied by a snicker.

Sometimes I'd get silence. Those were the reactions I favored the most. I thought if I could put into somebody's thinking that there was more to life than what they knew, that what you see is not necessarily what you get and to ponder the possibility that indeed real life isn't the life that we walk around all day believing it is, I might accomplish a realization, an enlightenment, which would translate into some benefit for that person and maybe for the world.

In the late 50s, when I entered college, to be an idealist was a very unpopular thing to be. Whenever I spoke in idealistic terms about anything, I was scorned. That was especially true when I expressed my opinion on social issues. And yet, in less than a decade, the streets were filled with idealists trying to change society, and doing it. We wanted the world to get better than what it saw. We wanted to show that whatever real life might be it wasn't like the one we had been living.

It is the idealists in every age who write the agendas for the future. And, no matter how much scorn is flung at the ideals of free thinking, forward thinking individuals, we will survive.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
Don't let the bad ideas get you down.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"Yes" Yielding 5/26/09

If you have enthusiasm, you have a very dynamic, effective companion to travel with you on the road to Somewhere.

Loretta Young
Enter. You don't need a passport.
My town is a mowed lawn, clipped hedge, pruned tree kind of community. A suburb, in other words. There is only one place where things grow wild, a mini forest on the edge of town. It's owned by The Nature Conservancy. It used to be a fairly good sized tract of uncultivated land but most of it has been turned into a parking lot. What's left is a narrow strip of wilderness between the lot and the wetland which drains off of the Delaware River.

There's a primitive walking trail through the little forest. But it's mostly hidden from view and so it's where the teenagers like to go sometimes to drink their beer, smoke their dope and do whatever else they do (don't ask). So the trail sometimes has some unwholesome litter on it. The trees and bushes don't mind. And neither do I.

I always visit the place in the fall to enjoy the rich foliage or sit on a log and watch the ducks. Or I can walk along the trail and pretend I'm lost in a far northern woods and maybe will see a chipmunk, a wild hare or a deer, if I'm lucky. No such critters abide there, alas. It's also a great place to watch the spring trying to exert itself, unencumbered by human help.

I decided this morning to write something on this topic of enthusiasm. But as I thought about the problems facing me, financial and physical, I wondered what I could justify being enthusiastic about. Then I read "The Hidden Side Of A Leaf" in Indigo's journal where she directs our attention to look beyond the surface and find beauty where it's hidden. I used to draw and paint leaves and I remember investigating the undersides of them. The reverse side of a leaf is like a gentle echo of what's on the obverse side. It's the part that doesn't catch the sun.

My life is hard. I can't go painlessly walking down the street to catch the spring sun or go strolling easily through the petite forest. But when I do I can look up at the trees and admire my brothers, the hidden forest leaves.

The journey goes on, and it's either done with depression and sorrow or it's done with the effective and dynamic joy of one who is glad to share life's hidden beauties with his humble companions.

DB The Vagabond
Put on your dancing shoes and greet the day.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Xenophilic Xylograph 5/25/09

I got myself out of harms way and got no place except out of harms way, which was good.

DB - The Vagabond
Come in, come in.
There is a certain type of person who, though they seem to be reasonable and agreeable to be with, when vested with some authority become oppressive and tyrannical. To work under such a person requires great patience and compassion. To a sensitive yearning soul such a person can be devastating. I don't know why people become that way. Maybe they are afraid of the power they have and so compensate. Maybe they think that is the way they are supposed to be and act accordingly. Or maybe that's the way they really are and it doesn't show until they gain the authority and freedom to let it out. Whatever the reason it is harmful to human relationships, a sabotage of an effective and harmonious work environment and a permanent scarring of a persons feelings.

I have seen people turned to pulp, being ground under the heel of some suppressive boss. One day, at work, I found a gentle woman crying in the hall. It seems she had asked her boss if she could leave a little early to attend a memorial service for a dear departed member of her family. His answer was to give her an hour and a half of extra, overtime work to do before she left. It makes me angry right now just to think about that.

I volunteered to perform a scene for a directing class at a large film school. The teacher felt empowered to be as insulting to us as he wanted to even though he was completely ignorant about the scene. He didn't know what he was talking about but because he was the "authority" we had to sit there and listen to his offensive drivel.

I was doing a classical play in Massachusetts. The director was brutally critical of me. Everyday he tore my work apart, even in front of the children in the play, with some savage and inappropriate language. Another actor in the show and I had the same agent. Evidently the actor called the agent and told him what I was going through, because the agent called me and asked me if it was true. Then my agent said "Get out of there. Give your notice. I'll get you a better job." So i gave my two weeks notice, played through my final performance and the next day, as I was packing to go back to New York I got a call to do another play, starting immediately a scant 100 miles away. I did that play and it was a joyous experience.

Later I learned that the actor who took my place was getting the same abuse as I had received. And I also learned that the director had tried to play that same role himself a few years earlier and failed at it. So, naturally, he wasn't going to allow anyone else to feel successful in it.

Life is too important to allow anyone to damage my self respect if I can help it and when I can I will promptly get out of the way.

May your memories today be happy ones.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Wise Wrestling 5/24/09

There are two ways of exerting one's strength, one is pushing down and the other is pulling up.

Booker T. Washington
Come on in. The joint is jumpin'
This is how it goes. You aim your arrow carefully at your target and hit the bulls eye. At the same time the world sets up a different target next to it and tells you that you missed it.

I have occasionally had the misfortune of doing a play under a director who didn't understand it. The director would struggle to produce an effect that was contrary to the author's intention, and then blame the actors because we couldn't effectively manage it. Once the play was open nature took its course and the production gradually melded back into something closer to its proper shape.

It's very important in life to aim at the right target and not be distracted by emotions, opinions and popularity.

Even though I received some interesting comments, it seems clear that everybody missed the point of my last entry.

If civilization is to survive the puller ups have got to out number the pusher downs. Or, at least the number of up pulls must be greater than the number of down pushes. That requires discipline and conscientiousness. If anyone really cares about the future he has an obligation to find opportunities to pull up to the extent of his ability. To do evil is easy. Good doing requires effort. But the exertion is worth it. It keeps one in shape,

Look for angels.



What do you think was the most important event of 2008? and

What was the most significant event in your life last year?

You have all Spring to answer if you wish.

15 responses so far.

Leave answers on my email or on my journal Thank you. DB

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Veritable Values 5/23/09

Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.

People often waste a lot of time criticizing other people for this and that, finding fault and down grading what they do. Why is that? There usually is some low grade reason for it, such as making comparisons, which Shakespeare says are "odorous' or simple prejudice. Other times the reasons are more sinister such as envy, jealousy or hatred.

I used to be a critical, fault finding fellow. I was brought up that way. But, thank heaven, I learned the pointlessness of it. I also learned the detriment to myself of not appreciating what others do, no matter what it is. I learned to enjoy what I see others do and to be grateful. As an actor, I can enjoy great acting when I see it without feeling jealous. Just as I can enjoy a great musician or a great ball player. It seems strange but I can also feel a sense of participation in what they do.

But then it's not strange. Even though the work of some artists is so magical that it seems they came to earth from another planet or as a result of a meteor shower, the fact is they are human beings and thus are doing what a human being is capable of. Those who excel at something are the leaders, teachers and way showers. I may not take the path of the ball player or opera singer but I can see what I am capable of if I did. It is in me because it is human.

As my friend Barry Pearl wrote "One's appreciation, admiration for another's abilities, means that there is a place inside the admirer that has the same ability."
Those who do things that we admire shows us that we have the capability to be admired, and those who excel at what they do show us what excellence is and that we are also capable of it, because we, like them, are human.

DB Vagabond Journeys
Blow some bubbles of joy today.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Universal Utterances 5/22/09

What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit.

John Updike
Hello from here.
Does life mirror art, or does art mirror life? I forgot which it is, but I think it's probably both. I've been watching with great interest the repair of the Hubble telescope as shown on NASA TV. I've listened to what the various scientists and astronauts have said about the mission, and I'm now trying to process through my own mind what it means, I'm sure I won't be able to describe the great extent of meaning it has in one journal entry, so I will probably be returning to the topic from time to time, ad tedium.

The astronauts installed some new pieces of equipment and replaced some old ones, all to allow Hubble to see farther and more clearly. Each one of those items was designed and built by scientists and technicians on the earth.

It's true that Hubble looks into space, but it isn't space that interests us. It is the various objects in space, the stars, planets, moons, and other items that define themselves and hence help to define space.

Certain ideas present themselves. As the astronauts looked back to the earth it was obvious that the earth was one of those objects in space and that we live on one dot in the vast, uncountable trillions of dots that define space. And one of the possibilities Hubble may discover for us is if there is intelligent life out there somewhere on another planet. It is most likely that there is and if so no doubt there is more than one. That is a subject for a different journal entry.

The Hubble is a window on to the great scene, the starscape that we live in and thus also a window on to life. But it is also a mirror because as we look out at the vastness of which we are a part it defines our life as well.

Each of those systems designed and built by those here on earth to be a part of Hubble were items that defined life and the space around it. And each one has a function that is specific to the defining of life. They have there reality in their function.

A great painting or sculpture is a mirror of human life in the space that surrounds it. It sends back to us pictures about ourselves. It is also a window into the vastness of the imagination and mentality of human life. Each work of art has its specific function and defines itself as it defines the mental, spiritual space around it. Because of art we can grasp the knowable in the vast sea of the invisible and live comfortably within it.

(To be continued, someday)
Vagabond Journeys
Strike a new pose in the mirror

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Terrifying Technology 5/21/09

The cloning of humans is on most of the lists of things to worry about from Science along with behavior control, genetic engineering, transplanted heads, computer poetry and the unrestrained growth of plastic flowers.

Lewis Thomas
Welcome to my lab.
What do I think about human cloning? The fact is I don't think about it. I have a lot of things to worry about without spending any time with that or other such matters. I'll give you a list. No, on second thought, I won't.

When confronted with such topics, some people go into a state of shock or outrage, as if the idea itself was somehow an evil, Satan's tool to destroy the human race. But the fact is that Science is not in a position to take an ethical stand on anything, although many scientists do. Science doesn't make moral choices. It gives us the Hubble space telescope and the hydrogen bomb. That's also true about Nature, which gives us the butterfly and the rattle snake.

The moral choice has to be made by humankind. And that can only be done by putting aside shock and outrage and thinking through in a reasonable manner the implications of what Science can do and what scientists are contemplating doing with it. Along with our other gifts, we humans have been given the ability to reason, to think, to ponder and to imagine. Predicting the future of anything is difficult, one might say impossible, and it may be pointless. History teaches that if a thing can be done, it will be done. And to quote the old saying from Napoleon Hill, "What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve." So nothing is outside the grasp of the scientist with imagination and the tools to employ in making the impossible a reality, good or evil.

So who's watching the scientist? Not the hot headed bomber of abortion clinics, not the fanatical temperance smasher of stills, not the Luddite destroying the machinery, nor the Congressman who refuses to vote for appropriations to keep the space program functioning. Is anyone watching? Is anyone calmly considering the possibilities and ramifications of every scientific intent, research and development, then letting the world know about them in a manner that gains the ear of the scientific community and others?

These are questions that ought to be considered while the scalpels, scuds and space shuttles fly.

May the spring breeze mess up your hair.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Shuffling Solo 5/20/09

Do as much as possible, and talk of yourself as little as possible.

Dive in, the water's fine.
What I don't understand is why I have no time. I'm a retired, senior citizen, I have no pets to take care of, no family to visit and nothing much to do. Why don't I have the time to do it? If one were to describe my life he would say "Aw, he just sits around all day reading, napping and tinkering with his computer." So where do the hours go.

I make an entry in my journal every day. In this age of twitter, facebook, bebo, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, elderberries, my space, your space, my tube your tube and the other guy's tube, journal keepers seem to be way behind in the human race and blogging is an anachronism, slightly better than snail mail.

Considering the vast amount of communication going on in the world, millions of items being tossed back and forth, all bouncing off the satellites as they slowly drift along avoiding space junk, bloggers are a small sub group of humans who read each other's journals, But sitting down to write one is a solitaire game. The only things answering me right back are my own words and I hold all the cards.

But everyone's life is a metaphor for living if it is examined well and it's a library of wisdom to share with those interested enough to look and listen. Everyone's life is a journey, as one of my blogger friends put it recently, a journey that is still progressing. It has reached its destinations, but one destination leads to another.

My life has been a vagabond's journey and I draw from it experiences useful to illustrate and clarify some part of the metaphor. There isn't much in that journey to brag about except to say that I spent most of my life, as troublesome as it was, doing the work I love.

I read other journals, many more than I comment on, and in them I read about the great, infinite examples of human life in its various forms. What I try to give back, I hope, in my shuffling manner, is a continuing appreciation and respect for life.

I will go on doing that in my anachronistic journal. If I can find the time.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
Don;t read everything you believe.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Reckless Rascality 5/19/09

No amount of dullness can safeguard a work against the determination of critics to find it fascinating.

Harold Rosenberg

Welcome, your table is ready.
In Shakespeare's play "Twelfth Night" is the line "Many a good hanging prevents a bad marriage." I was curious to find the meaning behind the line. In Elizabethan England, when a felon was condemned to be hanged they would drive him through town in an open cart. The spinsters and widows came out to watch and if one of them wanted to she could claim him. So instead of being executed he had to become the husband of the one who claimed him, for good or ill (usually ill). But sometimes, considering the hag who was doing the claiming, hanging would be a preferred choice, Hence a good hanging could prevent a bad marriage.

There are probably almost as many jokes about critics as there are about lawyers. The difference is that critic-humor is usually true. Show business is full of funny stories about things critics have written. I have some of my own which I will save for another day.

While it is true that a critic with a good eye, a good ear and a good sense of theatre can put a bad play out of business and keep it from climbing up onto the world's stages like poison ivy, it is also true that the same sickle has been used on a worthy piece of theatre, chopping it to death with irresponsible reviews. But, as the Bible says, there is hope of a tree that if it is chopped down in my blossom again and live.

One of the masterpieces of 20th Century play writing is Samuel Beckett's "Waiting For Godot." When it was performed in New York the critics panned it because it didn't make any sense to them. It was also performed at San Quentin Prison and the inmates there had no trouble understanding and appreciating it. Someone suggested that maybe the critics should spend some time in prison. I don't know but that might not be a bad idea on several levels.

Then there was Beethoven. The critics found his music noisy and chaotic and rarely gave him a good review. Beethoven.

As the composer Sibelius said, No one ever constructed a statue to a critic. My advice to any critic is to show up, pay attention, then go home, report what you saw and keep your opinions to yourself. Or better yet, don't show up at all. Let us write and publish our own reviews, as Richard Wagner did for one of his early operas,

But what is even worse, in some ways, is when the critics will see a hunk of junk that should never have been produced, has no theatrical merit, no possible shelf life, a "turkey" as we refer to it in show business and then go and write a fabulous review, praising it to the sky and thus letting it loose on an unsuspecting and unprepared public. The widow has claimed the felon who should have been hung. I think all actors have experienced being in a superficial, badly written and maladjusted piece of trash that some critic has raved over. It makes one shake one's stunned head in disbelief. There is a perfect example of that running the circuits of regional and college theatres, taking up time and space, right now. It shall remain nameless,

Don't read the review then go see the show. Reverse the process and you'll be astounded. My habit as an entertainer was if I got a good review, earned or not, I copied it and mailed it out. If I got a bad one I threw it in the trash can and got on with life.

The Vagabond
Have a happy surprise today.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Quality Quest 5/18/09

The man who really knows is the man who is always willing to learn.

DB - The Vagabond
Hello, whoever you are.

No man is more certain of his knowledge and wisdom than an ignorant man. I've known many. In fact, I used to be one myself. No, don't laugh. I was. I was a first rate, award winning, loud mouth dope. Thank goodness those days are over (now you can laugh). Now, of course, I know everything. At least I thought I did until I read a few items in today's paper.

There's a big difference between ignorance and stupidity, Ignorance is a condition that's curable, like youth. Stupidity is forever. I think ignorance comes about because people are afraid of change and challenge, or else they are too old and tired to face them and just want to dig their heels into the ground they know about. What a shame.

A friend's daughter, a school girl, was keeping a journal. She entitled it "Things I learned today." I thought it was a good idea, so I started to keep one of my own. But I divided the entries up into three columns: things I learned today, things I knew but forgot about, and, things I already know. I finally had to give it up because the columns were getting filled up quickly. But it did develop one valuable habit, the habit of seeking out new information, noticing it when it came upon me and comparing it with what I already knew or thought I knew about the topic.

Intellectual curiosity is an exercise that doesn't wear one out much, doesn't require a lot of equipment and isn't likely to cause any bodily harm. Why do people shun it as if it was going to send them up river to the funny farm. "All that reading of books isn't good for the mind."

Some of the women bloggers that I read can talk about what is growing, now that spring is here, outside their houses and in their gardens and I enjoy reading about them even though I don't know one flower from another. I never had the ability or interest to find out. I never lived anywhere where there was an active garden. About flowers I'm ignorant, I admit it (I can't even make a cactus grow), but I admire the people who know about plants and flowers and can write about them in their journals. So keep growing them girls, and keep telling me about it.

In fact, I admire anyone who knows a lot about something that I know little or nothing about, especially when they share their knowledge with me. It means there is always something for me to learn.

I like to have an open, enquiring mind. There are still a lot of mysteries to look into. I finished writing my novel "Brian and Christine" and posted the last entry, yesterday afternoon. Then I took a nap. When I awoke the first thing I said to myself was "Okay, what's next?"

Have a good, happy laugh today.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Precocious Prophecy 5/17/09

We have it in our power to begin the world over again.

Thomas Paine
Come in, make yourself comfortable.
A band leader once said "No matter what tune you play someone will come out to dance." Sometimes I wonder how people get set up as teachers. I have written about Mr. O'Conner, my elementary school science teacher, who, when in my 11 year old enthusiasm and interest in the solar system said that I would like to go to the moon, scornfully said "Don't be ridiculous. Man can never go to the moon." I bet if I hung out a sign offering instruction in something I don't know anything about, someone would come knocking at my door to sign up.

Yesterday I spent a few hours watching the astronauts repairing the Hubble telescope. It still amazes me how far we have come in space technology since Mr. O'Conner's faulty, authoritative pronouncement of "scientific fact."

Another thing I note with astonishment is, after all the comings and goings of earth life, the societies, the governments, the tribes and nations, wars and trade, the history books and artifacts collected and gathered into museums, we still know very little about this place we live on, this globe floating around in space for no apparent reason. We live on one tiny, insignificant speck on the nose of the universe and Hubble keeps giving us more and more information of the immeasurable vastness of it all. But there is still something else even more amazing.

When Mr. O'Conner gave forth with his "expert opinion" man had never been to the moon, yet. During the NASA program there was a lecture about the plans to put astronauts on Mars; 6 months to get there, 6 months to poke around, 6 months to get back. Considering the starscapes presented to us by Hubble, a trip to Mars seems like a baby step. And so it is.

There are those who think all this space exploration is a total waste of time, money and resources. Those are the same people who did not wish to precede Thomas Paine and his friends. But those who did, did begin the world over again: two new continents, a new story and a new way of life. As Margaret Thatcher said, America was built on philosophy.

Is there life on Mars? It's likely, in some form. Is there intelligent life in our solar system or in some distant galaxy? Most probably. And that means we are citizens of the universe. It means our world is now part of a larger society, a grander civilization than we have known. Our world is much larger than it has ever been. It's a new world, begun all over again.

In 1959 my girl friend and I went to a Dave Brubeck concert at the Revere Beach outdoor stadium outside of Boston. While listening to "Take Five" I leaned back and stared up at the clear night sky and saw a slowly moving star. It was Sputnik. orbiting overhead. Sputnik's successful journey began the world all over again with one small baby step.

Ii is in our power to begin the world over again, every day.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
You have a happy Sunday now, your hear me?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Optimum Outreach 5/16/09

You should never give up on anybody.

David Ortiz
Smile, you're on Candid Camera.
One of my Vagabondisms reads "Don’t give up on people – every road goes somewhere."

Yesterday I had one of those days you never want to have. It started out bad, got worse and ended up drowned in beer. After struggling all morning to install some statistical sites on my journal page, I was dismayed to find I had a lot fewer readers to it than I thought I did. I wanted to toss the whole thing in my local Dumpster as a wasteful, useless example of futility. Hence, you didn't get one of my verbose entries, my meager attempts at purple prose and pink poesy, my staggering, trembling observations about life. I was FED UP with life.

But when I woke up this morning, too early, hungry, hung over and with a bewildering headache, I managed to make myself a cup of coffee and to think about things,

The first step in my reasoning was that I write because I want to. There is almost nothing obligatory about it. I enjoy it and therefore should continue, no matter what. Secondly I do have a few people who enjoy reading my journal and if I can easily stuff them all into the back of a Chevy pick-up, so what? And why should I give up on one neighbor just because the neighborhood is alien, As my quote says, I don't believe in giving up on people. Some good friendships and interesting discussions have come from folks reading and responding to what I write and from my reading and responding to what they write.

But the most surprising and significant arrival of thought into my hung over head was that if I closed the cover on my journal and tossed it on a bottom shelf to gather dust, I would be giving up on myself. (It takes a genius like me to figure that one out.)

One thing a vagabond knows is that the journey continues. There are still adventures to be had, problems to be solved, mysteries to be unraveled, landscapes to be investigated, bridges to be crossed, a magic lamp to be rubbed, a conduit of truth to be opened and a higher self to be discovered, in everyone's life. In my life they appear out of the fog as I write.

There's no point in giving up on myself, or anyone else, because the roads keep going somewhere. One destination leads to another.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
Practice joy.



What do you think was the most important event of 2008? and

What was the most significant event in your life last year?

You have all Spring to answer if you wish.

15 responses so far.

Leave answers on my email or on my journal Thank you. DB

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Natural Nativity 5/14/09

There are always new things to experience, internalize then write about. It never stops.

Graham Nash
What must be said, must be said.
What must be written, must be written.

There are no waterfalls in my town. Too bad. I would like to go and just sit by a waterfall today for an hour or so, even a small one. When I was hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire I would find small falls off the beaten path I could hear them, in the woods, a few moments walk away from the trail. It was a delight to discover them and to sit and watch them.

To watch one is to watch a three part natural miracle. The pure, lively and life giving water gracefully moving through the forest, winking back at the sun, held up by the strong, stoic, determined rocks and then suddenly dropped into the invisible arms of gravity to be embraced in the bosom of the earth beneath, and then continue, reborn, on its sparkling way to fulfill its destiny.

My vagabond journey, like any journey, is not a smooth one all the way. It's getting over and around obstacles, personal ones and those imposed from the outside. The difference between my journey and that of the brook or river is that they never get discouraged unless someone dams them up. It's those life dams that create stagnancy and smelly despair. True, the dam will prevent flowing into something unexpected. But at what price does someone avoid the surprises of life? There are the sudden frightful plunges into the unknown, which, when taken and survived can revivify us and grant us a whole new perspective on things.

For 2 weeks in the early November of 1960, I hitchhiked from Boston to Los Angeles. I traversed 3,000 miles of land I had never seen before. Sometimes I didn't even know where I was. It was an exercise some people would consider extreme folly. Not as dangerous, perhaps, as sky diving blindfolded or swimming with sharks, but it had its own inherent threats. I faced some animals I didn't want to see, I never knew what kind of a crackpot was going to pick me up (and there were a few), I had to find a place to sleep every night and I had to think about getting across a desert.

All of the experiences I had and the fact that I made it, turned that journey into one of the many important and unforgettable things I've done in my vagabond life. People have asked me to write about that trip. But, truly, I think the real journey can best, and perhaps only, be recorded in the lessons I learned and the wisdom I gained. That trip into the arms of the unknown and unexpected has given me an endless supply of new things to internalize and write about. It continues, to this day, to flow through my thoughts. Obviously, or I couldn't have written this entry or a lot of others.

DB - The Vagabond
Flick away the creepy blues..

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Merry Maneuver 5/13/09

When your dad is mad and asks you "Do I look stupid?" don't answer him.

Michael (age 4)
Enter please

A Fantasy
in one act

DAD Do I look stupid?

SON (No reply)

D Answer me.

S Yes, Dad.

D Oh, so you think I'm stupid.

S No, I mean no Dad.

D So you think I'm smart.

S Yes, Dad.

D So if I'm the smart one, what does that make you?

S Uh, I don't know.

D It makes you the stupid one. Right.

S I guess so. I don't know.

D What do you mean you don't know?

S Well, if I'm the stupid one then I guess I don't know if I'm stupid.

D Are you trying to get smart with me?

S No Dad.

D Don't get smart with me?

S No Dad.

D So if I'm the smart one and you're the stupid one, what are you going to do about it?

S I don't know, Dad.

D You're going to get smart.

S I am?

D Yes.

S But you just told me not to get smart.

D I did not.

S Yes you did.

D Don't argue with me.

S No Dad.

D I want you to start growing up and getting smart, like me.

S Yes Dad.

D Yes what?

S Like you, I should start growing up and getting smart.

D (No reply)


Distribute some joy today.
Yes Dad.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lasting Largess 5/12/09

I love to lose myself in other men's minds.

Charles Lamb
Welcome to my dungeon.
I was in a playwriting workshop where the teacher gave us some very interesting exercises. One of them I won't forget. It was very revealing about how important the authors are to the play. He assigned several students the task of each writing a one act play using the same characters and the same plot.

When the plays were finished they were read in the class. It was amazing to hear how diverse the plays the three different students had made out of the exercise. At a another time he assigned just four characters and no plot line. The result was even more amazing. The story had to come out of only the relationships among the characters.

I already respected playwrights, but those exercises gave me a greater respect for them. When working on a script I would now ponder why the author chose that particular way to reveal the plot line and why he chose those special words to express those special characters and tell the story.

I once heard a lecture from a playwright who said "A playwright is one who if she changes a single line it is a major rewriting of the play." I learned to understand that. Compared to prose, a play is a very sparsely written thing and every word has an important meaning to it because there is no chance for the playwright to explain or elaborate. There is no going into great details as a novelist can. Everything is said with dialogue and action. For the actor it's crucial to understand why the author has chosen that particular word or group of words from the universe of words available. And it explains why most playwrights are very upset when an actor doesn't stick to the script.

I carried this alertness to words and phrases over into reading other types of literature: fiction and philosophy. As a writer now myself I know how one can ponder over the choice of a word or phrase to make sure the reference is clear and to the author's point. To appreciate this pondering by other writers means that I can think with them as they work their way through a description. And I can truly get lost in the author's mind.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
May you have a springtime blessing today.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Kenetic Kindness 5/11/09

Self pity is our worst enemy, and if we yield to it we can never do anything wise in this world.

Helen Keller
How nice to see you.
I haven't flown in many years but I remember there was a time and maybe still is when the flight attendant would give a lecture to the passengers about safety. One part of that lecture had to do with the oxygen masks which would drop down in the event of the loss of air in the aircraft. The instruction included the statement that if you were traveling with a child to put the mask on yourself first and then on the child. At first it would seem very self-serving to do that. But it was logical, for if you ran out of air yourself you might faint before you got the mask on your kid and then both of you were in trouble.

There is a philosophy in this world that says we must take care of ourselves first before we can help anyone else. "Take care of number one." Unfortunately many people stop there and never get to the "anyone else" part of the equation.

Two things I have found difficult to get, even if I ask for them, are approval and sympathy. There's a quotation from someone that reads "The best way to get approval is not to need it." Well, we all need some degree of approval from time to time, and some people seem to rake it in without effort. Others also seem to gather sympathy as fast as hens lay eggs. The rest of us just have to muddle along through life without.

Wisdom is a process of stretching, reaching out, looking into some sort of universe, earthly or otherwise, understanding what's happening, communicating one's observations to others, fixing things that aren't working right and clearing up a mess even if no one knows you've done it. Wisdom does more than imply a regard for other people, it absolutely demands it. Nothing good has ever been done for the world by someone who is totally self involved to the exclusion of others, except by accident.

Self righteousness, self justification, self indulgence, self importance, self pity, the whole nasty swamp of selfishness is, next to cruelty and oppression, one of the worst pits the human can fall into. And we have to watch our steps all the time to make sure we don't fall into it. Getting out of and staying out of the mud pie of selfishness is a very healthy way of taking "care of number one" because it's certain to allow us to take care of others.

I could address other, more insidious, forms of selfishness such as superficial modesty, false friendship and a predatory interest in others. Maybe I will some day.

But for now I will gratefully accept your approval as long as it doesn't enhance my self importance. I will graciously take your sympathy if it doesn't feed my self pity. As for my approval and my sympathy, it's yours without asking.

Do what you have to do with faith and joy.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Joyous Joining 5/10/09

It is always the garden that makes the gardener, never the other way around.

Wendy Johnson
Take a seat please, I'll be with you in a moment.
I was speaking with a friend the other day about writing. She's not a writer, and yet she had formed a few sentences of a beautiful description and wondered where it came from and what it was. She couldn't tell if it would make a good poem, or short story or novel. In my response I explained that the writing would tell her what it is. Unless you're doing an exercise for your college English professor, most writers don't sit down to write a poem or a story. They write and the words become what they are destined to become. When we write we put words out into the universe and those words talk back to us. That's natural law. It's a natural communication. We listen to the words and the words listen to us. It's a conversation we can become totally lost in. It is as if the words were writing themselves.

What's really being discussed are ideas, images based on observation and thought, The words are a conduit for those ideas, sometimes great ones, sometimes not. But the writing itself always listens and talks back. This is one of the mysterious things about art and why a fine artist is so absorbed in his work.

I've found the same thing with painting. If there is an unfinished painting on my easel it will insist that I spend time with it. If I walk past it it will catch my attention and indicate somewhere on the canvas that needs my attention, that needs to be worked on or fixed. It's as if the painting said "Psst! You! Over here, dummy." The painting has something to tell me about itself.

It's the same way in theatre. Michael Chekhov wrote a very interesting book called "To The Actor" and one of the concepts in that book is about characterization. He states that to understand your character in order to play him you have to make a journey. Starting with nothing more than some dialogue, some description and maybe a few facts about the character, you start out on a journey to find him. What you don't realize at first is that the moment you started that journey the character also began a journey to find you. At one point you meet, bond and from that moment you begin to give that character life and the character gives you who he is, what he thinks, how he feels and what he does.

In short, the creative process is a friendship between you and the thing you're making. Whatever tones, words or pigments that you use, watch and listen and the garden will tell you what it is.

DB - Vagabond Journeys
Go a little bit crazy today, you have my permission.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Inspiring Introductions 5/09/09

There are so many dawns that have not begun to shine.

Indian proverb
Hello again.
The first spot in the United States to get the sunlight is the summit of Mount Katahdin in Maine. I know people who have hiked up there, spent the night on the summit and been the first people in the country to see the sunrise.

Imagine standing there as the sun slowly gleams its way up out of the Atlantic Ocean to touch your face knowing that all the rest of the country is still in the dark.

Or imagine being a mariner aloft in the summit of your ship, the crows nest, past all known waters of that same Atlantic, peering through a telescope and seeing land. Land where no one knows there is land.

Or imagine being an early man trudging alone through an unknown stretch of desert, coming to a cliff edge and peering down into the vast space of the Grand Canyon.

Or imagine being Neil Armstrong making his one small step and peering around onto a totally alien place that humanity has only dreamed of..

Or imagine the philosopher who peering down into the barbaric threats upon human survival from the chaos of ungoverned tribes saw the sunlight of democracy.

Or imagine the first person to discover farming, trade, community, therapeutics. economics, printing, masonry, harmonics, mining, subconsciousness, the list goes on.

We have all been on those summits. In our own ways, large and small, discoveries have been made as life presents it's problems, adventures, trials and triumphs. The great realization is that things will not always be the same and with each new discovery the world changes and with each personal dawn of light our lives will change. The great joy is the process of leaving the darkness behind and readjusting our lives to fit the new day.

There are still discoveries to be made, great and small, in everyone's life.
"Here comes the sun."

Vagabond Journeys
Why not do some spring cleaning of your moods.

Spring Quiz



What do you think was the most important event of 2008? and

What was the most significant event in your life last year?

You have all Spring to answer if you wish.

15 responses so far.

Leave answers on my email or on my journal

Thank you. DB

Friday, May 8, 2009

Harvest Handling 5/08/09

Take your victories, whatever they may be, cherish them, use them, but don't settle for them.

Mia Hamm
How do.
I am pleased to say that yesterday I called Verizon and spoke with Mike, who scrubbed my computer from top to bottom, took out the trash and realigned my tires. Beginning today I think I can start reading your journals again. I hope so.
I love this quote. I have adored it from the first time I read it. I'm fond of saying that life is unfinished business. There is always something more to do.

Suppose I won an Oscar, which isn't likely since I haven't made any movies in a long time. But suppose I did win one. What would I do with it? I could put it on a shelf and invite people over to see it. You could come and look at it, admire it and congratulate me for it. But at least one person, a close friend no doubt, would say "That's very nice, Now what?"

So you got your MFA or your PhD, had a successful career, raised two kids and now have some delightful grandchildren to sit on your lap, you've paid off your mortgage and own your home, you have the car you want and the bungalow on the beach and you're living well on your generous 401 K. Now what?

Trouble sets in when you settle. When people strive all their lives and finally achieve what they have striven for the big question looms "What is the meaning of life?" To many the striving is the meaning. To others it's the achieving. And to others it's the discovering. Life was meant to be enjoyed, that's for sure, but it wasn't meant to be given up on. Life should be a continuing adventure. Pointing back to one's achievements and trying to live surrounded by one's victories is not enough, There will always be, and should always be, that friendly voice that says "Okay. What's next?"

DB - Vagabond Journeys
Say hello to another day.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Grounding Grasp 5/07/09

First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.

Nothing is ordinary. Everything is strange. Every day, every hour there are shocks, surprises and delights. It's no use folding oneself up into a warm blanket of habit in life or in the mind. "Wake up" is the perpetual call of life. It pounds away outside your door and will keep knocking until you open up.

I have no use for habitual thinking, for old ideas and for the refusal to grasp the ever-evolving measures to find the never changing truth of existence and for those who deny the basic instinct to explore and learn, but replace it with some creed.

I will continue to write, even if, until or after I have no readers left, because it is in the process of writing that I uncover the strange things of knowledge, the extraordinary things. Every serious writer knows about that. Even as I sit here now my mind is at work searching for the pure and peaceful waters of enlightenment. The journey is more of an adventure than I would have imagined. Nothing is really what you think it is. It is only by uncovering the seeming that the reality appears.

I don't care if I offend the thinkers of old worn out ideas. One cannot achieve a grasp on the real by trying to please people. I wouldn't even try except that, since I started to investigate the real, the various voices in my head have begun to agree with each other and have been graciously inviting me to come out and climb the hills. If to follow means to leave people behind then that's what it means. Amen and amen.

I have more to write now than I have time or journal space to write it. I have gilded the philosophic pill and few have swallowed. I have kicked down rotten doors and walked through. Few have followed. I have left the security of the shore and taken the hard, dangerous sea route to new lands. Who is with me?

I hold on with as firm a grasp as possible to what I have learned as if it was Prospero's book and I will not drown it until the new shore is reached and the old prophets come out to greet me.

Let them ignore me, laugh at me, fight me. Right now, at this silver toned point in my life, it doesn't matter.

Hi, Come here often?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Facetious Foolishness 5/06/09

A snob has to spend so much time being a snob that he has little time left to meddle with you.

William Faulkner
Hello. Anyone there?

SNOB: n. a person who believes himself to be an expert or connoisseur in a given field and is condescending toward or disdainful of those who hold other opinions or have different tastes regarding his field, as in "a musical snob." (Webster)

I don't like snobs and I stay clear of them as much as possible. A snob is like a spider who considers himself near or at the top of the food chain as far as all other insects are concerned in his little patch of the forest. One of the unfortunate traits that characterizes most snobs is that they have no sense of humor about themselves, nor about anything else, as far as I can tell. And some of them are incapable of understanding how a lower class street kid, like myself, could possibly know anything about or appreciate fine music. We're just not intelligent or sensitive enough. Right?

I worked for a time at a major market classical music station. We certainly had our share of snobs perched in their various trees, listening, waiting for something to disturb their webs. The radio station published a magazine listing the programs and containing articles about music and musicians, Whichever personality was on the air when the commercial for the magazine came up was asked to ad lib a one minute sales pitch for it. When my turn came I would talk about the articles and how much information could be gleaned from reading the magazine, A few times I ended by saying "It will even make you a better snob,,if that's what you really want to be."

Naturally the phone would ring and some irate listener would complain. The complainers, I soon found, were the snobs out there whose little tender toes had been stepped on. I remember talking to a few of them. One tried to correct my pronunciation of an Italian opera title. He was wrong, but wouldn't listen to me. He told me that he knew better because he was a Physics professor at the local University. What Physics has to do with opera titles escapes me. Another tried to inform me that when pronouncing the name of the German city Munich I should give it the German "ch" as in "Ach." When I told him that in German the actual name of the city is "Munchen" he hung up on me. He was not pleased. But that's okay. I had just helped him become a better snob.

I don't hate snobs. They have their place in the world. For one thing, they generally support the arts, I just don't want to associate with them. I'm too much of a vagabond. I'll just leave them alone, at ease with their own cobwebs.

I'm saying where are you to too many people.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ethereal Enjoyment 5/05/09

Everything has its own song.

Joseph von Eichendorff
I sing of songs.

I sing of silent songs.

I sing of the piccolo twitter of humming birds as they hover over their business,
of the heraldic tones of the eagle aloft and gliding,
of the crane as it carefully prints its balletic feet on the shoreline's reeds,
of the rooster's cake walk through the barnyard.

I sing of the round sweet flute tones of the rose as it sings to the sun,
of the proud tenor aria of the oak tree, old and majestic,
of the meadow's choir filled with praise and life.

I sing of the warm, windless spring day's harp strings,
the whip crack of lightening,
the piano fingers of rain.

I sing of the infinite fugue of the waves as they rise and fall across the sea,
the short clicking if the castanets among the pebbles on the beach,
the hymn of the ocean breeze.

I sing of the brass blasts of mountain peaks as they challenge the sky,
the orchestration of the forest
and the banjo picking in the hollow.

I sing of the brazen shouts of tall buildings gathered together in the city, flinging the sunlight back upon each other trying to sing louder than the next one.
of the harmonious hum of the house where happy, hopeful people live,
of the baritone voices of old, well-read books tucked on a library shelf.

I sing of the atonality of the street,
the dance suite of shops along the sidewalk,
the clashing rhythms of the traffic.

I sing of the whispers of the canoe across the lake,
the endless, relentless oratorio of the waterfall,
the serenade of the rainbow.

I sing of the clarion noise of the blazing sun,
the zephyr sounds of the stately moving clouds,
the mystical moaning of the moon.

I sing of silent songs, of the songs we never hear, that we cannot hear by listening.

I sing of the silent songs of life.

But most of all I sing of the guitar strumming folk song of friendship, of love.

DB - The Vagabond

Monday, May 4, 2009

Deliverance Duty 5/04/09

For us artists there waits the joyous compromise through art with all that wounded and defeated us in daily life.

Lawrence Durrell
Welcome back.
I can think of a lot of things about my past that please me, fun memories and good friends. But why is it so much easier to remember the hurts, the pains, the failures. I am glad to have learned the lessons from all of them. Now why can't I bind up the whole mess in a big plastic baggie, throw it out in the trash can and forget about it?

There used to be a popular question asked of older people when they were interviewed on radio or TV. If you had it to do all over again what would you change? The answer was "I wouldn't change a thing." I have never understood that remark. I sit here and fervently wish I could start all over again, change almost everything and do it right.

I would say, when asked, that most of the roles I played as an actor were either autobiographical or wish fulfillment, sometimes a combination of both. It was very helpful to call upon events of my past, both positive and negative, to supply me with images and emotions that synergized with the life of the character I was playing. But since I'm not an actor any more why do I need them? And, thus, why do they keep popping up to hurt me like mosquito bites or bee stings?

I don't appear to have any choice about it so I might as well take those memories, cut them apart, twist the pieces around, repaint them, hammer them out of shape on the anvil of my mind, make something else of them and run them through my keyboard.

The time and effort it takes me to invest my poor memories into the whirlpool of my creative mind is paid off by the repose I would never award myself otherwise. And as I pull apart the veils and uncover the grotesqueries of my vagabond past I tremble. But I also retool and redesign remorse and regret into something that may even resemble the beautiful.

To consider my sins of commission and especially my sins of omission I may feel as if I'm tending a garden of vipers with no exit for them to crawl away. But if so, I collected them. I earned them as my destiny. And now my duty is to translate each of them into something beneficial to me and anyone who wants to listen.

When Eugene O'Neill wrote "Ah, Wilderness!" he said it was the story of his youth the way it should have been. I can write about my youth the way it should have been (wish fulfillment) but only if I face the way it actually was (autobiographical). In short, I can turn that big plastic baggie of trash into art. And that's what we do.

DB - The Vagabond
May you have a bright and happy day.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Clarified Consciousness 5/03/09

We should free ourselves of the prejudice that rational insight is "mysterious."

Tim Crane
Welcome aboard.
A mystery is a phenomenon for which we have no explanation. Fortunately for the human race there are people, scientists and philosophers, who will not settle for the "unexplainable." Things happen according to law: natural law and (yes) divine law. And laws are identifiable, measurable and explainable.

One of the most graphic examples of natural law is happening right now in our northern hemisphere. We call it Spring. The farmer doesn't make his crops grow. Natural law does that, but the farmer needs to know and respect the natural law to bring his crops to harvest. I often tell people when asked that the art of acting must conform to natural law. In that case the farmer's field is the actor's mind, but the law is the same. The end result in both cases may seem miraculous, but it is not mysterious.

Great marvels performed by spiritual leaders of the past certainly seemed mysterious but when explanations were asked for by rational thinkers, they were forthcoming. That we can't understand some of those explanations doesn't make them mysterious. It simply means we haven't yet graduated from elementary school.

The ancient prophets knew about divine law and some of them wrote about it. They were not irrational thinkers. How did Moses bring bread down from the sky to feed his followers? What was Elisha doing while he was sitting on a rock making a tempest brew up out of a clear sky? How did Jesus change the water into wine? "I can of my own self do nothing" he said. And "Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets." That is, divine law.

There may be many phenomena in this universe that we will never know about, but that doesn't mean that we couldn't understand them if we did know. Some ancient peoples used to worship the rising of the sun, the phases of the moon and other phenomena as gods or acts of god that needed to be feared and praised. Some peoples still do. But that useless, primitive theology was dispelled by rational thinkers uncovering what those phenomena are about and the laws which govern them. Some people still bow down to hurricanes and earthquakes. Why is it that many people don't want to accept the discoveries of the scientific mind as anything but mysterious? To say that it is God's will that the hurricane destroyed one house while it left standing the one next to it is nonsense.

Some pseudo prophets have come forward with their own interpretation of various scriptures but none of them seem to agree with each other. Theories abound in the scientific, philosophical and religious communities, but to accept any of them as facts until they have been rationally proved and their laws discovered is wasteful foolishness.

How far along the trail have we come from the babbling tower? Some have come further than others, but it's all relative, since we are all still in mental and spiritual infancy. But I don't think the human race will progress very quickly toward enlightenment until we stop accepting things as mere "mysteries" and let it go at that.

If this entry offends or insults your religious beliefs I can understand that, believe me I can, but just know that the words here do not come from shallow thinking.

DB _ Vagabond Journeys
May you see new blossoms today.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Becoming Breakthrough 5/02/09

The best way to outlive your past is to start living your future.

DB - The Vagabond
Hail. Some people, including myself, have had trouble getting into my journal. It seems to come and go, like phases of the moon. "Try again later" as AOL is fond of saying. It's apparently working right now. I don't know what made it work but I suspect it was because I marinated the modem in some high class Japanese saki.
Outliving the past. Yes. This is a topic I've been pondering for some time now. The memories keep stacking up. Mine come to me randomly, like a shuffled deck of cards; my loves, my successes, my failures, my regrets. It's very easy, if you are a crotchety old curmudgeon like me, to say "Well, most of my life has been lived." When, in fact, a lot of time has been spent either living your life or not living it. That's all.

That one cannot predict the future is no reason not to live in the present and look it. I simply want to do the things that my meager income and my physical infirmaries allow me to do and I don't care how much time I have left to do them. In writing this journal I often cite things in my past, but I think and I hope it is a healthy exercise, for a couple of related reasons. One is that it enables me to think back at those events and draw the values from them. And the other is that I can use the lessons learned and the observations made to illustrate some important point (or, at least, one that I consider important) for me and others. But, at the same time, writing is an act of pure futurism. It is something that I give out to the world to see tomorrow, or a year from tomorrow, or whenever, if ever.

Circumstance don't allow me to be a performer any more, unless miracles take place, but that doesn't mean life is over. You took a journey to someplace, and when you got there it wasn't where you thought you'd be? So what? Look around and see what there is to do and enjoy it.

As Yogi Berra so eloquently put it "The future ain't what it used to be." So toss out the "used to bes" and live it up, boys and girls. There are still a lot of mistakes to be made and successes to be achieved.

Yours truly.
Sudsy blessings to you.



What do you think was the most important event of 2008? and

What was the most significant event in your life last year?

You have all Spring to answer if you wish.

15 responses so far.

Leave answers on my email or on my journal Thank you. DB

Friday, May 1, 2009

Advanced Apprehension 5/01/09

A wise man's question contains half the answer.

Ahad Ha'am
(Thank you Paula)
May Day! May Day!
When I try to read your blogs I get a couple looked at and then my computer seizes and won't let up until I close out and reboot. I'm not ignoring you.
I guess some of yesterday's questions contain at least part of the answers. Does that make me a wise man? I don't know. Some people seem to think so. But, at least, it teaches a valuable lesson: Don't underestimate the question.

I worked with a man for a few years who used to say "There are no stupid questions." I think I managed to come up with a couple during the time we worked together, But any question, no matter how simple, deserves an intelligent answer. And if we underestimate the question we are also underestimating the questioner.

To overestimate someone, to consider them capable of more than they can do, is bad. They may rise to your level of expectations, which is good. But they may not. It is tremblingly unwise to put yourself in the hands of someone who isn't capable of taking care of the things you think they are, or trusting someone you assume is trustworthy but who isn't, That's a fault I have committed many times. You just end up hurting yourself.

But to underestimate someone is insulting. It may deprive him of the right and opportunity to do what he can do, or force him to wade through scorn, ridicule or suspicion to do his thing. We've all seen examples of that. I know it has happened to me. "The book can't be any good because the cover isn't attractive."

There was a runner on my track team in school who always surprised the opposing team. He began slowly and stumblingly. He was soon passed by the other runners who gave him no heed, while he shuffled along like a wounded giraffe. But three quarters of the way through the race whether a mile or two miles or whatever, he would suddenly burst into speed, passing the runners who had passed him and if he didn't win the race he came in among the first three. "Funny, he didn't look like a racer." When anyone asked him how it always happened, he would say "I don't know."

Years ago I saw a production of "The Taming Of The Shrew" by Shakespeare. The actor playing Petruchio portrayed a big, strong, virile character, a definite master of the situation, a mountain of a man, someone to be reckoned with. It was an excellent performance and just right for the play. Obviously the director had looked past the cover and opened the book, because a few years later I worked with that same actor and he turned out to be a short, thin, wiry, gay fellow. "Nah. Look at him. He couldn't possibly play Petruchio. Forget it."

A lot of people are wiser than they think they are. One of my favorite techniques to use when someone asks me a question is to say "I'm not sure, What do you think?" They generally come up with the answer themselves if they are asked to think about it.

Vagabond Journeys
Save some for me.