In Loving Memory of my Mother

Seven days ago my mother entered her eternal rest.

If there was anyone in my family who encouraged us to be different, it was my mother. She taught us the joys of silliness, goofiness and laughter. I even remember one time in Toys “R” Us she grabbed a pogo stick off the shelf and started bouncing up and down in the middle of the aisle. I’ll never forget the feelings of humour, embarrassment and intriguement, all passing through my body at once. Yeah, she was that type of lady who was comfortable to burst out in a dance in the middle of well, anywhere. And not to mention, she was a people person. She could talk to just about anyone, and quickly become their friend.

My mom was a teacher, a wife, a sister, a friend of many and a mother of three. She indeed, left us all too early. We all certainly have our struggles in life, and so did my mother. However, it doesn’t change the fact that she did love all of those in her life, and that she did know, at her core, that they loved her as well.

Last night as I was laying in bed, I remembered when I was a little boy and my mother would lay next to me and gently touch my back with the soft tips of her fingers. Paralleling my spine she would send tingles throughout my body. Perhaps her greatest times of peace were when she was with her friends and family, and at the end of the day when she was preparing for bed.

I look back on my childhood through the eyes of a man, now. I wrote a book about my life in attempt to reach out to my mother, my father, and bring anyone close together that it could. Since I started writing that book, and in less than two years, I have become an orphan.  But I can do this strongly now knowing that everything that I have done since then, was out of forgiveness, acceptance and compassion. While looking back on my life, it was my mother who helped me get on this path. She helped teach me the importance of many principals that I hold dearly in my life.

As for all mothers, they love their children in the best way they know how. And this is how her children, her family, and her friends loved her; the best way they know how. And in the end, I believe this is the best kind of love.

And as for all those who have passed, may the less fortunate memories also pass, but may the good memories live with us throughout eternity.

I love you, mom. We all love you.

Words of Love to my Grandmother

Tuesday morning at roughly 4:30am, I was awoken from a difficult dream. Someone I thought I knew appeared to be having chest or stomach discomfort. “Do I need to do CPR on this person?” Walking away from me, the person ended up downstairs in what seemed to be a large restaurant. Shortly after, I could tell that the individual had passed, and then I woke up. Such a bizarre dream I thought.

Waking up for the day at 6:00am, I proceeded to start my day. Cooking my usual egg breakfast while drinking coffee I proceeded to my dining quarters where I noticed a light flashing on my phone. The text alert read “Call me as soon as you get this message.” I knew it was grandma. Putting down my fork and swallowing the last bite of food, I called my aunt and begun to share tears with her over the phone.

My grandmother was a tough Finnish lady. She raised her children to be hard working, caring, and perhaps as stubborn as she was. I know I’m proud enough to say that I have some of that. She stayed faithful to her husband for 18 years after his passing, and that’s the type of stubbornness I’m referring to. That and the fact that she die almost exactly on the same day and same time that Walter, (my grandfather) had passed. “She wasn’t going to let Walter have his own day to die” Anita said with laughter over the phone. I chuckled. Just that and the circumstances of her death being a peaceful experience bring a level of beauty and comfort to the family that truly make us feel thankful.

Death is a difficult word for those who’ve seen it first hand. For those who haven’t, time is of the essence. It seems dark because it’s often associated with the lights going out. However there are times when it’s beautiful and an essence of peace overwhelms the transition for the individual.

“Life in itself is a near-death experience, and if you live everyday like it’s going to be the last, one day you’ll be right.”

The word death is a difficult word. So taboo we’ve converted our language to choose other letters. “Passing” “No longer with us.” I understand this, however it makes me wonder if I choose these words out of the fear of pain, or maybe even the fear of my own death. However what I’m starting to realize, as I experience these moments of death with a loved one, my life changes its shape just a little, and I become more aware of my path in this life nearing its eminent conclusion.

However far away it may be, those who were loved and passed have their most beautiful memories living in the hearts of those they loved. And this is how who we really are, never really dies. Our vibrations spent in our lifetime will continue to ripple through the cosmos light years after everyone has forgotten our name.

We love you Grandma.

I Almost Ran

I didn’t catch myself in this behavior at first. In fact, I wrote a lot about accepting change almost two years ago. The notion of embracing uncertainty, accepting change as only natural in life. The idea for me then, was to always accept it with open arms. But then something happened. I would almost say that it “threw me off course,” but looking back now I would suggest that my sails were just being blown down into the water. And I hope, that I’m now getting them back up.

We all know that live throws us curve-balls every now and then. But what less of us know, is how difficult and sudden some of these curve-balls can be.  Like when they hit you deep in the gut. These are the moments the space and time of our being can be stretched and condensed in unprecedented ways. Losing someone you love empties an essence from you, and replaces it with a new understanding of life.  And after this, there’s no turning back.

Growing up I had a mechanical idea of what mourning was suppose to be like. That it should last for a year, and not too much longer. Or at least, that’s about how long it should last. And then one day, I truly began to start that process. My ways of coping were of hope for a greater life, a family of my own, and a settling down from everything. My ego encourage me to believe that I could just have it if I chose to, at the moment I chose to, with whoever I chose to; and my mourning kept my consciousness seated.

After a year things definitely changed, but after about a year and a half things changed a lot more. Some stability came back, acceptance of my life’s unpredictably began to grow again. Now there’s more space to focus on what I can do to make myself a better person. One who’s always trying to resist hate, fashion wellness among their surroundings, and always practice benevolent philanthropy by whatever means are most suitable.

The slippery ego sometimes tries to make me apologize to myself for lessons that I was only to begin learning. I things it’s only far to ourselves to recognize that when we are truly trying to do what we believe is best for ourselves at the moment; then we are neither good or bad, but rather we Just Are. Which then correlates to good.

Mistakes then take on a different character which in a sense, could be perceived as musical phrases that only took place so many bars ago. We are easier reminded of those phrases during the long breathes we take from the phrases we are making at the current moment. And for the minds that never stop, it’s also important to recognize the position of our point of reference and the velocity at which we are traveling. When it’s not recognized is when the ego can step in to say how good or bad things are.

I can’t help but to remember a great jazz musician saying that whenever we get caught up in our music, thinking that a recording was good or bad, is just the ego talking. If we are truly doing music, we just do it, accept it for what it was, and move on to the next. You might be able to say that every analogy in Jazz is a metaphor for life.

 

Sanders goes to playing party politics.

This is bullshit.

The only political contestant in history to create such large groups for his campaign speeches. The only grassroots political movement in my lifetime to be so successful. The only candidate in my lifetime to work so strongly against the largest corporations and banks, whose behaviour at best, is questionable. Bernie Sanders is making a big mistake by backing Hillary.

He’s called her out numerous times on avoiding questions, on her campaign financiers, as well as her political history. How could he possibly back her? Because Trump is such a threat? Such a bigger threat than her? No one has ever succeeded in any type of revolution by siding with the people they’ve tried to beat. Bernie Sanders will accomplish nothing standing at the side of Hillary. If Bernie insists on his ideals, he will be kept on the distant sidelines. It’s either that, or working with the establishment he claimed to be fighting against.

If Sanders really wanted to proved to the world that he’s a political revolutionary, he would be siding with Jill Stein, moving all of his supporters to her, and truly change the political atmosphere of nation for good. We’ve had Reagan, Bush Sr, Clinton, Bush Junior, all which have done nothing but perpetuated the military industrial complex, expanded the prison systems for privatized construction contracts, outsourced jobs and changed the definitions of poverty and unemployment for means of proof to the upper middle class that this country still is the best in the world. Meanwhile legislation continues to grow in complexity through expansion of the patriot act and laws that allow the DEA access to medical records. Don’t forget all of our mass shootings that happen annually. If Bernie worked with Jill Stein, it would be the biggest chance in history to have an independent president. Working together they could steal the votes of both the republican and democratic parties, Leaving the bigot deceiver and the bigot cowboy in the dust.

Disappointing doesn’t come close to my feelings about Bernie Sanders choosing to support Hillary out of the Fear of Trump becoming president. I’ve lost all faith in him, and I’ve pushed my attention to Ms. Stein. But for the few of those women who are voting for Hillary just because she’s female, do an hour of research and you’ll understand why Stein is a better candidate. I would have never have fathomed that Sanders would lay down and accept defeat so easily. Was he there just for a social experiment? To see how far disastrous polling situations could get? To study the affects of a truly politically-corporate media? Our country has crumbling infrastructure in every state, a failing prison institution, failing education and healthcare system, and a constant increase of questioning towards our government and corporations. Which main candidate will do anything about these things? Anyone who disagrees with these claims: You’re cognitively lazy, living in a world of illusion, perhaps financially privileged, and use comparisons to third-world countries to justify your micro-experienced claims; Because I’m saying this as a white male. And to be able to talk about all these problems, and not even mention the disadvantages that the African Americans face in our country, Please.

Sanders is making a big mistake. He’s exposed too much about the establishment to his followers to convince them to change their ideals and continue to support Hillary. He’s convinced them that she is almost as bad is Trump, and that regardless, she can’t be trusted.

I’ve chosen to not support Bernie on this principal. If he chooses to “stick to his guns” then he would likely support Jill Stein. However I would choose Rand Paul over Trump or Hillary any day, but not over Bernie or Jill. Not only do I think all the Sanders supporters would support Jill by means of Bernie, but even the republicans would vote for her, just out of the disgust for Hillary and Trump. It might happen any way. Besides, what has the DNC done for the democratic party? You’re telling me that because Trump seems so bad I should continue to support this non-democratic process of super delegates? You’re out of your mind if you think that’s rational. Or at least you’re buying into the fear that some media outlet is feeding you.

Again friends, I love all of you, regardless of who you vote for. Lets just try to choose a common goal that has the brightest future for everyone on the planet.

The Impact of Solidarity

Human organisation has never occurred in such large numbers. Communication infiltrates the globe as we further lengthen our our space on the time map. The human species has created a technology guided towards unprecedented communication and access to information; soon to possibly be embedded in our cellular biology. Solidarity is crucial for the survival of our species.

A particular mindset has evolved over centuries. Starting from high degrees of stratification ruled by religious ideologies, to a slightly less stratified aristocratic system, to the more recent; A system that appears to be less stratified over time while using unusual forms of consumerism to propel it. Consumerism is natural when it’s symbiotic with whatever it consumes. Unusual consumerism is when detrimental effects are the result and yet the consumption continues. As the world continues to be polarized between the haves and the have nots,  the cost of turning a blind eye to blind consumption is proving to take its affect. Unfortunately, we can not talk about the globe as a whole and speak as if the past was truly worse.

Anthropologists are uncertain about the degree of slavery during ancient Egypt, and only through induction do they make a conjecture. But even if this was the case, what evidence do have that they crossed the oceans to genocide cultures and maneuver their resources? Because this was necessary for following empires in the not too distant past. Only up until recently did we start to have noticeable affect on our environment.

Comforts come at a price just as the cost of technological advancement. However an important note to emphasize, is that virtually no country has a moral high-ground, but if anything, those countries who have profited most have a moral responsibility to share their advancements globally. Encouraging unawareness among humans for the soul purpose of economic viability is morally outrageous and a cancer to solidarity.

Humans are at an interesting stage in their evolution. There is a sense of awareness growing all over the world. Attitudes are shifting, and eventually this ‘awareness’ could be the catalyst for change.

 

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Drawbacks of Academia

I spent four years in the Northern Michigan University music program, practicing many hours a day, sleeping in my practice room on a hard tile floor, directly underneath the piano. I played Bach Fugues repetitively, obsessively, and sometimes it lead to the annoyances of others. Donald Grant, the highly conservative traditionalist even told me himself “If anyone has made progress here, it’s been you.” And then I spent 6 months with Dane Bays and Alex Brooks. “If you want to learn how to play Jazz, just come to my house twice a week.” -Dane

Within 6 months these two elders guided me down the path towards a wonderful form of honest expression, and yes, my Sound changed. My sound, groove, everything. It all was starting to come together. In 6 months, they could use what’s considered “unorthodox” methods in teaching, and be highly successful. But what I believe, is that academia is unorthodox, only because it’s highly resistant to change.

Now lets talk about learning a new language. In Spain, children are taught how to speak English by the means spending endless hours with their noses in grammar books. This rule for this, this rule for that. They’re not working on speaking, and their listening capabilities also suffer. But they’re often asking questions like “Can we use a modal auxiliary with the second conditional using the past participle?” As if thinking this way has some form of real-world application. “Can you just give me one rule for prepositions?” Absolutely not. English doesn’t work that way, music doesn’t work that way, and why should we assume that any form of communication works that way?

How do we learn to speak our first language? Through listening first, mimicking what we hear second, through correction we learn to speak appropriately, and then we learn to communicate. After this we learn how to read and write. The same as with music, but for some asinine reason academia takes the reverse route, and pins its chest with a badge of prestige.

Needless to say, feeling like this helped me leave the education department at the university and guided me towards studying sociology. For whatever reason, my zany sense of humor and sometimes vulgar passion for social justice was appreciated. I was even told it helped with the classes. If it wasn’t for experiencing these two polarized atmospheres, I wouldn’t be fit to teach with confidence in foreign countries. However the U.S. is much more resistant to change than say, 20 or so countries in Europe.

“A good student and a good teacher is one who knows how to follow rules.” Said Donald Grant while walking through the hallway of the Thomas Fine Arts center. I will never forget that. The head of the music department said that. Not Gandhi, not Edison, nor the Dali Lama. They said the opposite. This mentality is the reason why my countries education system is failing. This mentality doesn’t support creative thinking, critical thinking, or any form of innovation. And only from this position at a prestigious university will it trickle down through the rest of the echelons of academia.

One Day at a Time.

I wanted to delete facebook a long time ago, but I figured I could use it to make posts from my websites, keep in touch with old friends, and tell all my friends about my travels. It’s a good idea, but with that came sacrifices, and I couldn’t succumb to the thumb scrolling any longer.

Finally, the work-week begins. Last Thursday I gave up facebook because it was too easy for me to go to and pass the time. What I’ve been doing in its place is other research for various projects I would like to accomplish now, or in the future. This sounds great an all, but it’s really a testament to how much I actually used facebook.

Did you know that non-alcoholic beer has many health benefits, especially for athletes? It doesn’t sound like a good idea, especially if you’re a fan of Bell’s Brewing, but some of these beers don’t actually taste all that bad. I know this is pretty random, but this is where it started.

From non-alcoholic beer to bicycle frame building, to various projects I might be able to make out of leather, to Ted Talks, to lots and lots of reading. Oh, and News. A lot of News. Perhaps I didn’t realize the vastness of the void that Facebook was filling. The real challenge now is to figure out the most beneficial ways possible to pass the time.

Aside from the beneficial aspect of Facebook, that allows me to catch up on some news, interesting articles, and share humour with friends, there’s a lot of information that I could probably do without. Meme after meme was beginning to be a problem for me. It wasn’t even the political ones either, but rather the famous quotes from important people. The meaning seems to fade after countless memes, and in the writing world we tend to stay clear of cliches. Which is what memes are now; digital cliches.

With the absence of memes and personalized advertisements, there’s been a sense of solitude over this weekend. It feels nice, necessary, and a little old-fashion (So old-fashion I might send out a text message or two.)

One of my biggest annoyances with Facebook is that of marketing. There’s no other goal then to make money. And having worked in the marketing world, I know some of us are aware ethical and unethical marketing. Classically, unethical marketing is something that sells us pain first, and then a solution to that pain. Sort of like classical Christianity, where they sold the sin, and then salvation. Perhaps this doesn’t happen as much on Facebook, but I want to take it a step further. In fundamental ethical theory, Hagel states “We ought not to use others as a means only.” Because facebook is designed to keep us on it as much as possible, constantly scrolling, liking, commenting, it makes it hard for me to believe that it is functioning in my best interest. Rather I feel like I’m just another data pool to data mine.  Then there’s the whole story with the messenger application. It has a low rating, but millions of downloads. Why would facebook do that? Because they know that their users will never read through the permissions and policy agreements that allows facebook to data mine your phone. I might be the only person that this matters to, and that’s fine. I just get tired of people telling me how to use a service. In general, the older I get, I get tired of people telling me how to do anything. 12 years in a fundamental cult will do that, I suppose.

 

 

Life as a Lotus Flower