‘The cosmos is broken’

Windy autumn weather helped generate one of the most amazing, deepest, scientific and philosophical texts I’ve ever sent as I was pulling out of the driveway this morning: ‘The cosmos is broken.’

Foliage rainbows

Alongside a country road an early riser maple tree turns its autumnal red sooner than most. Among the red, yellow, orange and green, is a background of blue sky. The near rainbow complete yet incomplete makes the case that nature has put the other colors of the rainbow that the healthy human eye can see — ROYGBIV (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet) — somewhere in the leaves
if we just look close enough
but only the luckiest do.

Do you have a deficit of wonder in your life?

“We live in an age when you say casually to somebody ‘What’s the story on that?’ and they can run to the computer and tell you within five seconds. That’s fine, but sometimes I’d just as soon continue wondering. We have a deficit of wonder right now.” ~ Tom Waits

And new from the master storyteller:

A 12-year-old reflects on the state of the world

“When will the madness and killing and destruction stop? I hear about places like Syria, Russia, Israel, Iraq and Iran. The U.S. When will it stop? I believe that no one wants another mushroom cloud to poison the Earth. I believe no one wants the poison, worse than Fukushima’s, which, in itself, is probably too much for this whole race (which includes everyone, by the way, whether they’re black or white or whatever color they are, we’re all part of the same race, so stop thinking you’re better than someone else because you look different than they do or just because they look different than you) but Fukushima may be too much for everything that is trying to live on this planet, which is the only planet they have to live on. After that, then what? You see what I’m saying? We struggle to turn toward beauty, but, when we do, we are met with ugliness. We need to banish the ugliness and work toward giving the human race what it needs to co-exist with everything else on the planet, before we destroy it all. Why is there endless fear of anihilation? I hear it day in and day out. On the news. On the radio. Television. Who profits from this and how is it possible that they are allowed to do it and that they are not stopped and replaced with something more …….. sustainable and ……… profitable ……… to all?”

Advice to a budding musician

The more we play, the more we become the instrument and the less it feels like an instrument and the more it becomes an extension of ourselves and the more the music becomes an expression of us and the less it sounds like an instrument we are playing and the more it sounds like something we are part of — a body we have joined in which to rejoice almost as a parishioner in a church, or a congregation, minister, and choir. Our fingers become the ripples in the water rather than merely the things making waves. The sound a reflection of the trees in the water rather than a leaf floating upon it. Musician, score, instrument, sound become one.

How I got into writing

I wasn’t a big reader as a kid. Not like some people I know whose parents read to them every day and they grew up familiar with Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Nancy Drew or other series of books whether they be mysteries or Stephen King. I read a few books that I remember such as “The Outsiders” when I was a kid, but not much other than that. I don’t think any of my immediate family members were big readers actually. I’ll have to ask them.

My local public high school’s biggest challenges for the readers and non-readers was to fill in the blanks on Q&A sheets about our reading assignments. Basically, if you could search through a book fast for answers, you could pass those quizzes, which were all open book as far as I can remember.

It wasn’t until I started going to private high school that I really began to be required to read. They could tell I wasn’t a reader, too, because we had to read three books over the summer and do a report on them just in order to be accepted to the school. They suggested I go back a year and go there for three years instead of two. My family and I insisted that I go for two years. Well, I ended up failing junior English miserably and having to go an extra year to make that up anyway as I had to go home for the summer to work. I think that was part of my family’s ethic, though it was never presented to me in that way. It was just something I had to do. “Don’t go to summer school, you have to come home and work.”

I eventually learned how to write an intro paragraph and three supporting paragraphs and a conclusion, which got me through most English classes. It was my senior year that I got to take a class in Autobiography with Mrs. Schwingel, I think was her name. I remember “This House of Sky” and Frank Conroy’s “Stop Time,” being the most influential books I read that semester.

Part of the class was to keep a journal. I got an A+ on my journal. My teacher loved it and I loved writing things in that journal that weren’t necessarily true, but were modelled after the best writing that I read that year. If I could impress my autobiography teacher as an 18-year-old writing stuff I was just making up off the top of my head, and telling other stories about things that were going on in my life at that time, then I was off and running. This is what I wanted to do.

While I’m still working on my creative writing pursuits, I’ve had my writing published around the world as I did go into journalism to support myself while I tried to write that next Great American Novel. I’m now in a different career, but I’m doing more writing that ever before and learning more than ever before reading such books as The Portable MFA, Gardner’s The Art of Fiction, Creating Fiction (ed. Julie Checkoway), and DIY MFA, by Gabriela Pereira. 

Grateful for having been given the gift of life 365 days ago

A year ago parts of the muscular organ that is the center of my circulatory system were about to give me the scare of my life because doctors neglected to heed signs they saw on test results that should have called their attention with great urgency. My advice for everyone: 1) Ask for reports when doctors order tests and 2) READ them and 3) ASK QUESTIONS about what they say. If I had done these things sooner I would not have had to pull over in the dark and rain on I-95 and call an ambulance and, without going into all the details, I would not have had the terrifying emergency situation I had.

I thank God for, well, God, my wife Rachel, my surgeon Dr Abeel Mangi, his surgical team, Yale’s cardiac intensive care and recovery units, Yale’s ER, Madison’s emergency medical response team on duty last Jan 3, my friends and family. I think of them all every day and that’s not an exaggeration. I honestly feel that most things I’ve said and thought and have done this past year I’ve done only because of all of them, all of you.

This experience of surviving, albeit not my first, has been a most profound lesson in gratitude and love and living. I’ve never before felt as blessed with as real a gift of life as I have this past year or as grateful for those in my life and all that I have. Happy New Year, and as a dear friend used to always say, take care of you.

It’s high times as California makes recreational use legal — LA Times — But what about all those imprisoned because of pot?

Q: Are they releasing all the prisoner who have been imprisoned because of pot? 

“Groove on! Groove on!” blared from speakers outside a gray warehouse in Santa Ana. Inside, a line of 60 people snaked through the shop, waiting to be helped by a budtender.

Source: For marijuana users, it’s high times as California makes recreational use legal – LA Times

Lyrics become more poignant over time

After having something life threatening happen to me, lyrics I’d never think twice about become more poignant: “Don’t tell me your troubles, I got enough of my own, Be thankful you’re living’, Drink up and go home.” (lyrics by the old country singer Freddie Hart)

What are you grateful for and what makes you happy?

I have friends in real life and on Facebook who ask the question daily “What are you grateful for and what makes you happy today?” 

What I am grateful for and what makes me happy is the profound, usually unexpressed, life-sustaining love between people — family, friends, co-workers, bosses, neighbors and even those we don’t know and haven’t met yet — on whose existence and livelihoods we in part depend every day.

Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book Silent Spring was published on this date in 1962 | The Writer’s Almanac

Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book Silent Spring was published on this date in 1962 (books by this author). Carson was a marine biologist, but she was also a crafter of lyrical prose who contributed to magazines like The New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly, and who had already published three popular lyrical books about the sea. One of these — The Sea Around Us (1951) — had won the National Book Award. In the course of her work, Carson became aware of the ways that chemical pesticides were harming plants and wildlife. She felt it was important to make the public aware of this, but she was not an investigative journalist and didn’t feel confident enough to write what she called the “poison book.” Continue reading “Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book Silent Spring was published on this date in 1962 | The Writer’s Almanac”

“Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.” ~ Thomas A. Edison

A 30 SEC READ: A story by Kahlil Gibran

I was strolling in the gardens of an insane asylum when I met a young man who was reading a philosophy book.

His behavior and his evident good health made him stand out from the other inmates.

I sat down beside him and asked:

‘What are you doing here?’

He looked at me, surprised. But seeing that I was not one of the doctors, he replied:

‘It’s very simple. My father, a brilliant lawyer, wanted me to be like him. My uncle, who owns a large emporium, hoped I would follow his example. My mother …. And the story continues. … read the ending here: 30 SEC READ: A story by Kahlil Gibran

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