I Read In Bursts

Author: siggy

I read in bursts, a paragraph here and there. Sometimes I amaze myself and actually read a whole page. To read a book is a miracle, but to read a novel I have to be mesmerized and turn page after page in wonder.

Knowledge is a circle I had to realize. All knowledge is connected. I do not learn by reading a book sequentially. I usually learn in bursts. That caused me some problems in school. The teacher expected you to make it through a book, then another, etc. Anyway, I surround myself with books. A burst here, a burst there. I even occasionally read a book from cover to cover. Most times I open it anywhere and start reading. I am not compelled to read a book from beginning to end. Novels are difficult. One type of book I do read from cover to cover are interesting memoirs.

I don’t have to be ashamed when I don’t know something.  I used to be but no longer.  I think of the passage from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s famous essay “Self- Reliance”:  ‘There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance’…

When you are ashamed of what you don’t know you are comparing yourself to someone else.  I had to accept who I was, whatever my portion of knowledge I possessed and go on from there.

Comparing myself to someone else just got in the way.  I had to accept who I was.  There would always be others who knew more and conversely who knew less.

My body of knowledge started off with me, whatever my limitations and that was the way it was.  Envy, which had turned  into shame, just got in the way.  Every time I read those lines of Emerson’s I could relax.  I no longer had to be ashamed of what I did not know.

Why I Listen To Music

Author: siggy

I can not tell you exactly why music is so important to me but it is.  On some level, the music I pick every day to listen to is done intuitively.  As a rule, most of it is uptempo and I actually absorb energy from it.  In fact, if I am tired I can no longer (???) can listen to such music:  I have to switch to something laid back and mellow.

I started listening to music seriously over forty years ago.  I knew back then I was not that articulate.  Music expresses the inexpressible so I was able to relate to it.  My favorite group then was Jefferson Airplane.  I came to the conclusion one reason I loved this group so much (I still do today) because their music had, at times, an angry tone and growing up I was not permitted to express anger at all, in any degree, so listening to them was cathartic.

As I grew older, my tastes kept expanding and were very eclectic.  I listened to a broad range of music:  blues, rock and roll, jazz, just about everything.

Although I spent hours everyday listening to music, it was not wasted time:  my mind would roam.  I started keeping journals and writing poetry.  I was gradually becoming more and more creative and that process started with music.

At the same time, I was also becoming more and more articulate.  Music still was important and I continued to listen all those years every day for hours.  I never stopped.  In fact, I am very fortunate my wife shares my love of music.  I am always acting as her personal DJ.

I do not know if any of theses explanations explain my love of music or why I listen but maybe you can identify with some of these reasons or my drive to keep listening.

I am the only one in my family who is obsessed with music.  I can explain it quite plainly:  I want to listen to music almost more than I want to breathe.  I do not think you can be driven more than that.

Never underestimate the power you have.  Every movement, every change started with one person.  To throw up your hands and sit there and say there is nothing I can do is to give up all your power.  The politicians know this well.  Elections are won one vote at a time.

Even if the stance you took was unpopular you have influenced other people and other politicians.  One presidential election, in recent times, was won by mere votes.  Never, ever give up your power of one vote.  That is all you have.  And that vote can move mountains.  If only every person believed that, less politicians would act with impunity.  They serve us.  Not the other way around.  So vote.  It matters.

There is no such thing as secular music.  Every piece of music reflects something.  The musicians performing the piece of music reflected in their performance exactly how they were feeling, the reverence they had towards the music (or in some cases the irreverence).  Every emotion they were experiencing would come through in any superb piece of music.  It does not take long for a listener to realize the piece was mediocre.  Then you should discard that piece and no longer listen to that piece of music.

A good piece of music has power:  it can bring you up or even down.  And the best sometimes can do both.  You must be aware of the impact of the music you listen to and play it at appropriate times.

It is true there is no such thing as secular music.  Nevertheless, the piece can edify you or subvert you and you must be aware of what you are listening to and its power.  Subliminal messages can be conveyed.  Music can drive you up or bring you down.  You must be careful.

I made two discoveries at the shore of the Susquehanna River.  It was a mere four blocks away and I loved wandering to its shore never knowing exactly what I would see next.  I always wondered why I hardly saw any crayfish in the river.  Then one night I walked there with my flashlight and shone its light on the water.  The crayfish were everywhere.  Then I realized crayfish must be nocturnal creatures.  That is why I did not see them too often during the day.

Another time, also from my small town, I wanted to see the stars better.  There were just too many lights in town.  I even went up to the hill by the cemetery and looked into the valley and at the sky–still the same story.  There were too many lights to see the stars clearly.

Then one night I went to the River and there they were–the stars were in full display.


So many things are in plain sight but you have to change your routine slightly, walk, maybe, to a different spot, go at a different time and discover beauty was there all along.  We are such creatures of habit and those habits sometimes imprison us and somehow you need to modify them to open up a different world that was at your feet all along.  (to be continued)

Greed is a terrible thing.  And money gives you the illusion you do not need Him.  And you do not need others, that you truly are self sufficient.  Besides the fact, that is truly a lie from satan.  Money insulates you from relying on others.

The  fact is the world is interdependent.  We need one another.  This is never more apparent than when we are in a crisis.  Money can not buy “roots”.  Roots take years, decades to develop.  A lot of people do not take the time to develop roots, relationships with others.

When you reach out to others and help others in need, you are developing roots in the community.  It is a question of keeping your ears and eyes open around you.  Needs are there.  You have to figure, how can I reach out to the persons around me.  Your neighbors will tell you.  You just have to pay attention and figure out what can I do which will help this person I am having contact with.  It is just being alert.

What does this have to do with our failing economy?  Hard times force us to rely on one another more, to be more resourceful.  It destroys the illusion we don’t need Him.  And others.  We need one another.  And that is never more apparent than when we are not sure where the next meal is coming from or when we are struggling to pay our bills.  A failing economy puts most people in the same boat.  And we help one another more readily.  A failing economy is not necessarily a bad thing.

Sometimes life is fair.  Sometimes it isn’t.  And sometimes it never is.  I am reminded of the famous anecdote of Eisenhower whose mother told him what you have to do is deal with the hand you are dealt with.  The fact life is not fair.  Some people appear to have it very easy.  They have no money worries.  Their life seems to flow.  And there is no doubt money (the lack of) can cause quite a bit of worry.

The fact is we are all unequally gifted.  Some people are very talented:  can do almost anything and be successful.  Some people have more.  Some people have less.  Envy can eat at you.  There is a good reason “Thou shall not covet” is one of the ten commandments.

But when you rail at the higher powers for being so unfair with your worldly station, it only leads to problems and dissatisfaction.  Pray to God with thanksgiving.  There is a reason for that advice in the Bible.

Otherwise we are this whining entity wanting this and that from above.  I think of God being above and millions maybe billions of strings are pulling at him all wanting it a different way.  Realizing everything is by grace and thanking God for all your blessings corrects your dissatisfaction with your life.

Insisting on God (or a higher power) being fair only can frustrate you.  Because life is NOT FAIR.  The serenity prayer is worth repeating and these are not the exact words:  what is in your control change, accept what isn’t and have the wisdom to know the difference.  These are not the exact words but it gets the point across.  Grab the control in your life you can, realize what you have no control of.  And accept the results.  That is the beginning of wisdom.

Writing is primarily psychological.  First you have to have something to say.  You need to be driven to reach out to an invisible audience, to solve a problem.  You may even know your end point but may not know how you are going to get there or what you are going to expound in the body of your text.

I never overly concerned about grammar (sic! the “fine editor” decided to leave this one as written!).  I know I can or my fine editor, my lovely and talented wife, can go back easily and tell me this or that needs correcting.  To be driven by passion, conflict is far more important.  If the feelings expressed are genuine they will always come through no matter how badly written the piece is.  Expressing yourself honestly and openly is what the reader responds to–not facile-ness.  It can be well written and say nothing.

Having something to say consistently always means providing quiet time for yourself and being able to listen to what the tiny voice inside of you saying:  “this is truly what is important and I want to express that openly to someone.”  Proverbs in the Bible says:  “Be still and know I am God.”

I am not going to discuss the existence of God in this piece but there is no doubt that one must have periods of reflection to continue to write.  Otherwise that person’s ideas will peter out eventually.  One must let his/her mind roam.  And that process is always psychological.  And that process is always a precursor to writing.

Messier81GalaxyThis (???) is often no need to leave my room.  My music is here.  Each note, each song, each LP, CD and the cassettes I have put together from my vast music collection, they are all universes within universes.  That does not even mention the many books on my shelves.  Then there are the birds I view when the sun comes up and spend hours doing so.  I never have to go too far to explore the next universe.  My mind roams all the time.  And that is just one large room in this house.

I realized this morning I awoke depressed–something that does not happen to me too often.  I was abnormally busy the last two days.  I did not get enough rest and too many things have gone wrong (though small things).  I have to take better care of myself, reduce my work load, eat properly.  I am going to lay low the next few days.  Then, at some point, the depression should lift.

Nothing happens in a vacuum including depression.  There is an intricate relationship between our body and our mind.  My depression is telling me something is wrong, something needs correcting.  I need to take better care of myself.  I have to learn to listen to my body and mind.  Sometimes depression is just a physical thing.  Fatigue is often a factor.  Everyone has limits.  I have to observe mine.

wanderingjew3Every fall it gets taken in and when the warm weather comes again it goes outside.  During the months it is inside it just withers, barely hangs on.  During the summer when it is hung outside from the garage door it perks up, the leaves turn a deep purple and it becomes full and healthy again.  One lesson you can learn from all that is that sometimes all we can do is to get through a season until the conditions improve then you will thrive again just like that wandering jew plant.  And this happens to you on a cyclical basis although not with the precise regularity of the plant.