Sunday, November 15, 2015


...and yet again, there is another set of horrific events, perpetrated by people using religion as justification, that has horrified the world....and yet again, there are calls to retaliate....and calls to arms....and calls to keep the "them" away from the "us". Social media is a awash with posts about whose fault it is that ISIS/ISIL/whateverthehelltheycallthemselves exists or hasn't been squashed yet, how Islam must be stopped, how Bush/Cheney created the conditions for ISIS, and/or how Obama has screwed up everything up....and blah....blah....blah.

In a word: Fear. A lot of people around the world are afraid. That manifests in anger more often than not. But fear is the underlying driver. And that is to be expected. But it is exhausting. Personally, I fear the fearful as much as anything. Its times like these that the "not so better angels" among us get a foothold in the collective psyche.

As much as I would like to add my own $0.02 to the discussion about how we got to this point in human affairs (I will only say "dig deeper and look at the evolution of history beyond just your own lifetime"), I will try to refrain as that would, in the end, only be my variation of processing the fear.

Rather than participate in the fear, I'm going to see what I can do today as I sit in a hotel room far from home on a rainy Oregon something that, at the least, won't contribute to the fear and find a church near by and attend amongst a homeless person lunch...go to Powells book store and buy a book...go see the Peanuts movie...meditate...listen to John Coltrane...and PRAY.....

Yes, I'll pray for Paris (like 99% of Twitter/Facebook-land seems to be doing), but I'll pray for Beirut as well.....and for Russia......and for Syria......and the refugees fleeing Syria....and for Libya....and for Israel....and for the Eagles of Death Metal....and for ISIS (yup, I went there, just like Jesus told me to do)....I'll pray for the whole damned world (i.e. "us")....

Yup, that's what I'm choosing to do today.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


I have a love/hate relationship with the country of Brazil.

What I Hate:
Familiarity breeds contempt. Since 2006, I’ve been to Brazil 31 times, either to Santos, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, or Petropolis. The trips are usually long and take me away from my family. Thus, I’ve come to associate the sights and sounds of Brazil with the ache of missing my loved ones. And there are the crowds, the traffic, etc. And there are the constant rigors of travel. Airports, taxis, hotels, rude fellow travelers, etc. That is a fact of circumstance that is the nature of my travels.

On a positive note:
However, there is much to appreciate about Brazil, and not just the “touristy” aspects of it which I rarely get to partake in. (One qualifier: Though I've been to Brazil a lot, I know that by only seeing the aforementioned cities, there is so much of Brazil I've not been exposed to. I am by no means a Brazilian expert.)

What I love about Brazil:
Foremost, there is the warmth of the people as they welcome foreigners to their country. Not meaning to generalize but, far more often than not, I’ve encountered a subtle enthusiasm when meeting Brazilians for the 1st time. This has led to some cherished friendships over the years. I’ve been afforded remarkable hospitality.

As an example, in 2007, a gentleman I was working with, Jose Roberto, noted that I had Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” as a ring tone for my cell phone. He tells me that Roger Waters is playing in Rio and “if I would mind” going with him to the concert. My response: “WOULD I MIND?!!!! LET’S GO!!!” And it was one of the most memorable events of my life. Seeing Roger Waters for the 1st time….in Rio…playing classic Floyd stuff, including “Sheep” from Animals while 30,000 Brazilians sing along. Amazing!

I’ve also made some much cherished friendships. One friend in particular, Marcelo Barbosa (see picture below, taken Oct. 18th, 2015), I’m particularly fond of. We used to work together. Now, he’s moved on professionally. But that doesn’t stop him from making the effort to come visit me whenever I’m in the country. I always look forward to his warm welcomes.

Another aspect of Brazil that I’m fond of is the culture, or at least what little bit I’ve been exposed to. The music, the visual arts, the dance, all uniquely Brazilian. In some ways, Brazil has had a similar cultural evolution to the United States. Both have origins as European colonies. Both had slavery that was abolished. And the descendants of those slaves have greatly informed the culture. In the U.S., the descendants of slaves gave us the Blues, Jazz, and Rock and Roll. In Brazil, it’s Samba and……Brilliant music and dance that tends to sooth the soul.  And there is some top notch Brazilian Rock and Rollers as well. On one of my trips in 2012, I saw a group of teenagers playing in a park and did great renditions of songs by the Ramones and Iron Maiden.

As I write this, I’m sitting in a hotel lounge in Rio awaiting my flight back to the U.S. I’m very eager to leave and get home. But that doesn’t diminish the positive things I’ve become so familiar with. While I’m not eager for a return to Brazil anytime soon, I know that if/when I do return, I will have much to look forward to.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Berkeley Bob's Performance - 26 Sept, 2015

On the 26th of September, 2015, my daughter and I made the drive to Cullman, Alabama so I could perform my Ambient Soundscape "loopiness" at Berkeley Bob's Coffee House at the invitation of Carlo DeShouten and, of course, "Berkeley" Bob.

Carlo had purchased my CD, "Casting Shadows" via CD Baby (still available by the way) and, as I try to do with anyone who purchases my music, I sent him an e-mail of thanks for the purchase. He responded with an invitation to come to Cullman to perform. As I learned back in my "Heavy Metal" days, never turn down a "gig". So I immediately accepted. Then, I must admit, the thought: "Cullman, Alabama???" crossed my mind.

As much as I've traveled, I've not spent any significant time in Alabama, staying in a couple of towns on my way through the state to other locations. As such, I really only had perceptions from afar as to what life in Alabama was like. And, like many preconceived perceptions, they are clouded by the perceptions of others. Here's the gist of that perception:

  • Civil Rights movement of the 60's
  • Deep "South"
  • Have some pretty good college football teams
  • "Forrest Gump"
  • .....and that's about it...
I really didn't know what to expect. But, as Carlo seemed like a pleasant guy via phone and email communication, I figured his judgment and musical taste was all I needed to load up the gear and hit the road. 

Back in my Heavy Metal days, we would have my buddy Josh be our "roadie/guitar tech" and my band would pretend we were a roving entourage of "Rock Gods". Nowadays.....I talked my 15 year old daughter, Jessica, to come along for the ride for moral support. How times have changed....for the better I might add. 

After 5 hours in the car, we arrived at Berkeley Bob's and immediately saw a flyer with my picture and name on it. My daughter thought this was pretty cool as she immediately got to "snap-chatting" (whatever the heck that is). As we entered, I was warmly greeted by Carlo, Xena (Barista/server) and others. I felt immediately at ease as the coffee house was a pleasant slice of "Bohemia" in a small southern town. 

The performance itself was a structured improvisation. Structured in that I had guide notes on strategy, some pre-recorded beats, etc. Improvised in that.....there were times I didn't have a clue where I was going. But I did have lots of fun and got lost in the music which is really why I do this to begin with. Those moments when I surprise myself and feel like I'm being led and thought is suspended are wonderful. To share this with an audience...even better. 

I did about an hour and 45 minutes of soundscapes and was received very warmly by the audience with some very flattering words and complements. And my daughter was impressed by the kindness shown by all in attendance. 

In summary, a very enjoyable experience. And not just the performance but also getting to spend many hours with my soon-to-be grown up daughter. Its not lost on me that those moments with her are becoming less and less frequent so any opportunity to hang with her is time well spent. 

I'd like to thank Carlo and Bob for inviting me. And thanks to all who attended and treated Jessica and I so kindly. 


Monday, September 07, 2015

Random Thought on Social Media

Facebook, Twitter, and the other social media platforms are a curious, addictive, most-of-the-time useful, sometimes annoying thing. Like many my age (lets just say I pre-date the internet....and remember a time before there was a Star Wars), I use social media to stay connected to friends and family, many geographically distant from where I am. Like most, I will share "memes", videos, articles, etc that interest me. In turn, I will check out the posts of friends (both real and cyber) via my news feed.

One thing I used to do but have vowed to not do any longer is propagate negativity. There are so many items out there that are intentionally provocative, designed to raise the ire of someone. Most of the provocative items are political. Some have religious/anti-religious content. Some are just crude humor, etc.

Now...I have my opinions. And some will and do disagree with those opinions. But there is a difference between expressing an opinion and demonizing or ridiculing an opposing opinion. I do agree that civil discourse and debate is productive and necessary. But, in the context of social media, productive discourse is almost an oxymoron. A "tweet" or a post of limited characters requires brevity. Too often, to convey an opinion with such brevity, most resort to simplistic insults, crude "memes" and the like. What I have found is that such things only agitate and invite retaliation. As brevity and "intellectual laziness" can go hand in hand, the result can be a lot of negativity and pissiness. Take the meme below as an example to illustrate a point:

Now, I'm not going to get into my thoughts on guns and control. I just randomly Googled "gun control meme" and this popped up. Its intended to highlight perceived hypocrisy amongst ant-gun advocates . It simple but as anyone, pro or against, can tell you, the issues about guns in America is far more complex than a simple meme could convey. If I was to share this via FB without any comment or context, I would surely get several angry comments as well as some likes.

Again, I'm not going to debate the issue. But, nor am I going to participate in passing such negative stuff on with the intent of enforcing a negative message (for the record, I'm not a fan of guns and wouldn't send this crap on under any circumstances). In the end, all it does is propagate negativity and little more.

Instead, I'd rather share positive things, reflecting universal truths, spiritual thoughts, etc. I've found that most of the time, such things CAN be conveyed in the brevity required by social media. Case in point:

Both of these memes are taken out of a bigger context but the quote from Merton conveys a message he intended to convey very clearly.  I suppose its easier to express thoughts of hope and love with brevity. And, as such, I'd rather, for my own peace of mind, spread a little positiveness instead of adding to the negativity of the world. God knows there's enough of that out there. If you don't think so, go check your Facebook feed....

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Oh The Memories.....

The above picture is of one of my former bands, Bad Weapons. I believe this is circa 1988. These photos were recently developed from negatives that were sitting in my drawer for over 25 years. Only last week did I lay eyes on them for the 1st time since they were taken (big thank you to Charlie, the bass player, 2nd from the right, for having these photos developed and sharing them).

When I 1st saw them, I was amazed and excited to see them. This was from a time when I was of an age where the future was to be seized and possibilities were supposedly limitless. I was a budding wannabe Rock star waiting for my turn at stardom and all the perks such a life was supposed to have (i.e. sex, drugs, etc). However, as I continued to look at them, a myriad of memories came rushing back to me, some very unpleasant and uncomfortable.

I won’t go into detail on the exact nature of some of the memories as they are personal and involve people that may not want to have such things drudged up. But I will say these photos were taken at the beginning of a period in my life that would devolve into a personal dark place that ultimately caused me to re-evaluate the direction of my life.

The dilapidated building we are leaning against was our band’s rehearsal studio. It was a former chicken-feed processing place outside Petaluma, CA. I wish I can say we spent all our hours there honing our Rock and Roll skills to a fine point. But, while we did spend a fair amount of time rehearsing, writing songs, and such, we spent far more of our time getting loaded. Eventually, and due in part to my own behavior, that place would double as my home for 1 year. While there are funny moments I recall from that time, such as putting together an outdoor shower with some 2x4’s, plastic tarp, and a garden hose, there are far more less-than-pleasant memories that I had not spent too much time thinking until I saw these pictures.

And that brings me to the point: Memories are powerful things. Coupled with a history, they evolve in perception as one becomes (hopefully) wiser and experienced. The memories these pictures evoke in the 2015 version of me are completely different than what they would have evoked had I saw these 10 years ago, 15 years ago….25 years ago.  The memories today are far more complex but, at the same time, meaningful. I see a more complete picture of who I was back then in the light of the man I’ve become. A big difference with these pictures compared to other pictures of my past is the specific pivotal point of my life in which these were taken. Whereas, if I see a baby picture or one from grade school, there is a recalled sense of innocence. With these pictures, not only has the innocence been lost, but there is a recollection of the misguided bravado of young adulthood mixed with a growing sense of dysfunction and loss. It’s hard to articulate but it’s a peculiar experience to see these photos again.

I will say that, having gone through the dark period that I was about to embark on at the time of these photos yielded several life-altering decisions and experiences. One, in particular, is worth sharing.

On December 7th, 1991, we were to rehearse at the “studio” pictured above for a very important show. On that particular night, Corey, our singer, decided to skip practice. This was not the 1st time this happened but, on that particular night, his absence infuriated me. Perhaps, my anger was fueled by growing difference between us that started the year prior when I made the decision to stop drinking/partying.  As is often the case, relationships that were based on mutual debauchery tend to become strained if one of the parties in the relationship decides to “clean up”. But, that said, I looked at our ongoing relationship as a musical necessity as well as I wanted to maintain a friendship. However, skipping practice that particular night was not going to go unchallenged.
So….I drove to the bar I suspected he was hanging out and…sure enough, there he was!!!!  As the bar was crowded, I wasn’t going to confront him there but I would wait him out. In the course of waiting, I came to meet a beautiful Filipina woman, albeit in an unusual way in that she almost burned my hair with a lit cigarette. Long story short….this was the 1st time I met the future Lilian Imberg, my wife. We (Corey, I, Lilian, and our drummer) ended up going back to our studio to do a half ass rehearsal. From there, Lilian and I spent the rest of the night talking (no hanky panky) and getting to know each other. In a nutshell, I met the love of my life.

All that said, I suppose the point of the rant is that these pictures represent so much more than just a promotional picture of a band I was once in. They are glimpses to the most pivotal 3 years of my life, where I experienced the pain and despair, but also some fun, and, ultimately, met the woman I would marry and create an amazing family with.

Funny how life works……

Monday, April 20, 2015

My Musical "Rosetta Stone"

The term "Rosetta Stone" (I'm omitting reference to the popular language learning software) has two meanings in the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
  1. :  a black basalt stone found in 1799 that bears an inscription in hieroglyphics, demotic characters, and Greek and is celebrated for having given the first clue to the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics
  2. :  one that gives a clue to understanding
The actual Rosetta Stone in the 1st definition gave birth to the 2nd definition as a common reference in a variety of topics. 

On a personal level, I often refer to the band Led Zeppelin as my musical "Rosetta Stone" because, aside from them being my all time favorite band in the world, they have directed me in directions of musical exploration that no other Rock band could do, thus giving me "clues to understanding" a much wider range of music than just "Rock and Roll". 

In my youth, my initial love affair was split between hard Rock/Metal (e.g. Kiss, Aerosmith, Black Sabbath, UFO, Iron Maiden) and 70's electronic music (e.g. Tangerine Dream, Vangelis). A somewhat varied interest for a pre-teen American kid but nothing exotic. As I grew older and more rebellious, my taste gravitated toward heavier stuff like Metallica, Megadeth, and so on. Again, nothing out of the ordinary though I did think of myself as something of a Heavy Metal snob and purest. But that would change when I fell in love with Led Zeppelin. 

My initial exposure to Zeppelin was pretty typical of kids of my generation. It was via FM radio and the ubiquitous presence of "Stairway to Heaven". It was a song I liked but, at the same time, I viewed Zeppelin as the previous generations music. My early high school years was the early 1980's. Led Zeppelin had already disbanded following the tragic death of John Bonham. I did buy the album "Led Zeppelin IV/Untitled" and must admit that it was not the "soul grabber" it would become, mainly because it wasn't as heavy as the stuff I was immersed in at the time. In hindsight, it had way more depth in the songwriting, musicianship, and production than I could appreciate at the time. I was a full on testosterone-fueled, Metalhead at this point and subtlety was being lost on my immature ears. But that would quickly change, thanks to another aspect of my misspent youth. 

The town I lived in during my high school years, Petaluma, CA, had an old movie theater called The Plaza (now The Mystic theater which is presently a great live venue). They would specialize in playing old movies throughout the week. Weekdays would be "art house" type movies with an occasional classic porn movie. Weekends usually catered to the younger crowd with showings of "Rocky Horror Picture Show", "Monty Python", and Rock movies from the 70's and 80's. A regular feature a couple of times a year was "The Song Remain's the Same", the 1976 concert/concept movie featuring Led Zeppelin. 

One Friday night, my friends and I went to such a pairing of "The Wall" and "The Song...". The movie was preceded by some teenage "partying" so that our mental state was suited for the experience (I'm not kidding when I say I had a misspent youth). I remember being in awe of The Wall on the big screen but the life-altering moment was seeing "Song Remains the Same". 

The movie was crafted to be a "mind blowing" experience anyways but I just remember seeing Jimmy Page on the big screen doing what Jimmy Page does: being the coolest, most bad-ass Rock god on the planet and being completely blown away. The band as a whole was so much cooler than anything I've seen before or since. But it was the depth of the music that hooked me. Everything from the howling minor blues of "Since I've Been Loving You" to the bombast of "Rock and Roll" to the beautiful "Rain Song". It was dynamics galore delivered with such power, competence, and attitude. Two pivotal moments in that movie was "Dazed and Confused" (major improve jamming that seemed to go on a terrific way) and "Whole Lotta Love". In both songs, Page did things musically that transcended typical Rock forms, using a bow and a Theremin to literally transport the listener to someplace far, far, away. Just epic soundscapes that were not what I would expect from a Rock band.  

Following that experience, I went back to my copy of LZ IV with renewed interest and listened very intently and fell in love. Then I bought "Physical Graffiti", then LZ I, then "Houses of the Holy", and so so and so forth, digesting the entire Zeppelin catalog. 

What blew me away the most (and continues to amaze me to this day) is the stylistic variation these guys delivered while still maintaining the "context" of a Rock and Roll band. The acoustic, folk influences, the Arabic flavors, the ethereal elements in the production, the use of drones and ambiance, and, of course, the Blues.  All these elements started me on a path of musical exploration that continues to this day. 

Through Zeppelin, I became fascinated with Moroccan, Celtic, American Folk, Country, Indian, and Blues music. Just glancing at my iPod right now, I have music by Bachir Attar (Moroccan), Ravi Shankar (Indian), Robert Johnson (Blues), Townes Van Zandt (Country) and so on and I can recall the exact sequence of discovery that led me to fall in love with these and so many other artists that all goes, quite literally, back to Led Zeppelin. And, of course, not forsaking my love of hard Rock, Zeppelin does a pretty decent job at satisfying that craving too. 

I can truly say that the majority of the nearly 1000 titles of music I possess in my record/CD/tape/digital collection I have is either directly or in directly due to Led Zeppelin. In that regard, they are truly my musical "Rosetta Stone". 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

My 1st Trip to a Muslim Country

In January, I visited Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for 2 weeks. What follows is an accounting of the trip and some take-away observations.

This was a trip planned for several months but was delayed due to logistics. The months leading up to the trip were, I must admit, tense due to, in no small part, the regular travel warnings that the U.S. State Dept. sends out to holders of Saudi Arabian visas. Such warnings include "suspected religious fundamentalist killed a Norwegian citizen near an IKEA" (this was an actual warning). They follow the notice with a statement that reads: "If you can't change your travel plans, it is suggested to avoid crowds,.....". The implied statement is "DON'T GO!". There is indeed a significant element of Islamic fundamentalism in Saudi Arabia, the home of Wahhabi-ism, and, though the government (i.e. royal family) has strong ties to America, there is a powerful group of people in that country that dislike both the American government and the royal family. But, that said, the aforementioned warning could have been as much a hostile reaction by a Saudi towards Scandinavians because they hate IKEA stores. In any case, I had to quell fears that these warnings created, reminding myself that of the many places I've traveled to, the element of uncertainty always gave way to personal revelation and affirmation of the common goodness of people (not to say there aren't bad ones but a core belief I hold is that the overwhelming amount of people on the planet aren't malicious, that "better angels" win the day).

State Dept-induced fear aside, I was interested to experience visiting a Muslim country. Islamic culture is a fascinating mystery to me. I know we in the West get a skewed and simplistic perspective of the culture if we limit our understanding to what the popular media gives us. But I have, over the years, grown to love music that originates from Muslim cultures (e.g. Hamza El Din, Kayhan Kahlor, The Faran Ensemble) as well was poetry (Rumi) and art. I know I've only scratched the surface of the cultural offers of the Muslim world. Logic dictates that there is much more cultural diversity and variation than can be understood from afar which made me keen to get a glimpse 1st hand.

Prior to my arrival in Jeddah, I had a 12 hour layover in Dubai. The contrast between Dubai and Jeddah, in hindsight, was significant. Whereas Jeddah had much an austere feel to it, being the primary gateway to Mecca, Dubai was much more cosmopolitan and liberal in feel. It certainly felt to live up to the unofficial title of "The Gateway to the East". The city had the appearance of growing rapidly with lots of construction and very modern architecture. I understand that, while a Muslim society, it was much more liberal in its acceptance of "vice".

While waiting for my flight to Jeddah, I was struck by the variation in ethnicity and clothing at the airport. While the majority was dressed in some manner of traditional Muslim clothing (particularly the women), there was quite a contrast from the very simple to the very elaborate. Again, my take was that Muslim culture is as non-homogeneous as any other broad-based culture.

Because Jeddah is the primary entry way to Mecca (holiest city in Islam), the vast majority (i.e. everyone but me apparently) of travelers going from Dubai to Jeddah were pilgrims in the midst of their Umrah pilgrimage, a religious rite similar to the annual Hajj rite but can be done any time of year. From what I gathered, there were Pakistani, Kuwait, and Indonesian pilgrims on my particular flight. I was literally the only passenger on the plane not a pilgrim (as confirmed by the flight attendant).

Upon arrival, I had to traverse through customs, as is the case everywhere. The one benefit of not being a Muslim pilgrim was the fact I didn't have to go through the designated "Pilgrims" line in custom which was VERY long. Apparently, the Saudi government has a logistical nightmare on their hands with being the keepers of the holiest sites in Islam. For religious reasons, they have to grant access to those sites to all Muslims, regardless of country of origin. But for political reasons, they have to exercise caution because not all Muslim countries are friendly to Saudi Arabia (e.g. Iran). So the visa process is extensive. For Western business travelers, it appears a bit easier to enter the country. But, that said, there is a very strict ban on alcohol so my luggage was subject to search. I had to explain that the Kelloggs protein bars I brought with me did not contain alcohol.

Once through customs, I was taken by a taxi to the Intercontinental Hotel which is owned by the parent company of Holiday Inn. The hotel was opulent by my standards (e.g. ornamental furniture in the lobby dating back to the 17th century) with security measures at the gate entrance that appeared excessive but wasn't going to be question by me.

About a 1/4 mile from the hotel, I noted a huge water fountain that jetted water hundreds of feet into the air. This was King Fahd's Fountain and was impressive.

I wish I could say I did lots of touristy stuff and ventured about....but I was there for work and was dissuaded from going anywhere without a local escort. That said, I found the obvious differences in daily life fascinating. Some examples:

  • There are 6 designated prayer times for Muslims. The times are dictated by the lunar phase so that differ slightly be day and region. The 1st call to prayer happens before dawn with various calls from the mosques in the areas filling the air. Adherence to these prayers times are strongly encouraged for Muslims and life is pretty much halted. During the prayer times of daylight hours, businesses will shut down for the 15-20 minutes and the majority of the people I saw or encountered would dutifully go to the appropriate place and pray. Prayers are to be directed towards Mecca. In my hotel, there was a convenient sign with the arrow that pointed in the direction of Mecca. Non-Muslims aren't expected to pray so I was given a pass.
  • Most Saudi women adhered to wearing veils and head covering (hijab?). It is considered to be inappropriate for a male to be in close quarters with a women not related to them. I found this out by mistake when I got into the hotel elevator with a Saudi women who clearly felt uncomfortable with my presence, based on her body language (she literally turn her back to me....most awkward elevator ride of my life). 
  • Pork is a dietary no-no. While the hotel I stayed at had Western breakfasts, the only bacon or sausage to be had was made of turkey or lamb. 
  • Most of the people who do manual labor in Saudi Arabia are foreign nationals. Many Pakistanis and Filipinos there. The folks I was working with were Pakistani. Exceptionally kind gentlemen that treated my with tremendous hospitality. 
  • My Saudi host treated me to a traditional Saudi meal of slow-roasted goat, served on rice with saffron. We literally got the whole goat. Dining was done on the floor in a very communal fashion. It was one of the best meals I have ever eaten.
  • I had several conversations with my hosts about religion. We had very nice, substantive conversations about Islam, Christianity, the differences and the similarities. These conversations confirmed my belief that there is always so much more commonality between people than differences. We in the West tend to get a very simplistic and negative impression about Islam. To be sure, much of the negative impressions we get are well-found by acts of terrorism and fundamental fanaticism. But those impressions are based on the actions of a minority of Muslims. The manner and hospitality of my hosts clarified that there are Muslims (I suspect the majority) of good-will and good cheer. 
Overall, the trip was very nice. I only got a small glimpse into the Saudi and Islamic world but it was an enriching glimpse and one I'm most grateful to have had.

My sincere thanks to Youseff,  Hassan, Mr. Delawi, and crew for your friendship and hospitality. I hope to return the favor.

Friday, January 02, 2015

2014 in Review

I don't typically buy into the notion that one block of 365 days (a.k.a. a year) is any better or worse than another. I try to live my life in the moment, day by day. As such, some days are better than others. But I try not to look back with any longing or regrets. This is, in part, due to having made attempts to reconcile any "unfinished" business from my past as well as keeping the present in order as best I can.

However, that said, I must admit to the feeling that this most recent semi-arbitrary block of 365 days (a.k.a. 2014) has been, as a whole, a royal pain in my ass! Circumstances arose in the course of the year (that I can't and won't  go into detail about) which created much uncomfortable transition in the lives of many friends and family. There were more than a few "farewells" said this past year as a result.....which, frankly, sucked!

I won't say that 2014, as a whole, sucked. But there were certainly circumstances and situations that I would have rather avoided. And this brings me the the point.....Change.

I can only speak for myself but I suspect aversion to change is common. Logically, I understand that change is inevitable and permanence is an illusion. But, when it comes to friendships and relationships of emotional substance, change to said relationships that results is separation and departure is unavoidably uncomfortable. This past year has had its share of such discomfort.

I would like to say that I'm philosophically "OK" with such changes, that I'm the wiser for such changes.....but that would be a lie. While I'm not destroyed by changes, I do strongly wish such changes were avoidable, that there was a reset button or someway to undo....but that's immature thinking on my part.

 I'm finding it difficult to not have resentments towards those that created the circumstances that trigger the changes. But, I do realize, again logically, that any resentments I hold are of my doing. As much as I'd like to wave a magic wand and change things back to they way they were, I can't. And being resentful about the situation only hurts me in the long run.

So, while I'm still struggling with the changes, I'm choosing to look at them as an opportunity to grow and learn. Today, is better than yesterday (the day before, however, not so much). But life is a day to day thing. 2015, I hope, will be, as a whole, a better clump of 365 days  than 2014. But.....I'll work on today, let go of the past beyond what I can learn from, and plow on. And I will cherish every relationship in my life, knowing that the unforeseen can change things quickly.

Happy New Year.