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Monday, August 15, 2011


arturo herrera

I been through it and come out the other end.
                                       ---Wiley Maxwell, Jr

Much of today was spent with Cleve Andrews playing fiddle and Jr Maxwell pickin banjo in silence. Painting a likeness of these musicians from a photo taken about 1960 in the living room of Jr's house that burned to the ground in the early 80s, maybe 1981. On the radio just now I heard Tom T Hall singing I'm A Coal Mining Man. Hall lives over near Bristol and participates in the music of the region. The song sounds like it was written by and sung by an aging coal miner. That was WBRF. I thought I'd put the radio on some classical music. Big orchestra sound. It didn't feel right. Clicked 3 on the preset and some bluegrass guitar was doin it to it. That was it. Banjo and fiddle came in, vocals and I was on the right station. Next came, I'm a coal minin man / four miles underground. Hall also wrote Big Country Bluegrass's recent number one hit The Men In Hats And Ties.

It must be from visualizing fiddle and banjo music over the last 3 days that bluegrass is my musical satisfaction this evening. Sounds like the Delmore Brothers singing I Want To Sing That Rock and Roll. Sounding so much like the Everly Brothers, I'm a little bit overwhelmed that the Everly Brothers were so in the tradition. Then the dj, Jay Allen, said it was Gillian Welch. Whoa. She's changed. Or my memory was a false memory. Possible. That song was impressive. It's on YouTube if you want to hear it. I don't usually listen to bluegrass while writing you, because it distracts me completely, makes me stop and listen. A vocal, a banjo, a fiddle, a mandolin, a resonator guitar, a guitar, a lyric might catch my attention and I'm gone. So many possibilities that distraction is a certainty. Like just now is a fiddle, banjo, guitar and bass playing Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss, layin it to it. All the musicians are among the best. The Mount Rogers Ramblers. They have one video at YouTube, listed as Soldier's Joy. They actually play two tunes, Sally Ann, then Soldier's Joy. It's a good example of their sound. Good fiddler. Happy music.

I just now said to myself, muttering, not quite out loud, "Isn't it weird being a human being on earth." It just now occurred to me that I say this to myself quite a lot. I say it while driving, or anything. It comes forward when I'm thinking about something especially wonderful I'd have missed living on another planet. Like the Mount Rogers Ramblers. Sometimes it can be over something truly absurd like post-Reagan America. Hearing news about people in a place and time acting out the worst humanity has to offer. At the same time, the best in us is acted out every day. On the front page of the paper, if it bleeds it leads, a Canadian woman killed on her motorcycle in Sparta. Later, a letter to the editor, an open letter to the people of Sparta from her man, telling of new friends, bonding with the community for all the help received. He said he will return to visit new friends here. What's weird about being a human being on earth is the variety of possible responses or reactions that would vary from one individual to the next. That's a lot of possibles. His letter came from the heart of the one chosen by the white marble of fate.

All varieties of human nature, each one so incredibly unique that we're known by the people knowing us by our personalities, that endless checklist of characteristics, easy to get along with or overbearing, characteristics that are put together like in an astrology chart, and add up to who we are individually. In my way of seeing, just that is one of the weirdest aspects of being human on earth in any time over the last 50,000 or more years. The time we're in now will be told in history books two thousand years from now in the way Romans are seen now, Xtreme hedonism. Til the end of time this time we're in today, the Age of Oil, will be told as the worst time of all to be living on earth, the time when all those beasts of the Revelation roam in the saga of the evening news, and we live our lives subject to all of them. The darkness is so dark now, I can only hope it's the dark before dawn. It has to be. If it gets any darker, we're in for it. It feels like it won't be much longer we'll have to wait.

It's also the time of the return of the Avatar. Jesus was fond of prostitutes and thieves. He didn't say, I love you, but I don't love what you do. No qualifications. Jesus came in a time of Xtreme hedonism. Maybe he'll come again in another such time. I refuse to anticipate or expect any interpretation of how the Return will manifest. I figure we'll know it when it happens. That's all that matters. Or not. I've an idea it has something to do with a collective raising of consciousness, after which we will be very different from the people that went into it. We already are and evidently have a ways yet to go. I can't help but think that living one's life by spiritual principles helps, such as paying attention to what we're doing, keeping the attention focused on now, the moment, the place, the people, the absence of people. Keep my attention closer to home and let Washington DC, Tehran, Pakistan, Baghdad, London and New York take care of themselves. If they don't, that's too bad. I can't help any of them. They wouldn't listen if I tried.

I can stay at home and paint pictures, hold Caterpillar, watch movies, have coffee at Selma's, love God and keep my attention on where I am. As long as I have peace in my heart, where I am will be in peace. That's the closest I can get to the meaning with words. It is that simple and it is not that simple. It is what it is. When I can get there (here), full acceptance without judgment, who needs to worry about 35 people killed by a suicide bomber in Kandahar? All the karma involved is someplace else on the globe, a long ways off. The only karma of my concern is where I am. I'll be happy to reach that place where my focus is on here and now. It takes a real stillness, an inner stillness that wouldn't ring the first note on a wind chime.


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