Archive for the ‘guitar’ Category

Morning Coffee with Proust

September 5, 2018

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. . . all this made of the church for me something entirely different from the rest of the town: an edifice occupying, so to speak, a four-dimensional space–the name of the fourth being Time–extending through the centuries its ancient nave, which, bay after bay, chapel after chapel, seemed to stretch across and conquer not merely a few yards of soil, but each successive epoch from which it emerged triumphant . . . 

Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past

I would not have traded this morning’s sentiments while lingering over the precious words of Proust for anything. I knew I was going to have to dash out of the house before editing and posting today’s blog–I have the rare privilege this week of returning to the high school where I taught for over two decades–Arlington Martin High School–to prep the Academic Decathlon team for their competition that is drawing near. They have asked me to return a couple of times after retirement to coach the team up in art history. This year is America’s Pop Art of the Sixties, and I have had the time of my life researching, re-writing, and preparing Powerpoint lectures on the artists highlighted for this year’s study.

Study times are sacred times for me, and have been so since the 1970’s when I found myself preparing for the pastoral ministry. In the shadow of the church, and later the theological seminary, I cultivated a life-long love for scholarship, and have truly relished the quiet solitary hours spent in study. But I will never be able to write of these experiences as beautifully as Marcel Proust did in his monumental work. The fragment I posted above is part of a ten-page rhapsody describing his boyhood memories of the church where he was nurtured. I would always hope that one day I could record in words as powerful as Proust the layers of feeling I experience when immersed in quiet, contemplative study, in environments such as he described.

Sacred Heart

One of my Church Watercolors

Since the year 2000, I have enjoyed teaching part-time at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, and right before that, I was on staff at the Polytechnic United Methodist Church on the corner of that campus. I used to have an office there, and still on occasion teach a college course in one of their classrooms.

poly church

Polytechnic United Methodist Church

The past eighteen years I have enjoyed on this campus have been a quality extension of my lifestyle of seeking quiet places for study and contemplation.

texas wesleyan

Texas Wesleyan University

On the third floor of their library, I will often ensconce myself, an hour or two before class, and sit beside a window overlooking the sprawling campus, all the way to the Polytechnic Church. I often refer to that third floor as Luther’s Tower, and used to study there late at night when I taught evening courses (being a full-time high school teacher by day had its fringe benefits).

After nearly a year’s hiatus, I got out my guitar and went to an Open Mic last night at Dr. Jeckyll’s Beer Lab in Pantego, Texas. I’m glad I responded to the invitation that came late in the afternoon. The Open Mic only occurs there once a month, but it used to be a nice piece of my routine, and I’m thinking seriously about letting that chapter re-open.

open mike edited

Thanks for reading.

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Sunday in the Gallery

December 10, 2017

I begin a painting with a series of mistakes . . . 

Robert Motherwell

Sun2

Sun1

Sun4

It is Sunday morning, and I feel well-rested, despite a Saturday filled with events lasting into the night. Palestine had its Main Street Wine Swirl and over 400 people purchased tickets for the event that took them to places all around the business district, including the Redlands Hotel. Knowing the lobby would be filled with people, I took advantage of an opportunity to play guitars and sing with my new friend Drew Minshew that I met while painting on the Waxahachie town square last spring. Drew and I spent the evening filling the gallery with our favorite tunes, and everyone coming in seemed to have a good time.

Sun7

This morning, I have begun work on a new painting of the Chamber of Commerce building across the intersection from the Gallery. The one I started a few weeks ago sold off the easel unfinished, and I was delighted that the buyer preferred the vignette look of the work in progress. Nevertheless, I have begun another, hoping I could perhaps finish this one. I cannot say I agree with Motherwell’s sentiments of beginning a painting with a series of mistakes, though I know that experience all-too-well. I just don’t prefer it!  Instead, I like Andrew Wyeth’s sentiment that working with watercolor and pencil is much like fencing–you need to thrust the point of  the pencil with precision and confidence, with no second-guessing.

Thanks for reading. Sundays are usually quiet around here, but this morning has been filled with interruptions as more people seem to be getting out on this sunny, cold Sunday morning in Palestine. I opened the gallery at 9:00 and found people all over the hotel lobby already.

Music in the Gallery Today

December 9, 2017

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Tuned & Ready

Saturday window

Window Display at The Gallery At Redlands, Palestine, Texas

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My Latest Train Watercolor Delivered Today from the Frame Shop

This weekend at The Gallery at Redlands has been a joyous experience. Plenty of shoppers are pouring into the town for this afternoon’s Main Street Wine Swirl. Part of the event will be held in the lobby of the Redlands Hotel just outside the gallery. I have a guitar picking friend coming to join me at 6:00. We plan to play acoustic guitars and sing our favorite songs into the evening, hoping to please the folks coming through. I’ve posted my most recent painting. The frame shop delivered it this afternoon, and I’m ecstatic over the work they did with the framing. I’ll be ordering limited edition signed & numbered prints of this next week.

Thanks for reading.

The Harmony Beneath the Disarray

August 29, 2017

grapevine train.jpg

Nearing Completion of Another Watercolor 

The ancients, struck with this irreducibleness of the elements of human life to calculation, exalted Chance into a divinity, but that is to stay too long at the spark,–which glitters truly at one point,–but the universe is warm with the latency of the same fire. . . . Underneath the inharmonious and trivial particulars, is a musical perfection, the Ideal journeying always with us, the heaven without rent or seam.  Do but observe the mode of our illumination. When I converse with a profound mind, or if at any time being alone I have good thoughts, I do not at once arrive at satisfactions, as when, being thirsty, I drink water, or go to the fire, being cold: no! but I am at first apprised of my vicinity to a new and excellent region of life.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience”

Rising at 5:40 this morning, without an alarm, it didn’t take long before I felt bathed in the warmth of Emerson’s words. As an older man, he soberly assessed “experience” as a replacement for his earlier romantic flourishes as a thinker and writer. I love the quote above as he acknowledges that the spark in later years may lack the white hot dynamic of ideas that struck him in his youth, but the warmth and duration remained. Ideas such as this have helped me in my transitions in life, from a young educator, to one middle aged, and now retired.

More than ever before, I have come to embrace the “musical perfection” underlying the “inharmonious and trivial particulars” of daily life. In my early days of the ministry, I would devote all my energies of a particular day to poring over the biblical writings, believing that they contained the Word of God, and that I would be encountered, confronted by their message. I expected some kind of an oracle. For the past several decades, I have known that oracles would come through a multiplicity of avenues–literature, philosophy, conversation, art, music; I would no longer have to seek an encounter aggressively, but rather let it happen when it happens.

Today has been spectacular, though the bare details of the day sound pedestrian. I have divided my time between reading Emerson, writing a college lecture for tomorrow, listening to documentaries on YouTube on Hemingway and Joyce, finishing up a watercolor begun two days ago, and practicing guitar songs for tonight’s Open Mic. And all day long, a Presence has lingered with me, though I live alone. That Presence has been the underlying harmony of all the disjunctive tasks I have pursued. And I didn’t have to force any kind of encounter; it just happened, as it always does.

open mic

Fun at Dr. Jeckyll’s Open Mic

Thanks for reading.

 

The Weary Blues

March 21, 2017

Highway 61 Blues

Highway 61 Blues–$500 matted

There is no adequate description for the weariness dragging down my body today.  The travel over the past week, accompanied by the adrenalin rush of getting things together for this weekend’s show opening are beginning to take a toll. But still, life is good and I’m excited.

Since I have a brand new blues-related watercolor going into the show, I have decided to pull out this one from my past.  It is matted and shrinkwrapped and will be in the bin rather than hanging in the gallery.  I have priced it at $500.  The setting is the old Silver Dollar Tavern in Old Appleton, Missouri. I watercolored it years ago and have an image to show below.  That painting has long since been sold.

silver dollar tavern

The site is a sad wreck these days:

silver dollar photo

My father danced upstairs in this tavern when he was young, before entering the Korean Conflict.  With the painting going into the show, I chose to pose myself with guitar on the steps of the old site which sits on historic Highway 61, the Blues Route.

blues

Here is my newest painting to enter into the show.  I’m still waiting to pick it up from the frame shop. Only a few more days before show time and still plenty of details to clean up. But everything is progressing nicely and I couldn’t be happier.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

A Quiet Afternoon for Reflection

February 22, 2017

hamlet

Latest 20 x 16″ Watercolor in Progress

This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

After hours of house cleaning and domestic chores, I was ecstatic to find a block of a few hours to paint late this afternoon before dashing off to an evening commitment. Because of an impending One-Man-Show, I have had this desire to return to a Blues theme for a new series of paintings. This one is barely off the ground, and already I’m second-guessing the composition. When such happens, I choose longer gaps for merely staring at the painting from across the room, rather than going full steam ahead.

As I drew and painted and stared for long periods from a distance at this piece, I listened with delight to some YouTube book talks given by William Powers, author of Hamlet’s Blackberry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age.  This book has changed my life profoundly, convincing me that I don’t have to blog daily, and don’t need to live a life chained to my smart phone, anticipating the next alert.

This evening, I will present a brief talk at a monthly gathering that we call “the Salon.” This is a small group of people I adore who love to discuss ideas once a month. Most of the group is retired, having formerly worked in education, industry, politics and journalism. The topics are always approved in advance, and last month I volunteered to lead a discussion over William Powers’s book.  Hoping that none of the salon participants will look at my blog before this evening, I’ve decided to go ahead and post the substance of my presentation.

Thanks for reading . . .

Hamlet’s Blackberry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age[1]

Shelley listened to an interview on NPR with author William Powers who had just published Hamlet’s BlackBerry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age.  She purchased two copies, giving one to me.  Henry David Thoreau, in the “Reading” chapter of his book Walden, writes: “How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.”[2]  Over the span of my life, only a few books have marked new eras, and this book is one of them.  At any age, it feels gratifying, to think of turning a corner or opening a new chapter.

Hamlet’s BlackBerry, offers these words: “The simple act of going out for a walk is completely different today from what it was fifteen years ago. Whether you’re walking down a big-city street or in the woods outside a country town, if you’re carrying a mobile device with you, the global crowd comes along”[3]  I found this passage very confrontational to me personally.  It brought my attention to how obsessed I had become to being “connected” digitally, because of a smart phone that was continually beeping, always alerting me to my blog, facebook, emails and text messages—my life was being chewed up chasing all these prompts, and it took this book to point that out to me.

I am not sounding a negative note for our improvement of technology, this digital age. Technology has transformed my teaching in the high school classroom as well as teaching online at the university.  Technology has connected me to the art and business world.  Computers are wonderful as are smart phones.  But there are two elements attending this digital age that run counter to my idea of a quality life—one is the fast pace, and the other is the emphasis on connecting all the time with others.  The fast pace disregards the importance of time to mature ideas; the social connection neglects the importance of solitary space and depth to find oneself.

I am quoting a chapter title from the Powers book: “Digital Busyness is the Enemy of Depth”.  The point he makes is that when we spend our lives surfing the Internet, flitting from site to site, platform to platform, screen to screen, we are not experiencing the depths of life, but merely skimming over the surface of the media.  In 1963, Paul Tillich addressed the fortieth anniversary of Time magazine, pointing out that America “was a free society, to be sure, but one without depth: its ceaseless expansion, whether into outer space or on the production line, had created an almost irresistible temptation on the part of everyone to produce in order to produce still more.  Tillich exhorted the producers of cultural goods to stop moving in this one-dimensional direction—to come to a halt in order to ‘enter creation and unite with its power,’ in short, to add the vertical line of depth to the horizontal line of extension.”[4]

In his book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig pleaded for a more contemplative life, and wrote: “What is in mind is a sort of Chautauqua—that’s the only name I can think of for it—like the traveling tent-show Chautauquas that used to move across America, this America, the one that we are now in, an old-time series of popular talks intended to edify and entertain, improve the mind and bring culture and enlightenment to the ears and thoughts of the hearer.  The Chautauquas were pushed aside by faster-paced radio, movies and TV, and it seems to me the change was not entirely an improvement.  Perhaps because of these changes the stream of national consciousness moves faster now, and is broader, but it seems to run less deep.  The old channels cannot contain it and in its search for new ones there seems to be growing havoc and destruction along its banks.  In this Chautauqua I would like not to cut any new channels of consciousness but simply dig deeper into old ones that have become silted in with the debris of thoughts grown stale and platitudes too often repeated.  “What’s new?” is an interesting and broadening eternal question, but one which, if pursued exclusively, results only in an endless parade of trivia and fashion, the silt of tomorrow.  I would like, instead, to be concerned with the question “What is best?” a question which cuts deeply rather than broadly, a question whose answers tend to move the silt downstream.  . . .   Now the stream of our common consciousness seems to be obliterating its own banks, losing its central direction and purpose, flooding the lowlands, disconnecting and isolating the highlands and to no particular purpose other than the wasteful fulfillment of  its own internal momentum.  Some channel deepening seems called for.”[5]

A major argument proposed by this book is that digital connectedness sacrifices depth.  One does not contemplate the qualities and meaning of life when clicking on links and flitting from headline to headline, text to text, opinion to opinion. It seems that the only motivation for such a lifestyle is to feel connected to humanity.

Well, I don’t believe that being connected to others is the sole quality of life. In Anthony Storr’s book Solitude, the noted psychologist maintains that Sigmund Freud shifted clinical opinion toward the emphasis of social relations as a measure of human quality. Storr argues for the merits of solitude, that an intrinsic outlook does not mean that the individual is lacking in human quality. In today’s world, so much emphasis has been placed on connectedness that many feel they are inadequate or uninteresting if they do not continually post on facebook or Twitter, or find someone to call or text on their smart phones.  Many feel chained to chat rooms and blogs on the Internet, convinced that the more connected they are, the more well-rounded and healthy their lives are. William Powers urges: “However, the external validation provided by incoming messages and the number of times one’s name appears in search results is not as trustworthy or stable as the kind that comes from the inside.”[6] I would also point out a relatively new best-seller by author Susan Cain: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking.

Is the fear of disconnecting a fear of loneliness or is it really the fear of irrelevance?  When I became immersed in my blog activity, I first regarded my daily posting as a matter of discipline, convincing myself that if I held myself to a daily deadline, like a newspaper journalist, that I would improve my disciplinary lifestyle in other areas as well. As time went on, however, I confess that what drove me was not a sense of discipline and self-worth, but rather the fear that I would become irrelevant and eventually forgotten, if I did not keep the blog fires burning by daily shoveling fuel into it via a new post.

The heart of this book argues that our age is not unique with the conflict between social connection and solitude, between speedy technology and plodding contemplation.  The author writes compelling chapters covering Plato, Seneca, Gutenberg, Shakespeare, Ben Franklin, Henry David Thoreau and Marshall McLuhan. What these great figures share in common is living in an age of technological advance with its temptation for speed, and they used it where it was beneficial, but refused to abandon their contemplative natures.  They consistently maintained that technology and shortcuts would not rule their lives.

In addition to the chapters of Powers’s book, I would suggest some of the New Testament Gospel accounts concerning words and practices of Jesus of Nazareth.  His words from John’s Gospel:  “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  Think on those things for a moment: there are forces that try to steal from our lives—all we have is a measure of time, and whatever is taken is never recovered. Jesus said the thief takes, but he has come to offer abundance. Think about that rhythm—losing and gaining. And let me share a few examples from the life of Jesus that illustrate these rhythms.

After a full day of pouring out his life for the crowds in Capernaum, Jesus rose the next morning seeking restoration.  He departed for a solitary place, and there prayed. When his disciples finally caught up with him, they said, “Where have you been? Everyone is looking for you!”[7]  But of course.  That is why he left; he had already given, and now it was time to recover.

This rhythm of public ministry and private retreat is a thread running throughout the Gospel narratives. Jesus did not hesitate to urge that practice upon those whom he loved. There is a time for pouring out our lives, and there is a time to restore.  When his apostles finished their first preaching tour, they came back to him overflowing with success and enthusiasm.  They had given, and they were enthusiastic, but exhausted.  His words: “Come aside with me to a solitary place where you can rest awhile,” because there was so much coming and going that they could not even stop long enough to eat. [8]

When Jesus went to Bethany to visit in the home of the sisters Mary and Martha, Mary sat at his feet with the other men, transfixed by his spoken words.  Martha was prattling about the kitchen. “Jesus!” she urged, “Don’t you care that I have no help in here?  Tell my sister to come and help!”  His answer: “Martha.  Martha.  You are distracted over many things.   One thing matters.  Your sister has chosen that one thing, and it will not be taken away from her.”[9]

When the digital age distracts us to follow the myriads of links, meetings and tasks throughout each day, then we should remind ourselves of this: You are distracted, harassed by many things.  One thing matters.  Don’t let them take away from you that one thing.  It is O.K. to disconnect from this connected world from time to time and find yourself in the quiet gaps of solitude.

I believe that this rhythm of social and private has kept me alive and vital over twenty-eight years in a public classroom.  Yes, I have known burnout, but I also have known how to recover.  I have witnessed complex changes in technology and social networking and I have always heard that call for acceleration.  But that is not my life.  I still live for the reflection, the quiet, the delicious moments of solitude.  And I always seek for ways to make time for those things that matter the most.  All we have is a measure of time.  Ralph Waldo Emerson got it right when he wrote: “This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.”

 

               

[1] Presented at the North Arlington Salon, February 22, 2017.

[2] Henry David Thoreau, Walden (New York: Penguin, 1983), p. 153.

[3] William Powers, Hamlet’s BlackBerry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age (New York: Harper, 2010), p. 15

[4] Wilhelm Pauck, Paul Tillich: His Life and Thought  Volume 1: Life (New York: Harper & Row, 1976),  p. 274

[5] Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (New York: Morrow Quill, 1974), pp. 15-16.

[6] Powers, p. 46.

[7] Mark 1:35

[8] Mark 6:30-32.

[9] Luke 10:38-42.

Christmas Surprise

December 25, 2015

imageMy biggest Christmas surprise was this gift from my brother. I’ve never owned a Fender Strat, and now look forward to getting used to one.  I’ve played acoustic throughout my life, and have always been clumsy on the electric.  Now, I’m more interested than ever before to see what I can do with one.

Thanks, Rick!

It’s Friday Night and the Coffee is On

March 6, 2015
Quick Sketch of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Quick Sketch of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

The stage personalities, the presence, and the look of these characters were unique. Young, with his sunken-eyed stare shooting out from behind long black strands of hair, loomed to one side of the stage like a captive renegade. Stills floated out front more often, standing with his back straight like a country gentleman, striking hard poses while soloing, or loosening into a pained bluesman at the mike. Nash was the gentle, personable English hippie, who always charmed the crowd with his good nature. Without a doubt, it was Crosby who centered the team on stage. By his own admission, he was “the group mouthpiece.” David also, at this time, coined a visual image that pretty much became the international archetypal hippie look–a long mustache brushed down over the lips, long frizzy hair grown to the shoulders, and a frontiersman’s buckskin jacket, with fringe flying.

Dave Zimmer, Crosby, Stills & Nash: the Biography

These are the simple pleasures that I feel more profoundly now than in earlier years. Spring Break has begun, and I’m delighted to leave school for a week. Temperatures are sliding downward this winter evening and I’m glad to stay indoors. Coffee steams in my mug, Buffalo Springfield spins on my turntable, a good book is in my lap, and I guess I have to admit that I miss not having a cat or dog to scratch right now. My last pet died a couple of summers ago and it does get a little solitary around here when the weekends grow quiet.

I rewarded my quiet hours tonight by kicking out a quick sketch of CSN&Y, then pulling out the acoustic guitar and loosening up with some of their numbers. This was the group that seized my heart right after they put out their first album. I didn’t discover it until 1970, but it made me lay down the electric guitar and pick up the 12-string acoustic. Since then, I’ve only wanted to be an acoustic guitarist and to find people around me to work up some vocal harmonies. I’ve been fortunate to experience some of this, and now recently have found the company of some beautiful acoustic guitarists who challenge me to be better at it. I keep thinking that someday I’ll find myself in a group again, as I miss some of that dynamic from my past. Below, I’ve posted a picture from years gone by when I used to appear with a band at a local watering hole in Fort Worth. I can’t say I really miss those days, but I do miss playing regularly with kindred spirits. It’s been too long.

Former Times in the Pepper Mill Lounge

Former Times in the Pepper Mill Lounge

The Inner Child Rejoices Over a School Cancellation

February 22, 2015
Grading. Grading. Grading.

Grading. Grading. Grading.

Beyond thy lectures learn’d professor,

Beyond thy telescope or spectroscope observer keen, beyond all mathematics,

Beyond the doctor’s surgery, anatomy, beyond the chemist with his chemistry,

The entities of entities, eidólons.

Walt Whitman, Eidólons

The word came around 8:30 this evening, an automated phone call–school is canceled tomorrow due to inclement weather. Outside, freezing rain and 30-degree temperatures reign, and the thermometer is not expected to rise above freezing before Tuesday. Facing a midnight deadline for the high school report cards tomorrow night gives me some breathing space, as I’ve posted the picture above of my remaining papers to grade. I can do that tonight and tomorrow with no classes to teach. The coffee has smelled good all day, and I’m delighted to see progress made on this end. I plan to continue grading well into the night so I can pursue some more creative interests tomorrow during the snow day.

Aside from grading all day, I’ve put in plenty of acoustic guitar work, having moved my amps and guitars into my study area. The new strings certainly gave the guitar a much fuller, grander sound. I have plenty of gratitude toward David Crosby, Neil Young, Eric Clapton and several Blues guitarists for giving me plenty of inspiration during this weekend drudgery of grading. And . . . I really plan to pick up the brush and pursue watercolor tommorrow! It’s been far too long. My occasional breaks today led me into reading Walt Whitman poetry, and I’m always frustrated when I want to explore the world, and instead have to grade papers. At least the Philosophy students’ journals gave me plenty of sustenance throughout the weekend.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not really alone.

Keep Reaching Out, But Remember to Pay Yourself

February 21, 2015
A Younger David Crosby

A Younger David Crosby

Just like in the movies a message
Comes through all the static and hiss
Pulling just enough words from the storm-filled sky
To know that someone somewhere needs this

The radioman runs to the wheelhouse
Got that message held tight in his fist
An S.O.S. off of the wireless
Saying someone somewhere needs this

For you to look out
Look down
Reach your hand into the water
For you to look out
Look down
And pull someone out of the sea

You are the captain . . .  this is the ship
You will have to decide what gets done
Think about it when you’re on watch tonight
‘Cause someday this message will come

For you to look out
Look down
Reach your hand into the water
For you to look out
Look down
And pull someone out of the sea

And your hands are slippery
The wind is strong
The boat is rocking
The world is storm

Your hands are slippery

You feel like turning away to run free

Your hands are so slippery
But you can pull someone out of the sea

For you to look out
Look down
Reach your hand into the water
For you to look out
Look down
And pull someone out of the sea

For you to look out
Look down
Reach your hand into the water
For you to look out
Look down
And pull someone out of the sea

David Crosby, Radio

The grading for the weekend is promising to be one long, sustained grind, but I’ve remembered to stop intermittently and pay myself. After rising early this morning and grinding through my first tall stack of papers, I recalled that I’ve already worked 40-plus hours this past week (all teachers do) and am coming to resent that the hours were not enough–I’m losing a weekend to grading. So I stopped long enough to reward myself before plunging on to the next stack of papers.

I put the new DVD on for my second listen (Crosby, Stills & Nash 2012) and felt some hurt when Graham Nash, now in his senior years, reported to the audience that they as a group had written a lot of songs over the years, but could have written a lot more. He then introduced their next song Wasted on the Way. I understand plenty of what he meant. Most of us probably live with regret that we didn’t do more of worth in our past endeavors, particularly when it comes to enriching others. I could not begin to record adequately the ways that CSN enriched my life throughout the decades–I don’t have that long of a manuscript in me, I’m afraid. As they closed out their encore, honoring teachers with Teach Your Children I of course know that I could have done more and better as a teacher throughout the years. But I’m not going to go there. What’s past is past, and I still have opportunities within reach.

One of my driving philosophies of life is that a person has to pay himself/herself if there is to be any hope for being good for others. And I have tried to stay with that philosophy. Those who don’t know me well enough have accused me of being a workaholic. Not true. Much of what I do that they think is work brings me pure joy, and I feel that it is play. That particularly applies to studying the subjects I teach and creating works of art (no! I don’t regard grading as my joy–that is strictly work, strictly hell).

So. I laid aside my grading long enough to attempt a pencil sketch of a younger David Crosby. Though Neil Young has been closer to the center of my musical imagination in my later years, David Crosby was the one who stole my heart in 1969 when I was in high school. The first CSN album release immediately compelled me to drop the electric guitar with its power chords and pick up the acoustic guitar and pursue vocal harmonies.  Crosby’s rich baritone voice was closest to my own range (though I wished like hell I could reach those clear sharp tenor notes of Graham Nash!). And I absolutely loved that Buffalo Bill Cody buckskin outfit he frequently wore! I was residing in Fort Worth when Crosby was arrested in the Dallas nightclub, and my heart was torn. Once he released his confessional autobiography Long Time Gone, I purchased it and read every word. I cried. I’m so glad he is back and O.K. for the time being. And I really appreciate that he is still writing music–his recently released Radio being my favorite of all time, as it speaks to what I feel in the teaching profession. I posted the lyrics at the top of this post, and am so delighted that it is part of the performance on this DVD.

So, what am I trying to say? That if you wish to be good for others, and wish to do well in your endeavors, never neglect to pay yourself. Don’t burn out. Replenish. I will attempt to avoid burnout this weekend by doing some things that matter to me, including listening to music that moves me and attempting to push out some works of art.

Thanks always for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not really alone.