Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Experience + Conscious Journeying + Heart =Wisdom...Maybe

I have heard many people, who out of respect, no doubt, equate growing older with getting wise. I don't believe growing old,
by itself, makes anyone wise. I do see that experience, which accumulates with time lived, can offer many opportunities, for
learning about how to live life. However, learning lessons about life, depends on being open, at all times, to learning them.
A person, convinced from the start, he or she is right, and therefore, has no reason to learn anything about living life, could
live a thousand years on this earth, without learning much, in all that time...but stands a good chance of becoming, deeper
and deeper engrained, in his or her prejudices or backwardness. I think what likely makes the difference, on the journey to
wisdom, is your openness to reflecting on your dissonances and mistakes and all of your life, as it unfolds, and to the lessons always being offered, and being willing to heed them when they become clear to you. This is a big part of what I mean by "conscious journeying". Now to the third part of the "equation". Something tells me that, if our responses to life are based only on what our heads tell us to do, we are likely asking to live a cool and clinical life, that stands a good chance of being devoid of empathy, humour, compassion, joyfulness, funkyness, and loving inter-actions with others etc. This is why learning to live from the heart comes in, enriching our lives, and tempering our view of others and of life, with understanding, forgiveness, compassion, inclusion, thankfulness, balance, and recognition of our human fragility and vulnerability...and, hopefully, nudging us towards wisdom. The "maybe" in my formula, is there for a very good reason. I have found, that whenever I start thinking I have life figured out...it will unerringly test me, in some area I haven't had to deal with before, or more severely in areas I've visited before...reminding me that I don't know very much, after all the years of "conscious journeying"...and that I still have much to learn about this precious thing...called "life".................Quester.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Listening For A Spark

I long to hear a spark of personality, humour, brightness, and quirkyness, in what I over hear people saying in public places.
I am often disappointed by the lack of these and other vital qualities in what is said. From time to time I hear teen aged girls
giggling wildly...or someone giving a critique of his society in an unabashed voice. Although my reverie may be interupted
at the time,,,such manifestations tell me that we are not just ghosts...predictably delivering dollops of drabness into our
world. In the category of words or behaviour that show "real signs of life" in my species...I would include the cheekiness of
the occasional person...even when it may be at my expense. Years ago...I lived on a cobbled street...in the old part of a
Scandinavian city. In those days I tried currying just about any food that came to my attention. Sometimes my experiments were successful...sometimes not. By my trial and error method...I had discovered a sausage called "korv"...although invented
for the Viking palate...actually responded well when combined with spices from a more southern clime. One day my "curried
korv" addiction was calling for its fix...so I went to the delicatessen a few steps from my door. It was run by two middle aged, rosy cheeked ladies, dressed in white. I ordered a half a kilogram of korv...then started to look around their tidy little establishment...to see if there was anything else I needed. Before I could say "curried korv"...I heard the slicer going...and looked around to see...my would be supper...already in wafer thin slices by the slicer. At that moment... knowing the thin
slices would evaporate in the currying process... an anguished, "Oh no!" came out of me...accompanied by "I didn't want it sliced up!". With this the rosy cheeked slicer turned to me...with a twinkle in her blue eyes and asked, "Shall I tape it up for you then?"...I immediately burst out laughing...joined by the two sassy angels in white. After this remark...I couldn't bring myself to ask for a "chunk of korv" instead...and went home to my thin sausage slices on brown bread...knowing there was still some hope left in the world...and that my "curry fix"...would have to wait until another day...............Quester.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Customer Is Not Always Right

One of my songs, written some time ago, has the line, "and you know the customer's not always right". I had good reason to write such a line. I started singing, in bars, where as in any other business situation, the rule was/is, that "the customer is
always right". Part of the "divine right of the customer", was for the performers before them, to sing songs they requested.
Occacionally, if the song requested was something I felt comfortable with, I would sing it. Most of the time, I found ways of
wriggling out of this particular brand of serfhood. It was only a matter of time before I removed myself totally from the bar scene, and its quiet brutalization of those who perform in it, choosing to sing only in "human" situations, from that time
onwards...for a time forfeiting the monies that would have been available, if I had continued performing, in such places. In
the "business is business" view of human transactions, routinely, your power is supposed to be given away to your customer,
so that they tell you what to do. As someone working to liberate myself from early chains put upon me by colonial and other
powers, this approach to life, of course, was not one that I could ever be comfortable with. Now...apart from my innate thrust
towards liberty and dignity, I see that in a life where I have not always been wise, there was wisdom in not letting customers
tell me what to sing. I can see how the hundreds and hundreds of songs that I generated, after leaving the bar scene behind,
and to this day, would never have been born, had I devoted much of my life energy, to learning songs from the hit parade,
to please customers, while my own potential for writing songs remained on-goingly untapped. Yes...for reasons on many
levels...I am glad I twigged early on that..."the customer is not always right!".............Quester.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

My Mountains

From a front window this early afternoon...I see on the sidewalks below...women with their arms and legs bare...having come
out of their winter and spring hiding...to welcome the heat wave we're in...as men in t-shirts show off their muscles and
saunter slowly along. It is the mountains...however...stretching wide above all that...that pull my eyes upwards...as they always have. Today...the sky above them is blue...and under a light blue haze...they are stll boldly outlined. I am a lucky man
to have them to look upon every day of my life...weather permitting. Sometimes when its raining they disappear behind thick
grey cloud cover...and I miss them...but remember that they are still there...and soon I'll be able to see them again. My
mountains are much more than something I send pictures of to friends or relatives living in flat places...or point out to visitors to my home as soon as they arrive. In the time I have lived facing them across the way...they have been much more than that...offering me consolation at low times in my life...pointing out to me that whatever I am going through...they have
survived through countless similar ones lived...by the prisoners of emotion...at their feet...that they know the secret of always
sending out their power...but never losing it...that they were there long before human habitation came close to them...and
are likely to go on...after those below them have come and gone. When I've gone on trips to eastern Canada...I have felt their
absence strongly...and cannot wait to look upon them again. At times they have become the deciding factor in any debate I have with myself about travelling far afield. My mountains...are my friends and my guardians...my bringers of perspective...at times when I've lost it...the ones who on my journey...help me... to keep "a measure of detachment"...as problems arise...
circumstances change...and people come and go...and to reach for a higher place...as I walk my walk...
wingless...in the valley below them.................Quester.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Go...Sing Your Own Song

Last night, met a friend at a coffee house night, was asked to sing and did two songs. Many things go through my mind on
a night like this...many coffee houses over many years...listening to different people sing, at various stages of their development as singers or song-writers...reminding me of my own journey...and the hope each one carries that this night
will somehow further his or her journey into music...listening to people sing material that they didn't create... always
reminds me...that I am glad I became a song-writer. I don't believe I would still be singing...were it not for the fact that I am
singing songs I brought into this world...and this comforts me in a way singing songs by others...would never do. It's like
standing on bed rock...delivering on something no-one can take away from you...it's about having risen above the inertia
always pulling at you...to create song after song...when you could have given in...knowing the world likely didn't care whether
you did or not. And so...you go on stage...like so many times before...in so many different venues, cities, countries, and even
eras...and sing...once again...knowing although the road has been rocky at times and long...you have been priviliged to sing the songs you have created...........Many's the time...when my spirit is flagging...and i'm wondering whether I should sing or not...I tell myself: "This is what you do...so...go do it...while you can...whether you really feel like it...or whether the world is sleeping... or not...go...sing your own song...".

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Sun Is Still My Leader

It's summer in May today... in Vancouver...warm...with the sun in a totally blue sky. I am being called to go down by the water, and take it all in, like thousands of my fellow citizens. Too much to do today...maybe I'll join them tomorrow.
Whenever I don't heed the call of the sun...to go out into it...preferably near the water...I feel a bit guilty. Maybe this has to do
with my tropical beginnings...or maybe that's just the way a lot of people feel. I wouldn't call myself a sun worshipper...but
the sun has also been a force in my artist and journeyer's life. The sun has been central to many songs I've written...including: "The Sun is My Leader"..."Sun Fever"...and "Bound For The Sun"...in the last named song becoming a destination on the spirit journey. When I started painting...one picture after the other began...with the sun in the top right hand corner. This went on through picture after picture...until I had to make a colossal effort to start my pictures in a different way...and weaned myself only partially away...from my helio-centric approach...which still returns...reminding me that the sun is still very much in my life. So...with a little luck...I'll find myself under the sun...and by the water... tomorrow...for although I may disobey orders from time to time..."The Sun Is Still My Leader............Quester.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Too Much Assertiveness?

In a world with too many manipulators on the make or those who do not know how to rein in their colonizing tendencies,
those of us of a gentler persuasion, need to learn how to assert ourselves. The other night at a party, after I had been asked to sing and had done so, a man who I did not know, asked me if I could play a "little guitar" under a story he wanted to tell.
Without hesitation, I heard myself saying, "I'm sorry... I don't feel comfortable with that...but please...tell us your story!". I try to live peacefully with my fellow human beings, but I felt very comfortable with my refusal, for my own authentic reasons. For
someone who has never had any need to attend "assertiveness training classes", I was actually surprised at the speed of my response. I know such classes, likely, help some people not to be door mats anymore. If that is so...it is to the good.
However, I have had encounters with some people over the years, who seem to be manifesting having attended, one
assertiveness training session too many, with their brittle and "Me" centred responses, when they were not at all necessary.
Once, I was standing on the edges of an audience, at a folk festival, listening to a fine singer, when someone tapped me on
the shoulder, breaking my song connection, and engaging me in conversation. During our chat, she mentioned that she was
teaching assertiveness training to young people. After a while, she excused herself by saying, "Well...good to talk to you...
but now...I have to get into my own space for a while!", As she walked away, I smiled, thinking to myself, what a classic closing remark, from someone who had done her assertiveness training. It also tickled me that, her mention of "her own space" in closing, had not taken into consideration, how she had invaded, "my own space", by tapping me on the shoulder,
and engaging me in conversation. I knew that if it was I who had invaded "her space", her mention of wanting to return to it,
would have made more sense than it did, with her as the invader of someone else's space. Well...there's more to be said
about this subject...I'm sure...but right now... I have to get back..."into my own space!"............Quester.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Poem: This Line

This line...where the dark blue mountains...
are nippled with white fire...
as they embrace the silver green water prairie...
This fringe...of magic and mystery...
the killer whale has skirted...
the bald eagle has guarded...
and the salmon has crossed...
since deep in the mists of time...
This place...so slowly worked...
by the wave and wind chisel...
This meeting space...
where Earth and Ocean...
strive eternally...to be one...
This crack...
through which mighty legends were born...
This slash...
cut by a cataclysm...
that still reverberates in the Pacific air...
This West Coast...
will be forevermore...
the border of...
my long sought homeland...
a rambler's...final earthly destination..........

Monday, May 23, 2005

Listen To Me

Listed among "human needs" are such necessities as, food, water, shelter etc. To this list I would like to add: the need to be
listened to, or, if I wanted to be even more specific, the need to be really heard. I feel that there are millions of people in our world, who are like plants that have been hidden away from the sunlight, for far too long, because they have not been really
listened to. What accounts for this particular famine across our world?. Human beings are naturally geared to talking...
expression is an important part of our human make-up...helping our survival...and everybody knows...repression does not
contribute positively to our health. So far, so good...but...we also need to communicate with each other, and that requires us
to take turns talking and listening. So, what seems to be a natural tendency, for most of us to talk a lot, has to be partnered
with learning to listen to what others have to say. Over the years in restaurants and other places where three or four people
were sitting together...I've noticed how often one voice can be heard droning on for thirty, forty or more minutes, without any other voices being heard. I've observed this and other exhibitions of too much talking by one person, over the years, enough, to call this "talk compulsion syndrome", if it hasn't been called that already. In my own case, with my mind a lot of the
time swirling with ideas and responses, I have been a prime candidate for talking too much, and so I have had to gradually
teach myself, to learn to consciously intervene, when I have been talking, and start to listen to the person with whom I am
conversing. It is not a stretch to elevate listening to others, to "gift of love" status, as by doing so we actknowledge the
existence of another, and give consolation where otherwise there might have only been, isolation and alienation. Having in my own life known well what it is to be "not really heard", some years ago I finally rose up and wrote a song with these words: "Listen to me...I don't need your money...your body, your soul, neither your mind...I just need your ear and heart a minute...and I'll be there if you should need mine...Listen to me and I'll try to keep in mind...the gift that you give's a precious thing...never to be just my blind obsession...as I let my mouth go rambling...Is that too much?...I don't think so...Is that too much...I don't think so...Listen to me...................!" Quester.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Almost Island Way

In my childhood, and to this day, aphorisms have been placed before me, as sign posts for living life. Some I have remembered although many years have passed since I first heard them. For instance, Rudyard Kipling's, "Laugh and the world
laughs with you...weep and you weep alone". I once mentioned this one, in the presence of a man given to challenging
anything anyone says, in the name of "honesty". Like an ancient beast he jumped to his feet to proclaim, "I don't think weep
and you weep alone makes any sense...how about all those weepy people that meet in recovery circles?". He may have had a bit of a point, but in his haste to rise to the attack, he had forgotten that someone also said, "Misery loves company!". What's
a poor human being to do when aphorisms contradict each other?. I think one thing you can do is reflect on each one, that
has come to your notice, which may lead you to finding a "hybrid working model", that you can incorporate into your life, that
may be a bit different from what the creator of the original saying had intended. When this happens, the saying would have
done its work anyway...getting you to think for yourself until you arrived at your own take about the subject at hand. I was
thinking earlier, that it's true that "No man is an island on to himself", given, what would we do without our witty, reliable,
loving, quirky, stimulating, and, at times, loving brothers and sisters, not to mention those who run the services we use in
our world etc.?. Having this in mind we are saved from falling into narcissistic traps. Despite these considerations, I was also
thinking, no man is an island to himself, but how about " man" being an island joined by a spit of land to the mainland?...now
there's an interesting notion..that is to say...continuing your vital interaction with people you know and being open to knowing others, while trimming away your addiction to having them in your life all the time...becoming more and more self sufficient...especially with your emotions...while health permits...appreciating people and giving and receiving love...without
having to cling to them...not being afraid of solitude because you make good use of its riches...knowing that if you master that...you don't have to feel an overwhelming need...to run anywhere...just to be around other human beings...in your
desperation. From your "almost island"...keeping yourself open to connecting with the mainland inhabitants. Yes...self sufficiency and an openness to all has its merits...the "almost island way"...as the waves of life break upon all your shores. Quester.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Choosing Your Company

In my recent posting: "Teachers Everywhere", I mentioned a category of teachers called the "aggravators", and how there are
things to be learnt from your bruising inter-actions with them. Yes...it is true that with people like that you are given
opportunities to learn something about living life. However...there is another outcome likely to happen when "lacerators", as
they may also be called, keep intruding into your peaceful life. It's a sad thing really...because there is so much potential
available when two people meet, or inter-act, for sharing something beautiful together...but in our "real world"...some people
blow these chances...again and again...in such ways as...saying tactless things on and on...responding to your sensitivity with
crudeness or a lack of empathy...practising one-up-man-ship on-goingly...wanting to talk all the time but seldom willing to
listen...and looking upon your peacefulness as weakness, and, therefore, an invitation for them to attack etc. etc. When we
keep being faced with this behaviour...we tend to remove ourselves from the presence of such people. I, personally, don't believe we can ultimately judge another human being, given we never have enough evidence of their totality, to venture a
judgement. However...life is short...and, of course, we have the right to choose who we'll spend precious pieces of our time
available with...and this is what we tend to end up doing...unless we are masochists who need the lacerations. It has to be
said, that life is, also, about working through our blind, backward and aggravating traits. Those who do not actively enter into this part of the journey...are likely to find themselves...with less and less victims...for their offensive behaviour. To learn to approach others with peace and good will to the fore, and to refrain from pain inflicting actions, is one of the best things a human being can do to foster good relations with others. So..."aggravators" of the past...thanks for the lessons you have taught me...but I have a sense...we are not likely to be meeting again...any time soon...........Quester.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Validation In The Face Of Depressing News

Last night I attended a lecture by a writer about a new vision for writers. The lecturer delivered well, having obviously spent
time on his research, and was well versed in deploying anecdotes, to lubricate his time on stage. The strongest part of what he had to say, was about the various institutional check mates, [the institutions involved being, funding agencies, book publishers, book stores, libraries etc.], writers have been facing all along, as they try to get their work published. He spoke
of how that, and the upsurge of internet publishing, of one kind or another, has lead to "the death of the book", as we have
known it. At this, some pens in the audience, paused in mid-air, above their pads, and "where to now" defensive smiles
started to appear on faces. For his "new vision" he recommended writers diversifying like never before, but seemed to be
short on specifics about how the internet and other ways could be harnessed. On balance, I think the depressing things he
had to say to the writers present, trumped the "new opportunities" part of it. given the lack of a "how to manual" for making
use of them. Much of what he had to say, athough, probably not intentionally, was about how career oriented writers, have
given away their power to institutions and engrained practices, to define their work, and provide small sustenance. I am happy to say, that this night did not "ruffle my homeostasis", or bring me down, given I know of organic reasons, beyond
being published or other "career considerations", for a human being to write or tell about his or her all too short "Earth Walk",
and years ago, having made an instinctive choice, not to give away my power to others outside of myself, to define my work or myself...taking my chances with whatever lack of notoriety, or how many "closed doors", this approach would produce...and in addition to that...the small matter of this blog I've started. So...instead of being depressed...I came away feeling validated, with a mantra being born in my mind:..."Power to those...who do not give away their power!"..............Quester.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Seven Guitars

My apricot hued guitar lies on the couch beside me...resting from a recent encounter...a faithful female presence...always
ready to give me a chance to let out how I feel...or binding me together again...when I am jangled by lack of sleep...or the
rain coming down for one day too many. I have been really blessed by having such a comforter in my life. It has been hard won...There was much material poverty on the river I grew up on, and as a child, although we sang a lot...my home was
bereft of musical instruments..that is...except for a period of two weeks. Some cousins of mine, gifted at creating things,
started making musical instruments. They gave me a four string wooden banjo they had made. For two weeks I hardly let it
out of my sight...until I had to go down river to play in a cricket match. When I returned I noticed my siblings looking at me
sideways, as if something unpleasant had happened, and they were trying to get their nerve up to tell me. Finally...one of them took me to the back of the house, and pointed to fragments of wood, curling strings, and wooden pegs, scattered on
the grass. I was told that a visiting nephew, in a fit of anger, had ended my two week love affair with my wooden banjo,
wielding a machete. By the time I arrived on the scene of his wantonness, he was long gone. It took another ten years and
living on another continent...for me to acquire my first guitar... in Toronto...with my first monies earned after arriving in Canada...at the age of twenty. Perhaps, having been denied being able to make music for so long, fostered a great fervour
in me, and painstakingly I dug in to teach myself, by ear, to play the guitar...impatiently by-passing taking lessons...except
for one...after which the teacher gave me scales to practice at home. I immediately saw the writing on the wall, and never
returned to experiencing the limitations a teacher might put on me. Since that time...people have come and gone...but my
guitars have been a constant in my life. Now...I live in the midst of a harem of guitars...seven of them to be precise...waiting
on my beck and call...through rainy and sunny days...through the changing chapters of my life...responsive and reliable
companions...for all seasons. Quester.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Choosing Your Imbalance

When I've sometimes said to others, that life, among other things, is about "choosing your imbalance", they've given me that
look that says, "he's finally gone off the edge!". If given time, I tell them about what's behind such a remark. I know, of course, that a central part of life is about reaching for balance in it...but the reason for this statement came when I was
reflecting on the different life choices each of us human beings make. In my own case, I chose to leave 9 to 5 behind forever
at age 23, recognising that the "office world" I was in, did not fit with my natural inclination to create things...at that time...
songs in particular. I chose the uncertainty of a free lance artist's life, instead, with my music at the core of it. This is a life choice I have never regretted, the way I may regret some other choices I have made. I have known many good people who have made life choices based, a lot of the time, on "having a steady job". Sometimes I have heard a longing expressed by some of these people about not having "followed their bliss" the way I did. However, from my side of this fence, I see the worth in their lives, living out the choices they made, and know that, my choice was not better than theirs, nor theirs, better than mine...but simply..."different strokes for different folks" manifesting once again. What I also see is that, whatever you choose to do with your life, given we each have only a limited supply of life energy and time, to devote to our choice...there is always, likely to be, something else you might feel you had talent or ability for, or should have done, you didn't get around
to doing. Given this, the artist's life, for instance, may be imbalanced towards him living "with his head in the clouds", the
better to create...but not being very pracical about life at "ground level"...and the office worker, for instance, may be
imbalanced in the direction of not having enough exercise for the poetic part of his being...but delivers well at "ground level".
These are some of the reasons why I sometimes say, "Life is, also, a matter of choosing your imbalance.............". Quester.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The River

"Charity" in the recent poem posting, "When Charity Began Up-river", was/is, the name of a settlement, on the banks of the
Pomeroon river, I grew up on, in the countryside of Guyana. Quite a few of the inhabited spots along this wide river, had names of this ilk, like, "Hope and Charity",and "New Endeavour", invoking biblical virtues or hope for the future prospects of
places so named. In my childhood, along with a scattering of subsistence farms, on its banks, there were long stretches that were unpopulated, but with shores over run by thick mangrove forests...which in their dark mysteriousness...fostered many stories about the other worldly entities said to exist on the river, such as, the di di, massacuruman, fair maid, jumbie, and old heig...along with the alligators, sting rays, pirai [a version of the pirhana], water boa-constrictors, [sometimes thirty feet in length]. smaller snakes, and other dangerous flesh and blood species, living in its depths and shallows. Paddling in a dug out canoe, its gunwales only an inch or two above the water, sometimes cafe au lait in colour, sometimes dark, alone as a child, and once in a while in the night, bred a sharpened awareness of your surroundings, at all times. One way or another, this river played a large part in shaping me, especially in being aware of the beauty and the danger of the natural world, and the
respect you needed to have for it, in appreciating it, and in order to survive in it, or on its banks. Whereas, a human being
propped up by the resources available in a large city, could live for a long time "faking it", on the river, there was no such
hiding place available. This fostered self sufficiency...finding creative solutions to problems that arose, and an active
imagination, un-dulled by taking in the pablum that non-existent television sets, would have provided. This river...continues
to run through my life...although so much time has passed since then...As they say...you can take the boy out of the river...
but you can't take the river out of the boy.........Quester.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Teachers Everywhere

There are teachers everywhere, if we are open to receiving the lessons they are offering. Teachers don't only appear before us
with a halo around their heads, or a red mark on their foreheads saying "guru", or are always benign and all knowing beings.
There may be some of those in the world, somewhere. I call these ones the "illuminators"...beings who can shed light on matters to do with living life or the spirit journey. There are also teachers, who don't know they are teachers, but if you can
manage it, in your bruising interactions with them, can teach you something about life. It would be easy to just dismiss these
ones by calling them a nasty name, and in so doing, miss an opportunity for growth. These ones I call the "aggravators"...and
they can teach you about patience, or walking in another's shoes, or offer a model to you of behaviours you should avoid in
life, having been recipients of their unpleasantness. Not all teachers are human. There are creatures, also, who can teach us things. One of my favourite ones is the heron, which I have observed closely, standing still, and creating a force field, that
draws his food towards him. The heron has taught me about calmness and patience, and about not being driven. Wild flowers
moving in the breeze, and sending out their perfume, despite the shortness of their blooming, have taught me about just being yourself, and not trying to be what you are not, and doing your thing not deterred by the shortness of life. Teachers
need not be living entities. i remember once writing a poem about after shower droplets, that cling to your skin, regardless of your haste in trying to get rid of them, and how it taught me to respect the process I'm in, rather than trying to rush things. My computer, straddling the line between animate and inanimate object, has taught me to be thankful for the gifts it has given me, and to have patience with its capriciousness or intransigence, at times, and simply to learn the "if this doesn't
work, try that" approach, to computers and to life. Like I said...there are teachers everywhere...if we are open to learning...
what they have to teach...........Quester.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Poem: When Charity Began Up-River

Long gone Sundays...green razor-leaves and purple blossoms...white-shirted in the morning mist...too young to know the
secrets of the black river...following the old trail brown and bare-footed...with no murmur but the west wind's over me...
brown eyes looking North...impatient for tomorrow...and touching and being touched by everything around me...among
wild cocoa flowers...jewel centred frangipani...outside the wooden windowed church...unsure of whispers in the morning sun
light...as ladies in white head cloths...hint at orange blossom scented sins by others...and hold their heads high...Believing
in the wisdom of anyone two years older than me...not knowing we are all beginners...and those who do not have eyes to see
and ears to hear...have nothing to teach anyone...Down the road the zinc roofed market shed...sheltering spreaded sacks...
covered with mottled mangoes...green, yellow, orange, and scarlet peppers...over-looked by gold earringed and gold
toothed gravel voiced ladies...playing tropical patience...with carillas and cashews for cards...Where are they all now?...these
yesterday people...my eyes first saw...and my ears first heard?...Where are they all... these yesterday things...that painted my
Pomeroon pictures with a thousand burning colours?...Where are they now...and all the long gone Sundays...when Charity
began up-river.................? Quester.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Ruffled Homeostasis

In the previous posting, "Subective Realities", I wrote about not allowing yourself to be triggered to respond unconsciously,
when someone expresses a point of view, different from yours. I have taught myself to see such occasions that " ruffle my
homeostasis", as I call it, as often being opportunities when I might learn something, from looking at the cause of my
dissonance, and not as occasions to precipitately rise and do battle. As mentioned in another previous post, I tend to learn things much better, when I give myself "my own dignified time" to do so. I suspect this would be the preferred learning mode
for most people, rather than having something "shoved down their throats". Some years ago I wrote a piece about "ruffled homeostasis" and how it might be dealt with. It was recommending: That, if at all possible, you shouldn't rise up, and start defending your turf, when someone says something that causes you dissonance...but instead give yourself time to process what was said without being rushed. After looking at your initial upset, there are three options available to you...deciding that: 1. What has been proposed, does not fit with how you see life, at this time...or...will never fit into your life because of its obnoxiousness, so you will throw it out, and think no more of it. 2. Right now, you're not about to embrace what has been expressed...but it is interesting and deserves to be put in your "for future consideration" file. 3. What was said disturbed you... only because someone beat you to thinking and saying it... before you did...but come to think of it...it makes sense...and could be incorporated into your view of life. Responding this way...likely contributes to peace in our warring world...and some of the time...results in learning something...that is likely to enrich your life. Quester.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Subjective Realities

In my time, I've sung in all kinds of places and situations, even in maximum security prisons. Once, I had sung in one such place, and had held forth on certain aspects of life, in my introductions to certain songs. When I was finished, those present
came up to me, one by one, to shake my hand and thank me for coming. The last one to reach out for my hand, was a man
who looked like an Inca prince, and had a knowing look on his face, throughout the session. He thanked me and then said:
"Well man...you certainly seem to have the answers to your questions!". At this, for some reason, I felt embarassed and laughed nervously, then went on my way. Fortunately, one of the things I had taught myself to do on my conscious journey,
was to look closely at situations that caused me embarassment or dissonance, to try to see if there was anything, these feelings were pointing out to me to learn. Over many days I turned what the man had said round and round in my head.
Finally it lead me to what was a very liberating insight for me. It was that each of us human beings, was living out his or her own subjective reality. So far so good...but where we often get carried away, is to look at the way we see life and our world, as some kind of cosmic ultimate...when all it is, is a survival kit consisting of some limited knowledge, experience, opinions, and prejudices etc. This ego driven perception...if we are not conscious about what is going on...can lead us to a feeling of being threatened...when...in our presence...someone speaks fom a world view different from ours. This can trigger us...in our insecurity...to rise like ancient beasts to defend our territory...as we get into arguments or even fights. This insight made me see that a "measure of detachment" was needed when subjective realities collide, saving me from a lot of unnecessary arguments with others...seeing that there was no need to become insecure in the face of someone else's
subjective reality,,,which we each have...and in its "work in progress state" probably helps us each to survive on...and that
everyone else...like me..."seemed to have the answers to his or her questions!"...........Quester.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Glad To Be Born

Yesterday, was another one of many recent beautiful days....one of the many gifts of Creation, I find myself being thankful for. Years ago, on a train skirting the northern shores of Lake Superior, I was chatting with a young woman, when I noticed
that there was a beautiful sunset unfolding, across the water. As I looked at it, I said to her, "You know, at times like this, I
feel very thankful!". "Thankful?", she said, "I don't feel thankful...I didn't ask to be born!". Her unexpected response left me with much grist for my mill, and was a reminder of the "different strokes" thing. To me...the beauty of twinkling stars...
mountains in the mist...the ocean gleaming with light...birds gliding on rising currents of air, or celebrating a beautiful day
with their dives and swoops and turns...the lulling sounds of gentle waves on the shore...the power of a rushing water fall...
the perfumes and exquisite designs of flower after flower...the brilliant plumage of many coloured birds...the un-repressed
laughter of children at play...the graceful movements of women of many shades...the gifts of our human potential...and a myriad other gifts of Creation...have convinced me that we have indeed been given a "Garden in the Star", to live, work, play,
and dance in. This is not to deny that there are hurricanes, volcanos, earth quakes, and other dark happenings in this "Bowl
of Creation"...however...one way of looking at these...is that they provide a contrast to all the beauty available to us...helping
us to appreciate it all the more...as we live on catastrophe free. And so...I am happy to say...that I may not have asked to be
born...but I am certainly glad that I was!..................Quester.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Like A River

Today, my two daily streaks continue...the fifty-ninth day in a row for my "moving to the music" exercises...and the
thirty-third posting in thirty-three days on my blog, since I first started. This is a far cry from past days of sporadic activity in various areas of my life, interupted by long intervals, when inertia won the day. These days I can, a lot of the time, keep long daily streaks going. I had, in the past, a tendency towards being intense in everything I did. This lead to high productivity, in a short space of time...but...intensity stretched out over days and weeks, can lead to reaching "burnt out" status, after not too long, and when you're "burnt out", you're not likely to be very productive. One day, I was hurrying to my post office box, when I suddenly pulled up short and started laughing...I had caught myself, with my head and body loaded with tension, rushing on my way, intense about getting to the post office. The insight that had hit me, was that going to the post office, did not require intensity...all you had to do, was point yourself in its direction, and let your legs do rheir natural work. I saw that most of the things I'd been intense about in my life, also, did not require intensity. Gradually, I began to incorporate this new outlook into my life. I suppose, part of where my past intensity had come from, was the feeling I needed to be that way, or I would forget what I had to do, or succumb quickly to inertia, which was always near. What I started to do, was look calmly at what had to be done, and when that was clear, to start in, without having to raise my blood pressure...and learn how to take breaks from what I was doing, knowing I'd be back, day after day, until the job was finished. I also learnt in this process, that I was "a creature of momentum" i.e. when I had it, I could flow forward from day to day with it carrying me in its slip stream. I learnt to respect momentum, and when I had it, learnt how to calmly intervene, when I detected, even the beginning of a slide, out of it. So...my two daily streaks continue. I know that on any given day, circunstances beyond my control might intervene, and break them...but the thing for me...is not to become "streak driven"...but to relax inside this beautiful flow I'm in...for as long as it keeps taking me onwards...like a river........Quester.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Grass Roots Encouragement

Yesterday I received an email from someone asking, which of my albums, the song, "Friends of the Bottle", was on. It happens
to be on a cd called "The Time Will Go" these days...a title I recently changed it to, as a wry way of actknowledging that it was
recorded at the end of the seventies. I try to write songs that, hopefully, don't get dated, within a month after being recorded
...given I've kept on writing songs, oblivious to the trends that came and went, as I did my thing, free of a "hit parade
mentality"...knowing that what I wanted to say as a song-writer, wouldn't fit inside the limitations of hit parades...and that I
was never ready to jump through the hoops necessary, if you wanted to make hits.. Doing my work on "a road less travelled",
it is the grass roots encouragement I've received from individuals through the years, that I have found helpful. Just the fact that someone would remember "Friends of the Bottle", twenty-five years or so, since it started its vinyl journey into people's
homes, is encouraging...the fact that, in this age of rapid programmed obsolescence, someone actually remembers a song of yours, and that it might actually have some meaning in their lives. So...this posting, is a thank you to all the people, over the years, who have remembered my music, or sent me kind and encouraging words. Sometimes I might want to tell those who remember the "oldies"...."but I've written so many songs since then, and I actually have four cd's recorded last year", but I am
thankful they did remember. My own way of motivating myself as an "organic artist" i.e. someone who creates things from a
cellular level in his being...is aided by my friends out there, who get in touch, even briefly, and also help me...to keep on,
keepin' on..............Quester.

Monday, May 09, 2005

A Beacon of Dignity

In working through the layers of my liberation, I've written many songs, poems, and prose pieces, relating to the aboriginal
side of my lineage. Today, I want to write about one of my Portuguese ancestors, I also spring from...namely...my maternal
grandfather. His name was John [English translation] Da Silva, and he came to what was then British Guiana, from Madeira,
an island off the coast of Portugal, in the nineteenth century, when he was sixteen years old. Perhaps, I was somehow able
to survive tough times, after arriving in Canada at the age of twenty, from my grandfather having taken the immigrant's plunge into the unknown, at an even earlier age...leaving all that had shaped and comforted him...behind. All I know of his
Madeira days, was that he played the coronet, in a millitary band, until his dominant arm was badly broken, resulting in him
no longer being able to play his instrument, and propelling him across the sea, with one arm slightly shorter than the other,
for the rest of his life. It is said that he worked at a relative's grocery store shortly after he came to British Guiana, and as
unaccustomed as he was in Madeira, to seeing anyone darker than himself, reached for a shot gun, the first time a "dark"
person came into his store. Apparently the cavalry this day was his flustered relative, shouting from some distance, "Don't do that John...don't do that!", and rushing to take the gun from him. When I knew him as a child, he was in his eighties, and he
was often seen moving softly in his rocking chair, on the verandah of his two storied home. Inside of a small nearby zinc
roofed and sided factory, I remember looking wide eyed , at the huge wheels of black iron machines, no longer turning and
the extremely wide belts that had once turned them...which on a river where axe, cutlass, and shovel, were usually the main tools used... filled me with wonder. These turned out to be relics from his long past days of making flour from such local
products as plantains, and even placing ads in the capital city's newspaper, with pictures of healthy looking babies, to extoll
the virtues of his hard won products, I remember, when we visited him, walking respectfully to his verandah perch, and
bending down to kiss his hand, while saying "Bless me Grandpa" in Portuguese, to which he would reply, "Bless you!".
I was told that he always took a glass of red wine, and no more, with his central meals, and this may well have contributed,
to him having long health, a head full of white hair, and his own teeth, into his eighties. He was a man of few words, but as
I reflect on his life, I see him as a "beacon of dignity", in my life, with a powerfful presence...the kind of person that made
you feel...it was a privilige...to ask his blessing. Quester.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

You're The Greatest

I believe in encouraging people. However...I feel the encouragement you give, should be based on something that actually pertains, rather than be a total invention, Most intelligent people, will know when you're only humouring them, and are not
likely to be encouraged by your over blown words. This is why, for instance, you might focus on paying a compliment, on the
"colour" of a woman's dress, rather than the way it fits her, or on the "strong images' in someone's poem, that you otherwise felt, had too much frothing at the mouth, in it. As you reach for something relevant to say, however, you have to watch that
you don't "damn someone with faint praise", or you would have been better off, not saying anything. I remember someone
who told me, on more than one occasion, "You're the Greatest!". Each time this was said, I would think, "At last...someone
who recognizes my true worth", and have my ego boosted for a little while after. That is...until one night I was at a gathering filled with chatting people. Sure enough, the man with the quick compliments, came along, and before you know it, he was telling me, I was the greatest, making me feel appreciated. That is....until I heard him say to several other people in the room, "You're The Greatest!". This is when the grammar meister in me kicked in, reminding me, that ten people in the same room, can't all be the greatest, at the same time. From that time on, whenever I was chirpily told this particular superlative, by this person, I no longer felt boosted by these words, knowing that it was back to the drawing board for me, if I was, indeed, ever going to become..."The Greatest!"............Quester.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Where The Soup Drips

As a child, in the Guyana countryside, from time to time, I would hear the older ones say, as they observed a certain kind
of behaviour on the part of someone, "That man know how to put his mouth where the soup drippin'!"....a way of describing
someone who was always, ungracefully, placing himself, where he could advance himself materially, and on the social ladder. This was usually said, by people who had known many deprivations in their lives, but were spiritually rich, and valued their dignity highly. They were prepared to work hard and face many hardships, but were not prepared to do crass and undignified things to advance themselves....hence their hardly concealed contempt for their soup catching contemporaries, who had no such inhibitions. The saying, in question, was designed to emblazon on your mind...a picture of people shiftily moving around others, with their faces upturned and mouths open, not in awe of the beauty of the sun and the stars, but being in a permanent state of soup catching readiness. I think it did an excellent job of that, and this, and other messages about
conducting yourself with dignity through life, really registered on me. So much so, that in all my years of writing songs, singing, and making records, I tended to be the one who was absent at schmooze fests, the stock in trade of being involved
in music, or just about anything else, in order to promote your career. "How" you conducted yourself and not "what you
achieved" became my yardstick, as I continued to do my work. Although...somehow.. I've had my "fifteen minutes"...I can honestly say that whatever small advances in "being known" were made in my life..they have been a result of standing, face forward...and mouth open...to sing my organic song...and not being poised to receive...any drops of soup that might come dripping my way..............Quester.

Friday, May 06, 2005

The Don Quixote Thing

At times in the past, when I've questioned something about human practices or behaviours, friends have often said to me...
"but that's the way it's always been"...or..."but's that part and parcel of the way things are"...or given me some other "leave
the status quo alone" message. I am glad, historically, not everyone had the response to things engrained in their societies, such as slavery, the denial of women's rights, institutional racism, and other forms of human backwardness, that, that's how
it was, and always would be. The fact that something has always been a certain way, does not mean that this is the way it
always has to be. Aspiring to reach beyond, that which is perceived as blocking the way to humans becoming more enlightened beings, rather than resting smugly in the arms of the status quo, is the way we grow towards our true potential.
It is true that those of us who tilt at windmills, like Don Quixote, may not see in our life times, changes for the better in the
areas we question...and who knows how well we would do, if going to the wall for what we are questioning, came up...but
having a questioning mind, tempered by also reaching for balance, is what can often lead us, to our personal liberation and
growth...or once in a while...change the course of history...because someone decided to do...the Don Quixote Thing......

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Poem: Mist On The Bay

on the bay...
red and black boats...
low on the water...
leaving soon...
leaving soon...
Nothing stays...
everything goes away...
and I...........?
I...walk... wingless on the shore...
watching them go...
watching them go.........

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Child of Creation

"Wanting to be Somebody", is a notion I've heard expressed over and over again. It is like the beginning book-end, to the one
often heard later in life, in Marlon Brando's words, in "On the Waterfront", or in some other version: "I coulda been a contender!". I've always felt ill at ease , when I've heard this particular wail...it spoke to me, of people having given away their
power, to the achieving of a material dream, to define who they were. I began to see it, after a while, as a trap, knowing that,
the way the world works, not everyone who dreams of becoming a millionaire or a celebrity, is going to become one, leaving
most of such dreamers, set up to join the ranks of those who "coulda been a contender". Some years ago, a realization came to me, that crystallized what I'd felt about the "somebody" question. It was, that from the moment you are placed on this Earth, you are a "Somebody"...a worthy being...with your place in the scheme of things, and ultimately, not needing to be
dubbed a somebody, by the culture you live in...to be one. I found this insight very comforting to myself, with the possibility
of it being comforting to others...and it helped me towards learning how to be productive without being driven. A year and
a half ago, I wrote a song called "Child of Creation", with this verse and chorus: "Times when you want bad to be somebody...
running here then there and full of worry...forgetting you're already a somebody...with no need to chase a prize...or fuss or
worry...You belong here...you belong...Child of Creation...you belong....,,," Quester.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Creativity Rules 2

In my time, I've given workshops encouraging creativity, that usually have at their core, telling about the benefits of creating to a person's growth, development or holistic health, rather than the millions it will make. I think judging creativity based on its money making capacity, does a disservice to its value beyond that. Not everyone who creates well might want to jump through the hoops necessary to sell their work. Not everyone who creates might come up with jewels of creation. Beyond the outcome attached to what we create, I see benefits. I see, how bringing new entities into the world, develops a certain confidence in the person who does it. I see, creating things, as being one of the central ways in which a citizen can reach for balance in a society imbanced towards consumerism. I see, how engaging in acts of creation over many years, can help to liberate a human being from childhood chains, as he or she becomes adept at processing thoughts and feelings, in words, or shapes and colours, even resulting in a person reclaiming the proprietorship of his or her mind, owned early on by other forces. I see how creating over a long period of time, can turn someone into an "Inner Athlete", whether the world knows it or not. So...let the books, cd's, paintings and other creations sell if they will, but let those who create, or are even thinking about it, know, that their are benefits to creating beyond all that, and start to do so, or, simply, keep on...keepin' on. Quester.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Passing The Word On

In my coffee place this morning, I was handed a copy of the Watchtower magazine, for April 1st, 2005, by a man in a tie and
tweed jacket. As far as I could determine, he hadn't given one to anyone else, in the establishment. In the interest of peace,
I accepted it from him, and to his credit he didn't stick around to expand on why he'd chosen me, as someone in need of a
saving message. I've always wondered about the criteria involved in being selected to receive a religious tract...and whether
it is a commentary on how lost and desperate you look, in the eyes of the bringer of good tidings. Whatever it is, what I see
from my side of this kind of transaction, is there is likely an assumption that I don't have a path of my own, or, if I do, it needs to be trumped, by the One and Only True Path being offered. Whatever the truth of the matter may be, this morning,
I left the message given to me, on the table in the coffee place, where it was given to me...who knows?...maybe someone else
may have picked it up... and found it to be...just what he or she...was always waiting for......Quester.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

After A Time...Is Another Time

Among the many aphorisms, I used to hear as a child, growing up in the countryside of Guyana, in South America, was this one, said by the older people in a very knowing way: "After a time...is another time!". In my inexperience about life, I used to
wonder what that could possibly mean. Now...many moons later...I have an idea of what was meant. I think, for one thing,
it was a recognition that we human beings , live our lives in chapters, in our "book of life". These chapters, whatever good or
bad they may contain, given time, come to an end, and we find ourselves living in another chapter of our life...or even
afterlife. I think it was sometimes said in a cautionary way, referring to negative behaviour, being engaged in by someone...
in a current chapter of life...a reminder that he or she might live to regret it...in another chapter...a bit like "what goes around, comes around", used so often in North America, and probably elsewhere. Somewhere in these words, was also a sense of how unexpectedly different our lives can become in a new chapter of it, for better or for worse, and that, that behooves us, not to get carried away, in the chapter we're in, knowing things can change in either direction, in another. Sometimes...when the "good" or "bad" old days, come into my mind, making me nostalgic or regretful, I return to my roots, shrug, and say to myself, just like the old ones once did, "Well...what can you do?...after a time...is another time!". Quester.