Thursday, June 30, 2005

Don't Go There

I have noticed over the years, the way some people have used the statement, "You are too sensitive!", when something is
mentioned to them, they don't want to deal with, i.e. the stereotyping of the messenger, who may be telling the truth, in order for the one hearing it, to avoid admitting it, to him or herself. When a person sees something, others are capable of seeing, but are too preoccupied with their "busy-ness" to see, that, of course, does not make that person, "too sensitive". It
may simply mean, that the person in question, has simply spent time reflecting on what he or she is talking about, and
actually has something to offer. Perhaps it would be more truthful, in dealing with something, you don't want to deal with,
to say, "Sorry, I don't want to deal with this right now", exercising your right "not to be bothered". There are, of course, other
ways than "blaming the messenger", that some people use, so as not to deal with what is before them. I have heard the
expression, "Don't go there!", many times. Sometimes, it may be wise to say that, if it nips a war between two people, in the bud. Sometimes, it may be a declaration of wanting to have your privacy, about the matter that someone has started to bring
before you. This too has merit, I knew a woman, once, however, who used that phrase like a mantra. She seemed to be
following the "don't go there!", philosophy of life. She, of course, had her reasons for this approach, but because of this, she always seemed to be avoiding, anything deeper about life, or that might mean, she might have to make changes. There are many ways in which human beings attempt to avoid change, and, therefore, the growth that can sometimes come with that.
I have mentioned, what seem to me, to be two of them. There are others...but right now...I hear my "inner councellor' saying,
"Don't go there!"..............................Quester.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Lovers Returning

Years ago, when I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, at an auction, I acquired a lost...of Scottish folk songs, published
in the eighteenth century. One of the songs it contained was called, "Wailie, Wailie". Perhaps I recall this because years before
my Scottish sojourn, I had learnt an American version of this song called, "The Water is Wide". On occasion, as I salute the
beautiful unknown song-writers of the deep past, I still sing this song, getting a special release as I do so. In the original
version of this song, there is mention, of lovers walking on a summer evening, at Arthur's Seat, a mountain in Edinburgh.
The song, and therefore it's mention of this, was over five hundred years old. This struck me very strongly, at the time I read
it, because Arthur's Seat was one of the favourite places, in that era, where my partner and I walked. A few years ago, I was
thinking of our recurring human patterns, through the ages, especially around the subject of "love", and remembered the story of Arthur's Seat and lovers, and how they have walked there, in ancient imes, in my time spent in that place, and since.
My reflections resulted in a song called "Lovers Returning" with the chorus: "Lovers returning to the same place...although a
thousand years go by...Predictable as spring time flowers...and changing like rain clouds in the sky". I can't help, also seeing
in all this, the linking of two song-writers, separated by five hundred of them described as "anonymous", as often
happens in the naming of creators of very old songs...and the other not universally known...but both having walked the path
on Arthur's Seat, with their loves of the time...either triggered to mention it by name in a song...or with it in
comment on how lovers through the ages...repeat themselves...or change as suddenly as the shifting clouds...........Quester.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Poem: Sand Dollar

Years ago at Long Beach...where waves sent by some Eastern Force...wash up upon the Edge of the West...with the mist rising
off the morning my solitariness...I came upon a sand dollar...on the wet shore...cleansed of yesterday's footsteps...
It's perfect flower...outlined on white shell...sent me stooping in wonder...the better to receive...the work of the Great Carver...who had etched this flower in a circle...and sent it forth to multiply...and stir marvel in its beholders...Homo Sapiens...crouching on the early urge to possess this fragment of the Great Picture...pushed my hand to pick
up and pocket the circle of shell...Some ancient reminder of my tiny place on the Web of Life...with the four and the two
legged...and the winged and the legless...froze my grasping hand in mid-air....What if life lurked in this delicate round house
...that could only be sustained on this fine line...where Earth and Ocean meet...and not in my dry imprisoning pocket?...
My hand fell to my body deciding before my leave it where it leave it where it
even if life no longer beat within its chalky join again with sand and the natural process...of returning to
its source...and if the force still pulsed within its quiet white leave it to complete its natural life cycle...without
my missionary interference...with the path its species long ago had chosen..................As I recall the sand of the
teachers on my journey...I am also reminded...that shells on the shore are like poems...some pulse with life inside their
beautiful casings...while some lie pretty decorations on the of the head...forever waiting...for the
heart to return...and breathe life into them............................

Monday, June 27, 2005

Going For A Song: Early Days 11

My first song melody, was a mysterious happening that no-one saw, and I too, at the age of ten, did not see its significance for me. It was an augury of what would come many years later...something that bubbled up from a place deep inside of me,
like a fleeting burst of vapour from a volcano, that then goes back to sleep. Although there may have been a hunger in me to
own a guitar from early on, my first melody did not start me thinking I would be a song-writer some day. There was too much material poverty around then, for anyone to think of something as "frivolous" as that. Also, then and to this day in many quarters, there was a mystique about writing songs... famous people like Rodgers and Hammerstein did that, and it was not really available for "ordinary folk" to mess with. And first tune happened, and then my young life resumed, with my not dwelling on it, as I did my studies, and kept on with my love of sports and other preoccupations that filled my young mind. It was sixteen years after the making of my first tune, with my exposure to the folk scene in Canada, that I wrote my first set of lyrics that went with a first complete song, about black and white children playing joyfully together, not yet having learnt to hate each other. What prompted me to finally tackle the making of songs?. It had to do with wanting fresh material to sing, but I think that very quickly singing "cover" songs, or folk songs not written by myself, ceased to be a challenge for me. I wanted to engage in something that would exercise my "inner muscle"...I wanted to activate the creative potential that had been lurking in me for a long time. I have this form of "restlessness" to thank for the large body of songs, poems, pictures, and prose pieces I have created. Each time the choice came up, to be on the safe side, and learn another "cover" song, rather than try to create one, I bit the bullet, and focussed on writing one, instead. That approach is
central to someone becoming a "maker of songs", rather than becoming a singer of "cover" tunes...for life. This is how, in
engaging in a conscious or unconscious process of elimination, I finally found that "my job on Earth" was to create songs, and whatever else I could...and let the chips fall where they may................[This concludes the series: "Going For A Song:
Early Days"].........................Quester.

Going For A Song: Early Days 10

One day when I was ten years old, I was reading an old copy of the Daily Chronicle, Guyana's main news paper... actually,
the sports page and the comic section, to be more specific. I finished reading the cricket scores as I was a cricket fanatic in
those days. I then turned to see how the Phantom and Secret Agent X-9, were doing. The Phantom was good that day. In
four frames the villain got powed and whammed about for his ill deeds. Secret agent Phil Corrigan was next. Boring...he was
romancing this blonde lady. I put the paper down in disgust. Who were these comics for anyway. My sisters had enough dog eared copies of Screen Romance that had somehow slipped through into their possession, that were full of that stuff...but a
secret agent wasting his time like this?...that was definitely out of line. Then...something made me pick up the paper to look
at the last box of the strip again. wasn't the "first stirrings" that pulled me was a few musical notes around the words in the bubble. I loved music...any kind of music. After my altar boy duties were over in the wooden church,,,my reward
would be thirty to forty minutes at the old wind-up gramophone, in the nearby presbytery...listening to "Humouresque",
"Spring Song", Schubert's Serenade", or Richard Tauber singing "Long ago and Far Away". Maybe it was on one of those old 78's that I'd seen my first musical notes, so I knew what they were. Also...I figured that Phil couldn't have been talking to the lady...saying "When shadows come heart goes reeling...I'm shedding those blue tears for you" self respecting secret agent would speak mushy words like had to be singing instead!. I looked at the words again...
drippy or not...I began to sing them softly to myself. Like magic...out of nowhere...a melody had come that fitted with those
words! I walked around all day long, my mind blown, singing my new song, with borrowed words and all. I was very proud of
what I'd done, but I can't remember singing it for anyone else then. Maybe they'd laugh. Maybe they'd think I was acting
beyond my years because of the subject matter. I must have repeated it to myself, over and over again, those first few days
after it had come, because I can stll remember that melody to this day...the first "tune"...I ever "wrote"...............Quester.

Going For A Song: Early Days 9

For many, in the sixties, drugs certainly seemed to be at the centre of the search for a "new consciousness". As an observer
of what was unfolding around me, but not seeking my liberation in that way, I would say that over-all, with the "flower
power" movement coming into being, and an unprecedented questioning of a way of life that had gone before, that there was
a break through towards a "kinder and gentler" approach to living, that took the harsh edges off what had previously
pertained. In music, there was probably the biggest revolution of all, away from the sugary and frothy songs that went before, to music that was not as far removed from real life. A certain "boy from a tropical river not born ino an affluent society" sanguiness has helped me survive over the years, and it tells me that the way to a new consciousness, can never really be through a magic potion, but may come out of a crutchless journey into human inner space, and applying the lessons learnt through this, to life. I live with a sense that there are no short-cuts to nirvana, but that lightening strikes of illumination, like the one experienced by Saul on the road to Damascus, may be possible, although we should not hold our breaths waiting for them, as we keep journeying. Although I didn't engage in what seemed to be the statutory experimenting with substances all around me... my journey through the candle lit rooms of the folk scene... gave me a hope I didn't have playing in the cock-tail bars... exposed me to an over-all better quality of song than I had known, up to then... underlined
that songs should have, at least some of the time, some social content...introduced me to singing other than crooning, which
I needed badly... and prepared me for my journey as a song maker which I've been on, ever since that time of flowers and changes.......................Quester.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Going For A Song: Early Days 8

In those callow years, even though I did attempt to play the blues, I always knew deep down that playing the blues would never be the life work of someone like me, shaped by the sinuous rythmns of the "Marie Elenas" and the "Besame Muchos".
The red bearded English man, who attempted to hook me up with an "agent of inspiration", did not know although he played
the blues well for a red bearded English man, that even in those undiscriminating times, I knew the difference between his playing, and that of Brownie McGee and Sonny Terry, who used to come to Toronto frequently, in that era. These men were
two excellent representatives of the blues tradition, from the southern United States. Come to think of it, there was always
something wild about Sonny Terry's harmonica playing, interspersed with "hoots and hollers", and his singing deeply
rooted in the place where he was born. What is the fascination that so many young guitar bucks have had, and still have, with
playing the blues?. I have observed this phenomenon in my travels in places as far north as Scotland and Scandinavia. It
always used to tickle me when I would hear a singer from Glasgow say, "The noo, I'd like to do a wee b-l-e-u-s for ye", and
then launch into what was for him as close as he could get to an Alabama growl with, "Baby please don't go", or some other
blues song, that originated somewhere very far south from where it was being sung. Come to think of it, maybe it was
equally amusing for my Scottish friends, when they heard me sing a Robbie Burns song, in my Caribbean Scottish accent...
I guess both sides in this musical over-reaching should get brownie points for adventurousness.....................Quester.

Going For A Song: Early Days 7

At a party for folk singers and friends, during the early folk club era, in Toronto, I sang a blues song I had pains-takingly
practised, being very much aware it was far from the way the blues singers of the southern United States would do it. After,
I heard this voice next to me say, " want to sing the blues then?"...I nodded in a vaguely affirmative way. "Well...there's only one way to do that........." said the red bearded blues man at my side, his voice trailing off towards his
meaning. He had a side line to the blues that needed new customers from time to time, and I am sure I presented a prime
target to him. I got his meaning and was reaching for words to slip out of his noose, when I was rescued by someone coming
into the room, and offering shots from a bottle of Jack Daniels. I stuck my glass out, the new-comer poured, and I gulped my
way out of becoming an initiate to mind benders other than the liquid kind. It's ironic that it was a double standard that saved me that night, from explaining that I was not going to be a customer for his goods. Over the drug inundated sixties,
I was able to stay away from illegal delusion makers, not necessarily beacause of high moral fibre, but because I didn't want
anyone or anything, to be my master. The one thing that blew me away about some of my compatriots of the sixties, was how willingly they surrendered themselves, to LSD, with its unpredictability, and well documented "bad trips". This was
something I, myself wasn't prepared to do, as easily as it seemed to be happening around me. Perhaps, they knew something I didn't know, about the good side of surrender, but giving away my power to forces outside of me, has been something that
has never come easily to me. I also carried in me the notion, that there was a way of getting naturally high, that was available, that I would connect with some day. In the interim, whisky or rum would do on those social occasions when a pause in a refuge from the greyness, was needed. It has been many years now, since these liquid comforters, have also been
put aside, although I think I understand the pain that drives some people in that direction.......................Quester.

Going For A Song: Early Days 6

The next stage of my musical journey coincided with the blooming of the folk scene in Toronto, and elsewhere in North
America. I began to sing in folk clubs, that at the time, as low paying as they were, began to show me that singing in public
places did not have to be a masochistic experience, that you gritted your teeth and endured, while customers, many with their backs turned to you, would talk loudly, and treat what you were offering as "back ground' music. In these usually tiny,
candle lit places, people would actually come to listen to the person on stage. For me this was a very welcome development,
although with my still strong Guyana accent, and a tendency for Caribbean rythmns to creep into the songs I sang, I am sure
some of the folk purists must have smiled at my renditions of "She's like a swallow" or "Come all ye fair and tender ladies".
Although I felt very much like an outsider on this scene, listening to visiting song-writers from New York and elsewhere,
planted the seed in me, that I too could write songs, if I made the effort. Singing in bars with all the indifference you had to deal with there, somehow, never promoted this notion in me. But the folk scene was imperfect like all scenes. It had its
snobbery, paid very little, and like the cocktail bars that dealt in wet intoxicants, wittingly or unwittingly, in some of its venues, provided places where those in need of dry mood changers, could connect with suppliers who lurked in the midst
of those, who came only to listen to the music....................Quester.

Going For A Song: Early Days 5

I sang and payed my guitar for a while with the other two members of the trio, and then alone, in similar establishments to
the one we started in. The primary attributes of such places were, the availability of alcohol under low lit surroundings, the cementing of sudden bonds, and the indulgence in loud conversations by the customers. The addition of often gaunt performers, some who looked as if they had not spent enough time in the sun light, was seemingly a cynical after thought.
Needless to say, performing under these circumstances, never sat lightly with me. Even in those early days, when my own expertise on stage was very much that of a novice, I harboured the notion that a singer should be heard, as he or she performed in a "human" atmosphere, rather than one where the performance was low on the list of commodities, available to
the customers. During those years of my musical crucible, I found a survival mechanism for dealing with my situation. From
time to time, people would ask me, "Why don't you smile more when you're on stage?". The truth is I seldom ever did. To this
day I feel the stage smile should be a natural extension of how you feel inside, rather than something you paste on, when you come before an audience. Singing in bars, which to me was a bruising experience, never gave me a natural reason to smile. In those days, it was also my way of not surrendering to my surroundings, so that I would become a prisoner in such places, for the rest of my performing life. Sometimes, I look back and wonder why anybody ever hired me for their stages, given that a stage smile is such an integral part of what you are supposed to offer. but they did, enough to help me to survive, to eventually sing, in more "human" situations.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Going For A Song: Early Days 4

My working in the bars played a part in my leaving my job at the insurance company. It helped me to go from there to study
Radio and Television Arts at an Institute of Technology, in Toronto, knowing I had some way, slender as it was, of supporting
myself through my studies. Who knows what all the motivations were for enrolling in this course. Perhaps some adolescent
notion of the "glamour" of television, and the "Arts" in the course title may have been part of it. The good part of the experience was some of what lay under the "Arts' aspect of the course. This was where I became acquainted with the books of Graham Green, J.D. Salinger, John Steinbeck, and others, which may have helped pave the way for my interest in writing
later on. As time went by the rest of the contents of this course, became more and more disappointing to me. There was an
emphasis, it seemed to me, on things like how to put "the smile in your voice", when you read a commercial. For someone
who had never been impressed by anyone speaking in a saccharine laced voice, which smacked of insincerity to me, this was
not something I wanted to learn how to do. On microphone or camera, not showing what you really felt, because you were
being trained to be a "cool professional" was something else I felt I didn't need. The man, put on a pedestal for us to
emulate, was someone, who at the time, had been involved in more radio and television commercials than anyone else. He, of
course, could never be my hero, given I had always looked for authentic qualities in the people I admired. I persevered with
this course, for two years and up to the Christmas break of the third year. At the end of the second year my report card said that I had achieved the level of "honours" in my studies. By the third year, the grumbling about the unsatisfactoriness of the
course reached a cescendo, among the members of my class. By then I was missing classes as I earned my living musically at nights, and not feeling I wanted to persvere any more in a charade, left four months before graduation. So far as I know, I was the only one of my complaining class mates, who left before receiving his or her final certificate. Who knows? Maybe
saying I was leaving the insurance company to study Radio and Television Arts, was all along, only a subconscious smoke
screen, to soften the blow, of heading towards what I really wanted to do, which, at the time, revolved around music.........

Friday, June 24, 2005

Going For A Song: Early Days 3

One night early in our musical life on the bar scene, we were on stage in the middle of making "Yellow Bird" an authentic
Caribbean song, when a bleached blonde woman came into the bar, and sat right in front of the stage. She proceeded then, to eye each of us, in turn, with her head cocked to one side, her blue eyes wide, and her over-painted lips blowing the smoke of her langourously held cigarette, in our direction. On stage, the three of us were totally aware of her presence, and were
wondering if this night would be the night when one of those stories we'd heard about what went on "beyond the music",
would unfold. The other customers, most of them paired away at their tables, had been to all intents and purposes, ignoring
us, as they used the low red lighting and alcoholic haze, to further their night's ambitions. This new found intense attention
was, therefore, very welcome, and caused us to turn up the volume on careless Caribbean moves, and casual asides to each
other. When we came off stage, a waiter approached us, saying that the woman in question wanted to buy drinks for us, and
pointed us in her direction, as if we didn't know where she was sitting. We each put on our false modesty faces and sauntered
over to her table, bracing ourselves for the compliments that were about to flow our way. We greeted each other and the
waiter brought the drinks. We toasted each other in courtly fashion, and then she leaned over very deliberately, looked me in
the eye and said: "Why do you guys play everything in three chords?". That remark set our musical careers back at least ten
years. Our egoes certainly weren't ready for such a critique so early on. In my case, in that remark, there was no
actknowledgement of the weeks of work I'd put in mastering G, D7th, and C. Anyway, it was a tribute to our fortitude, that
somehow, we managed to make it back on stage, fifteen minutes after that dagger to our dreams. and were able to fake it through a forty-five minute set, very much with our tails dragging. I am happy to report that I have achieved a fourth chord
since that deflating night, and have not run into any more dissectors of my musicianship, of this kind...............Quester.

Going For A Song: Early Days 2

It seems to me that early on nature equips singers and musicians, with what I would call. "a functional double standard". This
allows you to listen to a professional of long experience, as say, Elton John, and know what he's doing is delivered on a high
level. then listen to yourself on tape singing "This is your song", and imagine there's really no difference between Elton's
efforts and yours. Perhaps one day scientists will find, that beginning singers and musicians, actually secrete a hormone, that
is responsible for this blindness that helps them to survive, eventually to a point where they can hear the way their work
really sonds, so they can work to make it better. And so it was, that the three of us, brightly shirted, and gaily straw hatted,
were after two or three rehearsals, engaged to play at our first bar. It was a heady experience, no doubt aided and abetted by
that stale cloud of vapourous alochol, that hangs in the air forever in those places. The low lighting and the glances of women accompanied by men who worked nine-to-five, convinced us that there would be more than meets the eye to this
kind of work as time went by. Looking back, I'll never know what it was that caused the cocktail bar owner to hire us. It
certainly had nothing to do with a high level of musicianship. It may have had to do with the fact that we were bursting with
the rythms of our tropical origins, as the stereotype goes, and that may have brought a flash of the exotic to the land of
Victorian liquor laws, and rythmn freezing blizzards. Perhaps, it could have been our dazzling coloured sometimes flowered
shirts, with our little straw hats perched on our dark crowns, at a rakish angle. Perhaps, we had a youthful charm or grace or
magnetism on stage, that even we, our tender egoes to the fore, were not aware of at the time. Whatever it was, we found ourselves asked back again and again, to bounce our way through, four sets a night, six nights a week, at the tavern with
the Caribbean name, replete with phoney coconut tree out front, on Yonge street...Toronto...Canada................Quester.

Going For A Song: Early Days 1

["Going For A Song: Early Days" is the opening series from the story of my journey into music, from my early twenties and since. If all goes well, other "Going For A Song" eras, after "Early Days", will be posted later on this blog]
When I bought my first guitar ever, a short time after I arrived in Canada, at twenty, I wanted to play guitar and I wanted to
sing, but I didn't know it would lead me to my first love as a creative artist, the making of songs. A first guitar may not sound like a big thing to someone brought up in North America, where pianos and guitars are fixtures in many homes, and often
just sit there without being played. To me, it was a significant event in my life. It was something I had wanted to own and spend time with, for a long time. Lack of money and the sense of the frivolousness of acquiring such a thing, when there
were so many other needs requiring whatever money was available, had blocked me doing anything about it previously.
Coming to Canada, loosened up my inhibitions about spending money, because there was now a sense that "there would be
more where that came from". Even so, my first guitar was what the young wags in Guyana would have called "a piece of
fire wood", that is to say, a cheap guitar. I can't remember how much it cost. I am tempted to say five dollars, to fulfill the
legend of the dirt cheap first guitar, but I think it was more than that. However, I actually did buy it from a pawn shop. It was
black, verging on a billious yellow around the sound hole. The strings felt as if they were an inch above the fret board, when
you tried to press them down with the left hand. Its sound was like that of a large ukelele that had been left out on a beach
in Hawaii, a few years too long. Regardless of the mainly muscular difficulties in coaxing some sounds out of my new "axe",
as they were called in those days, the acquiring of this crude little instrument, activated the start of my musical life, not at the age of Suzuki method baby violin virtuosos, but at the grand old age of twenty plus. With the help of a book of chords,
I returned to G, D7th, and C, someone had once shown me. I soon found that these chords seemed to fit more songs than I had thought they would. Soon I was asked by relatives and friends to sing at parties, and not long after that, formed a trio
with a mandoline and guitar player, who was a relative, and a bongo drummer from Jamaica.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Turquoise And Me

English Bay...each of the many times I've gone there over the years...has had a different look about it each either very subtle or dramatic ways. There have been times in the past when I've seen it turn into a roaring cauldron of jade green
waves...capped with white. is offering a look I've seldom if ever...seen before...a deep turquoise hue upon its waters
...etched with tiny I look to the north. Turquoise the and white birds soaring and diving joyously...grooving with the beauty of the and red freighters pointed outwards to the Pacific...further on
two mountain ranges visible from behind their blue misted veil...with others that I know...lie behind them...lost in the clouds...and a mainly blue sky...painted here and there with soft white and light grey clouds...all make an inspiring sight.
But it is the turquoise waters today...that for me...make a beautiful picture...even finer. Turquoise...where ever I've found it in the natural world...has always connected with me in a magical way...perhaps it talks to my a way ...few other colours can. Yes...we go back a long way...making music together...whenever we meet...this turquoise and me........Quester.

Chronological and Geographical Spirituality

Some years ago I went to a "spiritual" gathering. I got there early, about seven thirty p.m., and it wasn't supposed to start until eight p.m. For some reason, I waited by the door, and soon people began to brush past me into the hall, some in a not
super friendly fashion. As this continued, an insight came to me, I call it my "chronological and geographical spirituality"
realization. You see, that night , everybody knew the time of "spirituality" was due to start at eight p.m., and here was I
hanging around the door, before that time had arrived. My notion that true spirituality is for all seasons and all places. it
seemed, had been over-ruled by a piece of "chronological" spirituality, hence, the bretheren coming into the hall, were not
ready, yet, to "shine their little lights on me". My choosing to stand by the door, also seemed to be an error in judgement, on
my part, because, everybody knew that the "spirituality" was scheduled to be conducted, sitting on a circle of cushions set out on the shiny hard wood floor, and not at the door. I may have misread the whole situation, but, that was the night that I
first twigged, to the possible existence of what may be called, "chronological and geographical spirituality".........Quester.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


Today...the second day of summer...a chill has returned to the air. The other night as I sang was freezing. That
is the way it is in Canada,,,in June...even on the "balmy" west coast...and you cannot assume that the time for extra layers of clothing has passed. I find that perhaps because of my tropical beginnings...I get chilled to the bone very easily. When you
become like that...singing is not your favourite activity. That is one of the times when you go into your trouper mode...dig
deep...and sing...with difficulty. On this help myself and my largely northern born audience...who were also
huddling bunches to keep warm...I sang a song I'd written years ago...very suited to an occasion like this...bluntly
called..."Cold...Cold...Cold"...with rhe chorus: "Cold...Cold...Cold...September on and on down through May [I forgot to
mention June]...Cold...Cold...Cold...I don't care what the weather man say". As the audience sang its calypso-like
seemed to put them in a jovial mood...which appeared to help them and myself for its duration. Sometimes...before I sing this song...I mention that I grew up on the equator..."swimming in soup"...and so whenever my Canadian born friends invite me to join them in swimming in...swimming pool...creek...river...or ocean...and tell me "come's warm!"...I immediately
recognise it as a lie...well intentioned though it may from the occasional heated swimming pool...most of us
don't have access to...there are no such things as warm places to swim in Canada. As someone who grew up swimming like a fish in the river in front of our house... I would love to swim...but when the thought comes to me...a continent away from those beginnings...I regretfully turn it aside...reminding myself that...that was before I came to a land...where spring...summer...fall...or winter...the places available for swimming in...are all..."Cold...Cold...Cold".....................Quester.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Things Unfinished

At a gathering of poets the other of them was telling me with some regret...about the scores of incomplete poems he has in his note books...where his focus was disrupted by some domestic happening...calling for his attention. I had
empathy with him about incompletions...having so many of them myself. I also know...
that it is not only external interuptions...that chill your creations in mid-flow...
and leave them there. There are days or nights when...focussed as you may
verse of a song or a few lines of a poem is going to be..."that's all he wrote". This
is part of the mystery of creating anything...the sweet swallow of creativity...will
come when it wants...or simply dart away from you...regardless of your purposeful intentions. Our lives tend to be full of incompletions...anyway. Perhaps...a constuctive way of looking at "things unfinished" that they are simply a natural
part of living you artist...or every man...every woman...happening or not happening...despite your best intentions. Instead...rejoice at the projects... songs...poems...or did actually complete...and look upon
one more thing to be thankful for...riding this capricious force called life..............Quester.

Monday, June 20, 2005


"We were meant to be flutes through which...the winds of life...soft or fierce...blow ...making a beautiful or powerful song...Our challenge is to unblock our that the sound that comes from it...becomes clearer and clearer...with the passage of time"..........Quester.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Computer Down

My computer is down, so this is going to be very short as I post it from a store, for the first time. I see it as a test nudging me towards patience and brevity. Quester

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Poem: White Sails

White sails...
on silver water...
Red kite...
rising up to the blue sky...
My soul...
is still today...
My wounds...
casting only the short shadow...
of the willow tree...
at midday..............

Friday, June 17, 2005

Early Immigrant Days-12

In my new start in life...I vacillated between a great appreciation of having such a magnificent weekly never before...with the power it gave me to get a few of those my first guitar ever...that would start cutting into the
delayed gratification I had always practised...and the feeling that kept intruding upon my efforts at pushing paper...that this
good fortune that had come my way...was...somehow...not my niche in life. There were a few weeks of grace...when the high from my new material well being...kept me blind to my unsuitability for pursuing this particular kind of working life. It wasn't
long however...before the malaise began to drift through me...and coffee break...lunch time...and quitting time...began to
loom a desert of grey. Knowing what I had come from and a fierce feeling that regardless of how I felt...
I must not "let the side down"...kept me coming back...thinking of how the folks back home would feel if they heard I'd
given up on such a golden opportunity. stay at the insurance company answered for me forever...
any questions I had about living out my life...reporting to a boss every week day...working my way up the office ladder...
engaging in office politics...and on the whole...not being able to be myself...because for me...the wheels of commerce...
emphasized putting your false face forward...and saying sweet words you didn't mean. In the process of elimination I was
consciously or unconsciosly engaged in...the path that I had embarked on through the forests of clerkhood...eventually
closed off...leaving me open to other possibilities in my life. So...low on interest in the job at hand...but high on punctuality
and "stickability"...I trundled down hamster-like...into the concrete and ashphalt heart of Toronto...ever week day...for three
years...until I could ride my tread-mill no more...and left my nine-to-five life-raft face the uncertainties
of life as a student and self taught the grand old age of...twenty three. [This concludes...for now...the series "Early
Immigrant Days"]....................................Quester.

Early Immigrant Days-11

Saccharine country or not...I had to earn a living as I settled into my new surroundings. The floor under my feet was grey and
very clean...the ceiling above my head was off-white and serried with rows and rows of white fluorescent lighting. I kept
expecting a white coated orderly to wheel in someone to be operated on. What is more...I was living a large part of my life
now twelve stories above the ashphalted and concreted ground far below...another first for me in a time of many firsts. I felt
disoriented spending so much time in my box up in the sky. The mud and water cocoon of my childhood...that had once been a comfort to me...was now long gone...and I had to get used to my new environment...the sooner the better. My life had
indeed gone through a bewildering metamorphosis. My externals had changed so suddenly...that it might have seemed to an
observer watching this plateau of my journey...that it would only be a matter of time insides would change too
to match my space age surroundings. I suppose my accent in addition to soliciting references to two weeks once spent in
:The Barbados"...must have caused at least some amusement...and may have been a lightener of our grey surroundings. My
crew-cutted and permanently permanented compatriots of the twelfth floor...were pleasant enough...punctuating their
"pardon me's" as they tried to comprehend what I was saying with many an "Is that right?" response to my identity
seeking references to "back home". It was only a matter of time before...being told one "pardon me" too many...set me on a be understood by my northern work-mates and others...the first time I said anything. I think it was around that
time... I started losing the heaviest parts of my Guyana accent...although it still reveals this day... when I say certain words.,.that give away...that I was not born and raised...under Canadian skies....................Quester.

Early Immigrant Days-10

Fortunately it didn't take me very long to find another an insurance company right in the heart of Toronto. The first
few days walking up and down those grey fluorescent lit corridors was heady stuff. Bedecked in my new grey-blue suit...
matching tie...and white shirt...I felt I had arrived. A steady office job with benefits in Canada...that looked as if it would last
forever...part of the immigrant's dream vome true!. One of the things I really appreciated during those first few days at the
office...was the way everyone was called by his or her first name...usually cut down to its shortest version. This was unheard
of in the country I had come from...where having your surname barked at you was the norm. It gave me a feeling of at last being somewhere where there was real equality. In addition to everything being on a first name basis...there was this great
air of cordialness that prevailed that I didn't believe was possible in the work place...having graduated from under the
unsmiling eyes and tight mouths of the boss-folk of the South. A few weeks after I started at the insurance company...on
the birthday of one of my fellow office workers...I saw and heard the other side of this coin of work place cordiality. From
time to time...people dropped by the birthday girl's desk...with cards and the occasional box of chocolates...and sweet words
like..."Isn't that ever pretty!" as they looked at some ordinary looking card before them. I was heading down the corridor
behind two women who had just delivered their message of sweetness to the birhday lady...when I heard one of them say
...referring to the birthday person...something like..."Silly twit...pushing forty and she's only a section supervisor!". Apparently the speaker had forgotten to wash her mouth out from the saccharine that had been residing there only a few minutes before. This was a real eye-opener for me...and in the months that followed...many other similar back-stabbing remarks I overheard...from members of both genders...gave me my first let down over the "civilized" ways of the North. The noticing what lay below the quick smiles and pleasant words...made me put my guard back into place...and caused me to develop the knack of seeing under the sweet words....................Quester.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Early Immigrant Days-9

Shortly after arriving in Canada I was sent by Employment and Immigration to a job interview in the suburbs of Toronto.
I don't know what the powers that be there had in mind because the job...which to my surprise I got right after the first
interview...was as a dispatcher for a company that manufactured "domestic tanks"...i.e. the tanks you keep your heating oil in...the perfect job for someone just off the plane and therefore...with zero knowledge of the geography of Canada...and
having to pronounce names like Hochelaga and a way that would be understood by the person at the other end of a phone line...with a broad Guyana accent to help things along. It must have been years later that I finally twigged that
Etobicoke didn't actually ryhme with "joke" and I must have sounded silly for a long time. From the first day I knew I was
fighting a losing battle...but I kept dispatching tanks to places to my East..North...South...and West...many with names I
could not pronounce. Mercifully...after two months I was relieved of the job...not needing to ask...what possible reason there
could be for such a termination...and actually feeling relieved at having been relieved of it. Losing my first piece of
employment in the new land so quickly...put a crimp in whatever immigrant grandiosity there may have been in my letters
"back home" to that point. There have been times when I have wondered if there are still some off-spring of this brief
engagement...rusting away in the railway yards of Capreol or Sioux Look Out...with a now barely visible scribble on them
saying "Address Unknown"...victims of my brief career as a a country...whose geography...I did not know..........Quester.

Early Immigrant Days-8

In my early days as a new Canadian I used to venture into small grocery stores with great trepidation. This kind of store was
usually a place where you could cut the level of suspicion with a knife and was not the natural habitat of day dreamers. Men
with puffy eyes and ashen-faced women would stare at me cold eyed as I entered. These corner store proprietors were the
stubborn survivors of the super-market boom...where the tantalizing availability of a hundred thousand colourfully wrapped
items surrounding the customer was a cultural imperative. The corner store owners had to pay homage to this trend by
having their goods spread out outside of their that they could be easily available too. This physical lay-out, of
course. bred paranoia...with every urchin...unshaven...or dark one...appearing to be a potential felon. Given all this I would enter such a store... in that tentative way of a new-comer from a totally different background...and the person behind the
counter would hone in on me...with a cold and questioning eye. I would begin to scrutinize the shelves for something that was vaguely familiar to me...a tin of corned beef...or a box of soda crackers...perhaps...and find myself drifting further and further the maze of brightly coloured offerrings. It wouldn't take long before a voice like a pistol shot would cut
into my meandering...with a "What do you want!?". I would look up guiltily and mumble that I was deciding...and then in my confusion proceed to buy six tins of spaghetti aith meat sauce and six tins of chilli con carne. Coming from my back ground the thought of being mistaken for a thief was absolutely intolerable and this would push me towards my shopping spree.
I had to do something about this state of finally I did what I felt I had to do I got ready for
a new kind of contact in the new land. I prepared myself like an actor before he goes on stage...making sure my face was set in its stoniest configuration...and my eyes were unblinking and hard...and only then would I enter a grocery store. After that my safaris into the land of Fab and Jello Instant Pudding...became instead of a time of blushes and mumblings...a series of minor triumphs that were a blue print for how to cope in my new that time. Now...and for a long time...I do not usually need to deploy that particular survival mechanism...preferring to meet people in an open and peaceful way...but then...that was the only response my young consciousness could come up help me to live another day. .............Quester.

Early Immigrant Days-7

One of the central things for us single young immigrants... in making our "I am somebody now" statement... was... after being "up North" for a while...making the triumphant trip "back home". The hall-mark of your success...was if you returned
not just alone...but with a pale-skinned northern companion. The bluer the eyes and the blonder the hair the better. That...
accomplished in the shortest time after leaving Guyana, for a young those days...was the "big one". If you were
a young Guyana man returning with an Ojibwa would look twice at you. Ojibwa princesses...look too much like the dark beauties that bloom everywhere in the Land of Many Waters. With "Bwana" and "Mem Sahib" as your hero and heroine all through those years of colony moulding...bringing back one such was the angel on the Christmas tree. I must confess to delivering on this one. She was from Nova Scotia. More Scottish in some ways than the people I was later to meet in Scotland. She could speak the bag pipes...and was a very fine Highland dancer. Her working class parents had brought her to put the finishing touches to her dancing career. My appearance on her scene...was met by a behind the scenes resistance that achieved its highest flowering...when one of her parents was heard to say..."Girl...if you keep going out with that guy...I'd rather go to your funeral than your wedding!". I think we left for our Guyana visit around this time one Christmas. Back in Guyana...the working class girl from Nova Scotia...was looked upon as a princess. The night she did her Highland dancing...the young women were left with their jaws slack...and the young men with their eyes wide. Some of the older folk had a look of pride on their faces. Looking back...I would say this pas-de-deux in the southern immigrant's dance was delivered almost flawlessly. There was one uncomfortable moment...when on the first night my father called me aside and asked me..."what my intentions were to this young woman". I sheepishly mumbled something and stumbled off to my solitary bed. It wasn't long after we arrived back from Guyana...she told me she was going away to Florida to become an airline hostess. She did and that was the end of our time together. Years later...remembering her...I wrote a song called..."Waitress in the Sky"......................Quester.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Early Immigrant Days-6

There was another new-comer to Canada charade...although to be fair it might have been wider spread than that,,,that from
time to time we would find ourselves involved in. The big one for recently married couples...was owning their first house in Canada. Every so often...we'd be called to visit such a lucky couple. These visits were like a kind of surrealist theatre. The
bargain here was that you...having been supplied with a hot Guyana lunch on a Sunday afternoon...[Sundays usually seemed
most suitable with its church-like over-tones]...would be expected to "Ooh and Ahh" around the museumlike premises...that
looked as if no-one could possibly be living not a tea-cup or ash-tray...was out of place. From time to
we engaged in this ritual...some venturesome soul would throw in an "Isn't that ever!" show that his or her weeks in Canada had not been in vain...but this phrase somehow didn't seem to go with a strong Guyana accent. This "showing the
house" transaction...unlike the one with driver and passengers...usually didn't work too well other than on the food level. At
least with the "car thing" were heading to a neutral could all enjoy on some level. With the immigrant
"open house" would find yourself for never ending minutes that turned into painful the destination of the day.
You felt you couldn't "eat and run" after the meal and the first whisk around the master bedroom. The reason why I
think this transaction didn't work too well...was the grandiosity level on the one hand...and the envy level on the other...
were too high to achieve any kind of arrangement that was really satisfactory to either party. Also...for people who had not been schooled for generations in smiling when they didn't feel like it or making insincere was an added burden
walking around someone else's "Taj Mahal"...while you yourself lived in a back room in Scarborough...with a fixed smile on
your face and making saccharine sounds. I hope that...sometimes... the host and the hostess didn't look too closely at the faces of their visitors...or...they may have given up their efforts at validating showing off their "mansion"...right there and then..................Quester.

Early Immigrant Days-5

In those early times in Canada, me and my country men and women, who found ourselves in strange new surroundings,
would try to keep some fragments of our recent past, in place. Sometimes, on Sunday afternoons, assisted by large cauldrons
of pepper pot or chicken curry, we would compare notes on our adventures in the True North. On week-end trips to Honey
Harbour or Niagara Falls, we would savour our new found ability to put on snappy clothes, carelessly stick a wad of Canadian
dollars in our pockets, and cram into a car for a jaunt on four wheels, when most of us had only been accustomed to
travelling on two, back in bicycle country. For seven or eight of us to crowd into the car of a fellow immigrant, who had
achieved this rung on the ladder to "making it", was on the surface, a lark. Most of us passengers, however, quietly harboured our ambition, to be like that person at the wheel some day. The lucky one at the wheel, had special status, and spoke to the rest of us with the confidence and authority, befitting someone in such a lofty position. Yet,
somewhere deep down inside, the rest of us knew, that the driver's world would never achieve it's maximum flowering, if he
was never able to strut his stuff before our envious eyes. And so, a tacit bargain was struck: "I'll drive you where you want to give me some respect!". Also the strong Guyana sense of hospitality was a factor, with the still present hankering,
to spend some time together, with other folks from "back home". Our tendency, at that time, to express inaccurate
information vehemently, attained a near suicidal blossoming, as back and front seat "drivers", sometimes, would violate the
bargain struck between driver and passengers, by giving directions to our week-end destinations. It was a badge of honour
to be the one who "knew the way", showing uou were a sophisticated Canadian now, and not an old Guyana bumpkin. The
driver was often hard pressed to keep the piece of confidence he had attained by acquiring a car, under the withering cross-
fire of Ontario highway, even in those days, was not the place for us to work out our new immigrant
complexes, and sometimes a close shave with an eighteen-wheeler, coming the other way, would be followed by, a sober and
silent recognition, that none of us really knew our way around Ontario, and should remember to keep our mouths shut,
in the future.....................Quester.

Early Immigrant Days-4

Torono in June is shivery, when you're just off of a plane from the equator, where your blood never had to thicken or thin,
depending on what time of year it was. The first few days were one sweater and one wind-breaker ones for me. As the days
in June went by without the arrival of summer, they became three sweater and one wind-breaker ones. That was around the
time I first learnt that summer in Canada was the last week in July and the first week in August, and the rest of the time, you should "brace yourself". Walking through the light spray from the thundering down of Niagara Falls two days after I arrived in
Canada, I wished I had brought a winter coat with me, but had to endure, my first touch of winter in June, instead. In those
days, many of us southern immigrants, seemed to find ourselves, within a day or two of arriving, at Niagara Falls. Sometimes
I have wondered, if this was, some kind of immigrant syndrome manifesting. You were in Canada now. You were one of the lucky ones. You had escaped. You were going to be "somebody" now. The insecurity that was part of rocketing you, to a place
underneath the Blue Canadian Sky, was still in place, so you had to bolster yourself, in these new and strange surroundings,
so the first thing you did, was send back home, the statutory picture of you at the Holy Grail. Everyone, had heard of Niagara
Falls, and here was a picture of you and it. You were on your way now. The ones left back home, would look at you
differently now. There was something special about you now. You had made it North the way almost all the ones you left
behind, wished they could, and here was the first proof, of this inspiring victory...............Quester.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Early Immigrant Days-3

I had been prepared for life in North America, by fantasy clouded perusals of old issues of the Reader's Digest. The first wave
of indoctrination, about the First World countries, north of us, across the Atlantic, was from the Mother Country. The second
was in the form of American movies, Life and Time magazines, and, of course, the Digest. For some reason, I couldn't distinguish between Canada and the United States, back then. Norman Rockwell could not have done a better painting in my head, of the world of hot dogs and Jello Instant Pudding, than the disseminators of "northern culture" I've mentioned, did. I
took in my pablum of the mind enthusiastically from the Digest's pages, augmented by frequent visits to the local cinemas, to be inspired and pushed further northwards, by the enviable style of John Wayne and Jimmy Cagney. And so...those first
days in Canada, were a time of checking out that picture I had nurtured for so long, of one of the lands from where all things
bright and beautiful came, with what I found around me. I was like someone who had escaped a sentence for life in some dark dungeon and somehow had found himself in a kind of fairy land.The high rise lights beckoned me in a million different
directions...the neon lights, fragments of a lurid rainbow, called me to come and partake of a thousand new pleasures..there
was an erotic the many coloured chrome ornamented vehicles, of all shapes and sizes...honked and zoomed by me...the slow wide-eyed one...transfixed by this assault on my hitherto sheltered senses...the super-markets with their
million rainbow-wrapped presents...urged me to pick them up...because they were only for me...adding to the mirage that I
had hit the jackpot...all this was mine for the taking....the rest was a formality. The days were filled with easy wonder and
youthful make something of myself in this land of endless bounty. The nights were laden with the possibility
of adventures downtown...where anything was possible. I found myself walking around in a high triggered by the blitzing of
my tender senses...a high that was bound to fade as soon as the smile on a used car salesman's face...when you tell him you
are only looking. It wasn't long before I was surveying my new surroundings with a sobriety...that began to release questions
...about my new way of life..................Quester.

Early Immigrant Days-2

I can't speak for other immigrants, but in answering the question "Why did you come to Canada?", I cannot respond only
with the cliche about the "higher standard of living". It is true that the economic imperative, to head for a First World
country, that flourishes in developing countries of the world, played a part in my coming to Canada, but for me, there was more to it than that. In what was then called British Guiana, Empire Day was honoured in our little school, on the banks of a
river, almost on the equator, and thousands of miles from Stepney and Wapping, by us brown and black children singing the
Empire Day hymn: "Father hear us we thy children of the Empire here today...Praying that thy holy city join us in one family".
When poetry time came we would parrot: "Children of the Empire clasp hands across the main...and glory in thy brotherhood
again and yet again". Suffice it to say, we got the central message in these lines, which was that we were joined with our brothers and sisters of the Empire. These pieces of our early brain washing, were not accompanied by sobering lessons,
even later in high school, on the reality of immigration policies and procedures, and the cruelty and hypocrisy often
associated with political expediency, that might chop us away later, from our Mother Country and her Empire. We drew the
only natural conclusion that could be drawn from being taught in these and so many different ways, that in our vast Empire,
anywhere, is where we belonged. There were times when we would gather around a map of the world, the better to focus on
how far and wide "our Empire" stretched. In those days pink had a different connotation from the one it later developed, as it
represented the far flung reaches of the British Empire. Although the occasional child would point at the lower right hand
corner of the map, where Australia and the best cricketers of that time lay, most of the fingers pointed to the top of the map,
"The North", some pausing at the spot where the zero degrees longitude line, divided the world into two halves, like a
beckoning cleavage... the bosom of our Mother Country. As for couldn't miss was the largest patch
of pink on the map...and some of us filed it away for future reference. We were colony people...trained to head North...and as
time went by...unerringly...many of us did...................Quester.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Early Immigrant Days-1

[Today's posting will be the first in a series about my "early immigrant days" in Canada]. It was a long drawn out trip from
Georgetown, Guyana, to Toronto, Canada, in those days. At that time you had to overnight in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. That
night in Trinidad was like a year in limbo. Yes, I had finally started on my odyssey, but here I was suspended between
continents, just across from the dark north shores of South America. When you are twenty years old and restless, a night like
that hangs heavy with tension, and I wondered if I'd ever really reach, the Land of Milk and Honey to the North, I was heading
towards. Holed up in the little hotel outside of Port-of-Spain, I finally couldn't stay put any longer and headed out for a late afternoon walk. I remember passing an East Indian man walking in the other direction, who was whistling "Cherry Pink and
Apple Blossom White". Neither grow in Trinidad but such was the fruit of our colony days. It perked me up momentarily as it
painted a picture of the paradise I was headed for, where the cherry and the apple trees, blossomed in spring. The sun going
down in a scarlet sky, was setting on my Guyana days, as the last note of that siren song died behind me. I returned to the
hotel with a resolve, never to return to those evenings of wandering the sea walls at Georgetown, looking north across the
Atlantic, like a caged jaguar, feeling there was nothing there anymore that would take my young life forward...feeling the
answer lay North...the answer to my longing...the answer to my tomorrow. The following day I was Canada bound, arriving
at the airport outside of Toronto, one evening in June, at the age of twenty... never more to live the country of my
origin. [To be continued tomorrow]..................Quester.

Sunday, June 12, 2005


In a mirror that reflects back to you a picture of you that is could look at that picture and still see...instead...only
what you want to see,,,perhaps..."the fairest of them all"...or something unpleasant. How we appear to be to
coloured by many things...including our own perception of things and of ourselves...that may not be as true as the picture a good mirror returns to us. A healthy perception of the way we see ourselves needs some work...including the putting aside
of the clamourings of a puffed up ego...or its opposite...offering a picure to us shaped by our low self esteem...and working
on-goingly to be honest with one's self. It is said that a baby will tend to prosper if it sees approval and love reflected back
from its parent's eyes. This is the beginning of how we human beings offer mirrors to each other throughout life. Sad to say...the mirrors offered by others sometimes...are like those at "fun" fairs...where elongations, fattenings, and over-all
distortions...are sent back to you...about how ugly you look. Just as the way you laugh at such pictures and leave them life it is also important to put aside twisted pictures of yourself...when they are offered to others who in
their anger, frustration, or even projection of their own inner demons...offer you a picture...that in the years of getting to
know yourself and your know is still not you. Fortunately...there are people in the world who offer you
back...a picture of you...that is beautiful. might even think...but they've never seen me when I'm exhausted
or fed up or furious. can trim away the flattering aspects of their assessment of you...and be thankful for
their uplifting images of you...because you never know...when next you may find a "fun" fair...looking at don't recognise................Quester.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

One Foot Before The Other One

The other night at the music session by the of the songs I sang was called..."One foot before the other one". I
introduced it by saying that at this point in my life...doing that appears to me to be a major life skill. In my youth I remember
being impatient with what seemed to be the slow unfolding of life...and any thought of living "one step at a time". What
changes us as the decades go by for us to even think that "one foot before the other one" may actually be a helpful way
to proceed?. Who knows?. Perhaps...with the disappointments that tend to accrue the longer you learn not to count
your chickens before they hatch...not to leap ahead too much...relying more on a bit by bit approach instead.
learn after "you've been there and done that"...that you are less likely to be let "clip-clopping" along the highway of life...rather than attempting to gallop too furiously into what has never worked well previously. learn that when
the flame of purpose and motivation burns low...that it is focussing on "walking on" that will help you to survive until your
fire burns bright again. None of what i have just said is about giving up... the flights of your imagination...or attempting
anything new...or your acts of creation...or your dreams. It is more about...grounding yourself through the days and a solid and reliable can fly from...then return to you wish...especially when the going gets tough...knowing it is always available...and to have patience with the days and you walk a long and uncertain road...a pilgrim knowing how to putting "one foot before the other one"................Quester.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Daily Journalling

I had sporadically written about my travels or patches of my life, over many years, in note books, but had not been daily
about it. I started a daily long hand journal, at the same time I started painting, eleven years ago. Because of my strong focus on painting at the time, my entries were largely about my pictures. As a self taught painter, going the trial and error route, it
was very important for me to document my journey into picture making, including traps to avoid, or problem solving that
inevitably had to be done. What I ended up having from engaging in the journal process, as I also painted, was a "manual",
for how my pictures had been put together. This is where I first experienced, one of the many benefits of daily journalling, i.e. writing about any journey you were undertaking from the start, and eventually having a detailed record, of your challenges and overcomings, along the way, with this record available to consult, as later you try to recall, details of your
journey. Someone, who also had been painting for a while, once wistfully told me, looking at her pictures,"You know, I can't
remember how I got the effects I did in different pictures, because I never wrote anything down, at the time". underlining
the need for this kind of documentation. As time went by, more and more benefits of daily journalling, began to reveal
themselves to me, eventually motivating me to make a tape called, "Daily Journalling-Springboard to Self Discovery", so that
I could share with others, what I had found about this potent tool, in living your life. Now...I write in two
on-line journal...and still in my long hand journal. They are not exactly the same in content, for example, the mundane
details of living life... like how much money you withdrew fom the bank yesterday...go in my long hand journal...but I still haven't found a place for them in my postings ...yet. Anyway...there is much more to be said about the benefits of daily journalling...maybe I'll return to this subject later...but not now...I have to go and wash some dishes...............Quester.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Barefoot Soldier

Met a man on a bus the other evening, who called me by my name, and told me complimentary things about my album
"Pretty Brown". When you have sung in public a lot and have made records of your music, this kind of thing happens and
you "go with the flow". What he really needed to talk about, this night, however, was not my music, but his divorce. He said he'd been in court earlier that day for a hearing about it, and that he'd been crying a lot since the process started. After we'd talked for a while, he reached inside a coat pocket, pulled out a folded piece of paper, and asked me to read it. It was a letter to his ex-wife saying how sorry he was for his part in their break-up. In it he even called her a tender name and at no point blamed her for anything. I was touched by what he was telling me, and tried to say things that might be of consolation to him, but also knew that what he was going through, was not likely to be helped much, by my words or anyone else's. I was also reminded of a song I wrote many years ago, that used images and words associated with war, from start to finish. I almost called it "The War of Love", until I found a subtler name for it right at the end of the chorus, which is: "And love is the song when the battle is done...the dance when the war is all over...and love is a warrior his face to the sun...and love is a barefoot soldier". I wished him well as he said goodbye, but I knew that on this overcast night, I was looking at one more "barefoot soldier", and hoping he would find his way safely through the fields of war, he was still stumbling through..........Quester.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Beauty Of Small Designs

I remember, years ago, on a crowded Toronto bus, seeing a Jamaican woman stumble on, clutching a bedraggled plant to
her bosom. At first I was thinking that the effort she was putting in to lug the plant around, on a crowded bus, hardly seemed
to be a good trade off. That, of course, was only my take on what she was doing, and not hers. After a little while, an insight
came to me. It was that I was looking at a thread in the fabric of this woman's life, and that she had her own good reasons,
for doing what she was doing, and that one of her little victories this day, would probably be getting this plant safely home,
despite the obstacles along the way. I saw that weaving our lives out of tiny threads, is what we human beings do, and that
these threads, although they may seem inconsequential to those looking at them from outside, should always be respected
and valued. Someone seen doing these small things, is someone still motivated to get on with living life. This motivation is
not automatic, and someone facing the on-going difficulties of living life, could become "unmotivated", to engage in all the little things, that make up the fabric of life, and come to a complete stand still. This may have even happened to such
previously highly motivated people as Howard Hughes, the famous and wealthy aviator. People are to be given credit when,
regardless of the difficulties along the way, they continue to handle the little things well. We cannot allow a longing for the
dramatic rewards that might happen, like the winning of a lottery, to blot out the importance of doing the little things well,
as we rise each day and return to the weaving of "the tapestries of our lives". Having dreams of something "larger" happening, is a human thing, as we are goal oriented beings, but whatever our dreams may be, in the interest of balance and harmony, it may not be wise to let our dreams about the future, take us out of living vitally in the Here and Now, and delivering well on the "little things" in life. Although we may leave room for large and dramatic items to enter the tapestries
of our lives, it is important to make sure that we deliver well, on "the beauty of small designs", as we weave our lives,
day after day...............Quester.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Summer Gathering

Last evening I met with a group of old and new friends and acquaintances...on the shores of English Bay,,.to sing and read poems...and catch up on the news in our lives since we met there...last summer. It was the start of a weekly gathering...that
has become a beautiful tradition over several years. Each year...up to when its summer cycle starts in early June...I am not sure whether I'll be returning...given I have a tendency not to be automatic in what I do...but so far...when the starting day arrives...and if there is sun up in the skies...I find myself heading there...once sing my song...hear others sing...and
to meet again a core of familiar faces. The singing on the green grass...under trees thick with to the nearby ocean finger...with the mountains boldly etched across the water..and the sun eventually setting over both...on a summer a large part of the magnet that draws us to meet again. Seeing the core of familiar faces...some not seen since the previous summer sometimes what makes the difference in deciding to join these sessions by the ocean. Last night it was cool...but the lovely "vibes"...and some extra layers of clothing...made up for the nigglings of the temperature. Part way through the evening...I looked up to see an eagle circling...its wings unmoving...above us...adding inspiration to our gathering. It didn't take long before...a sight I've seen many times in Vancouver skies unfolded...with a crow hurrying upwards to harass the eagle away. There are times...when if the harriers get too close...the eagle will simply dip its wings slightly...buffeting the smaller birds in chase...away. This evening...the eagle was once again my teacher...soaring onwards in royal flight...not even needing to do that...telling me about how to be calm at your centre...and know your power so that you have no need to use your "talons"...leaving those who would harass you... far move on to the peace to be found...high above...the squabbling...down on the warlike earth below...............Quester.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Poem:Holding On And Letting Go

Last night I accidentally taped over part of a poetry program about Ezra Pound...
on a video tape I'd left in the v.c.r...
I try to rationalize my absent mindedness saying to myself...
at least it wasn't the one with Walt Whitman on it...
Every time something like this happens...I get the feeling I've aggravated an old wound...
I feel like there's something in me...
that wants to see things remain the way they were...
and not be blotched by my carelessness or forgetfulness...
or the way change comes whether we like it or not...
I finally see what I have to work on here...It's "letting go"...
Life is full of things to be let go of...If they are not...they wound and curl us up in upon ourselves...
Whether we like it or not...things are going to change in our little or very large ways...
and slowly or very suddenly...The grasp of a baby's hand contrasting with its helplessness...blows you away...
we learn to hold on from early on...and that too serves us well...
through the winds of we keep on keeping on...But...holding on until we become hooked and clawed...
is not all that we were meant to do...Letting go is the "yin" that goes with the "yang" of holding on...
and having the wisdom to know...when to hold on from letting go...and when to let go of holding on...
is where it's at in this life...where really...the only constant there is.......

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Turn Around

The human spirit is never to be under estimated, in its ability to recover, from serious wounds to body, mind, or heart. if we
are open to the possibility of recovery and rise to face our challenges. I like to hear stories that although they are rooted in
the dismal past, tell of the "turn around" experiences of human beings, who, from living in a downward spiral, were somehow
triggered to make a reversal in their life direction...then had the courage and fortitude to climb back towards meeting life...
overcoming their demons...or even coming back to the point where they could give something back to the world. Over the years...I have heard many "turn around" stories...especially about certain Native People...who from the depths...found a way to return to life. My favourite one...told to me by a of a man I used to know in Toronto. He spent several years on skid row...the home of many Native People...suffering from many wounds. One day he was lying on the sidewalk...finding it
hard to get up...and being ignored by passers by...and having a worm's eye view of what was going on around him. As he lay
there...he saw a man who was sloppily dressed...disappear into a clothing store across the way...and a while later...emerge
in a smartly cut brand new blue suit. He took note of the man's metamorphosis and said to himself..."One day...I want to wear a new suit like that!". A spark had been lit in him that day....and it wasn't long after...he sought treatment for his problem with alcohol. As they say...the rest is history. When I knew him he was a respected elder at the Native Centre in
Toronto. I moved away from there...but a few years later returned for a visit. Travelling on the street car there one day...a
sign on a building caught my eye. It was a health clinic...and it bore the name of this very man...who once upon a time...from
low down on the sidewalk...had been inspired by a man in a spiffy new blue start making his return to living life.
At times when my outlook on life dips low...I remember that unlike many others in the world who have a long road back from
where they find themselves in journey is only a short one back to seeing glass is actually...more than half
full...and I should get on with living life.................Quester.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Pulling The Vines

A good metaphor can open up a subject you are trying to understand...or help you to articulate what you think about it...
in a telling way. As a song-writer and part of my preparation for creating...I am on the look-out for metaphors. If
you have inner and outer eyes to see will notice they are all around us. I was walking down a street in
Kitsilano, British Columbia, some years ago, when I noticed a tree that was a lot smaller than, and not as healthy looking as,
the other trees of the same species, along the way. On closer inspection, I saw what was likely the cause of the runt-like
status, of this smallest tree. There were thick ivy vines spiralling up and coiling around its trunk, and even up into the leaves
of the tree...appearing to be squeezing the life out of it. I immediately saw that there was a metaphor here for the vines that we allow to choke us, from becoming fully fledged, powerful, beautiful, imaginative, laughing, creative, peaceful
and loving human beings. Around that time, I was creating material for a workshop I was scheduled to give called
"Awakening The Creative Eye"...and the song that I wrote after coming upon this metaphor...became a central element of
this workshop. The final verse of this song said..."I've been pulling the vines from off of my tree for a long long time...Gonna
get me a flower for every vine...Bloom from head to toe when my tree's all mine...I've been pulling the vines from off of my
tree for a long long time". I used this verse at the start of the illustrate that in order to free ourselves to tap
the creative potential in each of us...we needed to first identify the "vines" that were imprisoning this potential...
then consciously break them one by one. We then had a discussion that identified what some of these vines are...perhaps in
another posting I'll list some of them. In my areas other than creativity... also...the sentiments in this song have helped me to work on areas where my potentials have been I continue to "pull the vines from off of my tree!".......Quester.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Rebel With A Watering Can

I have never owned a pet, but I can see why people own dogs, for instance, apart from their possible watch dog roles. Talk
about being actknowledged in ways most human beings don't give to each other...when you have come home from a hard
day at work...being greeted with yelps of delight...joyful bodily contact and face slobberings...and a flailing tail that says...
"Yes...Yes...Yes!" your existence on this earth. Yes...I can see why people have dogs...although I have also seen a dark
side of human/dog relations...with the human barking commands to his or her dog like a Nazi to "sit, stay, go on etc. etc.!".
What a charge that must be for the dominator or dominatrix now commands to a living entity that will not
answer back...and will obediently allow you your moments of "uber power"...and then shower you with a vigorous show of
its dependence on you...when you finally decide to say..."good dog...good dog". The closest I've come to having pets is my
motley little forest of plants. "Little forest" because I've grouped most of them in the bottom third of my wide balcony window
...on top of an old grey trunk...battered enough to be a natural companion of green growing things. Hibiscus...bougainvillea......African violet...geranium...maiden hair fern...spider plant...philedendron and Christmas cactus...although seldom or never flower bearing...represent in their personal struggle against planned obsolescence, You are supposed to keep plants bought or given to you...after they have been industrially goosed to produce their optimum that they can be sold...only for the two weeks or so...after you have acquired them...and they begin to go off their maximum state...then buy some more. I've always refused to do this...holding on to them...sometimes for years...until they finally die of natural causes. This is not a "noble"'s a bit more like a "rebel" thing...that has to do with not becoming an all out unquestioning consumer...doing exactly what commercial interests want him to do. Once in a while...I am rewarded by a post obsolescent blossom or two...for being such a "persevering master" my tattered silent and green or greenish companions.'s an African violet...given to me about two and a half years ago...producing three sprigs of delicate mauve flowers...that I just moved closer to the light to help them bloom fully. Yes being a dedicated "forest ranger"...albeit indoors...does have its rewards...if you keep on watering...and wait long enough for them to come to you........Quester.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Correctors Anonymous

Of the many addictions our sometimes hyper-active egoes offer us...the addiction to correcting others is one of the most
highly represented. I know...clarity in our own thoughts and speech is something worth aiming for...however...going out of your way to correct someone who has commited the mortal sin of being incorrect in your often...not necessary. it can be more of a measure of the corrector's ego being to the fore than anything else. Once...someone who I had known in previous conversations...for his "lawyer for the prosecution" tendencies...leapt at contradicting something I was saying...that in its own "Inner Lawyer" councelled wording...was laying open the possibility for other approaches to the subject being expressed ...anyway. I smiled at the predictability of the response and said..."Whatever you say...doesn't matter to me...I've overcome my addiction to being correct!". I'll never forget the look of bepuzzlement on the face of the "prosecutor" he encountered ...what seemed to be for the first time...the notion that having to religiously correct others could possibly be an addiction. I've thought since then...that I should form a recovery group called "Correctors Anonymous"..."C.A." for short...and when we have our group therapy a test to see how well we have recovered....see which of the participants will fall off the wagon first...and correct someone...human enough to be incorrect...once in a while....................Quester.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

You're In Canada Now!

I once wrote a poem with the line, "I come from the land of wisdom and approximateness"...which was about a paradox that
pertained on the river I grew up on in Guyana...where the people could nail something important about five or six
potent words...but be recounting the facts of a situation they were describing. The fact that...if we ever
saw a newspaper from the capital would likely come before our eyes days after it was printed...causing "news" to be
passed from person to person the "mouth to ear" way...changing each time it was told...likely contributed to the approximateness mentioned. I arrived in Canada at twenty...not yet having freed myself from this tendency times...not be precise in what I said. I remember several situations like the one where I was travelling in a car with friends and relatives...and made the mistake of saying that we had just passed a "nice red car" which a Canadian born three or four year old present instantly responded, " wasn't was orange!"...and turned out to be correct. It was a succession of corrections from these "babes and sucklings"...and others in my new country...that booted me towards becoming more accurate in what I had to say...if I hoped to survive in the new culture I was in...that didn't brook any vagueness in its inhabitants. From repeated consultations with my "Inner Lawyer"...I learnt in what I had to whittle away the territory that would cause the would be correctors around me to pounce. I must once in a while...still offering up correction fodder ro people...and having to endure their lightening responses...reminding me that, "'re not on the river smarten're in Canada now!"...................Quester.