Gong Fu – What does it mean to me?

sifuspear   This is my Dad’s old Hung Gar teacher, Y.C. Wong.

Gong Fu literally translates to “Skill acquired through effort.” 

Thinking about this, one has to appreciate Gong fu as a discipline and most certainly as an art form. It is not a crude system of fighting, and not simply a method of defending yourself or a martial tactic. Though that is primary, every single adjunct benefit is as beautiful and as sophisticated as learning and mastering the art of playing lyrical music or writing meaningful literature.

For most people do not know the translation of the Chinese word. Furthermore, many do not know the history of the many-faceted art. In fact, it’s interesting, because my previous claim that Gong Fu was primarily used for self-defense didn’t necessarily used to be true for all time.

Its complicated history starts in paleolithic China, when the prehistoric tigers and bears amongst other dangers in the environment were plentiful. In order to defend themselves, humans developed crude weapons and basic skills to defend themselves. They also fought each other of course: the precursor to wars. Warfare technology was limited to spears and rocks.

In the Before Common Era period, there was an Indian Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma (Da Mo, to the Chinese). Many legends have been associated with this man, such as meditating inside a cave for eight years straight until he reached enlightenment and his arms fell off, and the crossing of a river on only a blade of grass. However, what’s important is that he was the first one to develop Shaolin Gong Fu. This is actually also somewhat of a legend, but at least there is some historic primary evidence of this supposition.

This system of self defense was based on Bodhidharma’s observations of animals, such as the tiger, the crane and the snake. He developed it mainly to strengthen the Chinese monks in the buddhist temples, who didn’t have the strength to practice the rigorous rituals and meditation exercises they needed to do on a daily basis.

From there, Gong Fu was developed over the years, starting from the Shaolin Temple and branching out from there. Tai Chi Chuan was allegedly developed by a Shaolin monk who wanted to further develop his Taoist mind and spirit and left the temple to roam the wilderness, exploring and discovering the secrets of the cosmos, and eventually came up with a softer form of martial art we now know as Tai Chi.

Now, what does Gong Fu mean to me? Personally?

I’ve already alluded to some of what it means to me. Firstly, after going to Karate class as a young boy, my Dad heard tell that his old classmate from San Francisco’s Hung Gar school had started giving Hung Gar Gong Fu lessons in Sacramento. He was a Mexican-American man who loved the San Francisco 49ers, and, of course, Gong Fu. I’ll always remember him on his Harley Davidson chopper driving past my house, blasting WAR’s Lowrider, (I lived one block away from the class venue) and whenever he passed my Dad’s duplex, and I was out there reading or playing basketball on the driveway, he would make the classic Hung Gar bridge with his hand and cry, “Hung Gar Gong Fu!!!” and ride on, laughing.

bridgehand

bridgehand
This is the Hung Gar hand bridge, Sifu always did that as he passed by on his motorcycle

I was eight when I started learning Hung Gar from him. I realized when I turned eleven or twelve that this was a much more intricate, certainly older, and more interesting, at any rate, than Karate was as a martial art. It was a more deadly art and was much more complex. I didn’t fully appreciate that complexity nor have a deep understanding or at least deep love for that complexity until now. Though I was fascinated by Gong Fu and I didn’t know why. It was like falling in love with a girl whose name you didn’t know yet.

I studied Hung Gar for about nine years. I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t practice that much, but I still acquired a sense of inner calm and muscular strength that is pretty nice. My Dad and I used to frequent William Land Park when I was a kid and practice Tai Chi or the two-man staff form, or else practice the Tiger Crane form and then throw a little frisbee. Good times!

When I started college, I learned Wing Chun from the well-regarded master of Wing Chun, Eddie Chong. This is the time when I actually internalized the true wisdom and power of Gong Fu. He was a great teacher – a little stern perhaps, but what’s life without a little rigor? In any case, his whole concept really taught me that Martial arts is more than learning techniques and drilling them into your head through repetition – it is a lifelong process of self-discovery through repetition. The difference between the two being that one was mindless repetition and the other is repetition utilizing visualization and simply thinking about what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. This philosophy, in turn, improved my bass playing too!

All great arts share this concept in common. The visualization, self-doubt, commitment to success, and more visualization that eventually leads to progress. If one wants to become a basketball player even, they have to do all these things. Randomly  shooting jumpers from random places without focusing on form won’t make you shoot like Steph Curry – practicing while focusing on your technique – on the flick of the wrist, on aim, on the spring of your jump, coordination – all of that coupled with repetition and visualizing an actual situation where your defender is guarding you, and of course, real scrimmage practice, which is akin to sparring in Gong Fu and Karate, will. This is why Gong Fu translates to “skill acquired through effort“, not “fighting“.

The beauty of the art of Gong Fu lies in its history and potential for personalization. Like all great art. The music of Mahler was influenced by the music of Brahms and Wagner, whose music was in turn influenced by the music of Beethoven, who was influenced by Haydn and Mozart, who learned from Bach, and so on. Each knew the tradition, but each expanded on those past masters and improved the art form for their own time periods. In Gong Fu, the same thing happens. Yip Man did it for Wing Chun, and my old teacher did the same for Wing Chun. The comparisons are cool!

Most of all though, Gong Fu improved my life. It gets me through tough times, and increases my inner strength. I would highly recommend Gong Fu to anyone.

 

 

Jazz = Conversation

Ray Brown trio with James Morrison – Honeysuckle Rose

(This is an example of a jazz performance in which all the players are talking with each other. There are countless other examples too, on the Tube of You).

Thelonious Monk on the keys. Ron Carter on the bass. Art Blakey on the drums. John Coltrane on the tenor sax. How about that for a jazz quartet? All giants of jazz from the 50’s on, no doubt about it. But how can such gargantuan figures of jazz music, whose egos must have been pretty large too (and rightfully so) play so well together? You would think that such opinionated musicians from very different musical perspectives and backgrounds wouldn’t jive very well. They would clash, wouldn’t they? Of course, you know they would jive very well, if you know a thing or two about the nature of jazz, because that’s what jazz is: working together.

Yes, you could think of it as working together, perhaps to build a house or as a fantastic quartet of superheroes like the fantastic four, each with his or her own superpower, pooling their abilities to fight the forces of evil; or, you could think of a jazz quartet as an Olympic bobsled team, working together in tandem to race to the finish on the perilous ice track. You could analogize it however you want. I choose to analogize it to a conversation.

Jazz music is so similar to the art of conversation, that I feel it is necessary to write about it. I say, ‘art’ of conversation because that is what conversation is. It is an art form as exciting, as difficult to master, and as refined or nuanced as any. And noone who enjoys or studies music seriously would deny that jazz is an art form as sophisticated as any serious art form out there. It is also an art form as natural and primordial as conversation is to humans!

Take the hypothetical jazz quartet aforementioned. Musicians in such an ensemble will interact and play off each other as they would in a regular conversation, hanging out on the street under the streetlamp with the fellas.

Joe Bataan – Under the Streetlamp (The one and only great pioneer of Salsoul – latin R&B, or boogaloo – Joe Bataan. Love this guy)

They would laugh about the comedy show they saw the other night downtown, or about the young woman one of them met the other day at the park while playing basketball one Saturday afternoon. They would talk, each one in turn, maybe one guy would would banter on and on, and another would interrupt him and call him a jive turkey and call him out that way, and then the garrulous one would assent with an, “oh yeah, you’re right, man.” Perhaps John would suddenly have an inspiration and give a long soliloquy, and then after his long rant ends, the others would comment, gesturing and laughing in assent or disagreement, and the conversation continues with Ron and Art laughing all the while.

In a jazz quartet, comparatively, the same exact interaction would happen, except in a musical sort of language, using only the language of rhythms, timbres, and pitches.

The drummer is the equalizer, the guy who often acts as the moderator of the conversation, the timekeeper, and the one who keeps the rest of the fellas honest and on schedule. The more choleric personality would be the saxophone player or horn, the one who takes all the solos over the changes after the original head tune was played (the ‘head’ being the main subject at hand, the melody being the content of the subject stated by the horn instruments) The bass, of course, is the rock that sticks with his morals and principles with metronomic stolidity. The piano player is the fella who likes to agree with everyone, but still adds his own flavor to the conversation.

These, of course, are the different personalities of the fellas under the streetlamp. Interplay, though, is the most interesting comparison. If you’ve ever seen a jazz ensemble play, they’re always smiling, looking at, even talking to each other while playing music. That’s what makes it fun to watch. If you like to listen to the music more than simply watching the musicians you might hear (and see) them play little motifs that each musician in turn will either imitate or riff off of. A good talker will do the same.

And a good talker will also not try to dominate the entire conversation or else the other fellas in the group will be like: “Yo homie, you trippin’!” and they won’t want to hang out with that guy anymore. Because, in a jazz group, no one likes a domineering hard-ass. However, if he and everyone else in the ensemble is cool and plays what they receive, and each gives only what they take (musically speaking) then not only will the musicians have fun on stage, but the audience will also have a blast, and that is the beautiful positive feedback loop. Make it rain, spontaneous outpour of music-making! And I always enjoy watching a conversation that does the same, believe it or not – one that’s interesting and holds my attention. I might even pay to see it.

miles-davis-quartet

Here is another song by the king of Salsoul! Enjoy!

Joe Bataan – Chicana Lady

A Crescent Moon

I. Reflections of a Deer

A crescent moon rose above the river. Its light cascaded down to it, water sizzling with silvery shimmer. The banks buttressed the light, its rippling gourd of liquid. The moon smiled its crescent smile.

A deer peeped from behind the bushes. Lavender-blue light shone in his eyes. He shyly took a drink from the river, noiselessly padding up to the waters, carefully opening his mouth to lap up the liquid light. He absorbed it, the essence of it made his heart joyous.

He looked up at the crescent moon. He then realized where the river light’s taste came from. The source beamed a silvery smile back at him. It was a revelation that sent little angelic tremors down his spine, and angels of silver descended from the starry sky.

The little deer sent its prayers to the crescent moon. He smiled up to the sky, and the moon tilted further, a recumbent tilt that was not unlike a resplendent gentleman leaning back into his easy chair. This dialogue was interrupted by the wind, amber leaves and sapphire butterflies fluttered along the zephyr’s whistle, and once more, cascading light all about, the wind descended down to the deer. His nose picked up the scent of dewy earth and mildew. One more time, the deer looked up. His eyes were full of silvery light. The moon had sneaked aloft, to the sky-zenith, its light now blotting out the stars. The deer reflected: ‘their light was dimmer, but older.’

He slinked away towards the open prairie, gone amidst the field of mustard and daffodils, until the moon, with its omnipresent light even, could not detect his presence in the field of flowers. The mountains in the morning stood taller and taller as the gold sun rose. Timid at first, its light slowly tamed the purple sky and then set it on fire with its light. Flooded it until everything was revealed.

Birds twittered and shot across the now periwinkle river. Water lapped eagerly at the banks. Shining clearer at dawn, it called the deer once again. And the deer came.

II.  The Bird’s cries

When a bird cries, she cries with abandon. Full-throated peals from its shiny rictus send her timeless revolution to the skies. She becomes tame for a while after expressing herself, the rents the sky open anew with her cries, on impulse and with devotion.

‘I see red and orange and green all around me’, she thinks, and wants to fly all around the earth. This is why she was given wings – to make up for her lack of patience. She gobbles up the colors, the sights. These are her food. Her spiritual desires are quenched totally by flight. The bird, as she soars above the rainbows after rain, drinks the colors, drinks the rain from the sky and then cascades down to catch fish in the periwinkle river.

III. River watchers

It was a prelude to effervescence. A luminescent complicity between animal and earth. That love could exist between nature and sunrise? Between heaven and hell? Between time and space and motion? Everything stood still. Even the wary watchers of the river, the hogs, feral cats, grizzly bears, were on break, sitting idle by the little linden trees, playing jacks on a redwood stump. They learned to know when the world was content. And so maximized their time, enjoying their frugal lunch break now that this scarce harmony gushed its timbre.

Echoes of the night rang in the chill of dawn. But all music must eventually cease. The ringing of the last chord of complete and utter intonation pealed over the ringing silence that followed. And then, after the applause, the earth shuddering one last time with ecstasy, the river watchers again grew wary and came back to watch for signs of danger once more.`

i-solitude

 

Ah, solitude…What does it make you think about? What images are conjured in your mind? What does the word ‘solitude’ remind you of? I for one am one to admit that I used to associate the word ‘solitude’  with loneliness. With the idea of being alone with no one around who cares. This can mean anything from being a little bored or lonely by one’s self or being in utter anomie: no family, no job, no home, on the streets. Thankfully I never experienced this and I intend to keep it that way.

Solitude and loneliness is like the age old analogy of the square and the rectangle – a square is both, but the rectangle is not a square. In this case, a rectangle would represent loneliness, and the square would represent solitude. In fact, it’s a broken analogy because solitude does  not have to be loneliness simultaneously coexisting as the healthy state of mind that it really is.

Because solitude, in my mind, is the healthy state of contemplation in a quiet place.

This is all it is. It is not only a potentially enjoyable experience, it is also very necessary for the evolution of one’s life and mental happiness, and even maturity. Many people these days -thanks to individuals such as Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerburg and other technological pioneers – have unintentionally sabatoged the concept of solitude and quiet contemplation. Like my fiction professor at Sac State said multiple times, i-phones and smart phones in general are distractions that get in the way of real experience, and of course, this especially irks him because he is a novelist. Artists should not be distracted from the solitary concentrated state of mind that they cultivate to write great literature.

I mean, I must admit, he has a great point. He has made it clear that this philosophy should extend to all human beings and that people will turn into machines if they remain glued to their hand-held machines. I have an i-phone, and I enjoy using it, but with moderation, just like with fast food, gossip, and any other “vice”, these devices can be great tools. But Steve jobs and Mark Zuckerburg, despite them being smart individuals, probably did not foresee the amount of takeover, the degree of colonization of the consciousness that has occurred over the past decade with the advent of hand-hald devices and social media. It is quite scary to think about, actually. One could even say – and one of my dear friends already said it – that Isaac Asimov’s prediction has come true: that robots are indeed starting to take over the world. But in a more insidious, invisible way.

This is why we must remind ourselves, now more than ever, that cultivating solitude in our lives – a solitude free from distraction or “connection” with our friends – is all the more important in our lives today in the second decade of the 21st century., We must, I think, do our utmost to refrain from being too distracted just to, at the very least, keep our human sanity, collectively and individually.

Because solitude is like sleep: it heals the brain on a molecular level. Meditation is similar in that it creates a quiet atmosphere for your brain to heal itself. Being by yourself, whether virtually or physically, is not a bad thing because even as social animals we all need a little comfort, shelter, respite. Without that, we are shelterless, like a homeless person, with nothing to protect us from the elements. These elements that i speak of, naturally, are metaphorical representations of the mind’s defects, created from too much time spent on focusing on being “connected”.

I played basketball with a Vietnamese-American at Sacramento State’s gym once. He is now something like 34 years old. He is old enough to remember the Y2K, the advent of hip-hop in urban America, and of a time when smart phones didn’t exist. Can you imagine?! A time when the status-quo meant no cellular technology or social media? I can barely remember that time. Anyways, we somehow got to talking, and he was saying how kids used to act up by having their pants too low or by climbing a tree too high up and not being able to get down, or by throwing wood chips at each other’s friends. He said that that was nothing compared to how kids act up these days – and he did an impersonation of a person looking down at their phone while walking on the street.

“Kids these days are not playing outside anymore. Becasue they vthink they’re already connected with their friends and have no reason to go to gtheir house and play. It’s complete connection, but ultimate isolation”. This particular sentence struck me the most: Complete connection but ultimate isolation. It makes sense though. You’re still by yourself even though by means of virtual signals you can still talk.

By the sea, one can potentially develop spiritual tendencies. How is that even possible if you are on Facebook by the sea? (If you can find reception).

How do you think all of the greatest religions and arts of the world were even developed if not for the natural gift of solitude? Jesus, Siddhartha Gautama, Mohammed, and Zoroaster would have never even dreamed of those monotheistic philosophies if they couldn’t have the means to develop a strong sense of self in their solitary caves. And the alleged founder of the great Chinese martial art, Tai Chi Chuan? Never in a million years would that intricate and brilliant system ever even be conceived if Zheng San Feng was distracted by anxiety of being alone. He was a Taoist monk who thrived on being alone, discovering just by empirical observation alone, the secrets of the universe. (Which I realize, sounds like a bunch of mumbo-jumbo. But if you tried to explain to him the workings of a microprocessor and a lithium based SD card, he would probably believe you).

 

changsf66

 

solitude-image

So go down to the river and think about water. And love that river. But don’t drink from it. Just enjoy the sound of the water, like your thoughts, passing by. And I also realize that, especially in this digital age, it is quite difficult to get used to  being by yourself. It’ll take practice, to re-program the brain into being comfortable with solitude. Pereverence never did any harm though, in any virtuous practice.

The Power of Words and the Greatness of the Dalai Lama

I warn you now, this will sound like a sales pitch. But what’s life without capitalism? Especially sales pitches that pitch for the sale of compassion?

The Dalai Lama is a contemporary saint of the highest calibur. He’s not only as sweet as Tupelo Honey, but he can keep you, father, because his eyes can See, and, made of granite, he is dressed up, but he is also bent on chivalry. Did you get the musical reference?

Richie Havens – Cover of Van Morrison’s “Tupelo Honey”

Seriously though, the Dalai Lama’s book “An Open Heart” has to be the most important book that I have read thus far in my short lifespan so far. It is probably the most influential, life-changing, and most importantly, the most healing book that I have ever read.

Why? How can intellectual knowledge and mere words ever change lives? Well, first of all (and not many people realize this) is that words can change people’s hearts in vast and profound ways. Yes, ‘actions’ seem to be the only actions available to our repertoire of actions to perform in order to change things. (‘Action’, in this case, is a very subjective word, and it, too, is a word after all). We, the People seem to carry this notion on our shoulders like a cross that “Actions speak louder than words” and that one must “walk the walk” and “talking the talk” just doesn’t cut it. I believe this is spouted from people who’s ears have been filled with old cliches and they believe they sound good, and so they parrot blissfully away. I definitely think that some people are motivated to say these words due to past experiences. Some, I think, only parrot these words because they sound good, and that they think actions are better somehow because they seem to enact more general or significant change.

I think this notion is a superficial view and a shallow analysis of the nature of an action and of the fundamental nature of the word. The promise comes from the word, and the action should follow. If the action does not follow, then the word itself wasn’t felt with the proper sincerity.

In any case, I think most people on their high horse who say that actions speak louder than words have no respect for words at all.

But words are so powerful.Words can be actions. Words can kill. Words can drive a person to do inexplicably crazy or sublime things. One can not only change a heart, but more importantly, they can change their own heart.

This is the power of the mantra. If I repeat one thing over and over and over again to myself or to a loved one, me or my loved one will start to believe it. It’s the same principle behind the Big Lie: when a person of power says a lie to the American public enough about certain weapons being contained in a far-away country, or that a certain neighboring country has immoral, baseless, lazy people and don’t deserve to come into the United States, then people will eventually start to believe it. With a mantra, if one hears it enough, their heart will start to internalize it, and they will eventually start to feel the words physically, in their bodies.

This is precisely the power of The Dalai Lamas’s book, An Open Heart. In it, he writes with such simplistic clarity and sincerity, that each sentence – whether the sentence is an explication of today’s issues, or an example of an afflictive emotion, or grain of wisdom from the Buddhist doctrines – is powerful beyond measure. (Of course, some of the credit, as far as the clarity of the language goes, has to go to his editor, Nicholas Vreeland).

Granted, these mere words can only take root in your heart if and only if (like a geometry proof) you actually take the words to heart. In other words, you must not only read the book, but drink the book, read slowly and contemplate the words that you read. And then apply some of the things his Holiness talks about.

Bruce Lee once said: “It is not enough to simply have knowledge. We must apply that knowledge.” This is true also for this book’s words. In order to gain the full benefit of reading the book, and to gain some kind of physical and lifelong reaction to the words; in order, to put it simply, to gain the full benefits of the impact of the sincerity, we must a least make a little effort to apply the things he says about compassion, meditation, contemplation, and reflection on peace and alleviation of all suffering in the world. I’ve found that it increases the enjoyment of the book tenfold!

A brief synopsis of this extraordinary self-help book:

It starts by telling us that our lives and our aspirations for happiness are tainted by a host of afflictive emotions, such as envy and anger. He shows us a way out of the cyclic dukkha existence (the vicious cycle of birth, death, and rebirth) by showing us the Buddhist ways on how to meditate. While meditating, we have to not only develop a sharp mind, but a keen sense of compassion for other sentient beings, including birds, insects and narwhals (which, of course, are simply the unicorns of the sea!)

narwhals

Of course the book is so much more nuanced and detailed than that. Anyways, go. Go, and be cool, bruh, be cool!

Here is great little video that shows us that compassion should not be a sign of weakness, but a natural, ingrained genetic trait that we must express in order to survive! It is a little difficult to understand the Dalai Lama, as his English and accent is thick. Just be patient and don’t have any other windows open on your browser.

Unicorns! In your dreams and in the sea! Double rainbows! Freedom, and free will! Down with cynical fascism! Up with compassion! You already know.

 

Summer Poesy

Will Smith – Summertime

Ella Fitzgerald and Louise Armstrong – Summertime, by Gershwin

And, because one of my most cherished memories involves listening to this song on the radio while my Dad drove me home from the park one summer evening…

Bunny Wailer – Cool Runnings

Poetry and Prose. Written by Miles Tsue over the summer, in Canada and at Cazadero.

I write poetry too. Here is some, to whet your appetite for words…

 

The Darker Side of You

I.

It is pitch black out there,

When young men drop like rain

And the dew of yesterday’s fears

Gathers on the soil of your grandmother’s garden.

 

Inside the City, the light

Shines eternally, and so I see—

I can tell in your eyes

 

That Solace in silence cannot quench

The Thirst

Of an eternity’s worth of longing.

It only indicts your crumbling heart more.

 

It is pitch black out here

Out in the frigid wind,

In your melting heart, like wax

On a lit, forgotten-about candle stick,

Your solitude

 

Blows my fears away when

I see it.

It isn’t posturing—it is likely the most beautiful

Thing I’ve ever seen

The grass grows quicker, and I

can’t wait for you

to look at me

and see

my face,

teary

and

red.

 

II.

The world is the mother that abandoned you.

I want my heart to stop beating.

It is a malaise of time.

 

When the clock ticks, I feel

A grimy taste down my throat.

My vision blurs like a drunk man’s.

When the clock chimes the hour,

The beeps

Sound as if they alert us

That the end of time is near.

III.

Outside, there lives a lizard

Made of stone.

He sits quietly atop a chair, looking at me.

I don’t think he likes the light

And keeps blinking his epicanthal folds.

— (May 29th, 2016)

 

 

The Darker Side of Her

She lays on his bed, ashen-faced,

Smoking cheap cigarettes. Sober as the night sky,

Quiet as a mountain,

And tears lay suspended,

Mired in her eyes.

 

It is pitch black out there.

 

But I stand outside her bedroom window,

And I remember when men would drop like rain

On black pavement,

On their knees, prostrate

 

In front of her, just so

They could have a chance

To go and have coffee with the woman

Who laughed and loved at everything.

‘Yes’ was a sacred word for them,

The mere sound of the sibilance,

Like a snake hissing,

Gave them chills.

When she walked,

They turned into little toy poodles.

 

Now I realize

That shadows followed her

wherever she went,

Gravity of the moon

Pulled her in,

Pulled the seeing eye

Closer to the primordial,

And all were drawn to her

Like the gravity of the sun.

—(May 30th, 2016)

 

Tenderness Dies (June 6th, 2016)

Things broken on a shelf.

Tender nostalgias. A mug cracked in two.

 

The dog ambles into the kitchen,

Sniffs around, leaves unsatisfied.

 

Memories broken, exorcised at

The final stage of denial to rescue the last

Whispers of vanity.

 

The little girl who walks home from school

Feels lighter than he

Who picks up the fragments of his crinkled-up life.

She is too young to feel lonely.

She sits and braids her hair, thinking

How very adult it would be, to be bitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Boy looks in the Mirror (June 10th, 2106)

And sees beams

light seeping through

follicles, fresh

As dew in Spring

 

Vibrant was the ring

Of daffodils blooming in the field

Echoes of the night that lightened his heart.

 

 

An old haven (June 17th, 2106)

Sun, dew, mist parting

She—that day of passion—

Spring had blossomed full,

ripened fast,

the growing grass,

the dew melting on the blades,

and your glance

 

Parting. Sunlight dappled over grass,

That familiar meadow glade

seemed different then

We were safe and warm

Worldly tortures veiled and unknown

But in time, your troubled mind

 

Sought food which was

scarce, but glowing brightly

like a gem gleaming in the light,

could feed a whole village

 

Your milky skin trembled

Gusts of wind made your shirt dance

Sitting as always on the block of granite,

where we sat before, when memory and time melted

into one stew of buttery bliss

Where sun, moon, rain, stars, shooting stars

became friends with us, shared their

loving hospitality with us

 

I left to visit the glade again,

saw the imprint of your fingers

brushed over the rock a thousand-thousand times

 

Later, I saw the imprints of feet in the sand

Which disappeared in the wind, later

 

One among the crowd (June 21st, 2016)

Mention of

diamonds,

solitude,

lemons, aviator shades

remind me

of sunny days at the park,

alone

at the chess table

with the white king in mate.

 

My breath, solid, turgid,

coming in spurts

sends a sighing song

on little zephyrs.

I see

 

A friend among the crowd,

She is engaged

In animate conversation,

laughing, gesturing

gracefully, like a fern tree

dancing with the breeze.

 

My feet take me closer to her, but they are

so far away,

and my feet so heavy,

I cannot judge

consciousness from desire.

 

In fact, as I walk,

These two things meld

Together into a

Confused mental alloy.

II.

My opponent

(an older man who had played black before leaving)

Spoke of these things aforementioned.

 

He told me stories about

Chasing tequila down

With lemon wedges—

 

about cruising down Main Street

wearing shades,

winking at girls walking by—

 

about his swallowing his wife’s

future engagement ring

to protect it from a jealous friend—

 

and about sitting alone by a creek,

thinking of nothing but water.

 

And, his dog.

 

The sun sailed resplendent between

two tall maple trunks,

leaves fanning over them

like masts on an ocean-galleon.

 

The sun twinkled and flitted coyly between the leaves…

 

Then grass smelled nice…

 

The crowd passed by…

 

A kid ran and ran and ran in circles…

 

My friend (I won’t tell you her name)

had looked back before

disappearing over the hill.

 

I almost caught her eye. I stood in

the middle of the park, in the middle of the road, idle, thinking

of nothing,

while the cheery sun

sank lower.

 

Reflections (June 21st, 2106)

Reflections of a pair of sunglasses

remind us that the world

looks back at us.

It sees what affects its

rolling hills and waters

and never looks away.

 

The waters of the sound

wink back at us.

 

The fingers of the tide

tickle our feet,

telling us little gossips.

 

and the birds and squirrels

flutter, twitter, shriek

in agitation and fancy.

 

Earth spins too quickly, sometimes.

 

I see as much love in a bunch

of falling fruit

as I do with the touch of

passionate lovers on a bench.

I hear as much melody in the humming whale

as the rumbling of the symphony orchestra.

 

So many earthen lovers

on the most spiritual of mothers,

the birthplace of the most wonderful coitus of the

universe.

Lonnie Liston Smith – Summer Nights

What Life is – It’s written in the stars (May 16th, 2016)

binary stars

Looking at the night sky, one might wonder how important one relationship with one person really is. There are solid arguments for the significance of a personal relationship, for the elevation of that relationship above all else. A more nihilistic, fatalistic person could say that hell, as fancy as you dress it up, it exists for the most primordial of reasons: The procreation of our species.

By now, of course, you can assume that I mean a romantic relationship.

Still looking at the night sky, one can wonder a host of things. This is why observing the cosmos was, and still is, one of the most spontaneous and enjoyable pastimes that we cherish as human beings. It teaches us how small we and our problems are and an insight on what the meaning of permanence and impermanence really is. Looking at the night sky is any deity of your choosing’s gift to us. It teaches us compassion for other human beings too. It is, of course, a glimpse into the past, into the oldest things in the entire universe, of the most eternal things. Not only are we little, we also have very small lifespans. Stars, despite their million year lifespans, also die eventually. And yet, we still see their legacy, the light that shone a million years ago, the light that traveled all the way to us, at last.

One relationship, which only starts as two strangers getting to know one another, is important. We are naturally social creatures. Like the apes. Whether or not you believe the empirical scientific evidence given to us through tremendous and painstaking research, I believe that our ancestors from prehistoric times were also social. One relationship with another is important because it satisfies and affirms our natural states.

The sky is black. Everything is, up in space. And outer space is black.

Space is nothing. It’s actually not nothing, there are a few atoms of certain elements floating around for every cubic foot of space, but other than that, there is nothing. From nothing, springs everything.

The notion that there is nothing is daunting for people because to them, the world is filled with pretty much everything. But outside the world, there is seemingly nothing.

I suppose, that subjectivity is the heart of it all. Subjectivity is also what makes us human. It is what makes us geniuses in all our own rights. My opinion is, space is nothingness, and that has a meaning to it. I think it’s good that the universe has ‘nothing’ contained in it, because if the universe was filled with say, all light or all worlds, there would be nothing to compare our world, our light, or our moon or sun, with. How can there be light without dark?

Nothing, to me, is a refuge. An infinite island of peaceful solitude. There is nothing more lovely than infinite nothingness. In all the bedlam of life, even the most social of animals need some quiet time with the stars.

Whether its in a leafy glade next to a creek…

Or a wide meadow next to a river.

I often wonder why the sky is so beautiful to us. Then I remind myself that we are made of stars. They are our mother, our father, from many, many, many past lives. Maybe that’s why we gravitate toward the notion of stars as our ancestors watching over us. The mere image of starshine, of moonlight, of the sun, brings out awe and a sense of belonging in us, not unlike the feeling we got when, as children, we saw our mothers. Remember, as a child, when you got lost in a grocery store and your mother was nowhere to be found? And then, with tears in your eyes, when you finally found her, the sense of relief was so great, that your tears dried up immediately? That’s the same feeling I get when I see the starry sky, sometimes.

The thing is, both a rich businessman and a poor homeless man can feel the gravitas of the stars. The great astronomy that revolves around us every day. Sometimes I think it’s a shame, though, that the homeless man is too poor to love it and appreciate it, and the businessman is too rich to care. (This, of course, is a black and white perception. I was recently  taught how to see the shade of gray. I’m pretty sure there are many, many, many of us who have the where-with-all to see the stars and the money to make our beliefs and aspirations known. This blog post is for them).

stars and two people

Love, too. It’s written in the stars. Think about it: sex, falling in love, slow, painful subsiding of love’s lust, or eventual supernovae, which is the death of love, or heartbreak – it is, and ever will be, written in the stars. Because I believe, since we are made of stars, we embody the very nature of them too.

A star chemically reacting to other elements in the universe – that is the chemical reaction of saratonin and dopamine to create oxytocin, which takes place in our brains, which we all colloqially call ‘love’. It’s all science. Red and blue and purple matter colliding together until something happens – isn’t that what love essentially is?

And then, there’s binary stars. They are like those two lovers who can’t see each other. Either they’re afraid, because they are so much in love, or are just having an affair and can’t see each other, but gravitate towards one another all the same, towards the center of their gravitational pull, for all time until mortality fails.

Sometimes, for some people, their time is rather spent skirting around the issue, like a binary star searching forever for its partner, circling and circling but never touching their heart. They both revolve around each other – they could even be mistaken for one – in the end, they have not joined because of a fear or a special tweak of gravity that keeps them apart.

So an actual love affair between two humans – they catch one another’s eye. They sense a flaming ball of energy is there. The earth is round, and the sun is round, and the moon and the core of the earth too, is round. I think the infinity and the imperfect perfection that is implied by the sphere is  conducive to what love should be. Not structured and square and conventional like a cube. Not mechanical. But cyclical and unexpected, like roaming around the earth, which, made evident by the Greek mathemetician Pythagoras was round, and verified by Christopher Colombus too, by accident.

Someone told me once that love is not a scenario in which two people face one another head on, but rather walk parallel to each other, side by side.

Let me consider: if two planes intersect with two given variables, then they face head on. Or… love=1 path +2 people divided by the factorial of the square root of them walking…

(By the way, for those of you a bit awkward or shy or whatever, this kind of analysis will lead to paralysis. Simply put, if you try to think of love in terms of mathematics, you are already leading yourself down a bad path. I beseech you, do not do this).

In any case, love is not math. It can’t be calculated. It’s closer to physics, and even then we can’t explain it. Don’t try to. Just look at the stars and appreciate that we are living because of their light. Life is a bunch of matter floating in space, waiting to collide.

 

Here is a link to a YouTube video of one of Sun Ra’s most beautiful songs, called ‘Tapestry from an Asteroid’ off his LP We Travel the Spaceways. In fact, let me post a few more songs from this album. It’s just so hot, man!

Interplanetary Music

Sun Ra – Tapestry from an Asteroid

We Travel the Spaceways