The Gulf of Naples with the Island of Ischia in the Distance by Josephus Augustus Knip

Tags

, , , , , ,

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.” ~Mary Jean Irion

The Gulf of Naples

Dated 1818, Oil on canvas – Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Courtesy of Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

Merry Christmas Baby

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Christmas – that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance – a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.” ~Augusta E. Rundel

Early Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all that jazz fellow intangibles! Whatever your beliefs, traditions, or celebrations (even non-celebrations), I hope you enjoy this song. It’s been covered many times and by many artists, but this is one of my favorite versions – I just love Etta’s voice and the music. It gets me into the spirit – it may seem weird since it sounds sultry (and is not necessarily a jingly-jangly song). Well, of course I’m going to explain…

It makes me feel all “lit up like a Christmas tree” – just like Etta sings. It makes me feel warm, silly, giggly…it gets me dancing, and I feel like I have a little alcohol buzz brewing in my head. Why? I don’t really know – certain songs just affect me strongly and this one does it for me for Christmas. Even if I’ve been in a humbug mood, this song can turn me around…even gets me excited to go back home (if you missed those posts – indulge yourself here and there).

My family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve – so we are one of those families that stays up until midnight (on Christmas Eve) and then opens up presents. We get together around 7 p.m. or so and hang out, eat, talk, play games, sing, etc. until the big moment. It does seem midnight occurs earlier and earlier each year (which is complete BS because when I was a kid we had to freaking wait until it was exactly midnight – my younger cousins have no idea how easy they have it with soooo many things…). Ok mini-rant over – it seems a lot of the aging adults are just getting more tired earlier.

It’s funny – you can literally feel the anticipation – you can hear the mumblings beginning…”should we start now, maybe we should wait till midnight this year, oh man it’s only 9!, oh Grandpa is tired – we need to start…” Sure, blame it on my 85 year old grandfather (hehe). I always stay really late anyway (like 2-3 a.m. late) since it is the only day we get together. Christmas day itself was always an optional drop-by and eat left-overs day – most family members are spending time with their in-laws’ family etc. Speaking of that…

There is an advantage and disadvantage to having all your parents and in-laws in the same town (by parents I mean my divorced parents and their new spouses – which makes for a whole other set of family to visit). My husband and I have to strategically plan our visits to every family unit – it makes for some interesting compromises – but it is well worth it. Each family unit is so different too – we always enjoy the unique ways we spend time with our families. We sometimes even manage to get both sets of my parents AND my in-laws together (which makes it very nice for us). Luckily, everyone gets along just fine – no drama at all (thank ye gods).

You just never truly appreciate the easiness of being a child until you’re an adult – holidays just occurred – you didn’t plan anything. You were just dragged around to whatever house, or stayed at your house and put up with people invading your space, and you ate, opened presents, played, and crashed the heck out. Sure, you might help some but it was non-committal – you might start something and then stop, wander off and start playing again. Woohoo! At least that is how I remember things – it was easy and fun. Well seeing the “man behind the curtain” as an adult does take some of the magical illusion away, but hopefully now you’re a part of making that magic happen for the younger generation (and for yourself). Perhaps you’re even creating some magic for your parents and your older generation of family.

Here’s to this upcoming Christmas and holiday season… may we all remain safe and make the best out of whatever may come our way. Crap is bound to happen – it always does – don’t let that alter your entire experience (I am reminding myself of this too). If you haven’t started jamming to any Christmas songs yet, well let Etta welcome you to the season. Hopefully you’ll be feeling more merrier and “lit up like a Christmas tree” too. Jam on…

“What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.” ~Agnes M. Pahro

Moonlit Landscape with a View of the New Amstel River and Castle Kostverloren by Aert van der Neer

Tags

, , , , , ,

“Night is a dead monotonous period under a roof; but in the open world it passes lightly, with its stars and dews and perfumes, and the hours are marked by changes in the face of Nature. What seems a kind of temporal death to people choked between walls and curtains, is only a light and living slumber to the man who sleeps afield.” ~Robert Louis Stevenson

Dated 1647, Oil on panel - J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Dated 1647, Oil on panel – J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

    

Man of the World

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

“I have my own particular sorrows, loves, delights; and you have yours. But sorrow, gladness, yearning, hope, love, belong to all of us, in all times and in all places. Music is the only means whereby we feel these emotions in their universality.” ~H.A. Overstreet

I LOVE this song – it shatters my soul – it’s one of those songs that you just know the person who wrote it (and is singing it) knows mental anguish, heartache, and loneliness. When Peter Green sings “but I just wish that I’d never been born” – man, I feel it – and the instrumentation at that moment just exacerbates the feeling.

Yes, this is Fleetwood Mac – the original Fleetwood Mac (pre Stevie Nicks, Christine McVie, and Lindsey Buckingham). Peter Green actually founded the band in 1967. I’m sure you can guess that the musical style is different from the popular Fleetwood Mac music that most people know. I’m not here to say one style is superior, or inferior, to the other – I actually like both incarnations of the band.

A band is shaped by the creative people in it – each person brings their own uniqueness to the mix…and that special ingredient reacts to the other band members differently. Just think of these bands: Pink Floyd – Syd Barrett version and David Gilmour version; The Moody Blues – Denny Laine version and Justin Hayward version; Genesis – Peter Gabriel version and Phil Collins version (there are plenty more bands I could name). I know there are rabid fans who truly dislike, even hate, certain “versions” of these bands (and other unmentioned bands), but I dig all versions because they are different. As long as the music still speaks to me, I will continue to ride that wave with the band.

Change…evolution…adaptation…these occur everyday (whether we like it or not) – and I enjoy seeing that process. Sure, sometimes it is a painful and confusing experience , but sometimes we receive that epiphany and that elucidation leads to magical things (or at least really cool things). That process happens with music too – some records, songs, band line-ups, etc. are pure perfection and seem to align cosmically with our personal journey. God, I love music!

When I discovered there was another “version” of Fleetwood Mac, I was excited to delve into another musical experience – and wow – if you’re into the blues at all, you must check out the original Fleetwood Mac stuff. I know “Man of the World” is not really bluesy, but this song was towards the end of Peter’s time with the band… and he was beginning to individuate from the band (and himself). He was to embark on a mental battle that many sweet, creative, and fragile souls seem to share…

…but let him tell it through his music: “I could tell you about my life – And keep you amused I’m sure – About all the times I’ve cried – And how I don’t want to be sad anymore – And how I wish I was in love.”

I’m pressing “play” again… till next time… Jam on…

 

The Bed Song

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

“Sticks and stones are hard on bones, – Aimed with angry art. – Words can sting like anything, – But silence breaks the heart.” ~ “A Choice of Weapons” by Phyllis McGinley

Lyrics:

Exhibit A: We are friends in a sleeping bag
Splitting the heat we have one filthy pillow to share
And your lips are in my hair
Someone upstairs has a rat that we laughed at
And people are drinking and singing bad Scarborough Fair
On a ukulele tear

Exhibit B: Well, we found an apartment
It’s not much to look at – a futon on a floor
Torn-off desktop for a door
All the decor’s made of milk crates and duct tape
And if we have sex they can hear us through the floor
But we don’t do that anymore

And I lay there wondering what is the matter
Is this a matter of worse or of better
You took the blanket so I took the bed sheet
But I would have held you if you’d only let me

Exhibit C: Look how quaint and how quiet and private
Our pay checks have bought us a condo in town
It’s the nicest flat around
You picked a mattress and had it delivered
And I walked upstairs and the sight of it made my heart pound
And I wrapped my arms around me

And I stood there wondering what is the matter
Is this a matter of worse or of better
You walked right past me and straightened the covers
But I would still love you if you wanted a lover

And you said all the money in the world
Won’t buy a bed so big and wide
To guarantee that you won’t accidentally touch me in the night

Exhibit D: now we’re both mostly paralyzed
Don’t know how long we’ve been lying here in fear
Too afraid to even feel
I find my glasses and you turn the light out
Roll off on your side like you’ve rolled away for years
Holding back those king-sized tears

And I still don’t ask you what is the matter
Is this a matter of worse or of better
You take the heart failure, I’ll take the cancer
I’ve long stopped wondering why you don’t answer

Exhibit E: you can certainly see
How fulfilling a life from the cost and size of stone
Of our final resting home
We got some nice ones right under a cherry tree
You and me lying the only way we know
Side by side and still and cold

And I finally ask you what was the matter
Was it a matter of worse or of better
You stretch your arms out and finally face me
You say I would have told you if you’d only asked me
if you’d only asked me
if you’d only asked me

This song just pierces my heart with its message – and the video just drives the nail deeper. It’s such a beautiful and poignant piece of art. Really – how many relationships have you seen like this (or been in like this… are still in like this)? The couple might appear to have everything outwardly, but they are dead on the inside – just biding the time until they physically die.

My interpretation of the song centers around the importance of communication in a relationship. How often do we avoid saying something just because we don’t want to deal with the already-played-out-in-our-mind confrontation? We’ve already had an entire internal dialogue in our mind and leave it at that – without actually talking to the other person. Admit it – you’ve done it. I’ve done it. I work really hard at not letting that internal preconception hinder me from externally expressing my thoughts.

How horrible to live in a mental prison while also feeling imprisoned in your relationship – like this couple in the video. They were the happiest when they first met and had nothing – had nothing to distract them from each other. It is so easy to go on “auto-pilot” and just mindlessly go through your daily routine. The years pass by and the relationship drifts farther and farther apart. The very last verse just kills me: “And I finally ask you what was the matter – Was it a matter of worse or of better – You stretch your arms out and finally face me – You say I would have told you if you’d only asked me – if you’d only asked me – if you’d only asked me.”

Talk to each other – talk about your fears, concerns, hopes, dreams, small things, big things, funny things – whatever… just talk to each other. It does really make a difference. All relationships have to be nourished – they don’t just continue to exist at a healthy level without any work. It takes effort and it takes both individuals to make it work. One-sided nourishment doesn’t work at all in relationships. Don’t allow too much time and/or damage to occur before you start living mindfully in your relationship.

As I wrote in this post, I’ve seen many people in my family divorce after 18-25 years of marriage. I believe too much time and damage killed some of these marriages – too many years on auto-pilot – too many unspoken words – too many “still and cold” moments with each other. Wake up and live – be mindful in each moment – and remember not only to express yourself but to ask questions and listen to your partner. Until next time my fellow intangibles – Jam on…

“If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?” ~Stephen Levine

Origin Artists: The Moody Blues

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

“There you go man, keep as cool as you can – Face piles of trials with smiles. It riles them to believe that you perceive the web they weave. Keep on thinking free.” ~ “In the Beginning” by The Moody Blues

Hello fellow intangibles! Are you ready to embark upon this sojourn with me as we explore my second origin artist? If you missed my first post regarding this topic, please click here to be transported safely to that destination. Ok, here we go…

The music of The Moody Blues have been expanding my mind since I was a child, and their music and lyrics remain very spellbinding. With album titles such as Days of Future Passed, In the Search of the Lost Chord, On the Threshold of a Dream, A Question of Balance, and Seventh Sojourn, how could I not help but be entranced? It especially helped that the album artwork matched the titles so well. I was their captive audience (and still am) – and I never want to be freed.

I consider The Moody Blues’ music to be atmospheric music – what that means to me is that the music creates a different atmosphere, realm, existence, etc. for me because of the layered and complicated quality of the music and lyrics. The music is lush and verdant – transcendental. They use copious amounts of instruments and sounds to tantalize your aural sense. This type of music almost makes itself tangible to me (and no special treats are needed to achieve this effect *clears throat* you know what I mean).

“Visions of Paradise” from In the Search of the Lost Chord (1968) is an excellent example: “The sounds in my mind just come to me – Come see, come see – And the call of her eyes makes waterfalls – Of me, of me…”

I just adore the flute in that song – ethereal. I always reveled in their intertwining of spoken poetry and songs too. The poems consistently were the perfect introductions to the songs – like getting a quick glimpse at a beautiful picture before you have the chance to truly devour the details. Here is your glimpse…

“The Dream”

When the white eagle of the North is flying overhead
The browns, reds, and golds of autumn lie in the gutter, dead.
Remember then, that summer birds with wings of fire flaying
Come to witness spring’s new hope, born of leaves decaying.
As new life will come from death, love will come at leisure.
Love of love, love of life, and giving without measure
Gives in return a wondrous yearn of a promise almost seen.
Live hand-in-hand and together we’ll stand on the threshold of a dream.

This video is actually a shortened melding of “Have You Heard (Part 1)”, “The Voyage”, and “Have You Heard (Part 2) from On the Threshold of a Dream (1969). The poem “The Dream” is spoken before this suite of songs on the album. For some reason, I always feel impelled to exhale deeply throughout this song – breath therapy.

In 1999, I was able to see The Moody Blues live for the first time with my Dad and husband. It was a magical moment to be able to share that experience with my father – the man who introduced this band to me. Unfortunately, it occurred 10 days after my best friend tragically died in a car accident – I was 22 years old (and so was she). At first I wasn’t sure if I should still attend the concert – was it right, proper, decent? Yes, I should – she would’ve wanted it. Their music permeated pass my numbness and encapsulated me in its warmth – I could start grieving…

A Question of Balance (1970) gave me “Melancholy Man” – “All the world astounds me and I think I understand – that we’re going to keep growing, wait and see.” This song has a tumultuous quality to it – a storm brewing beneath the surface, growing in strength – blustery and impassioned yet melancholic.

I am not capable of expressing how much this band has influenced and shaped my life – how they have enriched and invigorated my soul. They will eternally enthrall, enlighten, and engulf me. Do you have an artist that evokes strong emotions within you? Do you want to listen to more of The Moody Blues now? Well, you know my answer… Jam on intangibles…

“Between the eyes and ears there lie the sounds of color and the light of a sigh. And to hear the sun, what a thing to believe, but it’s all around if we could but perceive.” ~ “The Word” by The Moody Blues

Can’t Find My Way Home

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

“Time is what we want most, but what… we use worst.” ~William Penn

An early Happy Thanksgiving to all you intangibles out there – I hope it is a wonderful time for all. Is anyone traveling “home” this week? I am – my husband and I – traveling to our hometown tomorrow. I always get a little nostalgic going back – I’m sure most of us do at times. I realize as I get older how much more disconnected I feel from my hometown. Does anyone feel that too?

For me, I think it is all the changes within the family that create the dissonance. Deaths and divorces pop up in my mind. My family structure has really changed over the years…

My grandmother passed away in 2007, and Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday (she died right before Thanksgiving that year too). It was always a time for everyone to come together and celebrate as a family – and not just immediate family but extended too. I consider my “immediate family” all of my grandmother’s children (she had 9 kids including my mom); I consider my “extended family” everyone else that is related to us (our Thanksgivings mostly consisted of my grandmother’s side of the family versus my grandfather’s family). It was more like a huge family reunion with never-ending food. After her death, the big gatherings happened once, maybe twice, and then stopped. The individual family units decided to celebrate separately (thus my grandmother’s kids would still come together). I never knew how much I would miss all that chaos.*sigh* Even within the immediate family, the inevitable (it seems) dissolution has begun… we’re like little clusters orbiting around each other that occasionally make contact.

Divorces… it seems people in my family like to be married 18-25 years and then get divorced. My parents and three of my aunts/uncles were married for this length of time and then decided to divorce for various reasons. I’m not judging their decisions – it is not my place – marriage has to be nourished. However, I can’t help but remember when I was a kid and how everything was at that time – with everyone. It’s like half of those marital units are gone – no more gatherings with them. Honestly, some of those halves needed to be omitted, but the naïve and innocent child in me still remembers us all “happy” and “together.” I like to think I’m not totally delusional and that we were all happy at those moments – even if just for a few seconds.

The most current divorce situation just happened last year – and now I have to watch my cousins wade through their mire. Change is inevitable. Again, some of these marital changes end up being positive in the end – though the journey can be rough. We all have to evolve…

So why drag all this up? Why write about it – share it? Maybe it will help someone realize (or remember) that any change can happen at any time – then all of a sudden you’re dealing with memories. I have to constantly remind myself to “be in the moment” when I go home because I want to cocoon and withdraw in my mind. I can very easily (and robotically) sit there and chat while being lost in my thoughts. I have to actively remind myself to burst out of my cocoon and truly engage with my family. This takes a lot of energy – I am a true introvert – but I do it because I know I will regret taking more of those “moments” for granted. You never know what Life might send your way – if this holiday will be the last time you get to see someone.

So I will use my mental prowess to block out negative memories (and negative energies) of my hometown (that is a whole other set of potential posts lol), AND focus on appreciating, connecting, and sharing with my loved ones on this Thanksgiving. My wish is that you can do that too – “that” being whatever you need to do to fully cherish this moment with your loved ones. Here’s to all of us making that extra effort more often (and not just at holidays)… one day at a time…

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” ~Thornton Wilder

Bacchanale by Alessandro Magnasco

Tags

, , , , , ,

“The man who arrives at the doors of artistic creation with none of the madness of the Muses would be convinced that technical ability alone was enough to make an artist… what that man creates by means of reason will pale before the art of inspired beings.” ~Plato

Dates about 1720-1730, Oil on canvas – The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

 

Pray Your Gods

Tags

, , , , , , ,

“I feel my body weakened by the years – As people turn to gods of cruel design – Is it that they fear the pain of death? – Or could it be they fear the joy of life?” ~ “Pray Your Gods” by Toad the Wet Sprocket

Religion can be such a divisive topic. It’s really quite sad because it should be a unifying concept. People can be so inflexible when it comes to religious beliefs (and some of that is built into the dogma). You can not question nor can you deviate from “the book” (whichever “book” that might be which pertains to a specific religion).

Yet there ARE deviations within religions – denominations. I guess it is alright for some schism to occur as long as it still falls inside certain guidelines? Just within the Christian religion, there are about 41,000 different denominations that have been reported. (If that link got you excited – check out more here). Those 41,000 unique denominations, again, just represent Christianity.

How can so many different dogmas be “the one true religion”? How can so many different religions have the “right” god(s) to worship? How do you know if you’re in the right group? And what if you choose not to believe any of it…are you just screwed? What if you believe bits and pieces of multiple religions? What if……… (the questions are endless and the answers are sometimes questionable themselves).

How about you mute all the noise and find out for yourself? I believe spirituality is an ongoing journey with many paths and obstacles. The important thing is creating a personal sojourn. Don’t let what others believe, or don’t believe, distract you from your own exploration. Yes, there are people that can help guide you, but it is up to you to do the work.

Whatever you choose, let the decision be based on something solid that you questioned and researched. Don’t blindly follow, or shun, your spiritual adventure because others have tainted the idea of religion – make it your own. Sometimes you have to make peace with past religious experiences to be able to move forward. Believe in a religion, believe in a general spirituality, believe in nothing – it IS your choice after all.

“Not all religion is to be found in the church, any more than all knowledge is found in the classroom.” ~Author Unknown