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52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Thirty-Three: Messages from Up High

5 Jul

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Signal Hills, Temples, Fortresses, Domes and Steeples: It has struck me today as I climbed up to Signal Hill on Pender Island, that I am always climbing to communicative vantage points. In almost every country that I have visited, I have this fascination with getting to the highest points where their citizens have found inspiration. In turn, they have used these places to communicate with their people because of the visibility from up high. These citadels, minarets, bell towers and other have been used throughout the centuries for various military, political and religious reasons to protect its people, and present important communication over land and, sometimes, sea. There was a sense of security in each community beneath these communication points knowing that someone was manning these towers and could communicate key pieces information to other relevant parties through light, bells, voice, instruments, flags, semaphore, Morse Code, and other agreed upon signals.

I remember, in particular, when I visited Boston, the story of Paul Revere warning his people of the British Red Coats coming. Beyond all odds, he found the highest point in the city in the steeple of The Old North Church:

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,–
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.”

Mass Communication: Since then, we communicate through all sorts of modern means: mail, radio, telephone, email, video conferencing, etc., and in some respects, we are relying on our highest points of satellite to be our newest technology temples. We have become quite connected through multi-media across various communication management systems and social media venues. However, what seems most interesting is that the more connected we become (with less of a need to stand on mountain tops in order to be heard), the less clear it is becoming about what are truly the most important messages. The key messages are being diffused by the trillions of other messages that are being transmitted millisecond by millisecond to millions of sources in the immediate and global vicinities. We are left decoding: “What is important? What should I pay attention to?”

Messages from Up High: What becomes critical then, is to consider the source. All of this information may be coming through a place of high visibility, with what seems to be very interesting news. However, these sound bytes of information, often static in their importance and tentative in their longevity, may not be meaningful for long. What we need to be listening to, instead, is our information from our higher collective power. Our intuition and our connection to the spiritual energy within and around us is what is most important. It helps us receive information that is authentic and meaningful from the external sources from around the world.

Through these spiritual lenses, we filter and make sense of the valuable signs and symbols. We then learn to appreciate the magical synchronicities of these messages and our experiences. We learn to know what messages are the powerful ones because we start to trust ourselves with how we receive and interpret them. We become both the signal towers and the receivers. Therefore, instead of looking up to find the high places that have traditionally been the telegraph hills, look within, and in doing so, the messages we hear will be certain to be the necessary ones. The “lanterns” hung up at the steeple are never lost where we pay attention.

“To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”
― Mary Oliver

Pressed: 52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Twenty: Buying a Ticket

22 Jul

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Twenty: Buying a Ticket.

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52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Twenty: Buying a Ticket

Being specific: Elizabeth Gilbert writes so eloquently in her book Eat Pray Love (2006) about being specific about what you want when you are seeking outwards into the universe:

Of course God already knows what I need. The question is—do I know? Casting yourself at God’s feet in helpless desperation is all well and good—heaven knows, I’ve done it myself plenty of times—but ultimately you’re likely to get more out of the experience if you can take some action on your end. There’s a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man who goes to church every day and prays before the statue of a great saint, begging, “Dear saint—please, please, please…give me the grace to win the lottery.” This lament goes on for months. Finally the exasperated statue comes to life, looks down at the begging man and say in weary disgust, “My son—please, please, please…buy a ticket.” (Gilbert, 2006, p. 176)

I think we are often very general about what it is we are seeking. We tend to know that we want to feel healthy, happy and secure. We know when we experience joy and when we are not content in what we are doing. However, we are not always really clear about why things are positive or negative for us. I believe that finding some clarity for myself might improve the quality of my perspective and the success in achieving what works for me.

Sending out the wrong messages: We are often a bit more specific about what we don’t want. I know that of late, I have been pretty clear about what I do not like in life about people, lifestyle, and about society in general. If I am really honest with myself, I am learning that I have definite aversions to things, and I steer clear, giving a wide berth to these unpleasant things or people, very much like I used to do when approaching the skunks that would come up from the neighborhood park. Sometimes, I will go as far as getting up and walking in the other direction when negative things I do not like come up, saying to myself, “I do not need this right now”. However, when we pontificate about what we don’t want, we send energy into the universe about where it is we are “stuck”. I say stuck because things don’t tend to bother us if we are free of what it represents to us. As a result, the universe keeps sending us that energy as if to say, “Well, this is what you keep talking to us about, so I am just adding to the conversation.”

For example, I cannot stand the sound of electronics buzzing away, or distracting people. It represents to me noise, laziness and pop-culture gone wild with stimulation overload. In my childhood, I watched television passively suck up and waste much of my family’s time, and as a result I learned to stay clear and be selective of my screen time. I encouraged the same of my son who vehemently objected when I would impose electronic limits on him. Therefore, when I now meet people who watch sports all day on the television, or talk at length about their recent gaming escapades, I put two-and-two together and assume that they buy into those negative electronic attributes that I associate with recreational technology use. I step back from having relationships with people who can quickly list of their top twenty television or computer programs. With this being said, I do admire technology when used constructively and optimally in the educational or work place. I guess, to sum this up, people who even talk to me about recreational technology don’t have a hope of connecting with me, especially if they are trying to date me.

Buying a ticket: However, I long for something “else”—something off the “grid”, and yet I am not really specific about it, likely because I don’t truly know what it looks like. I have become a bit better in my 40’s about being clear about my intentions by designing some vision boards, or setting goals and ironically, many of these goals have come true. However, I have never really articulated what I “want” in detail for fear of seeming demanding, or greedy. God (or that special life force we call God–God in the spiritual sense of the collective energy around and within us) has bigger fish to fry than my less important requests. It was refreshing to read Gilbert’s Chapter 9 about petitioning God as she obviously felt similarly and her friend’s candid response was refreshing:

I don’t like asking, “Will you change this or that thing in my life that’s difficult for me?” Because—who know?—God might want me to be facing that particular challenge for a reason. Instead, I feel more comfortable praying for the courage to face whatever occurs in my life with equanimity, no matter how things turn out…”Where did you get the idea you aren’t allowed to petition the universe with prayer? You are part of this universe, Liz. You’re a constituent—you have every entitlement to participate in the actions of the universe, and to let your feelings be known. So put your opinion out there. Make your case. Believe me—it will at least be taken into consideration”. (Gilbert, 2006, p. 32)

So, I need to “buy the ticket” for the ride I really want to go on. However, now comes the bigger question, “Which ride is right for me, or which lottery do I want to win?” Life doesn’t present many second chances, although I am finding that it actually does give us some “re-do’s” unlike what the great philosophers profess about not being able to go back. We can stop and turn around and try again where we make the opportunity to do so. However, that turning around takes incredible willpower and fortitude, so it is sometimes best to be intentional and get it right the first time around.

Being clear: What do our minds, hearts and souls long for? I know that mine are getting clearer. I know that I want to learn about the world, but not so broadly that it is overwhelming. I want to learn how people find peace in themselves. What are people doing to be happy? What do they eat, seek and create to be the best that they can be? These questions will likely lead me to churches, spiritual rituals and celebrations, and, as well, fine art that demonstrates how people unearth their most important selves (sacred and secular). Therefore, I need to be open and clear about how I do it so I can reciprocate in this discovery process as I travel and grow. As a result, I need friends (or as Gilbert would say, “champions”) who are exceedingly strong and capable of this type of journey, and have set themselves up already to do this type of self-reflection and exploration alongside me.

It is interesting that my son is a sociology major. I think we have been talking about people for a long time together as he grew up. I envy him his post-secondary studies learning about societies around the world. I miss school, but school is second-hand learning that inspires us to get out and see things first hand and begin making positive first and second order changes in our local and global communities. I have been in school long enough. I am now ready to do my learning first hand and viscerally touch the things and places; smell the aromas and taste the food that inspire people to be happy and healthy. My new experiences in the Comox Valley have taught me that we all live differently, and we are all spiritually seeking “something” even when we do not know it. The key is to be clear about it, and in the next few weeks, I hope to map out exactly what I hope to petition from the universe.

Pressed: 52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Eighteen: The Message of the Whales

12 May

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Eighteen: The Message of the Whales.

Gowland Point Facing States

The Message of the Whales

He handed me several beads, and sat quietly and knowingly on one knee in front of me, as if he were not a complete stranger: “You have several strengths.” Each sea shell or rock bead that he slid into the palm of my hand had something very unique about it. I wasn’t sure what to do with them, so he placed his hands one on top and beneath my hand protecting them. “Each bead represents a separate strength that you know you possess, but have not brought to life yet”. His beauty and energy were hypnotic. “You wrap it in this small cloth and I will come around later with some red wool for you to cherish it safely. You can keep these beads with you, or you can keep them somewhere else near you for safe keeping once we are done”. He looked directly into my eyes. His intensity was powerful and I had to look away. I hadn’t been able to hold eye contact with anyone recently, except at work where it was professional, safe, and expected. He continued to sit in front of me. “Do you understand?” He sat quietly in my discomfort. I nodded. “Good. I’ll come back later.” He walked over to sit next to the elders or “siem”. There was no “chief” here. Chief is a government-applied term, although it was apparent that some of them held a greater position of respect than others.

It occurred to me as I sat at the hearth of the largest fire that I had ever seen at this First Nations Big House, that I was spiritually depleted. One of the men continued to put large pieces of Douglas fir into the fire, feeding its hypnotic inferno. My eyes followed the plumes of smoke escaping upward into the open-air ceiling. I marveled at the magic of this place made up of polished cedar poles all standing tall and grouted one beside the next. After a long trip back from a conference for work in San Francisco, I considered how much I had changed in the past seven months of being on the island in “the valley”. The male elder sang his prayer to us to the beat of his drum. His plaintive, jagged aboriginal inflections filled the space around us. Until now, I had been reciting what Robert Bly had advised his readers“…to suck out all of the marrow of life’…” as I pursued my lifetime dream to move West. Fate finally pushed me out of my Alberta nest as another bout of pneumonia and a job as a school principal exceeded my capacity. I took a leap of faith and left the cold prairies to be in a place with a kinder climate and a chance for a fresh start, on my own.

What I noticed right from the beginning was that it smelled right here. The pungent earthy smells of forest and ocean welcomed me. I had found my new relationship, and it was one with the setting around me. I had chosen the earth as my new love. Island life, both on Pender Island and Vancouver Island, took my breath away from the phosphorescent night time stars to the violent winds that assailed the trees and forced me to seek sanctuary by real fires that I had learned to light. I had found the right fit for me in what K’omoks referred to the valley as the “land of plenty”. I felt a sense of joy every time I found a new path, and experienced a new flower growing somewhere that I had not known flowers to grow before. It was a healing place, and I would grow here.

Food tasted good in the Big House. Sockeyed wild salmon cooked on cedar planks over a real fire was not only powerfully delicious, but exciting to my psyche because it had been so recently alive and swimming in the Puntledge River next to us. The faces around me were masked by the smoke and flickering shadows of the big fire. The strange prayers chanted in this other language by the descendants of the Northern Georgia Strait Coast Salish held my mind captive until I let go and fell asleep.

I opened my sleepy eyes to the face of the young Salish man who had given me the beads earlier. “You are tired.” He had come back to hear my strengths that he has assigned me to attach to each bead. Embarrassed, but too dizzy with the fire and the food to care, I shared a list of ideas with him in a quiet whisper, and ended with the last one: “relationship”. He smiled, and bowed his head a bit so that I could see the top of it as he kneeled in front of me. I was warm with the fire and a blanket over my lap, but I was also warm with our connection. “You have travelled a lot and seen the world,” he surmised. I nodded. “Now it is time to travel inwardly so that you can be in relationship.” How many people had he said this same message to in this special ceremony, I wondered. He smiled, guessing at my cynicism. “You are very strong minded.” Yes. I agreed with this young-elder. “Hang on to those beads.” He put his hand in his pocket and took out a stone with the image of whale on it and handed it to me.

“You know the power of the whale.” He assumed a knowledge that I did not have. It occurred to me just then that throughout my life, I had either bought, or been given pictures, ornaments and jewelry with the images of whales on them. It truly just dawned on me then that they were everywhere in my home. Until now, I had never really made the connection to my fascination of them. In my young adult life, I had sought them out, but they had never appeared. It was a joke I had that I would never see one, even though I had sat on several West Coast beaches for hours with binoculars waiting for them. However, later in my life, on a trip to Pender Island, I had witnessed my first Orcas at Thieves Bay. I never forgot the magic of seeing the pod as they swam by spouting plumes of water out at us. Later in life, when I was in Newfoundland, my almost adult son and I marveled at the grey and ming whales that seemed to be in every harbor we encountered. The whales had finally found me.

“Whales take away illness,” he explained. “They represent family.” In retrospect, whales had been a symbol for me of the mysteries of the ocean that were always a world away from my cold prairie life. They represented my dream of a different life style. Now the whales were part of my new ocean world. Did they really have the power to heal me? Perhaps the whales had brought me to Pender Island where I now lived just above where they travelled either alone or in pods in the spring and summer months. I had not known until I moved in that I was so close to them. Again, he held my hand and I focused on the earing he wore sparkling in the firelight along with his silent charisma. “Listen to the whales,” he explained, as if I knew what he meant. I finally looked into his eyes, and I knew that this message was intended just for me. The whales had been speaking to me all of these years, and it was only now that I had finally paid attention. Unconsciously, I had sought out places where they lived, and also, how interesting to note that I now lived in the “valley of the whale” as the glacier called Queneesh has much First Nation significance as the powerful whale that saved the people (http://beyondnootka.com/articles/queneesh.html)

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Eighteen: The Message of the Whales

12 May

Gowland Point Facing States

The Message of the Whales

He handed me several beads, and sat quietly and knowingly on one knee in front of me, as if he were not a complete stranger: “You have several strengths.” Each sea shell or rock bead that he slid into the palm of my hand had something very unique about it. I wasn’t sure what to do with them, so he placed his hands one on top and beneath my hand protecting them. “Each bead represents a separate strength that you know you possess, but have not brought to life yet”. His beauty and energy were hypnotic. “You wrap it in this small cloth and I will come around later with some red wool for you to cherish it safely. You can keep these beads with you, or you can keep them somewhere else near you for safe keeping once we are done”. He looked directly into my eyes. His intensity was powerful and I had to look away. I hadn’t been able to hold eye contact with anyone recently, except at work where it was professional, safe, and expected. He continued to sit in front of me. “Do you understand?” He sat quietly in my discomfort. I nodded. “Good. I’ll come back later.” He walked over to sit next to the elders or “siem”. There was no “chief” here. Chief is a government-applied term, although it was apparent that some of them held a greater position of respect than others.

It occurred to me as I sat at the hearth of the largest fire that I had ever seen at this First Nations Big House, that I was spiritually depleted. One of the men continued to put large pieces of Douglas fir into the fire, feeding its hypnotic inferno. My eyes followed the plumes of smoke escaping upward into the open-air ceiling. I marveled at the magic of this place made up of polished cedar poles all standing tall and grouted one beside the next. After a long trip back from a conference for work in San Francisco, I considered how much I had changed in the past seven months of being on the island in “the valley”. The male elder sang his prayer to us to the beat of his drum. His plaintive, jagged aboriginal inflections filled the space around us. Until now, I had been reciting what Robert Bly had advised his readers“…to suck out all of the marrow of life’…” as I pursued my lifetime dream to move West. Fate finally pushed me out of my Alberta nest as another bout of pneumonia and a job as a school principal exceeded my capacity. I took a leap of faith and left the cold prairies to be in a place with a kinder climate and a chance for a fresh start, on my own.

What I noticed right from the beginning was that it smelled right here. The pungent earthy smells of forest and ocean welcomed me. I had found my new relationship, and it was one with the setting around me. I had chosen the earth as my new love. Island life, both on Pender Island and Vancouver Island, took my breath away from the phosphorescent night time stars to the violent winds that assailed the trees and forced me to seek sanctuary by real fires that I had learned to light. I had found the right fit for me in what K’omoks referred to the valley as the “land of plenty”. I felt a sense of joy every time I found a new path, and experienced a new flower growing somewhere that I had not known flowers to grow before. It was a healing place, and I would grow here.

Food tasted good in the Big House. Sockeyed wild salmon cooked on cedar planks over a real fire was not only powerfully delicious, but exciting to my psyche because it had been so recently alive and swimming in the Puntledge River next to us. The faces around me were masked by the smoke and flickering shadows of the big fire. The strange prayers chanted in this other language by the descendants of the Northern Georgia Strait Coast Salish held my mind captive until I let go and fell asleep.

I opened my sleepy eyes to the face of the young Salish man who had given me the beads earlier. “You are tired.” He had come back to hear my strengths that he has assigned me to attach to each bead. Embarrassed, but too dizzy with the fire and the food to care, I shared a list of ideas with him in a quiet whisper, and ended with the last one: “relationship”. He smiled, and bowed his head a bit so that I could see the top of it as he kneeled in front of me. I was warm with the fire and a blanket over my lap, but I was also warm with our connection. “You have travelled a lot and seen the world,” he surmised. I nodded. “Now it is time to travel inwardly so that you can be in relationship.” How many people had he said this same message to in this special ceremony, I wondered. He smiled, guessing at my cynicism. “You are very strong minded.” Yes. I agreed with this young-elder. “Hang on to those beads.” He put his hand in his pocket and took out a stone with the image of whale on it and handed it to me.

“You know the power of the whale.” He assumed a knowledge that I did not have. It occurred to me just then that throughout my life, I had either bought, or been given pictures, ornaments and jewelry with the images of whales on them. It truly just dawned on me then that they were everywhere in my home. Until now, I had never really made the connection to my fascination of them. In my young adult life, I had sought them out, but they had never appeared. It was a joke I had that I would never see one, even though I had sat on several West Coast beaches for hours with binoculars waiting for them. However, later in my life, on a trip to Pender Island, I had witnessed my first Orcas at Thieves Bay. I never forgot the magic of seeing the pod as they swam by spouting plumes of water out at us. Later in life, when I was in Newfoundland, my almost adult son and I marveled at the grey and ming whales that seemed to be in every harbor we encountered. The whales had finally found me.

“Whales take away illness,” he explained. “They represent family.” In retrospect, whales had been a symbol for me of the mysteries of the ocean that were always a world away from my cold prairie life. They represented my dream of a different life style. Now the whales were part of my new ocean world. Did they really have the power to heal me? Perhaps the whales had brought me to Pender Island where I now lived just above where they travelled either alone or in pods in the spring and summer months. I had not known until I moved in that I was so close to them. Again, he held my hand and I focused on the earing he wore sparkling in the firelight along with his silent charisma. “Listen to the whales,” he explained, as if I knew what he meant. I finally looked into his eyes, and I knew that this message was intended just for me. The whales had been speaking to me all of these years, and it was only now that I had finally paid attention. Unconsciously, I had sought out places where they lived, and also, how interesting to note that I now lived in the “valley of the whale” as the glacier called Queneesh has much First Nation significance as the powerful whale that saved the people (http://beyondnootka.com/articles/queneesh.html)

Fifty-Two Weeks Begin Now: Week Fourteen: The Pregnant Pause of Reflection

13 Jan

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The Last Steps:   The final steps of my move away from Calgary, such as formally selling my house in Calgary; giving up my Alberta Health Care Card; transferring my Alberta pension to British Columbia; transferring my doctors’ files and severing these longstanding relationships; giving much of my furniture to my son, and other endings, remind me of the finality of my “big life change”.  I have truly “done it”, and now the reality of it all settles in.  My kitties sit beside me as I sit in front of my little fireplace, and together we contemplate what this all means.  Why did I do this?  Where do I go from here?  With whom do I share the next part of my BC journey?  My son came to visit me, and I think he is proud of my hard work to get here and establish myself.  I think he is a little bit in awe of what I have done, and holds a new respect for my new found independence.  He speaks of my parenting of him with a new sense of pride.   I have modelled to him that a life change is possible with enough hard work and perseverence.

I will admit now that this has been gutsy.  People were telling me that it was, but I wasn’t really hearing them, and understanding it.  There was no time to look over the edge and speculate what I might be losing by leaving at the time, but now that I peek over, I am a little dizzy from the realization that I am here now, and I did it by myself.  I missed a work day last week out of sheer exhaustion.  I slept all day.  It is finally dawning on me the sheer scope of this move, and that the transfer of my 47 years of identity in one place to another place is truly life altering.  I have been keeping up with the unboxing into my two new homes on Pender and Comox and making them feel like home; a new job, and my new BC status in all regards.  However, the dawning of a new life is hitting me now.

Now What?  I was “called” to come here, and now I have to seek the deeper meaning in all of it and savour the changes so that the magnitude of why I am here is not lost on me.  I have been so busy making the changes that I have to now sit down and look out at the vista around me.  And rest.  For example, today I noticed that the snow looks and feels different here than in Calgary.  It holds a new meaning as everyone here marvels at it as it only comes once in awhile.  What a new perspective on the dreaded snow that Calgarians hate seeing so much of the year.  I look forward to reflecting on life in new ways.  I have been exploring and enjoying it, but all of it has not embedded itself within me yet as I ask, “Why am I here?”

No Regrets:  Don’t get me wrong, as I have very few regrets in the change.  I am not pining nor romanticizing the past, although I miss people from time to time.  It is scary to sit and face the future alone and with a blank slate on which to write my new story.  I have a home, a job, but “now what?”  I am confident that there is a “now what”, but I need to be clear and open to understand “what is NOW” first.  I am slowly getting more time to really sit and look and listen.  It takes courage to be alone and really think about things.  It is much easier to stay busy and keep moving.  I need to pay attention to what messages I can get from new people, places and things.  What can I learn from all of this newness?  Everything has a new implication or life lesson.

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way,  creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything  useful.”  Margaret Wheatley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pressed: 52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Six: What is My Ground Bass?

3 Sep

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Six: What is My Ground Bass?

52 Weeks Being Now:  Week Six:  What is My Ground Bass?

Background:  The Passacaglia Within:   I find when things get complicated; I often revert to musical analogy to make sense of my thinking.  Perhaps this is because music was part of my upbringing, and I believe that its style and composition resemble the way that we operate in real life which is why we are so kindred to music in everything that we do.  A passacaglia, for example, is a type of music that is built over a ground bass.  This ostinated bass line of approximately 10 to 20 notes repeats over and over throughout the duration of the composition.  A good example is Pachelbel’s Canon  (You Tube version) that we all know so very well.  Slowly as the piece unfolds, there are multiple soprano, alto and tenor voices and variations that unfold over the bass line.  The bass line is important because it sets the key and establishes the bass note of the chord progressions that can go over top of it. This particular example is a peaceful version of the idea that I hope to explain further.

What is My Ground Bass Line?  As I talk to people, both new and familiar, I realize lately that we are all playing a theme and variations over our own bass lines.  Our bass-lines get more pronounced with age, if we have not actively changed them.  Pachelbel’s Canon works very well as it is in a major key, and allows for many chord progressions that are uplifting and thought-provoking.  It does not grow tiring (unless, of course, you listen to it too often).  I would refer to its ground bass as one of “hope” and “optimism”.  This might explain why so many people (including myself, 21 years ago) have used this particular canon for our wedding processionals.

Although we all have the ability to have multiple themes and variations in our lives, we do have the tendency to have one dominant bass line that grounds us to our life path.  It is like our key message, or essential essence.  It stays with us unconsciously until we consciously decide to change the track.  Again, it sets the key and determines the harmonic progressions over which we operate our lives.  Sometimes, I learn very clearly what people have as their core ostinato, as I listen to our conversations.  Sometimes they are positive and say uplifting things, and this is why we like to be around these people as their music warms our heart:  

  • I think that good things are happening
  • I want to help people
  • I like who I am
  • I am at peace with whatever comes my way
  • I care about my family
  • I want to make good things happen in the world
  • The world is a good place to be

Sometimes, the repeated bass lines in our lives are not as positive, and it is more difficult to understand.  The melody falls flat.  It is boring and repetitive and grates on the listener’s ears:

  • I am running out of time (biological clock)
  • I do not like my role in life (parent, wife, husband, career, single person, married person, other)
  • I do not like myself
  • I need to make money to prove my worth
  • I am afraid of what is happening in the world
  • I do not think I am worth being around
  • I have failed at things, and am unlikely to be successful
  • I wish I were somewhere else

The music unravels quickly and the minor and dissonant message loses its musicality.  A fine musician can pick out the message of each composer’s bass lines pretty quickly.  Intuitively, we all can if we put on our metaphorical headphones around each other, and really listen.

Being in Tune:  I don’t know why this idea of comparing our lives to Passacaglias came up for me today.   All I know is that lately, I am reading pretty clearly what people’s dominant bass lines are that come through what they are saying, their body language or what they are not saying at all.  In my efforts to have a fresh start, I am sensitive to what people are telling me.  As well, I am listening to myself and trying to understand what my own ground bass is, and what it is telling people about me in return.  I think I am finding it is best to stay in “The Key of Shelley” (to borrow a title by CBC).  (I have always thought I worked best in the key of E flat major, but who can really say.)   Most importantly, I am accepting that it is okay to not want to continually listen to everyone’s music where it is not musical to me.  We are entitled to our preferences, and where I am an eclectic listener and appreciate all music, I tend to return to the music that inspires me.

Pachelbel’s Canon:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOA-2hl1Vbc

52 Weeks Begin Now: Week Six: What is My Ground Bass?

3 Sep

52 Weeks Being Now:  Week Six:  What is My Ground Bass?

Background:  The Passacaglia Within:   I find when things get complicated; I often revert to musical analogy to make sense of my thinking.  Perhaps this is because music was part of my upbringing, and I believe that its style and composition resemble the way that we operate in real life which is why we are so kindred to music in everything that we do.  A passacaglia, for example, is a type of music that is built over a ground bass.  This ostinated bass line of approximately 10 to 20 notes repeats over and over throughout the duration of the composition.  A good example is Pachelbel’s Canon  (You Tube version) that we all know so very well.  Slowly as the piece unfolds, there are multiple soprano, alto and tenor voices and variations that unfold over the bass line.  The bass line is important because it sets the key and establishes the bass note of the chord progressions that can go over top of it. This particular example is a peaceful version of the idea that I hope to explain further.

What is My Ground Bass Line?  As I talk to people, both new and familiar, I realize lately that we are all playing a theme and variations over our own bass lines.  Our bass-lines get more pronounced with age, if we have not actively changed them.  Pachelbel’s Canon works very well as it is in a major key, and allows for many chord progressions that are uplifting and thought-provoking.  It does not grow tiring (unless, of course, you listen to it too often).  I would refer to its ground bass as one of “hope” and “optimism”.  This might explain why so many people (including myself, 21 years ago) have used this particular canon for our wedding processionals.

Although we all have the ability to have multiple themes and variations in our lives, we do have the tendency to have one dominant bass line that grounds us to our life path.  It is like our key message, or essential essence.  It stays with us unconsciously until we consciously decide to change the track.  Again, it sets the key and determines the harmonic progressions over which we operate our lives.  Sometimes, I learn very clearly what people have as their core ostinato, as I listen to our conversations.  Sometimes they are positive and say uplifting things, and this is why we like to be around these people as their music warms our heart:  

  • I think that good things are happening
  • I want to help people
  • I like who I am
  • I am at peace with whatever comes my way
  • I care about my family
  • I want to make good things happen in the world
  • The world is a good place to be

Sometimes, the repeated bass lines in our lives are not as positive, and it is more difficult to understand.  The melody falls flat.  It is boring and repetitive and grates on the listener’s ears:

  • I am running out of time (biological clock)
  • I do not like my role in life (parent, wife, husband, career, single person, married person, other)
  • I do not like myself
  • I need to make money to prove my worth
  • I am afraid of what is happening in the world
  • I do not think I am worth being around
  • I have failed at things, and am unlikely to be successful
  • I wish I were somewhere else

The music unravels quickly and the minor and dissonant message loses its musicality.  A fine musician can pick out the message of each composer’s bass lines pretty quickly.  Intuitively, we all can if we put on our metaphorical headphones around each other, and really listen.

Being in Tune:  I don’t know why this idea of comparing our lives to Passacaglias came up for me today.   All I know is that lately, I am reading pretty clearly what people’s dominant bass lines are that come through what they are saying, their body language or what they are not saying at all.  In my efforts to have a fresh start, I am sensitive to what people are telling me.  As well, I am listening to myself and trying to understand what my own ground bass is, and what it is telling people about me in return.  I think I am finding it is best to stay in “The Key of Shelley” (to borrow a title by CBC).  (I have always thought I worked best in the key of E flat major, but who can really say.)   Most importantly, I am accepting that it is okay to not want to continually listen to everyone’s music where it is not musical to me.  We are entitled to our preferences, and where I am an eclectic listener and appreciate all music, I tend to return to the music that inspires me.

Pachelbel’s Canon:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hOA-2hl1Vbc