Quick Change Artist in Slow Motion…

It's the Good Life....

Take your tambourine and your guitar string and move on down the track
Don’t like the way that you comb your hair the way you drawl you all
And if you’re not out of town before sundown you won’t get out of town at all…

Get out of town before sunset     by Buck Owens

The small time entertainer has been my version of sanity. For most of my life it has driven me nuts having to stay in the same place doing the same thing day after day. I have found it infinitely better to drive from one town to another and pretend that things are different, that I’m escaping from the trap of being stuck in one place. With all the long hops and short stops the new places help keep it feeling like the deck is shuffling. Forget solitude, forget lost, get on out there and go see the world. And then it is as if fate has conspired with your demons and ends up playing its trick on you. The dashboard on the truck starts looking familiar. Truck stops start looking the same. All the small towns seem to be drying up. Yuma can look as bleak to the eye as Columbus, New Mexico. Stripe down the highway in Nevada looks pretty much like the same line you saw up in Montana. Pretty soon that psychic air bag installation has deployed right in front of your big fat delusions. I remember one magnificent sunset some years back. There were clouds in the sky, deepest blue I’d ever thought I’d ever seen, streaks of lavender, bursts of golden buckets of liquid light, saturated with pulsing deep reds, the whole sky afire heralding the end of the day, parked as I was with my rig and travel trailer, overlooking this pyrotechnic swan song to another turning of the cosmic wheel, in another of those small towns, happened to be Bakersfield that day. Stuck as I was in this insignificant corner of creation I could feel the twang and pang of Buck Owens in my heart, the whole thing brought tears to my eyes, what it didn’t bring was any true sense that any of this had made a difference, that all this running around had in the long haul not changed a thing…

Plane Change

The Traveling Show

 

I woke up at 4 in the morning. I’d slept backstage on a sofa in a portable building at the Ohio State Fair where I’d been working as emcee/stage manager on the Main Street Stage for twelve days. By the time I woke up the stage, sound and lights had been struck. Everything was gone. I rolled my gear off the grounds and caught a cab out to the airport. I went from Columbus to Las Vegas to Anchorage. Lacey and I picked up a rental took the Seward Highway westbound our destination Girdwood, Alaska. For three days I studied the love life of bush pilots. Turns out bush pilots compete with fishermen, not for passengers, not for fish, but for the rarest of all rare finds a good woman to hold over with when winter sets in.  I would perform at the Kenai Peninsula Fair about 150 miles south. I was put up in a place ten miles out of the town. One of my favorite events at this fair was the fish throwing contest, something I’d not known existed until I worked this show. Best I can tell nobody knows about the fish throwing contest until you get to Ninilchik. Owner of my cabin was a retired sea tug captain who had worked the Indian Ocean prior to coming back to this little piece of fish tossing heaven. Everyone invited me to go halibut fishing because fishing was epidemic in this part of the world, being the only thing a person could do besides trying to find someone to hold up with before winter sets in. For big excitement one night I drove down to Homer. It was here that I met a pontoon pilot who had lost his sweetheart to another fisherman, and it had sealed his fate. He’d hoped to hold up in his cabin with his lady for the winter and instead gave up, changed planes, changed plans, whole life changed. Last day of the fair this pontoon pilot entered the fish throwing contest. Must have tossed that thing like he was throwing a punch at the guy who’d run off with his girl. It was a silver sparkling thing of rural Alaskan beauty watching that old fish go flying across the fairgrounds…pontoon pilot lost the girl, but won the contest. Everything happens for a reason as best I can tell…

Change Directions

Fire Juggling Lessons

 

“Education can direct our attention to faculties of mind, not just facts in memory.”

                                                                        The Mindful Brain, Dan Seigel

            My smart phone provides access to information I don’t need to carry around in my head. A few years ago I didn’t have a machine on my desk that answered my questions. As a classically trained ballet dancer, juggler and circus arts performer I learned decades ago that training my body to do various physical moves was a whole different scratching of a place in my mind that was hard to itch. Here is the deal. Faculties of mind are not so much about the mind as storage container as it is about the mental muscle of the mind. The attentiveness muscle in particular seems to produce measurable changes in the brain. Here is a list of the key functions enabled by the middle prefrontal areas: body regulation, attuned communication, emotional balance, flexibility, empathy, insight, fear modulation, intuition, and morality. That list of attributes comes from the Mindfulness Research Center of UCLA…For example increasing our intuitive powers would include focusing more attention on how our gut feels. It might include looking at a persons face and bringing attention to the muscles in their face, observing the tension in their eyes, clenching of jaw, posture, tone of voice. It doesn’t take long before we begin to see that our practice produces an increase in our intuitive skills. Figure that most of what I’m talking about is part of the cognitive toolkit we can play with. Playing with this toolkit in the good times increases our talents without having the pressure of coming to a crisis and frantically trying to grasp for them in the hard times. This is not a fix/broken model (I’m not into thinking of us like that) it is a cultivate/enhance model… I like that. Hopefully you will too…

Game Changer

Dwellers on the Threshold

 

“They cannot see themselves well enough to form a true liking and since we automatically fear and dislike strangers, we fear and dislike our stranger-selves.”

                                                John Steinbeck

                                                From About Ed Ricketts

            I’ve my own personal theory of the timing of maturity’s arrival. It seems to arrive more often sooner in some than in nearly half of others. Some of us never grow up, and some of us arrive better late than never. Some of us vow to stop doing stupid things, to listen with greater care to our aboriginal inner authenticity. For example in some they are born with a womb, and with this furnace of creation literally interpenetrating their bodies they can be rendered mature instantly. This is just an opinion, not to be taken too much to heart. Now, for those of us who are not gateways that bring life into this creation we have to work at getting serious about this thing from a different angle. At some point we look up from whatever it is we’ve been toiling over and we survey things. One thing we notice is the thing beneath the likeness we see when looking in a mirror. Then, sometimes, not always, and only if the viewer chooses to listen do we hear this voice, and it is this voice that suggests our visit here is not going to last forever and we might just want to be a little more careful about the way we spend our time here. Once testosterone’s vice grip is loosened from the instincts, it is as if a fog has lifted, and things that rendered maturity mute at once are provided a voice. I have witnessed this miracle of late life onset maturity myself, and it is really something to behold. Of course maturity sounds kind of silly, humorless, mature people can take themselves serious, and this is not the destination I am talking about at all. I’m suggesting a more wondrous mindscape… it’s the Big Bang, the whole enchilada, the unified field. It is that instant flashing across the frontier of your own self awareness when you are moved by something bigger than YOU…the veil is pulled back and at long last you glimpse and hold the thing right in the grasp of the minds eye…it is your souls version of rock art. You laugh like a coyote at the moon. That’s a game changer…

Life Changes

            With A Dream In Your Heart You’re Never Alone   Hal David       

      On Tuesday night I found out that I still knew my way to San Jose. I got a front row at The Magique Bazarre staged at the Improv on Second Street, downtown, where I’ve been away so long. Wednesday night I drove into San Francisco to be in the audience of another show, The Road to High Street Circus. Not so new, New Vaudevillians, Mike Stroud, magician and Andrew Potter, musician presented altogether different shows, but that wasn’t the show at all. Instead there were a thousand chards, a veritable feast of vulnerabilities and even with all that I had the opportunity to see into continuity, the ever flowing, always evolving circumstances of performers seeking to bring their most authentic self to the enterprise. Caught like in a snap shot with a flash attachment, between polished old show versus evolving show…And circumstances were ejecting them from the comforts of the sure fire into the bittersweet jaws of what do I do now? We gain weight, we lose a girlfriend, we buy a house, we move to Tulsa, we take ice skating lessons, we learn to walk. Try this one, we do a show that puts food on our table, and a roof over our head, and we keep doing it over and over again no matter how much everything else in our life changes…that’s the highest high wire of all.

Change for the Better

     Technological innovation seems to push our change buttons. Some changes seem to be headed in the right direction. Other changes seem to be creating unexpected new problems. Shuffling you digital music while driving, trying to have a conversation with someone while they are playing with their smart phone, or trying to decide whether to buy a printed book or the electronic version all present the beneficiary with potential new problems. I’ve been interested in the tension between the emerging technologies and the artistic innovators who are trying to adapt the new digital devices and grow their audience. It seems all of these new innovative digital toys are opportunities and distractions. They are both. Finally, we find we must change the way we do things just to keep up. The tyranny of change in this ever faster changing technological world force us to experience change as having a velocity. And then at some point, I think we all feel it, we find ourselves just exhausted by all the different ways this wave of change just washes over our world. Some of what we do is scaled to the rate of our minds ability to think through an issue. This can take time. Sometimes I like speed and sometimes I like to take my time… a good book, a long sail, a glass of wine while enjoying a setting sun. Here is something I’d prefer not be changed.

Can You Spare Some Change….

Roadless Areas, Places to Go

In mindful awareness we have the opportunity to get beneath the layers of adaptation and enhance the possibility of change.                      Dan Seigel from The Mindful Brain

            All of us have our own story, our own narrative, memories we recall and use to extract lessons to organize our lives. It is common to my experience to speak with a friend and hear a story that draws a conclusion that seems to point to a more constricted life.(I’ll never get that job, she’ll never forgive me, I can’t do that…) We can not change our biography, but we can change the story. The novel is an opportunity to illustrate how a character changes the narrative and how that change alters the story of their life. All of this might appear to be understood, but how many times have we needed help because we’ve become trapped in a narrative and find it almost impossible of letting go? “Why do you think that way?” someone might ask. What stories do you tell? Are you aware of these stories? How might changing these stories change your life? Why is it so difficult to do perform this trick….

Author-Entertainer