I was out on the front porch with the guitar, and decided to do a quick livestream to share a mantra for an end to the war in Ukraine.
OM TARE TUTTARE TURE VAJRA DZAWALA PHAT PHAT RAKSHA RAKSHA SVAHA
More info on the mantra is at these links.
My child and I just had an interesting chat about the easing of mask mandates. Her main concern is that it will create an environment of division at her school, where kids are ridiculed if they choose to mask.
I tried my best to reassure her. I hope that staff and admin will do their best to encourage an environment of empathy and mutual understanding.
We all need to do the same.
For me, this starts with giving up my own reflexive attitudes about unmasked people, associating them with right-wing ignorance and such.
The CDC has designated the county where I live as having a “low community level” for COVID. Their guidance for our county is “Wear a mask based on your personal preference, informed by your personal level of risk.”
It seems to me that those of us who have been saying we “believe in science” and “the CDC is the authority” when it came to immunizations and shots throughout the pandemic, have an obligation to refrain from criticism of folks who follow CDC guidance now by not wearing a mask.
Our household will likely still mask in public for the most part, at least for awhile, as we have a lot of close contact with family members who have compromised immunity. I will refuse to accept anyone giving us grief about that, and you should pray that God will protect you if you are hostile toward my child about it.
But those of us who have been cautious throughout the pandemic, and who framed things largely as a struggle against the ignorance of others, might do well to ease up on judging our neighbors in the coming weeks.
If you’d like to check the community level for your own locale, here’s the tool from the CDC website.
My wife had given me Just Kids by Patti Smith as a present quite some time ago, and I had not gotten around to reading it until now. Smith’s 75th birthday on December 30th prompted me to pull it off the shelves. Once I started reading I could barely put it down.
This book was written as a tribute to her first great love, Robert Mapplethorpe. All I had known before of Mapplethorpe was the controversy surrounding NEA funding of a retrospective of his work titled The Perfect Moment that was exhibited shortly after his death (from complications of HIV/AIDS) in 1989. I’m thankful to know more about about this unique and gifted creative spirit, who was instrumental in lifting photography to the status of fine art that it only attained during his lifetime.
Over the course of 200 and some pages, we learn about Smith’s own early life, and her journey from Suburban New Jersey to the center of the mid-1970s Proto-Punk scene at CBGB and beyond. We also learn about Mapplethorpe’s youth, and gain some insight into the sexual and artistic sensibilities that informed his career. Just Kids is so much more than simple biography, though. It unveils the complexities of love and art – and lives that are devoted to love and art.
Poetic, inspirational, joyful, sad, informative, direct and starkly honest, this book was a delight, throughout even the darkest moments of its story. Like much of our greatest literature, it offers glimpses into the universal mystery of the human condition by presenting a deeply personal account of a particular life and time.
The edition I have (with the cover pictured above) is a beautifully bound paperback, with lovely leaves, sig configuration and design. Just Kids is most highly recommended, especially to those who are pursuing a creative life, those who value literature, art, photography, poetry or Rock’n’Roll, and those who dream of friendship and love that endures a lifetime.
I hate to break it to you
But you probably ought to know
Death runs in our family
It’s what got my mom
and my dad
And all of my grandparents, too
Even Grandpa’s second wife
It’s actually a little unsettling
That so many
in our family
Have succumbed to this
It doesn’t seem to matter
How much exercise we get
Or our diets
Or whether or not we’re wealthy
Death just seems
to run in our family
I went live on Facebook to jabber about what we did over the Summer of 2021, and also to talk just a bit about Mantra Practice.
An old man with a ukulele sings Don Henley’s Boys of Summer.
Our friend, Dan, drove me to town for the meeting that night. We stopped to see you before it started. Your sister was there, and a friend of yours who was back home for a visit. He was clearly up to no good. He had his eyes on you.
The ceilings were high. Everything was pristine, silver, black and white. We all stood. No one was seated. Your husband wasn’t home.
You and I went to the southeast corner of the kitchen to talk. We embrace. I place my hands on the sides of your head and draw you to me like a cup. Your eyes are soft and dark and intent. Fire.
We kiss, and your pucker pulls my teeth to yours. You lock me there, teeth to teeth, vacuum and pressure. Stillness. Brainwaves drop into theta. I am falling. I am in samadhi.
Your eyes. Your eyes. Your eyes. Wherever I go in the room I glance and your eyes.
I become aware of the other people in the room. Dan has left, and I realize I have no ride home. I look for a cigarette. I find a tin box with little leftover pieces of cigarettes and they look like the Luckies that my dad smoked. I light one, and take a draw. It tastes of harsh menthol, like a Kool. Nasty. Sick. Regret.
We are in the hallways at a conference. It is morning. I avoid small talk with the others. I find a buffet station. Tiny metal strips with little circles in them – like flattened kazoos – seem like vessels for heating water for coffee.
Wait. That can’t be right.
We added a Tanpura/Swarmandal to our collection of instruments last week, so I’ve been spending a great deal of time getting it under hand, and using it in my daily meditation practice. It works really well for japa with shorter mantras.
I’m hoping to make it through 108 Gayatri repetitions during this month’s Key City Kirtan gathering.
As we watch the COVID 19 crisis unfold in India, and the horrors being inflicted in Palestine, it can be difficult to maintain equanimity or hope. More than ever, in such times, I find it crucial to focus on whatever we can do – however insignificant it may seem – to offer our help.
Here are some charitable organizations that one might consider.
Please help if you can.
you were as witty
as cole porter
and ten times as cynical
i was reading
i’m a heterosexual
i wish i could have found you
wandering the streets
of the city
bewitched, bothered and bewildered
before the pneumonia took hold
and your book ended