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October 25, 2010

Today (actually yesterday, the 24th, going by the calendar. It is the 25th now and I am still up.. into the small hours) was odd in that I felt mostly calm. Very odd.

Usually, I feel in such a terrible rush. I don’t know what I’m rushing for.. death? In a hurry to just get life over with so I can finally rest??

I don’t know.

I sometimes believe in reincarnation. If reincarnation is true, then death is not much of a rest at all. According to the Tibetan system, there is a period of 49 days (or is it 39? I think it is 49) between one’s death and next rebirth. As I explained in a previous blog, the Tibetan system of reincarnation is immensely complex.

If we die only to be reborn again, there ain’t much rest there! The only rest is sleep. My mind is pretty busy at least some of the time that I am asleep. Ever wake up tired? I do sometimes, even if I’ve had plenty of sleep.

Today, I lay in bed after waking for longer than usual. Sometimes I can get over my anxieties early.. just lay in bed and think about things, go over them in my head, and not get out of bed until I’m clear. I forgot exactly what I was cogitating about this morning, but I came to a conclusion.

It might have been something along the lines of .. “if I have to go through life anyway, there is no reason to panic, I should just accept it..accept because I’m going to keep living until it is time to stop, and I have chosen not to choose the time. I will die when it is time to die. I don’t know when that time will be, so I won’t wonder about it. I’m going to keep living.. maybe for a long while.. perhaps I have half my life ahead of me yet.. so why worry if I’m going through it regardless.”

I was also thinking about music. I’ve been trying for over half my life to be a good (well.. preferably outstanding beyond words :>D) musician, and have not ever learned even one complete song. It’s really bizarre. I can pick up any of several instruments and make “music” on it, but not actually know how to play it.

This bass guitar thing.. people who don’t know bass guitar assume it is super easy to play – that is true only if a person decides to play the most basic of bass lines – such as you might hear if you listen to AC/DC. Bumpbumpbumpbump and occasionally the bassist moves his fingers a few inches here and there. Yeah, that only takes a few months of practice.. but to be really good at the instrument.. wow.. I don’t want to think about how much time.

I don’t know how long it will take me, and I don’t care. That part is not important. What is important is that I pick it up everyday (and it really is damn heavy!) and am diligent about playing it. I keep saying to myself.. “I’m on a mission. I AM going to play bass!!”

I sat down today (and stood for awhile, have to get used to standing up and playing – and get used to the weight of the instrument on my shoulder and somehow avoid having my blood circulation cut off..ouch! part of being a bass player) and played and watched a DVD I’d bought the night before. I played along with the onscreen exercises.

I truly am a beginner! I get all kinds of weird noises when I fret the strings, and don’t pluck them very well with my right hand either. Tried, though.

Bass players are taught to use only the first 2 fingers of their right hand (unless they are left-handed) to pluck the strings, alternating fingers, but that just doesn’t seem very practical. I have a thumb and four fingers on my hand. Some of the most inspiring players, like Victor Wooten and Les Claypool, use ALL their digits!

And when I play guitar, I almost never use a pick, I use my thumb and the first three fingers – never the pinkie, though. But still, this seems more efficient. I am thinking I’ll just work out my own style of playing.

Some bassists use picks, and this works pretty good for metal, but generally, bassists tend to use their fingers, especially if they play music from more than one genre, like I want to do.

Besides playing bass, I finally finally finally figured out a short but beautiful pennywhistle tune! I don’t have the music, so have been trying intermittently to play it by ear – easier to do with a whistle since there are much fewer notes than on most instruments. But still, I had tried multiple times before and just couldn’t get it. Today I could. Finally.

The tune is actually two. One is a major Celtic folk standard, the other might be an original by the woman playing it in the video. Her name is Sandy Jasper. She lives on Vancouver Island somewhere, and earns a living mostly by handcrafting whistles. I only know her through the internet – the youtube video, and I bought a whistle she made, but I couldn’t play it due to the soundholes being too close together. Exchanged a few emails with her, and she was very nice about allowing me to ship the whistle back to her and get a refund. She makes some beautiful whistles! The sound hole spacings will not be a problem on lower whistles, just on the high D, like the one I bought.

The tune is called “Mortin Ban & Blarney Pilgrim.” Find it on youtube, it’s lovely! “Blarney Pilgrim” is the part of the tune that every whistle player knows. “Mortin Ban” might have been written by Sandy.

I know what the notes are now, and wrote them down. Haven’t perfected the tune, however. There are nuances and a certain rhythm it is played in that I need lots of work on yet, but I figured out the notes!

Most of the day, I was strangely calm, and able to focus on music while playing. This almost never happens! I practiced acoustic guitar for a little while too. Still working on the intro to my favorite acoustic instrumental piece called “Mysterious Habitats.” Type that into youtube.. several people have made videos of themselves playing it. Absolutely beautiful piece, and far too advanced for me at this time, which means I play the intro slightly wrong still, but that’s ok, better than not playing it at all.

The main part of the piece includes not only part of the intro, repeated a lot, but a whole other piece. Most of the time, the music sounds like it is being played by two or three guitarists at once, but it is only one! Beyond amazing!

I played what little I knew and was pretty much fine with that. Picked up a pick, tried other things.. almost never play with a pick – I find it a lot more difficult. Tried an intro to a Black Crowes tune. I was actually able to play without rushing, and felt peaceful about it! Remarkable!

I even stayed pretty calm when my mom said some insulting things. She usually isn’t like that, and is under a terrible amount of stress. She’s the one handling most details of the possible selling of our duplex and us moving, and also spends lots of time checking on my dad, who, unfortunately needs lots more assistance than he used to. I help out with stuff too of course – help out a lot, and had to point that out to her. And I didn’t get really mad. Weeks ago, I had anticipated that the stress level would ratchet up somewhat as time went by and the house was finally put on the market.

Mom has a very very bad habit of talking out loud about things.. figuring them out – out loud, but talking as if the decision were already made. Very tough to deal with. Now she says she is having major second thoughts about selling the house, moving and all that. Second thoughts are understandable.. financially, it could be tough for us for awhile if we move. But she just sounded ominous today.. not seen her quite this disturbed and disturbing.. no, she wasn’t freaking out terribly, just in a much darker mood than usual.

We had a talk. It was a very fortunate thing that I felt so much calmer today than usual.

Most days, I have that terrible rushing over-amped up feeling, as if I had downed 10 cups of coffee (I even get wired on decaf – so almost always avoid any coffee). And, if I don’t feel crazily rushed and hurried inside, I tend to feel a strong depression. Today, didn’t have either.

Why not? If I knew, I could repeat what I did!

A combination of elements I guess.

I don’t know.

Hope to be feeling much more calm and focused when I need to be focused.

Still more to do (not tonight, I mean in general.. daily) …. not only hours of practice of music per day, but other things to work on as well.

Still don’t think I can get myself to study Spanish though, but I keep worrying about it. I think maybe it is easier to study it than worry about it.

Oh well..

It is past 2 am now, and I am going to take a bath. I shave my head bald in the tub, since it takes such a long time to shave my head – and I’m half bald! Feels better though.. usually can’t stand having stubble on my head for more than 2 days, and the longest I can go with head stubble is 2 weeks. It’s driving me nuts now, and need to shave my face too, so I will do that. Probably look better with some head stubble and somewhat of a beard, instead of the kojack buddhist kung fu billiard ball look, but this feels better.

Probably won’t be in bed ’til at least 4 am. Didn’t get to sleep ’til 4:30 am this past night/morning. That’s ok. Years ago, I stayed up ’til dawn many nights in a row. I prefer to go to bed before daybreak, so even 4:30 am is ok if I don’t have to get up for anything. It’s good to have my activities and work scheduled in the afternoons and evenings.

Right then.. wonderful to be calm. Hope to continue with that..

One more thing I have been mostly calm about today.. not bothering with search for spirituality.

I have been intensely and obsessively searching for a spiritual practice, and I am still not pagan and not officially buddhist either. A few Buddhist teachings help, and that’s it.

I had the thought recently that if I find a spiritual path, it will NOT be because I have searched for it. It will just happen. Naturally.

I’m going to do my best and let it be.

Alright.. just finished (mostly) proof-reading the entry.. now it is 2:34 am and I still need to eat, so will skip the bath. Do that tomorrow.


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