Monday, August 30, 2010

attack of the WTFs

I think it's time to admit something to you, friends and listeners-of-my-music. While it's true that I have a generally sunny disposition, I, too, am occasionally laid low by a sudden attack of the WTFs. They creep in at night, usually when I'm "hangry" (that familiar hybrid of 'hungry' and 'angry', articulated to me by the formidable Regan Kelly), and ask me, snarlingly, WTF I'm doing with my life.

I believe that everyone has a purpose. It's the thing you do best, and that best expresses who you are. It's not always what you feel like doing, or what most needs doing, it's what you feel compelled, or "called" to do, from somewhere deep inside.

Though I am guilty of a superficial ambition for fame and fortune, my actual purpose in is something deeper and lovelier. When I moved to Philadelphia in 2006 to make music full-time, after a soul-clarifying summer in San Francisco, I brought with me the following statement, written on a little green note card:

My purpose as a musician is to write and perform bravely, passionately, playfully, and honestly. By doing so, I intend to move people and open hearts.

In other words, I want to help people experience what Joseph Campbell calls "the rapture of being alive". This is my purpose in life, not just in music, but making music is an excellent way to get the job done (partly because music has always been the most reliable way for ME to experience said rapture). After four years and about 400 shows, that's still what I mean to do, every time I get on stage.

When I get an attack of the WTFs, they usually start with a superficial question. For instance: "Why didn't you play better, just now?" or, "Why aren't YOU headlining at that venue?" The question behind the question is this: "Are you really serving your purpose?" And the answer is, I don't know. My purpose is not something measurable, or even visible. It's about small changes that happen in people's hearts. I can't possibly know, unless you tell me.

So, I'm writing this post, with great reluctance and biting of nails, to ask for your help. If my music has moved you, I would like to hear about it. Your responses will not be published anywhere, and I don't need the details, unless you want to share them. Just send me an email, and tell me that you're there, you hear me, and it's working.

Monday, August 16, 2010

figgeldy piggeldy

We moved into this adorable South Philly house last November, with its handsome wood floors and its cute little fig tree in the back yard. Suddenly, this week, the cute little fig tree has exploded with fruit. This is about the third daily haul of this size.

Now taking suggestions. What to do with all these figs?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

some things that are amazing

It's amazing to be alive, when we are cruising around in such ridiculously fragile machinery. Being born is a little like putting a raw egg in a Radio Flyer and giving it a good shove down a steep and rocky incline.

People I sort-of-know, but am not close to, have been coming down with a lot of illness and death recently. It brings to mind the fact that death is the rule, not the exception. Statistically, the probability that I should be sitting here breathing, rather than ashes and dust, is not quite zero, but a dot followed by too many zeroes to fit on this continent, and then a single 1, somewhere near Australia.

With that thought in mind, it's amazing we don't wake up every day and shout, "BOY HOWDY! I'M ALIVE AGAIN! WHAT ARE THE CHANCES?"

Thursday, August 5, 2010

how to be a human

I am a bona fide technology addict. That said, no matter how deep my love for my iPhone, I am still human enough to notice that technology has a dark side. Whether it's an interest in Facebook that borders on obsessive-compulsive, or the ghost-town isolation of being the only one on a busy street not talking into a cell phone, I'm betting you've noticed it, too. I don't deny that technology creates connections between people, and is the breeding ground for some wicked-cool art and craft. But on the other side of that shiny coin is a crazy-making, attention-span-hacking, mind-numbing, soul-sucking hellion.

So, in case you forgot (like I do, most of the time).

In four easy steps.

1) Turn off your phone, and your laptop.
2) Sit. For at least five minutes. Without. Doing. Anything.
3) Experience something sensual. Pet your dog, listen to the sounds outside. Eat a mango, watch the light move across your room. I mean really experience this thing. Notice that you are an animal, in the world, right now, living inside a squishy, warm animal body.
4) Seriously, turn them off. Just try it.

Tea, blueberry smoothie, Settlers of Catan.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

geek joy

True geekhood is a wonderful thing. All geeks know this. The ridicule we may have endured in middle school is a small price to pay for the joy of being a geek. We make ourselves deeply familiar with a particular area of study, because it is only then that the smallest, most seemingly irrelevant discoveries bring on that special geek joy; a bliss that is visceral, magical, ecstatic.

For instance. The drum sound in this song, to me, is like taking a bath when your toes have frozen white. Or like stepping off the plane on your way to baggage claim to meet someone you loved madly, after years apart. It's like iced tea, in August, after running a mile. But you haven't drunk it yet. You're just reaching for the glass.

Stormy Blues-Billie Holiday