Monthly Archives: February 2012

Have you ever felt that you were “different”?

I have, and it used to bother me a lot, so I tried to be less “different.”

Where did that get me? Absolutely nowhere.

So I finally (and very gradually) woke up to an important fact:

There is no “different.”

As the apostle Paul put it so simply: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female…”

And that list could go on and on into infinity.

We are who we are, and each one has an important role in life, a significant message to offer…it doesn’t even matter if you’re part of the smallest minority on the planet, you’re just as powerful, important and BLESSED as anyone.

The secret is to EMBRACE that, CLAIM it, and then LIVE it…

Easier said than done? Maybe, but just keep on keepin’ on, and pretty soon the essence of YOU will take over, as if it had a life of its own…because it does.

Do you feel “different”?

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Gardening

I miss having my hands in the dirt.

In my book, I write about growing up in the country and always having a garden of some sort. My sister Bertie and I, when we lived in Newtown, Connecticut, had a yearly ritual of planting marigolds and zinnias in a small plot right in front of our house. We planted them from seed, turning the soil over with a fork and making neat rows. I used to love to water them and watch every day for the tiny green sprouts to push their way up through the dirt.

In another plot at the side of the house, I had a big red poppy plant that was my pride and joy, and we also had peonies, lily of the valley and daffodils that grew wild in various parts of our acre yard, and which we tended with care. Azaleas and purple and white lilacs with their heady scent graced the entrance to our house. Bertie and I used to prune them every year, along with the barberry bushes that grew alongside the stone steps leading to our back yard.

But what I missed in my Connecticut gardening adventures was growing vegetables. When we used to live on Long Island, we had a small vegetable garden. Much as I love flowers, there was no bigger thrill to me as a small child than picking fresh peas in the pod and eating them raw, or pulling a fresh head of curly lettuce out of the ground, or yanking up juicy orange carrots. It seemed like a little miracle to me that such wonderful things could grow in the ground.

Now I’m a city soul and it’s been years since I’ve had my hands (and feet) in the dirt. I have to confess I sometimes fantasize about having a little plot of land out in the country somewhere, perhaps with a small pond, and lots of space to plant things.

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Imagine…

…if things weren’t the way they seem at all

…if everything were actually wonderful and perfect

…if there really were some benevolent principle governing the universe

…if we were really meant to be happy and healthy and fulfilled — always

…if all people loved each other and knew they were brothers and sisters

…if we really weren’t dragging around a physical body, but were actually spiritual

…if life were actually a continual, never-ending unfoldment of wonderful events

…if we really lived forever, like twinkling lights in the heavens

…if all we had to do was open our eyes and hearts to realize all of this

Imagine…

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Pure, Free, Bright…

Pure as crystalline water in a lake, silent and still

Pure as the gentle breeze that that wafts through my window

Pure as the deep sky at night, dotted with stars and the sliver of a moon

Pure as the raindrops falling on the grass in the quiet afternoon

Free as the flight of gulls over the curving shore

Free as the wind blowing through the tree-lined streets

Free as the steps of children running on the mosaic boardwalk

Free as the red balloon loosed from a boy’s small fist

Bright as the white sheets drying on my neighbor’s line

Bright as the sun when its rays find their way through my curtains

Bright as the billowy clouds dancing in the azure blue

Bright as the moonlight reflected in the ocean at night

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Brass Tacks

I had always been a jazz pianist, from age 13. I started playing professionally at 15, and joined the musicians’ union, gigging all through high school with musicians twice and three times my age. It was great fun.

I give a fuller description of my musical trajectory in my upcoming book, of course, but today I want to mention a major change of direction that took place for me in 1983.

Piano trios, me with bass and drums, had always been my “thing,” but I reached a point in the early 80s when I started yearning for something else: a bigger sound, some kind of vehicle for my compositions that would be fuller, more, shall we say, boisterous.

The result of this longing was Brass Tacks, my 10-piece band. It includes seven brass instruments (no reeds), among them two euphoniums, a rarity in  jazz.

Here’s a sample from my CD, “My Joy” — “Passarinho do Mato,” my original composition, which means “Little Bird of the Jungle” in English.

http://soundcloud.com/jazzrascal/01-passarinho-do-mato

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On deadline!

Recently I took a month off from my regular translation work to finish up a music project. That project actually ended up taking more than a month, but it finally did get done.

Now I’m back to translating, and yesterday I got a HUGE job that will keep me very busy for the next four days. But I’m not too concerned about finishing it, because I’ve been given a deadline. Somehow, deadlines always manage to get me up off my proverbial butt and spur me on to do things that can seem almost impossible.

When I don’t have a deadline, I find it very hard to impose one on myself. This bothers me, because I’ll soon be working on several music projects that will require me to set my own time frame. And the worst thing is that I’m trying to transition away from translating all the time so I can get back into my music, which is really my heart’s desire.

What about you? Do you need to have someone else impose a deadline to get things done, or is it easy for you to set one yourself? Do you have a hard time with the deadlines that others set? Feel free to reply right here — I’m really curious to know!

P.S.  Also, I’m embarrassed to admit how many YEARS it took me to start writing my autobiography after a friend strongly suggested it to me.

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Haiku Thursday

There’s a fine, thin line
Between loving your neighbor
And being a chump.

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