November 23, 2000
My friend went away and he left me a garden, a
beautiful land of colors and endless surprises. But along with the gift, he left me a job.
To take care of it. To clean it. To water it. To make sure that it continued to be alive,
recurrently surging out for something that can't be named.
I started out lightly. I put seeds on the bird
feeder. I watered, making sure the plants got a "full drink of water" as my
friend had instructed. Then one day I started to weed out the little green plants that
jump out of every area of uncovered earth. Almost without realizing it, I was on my knees
and pulling out little weeds from the root... and I couldn't stop.
As the days passed and I worked more and more, the
beautiful sunflower that had dominated the center of the garden started to fade. I watched
it decay slowly, the leaves developing holes, the trunk drooping, the main head slowly
slumping down. Still I couldn't bring myself to rip it out. "Maybe it will get
better... maybe there's something I can do." But the sunflower continued to die way.
One day, in the midst of weeding out the little green
plants, I stepped up to the sunflower, grabbed it with both hands and yanked it right out
the earth. It broke in a couple of places, it struggled to stay but I pulled hard enough
that it finally gave in. I took it to the compost pile, then I came back to smooth out the
hole it had left behind. Then I continued to weed.
Today a new sunflower, as big and as beautiful as the
last one, stands in the middle of the garden, its golden face to the sun and its leaves
green and proud and full of life. I cherish it and love it, even more now because I see
its death in every brilliant color.
October 31, 2000
My Old Friend at Midnight
night I saw my old friend
He was a kid again
like he used to be
when we ran around
and a soda
was the solution to all problems.
He asked me for a song
and I couldn't remember
so I started singing
and a new song came out
and as long as I sang
the song kept on going
and my old friend smiled.
my old friend still lives
he still smiles
he still runs around
and he wants me
to sing him a song.
October 7, 2000
We played again last night, to a mostly empty
restaurant in a side street of the city. People came in and went out, people walked by and
saw us from the street, and they smiled or waived and even a mouse came out to listen. And
as before we played our music and tried to come together in a somehow harmonious whole.
But this time, there was a difference...
A week before I spoke to my friend Doug and a
sentence he said to me during our conversation kept on ringing through me as I moved back
and forth between the different devices under my control:
"You have to become an Invocant."
Before such a high challenge any secondary worries
would shrink and fade until they became invisible. "Are they liking it?",
"Is it sounding good?", "Is it loud enough?", "Why are there so
few people?"... all these little dwarfish creatures that kept on popping out of my
brain were summarily disposed of by the one overriding and truly important question:
"Am I being an Invocant?"
And somewhere in the midst of all the little
questions disappearing even the big question vanished... and then there was only presence,
attention... and music.
September 30, 2000
Keep it Going!
My friend scattered sunflower seeds over the fence of
our backyard. They were meant as food for the birds, a tasty little morsel in the midst of
a long journey. Inevitably, some of the seeds fell off the fence as the birds ran through
them. They fell on the dark soil beneath the fence. A few months later many beautiful
sunflowers are spread all over the yard, flowing out from the ground like perfect
reminders of what is possible.
I go through the remains of my past... notes to
myself, business cards, toys, bits of music, tapes, a bag of dice, a tarot deck. I pick
and choose, throwing away bag after bag of undesirable stuff. But here and there, I can
see the seeds, the promises of new beginnings, an eternal archetype of light waiting to
make a new appearance, a long forgotten melody about to explode into endless variations, a
friendship about to be renewed.
The name of the game is "keep it going".
The work never ends. The sunflowers are about to drop a new cargo of seeds on fertile
September 19, 2000
In the face of constant
To imagine a changeless world, a reality where
nothing is disturbed and everything remains as it was and always will be, where leaves
never fall off a tree or clouds never cover the sky and people don't leave and new ones
never appear, is to imagine an endless landscape of ice, a form fixed in space and time,
firm in its finality and closed to alteration. Such a world might sometimes seem the worse
nightmare... and sometimes the ideal dream.
September 7, 2000
Wheel of Karma
I have heard this forever... literally. I, you and
everyone else, we are all on this endless spinning cycle, a wheel from which we try to
escape but we cannot, an infinite sequence of reactions that brings us back again and
again to the same place, over and over. Every once in a while (but not too often) we
become aware of it, but then we fall into the cycle once again and get twirled a couple of
hundred times before we manage to remember again.
The other day I saw something. The wheel had wheels
within wheels within wheels. And the little ones made up the larger ones. So the really
small ones should be within sight. There must be a scale at which this loop becomes
visible and somehow graspable to us. And I saw a sequence of small events, moods, machine
spaces... about seven in all. Each one deeply familiar. Each one a chamber which I have
visited so many times, always with the impression that it was the first time that I had
seen it or the last time that I would ever be there. And I saw that the sequence was a
loop that fed back into itself.
I am still struggling with this vision. Could it be
that this infinite wheel has been before my eyes all along, but I have refused to see it?
Could it be that the true wheel of karma does not lie in some other world, beyond human
understanding, but just beneath your eyesight, hiding among the smiles of achievement and
the tears of disappointment? Could it be hiding right among my discarded notes and my plan
for the weekend?
September 3, 2000
I had peeked into the forbidden, into the empty gray
places where we are not welcome, the cloudy deserts of banishment where we are sternly
asked not to go. And coming back, I felt confused, undecided, restless. All my purposes
seemed less important than they needed to be and too important for me to handle. And I sat
alone, lost, for several hours, contemplating the bizarre nature of ultimate questions,
the ones that can be asked over and over and always yield new and more frightening
answers. I finally left and roamed the city... a whole night of walking and driving,
barely touching the world and just barely allowing it to touch me. Eyes wide open and
heart in an unpredictable sequence of changing beats....
And I came into the place of dancing. Extremely loud
music blared from the speakers, endless knots of electronic melody dropped into a
recurring deep driving bass beat kept afloat by sparks if crisp rhythmic figurations. And
the people were drunk and high and happy, swirling among themselves, in the bright
darkness of the club. I stayed back for a while, looking into the smiling faces, and the
movements, and then I stepped in.
My body reacted, my heart found new strength to
attempt to break my ribs, my hands stuck to the sides of my body... but the beat continued
and a new melody emerged from the deep caves of the speakers. And my eyes watered, and my
body let go and I danced. Allowing the sound to flow through me and into me, to move me
where I couldn't move, to push me into purpose where there wasn't any. And the gray spaces
made sense right then, just for a moment. Purpose in the form of vibration and love in the
infinitely heavy pounding of the beat.
And I danced.
August 26, 2000
Death in the Family
were finishing the first round of rehearsal, it was about 9pm. My mom had come back from
El Salvador the night before and we had a performance coming up next week. We had been
debating as to the best way that we could approach performing this time... should we have
singing? How distorted should we get? How relaxed? I took a break and walked downstairs to
say hello to my wife. She asked me if the guys were gone and I said no.
"Your mom told me not to tell you... not until
they left... but I'm going to tell you anyway..."
"She had some messages in her voice mail... a
lot of them... they came in while she was gone... your grandfather Roberto died..."
My first reaction was disbelief, followed by concern
for my mom. I rushed upstairs to her room and knocked. She told me to come in.
"There were like 30 messages in the machine. He
has been dead for about two weeks... they still have him at the morgue..."
"He was in the hospital... something to do with
his heart... he went home and then was rushed back... he died on the way..."
I was still in a suspended state of disbelief, it
didn't seem real. I didn't get along with him. In fact we hadn't spoken for more than two
years. And yet he seemed like a fixed part of reality, an element of my life which would
always be there. I looked at my mom.
"How are you? Are you... ok?"
"Yes, I'm ok. I don't want to tell your
grandmother yet, until we confirm it and we know more of what to do..."
It was my turn to nod... and I heard the guys calling
me back. I walked back in a dream, looking around at my friends, joking, arguing, telling
stories. And I felt my body trembling softly, the ghost of impermanence flowing through
me, reminding me of the preciousness of these moments, of the wonder that vibrates in
every second of our lives, and of... music.
So I sat down at my place and we jumped into a new
session, my grandfather finding a new life in my fingers.
"Now I am experiencing the Clear Light of
August 13, 2000
driving to the movie store. I'm trying to read the bumper sticker on the car in front but
I can't. The sun has set too low. I have to make several left hand turns to get into the
parking lot. It's dangerous because if you don't watch out you can hit someone. Or worse
yet, someone might hit you.
And then I'm in the parking lot. It's still very dangerous. People can
run into each other. Not a pleasant situation, I can assure you.
Then I walk inside and start walking the aisles. It's busy. Saturday
night. Date night. A young couple with pale faces stand arguing in the "drama"
aisle over which movie is better. Which movie is more serious? A portly couple with a
stroller are walking away from each other along the comedy aisle. Then they come back
towards the center. And they walk back away. They come back again. It's funny because it's
true. "That movie stinks," protests the husband. "You are a big fat idiot,
Ralph!" She walks back down the aisle looking for where she got it. "And
YOU-you're so stupid. . ." I walk to the nearest wall, hoping to avoid them.
The "New Releases" are always full of wrestling movies and
soft porn: "Seductress of the Night: A man's hidden desires come to life when he
meets the woman of his dreams. She's got a body that could KILL. But what he doesn't know
is just how far she'll go to... kill." "The Private Dick: He's a private eye
with a practice the size of Texas. Until SHE came in, pleading with him to take on her
case. Now this private dick has got a new Jane in town." "Wrestle Mania: Now you
can bring the excitement and the terror of real live wrestling into the privacy of
your own living room. Crank up the volume and FEEL the thunder!" I look away rapidly.
I'm scanning the walls, looking for a suitable rental. These are
good. These are good if they have them. Those are revolting... yuck! I find a good one.
Then I find another one. I see some others but I know I can only do two at most. That's
best. Otherwise I might have to return them without watching them... Save the others for
I double back in case I missed something. I'm clutching my movies
beneath tightly folded arms over my chest, kind of agitated. I don't want anyone to see
these. To find me out. I'm standing still. Look out. Looking over at the check out
counter, wondering how I'm ever going to get over there.
April 9, 2000
The question is: what distinguishes a "piece
of music" from "random noise". Such answers as "melody",
"harmony", "beauty" and "consistent rhythm" are so easily
questioned and broken down that they become meaningless. And yet, when we listen closely,
there is something that we all notice as different, something that we request from what we
call "music" which we don't find in what we call "noise".
About seven years ago, I stood up in a dark room and
danced. Suddenly, the distinction between the particles that formed my body, the ones that
shaped the floor and walls, and the ones that constantly shifted in the substance we call
"air" was gone. Not only that, but they were all notes, basic little building
blocks of great unheard symphonies. And far from being inanimate and dead, they were alive
I had been lying down for a long time, feeling
separate, alienated, alone. Until I heard the choruses, the interlocking rhythms, the
recurring patterns, the flowing chords resolving in the bridge of light falling through
the window, on its way from the moon. And I was not contributing. I was rejecting the
music and contracting into a fever of dark silence.
Until I danced. And what had been pointless noise all
around me, shapes without reason, became the most glorious music I had ever heard. The
difference was clear and the questions were forgotten... for a while.
March 30, 2000
Memories in the Walls
We walked through a narrow corridor between the
tables next to the windows and the inner wall leading nowhere. The place was empty except
for us and the manager of the little club who was tonight serving as our tour guide. He
pointed out the advantages of the place, the many strategically placed speakers, the
flexibility of the arrangement of the tables, the speed of the bartenders.
I could only understand about half of what he said.
He seemed to have been drinking or doing some other kind of narcotic substance. I focused
on his mannerisms, his strangely familiar smile (eyes tightly squeezed, lips pulled close
together and outwards), his red eyes, his constantly moving skinny hands.
What kind of things have happened in a place like
this? How many unconscious acts have left their echoes behind in these walls? The smells
of alcohol, disinfectant and paint combine with something else, a kind of cloud of karmic
vibrations that gyrates around and around within the narrow confines of the night club.
"We would be glad to have you guys come and play
here! This is a good club... small and a bit old fashioned, but good!"
What is then our Work role in a place like this? Can
the echoes be forced to retreat? Can the cloud be dissolved? Or are such goals too heavy
and unreachable for a little band of dreamer musicians like ourselves?
"Thanks for showing us the place. We'll talk to
We leave and the air becomes lighter as soon as we
cross the doors. But somewhere in that dark, smelly, strange little place there is an
opportunity to do something we have never done before.
|March 8, 2000
Choices and Motion
I have noticed an enemy within me.
It takes the form of a little old man with glasses,
hovering over a little old desk, leaning back and forth in his little old chair, furrowing
his little old face. He looks around and around the room continuously. Searching for a new
thing to do but unsure of what that thing should be. There are so many possible
projects... it is a bit overwhelming. "We will have to think this over
When he finally decides what to do, he sits and
worries over how to do it. "We could approach it from this direction... but then
again, this other one is so interesting... but is it profound enough?" His wrinkled
hands move softly over piles of notes and graphs... all referring to the myriad possible
paths to follow. Then, just as he is about to decide which way to go, one of the pens runs
out of ink.
He nearly cries. Stands up and starts looking for
ink. There is no ink in the room. So he will have to leave the house, go out and buy ink
"But... there are other pens in the room...
there are lots of pens!", I say.
"NO! I have to use this one pen... it is the
And he listens no further. He is already worrying
over where to go to buy the ink. This will have to be thought through very carefully...
|March 2, 2000
Today it hits me that, ever since my eyes first
opened, I have been in a mad rush to escape, to find any way to avoid, to open any doorway
to get away from... what?
What is it that runs madly at my back, that is ever
so close and which I barely avoid with a constant flux of movement and thought. What is
back there just at the edge of my attention, seemingly flickering at the edge of my eyes,
just beyond the reaches of my perception?
Whatever it is, it is the source of all my fear and
from that fear stem all my actions, all my decisions, all my impulsive mechanical moves
that drive me farther and farther away from my Work.
The curious thing is that, even knowing that it's
there, that it is at my heels and that I have no knowledge of its nature or its true
intentions, I still hide from it, endlessly.
When will I stop running?
|February 26, 2000
seven years ago I visited Teotihuacan, the City of the Gods, with my Dad. Another one of
those regulation stops in a tourist tour of Mexico. When we arrived there were great
crowds of tourists from all over the world taking picture after picture (in fact, it
sometimes seemed like they were so busy taking pictures that they never stopped to look at
the ruins) as well as great crowds of school children on field trips. There were many
peddlers ("Get your little clay pyramid here!", "Snow cones in the shaped
of the sun pyramid!", "Tacos! Tacos!") and the droning voices of tourist
guides as they crossed paths through the ruins.
But there was something else as well. Something that
had somehow survived the millennia. Hidden in the open. Breathing through cracks of mud
and feeding from scraps of attention and memory. Reaching out invisibly to the visitors.
Calling out in fractured frequencies.
This something shook my Dad and it shook me. We both
were suddenly alone in the midst of the crowd, wandering at what had been hidden in these
great constructions of stone... and hidden so well that it still wasn't completely broken
(not by the Conquistadores, not by the Colonial governments, not by the Republic of
Mexico, not by the tourist and explorers from all over the planet).
We stayed there the whole afternoon, walking among
the ruins and talking...and talking and talking. There was something here that needed to
be expressed and we were both making our best attempt at trying to find the right words
for what this something was.
Seven years later, I asked my Dad to write an article
that could somehow summarize our long conversations. This is definitely not a definitive
statement, nor anything even close, but we both hope that it might give a glimpse of what
lies in the valleys south of Mexico City.
Click here for the article.
|February 16, 2000
Cause and Effect
get right down it, shall we? Magic has a bad image in the west because of its seeming
ignorance of the "laws" of cause and effect. No? Shake this bone three times
while chanting the ancient incantation of Anuki and then jump rope seven times and...
voila! A chariot will appear with the God of will and prosperity on it, surrounded by two
lovely maidens and five hungry beasts, and he will rain gifts on you and your people
forever and ever! Right?
Of course, then you try it. You go out of your way to
get just the right bone, you travel far to first find the incantation and then farther
still to recover its original pronunciation and then locate just the right rope. With
extreme care, you plan out all the right moves, the right time of day and the right day of
the year. You focus all your attention on the ritual and finish exhausted and... voila!
"Magic is no good! Magic is crap!" You
start saying it softly but then it gains strength until it becomes a loud scream and then
a little voice that will be with you the rest of your life... "yes, there was a time
I believed in magic and such but I realized the error of my ways..."
And so you go on to live a productive life, safe
within the boundaries of Western cause and effect. Maybe once in a while you wander
"Did I miss something? Was there something I didn't do? Maybe there was more to it
than I realized..." but you dismiss such questions as a waste of time and forget al
about Anuki and the incantations.
But... what if there was something that you did miss?
What could it be?
|February 8, 2000
My attention flows from place to place, from that
spot on the window to the little article in the newspaper that I forgot to read yesterday
to what that person said to me on the street yesterday (what were they thinking? what
should I have said?) and then suddenly it comes to rest on one purpose, one final and
complete purpose which must be fulfilled to the exclusion of anything and everything else.
Nothing else matters, nothing can touch the fire that pushes me forward in my quest. And
so conversations are broken, papers are left to wait, email goes unanswered while I delve
deeper and deeper into the one point of light that makes all else fade away into darkness.
Attention firmly entangled, separate from all things around it, a veil of forgetfulness
covering all other commitments, all other promises.
And then the purpose is fulfilled and my attention
goes back to its free flight, its endless wandering... awaiting the next space of complete
The waiting period won't be long.
|February 1, 2000
Where have we been? HUH???
It's a long story, but I will try to take a couple of short cuts and tell it to you. About
a year ago, a big karmic Work storm hit our little group, the winds came flashing from
every direction, there was cruel lightning and the waves threatened to crush our little
boat in their wake. Some of us left, others stayed but in a state of panic. The remainder
noticed the little black door at the bottom of the ship.
"Hey! Where does this go?"
"Oh no! We were told never to open that door!"
A look of concern mixed in with curiosity.
"Yeah... but where does it go???"
A shrug of the shoulders, a whispered mention of the
ancient arts of shape shifting and dimensional travel and...
Off we went!
So what was there beneath the black door at the bottom
of the ship? You can view the first results here:
Now the door is open. And there is a lot more to
come. Stay tuned.