Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Making peace with the unpeaceful.

Every year about this time, we get to read all about which celebrities gave the graduation address at which school, blahblahblah, etc. etc. etc. Usually it's the same tired platitudes about how higher education gives you such a big advantage in the workplace, you're the future of America, yaddayaddayadda, but every once in awhile, someone cuts to the heart of the matter and delivers an undeniable truth, such as Joss Whedon in his address to the graduates of Wesleyan University: "Peace comes from the acceptance of the part of you that can never be at peace. It will always be in conflict. If you accept that, everything gets a lot better."

Normally I don't bother reading these speeches because of the aforementioned tired platitudes, but being a huge fan of Firefly, I felt compelled to see what Whedon had to say to these newly-minted graduates. The idea of being at peace with the unpeaceful isn't foreign to me at all, being a yoga practitioner (albeit an admittedly lazy one) and a reader of Buddhist teachings, but seeing it in Whedon's speech sorta hit me upside the head with a shovel. Yeah. Make peace with the part of you that can never be at peace.

Which part, though? I seem to have several. There's always something somewhere I'm just not at peace with, because I tend to want everything to be just so, and of course it never is. And if I do manage to make peace with it, it's only temporary. But I guess that's why they call it "practice." As a friend's young daughter recently pointed out, practice doesn't make perfect, but it does make progress. Logically I know that's true; however, I'm not generally long on patience and I'm constantly wanting the wheels of progress to turn just a little faster, thankyouverymuch. Add that to my list of unpeaceful things to make peace with.

I suppose there is some freedom in accepting that there will always be conflict somewhere, because even when one problem gets solved, at least one more seems to take its place, forever and ever, amen. Some days it seems like an endless parade. And other days . . . well, other days there's a glimmer of hope, a sliver of peace, which makes the practice all worthwhile and reminds you why you make the effort in the first place.

Till next time ---- make peace with the unpeaceful, and aim to misbehave. 

(You can read more about Whedon's speech here.)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Happy Birthday, Murray.

Yesterday was my friend Murray's birthday. I'm not exactly how old he would have been - 60-something, I guess - if cancer had not taken his life just before Thanksgiving 2011.

I first encountered Murray on a history-based Internet message board when we started a discussion about the history of the violin chin rest. Conclusion: even though it had been developed in the 1830s, it didn't become common until after the Civil War, so not using one would be more accurate in historical settings. We had many subsequent discussions about historical music, reenacting, and so on. Finally he made it to Nashville from Arkansas, and we actually got to play together at a small event in Franklin.

Murray was a sweet, gentle man, and he loved music and history. He was thrilled to land a couple of historical music gigs playing with a band out of west Tennessee and an entertainment troupe from Kentucky/Ohio. Like me, he also struggled with depression, and we talked about that as well from time to time. When the Great Flood of 2010 happened, he called to make sure we were all right.

Not too long after that, he was diagnosed with cancer. I want to say it was his kidneys, but I honestly don't remember. What I do remember is the grace and peace with which he faced this trial. Murray was a man of faith, which he shared often in his own gentle way. He was thoughtful and contemplative in his struggle. He never asked "why me?"

Murray knew his time was limited, but none of us realized it would be so short. Isn't that always the way?

So, happy birthday, Murray. I still think of you all the time and wish I could tell you about my latest musical adventures. I think you would approve.

Till next time --- hug a friend.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


You know how sometimes your brain gets all cluttered up, and things just streak through it seemingly at will, with no logical pattern? Yeah. That's what this is. My brain is full. I need to empty it a little.

1. Student Accounts is the office across the hall with STUDENT ACCOUNTS ON THE DOOR.

2. If you love Jesus, seek justice instead of asking people to "repost this if you love Jesus" on Facebook. How about, instead of reposting, you show compassion to someone in need? How about THAT?

3. Speaking of Facebook, is it too much trouble to confirm some of the crap you post? I get so tired of seeing the same nonsense overandoverandover again even after it's been debunked. Just STOP IT.

4. Leave Kim Kardashian alone. No, I don't like her either, but picking on a pregnant woman's weight? Not cool, y'all. Not cool.

5. Why can't I just knit and play the fiddle all day?

6. Why don't I have a string boy?

7. Shiny.

8. I need a cupcake.

Till next time ---  be sweet to each other and quit your meanness.