Bruce – more than meets the ear and eye

I love reading. I especially love reading biographies and have done ever since I was a child (or at least a teenager). So when I browsed the local library a few weeks ago, and spotted Bruce, I borrowed it and brought it home to read.Bruce

And what a book! It’s a well written biography, and despite the enormous amount of facts present in the book, it’s a joy to read, and doesn’t feel as information-laden as it actually is. But what really made me enjoy this book was Bruce himself. What a story. What a character. And jeez, what a skilled person, in his craft. Gifted musician, extremely (!!!) productive composer, and a very special singer, with a distinct voice.

Born to run is an album my older brother introduced me to when I was a kid, which was my entryway to Bruce Springsteen, and in a sense, I never got past it. I still think it’s the best he’s done, and Jungleland is, to this day, one of my absolute favorite songs. In my teens I listened to it over and over, drawn to the drama of the story, the varying sounds and atmospheres, and the powerful feeling of the entire song. But it’s been a while since I listened to it, so when I came upon the part of the book telling the story of the creation of that specific album, I immediately found it on Spotify, and started to listen. And did so with a new sensation, a deeper background, an understanding making me hear more in each song, picking up on the feeling behind, that which is sensed rather than heard.

While reading this book, a feeling grew stronger and stronger within me:
People are not what they seem to be. There’s so much more to each and every one of us, than what is apparent on the outside.

Even though this is not an autobiography, I got many glimpses of the person behind the public figure of Bruce Springsteen aka The Boss. And my reverie grew, page after page. For Bruce. His father, mother, grandparents. For people who tries to make the best of what they got, even when their best is far from sufficient… For the talented people walking alongside Bruce throughout his career. And for the audience, the listeners, the fans.

As I read, my reverie grew for human beings. We do try to make the best of what we get, and sometimes, it turns out absolutely magnificent. Sometimes, we end up with total rubbish, disaster, chaos and dread. Sometimes, the distance between a point of magnificence and a point of disaster is mere millimeters or seconds apart. The high’s and low’s of life. That’s what it is to be human. That is the Human Experience. And no one escapes it. Not me. Not you. Not Bruce. There’s no protection from it, thank God. Because without it, life would not be worth living. Life is made up of moments of high’s and low’s. And every single human being on Earth lives life according to this basic premise.

…..
Outside the street’s on fire 

In a real death waltz 
Between what’s flesh and what’s fantasy 
And the poets down here 
Don’t write nothing at all 
They just stand back and let it all be 
And in the quick of the night 
They reach for their moment 
And try to make an honest stand 
But they wind up wounded 
Not even dead 
Tonight in Jungleland

 

A library of Memories

I have a grand library of memories within. 43 plus years I’ve lived and breathed upon this earth, in the form of Me. Thousands upon thousands of memories, shelved upon the bookcases of the library of Memories within. A little bit like the memory balls of Inside out by Pixar/Disney. bodleianBut as I’ve recently been in Oxford visiting the Bodleian Library, that’s the vision I see before me as I close my eyes and let my imagination carry me away, into the library of Memories within.

There are memories of all sorts there, all flavors. Happy, Ecstatic, Joyful, Sad, Grief, Troublesome, Painful, Sweet, Beautiful. And more, much more. Like a library contains books of different categories, so does my library of Memories. A multitude of memories, encompassing all categories (?) of the Human Experience.

I have, sometimes, felt weighted down by this grand library. Memories have stuck, top of mind, not wanting to (or being able to?) settle peacefully upon a shelf, next to other memories of the same type, or from the same time. A heavy load to carry around, dragging me down, draining me of energy.

This rarely happens anymore. I seldom feel burdened by memories and experiences. They just are. They exist. Nothing more. Nothing less. I don’t have to layer them with the rights and wrongs of my past. I feel. Fully. But no longer (as often as before at least) label experiences, and the resulting memory, as good or bad, as right or wrong, as worthy or unworthy.

Being ok with what is, both in the Now, and in remembering the moments of Now long since passed, makes a difference in everyday life for me. It helps me both feel – truly feel – that which I feel, while at the same time I observe myself feeling it. Not judging. That’s what it is. The difference. For me. Can you relate? Do you know what a difference it does to stop judging oneself, in any given moment?

Selecting a teacher

Selecting a Teacher 
There are so many teachers in the world and so many theories about life. 
When selecting a teacher, ask yourself… 
Is my teacher a well-balanced person? Is she or he happy? 
Does my teacher reflect and demonstrate the quality of life I desire? 
If the answer to any of these questions is no, move on in your journey.
Otherwise you may become one of the blind, led by the blind.
Sydney Banks, from The Missing Link

You can exchange the word teacher with other words, such as guide, coach, leader, boss, spiritual guide, enabler. The word doesn’t really matter anyway, but oh, how these words ring true for me.

I remember Lama Kathy Wesley stating in one of my favorite podcasts how important she felt it to be to look at the elders of any tradition of faith that you found interesting. By their appearance, health, harmony, you know, whether or not to venture forth into that tradition or not. In a nutshell, she’s stating exactly the same thing as Syd Banks is pointing to.

And at the same time, well-balanced doesn’t mean a person who is ”perfect”, and never gets out of whack. On the contrary, I would say. I do not require my teacher, coach, guide (yeah, you get it! That whatever-word you place here!) to be ”a perfect human being”, in the meaning that they do not live the human experience.

Because that’s part of the trick for me – living life, experiencing all the up’s and down’s of human experience, and doing it with grace, with balance (that is, returning to balance when off-centered for a moment or two), and a lot of love, laughter and light. Tears commingle with laughter, grief with ecstatic joy, boredom with the feeling of flow where time seemingly disappears. All of that is part of the human experience, but how I live into it, or perhaps, how I live out of it, is what tells a well-balanced person apart for me.

BoldomaticPost_Selecting-a-Teacher-There-areWriting this, I just had an insight.

This quote isn’t only about looking for external teachers. It’s also a great reminder to myself, on my ability to be my own guide and enabler.

When I am well-balanced, happy, reflecting and demonstrating the qualities of life that I desire – then I am a good teacher for myself.

And when I am the opposite (off-centered, miserable, definitely not demonstrating the qualities of life I desire, but rather the opposite), it serves me well to remember to take myself a lot less seriously, as it’s as if I am one of the blind, leading myself. And boy does it hurt when I stumble into all sorts of obstacles along the way, attempting to lead my blind self. In situations like that, the best thing I can do is to pause, to stop in my tracks, and wait for vision to return. Go about my day, doing the routine things that I can do blind-folded, staying clear of making radical decisions, and not expecting too much of myself either. It’s not always easy though.

So am I the only one dumb enough to try to lead myself even when I am in no shape to lead?