do no harm, take no shit

Do No Harm, But Take No Shit

Balancing empathy and practicality can be a challenge. As fellow humans, we feel an innate need to help those around us. However, as individuals it’s important to keep an eye towards the things that serve us well, and the things that don’t.  In recent times my empathic senses have been jacked up to eleven, so I’ve experienced a lot of issues balancing my own needs versus those of the people around me.  A friend of mine recently reminded me of a good motto his family adheres to – “do no harm, take no shit”.  This attitude, albeit a bit direct, is a great way to frame a solution for that problem.

If you’ve ever flown a commercial airline, you’ve probably heard (or ignored) attendants make a small disclaimer when showing passengers how to use their air masks in the event of cabin depressurization – “be sure to secure your own mask before helping the people next to you”. It’s a more practical framing of the same general idea – you have to make sure you’re standing on firm ground before you can truly help those in your sphere of influence.

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tiptoeing into 2018 carefully

Tiptoeing into 2018

It’s now 5 days into January 2018. That seems a short time in words, but it can feel like a very long time under the right circumstances. Oh, the things I’ve done with just 5 days – conceive and pitch a new product, write half of an album’s worth of material, record a few albums worth of material, span 5 continents – but this hasn’t been one of those 5 days.  It’s been a quiet, introspective 5 days.  I’ve primarily been cleaning up fire and holiday messes and loose ends this week, and trying to establish a new daily rhythm after almost a month of schedule chaos and geographic disarray.  But in the monotonous overload of everyday this last 5 days, I’ve learned some things that have helped me look back on the last few years with less jaded, better focused eyes.  I’m not going to deal in New Years resolutions or big sweeping judgements of my past this year, just share a few things I’ve discovered as I’ve tiptoed into 2018. Grab a coffee and pull up a chair.

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Musicians and Road Warriors

Musicians and Road Warriors

It’s easy to fall victim to the stereotypes of the working musician – for both the musician and fan alike. A life of public adulation, excess, and grandiosity (is that a word?). The exquisitely tortured artistes extracting beauty from life’s poignant moments all gypsified and moving nomadically from town to town. But the reality of a career in the creative segment is more blunt, and there’s entire curriculums of required knowledge they didn’t teach me in music school. The kind you have to skin your knees and bloody your nose to learn. The dirty secret of the game is that it’s not good enough to be a talented musician or artist- you gotta be a warrior in both practice and spirit if you wanna live the life longer than a year or two.

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wants vs. needs - or the fine art of letting go

Wants vs. Needs (or, the fine art of letting go)

It’s relatively easy to focus in on the things we want in life. The things that our hearts, minds, and souls pull us towards despite all logic and better judgement – both for the good and the bad. The things in life we need, though, they reside in another category entirely. Quite often the things we need are exactly what we fight against the hardest, build up resistance towards, deny and overlook. It’s hard to focus in on the truly essential things to pursue in life as the things we want tend to overwhelm us, like a kid in a candy store with wide eyes but only a few shiny coins to spend.

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becoming a single dad

Becoming a Single Dad

For the first 8 years of my son’s life, I was the breadwinner. The provider. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a dedicated and loving father, but we’d always split the duties of Devin’s parenthood right down the middle with virtually no overlap. My wife was a full-time mother, maintained the home base, and took care of our household and family matters, I hunted and gathered to fill the coffers, pay the bills, and put a roof over our head and food on the tables. For quite a while we were both happy with this split of duties and responsibilities. It’s what we’d thought we both wanted. But it wasn’t- and took a heavy toll on our relationship over time. Forcibly becoming a single dad made me realize how unbalanced our relationship had become.

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on dreams, and dreaming

On Dreams and Dreaming

The hill was tall and rocky against a cloudy sky, with a stone lighthouse piercing the sky at the top.  I never understood why, but I felt I needed to get to that lighthouse more than anything else in the world, and scrambled feverishly up the hill towards it with every bit of my strength. My hands and bare feet were scratched, bruised and bloody by the time I crested the hill, and just as I found my footing it happened.  Just as it happened every time.

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The Thomas Fires in Ventura - sky view on Tuesday

The Thomas Fires

We’d had spotty electricity all day due to an automobile accident up the street taking out a power line, so when the lights started flickering back on and off Monday evening my son and I figured maintenance was still in progress. The sound of helicopters in the distance were a bit non-standard, but we still tucked in and went to sleep anyway – not knowing that the Thomas fires now ravaging the area were the new reason for the outages. It wasn’t until the sun peeked up and shone a blood-red glow into my bedroom that I realized things had gone seriously sideways while we slumbered.

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