Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Multilingual Song of Unity - "One Earth"

I recently received a beautiful gift for the holiday season -- a multilingual song of unity recorded by three outstanding musicians: Kristine Failla, Akim Jensch, and Yann SolMar. Kristine says that, in a way, the purpose of life is to sing ... its a great way to show our co-inhabitants of this "One Earth" that we see the common thread in our lives, no matter how different we are. I really enjoyed listening to the song. And even more so because Kris is a friend and has a heart of gold. And from the sound of it, Akin and Yann same to be made from the same clay. My favorite parts were when all three of them join together to sing in the end ... "Imagine". I hope you will listen to it and enjoy it as much:


In the words of Kristine Failla:

I uploaded a song today that I am SO proud of. It's a collaboration with my German friend Akim Jensch, and my French friend Yannick SolMar. We each wrote a verse, and we each sing in our own language. It's a message of worldwide unity.

Akim wrote and recorded a beautiful progression on acoustic guitar as only he can, and he later added some beautiful complementary guitar parts. Then Yannick added a mournful guitar lead and the melody that he and Akim sing. I wrote the melody I sang - I would have been happy to use Yannick's beautiful melody, but I would have had to sing opera :-).

Here's the translation:

Verse 1 - written and sung in French by Yannick:
"I spend hours wondering whether
we could live together in peace
one day and this night.
I spend hours wondering whether
I must let it be or fight for this Utopia.
However this dream they want all to make it
Except to want to take advantage of misery.
Carry the earth like a flag.
Let it wave everywhere at the top of our buildings
And let us all sing the same hymn,

Verse 2 - written and sung in German by Akim:
"Sometimes I ask myself whether it is possible
that mankind doesn't fight against each other, but understands each other;
that for one day and one night
the noise of rifles and guns takes a rest once.
What can I do that this utopia may happen
and no human being has to flee from another one?
The Earth is our flag,
let it wave above us for all people!
Not to seperate, but to lead this life together!
Imagine, imagine!"

Verse 3 - Written and sung in English by Kristine:
"I don’t know why we’ve drawn these lines between us.
What if we tried to erase the lines and start again?
Could we find a little common ground between us?
Each of us one link in Earth’s one chain...
They say from outer space,
There’s just one Earth, one human race.
There is some common ground, I know
One vision we share, one hope
To build a world where our babies can grow

More on the musicians:

Akim Jensch:

Akim Jensch is a German singer songwriter, writing his own German and English songs for nearly 30 years.

In 2009 Akim released his solo album "Meine Reise" (My Journey) at the German indie label ZIPPI RECORDS, including 10 self-written German songs.
Akim is gigging solo, together with his wonderful wife Tina as "Tina Voice & Akim Jensch" and sometimes with Tina and their common friend Marco Hornig as the "Akim Jensch Trio".

Yann Solmar:

Yann SolMar is a songwriter living in Brittany. His first firsts songs in his first EP called "Colours of Dreams" are available on CD and download. He expects to realize an album, but before that he is making a few concerts in my area in a first time, before a successful world tour ...


Kristine is a singer songwriter living with her family on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest. A self-proclaimed terrible guitarist and pianist, Kristine enjoys collaborating with the many wonderful musicians she is lucky to call friends.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy 542nd Birthday Guru Nanak

Happy 542nd Birthday!


This week millions of Sikhs and their friends around the world are celebrating Gurpurab, but few outside India know the significance of this day or its history.

It's the 542nd birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh faith and one of the greatest symbols of pluralism and tolerance in the world.

Mahatma Gandhi may epitomize India in the West, but he is just one of the many towering figures of history that have shaped the land, its culture and its religions. Poets such as Tagore and Iqbal immortalized India in verse while emperors like Asoka and Akbar ruled over dazzling domains that stunned the visitor.

Among the great philosophers and thinkers that India gifted to the world are two men who tower above the rest- Buddha and Guru Nanak, the founders of Buddhism and Sikhism. While Buddha is well known in the West as a result of his creed and followers, Guru Nanak, whose birthday we celebrate today is yet to be discovered.

Let this Muslim introduce you to the man who founded the world's youngest religion, Sikhism and who had a profound role in shaping my Punjabi heritage, alas, one that was torn to shreds by the bloody partition of India in August 1947.

Today, the place where Guru Nanak was born in 1469 is a city that was ethnically cleansed of its entire Sikh population during the bloodbath of 1947. Nankana Sahib, a place where the Guru spent his childhood with Muslim and Hindu friends is a Bethlehem without Christians; a Medina without Muslims.
For a few days the town will bustle with Sikh pilgrims from all over the world, but soon they will depart and nary a turban will be seen until the Sikhs return next year.

The city of Nankana Sahib lies near Lahore, my maternal ancestral home, where my mother and father were born. My mother told me how she as a Muslim girl grew up with Sikh neighbors and how she was part of the Sikh family's celebrations at the time of Gurpurab and how she would travel with her friend to Nankana Sahib. Decades later she would still recall her lost friend who left Pakistan to seek refuge across the border. Today Nankana Sahib celebrates, but there are no Muslim girls accompanying their Sikh friends. None.

It is sad.

Sad, because Sikhism and Guru Nanak were intertwined with Islam and Muslims. The Guru's closest companion was a Muslim by the name of Bhai Mardana. It is said when Mardana was dying, the Guru asked him, how would you like to die? As a Muslim? To which the ailing companion replied, "As a human being."

Five hundred years later, a border divides Muslim and Sikh Punjabis. A border where two nuclear armies and a million men face each other. As a Muslim Punjabi I feel the British in dividing Punjab separated my soul from my body and left the two to survive on their own. Muslim Punjabis lost their neighbours and family friends of generations. Most of all they lost their language that today languishes as a second-class tongue in its own home. We kept Nankana Sahib, but lost the Guru.

However, the tragedy that befell the Sikhs was far more ominous and deserves special mention. For Sikhs, the Punjabi cities of Lahore and Gujranwala, Nankana Sahib and Rawalpindi were their hometowns and had shared a history with their Gurus. With the 1947 Partition, not only was Punjab divided, but the Sikhs were ethnically cleansed from Pakistan's Punjab.

As a result of the creation of the Islamic State of Pakistan, the Sikhs lost absolute access to the following holy sites: Gurdwara Janam Asthan, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, in Nankana Sahib; Gurdwara Punja Sahib in Hasan Abdal; Gurdwara Dera Sahib in Lahore, where the Fifth Guru, Arjan, was martyred; Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Kartarpur, where Guru Nanak died; and, of course, the Memorial to Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Emperop of Punjab, in Lahore.

When the killings and cleansing of 1947 ended, not a single Sikh was visible in Lahore. Of course, Muslims too were chased out of the eastern parts of Punjab, but they were not losing their holy places of Mecca or Medina.

Even though we Muslims despair the occupation of Jerusalem, we still have the comfort of knowing that Muslims still live in and around the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
But what about the Sikhs?

To feel their pain, Muslims need to imagine how outraged we would feel if, God forbid, Mecca and Medina were cleansed of all Muslims and fell under the occupation of, say, Ethiopia. How can we Muslims ask for the liberation of Muslim lands while we institutionalize the exclusion and ethnic cleansing of all Sikhs from their holy sites inside an Islamic state? Muslims who cannot empathize with the loss of the Sikhs need to ask themselves why they don't.

Before 1947, Punjabi Muslims did not consider Sikhism as an adversarial faith. After all, from the Muslim perspective, Sikhism was the combination of the teachings of Sufism, which was rooted in Islamic thought and the Bhakti movement, an organic link to Hindu philosophy. It is true that Moghul emperors had been particularly vicious and cruel to the leaders of the Sikh faith, but these Moghuls were not acting as representatives of Islam. Not only that, the Moghuls inflicted even harsher punishments on their fellow Muslims.

With the creation of Pakistan, the Sikhs lost something even more precious than their holy places: diverse subcultural streams. One such stream flourishing in Thal region (Sind Sagar Doab) in what is now Pakistan, near Punjab's border with Sind and Baluchistan, was known as the "Sewa Panthis."
The Sewa Panthi tradition flourished in southwest Punjab for nearly 12 generations until 1947. This sect (variously known as Sewa Panthis, Sewa Dassiey, and Addan Shahis), is best symbolized by Bhai Ghanniyya who, though himself a Sikh, aided wounded Sikh and Muslim soldiers alike during the Tenth Sikh Guru's wars with the Moghuls. Sewa Panthis wore distinctive white robes.

They introduced a new dimension to the subcontinental religious philosophies. They believed that sewa (helping the needy) was the highest form of spiritual meditation - higher than singing hymns or reciting holy books. The creation of Pakistan dealt a devastating blow to the Sewa Panthis and they never got truly transplanted in the new "East" Punjab.

The organic relationship between philosophies and land, indeed, requires native soil for ideas to bloom. Other such sects and deras (groups) that made up the composite Sikh faith of the 19th and early 20th centuries included Namdharis, Nirankaris, Radha Soamis, Nirmaley, and Sidhs - all were pushed to the margins, or even out of Sikhism, after the partition.

The tragedy of the division of Punjab is best captured in a moving poem by the first prominent woman Sikh/Punjabi poet, novelist, and essayist Amrita Pritam, "Ujj akhaan Waris Shah noo" (An Ode to Waris Shah), which she is said to have written while escaping in a train with her family from Pakistan to India. Pritam wrote:

ujj aakhaN Waris Shah nuuN,
kithoN kabraaN vichchoN bol,
tay ujj kitab-e ishq daa koii aglaa varkaa phol
ik roii sii dhii punjaab dii, tuuN likh likh maare vaen,
ujj lakhaaN dhiiaaN rondiaN,
tainuN Waris Shah nuN kahen
uTh dardmandaaN diaa dardiaa,
uth takk apnaa Punjab
aaj bele lashaaN bichhiaaN te lahu dii bharii Chenab

(Today, I beckon you Waris Shah,
Speak from inside your grave .
And to your book of love, add the next page .
Once when a single daughter of Punjab wept, you wrote a wailing saga.
Today, a million daughters cry to you, Waris Shah.
Rise, O friend of the grieving; rise and see your own Punjab,
Today, fields lined with corpses, and the Chenab flowing with blood.)

As I celebrate the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak I read some profound words of wisdom he left for his Muslim friends. He wrote:
Make mercy your Mosque,
Faith your Prayer Mat,
what is just and lawful your Qu'ran,
Modesty your Circumcision,
and civility your Fast.
So shall you be a Muslim.
Make right conduct your Ka'aba,
Truth your Pir, and
good deeds your Kalma and prayers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jim Rohn - From Rags to Riches

Unless you change how you are, you will always have what you've got.

~ Jim Rohn

Jim Rohn (September 17, 1930 - December 5, 2009) was an American entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker. His rags to riches story played a large part in his work, which influenced others in the personal development industry.

Emanuel James "Jim" Rohn was born in Yakima, Washington to Emanuel and Clara Rohn. The Rohns owned and worked a farm in Caldwell, Idaho where Jim grew up, as an only child.

Jim graduated from high school 3rd out of a class of 140. He went to college for a year and a half before dropping out and joining the work force. At age 25, according to his accounts, he was working as a stock clerk for Sears collecting a weekly $57 paycheck. He wasn't broke but struggling financially, unable to see a way that would lead to his personal ambitions.[citation needed] Around this time, a friend invited him to a lecture given by John Earl Shoaff, an entrepreneur who impressed Rohn with his wealth, business accomplishments, charisma and life philosophy. Shoaff was, at that time, VP of Sales in a nutritional supplement company called AbundaVita. In October, 1955, Rohn joined AbundaVita and began a process of personal development that culminated in his becoming a millionaire by age 31. Shoaff, who had challenged Rohn at age 25 to reach for this goal, died one year before Rohn achieved it at age 31.

Rohn was invited by a friend to come and tell his "rags-to-riches" story to his Rotary club. He accepted and titled his talk "Idaho farm boy makes it to Beverly Hills." The talk went so well that soon others began asking him to speak at various luncheons and other events. In 1963, at the Beverly Hills Hotel, he gave his first public seminar. He then began presenting seminars all over the country, telling his story and teaching the personal development philosophy he felt had led to his accomplishments.

Throughout the 70's, Rohn conducted a number of seminars for the management and employees of the Marketing Dept. of Standard Oil (California) which now does business as Chevron Corporation. At the same time, he conducted a personal development business called "Adventures in Achievement" which featured both live seminars as well as personal development workshops. Ultimately, he presented seminars worldwide for more than 40 years.

Tony Robbins who worked for Rohn in the late 70's, was mentored by Rohn during the early years of his career. Others who credit Rohn for his influence on their careers include authors Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup book series), author/lecturer Brian Tracy, T. Harv Eker, author/teacher Vincent's Genesius Evans, from Indonesia.

Rohn was the recipient of the 1985 National Speakers Association CPAE Award for excellence in speaking. He is also the author of 17 different books, audio and video programs.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


One does not really think about it until it is imminent. Until then you are just being amused by the drama happening around you. Sometimes happy in fond hope of the future's prospects, at other times devastated by dejection.

It is so important ... life is not sustainable with out it. It brings peace. If I had it I would not be proud. I would have no reason to have pride. For all that I had done would not matter. I would not be embarrassed. Everything that I could fail would not matter either. With it I would be in peace. Not happy, nor sad. Peaceful.

But truth is so bright that you cannot look in its eye. One can be blinded. So very few make an attempt leaving a handful few who understand it. Most stay as far as possible from it.

"Don't name it" said my neighbor's grandmother in India. Like if you would name it and it would be standing at your door waiting on you. Now that would be disaster. The world would end. If in the next second someone promised heaven in return for having it, we would still not want it.

It, death, is inescapable.

For the Indie Ink Writing Challenge this week, Amanda challenged me with "I had to look really far down, deep deep under everything" and I challenged Lance with "These are a few of my favorite things".

Lessons from Steve Job's life - His Greatest Speech

Following is a video and text of Steve Job's commencement address to Stanford. I heard this speech today after the news of his passing away. This is one of the greatest speeches written by one of the most inspirational entrepreneurs of our generation. He shares three of the most important episodes from his life that have taught him to pursue his dreams, to be receptive to whatever life throws at you, even death. He might be gone, but his words still sing ...

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it's likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I had been rejected, but I was still in love.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there.

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Death is very likely the single best invention of Life.

Friday, September 30, 2011

A mothers last song - I love you!

This is a true story of Mother’s Sacrifice during the China Earthquake.

After the Earthquake had subsided, when the rescuers reached the ruins of a young woman’s house, they saw her dead body through the cracks. But her pose was somehow strange that she knelt on her knees like a person was worshiping; her body was leaning forward, and her two hands were supporting by an object. The collapsed house had crashed her back and her head.

With so many difficulties, the leader of the rescuer team put his hand through a narrow gap on the wall to reach the woman’s body. He was hoping that this woman could be still alive. However, the cold and stiff body told him that she had passed away for sure.

He and the rest of the team left this house and were going to search the next collapsed building. For some reasons, the team leader was driven by a compelling force to go back to the ruin house of the dead woman. Again, he knelt down and used his had through the narrow cracks to search the little space under the dead body. Suddenly, he screamed with excitement, "A child! There is a child!"

The whole team worked together; carefully they removed the piles of ruined objects around the dead woman. There was a 3 months old little boy wrapped in a flowery blanket under his mother’s dead body. Obviously, the woman had made an ultimate sacrifice for saving her son. When her house was falling, she used her body to make a cover to protect her son. The little boy was still sleeping peacefully when the team leader picked him up.

The medical doctor came quickly to exam the little boy. After he opened the blanket, he saw a cell phone inside the blanket. There was a text message on the screen. It said, "If you can survive, you must remember that I love you." This cell phone was passing around from one hand to another. Every body that read the message wept. "If you can survive, you must remember that I love you." Such is the mother’s love for her child!!

Listening to Jenn Bostic today ...

This is why we sing ...

Even a good for nothing, is good for something ...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

When Wangari Maathai came to our house

[This is a real story from this week]

She hurried into my room. As if there had been an earthquake and I hadn't found out busy looking at my computer screen in the office.

"Papa. Come fast. A hummingbird has come to meet us."

"What do you mean?"

"Hurry hurry ... It might fly away. A bird came inside the house and ... " she went on breathless.

I didn't understand the optimism of the announcement. Last time we had a bird in the house we were glad our handy man was in commission to fix some plumbing and we had given him the extra duty of relieving a bird from Jania's room. It was getting dark outside as the evening was flying into night. And I thought we had a nightmare on our hands: there was a bird in our house flying nowhere.

I held her hand. And she hopped me out of my office which stands outside our house, peaceful in obeisance to my tendencies. And she was exactly the opposite. If you can imagine a human flying, that was her rushing across the courtyard into our house. She was as excited as a dove freed from her cage. Sometimes flying is what peace needs.

As I closed the door behind me, I saw her disappear into the family room where we have a big sliding door. That door must have been open; that is how this bird came in. And when I saw all of them, I was relieved.

There was my wife and son, standing quietly. My son was holding ... yes holding ... a hummingbird in his hands and my wife with her mobile phone trying to take a picture of our son with our surprise guest.

I was amazed at how calm the hummingbird was. And it was a baby hummingbird. It probably was a few weeks old because birds get to full size pretty quickly.

"This is unbelievable Shilpy. How did she get here?"

"I don't know. When I came in, I heard this weird fluttering sound and saw her on the glass window trying to fly through it."

I was wondering how she caught her. But I didn't want to ask any more questions and miss the opportunity to take a couple of pictures myself. By that time, Jania said she wanted to hold the hummingbird. He had spent enough time with her so my son acquiesced.

In the process of transferring her, she took flight and again rammed against the window, high up, and started the fluttering game again. My wife took a few jumps to get it back, but it was clear she would have to use her old technique. This is how I got to know what she did.

She took a small kitchen towel and threw at her against window. And softly brought both the towel and the bird back down. And handed her over to Jania. And the smile on Jania's face was worth remembering. Here is the picture I took with my cellphone:

After a few pictures we decided to safely guide the bird out into the open again.

I don't think this was any ordinary hummingbird that came into our house. This morning I was reading about Wangari Maathai, the nobel prize winning extraordinary woman from Kenya. I didn't know her well and heard she was inspiring; so I googled her in search of a singspiration. The first video that came up on the search was one where she was telling story about a hummingbird.

The hummingbird in that story carries water drop after drop to extinguish a fire burning the forest while the bigger animals are scared to move. Wangari said that she aspires to be the hummingbird from that story of the jungle which is on fire. "I might not be able to save the earth. But I will do the best I can." There was my singspiration flying away into the night.

That night I told an altered version of this story to Jania at bedtime. The hummingbird in my story, inspired all the other animals to get together and help get rid of the fire.

The purpose of the singing hummingbird is to inspire others to sing. Singing takes you somewhere even if the world has stopped in fright. That is why the hummingbird comes into our house. That is why Wangari Maathai came to this world. Singing takes you somewhere; somewhere is better than nowhere.

[The End]

This week's Indie Ink Challenge came from Billy Flynn, who gave me this prompt: "When you are going nowhere, anywhere is a better place to be". I challenged femmefauxpas with the prompt "Elegance comes from simplicity".

Monday, September 26, 2011

Wangari Maathai Quotes - Singing with trees

It's the little things citizens do. That's what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees.
- Wangari Maathai

“All of us have a God in us, and that God is the spirit that unites all life, everything that is on this planet.”
Wangari Maathai quote

“It’s really amazing. You plant a seed; it germinates and looking so fragile, and within a very short time it becomes a huge tree. It gives you shade and if it’s a fruit tree it gives you fruit… to build and transforms lives… We want to see many Africans planting trees. There is absolutely no excuse to stop desertification because this is something that is doable and cheap

“It is very important for young people not to be afraid of engaging in areas that are not common to the youth. Get involved in local activities, get involved in local initiatives, be involved in leadership positions because you can’t learn unless you are involved. And if you make mistakes that is alright too because we all make mistakes and we learn from those mistakes. You gain confidence from learning, failing and rising again.”

“The environment and the economy are really both two sides of the same coin. You cannot sustain the economy if you don’t take care of the environment because we know that the resources that we use whether it is oil, energy, land … all of these are the basis in which development happens. And development is what we say generates a good economy and puts money in our pockets. If we cannot sustain the environment, we can’t not sustain ourselves.”

“We’re constantly being bombarded by problems that we face and sometimes we can get completely overwhelmed. [But] we should always feel like a hummingbird. I may feel insignificant, but I don’t want to be like the other animals watching the planet go down the drain. I’ll be a hummingbird, I’ll do the best I can.”

“It is a bit sad that we have a government in this country that is actually overseeing the destruction of the forest…there comes a time when humanity is called upon to shift to a new level of consciousness… You raise your consciousness to a level where u feel that you must do the right thing. We see governments mistreating its citizens to the fullest.. who is going to question when the law keeper breaks the law?”

African women in general need to know that it's OK for them to be the way they are - to see the way they are as a strength, and to be liberated from fear and from silence.
Wangari Maathai

I am working to make sure we don't only protect the environment, we also improve governance.
Wangari Maathai

In a few decades, the relationship between the environment, resources and conflict may seem almost as obvious as the connection we see today between human rights, democracy and peace.
Wangari Maathai

It is important to nurture any new ideas and initiatives which can make a difference for Africa.
Wangari Maathai

It's a matter of life and death for this country. The Kenyan forests are facing extinction and it is a man-made problem.
Wangari Maathai

Some say that AIDS came from the monkeys, and I doubt that because we have been living with monkeys from time immemorial, others say it was a curse from God, but I say it cannot be that.
Wangari Maathai

There's a general culture in this country to cut all the trees. It makes me so angry because everyone is cutting and no one is planting.
Wangari Maathai

We are very fond of blaming the poor for destroying the environment. But often it is the powerful, including governments, that are responsible.
Wangari Maathai

We need to promote development that does not destroy our environment.
Wangari Maathai

Women are responsible for their children, they cannot sit back, waste time and see them starve.
Wangari Maathai

“We can work together for a better world with men and women of goodwill, those who radiate the intrinsic goodness of humankind.”
Wangari Maathai quote

“It is important to nurture any new ideas and initiatives which can make a difference for Africa.”
Wangari Maathai quote

“The privilege of a higher education, especially outside Africa, broadened my original horizon and encouraged me to focus on the environment, women and development in order to improve the quality of life of people in my country in particular and in the African region in general.”
Wangari Maathai quote

“Why has there been so much secrecy about AIDS? When you ask where did the virus come from, it raises a lot of flags. That makes me suspicious.”
Wangari Maathai quote

“All of us have a God in us, and that God is the spirit that unites all life, everything that is on this planet.”
Wangari Maathai quote

“African women in general need to know that it's OK for them to be the way they are - to see the way they are as a strength, and to be liberated from fear and from silence.”
Wangari Maathai quote

“Some say that AIDS came from the monkeys, and I doubt that because we have been living with monkeys from time immemorial, others say it was a curse from God, but I say it cannot be that.”
Wangari Maathai quote

“When you have the environment degraded, it is always so that we are going to fight over the few resources that are left.”
Wangari Maathai quote

“You must not deal only with the symptoms. You have to get to the root causes by promoting environmental rehabilitation and empowering people to do things for themselves. What is done for the people without involving them cannot be sustained.”
Wangari Maathai quote

“We are very fond of blaming the poor for destroying the environment. But often it is the powerful, including governments, that are responsible.”
Wangari Maathai quote

Jyon Jal Meh Jal Aye Khataana
Tyon Jyoti Sang Jyot Samaana
– Guru Arjan Dev

Like water flows in water,
Light merges into light

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Working Moms, My Wife and Maya Angelou

Shilpy, my wife, just came back from a PTA organization committee in our kids' school. She told me that all the people who had come to the meeting were female. And all the moms who had come were working moms. All of them had gone to work early so they could come to this PTA meeting. Non of the stay-at-home moms had come to the PTA meeting.

They started talking about why it was that the PTA meeting was full of working moms. Where had all the stay-at-home moms gone? One person brought it up and they all discovered that they all felt slightly guilty that they were not there for the kids during the day. That is why they are all shown up there so they could make a difference in their kids' education and at the same time be part of the community.

Oftentimes I feel that Shilpy does a lot of work. She does work at the office, at home and takes care of most of the kids activities. I am lucky to work from home and help out as well; but she goes out of the way to be part of the kids' lives.

Tomorrow she will be coming home early from work as she is organizing a "movie night" at the school's auditorium. I will be going there to perhaps to sit and enjoy the movie with the kids. And she will be taking care of popcorn or drinks. I am sure.

I've got the children to tend
The clothes to mend
The floor to mop
The food to shop
Then the chicken to fry
... The baby to dry
I got company to feed
The garden to weed
I've got shirts to press
The tots to dress
The can to be cut
I gotta clean up this hut
Then see about the sick
And the cotton to pick.

Shine on me, sunshine
Rain on me, rain
Fall softly, dewdrops
And cool my brow again.

Storm, blow me from here
With your fiercest wind
Let me float across the sky
'Til I can rest again.

Fall gently, snowflakes
Cover me with white
Cold icy kisses and
Let me rest tonight.

Sun, rain, curving sky
Mountain, oceans, leaf and stone
Star shine, moon glow
You're all that I can call my own.
~Maya Angelou

Winning Like Gandhi Takes Persistence

[The following is a true story from this week]

I am so relieved he is watching TV now.  I know I don't sound like a good parent saying that, but right now I am liking this moment.  I am somewhat tickled that Mahatma Gandhi can make a difference in our lives. Only minutes ago, he was howling at the top of his lungs:  "It was the worst day of my life!"

When he came back from school, I heard him. It was as if a satellite had fallen upon unawares. Quickly descending the flight of stairs I reached him standing between the powder room and the front door. All the people that loved him surrounded him ... me, his grandparents, his sister, and his nanny.  All concerned. Looking at him.

"What happened, Gobind." 

"They were all laughing. I don't want to talk about it."  More crying followed.

"But what did you say that made them laugh. They probably liked it; that's why they laughed"

"No they were laughing at me. It's too embarrasing" And then the sobs continued.

Without wasting any more time, I dragged him upstairs.  I thought he would talk more if it was just me and him.  Locking the door behind me even as his sister banged on it for some time.  "Jania, I just need to talk to him alone." I told her.  She was quiet soon.

I read him the poem I used to love growing up. 

"When I was at the party,"
Said Betty, aged just four,
"A little girl fell off her chair
Right down upon the floor;
And all the other little girls
Began to laugh, but me---
I didn't laugh a single bit,"
Said Betty seriously.

"Why not?" her Mother asked her,
Full of delight to find
That Betty---bless her little heart!---
Had been so sweetly kind.
"Why didn't you laugh, my darling?
Or don't you like to tell?"
"I didn't laugh," said Betty,
"Cause it was me who fell."

Then I remembered.  He probably had his speech today.  He had been talking about this speech he had to make to qualify as a "Class representative."

"Is this about your speech?"

He looked up with moist eyes, "Yes."

And then he burst out. "I was speaking and everyone started laughing. And I didn't finish my speech. I took my name off the list. I am never making a speech ever again."

"But what did you say that was so funny?"

"It was not funny. I said I will take all the blame for you guys. I will always be there when you need me. And then they started laughing."

I thought about it. He basically made an emotional speech, and 8 year olds found that quite funny. Especially coming from him, who is normally very jovial. I told him that I was proud of what said. That would have been enough because he started to smile. But I thought I needed a one-two punch. So I shared with him what I have learned from Gandhi, that I remind myself when I am alone despite being right:

"Gobind, if Gandhi had stopped because he feared people laughing at him, we would not be Mahatma, he would not be a great soul. He used to say, 'They ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight. Then you win'."

He thought about it for a moment and said, "People laughed at Gandhi too!" He said he would stand for election again next year.

Mahatma's truth indeed lives on despite dying moments of despair. We shared a fleeting smile. And intending to pounce on this loving moment he asked, "Can I watch TV now?"


This week's Indie Ink Challenge came from Billy Flynn, who gave me this prompt: "In time we hate that which we fear - William Shakespear". I challenged Liz Culver with the prompt "The rose that grew from a crack in the concrete".

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Organizations with a heart

My angels that sing today are these institutions that support families and children who are affected by congenital heart defects like tetralogy of fallot.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Today's interview with Jania, my daughter

(Just so I can practice my interviewing skills)

Photo by Shivpreet Singh

Q: Who are you?
Ans: My name is Jania.

Q: Where are you sitting?
Ans: I came back from school and I am sitting in Papa's office right now.

Q: What are you doing?
Ans: We are having what we call "Papa fun."  Today we decided to write a story about what happened at school.

Q: What did you learn in school?
Ans: Today I learned to write inside the lines. And then I interviewed two friends.

Q: Why did you interview friends?
Ans: I needed to know what to draw.  We got this picture and we had to color.  The first one was Summer. The second one was "Krishy"

Q: What is Krishy???
Ans: He is one of the kindergartners.  Sometimes I play with him at recess.

Q: Who else do you play with at recess?
Mikayla.  She is not in my class, but she used to be in my pre-school.

Q: What else do you want to write about?
Today I saw some small T-shirts at school. They were decorated very nicely. You should have come to my class.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Some Firsts at the Hayward Gurdwara

Posted: 01 Sep 2011 05:59 AM PDT

Although I have done fusion music in private gatherings, and for long done it on recordings, yesterday was one of the first times we tried fusion music in the Hayward Gurudwara. (For those who do not know what a Gurudwara is, it is the “door of the guru” — the place of worship for disciples of my dear Guru Nanak)

And I say the royal “we” because it was also the first time that I played with a guitarist called Chris Pais. Chris is a mechanical engineer who works for FuelCells, Inc. I recently met him and he, like me, wants to play for the love of it.

We sang Malhar: “My heart is drenched when it thunders and my Guru’s words shower upon me. The music was loud; and people were not used to listening to it. Still, no one come at us with sharp objects; so I am encouraged that Gurudwaras might accept fusion music. After all Guru Nanak was the most popular fusion musician of his time; he didn’t have Gurudwaras to sing so he made the world his Gurudwara.

It was fun introducing Chris to the Gurudwara norms … he took off his shoes to get into the Gurudwara and covered his head with a scarf that was available outside. We had tea in the beginning; the program, as usual (unlike Indian norms) was very punctual and we had to abruptly end our tea break because we were up to sing. I gave an explanation of Malhar (Mian Ki Malhar versus the traditional Malhar). When I looked up to him at the end of our singing and asked if he was OK if we would donate the “tips” back for the community. He readily said yes. Then we had langar or the “community feast.” On the menu was a mixed vegetable, cholay, daal, dahi, kheer, jalebi and pakoras. Oh, langar is sooo good!
Chris was right. We should have taken a photograph of all the firsts. Looking forward to more live performances with Chris and fusion music.

The Envoy - Jane Hirshfield

The body-village has nine gates; the Tenth Gate remains hidden. - Guru Nanak (Pg. 1031)

There are openings in our lives of which we know nothing. - Jane Hirshfield

The Envoy
- Jane Hirshfield

One day in that room, a small rat.
Two days later, a snake.

Who, seeing me enter,
whipped the long stripe of his
body under the bed,
then curled like a docile house-pet.

I don't know how either came or left.
Later, the flashlight found nothing.

For a year I watched
as something -- terror? happiness? grief? --
entered and then left my body.

No knowing how it came in.
Not knowing how it went out.

It hung where words could not reach it.
It slept where light could not go.
Its scent was neither snake nor rat,
neither sensualist nor ascetic.

There are openings in our lives
of which we know nothing.

Through them
the belled herds travel at will,
long-legged and thirsty, covered with foreign dust.

Some Firsts at the Hayward Gurudwara

Although I have done fusion music in private gatherings, and for long done it on recordings, yesterday was one of the first times we tried fusion music in the Hayward Gurudwara. (For those who do not know what a Gurudwara is, it is the "door of the guru" -- the place of worship for disciples of my dear Guru Nanak)

And I say the royal "we" because it was also the first time that I played with a guitarist called Chris Pais. Chris is a mechanical engineer who works for FuelCells, Inc. I recently met him and he, like me, wants to play for the love of it.

We sang Malhar: "My heart is drenched when it thunders and my Guru's words shower upon me. The music was loud; and people were not used to listening to it. Still, no one come at us with sharp objects; so I am encouraged that Gurudwaras might accept fusion music. After all Guru Nanak was the most popular fusion musician of his time; he didn't have Gurudwaras to sing so he made the world his Gurudwara.

It was fun introducing Chris to the Gurudwara norms ... he took off his shoes to get into the Gurudwara and covered his head with a scarf that was available outside. We had tea in the beginning; the program, as usual (unlike Indian norms) was very punctual and we had to abruptly end our tea break because we were up to sing. I gave an explanation of Malhar (Mian Ki Malhar versus the traditional Malhar). When I looked up to him at the end of our singing and asked if he was OK if we would donate the "tips" back for the community. He readily said yes. Then we had langar or the "community feast." On the menu was a mixed vegetable, cholay, daal, dahi, kheer, jalebi and pakoras. Oh, langar is sooo good!

Chris was right. We should have taken a photograph of all the firsts. Looking forward to more live performances with Chris and fusion music.

Monday, August 29, 2011

This is my dance - Guru Nanak

I have started a new translation of this poem by my dear Guru Nanak about dancing. The original translation and poem is below.

With intellect as my guitar, and love as my drum;
the music resounding bliss in my heart
with this very devotion, and this very penance,
I dance in this color step after step ||1||

Know that the perfect beat is the singing of eternity;
the dance that fills the mind with pleasure. ||1||Pause||

Beating cymbals of truth and contentment
my ankle bells chime my lasting love.
Many melodies become one vibration,
duality eliminated step after step ||2|

Fear spins around my heart and mind,
whether sitting or standing.
when I finally lie down it will just be ashes
I dance in this color step after step ||3||

I go as a beggar in the company of the inspired
With their spirit may I be inspired myself
O Nanak, chant over and over again
the dance of angels step after step ||4||6||

ਆਸਾ ਮਹਲਾ ੧ ॥
आसा महला १ ॥
Āsā mėhlā 1.
Aasaa, First Mehl:

ਵਾਜਾ ਮਤਿ ਪਖਾਵਜੁ ਭਾਉ ॥
वाजा मति पखावजु भाउ ॥
vājā maṯ pakẖāvaj bẖā▫o.
Make your intellect your instrument, and love your tambourine;

ਹੋਇ ਅਨੰਦੁ ਸਦਾ ਮਨਿ ਚਾਉ ॥
होइ अनंदु सदा मनि चाउ ॥
Ho▫e anand saḏā man cẖā▫o.
thus bliss and lasting pleasure shall be produced in your mind.

ਏਹਾ ਭਗਤਿ ਏਹੋ ਤਪ ਤਾਉ ॥
एहा भगति एहो तप ताउ ॥
Ėhā bẖagaṯ eho ṯap ṯā▫o.
This is devotional worship, and this is the practice of penance.

ਇਤੁ ਰੰਗਿ ਨਾਚਹੁ ਰਖਿ ਰਖਿ ਪਾਉ ॥੧॥
इतु रंगि नाचहु रखि रखि पाउ ॥१॥
Iṯ rang nācẖahu rakẖ rakẖ pā▫o. ||1||
So dance in this love, and keep the beat with your feet. ||1||

ਪੂਰੇ ਤਾਲ ਜਾਣੈ ਸਾਲਾਹ ॥
पूरे ताल जाणै सालाह ॥
Pūre ṯāl jāṇai sālāh.
Know that the perfect beat is the Praise of the Lord;

ਹੋਰੁ ਨਚਣਾ ਖੁਸੀਆ ਮਨ ਮਾਹ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
होरु नचणा खुसीआ मन माह ॥१॥ रहाउ ॥
Hor nacẖṇā kẖusī▫ā man māh. ||1|| rahā▫o.
other dances produce only temporary pleasure in the mind. ||1||Pause||

ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਵਜਹਿ ਦੁਇ ਤਾਲ ॥
सतु संतोखु वजहि दुइ ताल ॥
Saṯ sanṯokẖ vajėh ḏu▫e ṯāl.
Play the two cymbals of truth and contentment.

ਪੈਰੀ ਵਾਜਾ ਸਦਾ ਨਿਹਾਲ ॥
पैरी वाजा सदा निहाल ॥
Pairī vājā saḏā nihāl.
Let your ankle bells be the lasting Vision of the Lord.

ਰਾਗੁ ਨਾਦੁ ਨਹੀ ਦੂਜਾ ਭਾਉ ॥
रागु नादु नही दूजा भाउ ॥
Rāg nāḏ nahī ḏūjā bẖā▫o.
Let your harmony and music be the elimination of duality.

ਇਤੁ ਰੰਗਿ ਨਾਚਹੁ ਰਖਿ ਰਖਿ ਪਾਉ ॥੨॥
इतु रंगि नाचहु रखि रखि पाउ ॥२॥
Iṯ rang nācẖahu rakẖ rakẖ pā▫o. ||2||
So dance in this love, and keep the beat with your feet. ||2||

ਭਉ ਫੇਰੀ ਹੋਵੈ ਮਨ ਚੀਤਿ ॥
भउ फेरी होवै मन चीति ॥
Bẖa▫o ferī hovai man cẖīṯ.
Let the fear of God within your heart and mind be your spinning dance,

ਬਹਦਿਆ ਉਠਦਿਆ ਨੀਤਾ ਨੀਤਿ ॥
बहदिआ उठदिआ नीता नीति ॥
Bahḏi▫ā uṯẖ▫ḏi▫ā nīṯā nīṯ.
and keep up, whether sitting or standing.

ਲੇਟਣਿ ਲੇਟਿ ਜਾਣੈ ਤਨੁ ਸੁਆਹੁ ॥
लेटणि लेटि जाणै तनु सुआहु ॥
Letaṇ let jāṇai ṯan su▫āhu.
To roll around in the dust is to know that the body is only ashes.

ਇਤੁ ਰੰਗਿ ਨਾਚਹੁ ਰਖਿ ਰਖਿ ਪਾਉ ॥੩॥
इतु रंगि नाचहु रखि रखि पाउ ॥३॥
Iṯ rang nācẖahu rakẖ rakẖ pā▫o. ||3||
So dance in this love, and keep the beat with your feet. ||3||

ਸਿਖ ਸਭਾ ਦੀਖਿਆ ਕਾ ਭਾਉ ॥
सिख सभा दीखिआ का भाउ ॥
Sikẖ sabẖā ḏīkẖi▫ā kā bẖā▫o.
Keep the company of the disciples, the students who love the teachings.

ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸੁਣਣਾ ਸਾਚਾ ਨਾਉ ॥
गुरमुखि सुणणा साचा नाउ ॥
Gurmukẖ suṇ▫ṇā sācẖā nā▫o.
As Gurmukh, listen to the True Name.

ਨਾਨਕ ਆਖਣੁ ਵੇਰਾ ਵੇਰ ॥
नानक आखणु वेरा वेर ॥
Nānak ākẖaṇ verā ver.
O Nanak, chant it, over and over again.

ਇਤੁ ਰੰਗਿ ਨਾਚਹੁ ਰਖਿ ਰਖਿ ਪੈਰ ॥੪॥੬॥
इतु रंगि नाचहु रखि रखि पैर ॥४॥६॥
Iṯ rang nācẖahu rakẖ rakẖ pair. ||4||6||
So dance in this love, and keep the beat with your feet. ||4||6||

Music and Morality - Quotes from Plato, Aristotle and Socrates

“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, a charm to sadness, gaiety and life to everything; It is the essence of order and lends to all that is good, just, and beautiful.”

- Plato

"Music directly imitates the passions or states of the soul...when one listens to music that imitates a certain passion, he becomes imbued withthe same passion; and if over a long time he habitually listens to music that rouses ignoble passions, his whole character will be shaped to an ignoble form."

- Aristotle

Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of him who is rightly educated graceful, or of him who is ill-educated ungraceful.

- Socrates

Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking - Walt Whitman - Analysis

Out of the cradle endlessly rocking

OUT of the cradle endlessly rocking, 
Out of the mocking-bird's throat, the musical shuttle, 
Out of the Ninth-month midnight, 
Over the sterile sands and the fields beyond, where the child 
leaving his bed wander'd alone, bareheaded, barefoot, 
Down from the shower'd halo, 
Up from the mystic play of shadows twining and twisting as if they 
were alive, 
Out from the patches of briers and blackberries, 
From the memories of the bird that chanted to me, 
From your memories sad brother, from the fitful risings and fallings 
I heard, 
From under that yellow half-moon late-risen and swollen as if with 
From those beginning notes of yearning and love there in the mist, 
From the thousand responses of my heart never to cease, 
From the myriad thence-arous'd words, 
From the word stronger and more delicious than any, 
From such as now they start the scene revisiting, 
As a flock, twittering, rising, or overhead passing, 
Borne hither, ere all eludes me, hurriedly, 
A man, yet by these tears a little boy again, 
Throwing myself on the sand, confronting the waves, 
I, chanter of pains and joys, uniter of here and hereafter, 
Taking all hints to use them, but swiftly leaping beyond them, 
A reminiscence sing.
Once Paumanok, 
When the lilac-scent was in the air and Fifth-month grass was 
Up this seashore in some briers, 
Two feather'd guests from Alabama, two together, 
And their nest, and four light-green eggs spotted with brown, 
And every day the he-bird to and fro near at hand, 
And every day the she-bird crouch'd on her nest, silent, with bright 
And every day I, a curious boy, never too close, never disturbing 
Cautiously peering, absorbing, translating.
Shine! shine! shine! 
Pour down your warmth, great sun.' 
While we bask, we two together.
Two together! 
Winds blow south, or winds blow north, 
Day come white, or night come black, 
Home, or rivers and mountains from home, 
Singing all time, minding no time, 
While we two keep together.
Till of a sudden, 
May-be kill'd, unknown to her mate, 
One forenoon the she-bird crouch'd not on the nest, 
Nor return'd that afternoon, nor the next, 
Nor ever appear'd again.
And thenceforward all summer in the sound of the sea, 
And at night under the full of the moon in calmer weather, 
Over the hoarse surging of the sea, 
Or flitting from brier to brier by day, 
I saw, I heard at intervals the remaining one, the he-bird, 
The solitary guest from Alabama.
Blow! blow! blow! 
Blow up sea-winds along Paumanok's shore,- 
I wait and I wait till you blow my mate to me.
Yes, when the stars glisten'd, 
All night long on the prong of a moss-scallop'd stake, 
Down almost amid the slapping waves, 
Sat the lone singer wonderful causing tears.
He call'd on his mate, 
He pour'd forth the meanings which I of all men know.
Yes my brother I know, 
The rest might not, but I have treasur'd every note, 
For more than once dimly down to the beach gliding, 
Silent, avoiding the moonbeams, blending myself with the shadows, 
Recalling now the obscure shapes, the echoes, the sounds and sights 
after their sorts, 
The white arms out in the breakers tirelessly tossing, 
I, with bare feet, a child, the wind waiting my hair, 
Listen'd long and long.
Listen'd to keep, to sing, now translating the notes, 
Following you my brother.
Soothe! soothe! soothe! 
Close on its wave soothes the wave behind, 
And again another behind embracing and lapping, every one close, 
But my love soothes not me, not me.
Low hangs the moon, it rose late, 
It is lagging-O I think it is heavy with love, with love.
O madly the sea pushes upon the land, 
With love, with love.
O night! do I not see my love fluttering out among the breakers? 
What is that little black thing I see there in the white?
Loud! loud! loud! 
Loud I call to you, my love! 
High and clear I shoot my voice over the waves, 
Surely you must know who is here, is here, 
You must know who I am, my love.
Low-hanging moon! 
What is that dusky spot in your brown yellow? 
O it is the shape, the shape of my mate.' 
O moon do not keep her from me any longer.
Land! land! O land! 
Whichever way I turn, O I think you could give me my mate back again 
if you only would, 
For I am almost sure I see her dimly whichever way I look.
O rising stars! 
Perhaps the one I want so much will rise, will rise with some of 
O throat! O trembling throat! 
Sound clearer through the atmosphere! 
Pierce the woods, the earth, 
Somewhere listening to catch you must be the one I want.
Shake out carols! 
Solitary here, the night's carols! 
Carols of lonesome love! death's carols! 
Carols under that lagging, yellow, waning moon! 
O under that moon where she droops almost down into the sea! 
O reckless despairing carols.
But soft! sink low! 
Soft! let me just murmur, 
And do you wait a moment you husky-nois'd sea, 
For somewhere I believe I heard my mate responding to me, 
So faint, I must be still, be still to listen, 
But not altogether still, for then she might not come immediately to 
Hither my love! 
Here I am! here! 
With this just-sustain'd note I announce myself to you, 
This gentle call is for you my love, for you.
Do not be decoy'd elsewhere, 
That is the whistle of the wind, it is not my voice, 
That is the fluttering, the fluttering of the spray, 
Those are the shadows of leaves.
O darkness! O in vain! 
O I am very sick and sorrowful
O brown halo in the sky near the moon, drooping upon the sea! 
O troubled reflection in the sea! 
O throat! O throbbing heart! 
And I singing uselessly, uselessly all the night.
O past! O happy life! O songs of joy! 
In the air, in the woods, over fields, 
Loved! loved! loved! loved! loved! 
But my mate no more, no more with me! 
We two together no more.
The aria sinking, 
All else continuing, the stars shining, 
The winds blowing, the notes of the bird continuous echoing, 
With angry moans the fierce old mother incessantly moaning, 
On the sands of Paumanok's shore gray and rustling, 
The yellow half-moon enlarged, sagging down, drooping, the face of 
the sea almost touching, 
The boy ecstatic, with his bare feet the waves, with his hair the 
atmosphere dallying, 
The love in the heart long pent, now loose, now at last tumultuously 
The aria's meaning, the ears, the soul, swiftly depositing, 
The strange tears down the cheeks coursing, 
The colloquy there, the trio, each uttering, 
The undertone, the savage old mother incessantly crying, 
To the boy's soul's questions sullenly timing, some drown'd secret 
To the outsetting bard.
Demon or bird! (said the boy's soul,) 
Is it indeed toward your mate you sing? or is it really to me? 
For I, that was a child, my tongue's use sleeping, now I have heard 
Now in a moment I know what I am for, I awake, 
And already a thousand singers, a thousand songs, clearer, louder 
and more sorrowful than yours, 
A thousand warbling echoes have started to life within me, never to 
O you singer solitary, singing by yourself, projecting me, 
O solitary me listening, never more shall I cease perpetuating you, 
Never more shall I escape, never more the reverberations, 
Never more the cries of unsatisfied love be absent from me, 
Never again leave me to be the peaceful child I was before what 
there in the night, 
By the sea under the yellow and sagging moon, 
The messenger there arous'd, the fire, the sweet hell within, 
The unknown want, the destiny of me.
O give me the clew! (it lurks in the night here somewhere,) 
O if I am to have so much, let me have more! 
A word then, (for I will conquer it,) 
The word final, superior to all, 
Subtle, sent up-what is it?-I listen; 
Are you whispering it, and have been all the time, you sea-waves? 
Is that it from your liquid rims and wet sands?
Whereto answering, the sea, 
Delaying not, hurrying not, 
Whisper'd me through the night, and very plainly before daybreak, 
Lisp'd to me the low and delicious word death, 
And again death, death, death, death 
Hissing melodious, neither like the bird nor like my arous'd child's 
But edging near as privately for me rustling at my feet, 
Creeping thence steadily up to my ears and laving me softly all 
Death, death, death, death, death.
Which I do not forget. 
But fuse the song of my dusky demon and brother, 
That he sang to me in the moonlight on Paumanok's gray beach, 
With the thousand responsive songs at random, 
My own songs awaked from that hour, 
And with them the key, the word up from the waves, 
The word of the sweetest song and all songs, 
That strong and delicious word which, creeping to my feet, 
(Or like some old crone rocking the cradle, swathed in sweet 
garments, bending aside,) 
The sea whisper'd me.

The plot:

The plot is about a young boy walking on the beach, who finds two mockingbirds nesting and watches them. The female bird fails to appear one day, and the male bird cries out for her. The bird's cries create an awakening in the boy, who translates what the male is saying in the rest of the poem. As this happens, the boy recognizes the impact of nature on the human soul and his own burgeoning consciousness.

Criticism of this poem:

We have searched this "poem" through with a serious and deliberate endeavor to find out the reason of its being written; to discover some clue to the mystery of so vast an expenditure of words. But we honestly confess our utter inability to solve the problem. It is destitute of all the elements which are commonly desiderated in poetical composition; it has neither rhythm nor melody, rhyme nor reason, metre nor sense. We do solemnly assert, that there is not to be discovered, throughout the whole performance, so much as the glimmering ghost of an idea.

Another Critic: "My private opinion expressed to you confidentially is, that Whitman found a lot of dictionary-pi going off at auction, bought it for a song, employed a Chinese type-setter from the Bible House to set if up in lines of unequal length, and then sold it to you as an original Poem."

Friday, August 26, 2011

You have to go on and be crazy. - Jimi Hendrix Quotes

I'm the one that has to die when it's time for me to die, so let me live my life, the way I want to.
Jimi Hendrix

I feel guilty when people say I'm the greatest on the scene. What's good or bad doesn't matter to me; what does matter is feeling and not feeling. If only people would take more of a true view and think in terms of feelings. Your name doesn't mean a damn, it's your talents and feelings that matter. You've got to know much more than just the technicalities of notes; you've got to know what goes between the notes.
Jimi Hendrix

You have to go on and be crazy. Craziness is like heaven.
Jimi Hendrix

Castles made of sand fall in the sea eventually.
Jimi Hendrix

Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.
Jimi Hendrix

When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will finally know peace.
Jimi Hendrix

You have to forget about what other people say; when you're supposed to die, when you're supposed to be lovin'. You have to forget about all these things. You have to go on and be crazy. Craziness is like heaven.
Jimi Hendrix

Blues is easy to play, but hard to feel.
Jimi Hendrix, Quoted in Charles Shaar Murray,Crosstown Traffic, ch. 6 (1989).

Irena Sendler - Nobler than a Nobel Prize

Meet Irena Sendler (1910-2008)

She was a 98 year-old Polish woman at her time of death. During World War II, Irena worked in the Warsaw Ghetto as a plumbing/sewer specialist. She dedicated herself to smuggle Jewish children out. Infants were carried in the bottom of the tool box she used and older children in a burlap sack she had in the back of her truck.

She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids’ and infants’ noises. Irena managed to smuggle out and save 2500 children during this time

She eventually was caught and the Nazis broke both her legs, arms and beat her severely. Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she smuggled out and in a glass jar buried under a tree in her backyard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived and reunited some of the families but most had been killed. She then helped those children get placement into foster family homes or adopted.

In 2007, Irena was up for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was not selected. Al Gore won for presenting a slide show on Global Warming.