hidden rhythms

Curse of The Modern Family

My sister in law just gave birth to a beautiful little girl a few days ago! In preparation for the blessed event, my wife has been spending every weekend in Michigan (she lives in Iowa) to help out with my three nieces before mommy has the baby.

I've been in New Mexico for a month now, and I've found out that I have a challenge...knowing what time it is where my family is.

My kids are in Iowa, and have been staying there. Easy to figure...their Central Time Zone is one hour ahead of my Mountain Time Zone.

With my wife however, she keeps traveling between Central Time Zone and Eastern Time Zone. Based on her teaching schedule, I can usually tell where she is going to be, but not always.

I mistakenly thought she was going back to Iowa now that our beautiful niece has arrived...

Wrong...

She's staying in Michigan until she has to go to her college alumi weekend this weekend...still Eastern Time Zone...different state.

What time is it here? What time is it there?

Can we talk on the phone, text...Facetime?

First world problem to be sure, but also indicative of a mobile family in the 21st century!

Everyone Has A Story

During my last MT gig, I learned a universal and undeniable truth: everyone has a story. In a follow up post, I'll explore how I learned those lessons. For now, a few thoughts about those stories we all have.

The idea for this post came to me at a restaurant.

I was sitting perpendicular to a table with a large indigenous family...at least twenty people celebrating a child's birthday.

After the cake was served, a couple of the younger kids, three years old or so, started chasing each other...crawling.

I kept glancing at the kids and smiling. A couple of the moms saw me looking and got up and put a stop to the chase.

I don't know if the parents were embarrassed by the behavior or if they didn't appreciate the guy sitting alone in the restaurant looking at their kids.

Then I thought back to something another white teacher said to me. She got the impression that a lot of the indigenous families in the area are strict with their kids...maybe I was witnessing a cultural expression.

I wanted to say, "Your kids are cute! I'm far away from my family and seeing your kids happy gives me hope that maybe my kids are happy too!"

But it seemed out of place to intervene in their parenting...especially not knowing their stories.

It's for similar reasons that I try to make friends with every dog I see...so I don't miss the furry friends I left behind. Or the reason I smile when I see a couple holding hands or talking sweetly in hushed tones. I remember how good it is to be with the love of my life.

I think about the line from the Bon Jovi song Bed of Roses, "As I dream about movies they won't make of me when I'm dead."

He viewed his life as a story, just as I do. I can't count how many times I say something like, "I guess that's part of my story" or sometimes our story when talking with my wife.

I share bits of my story with people here...I'm newlywed, away from my wife and kids...I smile when kids are being joyful children...

Almost as an afterthought, I enjoy "The Most Interesting Man in the World." One of his thoughts seems appropriate here: "It's never too early to start beefing up your obituary."

What will your obituary say?

What's your story?

If you don't like it, change the plot,.change the characters, but YOU write it.

Live your story every day!

Waiting For My Real Life To Begin: Colin Hay's Music and the Dichotomy that is me

Recently, on the drive to work, I was listening to Colin Hay's "Man at Work" album. In recent months, since buying the album, I find that I really connect with a lot of the lyrics. I will admit that I became familiar with Colin Hay by watching Scrubs. I thought "Waiting" was a beautiful song, and "Overkill" was pretty cool too. I was not familiar with the Men at Work version of the song. I guess that goes back to something my mother said often about me...I have strange gaps in my knowledge.

As I was singing along with "Waiting" that morning, I got choked up. As a music therapist, I've learned that one reason music is so powerful is because of the personal connection people can form with it. Hearing a certain song can instantly transport someone to a different time and place.

I have lost a lot of people close to me and music connects me to each of those experiences. "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan came on the radio when we were driving to be with my Dad after my Mom died. "It's Alright" by Huey Lewis and The News was on the radio when we were driving to my best friend Merry's memorial service and I will always think of my Dad's passing when I hear the Adagietto from Mahler's Fourth (a story for another time).

A lot of songs make me think of my beloved wife and everything we have been through in our short time together. "Waiting For My Real Life To Begin" is one of them.

Three weeks after I proposed to my wife, I lost my job. I had unknowingly, and very incorrectly tied my sense of self and self worth to my job...again, a story for another time. When another job did not present itself readily, I slipped into a deep depression. On top of that, my then bride to be took it upon herself to be the primary financial support for me and my children. I kept saying, "I'll make things right by you." She expressed her trust that I would.

I'll throw in a bit a lyric analysis here and there:"Any minute now, my ship is coming in...I'll keep checking the horizon..."

This reflects my sentiment of "I'll make things right by you" and as with other lines of this song, it expresses an assuredness of the wonderful things to come...something I forgot at times.

"And you say, 'be still my love, open up your heart, let the light shine in.'"

This is the voice of my wife. She was my biggest supporter and my strength through this difficult time. More than that, she says things like that to me frequently...fully embody your spiritual self...let your light shine!

"Don't you understand? I've already have a plan, I'm waiting for my real life to begin."

Here is where the dichotomy in my thinking kicks in...but I'll get to that later.

When I woke today, suddenly, nothing happened, but in my dream I slew the dragon...

So many days, waiting for call backs, hoping for interviews, searching for more job leads...wondering why my life was turning out as it was. I was born to do important things! I was called to a life of service and helping people...making a difference. Were those dreams on hold? Had they vanished altogether?

Further into the song we find "Just be here now, forget about the past, your mask is wearing thin"

Something else very similar to the things my wife often says. She is so tapped in to the Universal Wisdom. This woman that I am sharing my life with is truly one of the strongest people I have ever met. She has to be to withstand the torrent of emotions I bring to the table at times. She is also the kindest, most gentle life partner I could have hoped for. She reminds me, "be here, now." She sees through all the masks I have ever worn, and she still loves me. I could not have dreamed of a better woman to spend the rest of this lifetime with.

...and I'll check my machine, there's sure to be that call. It's gonna happen soon, soon, oh very soon, it's just that times are lean.

I know my wife took a lot of flack from family and friends...asking when that next job was going to materialize. In her own sweet way, she didn't really give me a lot of details of those conversations.

Let me say again, she is one of the strongest people I have ever met.

In my moments of clarity and being tapped in myself, I kept saying, "Something BIG is about to happen! I can feel it!" Often she would say something like "That's wonderful! I'm so happy for you!"

The she'd would be right there to support me when I hit another rough patch.

Here's the dichotomy in thinking...and this reminds me so much of the concept of "doublethink" that George Orwell discusses in 1984...the idea of saying one thing, but believing the exact opposite.

It also reminds me of something the ordained minister/college professor said during a religion class I took: "I believe that the Bible is the absolute word of God. At the same time, it is FULL of contradictions and inconsistencies."

For purposes of this post, my version is: Waiting For My Real Life To Begin is a beautiful song that connects with me on a very deep level because I relate the lyrics so closely to my own life...and yet the very title of it goes against every belief about how to live life.

Do you read Eckhart Tolle?

The ideas he shares about present moment awareness...truly life changing. The ideas are not new as he admits, but his method of delivery resonate with me. You can find parts of talks he gives on YouTube too.

His book The Power of Now reminds us that ALL we ever have is the present moment. How many times have you said, "I'll be happy when I drive this kind of car" or "When I make this amount of money, I'll be set!" Maybe you think a house, or a baby or new clothes will make you happy...the list goes on.

I know I've done that...hung my happiness on material possessions, or money or relationships.

You can't wait for life to begin. It's happening, right now.

The job that I found took me 1200 miles away from my family, for at least an academic year. Yes, there are breaks, but it is certainly the longest I have been away from my children...my wife too. Sometimes this doesn't seem like my real life. I've thought, "I will be so much happier when I am closer to my family!" I realize of course the error in that thinking.

I believe happiness is the awareness of being connected to the whole of humanity. Realizing that we are all spiritual beings and we're here to help each other out. Joy, lightness, ease, all come from staying rooted in the present moment.

Just be here now, forget about the past...

I try to live in the present moment as Eckhart suggests...that is a work in progress for me. Being in this place, in this highly spiritual place that I have been led to has clarified things for me. Some of the things I used to think we're important, really aren't. Each day, I try to live a life of service; a spiritual life. I remember one of His Holiness, The Dalai Lama's favorite prayers: "Guide me and heal me, so that I may be of greater service to others."

On a clear day, I can see, see a very long way.