Throwback Thursday: A Simple Societal Solution

“If we did all the things we were capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                          Thomas Edison 

utopia1Imagine a place where life is beautiful all of the time, where everyone is perfectly content and gets along well with one another, where people share a common bound and are caring, helpful and committed. A place where everybody goes out of their way willingly, to help one other. Can you picture such a place?  Could such a Utopia really ever exist? An optimist would surely say yes. A pessimist would scoff and find the notion foolish. But let’s be real, in the world we know, this crazy, screwed up, place we call home, could such an idyllic condition ever exist?

Think about it for a moment. We’re talking about a place where everyone is content with their lot in life,  where everyone is genuinely happy and gladly does their part for the common good. Yeah, as much as I would like to believe that I’m an optimist I can’t really imagine such a perfect place, except maybe for heaven. Our society is simply too diverse, there are so many different points of view and clashing ideals. To create utopia there would have to be far too many changes for too many people. Besides we’re much too selfish and materialistic to adhere to Utopian ideals and standards, we want what we want, when we want it.

Each of us is a master of our own little world. We all have our own personal life bubble complete with a recurring cast of characters and situations that make it all worthwhile.  And we’re all very protective of our worlds and willing to do nearly anything to keep them safe. An undisturbed bubble ensures happiness or something close to it and a better quality of life. And when we are in our zone we could care less about what’s going on in the world outside our bubble. Oh we know shit’s happening, we simply don’t care. We choose to look the other away. Looking the other way is a fact of life. Ignorance is bliss.

But what if creating this Utopia was as easy as making a wish, pushing a button or flipping a switch, would we be more willing to make a change or would the ‘look the other way’ attitude still prevail? Sadly, no matter what the prize, I believe the majority would go on about their business, satisfied with their lot in life, content with wearing blinders. The sad truth is that these life bubbles we create for ourselves have a high probability of bursting. We see it everyday on the news. Unsuspecting individuals and families who’s lives are disrupted by a single event, a disgruntled gunman, a robbery, car jacking, home invasion  or other crime gone array, you just never know. There is no wrong place, wrong time  anymore, now it’s anytime, anywhere, meaning more and more bursting bubbles.

We can’t go through life living in our personal bubbles. Bubbles burst and everything changes. You can’t go through life hiding your head in the sand or spreading your protective wings over each and every family member. You can’t continue to look the other way. The “it can’t/won’t happen here” attitude is a thing of the past. Shit happens, it happens to everyone and it appears to be happening more and more.

We can’t continue our life journey with blinders on. We need to be aware of everything that goes on in the world around us, why it’s happening and what the fallout will be. We need to understand how events affects us and what we can do to make it better not only for ourselves and our loved ones, but for everyone. Inside each of us lies the potential to make a difference, differences that can and will benefit the common good. Society is much more than a collection of individuals, it’s not about me’s and I’s but about us, all of us. We may not achieve utopia but we can make things better. We can make good things happen. We are society.

Just a thought…


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In Pursuit of Wisdom

For as long as I can remember all I’ve ever really wanted from life is to be happy, truly content. Much of my life, perhaps too much of it, has been spent in pursuit of that goal. As a young man I believed it was the material world that would bring me happiness but I was wrong. Although I was able to acquired some wonderful toys along the way, new cars, guitars, motorcycles, our first little house, followed just eighteen months later by a brand spanking new one!  Hell we even got to pick out the tile and carpeting! Yeah life was good. We had a whole bunch of stuff including a huge debt! But I wasn’t any happier than I was before. What a waste of valuable years. Actually it wasn’t really a waste as I did learn a valuable lesson from the whole experience.

My next stop was religion. I truly believed that God and the Church might hold the key to my happiness. Things were fine for awhile, yeah I felt on fire inside and thought I was on the right path at last. Little by little the happiness I thought I’d found was fading  as I began to see the true nature of the Church community. It was nothing more than a microcosm of the big bad world outside the church doors. Oh it was all sweetness and love  on the outside, but the church community was filled with many two faced, hypocrites who would smile and shake your hand one moment then stab you in the back the next. After a moving Sunday sermon on brotherhood I watched the bickering and infighting that went on behind the scenes the different committees and groups, of our church community. All the power grabbing, influence and persuasion reminiscent of any big business group. It was all about money and power. Needless to say my inner fire soon burned out and I again found solace in materialism.  And again I was no happier than I was before.

Then I began to look inward and my search led me to an awareness that I never felt before. A good friend had once told me that we were made in God’s image, and that our bodies are temples of the Holy spirit, God resides in us and is a part of our very being, therefore we are God. I used to laugh and tell him that he was wrong, but the more I looked inward the more I began to believe that maybe, just maybe he might be right. We are One in spirit. Maybe we are God after all.

In time my inner search brought me to a crossroad. In one direction lay happiness, in the other diversion. In my heart I knew in what direction I needed to go to find the inner peace I sought. Yeah, the road to growth and understanding called me by name. I’d like to say that I listened and took that road immediately but of course I didn’t. It took some time for me to gather my wits, shed my greed and selfish needs  and make a move to the right. I only wish I’d done it earlier.

Soon I was back on track, learning about myself and my relationship with God and man, happier than I’d been in years. Yeah I was on a quest, yearning for knowledge and wisdom, because I learned that before you can be truly happy you must first attain wisdom. Wisdom is insight. wisdom is truth, the ultimate truth. But as I have learned the road to wisdom and happiness is not an easy one. It is a road marred with hidden traps, ruts and diversions that make it far too easy to stumble, backslide or stop altogether.  If you too are on the road to find out and if you want to attain the wisdom of Solomon that can set you free, place your trust in God, look inward for the answers you seek and never forget the, greater reward that awaits you… The search goes on…

Just Saying

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Throwback Thursday: “Old Friends, Old Tunes” 2/2015

“Sitting home alone                                                                                                                             strummin’ my guitar sippin’ on a cold one                                                                                Ain’t it funny how the years fly by                                                                                                      I’m growing older yet I wonder why                                                                                             Still feel so young inside…”     JS

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy journey down memory road goes on as I continue rummaging through  my old writing tablets. Last night I found some real buried treasure, an old song that my buddy Paul and I wrote back in the day. Yeah we could have been the Lennon McCartney of Angeleno Ave. After all our names were John and Paul. Actually I believe Paul and I only wrote a couple of songs that we collaborated on from start to finish. The best of the two was a romantic ballad we wrote for my wedding called “Since the First Time.” At the wedding Paul sang and played guitar with my other guitar playing buddy Bob and the entire Shalom group and performed it beautifully.

Funny, even after all these years when I close my eyes I can see our wedding day so clearly. We had just finished exchanging our vows and were seated in front of the altar in two elegant high back chairs looking out at our guests. The bridesmaids and groomsmen had returned to their seats in the first pew. I remember looking over at Paul who was one of my groomsmen sitting in the middle of the pew, decked out in his tux waiting for the moment when he would join Shalom and perform our song. When the time came he stood and made his way across the pew past the other groomsmen. as he did so  he looked up towards the altar, flashed a quick smile and raised his eyebrows a couple of times. What a character. He then strolled down the side aisle to the rear of the church where Shalom was set up. I can still hear his heels clicking loudly on the tile floor and people turning to see where Paul was going. I’m pretty sure he enjoyed the moment as well. He liked the attention. God that was so long ago. Where do the years go?

Yeah, Paul and I used to have a blast making music. We were always sharing songs with each other. We would listen to each others songs and throw out suggestions here and there, even offering up a lyric now and then, but the majority of songs we played in his room were his. The biggest part I played in their creation was to write them down on paper. Yeah Paul was good at coming up with awesome lyrics but he seldom wrote anything down so I used to do it for him.  I can remember several times sitting in his bedroom playing guitars when he would share a song he was working on and sing these incredible lyrics. When the song would end I would ask to see the lyrics and he would reply” I just made them up while I was playing.” God, he probably lost some awesome lyrics that way. That’s why I began writing things down.

One of the songs I came across last night was one of my all time favorite Paul songs called “Faded Dreams.” It’s a beautiful song about the pain of breaking up. It was such an awesome song. I remember Paul telling me how he had taught the song to the Shalom group one night after rehearsal and how great it had sounded. I’m sure it was awesome. I wish I had been able to hear Shalom do it. It must have been incredible.

As I read the “Faded Dreams” lyrics  I could almost hear Paul singing “Where am I going?  After all these years. Why have all my dreams faded into tears?  Tell me why our love died, my heart cries and my soul sighs for faded dreams…”  Yeah it was truly a beautiful song. After finding it I was hoping I might find more. I would have loved to find the lyrics for such classics as “High Class Bum,” ( kind of a take on “King of the Road.” “I am a Mind,” or “Idaho,” but no such luck. Paul had another song he called “the Prophet, it was pretty awesome. Actually I don’t think there were any lyrics to it, but it was a beautiful arrangement.

Funny, but bits and pieces of those songs are still swimming around in my head.

Every once in awhile I find myself humming or singing the parts of the songs I remember which isn’t much. The one I remember the best besides “Faded Dreams” is “Idaho.” We used to sit around and sing “Idaho” all the time. “40, 30, 20, – 10 miles to go, I’m a truck drivin’ man headin’ straight for Idaho,  Driving my Econoline,  crossing over the double yellow line, and as I move to pass a truck  I turn around and wave – good luck…  Yeah I’d love to find all the lyrics to that tune. It was a fun song. Perhaps as I continue going through my old files I’ll get lucky and find it. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what I come across. But not last night, once I got to reminiscing I ended up grabbing another beer picked up my guitar and played me some “Faded Dreams. It was sweet. The only thing that could have made it better would have been having Paul and Bob or Don (another guitarist from Shalom) here to join me. Yeah that would have really been nice…

Life is Good…




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