Updated: Nov 2, 2020
One of my reconnected friends – Steve – from my early surfing and partying days - says there’s a Grateful Dead song for every occasion…so here goes…
Come back here when you find yourself at one of those seeming “dead” ends on the road of life…and listen to the river sing sweet songs…
I Deadicate [sic] these reflections to the following folks that have left this sphere in a bus headed for never ever land:
Jerome “Jerry” Garcia – for me, the heart of the Dead
Ron “Pigpen” McKernan – a founding member of the Grateful Dead
Charles “Chic” Moeser – a surfing, traveling and Dead-lovin’ partying companion, shown below in his VW Bus in 1969
“When they come to take you down
When they bring that wagon round
When they come to call on you
And drag your poor body down”
Gratefulness is next to G-dliness
Today is the first day of the rest of my life…
Woke up to “Uncle John’s Band” lyrics playing in my head (and there’s no monthly subscription fee for this service)
Next, I “looked out of any window” and it was grey
Passing a mirror, I observed my reflection and there was more than “a touch of grey”
I then walked over and sat on the bed next to Eileen and picked up on last night’s conversation about HOW we choose to see life’s situations, particularly the troubling ones. Basically, it was about “is the glass half full or half empty,” and we continued looking at the roles of expectations (and how they can cause suffering) and potentialities (and how they can provide hope). Rather than viewing them as irreconcilable opposites, Eileen offered an invitation from our contemplative teachers to hold the tension of these seeming opposites. A helpful practice, especially in this time of widespread division. I’m choosing to believe that only by sitting in this place of mental discomfort can my heart be opened to find the “narrow path” between the two that Jesus mentions, which is similar to Buddha’s Middle Way. This resonates with my Libran sign – the balance.
At this point in my journey through the stars, been trying to achieve more balance and avoid the state that arises from imbalance. I offer you these words of wisdom from a guy I know in the Program, who, when asked if he had balance in his life, quipped, “Sure, I got balance…I pass it on the way to either extreme.”
FYI - I share the exact same star date - month date and year - with performer Meatloaf and the same month and day with my friend Pascale
I’m forever grateful for…
The life I’ve been given and the life I’ve lived…it’s been one of progress not perfection
Waking up besides Eileen, as I have for more than 42 years, and the growing intimacy we are experiencing (“in-to-me-see”)
Sharing life with John, who’s not only our son, but also our “delivery boy” – “[Tom & Eileen], did you know that the child you delivered will soon deliver you? (my interpretation of the Christmas song “Mary did you know.”
Also for John’s introducing his parents to the wonders of epic movies like: The Matrix, LOTR, The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Tree of Life and many others
Physical & mental sobriety – the mental one is a work in progress
Guides including three Jews and a Hindu that introduced me to a loving version of the Divine. Among them: an unnamed rabbinical student, Ram Dass, Richard Rohr, Thomas Keating, Joel Silberman, and others
The wisdom & practice of the 12 Steps – these are helping restore & develop better relationships with myself, other people and my Higher Power
Reconnecting with old friends and the wonder-filled telling of old tales and also the discoveries of who each of us are NOW
Staying connected with my 2 brothers & 4 sisters via our text threads
Remaining connected with a few special friends and meeting with some of them every month in our home
The Sacraments…of the Present Moment…of Nature…of Good Food…of Laughter…of Tears…of Joys…of Sorrows…
Trail guides (“visible angels”) that have helped me navigate rough patches when I got stuck along the path. Included here are: Jon Terrell, Bill Terenzi, Lilly Link, Joe Barlin, Dave Klampert, Eleanora Fitch, Joel Silberman…and many others, some of whom were invisible angels…
Tom K and his courses on mindfulness practices that help me return more frequently to the present moment – the only moment there ever is…
Kundalini yoga and my wonderful teacher Elena, who not only helped my body learn how to stretch, she also showed me how to exercise my spirit, as she introduced me to the joys of the sacred yogic music she played in class
Music, and my rediscovery of it, thanks to Elena…and to that other Holy Personage: Yogi YouTube and her “Recommended for you” feature that continues to expand my listening pleasure
Freedom to learn the wisdom found in spiritual traditions other than the one I was given. This is allowing me to choose the form of the Formless that I want to get to know and also choose the ways in which I want to do this – which are limitless. As one of my teachers says, “Mystery is not unknowable, it’s endlessly knowable…”
My recent embracing of Mystery – which is helping calm my overactive mind’s attempts to figure out everything…to have an answer for everything…Ahhh…Ommm…Peace…
Accepting Mystery enables me to be grateful for times I get it and times I don’t – as the Dead sing, “Sometimes the light’s all shining on me…other times I can barely see…”
That this morning as I climbed stairs in our home, the stairs creaked and my knees didn’t
That with all my medical adventures, including spending part of last summer’s vacation in a first-class Chicago hospital (not a typo - Northwestern Memorial Hospital), I can confidently state, “More parts work than don’t!”
For being drawn to assemblages of people (some via Richard Rohr invitations) who are helping me see the actual faces of those who’ve been discarded for years by our systemic injustices – and even more so during this time – these assemblages include: Poor People’s Campaign, Pace e Bene/Campaign Nonviolence, Multicultural Solidarity (LI group)…
Finally, I’m grateful I’m not Dead…or am I?…
Tom & Eileen Celebrating the Day
After spending the morning with my Muse and writing much of this post, I connected with Eileen, my life partner for over 42 years, and here’s how we tripped thru the day…
FYI – Eileen reminded me that she did go to one Dead concert with me – at LI’s Nassau Coliseum.
Brunch at Small Batch in Roosevelt Field
Appetizer: Granulated sugar doughnuts with caramel sauce
Main Course: Feasted on pan-cake with strawberries and fresh whipped cream
Beverage: Hot coffee with sides of Kahlua and more whipped cream
Dessert: Ordered an ice cream sundae before the meal began, but after I had finished the above, though my mind still wanted it, I chose to listen to my body (gut brain) and declined…so I might live to truck thru another day…
Note: I do not normally eat like this…just practicing a brief sh*tting on the “should’s” and enjoying some Sugar-eeeee!
Clark Garden Nature Center in Albertson
Eileen suggested this and it turned out to be a lot of fun. Besides meeting lots of plant kingdom flower children, we also met some cool people.
They even had a rose variety called “Sunshine Daydream.”
While not a White Rabbit, I was tempted to follow it........
A timely reminder...
Want evidence for this guy's message...look no further than the US of A......
Goin’ to Hell in a Bucket
One of the cool people we met was actually pretty hot – he’s a volunteer firefighter in Port Chester. I spotted his tee shirt with a Dead logo superimposed over a firefighter’s crest.
Dinner – back on the wagon and eating healthy
Rock with Guac – avocado with black bean & corn salsa, Lundberg honey nut rice cakes with Blue Mountain Organics almond butter, Forager’s Cashewgurt vanilla bean cashewmilk yogurtand Garden of Life Chocolate Almond Fudge Bar (no fat or sugar)
After Dinner Movie
Most evenings Eileen and I watch movies. She is an awesome curator – always pleases! Since it was my day, I got to pick…
--first time seeing it. Cosmic, Charlie!!!
Dead musicians singing about ordinary life
Obviously my favorite band, the Dead and their current offshoots were/are, like me, working class guys singing about/writing about the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows of ordinary life – the only life there ever is.
“Music is the soundtrack for life”
Like waves in surfing, the Dead played songs in connected sets. And this is an example. And like life, sometimes there were forgotten lyrics or hoarse voices…but the music never stopped…they kept playin’ in the band…
--bassist Phil Lesh doing the lead vocals
--just 9 months after our son John emerged from “beggar’s tomb” – his mom’s womb
--John would go on to play in many bands in many parts of our “global concert hall”
--includes mention of my hometown – New York
--from the Grateful Dead Movie, it shows me we will all still be playing in the band in whatever’s next after we’re finished truckin’ here…and get on another bus that’ll take us even Furthur…
For Furthur [sic] Reference
Secrets for a long life…
--How going to Grateful Dead concerts is good for your health
--I use his site whenever I want to dive deeper into the cosmic imagery of Hunter & Garcia and the other lyricists
--So, as Jerry sang in “Ripple”, “Let there be songs (not rocks and bullets) to fill the air.”
--Sue, a Facebook friend, recommended this site. The “grateful…” caught my attention. The website can serve as introduction to the varied and rich life of Benedictine Brother David Steindl-Rast.
-- “We hold grateful living as an engaged mindfulness practice, grounded in both wisdom and science, which supports our ability to see the wonder and opportunity in every moment, and motivates us to act boldly with love, generosity, and respect towards one another, ourselves, and the Earth.”
--“wonder and opportunity” – sort of sounds like the name and energy of my website.
Before the dawn of time…
And there was darkness and love light the first day…(song version features Ron “Pigpen” McKernan at Princeton University in 1971)
Images from a life of trying to get & stay free…
--from 12 Steps wisdom…SO helpful for peace of mind…
--wisdom from the Grateful Dead/12 Steps/centering prayer/ yoga tradition…
--release the crazies…right up the chakra channels and out through the top of my head..
--trading my sorrows for scents. Almost lost Eileen and let her slip away due to that white stuff…Used to be cocaine up that nose…now it’s pollen from Japanese lilacs…sweet…
FYI - Song version is from the Capitol Theater in Port Chester, NY (see stories above).
--a DIY-er for most of my life…I gradually found that asking for help wasn’t a sign of weakness but of power. Thanks to Richard Rohr, the 12 Steps & the Overcomers group for introducing me to the paradox of powerlessness…”When we are weak…we are strong…” Huh?...Ahh…
--took a Feng Shui class with my friend Caroline (rear right) in 2017. We’re holding our Bagua maps. I see it now as unblocking a creative channel…Many years ago in a Queens College sociology class, I did a self-image collage – from magazine cutouts, not web images like in the above. I still remember a caption that I had placed at the top of the poster board. It featured a young man sitting on top of a mountain with the caption “Lord of the summit atop the clouds.” Many years later, this lofty imagery is captured by an image from a road/trip/pilgrimage son John and I did in the summer of 2016.
--here’s my eagle-eyed vantage point. While I might not be 8 miles high, I can see for miles and miles and miles. (0:09:52) Father and son walking in the woods - 2016
John and I spent a lot of time OUTDOORS “discovering the wonders of nature”: hot air ballooning, tram rides up mountain faces, white-water rafting and worshipping in cathedrals of stone (in upcoming post). We also visited the ashram of Yogi Bhajan in Espanola, NM (he brought my practice of kundalini yoga to the West) and St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, CO – the former home of Thomas Keating, who taught my family the centering prayer practice of meditation. We even stayed overnight in Fort Carson - not in the brig but as guests of a friend of John’s and her military man.
Have a Grateful Day…
Peace, Shalom, Paz, Paiz…