It’s been a while since I’ve been in the habit of blogging. I get stopped by the slow internet speed at my house, therefore I choose other things to do, like write songs, or get chased by dogs. But like songs, I always want my blog entries to be humorous, informative or inspiring, which means I set the bar high to begin with, which can be a challenge when I sit down to share my thoughts on a blank page. I’ve been re-learning lately that it’s best not to think about any of that stuff and just speak. off the cuff. from the heart.
I always prefer my songwriting be this method. Not thinking that is. Trading in clever for truth. I approach the process not asking, “What you do want to write about?” and instead ask, “What’s going on?” Real life, even a somewhat routine and boring life, if honored honestly, provides plenty of great material.
For example, one day I was planning to sit down at my desk with a guitar and create something new, but I didn’t know what it would be. And I was dreading it. I wanted to work in the yard and play outside longer. I’d just prefer not to say anything at all, let alone put myself through the agonizing process of birthing a song. But when I sat down, I wrote about exactly what was going on with me. I wrote about about not wanting to quit doing whatever stupid thing I was doing. The end result was a song called, Don’t Wake Me From This Dream and it quickly became a global smash. Or, popular in my house at least. Anyway, I roll my eyes when I think about who I was to not want to sit down and let the song come through. I love happy endings. I just loathe the beginnings.
I go to a hot yoga class as often as my schedule and snooze alarm allows. That’s my version of a gym. It’s there I lively-up myself, refilling the body and the brain with new blood in order to approach each day with a freshness, a newness and a now-ness.
All classes end by the teacher asking you to lay down on your back in savasana, the final resting pose. This is to “receive all the benefits of the class.” Muscles relax. Blood and oxygen circulate. You’ve turned your mat and towel into a sweaty, juicy bed and now you get to lie in it. Some people snore at this point. Some people look around and check out other people’s boobs. Me, I’m usually light-headed and dizzy, grateful I made it through yet another 90 minute class without giving up the ghost. And overall, I feel… alive. And that I figure, is the benefit of the practice. It always has a happy ending.
So let’s say your practice is something else, like model ship building, the kind where you build your boat inside an empty bottle of Captain Morgan’s. That task is challenging as well. But you stick it out. You make one move at a time until you get to the end and literally put a cork in it. It’s then that you receive all the benefits of the build. The benefit is you, alive, experiencing another goal met; another task done; another sail raised in a bottle going to grandma’s. Well done you.
And so this morning as I was resting in savasana, it occurred to me, no matter how challenging I may think it is, I should just write a new blog post already. About whatever’s going on. And post it. Just take it thought by thought, without thinking, and let it be. And then, when it’s done, not only I, but MANY could receive the benefits. Because, in summary, the benefit IS the happy ending. Am I right? Or am I running this theme into the ground?
Before I began click-clack-tippity-typing all this down, I thought I would make better use of my technology and dictate the words into my new iPhone while I drove home from yoga, assuming it would do all the manual labor for me while I ate an açai bowl and drove with my knee.
Here’s what my phone managed to capture.
“Doing yoga on Morosgo almost every day Oreo the creation of shallow then I have other out if Maury out during this period my life and head stay long for 2009 in yoga and ask you to lay down on your back”
Maybe I had too much açai in my mouth.
I think where I was headed was to say: I’ve heard lately that some parents are forbidding schools to teach yoga. I guess it’s in fear of turning their children into witches or something. This is a bummer. As an adult, looking back at what I know now, and based on how I feel today as a practitioner of yoga, I wish my school had added yoga when I was in kindergarten. Along with pole dancing.
My request: If there’s anyone out there who loves lululemon and knows anyone at the school districts, speak up on behalf of yoga. It’s basically stretching and isometrics, the same you would find during a warm-up for square dancing or dodge ball, but organized in a way that will improve the health and mentality of every practitioner and not insult them. It’s non-aggressive, non-competitive, non-religious, and nowhere near dangerous. I’ve never seen anyone sprain an ankle or break a nose in a yoga class. If anything it teaches compassion, patience and focus. And humility. If you fart.
Thanks for being awesome and reading this.
The post has now come to it’s final resting pose.
I feel good that is it complete.
The same way I find happiness in a warm toilet seat.
It’s all good.
It’s been nice to catch up with you.
Have a Namasté.
A few nights ago I attended a fundraiser for UCLA’s Institute of Environment and Sustainability, a dept of the school devoted to researching and resolving the climate crisis. Al Gore and Lyn Lear were awarded for their excellence in the field but it was really us, the audience, who were rewarded with their impassioned speeches.
I was there with my band to perform a few songs, and to connect us all by our hearts. The very hilarious Sarah Silverman performed her sexy comedy, connecting us all by our commonalities, with poop jokes.
At Al’s table, front and center, sat Barbara Streisand, an environmentalist since the 80’s, and one of the greatest singers to grace the modern stage. My heart raced during my opening song, excited to be playing for a star-studded crowd, and for the timely issue of climate change that affects all of humanity.
But I wasn’t nervous because Streisand was watching. I’d met her two years ago when I performed at an event for The Natural Resources Defense Council, (The Very Awesome NRDC.) That day she and I found ourselves in the same hallway moments before I went on and she turned to me and asked if I still got nervous before I performed. I do now, I said.
Last night, I decided I would get clear with Al Gore in front of the audience of UCLA professors about an incident that occurred on my expedition to Antarctica last year with the Vice President. An incident that had a profound impact on me, shifting my perspective on the issue of climate change. For those curious as to what the expedition was about, think of it as An Inconvenient Truth, The Ride!
Our vessel sat motionless in a quiet harbor near Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula. I was on the top deck of the ship near the bow admiring an enormous glacier with my camera. Through my lens the landscape looked like a movie set. There was nothing close enough to the glacier to reveal it’s scale on camera and no other colors than the thousand hues of blue and white besides the black rock the glacier was clinging to.
In my patient position I got to witness a large chunk of the glacier break off and fall languidly into the sea, as if in slow motion, falling straight down like a controlled detonation of a building, disappearing into a splash for a few seconds before it bobbled up and began it’s new life as an ice burg. I was witnessing warm weather take it’s toll on the environment.
I stood there drop-jawed, completely humbled by nature, as a gust of wind came racing through the harbor and hit the ship, whirling my hat and jacket in all directions, lifting me up a little, enough that I had to take a few steps to regain my balance. It was a common occurrence on deck. But in that particular whirling around, a wrapper from a snack I’d enjoyed earlier floated up and out of my pocket and into the air! Hands out reaching, mouth agape, breath held, I froze in fear watching this bright green wrapper flutter off like the feather in Forest Gump until it rested gently on the surface of the glassy, pristine, non-human, deep blue water.
My heart sank. And at that moment I wished I could too.
I’m the guy who picks up trash when he goes for a walk. I don’t care if somebody has peed in a cup and it if has a condom hanging out of it, I’m going to put it in the trash. But now here I am in Antarctica on a mission to preserve and protect our natural resources, and I’m the litter bug.
There was my trash staring back at me and I immediately started thinking about how I was going to fix it. SNACK OVERBOARD! Someone throw a life preserver! Of all the downloads I received on the voyage; the inconvenient truth about climate change, nothing was more obvious to me than this; this is what all the fuss is about: Man is having an impact on his environment. This is my fault. This was my trash.
The current was moving too quickly for me to run to a lower deck and retrieve it, besides I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It stood out in a way that was so wrong, it was almost beautiful. It just didn’t fit in.
It was green and yellow with words on it. Nothing else in the Antarctic is green or yellow and there are no words or advertisements strung or spray painted anywhere. My piece of trash spoke volumes. You couldn’t miss it.
Fortunately, the wrapper drifted into a line of zodiacs returning to the ship and someone snatched it up. Since it would be coming back to the boat, I assumed we would receive an announcement from the Vice President or the ship’s crew, but it never came.
The incident said enough. The things we buy, use and throw away are our responsibility. Someday in a not too distant future, we’ll realize it isn’t money that keeps us alive, but our desperate need of clean water, fresh food, and clean air.
I apologized to Al and the ClimateReality team who were at the event, and thanked them for the invitation to see and experience our planet in a way that ultimately changed me, inspiring me to start a tree planting initiative and planting thousands of trees last year in effort offset the emissions of touring. Then I segued into a song about how it’s never too late to turn anything around, and played 93 million miles, as Barbara Streisand filmed us on her iPhone.
I follow @AlGore and @ClimateReality on twitter because they’re both up to date on science and legislature. It’s good to know what the natural world is up to, and what we humans are doing to save it, and what we humans are doing to save ourselves.
I wish Jason Mraz would go back to his roots, commented a commentator recently. This I pondered.
Do they mean go back to Slovakia? Or only as far back as Virginia? I assumed the wish was music related, but still I wondered if they meant I go back as far as Mr Roger’s Neighborhood, Electric Company and 3-2-1 Contact, programs that kick-started my little musical self into action. Certainly not. I doubt the comment came from my pre-school teacher. The request must have been referring to the origin of my original music; my public debut; The long defunct R&B group, Dressed To Kill.
Yes, my awkward boy band Dressed To Kill, whose influences included Boyz II Men, Color Me Badd (who are still active BTW!) and The Jackson 5. I was the youngest in the group at 13, but I had the highest voice which meant I always sang the Michael Jackson parts. We played such esteemed venues as The Stew Festival, A UCA Cheerleading Competition, and Jennifer Richardson’s 15th birthday party.
The first song I ever wrote I penned during 8th grade civics class. Recorded then over an instrumental b-side of a C+C music factory song, my song went straight into rotation at Skate America. Played only once, but awesome enough that people kept skating to it without noticing a break in the flow. I Think I Love You Girl, was the song that would land me the invitation to join the group who already sang similar hits such as, Baby, I’m Hooked On You and You Make Me Feel Alive, Girl. We spoke a common language, girl.
Some of the other guys in the group were much older. One of them a 911 dispatcher, which may as well have been a police officer, would often tell me to avoid women, which I found strange considering women were the focus of our material. But he said women were like drugs and once I had a taste, I’d only want them more. Just say no he said. So I took his advice and channeled my wanting in song.
It’s also during those short years singing in the group and skating around in circles that my contribution to climate change is at it’s greatest. After all, my hair needed to be aerodynamic for jive skating, so I would empty my sister’s aerosol hairspray every Friday while blow drying all of my hair to the right like a gentle sloping lady-killing wave. Looking back I conclude it was important to feel cool, even if I wasn’t.
By the time I was 16, a year before Justin Bieber came into the world, I had forgotten about Dressed To Kill and began dabbling in equally embarrassing art forms in high school: show choir, drama, cheerleading, jazz, tap & ballet, burying the VHS tapes of the boy band era and, unapologetically, moved on.
Someone recently asked me, What are you like when you’re in love?
When I’m in love, I’m at my best. I feel strong. Willing to serve. Willing to share. I’m a better listener. And I’m able to give all of my attention to my work, as well as my relationship. Love makes me feel superhuman. After all, Love is what we as human’s do best. (see population explosion.)
In all my “research” on Love, I conclude it has nothing to do with partnership, that’s secondary. Love begins within. When you listen to the little voice in your head, or to the urge in your gut, and you obey it, you will likely lead yourself down the path which you were meant to travel all along. By ignoring your intuition or disobeying your dreams, one becomes stuck, the body grows heavy and tired with incompletion or defeat, and sadness finds it’s way into the movie of your life. When you let your heart lead you, Love triumphs and fills you with the experience of being happy and successful.
When you take action to live the life you truly wish to live, you become illuminated in love. You lose yourself entirely and become what in many religions call, a servant of God, or a servant of Love. Others will take note of your glow, either with attraction or envy, both of which inspire. And if partnership is on your wish list, it will find you. You will attract it with your walk and talk and worry-free demeanor.
This Valentine’s Day, worry not about impressing your crush or partner with a surprise gift. Let your gift be your invitation to create something together. You are after all, two bodies with one mind; two individuals on entirely different journeys who have agreed to stand side by side as you each grow, develop and unfold into the beings you were brought here to be. And if you’re not in a relationship, think of those people, pets or projects you love and give yourself to them.
time stands still,
music is heard in every corner of creation,
and everyone is forgiven.
Happy Valentine’s Day. – J
The difference between vinyasa-flow and Bikram yoga is who I am after class. After a grounding flow class, if someone cuts me off, I calmly press on the brakes and let them go. After Bikram, if someone cuts me off, I toot my horn and call them an a-hole.
Suddenly all time and space feel as if they’ve collided with you; something new.
You are the future; and each step I take awake in 13 seems no different from those I make in my dreams.
Every moment I am deeper in this dreaming, believing it’s reality I am seeing.
No longer is the dream outside of me. Everything is and lives as and within every part of me.
I am grateful to be alive; grateful to have spun around the sun once again and won in wanting this fragile flesh to survive.
I am grateful for what I learn; having this brain, body, and ego kicked; many times burned.
I am solid in the heart; awake to new love and new ideas; anxious to start.
I am reliable, pliable, and strong; designed to be hard working, poetic and of song.
I am everything I ever dreamed I’d be; the ‘wondering if’ is now true.
I bow in awe and gratitude; as well as in service. Happy New You.