Monday, September 27, 2010


It was a busy weekend. I ended up playing two concerts, two church services and an afternoon at a high-rise full of "seasoned" citizens. So, I sat down late Sunday night and stared at the computer screen.... and continued to stare at the computer screen. Finally, I told myself, "I got nothing here." No "inspiration" to write a blog. My mind was a blank slate and my "muse" had either gone into hiding or had taken a long leap off a short pier....(Does that even make sense?)...

So,.. I turned off the computer and went to bed. Live to fight/write another day.... I guess.
I've been thinking about "inspiration". What does that mean, anyway?

The dictionary definition is:
1. Arousal of the mind to unusual activity or creativity.
2. A product of creative thinking or work
3. A sudden "intuition"... as in solving a problem
4. Divine guidance, the special influence of Divinity on the human mind.
5. Arousing to a particular emotion or action
6. Inhalation, the act of breathing in of air

O.K. I think I get most of these definitions.... except perhaps for number 6,... the whole "inhalation" and "breathing in of air"....(yes, that's actually in the dictionary).

Yes, today I suddenly feel "inspired" to take a breath! In fact, I make splurge and take several "breathes"..... Or, I may be "inspired" to simply NOT breathe. I think that's called....dying?

Anyway.... I digress...

As a songwriter I do get inspired to write new songs. I write mostly from "inspiration" rather than from "perspiration", which simply means that instead of writing 60 songs a year, I might write...maybe... "6".....
But, I can't explain the phenomenon.

"Why" do I care to even write one song? Or why is an artist inspired to paint a painting or a photographer inspired to take that special picture.... or a builder inspired to erect that particular structure?
What inspired God to create an entire universe and fill it with objects of his imagination and His likeness?....

This summer I got "inspired" for the first time to actually care about my lawn. I was doing my usual mowing and suddenly, for the first time, noticed that I was mostly mowing down "weeds" instead of "grass". An epiphany!.... (yes, I am a s..l..o..w.. learner).
So, this season I have been spreading weed-killer on my lawn and purchased grass seed and spread it around and now.... I'm buying "winterizer".... for the first time. I didn't even know there was such a thing as "winterizer"...for lawns.... (good grief, where have I been all these years?)

Sometimes inspiration just comes out of the blue... and it's a surprise (like the lawn thing)....
But, I think, most of the time though, I'm mostly inspired by other people. I see someone doing something extraordinary, and, ...perhaps I'm just a tad jealous,... but I want to do something "extra-ordinary" myself.
My friend, Dennis, rode in a weekend bike marathon to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis treatment and research. I think that's one of the most admirable things I've seen from one of my friends in quite some time. Cudos to you, D! (And, by the way... WHY did you do it? What "inspired" you?....

Which... leads me to ask this question of all my readers.....(However many of you there are... God only knows...)... "What inspires YOU?"....
I would like to hear from you... get some feedback.. sort of open it up for discussion.

What inspires you to do what you do?.... Ride in a marathon. Take a picture. Write a song. Involve yourself in a particular activity. What makes YOU tick?

Write me and let me know. I will share it with the folks ....and keep you anonymous (if you prefer).
At least it will give me some fodder for a future "blog"..... Until my "muse" returns from wherever the heck it went.

Why do I keep writing these blog things anyway?...
(If you read my very first one, then you'll know).....

Anyway, have a great week. Hope it's an "inspirational" one....

Monday, September 20, 2010


Contentment: defined as.... "The state of being content. Satisfied. Ease of mind".

Boy, that sure tells me a lot. Glad I looked THAT up!.....:-)

I happened to catch part of a program on the telly (that's British for "television")... over the weekend. It was about a bazillionaire who lived most of his life on a specially-made yacht. It was like a floating city. His wife was being interviewed and she took the camera crew on tour of the whole place. Her and her husband's living quarters were over 3500 square feet. (It was their "personal space" on the yacht. They could entertain myriad guests who had their own bed/bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms, whatever....
The filming crew went up on top of the ship and had a brief interview with the husband. He was showing them how he had built his own "golf course" on the yacht. It was a part of the deck that would come up mechanically from somewhere below. It was a putting green. He could stand out there on the "green" and hit golf balls out into the ocean. They had hired-hands who had little speed boats that would go out and place markers in the water so he could see how far he had hit the ball. They (the "servants", would place the markers out in the ocean and cheer him on when he hit the ball close to the markers. If he played a golf game with someone, whoever hit closest to the markers would win each "hole". He looked into the camera and said, "Whenever I have a guest on-board and we play "golf", I always win.... because (they) know who writes the checks!"
That statement reminded me of an episode of The Twilight Zone where this guy on the show dies. He loves to play pool and he ends up in an amazing pool-room, playing the game he lived for. He thought he had died and gone to heaven. The problem was....he never lost a game.... never. No matter how poorly he played. He finally exclaimed, "If this is how it's going to be for eternity I wish I "hadn't died and gone to heaven!".... The other guys in the room just looked at him and said, "What makes you think this is Heaven?.....

King Solomon was the richest man who ever lived. He wrote a book which is included in the Bible. It is the book of Ecclesiastes. Solomon writes: "I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet, when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 2:10)....

Often it is easy to watch a show like the one I watched over the weekend and be envious of someone who has so much..... who "apparently" has so much. Is this guy really happy with all his wealth, all his opulence... his mornings of fresh-squeezed orange juice and Eggs Benedict delivered to his quarters by servants every morning?...
Maybe so. I don't know. It's too easy for me to judge him and his wife and their imported granite table-tops and polished mahogany interiors.
Is this happiness? Is this the picture of contentment? Is this what we should all be striving for?..... more and better "stuff"?....
Solomon himself came to this conclusion later on in his life. "So I hated life,... I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool?".... (Ecc. 2:17)
I compare this to what the Apostle Paul wrote about his own life when he was writing to the his friends in the city of Philipi. "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."... ) Phillippians 4:11.

Contentment is a state of mind. For the addict, contentment is (or should be), waking up every morning in peace, being able to "not" spend his/her day chasing the "high" of addiction. To live a life of internal peace. That is the purpose of the 12-Step Program. To ultimately bring us to a place of finding peace with our Higher Power, our Creator,... the One who knows exactly what we need in life, for He is the One who created us, who knows our very thoughts, our very longings. For the rich man, like Solomon, his "addiction" is chasing after the seemingly perfect life of "things", more things, finer things, and "accomplishments", ....climbing the "ladder of succes". It seems all well and fine, except when a person actually gets to the top of the ladder, all that's found there is "empty space".... a standing in mid-air with nowhere else to go...but back down.

All of us, at some point, need to evaluate our own lives. What are we seeking? What are we "after"? What do we need to make us "content"?
Personally I think it's all about trying to fill a "God-Shaped" hole in our souls that we are born with. That's the conclusion the Apostle Paul came to, and he had found that contentment. Though he wasn't a rich man materially, Paul had something in his life that money couldn't buy, ... a personal relationship with God, Who abundantly supplied every need.
Is this the secret of real life? No one else can answer that question for you, but it might be a wise thing to actually take time-out to ask the question.
Like the man on The Twilight Zone episode, perhaps the real definition of "hell" is actually getting everything we (think) we want......?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

In My Humble Opinion

IMHO.... the new abbreviation for: In My Humble Opinion....

Once in awhile my friend, Dennis ,plays guitar with me when I do a concert. He's a great guitar player and a great person to banter with onstage. One night when we were playing a gig together the subject of humility was somehow inserted into the conversation,.. so we just sort of went with the flow...and it went something like this...

D: It's hard to be humble when you're as good as I am.
Me: I'm just as good as you are, it's just that I am too humble to speak of it.
D: I'm the most humble person I know
Me: I'm sure you're not as humble as I am because I never talk about how humble I really am.
D: I've done so many things I could talk about, but I won't, because I'm too humble to tell you about them.
Me: I think I was "born" humble.... I've never had a problem with NOT being humble.
D: Perhaps you're right, ...maybe you are the second most humble person on the planet.
Me: The "second" most humble?
D: Yea, well we all know who the "most" humble person is.. but I can't talk about it,... it wouldn't be proper..
Me: It's a great gift, this "humility" thing we possess...

And so we went,...yada, yada, yada....
And I thought it was a brilliant strategy, using "irony" to make a point about humility.
The only problem was that everyone in the audience just stared at us. I think they took us seriously and just thought we were idiots. So much for irony....

Being humble is one of those slippery propositions... As soon as you think you have it, it disappears like a ghost into thin air.
I don't think a lot of folks even think about it, really. Our world is prone to promote self-promotion and success and achievement over "humility". It's something that's always been greatly lacking in the human condition.
I recently read an article that made several statements as to whether a person was truly humble or not. Here are a few of the more salient points...

1. Am I unwilling to listen to advice, instruction, correction, information or suggestions?
2. Am I reluctant to submit to any authority or someone else's set of rules?
3. Do I argue and quarrel to try and prove that I am always right?
4. Do I dominate conversations, saying my opinion about every subject on every occasion?
5. Do I respond to others often with mockery but am unable to laugh at myself?
6. Am I eager to promote myself and my accomplishments?
7. Do I enjoy the admiration of others, secretly reveling in it?
8. Do I get agitated at the small indignities of life, such as: standing in line, waiting my turn, driving and older, used car, or performing menial (to me) tasks?
9. Am I over-concerned with outward appearances?
10. Am I reluctant to associate with people who I deem undesirable; People who I don't feel will advance my status or enhance my image?

I'm sure all of us can squeeze ourselves into any of the above at some given point in life....

What's the answer?..... If we care to pursue one....

"When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, "Give this man your seat." Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, "Friend, move up to a better place." Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

This is one of the stories that Jesus told His followers in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 14.
I think it's good advice. It doesn't have to be a wedding feast. It can be anywhere....a parking lot, a movie theatre, a supermarket, the workplace. The most important place is in the heart.
First Peter 5:5 states: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
I know I need a lot of grace in my life and, if I were a betting man, I would bet, deep down, that you feel the same way.

Anyway, this is my blog of the week. I think it's the greatest blog I've ever written. As a matter of fact I think it may be the best thing anyone, anywhere has ever written! It should be etched in stone and made a monument of! It's brilliant! Incredibly insightful! Superb literary prose!........IMHO......