Poetry


Music and Poetry and Relationships08 Jul 2012 07:36 am

Thirty years ago I was in the recording studio recording my first album Life in the Shadows. Most of the songs on that album we (the band Ekstasis) had been performing in clubs in the Chicago area for about five years before recording them.

Often I surprise myself when I read the lyrics I penned back then. One of the oddest and most arcane lyrics of that time period was Psittacism Criticism, and in honor of the 30th anniversary of my first album I thought a reverie on that song would be both fun and fitting.

The term psittacism refers to any speech pattern which resembles the monotonous metallic vocalizations which were the staple of futuristic robots. So here’s the lyrics followed by my reflections of what I was thinking when I wrote them.

Psittacism Criticism

Coughing up those bricks
Glorified shibboleths
I’d give you the back of my hand
If I could endorse a cliché

She talks with all the class of escaping gas
To sad little void heads
Glazed eyes and gaping jaw (perpetual sneeze)

Come to my room to play adult Parchesee
Unshuffle me with your card shark hands
Let me be your detour if you desire reconstruction
I’m sad yet hopeful, this blue blood’s not green

Parched man desires refreshment
But even a man dehydrate will decline HCL

Where’s the party, where’s the party?
Put me on remote control
Oh hell, I used to be 21
There’s no time after alcohol

Put me in my time
Put me in my time

I used to be a friend of mine till
You put me in my time

Tell me if you care

This song was written after a weekend of socializing with friends and other young twenty contemporaries. I found most parties to be disappointing and somewhat depressing. Most gatherings lacked the type of intensity and intimacy for which I thirsted. The lyrics of this song sum up my sense of disappointment.

Coughing up those bricks
Glorified shibboleths

While shibboleth usually refers to customs and beliefs which are the hallmark of a given group I also used it to mean the lingo and habits of my crowd. The time was the middle to late seventies and we were a proud and somewhat arrogant group. We viewed most adults as ignorant, selfish and power hungry automatons whose lives were generally empty and shallow. In this respect I was in synch with my peer group, yet I was also quite critical of my peers.

The first two lines of the song refers to the catch phrases that accompanied almost every sentence uttered by my crowd. Hardly five seconds ever passed without someone saying “right on”, “heavy”, “cool”, “man” or some other trite response. These words were the “amens” of our social religion and though they were meant to provide validation and solidarity I found them an obstacle to sustaining meaningful dialogue.

The bricks were, of course, those lifeless catch phrases which said nothing and went no where. I chose coughing up those bricks for several reasons. One, coughing is a sign of pain and contagious disease and I was becoming increasingly concerned that the empty party talk was beginning to contaminate my thought process as well as the quality of my relationships with others. Bricks are lifeless dead weight and seemed the perfect vehicle for how I felt about the empty, lifeless discussions which were passing as meaningful conversation.

We believed that our lingo and slang were a sign of our depth and superior social awareness, that is why they were glorified shibboleths. We weren’t up tight inhibited slaves to the establishment as were our parents, but rather fully autonomous revelers of life’s secrets and pleasures. While our parents were “out of touch”, we were “with it” and totally “tuned in”.

Yet, to me the incessant lingo showed that my peers were becoming just as empty as their parents, and the drugs weren’t about self-discovery and opening new universes but no different than our parents alcohol and cigarette dominated socializing. To borrow a phrase from another one of my songs of that time period, Eros and Erosion, “I refuse to speak in ejaculations”. I wanted penetrating discourse which revealed and created life’s meaning and significance, and was not content with the reflexive grunts of community which pervaded all social interaction.

I’d give you the back of my hand
If I could endorse a cliché

My disappointment with my peers was heading towards anger and that is why I said that “I’d give you the back of my hand”. So, while criticizing my peers for engaging in endless trite phrases I engaged in a little self-effacing humor by using a hackneyed saying from a previous generation as my threatening reprimand. I qualify that statement by saying “if I could endorse a cliche”, because the whole idea behind psittacism criticism is to revoke all manner of trite an repetitive speech and expression, rather than attacking one form while glorifying another.

She talks with all the class of escaping gas
To sad little void heads
Glazed eyes and gaping jaw (perpetual sneeze)

I could not help but see my drugged out friends as “sad little void heads”. While I was juiced on life, they were choosing to escape into an anesthetized world which would bar them from remembering the nights conversations when they woke the next day. A sure sign of the drugged out partier was the gaping jaw and perpetual sneeze pose mentioned in the song.

Come to my room to play adult Parchesee
Unshuffle me with your card shark hands
Let me be your detour if you desire reconstruction
I’m sad yet hopeful, this blue blood’s not green

This verse was intended to be rich in obscure sexual innuendo. First off choosing Parchesee as an implicitly tawdry game seems ironic unless you know that it supposedly was originally a game of leisure played by harem girls. I invented the concept of unshuffling to show how deft and agile were my harem girl lover’s hands. Since I was feeling so out of synch with my world, her unshuffling me would most likely restore my life to a sense of meaning and intimacy.

In response to her healing acts of love I would gladly return the favor and help her reconstruct a life of intimacy and fulfillment. All she would have to do is say the word, and we would be each other’s detour from the current emptiness of modern life. The word play of detour and reconstruction were a veiled reference to the “road to enlightenment” that so dominated the counter cultural spiritualism of that time.

The last line of the verse notes how my discontent with the hippie zeitgeist had more to do with my high ideals then any kind of envy of those openly embracing the times. One again I use a bit of ironic self-effacing humor as I equate my aspirations of intimacy with being a blue blood.

Parched man desires refreshment
But even a man dehydrate will decline HCL

The next verse emphasizes the fact that while my thirst for community and intimacy remains unquenched, I will not sacrifice my principles and settle for less. A drink of (HCL) hydrochloric acid will not only not quench my thirst but would only do me further damage.

Where’s the party, where’s the party?
Put me on remote control
Oh hell, I used to be 21
There’s no time after alcohol

As my frustration peaks I cry out and ask where is the party. where is the celebration. I’m beginning to find these gatherings not only unfulfilling but annoying. At these functions I just go through the motions of having a good time, as if I were on remote control. My mainly unconscious drugged out companions are likewise on auto pilot as we seem to be acting out the same play every night. Life is quickly becoming one gigantic alcoholic blackout where we age quickly while our lives go on in a semi-conscious coma.

Put me in my time
Put me in my time

I used to be a friend of mine till
You put me in my time

I remember a time when our conversations were filled with insight and meaning. A time when we openly disclosed things that mattered to us, before they became parodies and caricatures of real feelings dressed in teenage angst and political slogans.

I remember when I felt good about myself, and was a true friend of mine. Yet, the more I become a member of the the partying crowd of the late seventies the less self-respect I have. It seems every time I try to connect with my friends they “put me in my time”, this time of emptiness and self-alienation.

Tell me if you care

The song ends with the plaintive yet hopeful request of my friends if they still care. Like me, do they still yearn to share what’s important and desire real intimacy, insight and disclosure?

When listening to the song please take note how the stilted rhythm of the beginning verses echo the psittacism that I’m articulating. While the song is in 4/4 it has a kind of demented waltz feel to it. The music lurches and jerks like the automatons it is meant to portray.

Yet, soon after the lead vocalists voice becomes metallic and robotic the music blossoms and gains a hopeful flow. The sax and female vocal solos soar and rage against the machine and end the song in majestic celebration. A sensual celebration which is the hope and means by which the psittacism I have here criticized gets destroyed.

Now, thirty years later my life has played out more like the sax and vocal solo than the stilted disconnected world of the beginning of the song, yet my disappointment in the quality of most human contact remains. I still hunger and thirst for increased intimacy and depth of sharing, and remain vigilant to fully exploit each opportunity for quality conversation that presents itself.

Jim Guido

Philosophy and Poetry and Psychology21 May 2011 08:59 pm

Recently I’ve been describing my ego, as the conscious part of who I am. I’ve also been thinking of how often my body is able to just wing it without my ego being involved. In this poem I explore the relationship between my mind and my body, the relationship between I and me.

I Realize it is Me

You and I together
We listen to me speak

Yet, of course,
You could say the same

You and I together
We listen to me speak

Yet, quicker than the labor of thought
You respond
As fast as a tap under the kneecap
With a river of cogent words
Reflexive but coherent

We can continue this way
for minutes
if not hours

With long verbal volleys
and fierce rallies
Words lobbed about
With deft and force
We are on our game
With more instinct that thought

In the now of speech
Who has time for thought?

You and I together
We listen to me speak

I realize it is me speaking
Though I am more observer than participant
Yet, every word is me
Said by me,
Expressing me

Speech is more me than I
While thought is more I than me.

When speaking I learn about me
While listening and thinking
I guide me
I mold me
I judge me
I improve me

I am amazed by me
The me that is my body
That moves about
and inhabits the world
Even while I am lost in thought
Or completely asleep

The me that is my body
That smells, tastes, feels, sees and hears
That breathes, loves and lives

I often take me for granted
I often forget about me
Or mistake me for I

Some believe that I will live on
Long after my body dies
Yet, I can’t imagine
Living without me
Even if this were true
It really wouldn’t be I anymore

For if I were to lose me
The I that would remain
or return
Would surely bear little
resemblance to me

Personally,
I hope that
I and me die together
It’s not just a romantic ideal
But it only seems fitting that
Since I have no memory
of a time without me
That without me
I am nothing
I owe everything I am
To me
All I think and know
I’ve learned from me

Without me
I would never have met you
I would not know your smile
your laugh, or the sound of your voice
I would never have touched your body
Or felt the pleasure of your embrace
I would never have been able to say
Or even learnt your name
Without me
I would have never experienced life
I wouldn’t have known love
Or been able to share the
Miracle of life with you

I am nothing without me
I am no thing without me
Thanks for being there for me
Thanks for caring for me
Thanks for sharing with me

Without you I never would have found me
Without you I would not have become me
Without you I would not be me

Jim Guido
5/21/11

Philosophy and Poetry and Relationships15 May 2011 06:19 pm

Dear Aunt Nancy,

As I mentioned in my last letter I prefer our conversations to me writing you a letter. On the telephone I can learn of what you’re currently thinking and feeling and co-tailor our conversation to take into consideration both of our present concerns and joys.

Often our conversations begin with your making an observation, stating an opinion, or asking a question based on a recent thought you’ve had, discussion you’ve been part of, or a news report you’ve heard. This leads me to a favor I want to ask of you.

Could you please email any thoughts you have so that I may be able to respond to it? It would be very helpful. I may not be able to respond quickly, so anytime you have a thought you’d like to share or talk on, just send it to me. I’ll read and mull them over and then write my thoughts when I get a chance. Is it a deal?

In the meantime I thought I’d just do some of my current thoughts mixed in with some extensions of my last letter. In my last letter I talked of your being like a river, with your ability to both influence and adapt to your environment. A side bar to that letter was my having you explore what one can do, and how you could best adapt to your current state of health and well being.

So, let me be selfish a second and answer that question from my own perspective. When not feeling well or recuperating from an injury I often resort to contemplation. Which even though is sometimes difficult due to the distractions of illness, is far more feasible than most other human activities.
So, lets spend some time contemplating.

In my last letter I mentioned how much I enjoyed our conversations and how much I would miss having them. The bulk of the letter focused on you and the person you bring to the table. Yet, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about me and my motivations for liking our conversations.

One of the major reasons I enjoy our conversations is that I like the person I am when I’m speaking with you, and I like the person our conversations inspire me to become. Reflecting on that last observation I realize that those internal feelings truly mark off my strong friends from my acquaintances.

Many people, often through no fault of their own, have me speak and respond in ways which make me uncomfortable with myself or with my reactions to them. My distance from them is more created by how they make me feel about myself or who I am with them, then any judgement on my part about them as a person. Wow, I think that’s bordering on a self-revelation, thanks for inspiring that thought. Is it any wonder I miss our conversations?

This morning while I was walking my attention was drawn to the elaborate song of a mockingbird. Over the last several years a mockingbird has been a constant companion to my spring and summer walks perching in a short list of high places and singing away with rapid urgency. I am amazed at how often I hear him sing no matter what time of the day I choose to walk. Even during the short time it takes me to pass him he serenades me with dozens of bird songs.

Most of us are like most songbirds. We spend our lives developing and perfecting our song. We develop very deep grooves of habit which gives us a sense of history, identity and meaning. These are all very good things.

Yet, in some ways I would like to be more like a Mockingbird. It would be nice to be able to learn and perfectly repeat the songs of others. It would appear that to truly learn anothers song I would have to inhabit their reality and there way of living life. This would be true compassion and allow me to stay sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. Being able to sing anothers song would be invaluable in terms of creating harmony and having a positive influence on those you speak to.

The greater portion of my contemplation centers on human experience and my experience in particular. I never stop marveling at how intricate and fascinating human sensorial experience is, and how inaccurate our unreflected assumptions of what we actually experience often is.

One of my strongest joys is in reflecting on simple experience and being able to describe my observations to others. The following lyric and a few reveries on each line will help demonstrate what I mean.

The World Touches Me 4/26/2008

What I do see is more than I see everyday
What I do feel is more than I sense
Sometimes the world touches me
Keeps me company while I think

I shoot out thoughts like a Tommy gun
Words pour out in rapid runs
Painting the world that is me
Making the world I am to be

Wonder fills my joy
Laughter seasons the stew I’m steeping
Every day is a feast
So much to taste of which comforts and awakens
Sometimes the world touches me
Talks to me while I think

Sharing all our days
Gives my life dimension widens my perception
Listening to the rain
The rhythm is dreamy soothes like honey

Every breath I take
Is filled with wonder new world to uncover (discover)
Everything takes shape
Random seeks order when the world touches me
_________________________________________________

If you want to listen to the song you can go to guidoworld.com and listen to it on the Go! CD in the music section of the website.

What I do see is more than I see everyday

To understand and appreciate this first line and the general tenor of the song takes a little background. So,….

In every conscious experience I have there is part of me having the experience (my sensorial body) and part of me that is aware of it (ego, self-consciousness). A large part of my life is unthought and kind of on autopilot. I walk, pick things up, breathe, move my arms and legs, smile and make gestures often without any conscious assistance. Even a great part of speech is done naturally and in the flow of the moment far faster and more often than conscious thought is capable of producing.
Life happens too fast and there is far too much information for us to weed through in the most basic experience to depend on our ego. In order to survive and make sense out of life we need a most basic part of us to exist and be in the world prior to a self-conscious decision process.

A major part of us needs to be in the world and respond to it with lightning speed. First we need to be able to select and organize a world out of the tons of sense data assaulting our eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin at every moment. Then while doing this we must breathe, chew, blink and respond to specific demands of the environment (someone speaking to you, a dog running in front of you, or catching yourself as you fall) all at speeds faster than our ego can think.

Our ego, though slow is extremely valuable. Without the ego we would not process, appreciate, evaluate, alter or plan our actions. Our ego, is the central manager, who feels embarrassed, proud and happy. It is our self-consciousness which gives life its history, meaning and sense of direction. Yes, it is our ego which often causes us conflict with others or gives rise to negative emotions, yet it is also the ego that makes loving, savoring and relishing life and others possible.

So when I say that “What I do see is more than I see everyday” I mean it literally and figuratively. First, the amount of input coming into my eyes has to be organized into a comprehensible (and livable) environment. Yet, what I see at the moment with the help of my ego becomes part of my history. So, at each moment I see, I see with the eyes and knowledge of my past as well as the feelings and memories they evoke in me.

Yet, even in vision itself we see more than we see. As I look about my room I see many things. I see a table, lamps, chairs, sofa, TV, speakers, paintings, pictures, plants, shelves, walls and floor to name just a few. The simple fact of the matter is that I never fully see any of these things.

I never actually see the entire room, only a series of partial snapshots. Yet, I am able to imagine it as a whole, and to move about in it as if I saw the entire room at once. If I stare straight ahead I begin to realize how little I actually see at one moment. Even individual object only seems to come alive as my eyes move about and quickly make scan after scan.

What is even more astounding is the fact that I never see all of the chair or even the lamp. Depending on my position and its distance from me I may only see a fraction of the object, the rest of it is filled in by me. I never see the backside or the underneath of the sofa or lamp, but it does not prevent me from seeing the lamp or instinctively being able to reach and lift the entire lamp.

When in a room, walking in your neighborhood, or driving in town, you are able to successfully move about, adapt to, and respond to these environments even though you are not seeing a substantial portion of, or even thinking about them. We truly do see more than we do see.

What I do feel is more than I sense

Likewise, what I feel is more than I sense in a number of ways. First, though I never touch the entire cat, I know what my cat feels like. With my eyes close I recognize the cat almost the moment my hand makes contact with her. There are very few objects I could feel at one moment, and even many of those have shapes, contours, nooks and crannies which make it impossible for me to feel it completely. Yet, my mind is able to fill in what is missing, both in what can’t be felt in one caress as well as the absences that could not be felt at all. It may be a little misleading to say my mind fills in the gaps because it often is done with no thought and instead accomplished by the preconscious part of me that lives in the world which usually is labeled the body.

“What I feel is more than I sense”, is also true in terms of emotional feeling. The entire network of sensations cannot explain nor capture my emotions and feelings. I always feel more than I sense, and my feelings are also influenced by reflections of sensations that has taken me an entire lifetime to form.

Sometimes the world touches me
Keeps me company while I think

We often make thought in charge of perception and view perception as something that occurs in the brain (mind). Sight, for example, is when images come to us through our eyes and rest on our retina in an inverted fashion, only to be corrected by our mind. My experience tells me that world -body – self consciousness are one intimate network, in which complete separation is impossible.

My experience says that sometimes the world beckons my attention and touches me. It is obvious that the world touches me when a breeze blows or when the sun peeks out from a cloud and bathes me in sudden warmth. Often times when deep in thought, or reflection a sound or smell will summon me, or keep me company while I think.

Also, often events in my environment will touch me in the sense of having a certain poignancy or inspire me to have some strong emotion. In this sense, the world in all its wonder and mystery is forever touching me. When one recognizes the intimate relationship between the world – our body – and our sense of self, it is truly impossible to feel isolated and alone.

The world, the environment and my immediate setting affect all that I feel, perceive, sense and think. My environment defines my limitations as well as my possibilities. At each moment my setting and my body color, guide and inspire my thoughts, emotions and experiences.

My setting and others who are part of my setting, influence and help create who I am. In so many ways I am the product and project of others and the world I live in. All of my experiences are created by the world and my body, and I would not be who I am if I had a different body or lived in a different setting.

I shoot out thoughts like a Tommy gun
Words pour out in rapid runs
Painting the world that is me
Making the world I am to be

We’ve already covered those first two lines with the realization that we speak far faster than we can think, and therefore, most of speech is preconscious and evaluated by our ego as we speak. If the ego agrees or is pleased it lets us ramble on, and only intervenes when it feels a need to interrupt or redirect.

Words paint and describe the world and person that is me. My words not only express who I am, but are the very tools which help construct my view of myself, my world, and my future. My perceptions and experiences are articulated through words, but words also help create and fashion my experiences and perceptions. My words and perceptions have a mutually beneficial relationship. My experiences can inspire me to find better words to articulate my perceptions, yet well chosen words can improve and refine my experiences and give it a richness it would otherwise not have.

Similarly, it is impossible to assess to what degree the world forms my perception of myself as opposed to how my self-perception fashions my views of the world.

Wonder fills my joy
Laughter seasons the stew I’m steeping
Every day is a feast
So much to taste of which comforts and awakens

All of the above thoughts lead me to see the world, my body, and my sense of self all with a sense of wonder and mystery. We are all born out of the world and at some point dissolve back into it. With something like a plant this concept is very easy to see. The plant sprouts forth from a seed in the ground and after a time dies and becomes reabsorbed into the earth.

We are born from a seed in our mothers body. Our life, being self-conscious, evolves a little differently than our experience of the plant. Becoming conscious is born out of the entire stew of sensations and perceptions fostered by the interaction between the world and our body. Soon our sense of self seems to form like condensation. Where eventually we become self-conscious, that is we become aware of the fact that we are alive. Not only that, but we become aware of all life, whereby through us life is becoming aware of itself.

We are aware of not just our ego centric existence but we become engulfed and surrounded by life. We exist and are alive, because we inhabit a world teeming with life.

Our self-conscious existence is dependent on the fact that we have a body and live in a world. The world, our body, and consciousness are co-existent. This is the beauty and wonder that is human life. We only live because we can breathe in life from the outside world.

When we inhale we take in life, when we exhale we give part of ourselves to the outside world. With this in mind it is hard to say where we end and where the outside world begins.

I became enthralled with life many years ago. I find great joy and satisfaction in reflecting on human experience and life and in describing what we actually see and feel. I find meaning in life itself and have no desire to try attain ultimate Truth. I stopped asking big questions when I realized I was only capable of producing small answers.

Sometimes the world touches me
Talks to me while I think

Obviously other people talk to me. Yet, even those who speak a foreign language speak to me through their gestures and through my interpretations of their actions. Animals, insects even trees and plants seem to speak to me, to teach me their secrets. All of nature reveals themselves to me, and in the process reveal me to myself.

The world touches and speaks to me through every sensation of my body. I reach out and touch the world in all my activities. When I have my hands touch each other, one always has to be the toucher and the other the one being touched. I can switch the roles at a moments notice, but one hand cannot be both toucher and touched at the same time. Likewise it is just a matter of perspective that has me switch from being touched by the world to its touching me.

Sharing all our days
Gives my life dimension widens my perception
Listening to the rain
The rhythm is dreamy soothes like honey

Though I’m never separate or alone in the world, I feel the most connected to other conscious beings. We all need to feel unique and special as well as a need to belong and be connected. It is through higher animals and people that we get these needs met. It is though others that I get validation as well as a greater perspective. Many experiences and thoughts I would otherwise have no access to, I can vicariously experience through my dialogues with others.

I find comfort in the predictable, in habits and in the patterns of life. The basic rhythms of life ground me and from this base give me the courage and stability to grow and develop.

Every breath I take
Is filled with wonder new world to uncover (discover)
Everything takes shape
Random seeks order when the world touches me

Life is a never ending process of growth and discovery. Each sensation, perception, experience and feeling we have is just another color with which to paint our world or a puzzle piece to use in constructing the great mosaic of our life.

Many seek to overcome life and view it as an illusion. Me, I view life as this wonderful dance we have the privilege to attend. I love the world, the body and our consciousness and relish the opportunity to live and savor this life.

Every sentence needs a period to have meaning. Every song only becomes one when it ends. We would not know the day without the night, and life would have no significance if it had no end.

We are bound by the limits of a body that occupies a specific space and experiences life as an unfolding of time. Yet, their would be no experience for something limitless or eternal. Something all knowing could not learn, grow, be surprised or have a revelation. The true beauty of human life is that it is born with so little, and through the unfolding of time, through the interaction of world-body-and self-consciousness develops a history and a personal story of ever increasing complexity and richness.

Wonder and mystery fill our days, and as we touch the world and the world touches us we begin to see patterns and forms, and we begin to feel connected to the world, nature and others. The miracle of conscious life is in its delicate fragility which dazzles the eye and captivates the reflective soul with its rarity and ephemeral beauty.

United in Compassion,

Jim

Philosophy and Poetry and Psychology15 May 2009 01:50 pm

In this post I’d like to pay homage to our ability to live in time, to not be imprisoned in the present. Many of today’s spiritual practices have a tendency to glorify the present while tacitly demeaning the past and the future. Some thirty years ago I wrote a song entitled Fictional Space which I will use to highlight some of my points.

By fictional space I’m referring to our ability to go beyond the present moment by drawing upon our past and projecting into the future. Since the present is often considered “the real” the “what is really happening” the past and the present could be viewed as being non-real or fictional.

My memories, my past, infuses my life with meaning. My personal history constructs my sense of self and allows me to have relationships with others, to develop skills and talents, and to perceive growth and development.

The ability to project my life into a future provides me an opportunity to plan, set goals, change direction and anticipate. Anticipation is an important ingredient in my ability to feel and experience pleasure.

A life lived totally in the present would lack depth and meaning it would be a flat and unguided existence. Totally bereft of meaning and a sense of purpose.

These thoughts are contained in my song Fictional Space which follows. I’ll talk more on a few of the following lines.

Fictional Space

There’s something of the mind which plays off circumstance
Like a servant pampered king it can be wise or frivolous
Unencumbered one used for strategy of evasion
Place me straddled on this life
Vision gives me power and might
Bash their monstrous heads, the survivors scheme
Lovers engulfed orgasmic anticipation
The hunter laughs at the snap of the trap

Fictional space

There’s something that’s the style which I won’t represent
It’s a feeling of denial wan discouragement
Harlots of the soul lost in merriment
Visceral drives buried by excitement

Moments take pride in invention
Problems provoke awkward hesitation
Solution, look to friendly vistas
The future beckons the agile dancer

Fictional space

Make me alive set me on fire
Make me alive celluloid fire

——————————————————————————-

There’s something of the mind which plays off circumstance
Like a servant pampered king it can be wise or frivolous

My ability to have a future and a past is a function of my mind which plays off the present circumstance. This ability can be used well or wasted. One can use this freedom and talent to make a life fulfilling or construct a babbling mind dedicated to avoiding the world and personal experience.

Unencumbered one used for strategy of evasion
Place me straddled on this life

This freedom to play with time gives my life depth and meaning, and at each moment I am free to weave together my past, present and future into a life.

I’ll let you play with the rest of the lyrics.

Yet, in the end I prefer to see “being here now” or “existing in the present” as useful tools and not absolute goals. Being fully aware and immersed in the present would be a form of imprisonment and would not lead to “enlightenment” , “fulfillment”, or a better life.

I embrace my humanity and revel in my sense of time and the fullness it brings to my experiences and my sense of self.

Jim Guido

Ecology and Economics and Poetry and Social Issues20 Apr 2009 05:22 pm

In the last blog I focused on the incredible progress mankind has made over the last few centuries. I mentioned how, for many on our planet, the quality of life has improved greatly. I also discussed how old belief systems such as human existence being based on pain and the fight for survival limit our personal sense of joy and contentment….. and how this negative view of life prevents us from believing in and constructing healthy social systems.

I am very aware that for many on the planet life in still rife with pain and suffering, and war, starvation and disease dominate the human landscape. Yet, at the same time it is difficult to deny we currently have the resources and knowledge to eradicate a good portion of this pain and suffering. The obstacles to our reducing humanity’s woes is more political and psychological than anything else. Which, as I mentioned before, I address fully the scope of the problem and its solution in my book Exploring Intimacy which you can read free in its entirety in the words section of this site.

Yet, in my world, and the world of many others on this planet living a life generally free of suffering is immediately available. I live in an enironement which is both convenient and sustainable. An environment in which my ability to be happy is mostly up to me and is not limited by outside forces.

Everyday I walk two to four miles through some of the prettiest scenery nature has to offer. Right outside my front door there are roads cutting through lush ever changing foliage which evolves with the elevation from valley to mountain ridge. My walks go along rural neighborhoods and even include a couple of horse farms. I’m surrounded by deciduous an evergreen trees and changing foliage which includes azaleas, rhododendrons, pampas grass, bamboo, various ivies, etc. Intoxicating sights and smells cradled amongst the sounds of mountain creeks and song birds. Wild turkey’s, snakes, turtles and the occasional bear are also staples of my visual world.

Though beautiful, this is not wilderness by any stretch of the imagination, for I’m less that 3 miles from a huge grocery store and less than five from the downtown market area containing all a modern man needs to live a life of convenience. Likewise, I am minutes away from quality medical services. I live in a community which is both safe and beautiful.

Is where I live a dying breed or could it become the norm? Can we create rural/urban communities which preserve nature while providing safe and technologically current life worlds?

While in recent times we have often taken paths which seem to be moving away from creating a healthy environment and a caring society, we still have many opportunities well within our reach. The dye has not been cast and our fate has not been determined. Yet, there is much politically and psychologically to overcome.

If we continue to place commerce, profit and the individual above health and kindness, we will not only not maximize our potential but waste our opportunities. If we continue to mistrust our neighbors and try to centralize and horde wealth we will continue to foster war and wasteful winner take all competition.

Capitalism and nationalism are not evil, but rather formats that have outgrown their usefulness and now have become counterproductive. The psychology inherent in the fight for survival has made us resourceful, resilient and creative. Yet, once again it is a viewpoint which has outlived its value.

Seeing real threats is an important survival tool, yet imagining dangers leads to paranoia and loss of freedom and joy. Many of the conflicts and problems of our modern world are self initiated and maintained. When one approaches a new situation with balled up fists and prejudice it seldom can result in friendship.

The biggest problem I see us facing is in our world psychology. When it comes to our planet we take the current political and economic structures as givens and view all other possible views as either too idealistic (utopic) or irrational. This is amazing when you consider how long we’ve had civilized life on this planet and what small portion of the time our current economic and political structures have been in play.

Just as we created democracies and capitalism out of systems which were antithetical to many of its basic premises, we can create new social structures once again. Our lack of confidence is our biggest obstacle. We can and will one day create societies which are more in keeping with the times and status of our post modern world.

The only question remains how healthy and adaptive the new structure will be. Without structure social systems and societies would lack, meaning, direction and predictability. Social structures can be confining or liberating, restrictive to growth or fostering new ideas. As I noted earlier, much was gained by our current structure, yet now it has become outdated and limiting.

Developing new social structures should not be about rebellion or utopia, but rather they should be viewed as the natural outgrowth of progress and human evolution. Viewing the potential of new paradigms by comparing them with old paradigms is often self-defeating. Healthy structures are born of common sense and the meeting of people’s current needs, not in meeting the needs and goals of the old paradigms.

Much of what I’ve said in yesterday’s and today’s blog will become more understandable if you go to the words part of this site and read Exploring Intimacy.

Here is a recent lyric which fits into this theme. The song is still in production and will not be on this site for a few more months.
To Your Health                                 12/3/08

I felt fear, but never dread
I’ve been scared, but never fled
I improve, with a critical eye
Sometimes it keeps me, from enjoying life

Keep the wind at your back
Don’t fight the world nor go on the attack

I felt joy, not exaltation
I seek freedom, amidst limitation
I feel pain, not agony
I yearn to grow, amidst harmony

At my core I seek more
At the same time I feel fine

I love to laugh and smile
for it has me feel so alive
feeling calmer each day
seeing more opportunities to play

let it go it’s OK
sit in silence listen and sway
health is a treasure most precious
all that’s sensuous, delicious and luscious

Well I feel lighter than air

Jim Guido

Poetry and Psychology and Sports and Therapy12 Apr 2009 02:00 pm

When I was young I developed a strong love of physical activity and sports. Though small and rather un-athletic by nature I quickly developed formidable skills. My favorite sports were basketball and baseball. While size isn’t as important in baseball as basketball it still was a huge handicap in my youth. Before the age of 16 a lack of physical strength puts you at a huge disadvantage in most competitive sports such as baseball. As an example I was a very good pitcher and shortstop, but the lack of strength had to be compensated for in the speed of my pitches and my throws across the diamond.

Until people got to know me I was always discounted and viewed as an underdog in games and contests. I soon began to love shocking people and proving their perceptions of my abilities wrong. Instead of fearing competition, I always viewed it as an opportunity to succeed. In basketball I would use this to my advantage. My adversaries, being bigger and more athletic than I were supposed to win. I, therefore, had nothing to lose. When I had a chance to win I was excited by the possibility, my talented opponent, on the other hand, often choked on the pressure of the expectation that they win.

I was 4’8″ and 83 pounds when I went into high school. Though  I grew a foot in high school I remained very undersized in basketball and small for baseball. In baseball I became an excellent fielder and could throw the ball as far as anyone I played with. In pitching I had a wicked curve ball and a lot of other junk to compensate for my lack of a blazing fastball.

Yet, in both sports I flourished in competition. I practiced many hours and became sure of my skills and abilities. I relished the opportunity to make the big catch or get to the grounder in the hole, or to make the last shot or the decisive steal in a basketball game.

By the age of 12 my ability to hit the game winning shot earned me the nickname of “game”, for as the ball left my hand I would yell out “game” as the winning shot made its way to the basket. Did I make every game winning shot? Of course not. Yet, I did hit the majority of them and I always looked forward to taking the last shot as an opportunity for success.

My personal experience of the benefits of viewing crucial moments in sports as an opportunity for success rather than a potential failure has been validated by the experience of others. The fear of failure is at the heart of the term “choking” in sports. Those who feel the pressure of the moment are always bewailing their lack of success. One can often sense this tensing up and choking when watching an event of television. You can see the pressure on the faces of the players and in the hesitant manner in which they execute their plays.

Though my confidence and excitement at the prospect of succeeding powered me through all basketball contests through my college years it did fail me in much of my adult life. In baseball I was always confident and loose when it came to all skills except batting in which my fear of being injured by a pitch over rode my confidence of making the big hit. My fear of being hit by the ball limited my batting skills and I never excelled at that aspect of the game.

Likewise playing basketball as an adult became more of a social event, in which I became concerned with the reactions of others. So, in situations in which my teammates supported and believed in me I continued my old tradition of being a clutch player making the winning shot or defensive stop. Yet, my performance suffered when my teammates did not support or trust me.

The majority of my adult life I have spent my time working with “at risk” and problem oriented youth who have been removed their home and been placed in group homes or various other treatment facilities. In most of these children their is a tendency for them to focus on and perceive almost every performance situation as a failure. The more severe the child the quicker and more frequently they view themselves and their actions as failures. In a given situation they will panic or give up way before anyone else in the room even senses that a potential failure even exists.

Much of my efforts with these children revolves around having them see the positive side of possibilities. My goal is to replace performance anxiety and negative prophecy with a joy of opportunity. Instead of feeling failure, I try to engender an appreciation of identifying an opportunity for growth and improvement. Though it is true that we seldom learn without making mistakes and that personal growth is dependent on improvement, it is often hard for us to look at poor performances as an opportunity for future success and as a natural part of the growth process.

Yet, the growth in self esteem and success of the children I work with is often directly related to their ability to see social and academic performances as an opportunity for success rather than a breeding ground for failure. Once they no longer have the expectation or feel the pressure to be perfect, they are able to accept the assistance and benefit by the criticism of others.

In my personal life I’ve generally done a good job in terms of viewing personal mistakes and interpersonal conflicts as opportunities for growth rather than failures or dead ends. This willingness to not only accept but revel is life’s imperfecions and challenges has rendered me a relatively happy person. It allows me an opportunity to enjoy the endless process of improvement while keeping my expectations high.

While my personal and social life has been a constant source of joy and happiness I must admit my view of the world and humanity in general has lagged behind. Though it is easy for me to appreciate life’s imperfections it is hard for me to view the path of humanity in a positive light. Instead of seeing our mistakes and wicked policies as opportunities for learning I have a tendency to dwell on our inhumane acts and violence. I guess it is because I focus on what has been lost and what tragedy awaits our fear and stupidity rather than acknowledge what we’ve accomplished and what could be accomplished in the future. It is hard for me to accept mass murder, war, genocide and torture as bad decisions made by fears of failure and poor self esteem rather than evidence of impending doom. My trust of myself and individuals is far greater than my trust of groups and collectives. Many of the people I’ve worked with personally have engaged in actions as heinous as any government, yet I’ve been able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I’ve been able to help instill a healthier view of themselves and others.

In modern capitalism you have a system which promotes and rewards such pernicious qualities as greed, wastefulness, self-centeredness, hatred, elitism, deception, exploitation, fear and mistrust. This is not to suggest that other social systems would be free of these qualities, but only to point out that our current system accentuates, fosters and rewards these characteristics.

It seems logical to me that we need to move towards a world in which its societies limit fear and a sense of failure by focusing on what we can gain rather than what we could lose. We need to build social structures which emphasize opportunity and personal growth and de-emphasize perfection and the prospect of failure.

Yet, maybe it is only I who needs to change and begin to see the opportunities the world is moving towards and focus less on the bad choices we have made.

One thing is for certain, and that is the areas for growth in terms of human society are vast.

The following lyric and song are pertinent to this topic.

Go to Music section and go to Opportunity Lost CD and click on mp3 icon to hear song.

Opportunity Lost

I’d like to feel a part of this life
I’d like to have a child, home and wife

Each time I settle down I gaze so far ahead
I see the pendulum swing this way and back again
I feel lonely riding the crest of the wave
‘Cuz my friends just keep bobbing left in its wake

Some like to dream others work till they drop
Some complain with zeal others swallow till they pop

If life’s a mystery than solution is such a chore
For what’s found ends the quest mystery demands more
I just love to smile feel the sun on my face
I wish the human race could be run at a comfortable pace

As the tidal wave approaches I move far ashore
I plead with my friends to fish no more
As I lie in bed awake yeah, feel my body aching
For I sense disaster coming soon

I stumble thru the darkness feel for the door
Hope the knock I hear is not just the winds mighty roar

Everybody’s fervent prayer hanging heavy in the air
If we try hard we can make it come true

Let the winds take you away don’t fight it now its OK
I pause to see what’s coming I shudder at opportunity lost

Let’s not waste our time with hating when we should be celebrating
I’ll share my fondest wish with you

Everybody’s fervent prayer hanging heavy in the air
If we try hard we can make it come true

Let’s not wast our time with hating when we should be celebrating
I’ll share my fondest wish wish with you

Poetry and Psychology and Relationships and Social Issues10 Apr 2009 02:01 pm

Here are the lyrics and a couple of additional thoughts I have for a recent song I completed earlier this year. This song will be recorded and published on this site later this year.

Please listen to my other tunes in the music section of guidoworld. All music is free and provided for your enjoyment.

Toil No More

I live life in motion
Less noun than verb
Devour all with passion
Less guile more verve

I wish I could stop pushing with urgency
Give it all I got while staying calm

Like salt in the ocean
I wish to merge
Melt into the moment
Both depth and surf

Looking at the world I long for sanity
At the way we spend our time and how we love
Everyday
I look with hungry eyes and
Think with a caring mind
We learn best when we play
Alert and having fun
While we sit or while we run

I live life in motion
Less noun than verb
Devour all with passion
Less guile more verve

Looking at the world I wish that history
Was used to guide and not make us numb
Everyday
Learning is so fun
When its adding to your sum
We learn best when we play
Enjoy activity
Of being you and being me

Life is too short
For hate and war
Life is so short
Work less play more
Toiling no more
Make life a sport
Toiling no more
Make life your sport

1/08/09

I’d like to amplify a few points. First I’d like to talk on some of my intentions for writing the first stanza. When I say I’m more a verb than a noun, I mean that I’m more about experience, action, perception and process than an object. Even though my body is a thing my sense of self is less tangible. Yet, without my body experience, thought and my sense of self would not exist. So, I am a verb, and action taking place within a body that is sensing a world.

In general this song is an energetic celebration of our humanity. We, like most mammals, learn by play. When we are enthralled with life we create both joy and productivity, and we feel best about ourselves and our contemporaries. Industry without play is more likely to be mean, blind and destructive. For industry without play lacks appreciation for our humanity and the wonder that is life.

Hope to have the music to this posted later this year. Hope you find this motivating. I’d love to hear some of your thoughts regarding my music. So please, listen to some of the songs and read the lyrics. I always have felt my music expresses my world better than my posts.

Jim Guido

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