People and Places and Time and Times

My friends from Boston are in their early 20’s

In my memory

They will always be in their early 20’s

As I will never see them again

Good times

My friends from Virginia will always be in their late 30’s

But for one I remain in contact with

I will never see them again

Impoverished and bitter, then, ambition

Florida was (only) thirteen years ago

And I’ve been back several times

So one would say their friendship continues

My musician friends in Edmonton know how it was here, is now

Club owners, evolution of clubs, live venues that closed

Band members from so many years ago—still in town—

Occasionally regrouping to play for a night or two

In with the locals

Me, an outsider

With all those ways and customs I assimilated,

Left, learned again

Tore away from

My last stand, here

This city home to one million

Chinese, Lebanese, Africans, Indigenous

Those who grew up here

Those like me

Here, tired of new ways, places, my last stand

My Journey with Mozart and the Taj Mahal

Lately, I’ve been listening to Mozart’s Symphony #41–the “Jupiter” Symphony.  I enjoy classical music, but Mozart has always eluded me.  Certain musicians, one a jazz musician, have praised Mozart exuberantly.  The jazz cat said of Mozart, “He’s a real entertainer!”  Ever since the ’80’s movie, “Amadeus,” the whole world thinks Mozart is The Man.

The thing, I think, that makes Mozart hard for me is that his music is subtle.  I am finding that Mozart is capable of startling tonal breaks, and also of breathtaking beauty.  His music is like a crystal, not a flame.  So, which is probably my failure, I find my mind wandering only to be recaptured when Mozart does one of those startling things.  I would say I’m at about 1/2 able to stay with Mozart’s 41st Symphony.

I think my efforts to get Mozart are of value.  I have been following a life-long course of appropriating Euro-American civilization.  My formal education was only a start.  I have broadened and deepened my learning of Euro-American civilization.

You can learn only so much in one lifetime.  When I taught Humanities, the department made me use a book that had Euro-American civilization parallel with Chinese civilization and Middle-Eastern civilization.  So you would get one paragraph on Julian of Norwich then a paragraph on the Chen Dynasty, then one page on the Golden Age of Islam, another page on Napoleon and another page about the Great Wall of China then a picture of the Taj Mahal.  I don’t think in that order, but you see how jumbled all this is in my mind, now.

I think the only way to get a handle on, say, Chinese civilization is to study it as a whole–not pieces of it parallel with Euro-American civilization.  I have studied Chinese religions as part of my theological education, and I understand them to some degree.  I have also participated in Chinese culture through the pockets of Chinese immigrants in some of the cities I’ve lived in.

But I am an Euro-American.  I don’t know if I’ll ever really grasp Chinese culture.  I didn’t grow up there, don’t live there now, don’t live in Chinatown.  There are limits to what a person can grasp honestly and really.

Then there is the fact of conflicting ideologies.  I have also touched base with Chinese music.  I would listen to it during the period when I was undergoing acupuncture treatments.  What I found, though, for me, is that the kind of psychic balance that Chinese doctors strive to manifest in their patients is antithetical to some Euro-American ideologies.  This may sound strange, but I found I had to make a choice.  I couldn’t be both Western and Eastern at the same time.

So I’m back home.  Trying to understand one of Euro-America’s geniuses.  I feel that I have an understanding of a little of Chinese civilization.  But I’m not Chinese, never will be.  I’m not denouncing Chinese civilization.  I am not a xenophobe.  I have great respect for the achievements of that culture.  But it seems more valuable for me to broaden and deepen my foundation in Euro-American civilization.  Then I have a shot at becoming masterful in my knowledge.


There was a time before you

life was hollow

There was a time before you

time itself was a bitter pill to swallow


There was a time before you

I cowered in insecurity

Now you are with me

I measure my steps with confidence and surety


Now you are with me

in every trying situation

Now you are with me

with constant affirmation


Now you are with me

life is meaningful

Now you are with me

for you, for us, I am grateful


You and I are us

your joy is my study, my occupation

You and I are us

our joy is a continuing vacation