I was just out running. I run around the outer rim of a nice park near my house. Today was particularly good weather. There was a blue sky, puffy white clouds, a cool gentle breeze and rolling green grass. It was very idyllic. I cannot run without music so I had a random music set playing in my headphones and whatever music I listen to ends up being the soundtrack of my outside experience. Normally I need very energetic music to help me run, but a very sweet emotional instrumental piece came on with a solo violin. It was one of those songs that tugs at your heartstrings and takes you to some emotionally tender place in your heart where life was sweet at one time. As I was running, going to the place the music was taking me, I looked out across the grass and a fair distance away I could see a mother and her two children in the middle of the field. The two children were very young and squatting down looking very busy doing something. But the mother was about 30 feet away and she was holding out her arms and flying herself around like an airplane – swooping and gliding – not even paying attention to the focused children – seemingly in her own world. The irony of the scene – mother acting like a child and children acting like they are too busy to play – coupled with the beautiful music, swept through me like a tsunami of beauty and fun and sweetness and profoundness- as if I had seen a sacred life moment. It was experiencing something pure and without pretense. It was innocence. A proverbial breath of fresh air. I think I will keep that moment in my mind for a very long time. It reminded me to remember to play and to keep that child in me alive. It planted a seed of longing in me for something I can’t quite define. But one thing I do know – I love this feeling and will treasure it in my heart.
I have been dwelling on the relationship between the mind and the heart. It would seem that the mind is the gateway to the heart. It controls what comes in, what stays and what goes out. The heart is like soil those thoughts get planted in and because it is the soil from which everything grows, the things that grow can effect your entire being. Therefore we should be attentive to what our minds let in to be planted in the soil of our heart and soul.
As a Man Thinketh is a literary essay of James Allen, published in 1902. The title is influenced by a verse in the Bible from the Book of Proverbs chapter 23 verse 7, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
The book opens with the statement:
- Mind is the Master power that moulds and makes,
And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills: —
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
Environment is but his looking-glass.
Quotes From As a Man Thinketh
- Men do not attract what they want, but what they are.
- A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.
- Cherish your visions. Cherish your ideals. Cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will grow all delightful conditions, all heavenly environment, of these, if you but remain true to them your world will at last be built.
- The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors, that which it loves, and also that which it fears. It reaches the height of its cherished aspirations. It falls to the level of its unchastened desires – and circumstances are the means by which the soul receives its own.
- Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves, they therefore remain bound.
- Every action and feeling is preceded by a thought.
- Right thinking begins with the words we say to ourselves.
- Circumstance does not make the man, it reveals him to himself.
- You cannot travel within and stand still without.
- As the physically weak man can make himself strong by careful and patient training, so the man of weak thoughts, can make them strong by exercising himself in right thinking.
- Every man is where he is by the law of his being; the thoughts which he has built into his character have brought him there, and in the arrangement of his life there is no element of chance, but all is the result of a law which cannot err
You and I
You and me
We are blessed
Embers of the fire at midnight
Minstrel songs that weave a spell
Drink and song that soothe the day
Dreams that drape the wishing well
Fairy tales and farmer’s hay
Friends and stories, morning glories
A place to lay my head at day’s end long
A bowl of stew, a cloak with buttons
A woman’s voice and jingle bells
At my door the fiddler’s bow
Must join the dance, its time to go
A peasant girl clothed in beauty
A farmhand strong and gentle still
Something good blows on the fall wind
Leaving smiles where red leaves swirl
Not to fear the snow of winter
Heartfire warms the peasant girl
After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
Music. The true language of the soul. Words themselves have limitations. But not music. Many know the famous misquote that “music soothes the savage beast”, but the real line is “music has charms to soothe a savage breast” – from a play by William Congreve called “The Mourning Bride” written in 1697. For some music is simply entertainment. But for those of us who understand deeper things – it is an entire world with endless possibilities of enlightenment and even spiritual union. Beethoven was famous for being able to evoke specific emotions in his listeners. The piano Sonata “Les Adieux” couldn’t be clearer if he had written a short story” two lovers part, they experience their loneliness, but are joyfully reunited in the last movement.
The ability to evoke emotions is the first and most obvious power of music. Movie music is exactly what this is about. But music can also have mental effects. Some types of music actually relax us or exhilarate us. Music can also have a sacred purpose. Music can be used to create altered states of consciousness. There can be anything from a relaxed state to a much deeper state, where non-ordinary realities can be experienced. I think we see this portrayed in the movie “Shine” in this scene:
When music or a performance is truly transcendent, a hush comes over the room. It is as if everyone knows that something sacred is transpiring. Muslim, Jew, Christian, Black, White, Hispanic, Irish……all will stop and push past their ideologies and beliefs and politics and share the sacred moment…..people stop what they are doing…..it commands our attention as if we have no control over it…..we are taken to a place deep inside ourselves and at the same time connect to something outside ourselves – outside of our own self constructed world….it is something bigger than thought….deeper than emotion itself……a connection with the creator. It is supernatural. And if we are to believe the picture of heaven painted by the Bible – heaven is filled with music.
Music is unique and not like a movie in that it forces us to create the content of the message. Music can cause us to temporarily become aware of parts of us that have been lost or forgotten or inaccessible. And all of this creates meaning. When music affects us it means something to us. I believe music can also heal the body, mind and spirit. There is so much more to all of this and this discussion could go on and never end. But some of it is here for your musings.
Now it may help to see what others have said about it:
For me, singing sad songs often has a way of healing a situation. It gets the hurt out in the open into the light, out of the darkness.
I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.
If a composer could say what he had to say in words he would not bother trying to say it in music.
If music be the food of love, play on.
If you look deep enough you will see music; the heart of nature being everywhere music.
It is cruel, you know, that music should be so beautiful. It has the beauty of loneliness of pain: of strength and freedom. The beauty of disappointment and never-satisfied love. The cruel beauty of nature and everlasting beauty of monotony.
Music can change the world because it can change people.
Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.
Music happens to be an art form that transcends language.
Music has charms to sooth a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.
Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.
Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.
Ludwig van Beethoven
Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.
Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
If the King loves music, it is well with the land.
Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons. You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Why waste money on psychotherapy when you can listen to the B Minor Mass? Michael Torke
And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares that infest the day
Shall fold their tents like the Arabs
And as silently steal away.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Day Is Done
Music is what feelings sound like.
There is in souls a sympathy with sounds:
And as the mind is pitch’d the ear is pleased
With melting airs, or martial, brisk or grave;
Some chord in unison with what we hear
Is touch’d within us, and the heart replies.
Morning light like spun glass comes across my shoulders from behind me as the morning sun finally tips the horizon and finds its way through my window. The fears of the night are forced to leave like a heavily laden barge lumbering its way down river. My mind weighs out the burdens of the day against the pleasures on a scale made of past stories. Responsibilities circle around me like hungry ravens yet in deep places a child would rather play. My mind spins webs only to be torn down by the child with the soft sweep of a tiny hand. My shadow on the wall has multiple images and I wonder if it will eventually focus. My body’s needs ask for attention with their many whispering voices. My mind is swept up in thought like a bird looking for a place to land. I know this storm with its dark threatening clouds. Beauty must save me. Peace must find me. Love must make me. Those I love will come. They will look for me. The sun enters more forcefully. Its ancient rays press gently on my skin like a warm blanket trying to make me remember. Then it finds me. Its familiar face brings the deep magic of song – the soul penetration. I softly let go and breathe deeply…allowing.
Soon oh soon the light
Pass within and soothe this endless night
And wait here for you
Our reason to be here
Soon oh soon the time
All we move to gain will reach and calm
Our heart is open
Our reason to be here
Long ago, set into rhyme
Soon oh soon the light
Ours to shape for all time, ours the right
The sun will lead us
Our reason to be here
The sun will lead us
Our reason to be here
“May the dreams of your past be the reality of your future” – Unknown
I made the decision not to turn on the computer this morning. I didn’t want the noise of the computer fans in the room or the illumination of the monitor. It was around 5:15 AM when I woke up and still dark. My heart was yearning for a different start to the day than the same way I always start it. I have a small Christmas tree in my computer room/office with red Christmas lights and only a few decorations. It is only 3 feet tall and sits in a basket and is prone to falling over. I plugged that in which sent a festive red glow on the walls. Lighting is so important to mood. I notice light everywhere. It can turn even humdrum things into works of art. I think this is why I like Alfred Hitchcock movies so much because of the way he uses light and shadows as if it is another actor in the movie. So the Christmas tree lights were the only illumination and I decided to read the book I have been reading lately which is “AWOL on the Appalachian Trail”. What is great about a Kindle is that you don’t need any lights on to read by because it is self illuminated. So I curled up on my love seat couch with a blanket and two pillows and my Kindle and the red glow in the room. It was totally quiet.
If you son’t know what the Appalachian Trail is click here: click this
Th reason I am attracted to this book is because I have hiked parts of the Appalachian Trail. The longest I have been up there is for 3 days and 2 nights. We would start at the Delaware Water Gap and get picked up at Culver’s Gap. To hike the trail is quite an experience and even in 3 days you feel like you have been gone a long time and traveled to another world. And for your viewing pleasure I have here some pictures from one such trip with my friend Justin who lived across the street.
The first picture is what we looked like before we went and then the last picture what we looked like after. The trail is quite physically demanding but also very healthy. You are hiking rough terrain all day long and eating healthy snacks and drinking pure water from springs coming out of the ground that are marked on the map. As you walk, snakes that are sunning themselves on the trail scamper from out in front of your feet as you walk. You carry about a 30 pound pack on your back and this makes you very top heavy. Before leaving on a hike you try and get rid of every single ounce of weight you can. On this part of the trail it is very rocky so you must watch your feet allot. There are two significant events from hiking the trail that stick out to my memory although I can see allot of it in my mind quite vividly even now. One was with Justin and one was with my friend Marty. To understand Justin you must know that to him everything in life is a competition. One day when we were about 7 years old I beat him in a foot race and he was still talking about the defeat when we were in high school.
Well once we were on the trail it got in Justin’s head that he wanted to set some kind of record for reaching our proposed camping site in a record amount of time. The Appalachian trail is usually well marked and the trail is easy to see. But we were up on a rocky ridge with no trees and the white trail blazes had to be painted on the flat horizontal rocks so that you could not see them well when looking ahead like when they are painted on trees. I am the type that likes to enjoy the scenery and did not want to race. It started to get dark and Justin would not slow down to hike with me. Soon he was out of sight. Then I wandered off the trail somehow. I was alone and it was getting dark. I panicked. I yelled for Justin but no answer. I tried back tracking and wandering to find the trail but could not. Those were some lonely soul searching moments that I can still feel the sting of. I could not believe he had abandoned me. I believe I trusted people in general a little less after that event. Eventually I found the trail. I arrived at our campsite after dark finding Justin there. And I never hiked with him again after that trip.
Now Marty was a different story. Marty was caring and generous and trustworthy. He is someone I can trust and hiking with him was fun. On this trip we had neglected to check the weather conditions for the time we would be on the trail and a cold front and storm blew in. It got incredibly cold during the night with the wind blowing so hard up on the ridge that we thought the tent would rip so we collapsed it over ourselves. We slept with our heads inside the sleeping bags. The next morning it as bitter cold. We were not really dressed for that. Our first activity was to make breakfast over an open campfire and shivering with numb hands we managed to get a fire going. Now when you hike, you bring food from home which you eat the first night thereby making yourself lighter in weight for the rest of the hike so you are not carrying that weight for a long time. We had bacon and eggs in a frying pan over the fire. We could not wait to get some hot tasty food in our bellies and it smelled wonderful. The fire was hot enough that we had to sit back from it a ways. Now because the frying pan handle is short and basically the entire pan is in the fire, we also had a stick under the frying pan to manipulate it without getting our hands burned in the flames. So we slipped the long stick under it and propped it up and thought we were very clever. Next to the fire pit was our water supply in a flexible plastic container on a stump. Marty and I were sitting back warming ourselves and smelling the bacon and chatting. As we watched, the water container on the stump next to the fire started to slowly change shape as the weight of the water was causing it to lean to one side. Then, as if in slow motion, it leaned and rolled off the stump – hitting the stick under the frying pan and launching our bacon and eggs into the air – turning upside down and into the dry dirt. I think we probably swore loudly. We picked up the bacon and washed as much dirt off of it as we could and ate it anyway. Looking back I still laugh at that moment.
So anyway all this was in my head this morning as I read the book about someone else’s adventure and remembered mine and lay there under my warm blanket, with soft pillows and warm red Christmas glow. It totally enhanced the moment. The past and present combining to make a poignant life moment that normally I would share with no one. But I just did. It amazes me today how much the past still effects and colors the present and creates unique experiences.
“Through return to simple living comes control of desires. In control of desires stillness is attained. In stillness the world is restored.” Lao Tzu
I just had a really interesting few moments. I decided to take a break from my movie and see what the kittens were doing. I went out the side door of the house from the garage and as soon as I stepped out of the door and looked down the side of the house I sensed an intense stillness. I looked at the plants, the 2 white lawn chairs and the fire pit. There was the Chinese Elm that I planted myself many years ago which was now a proper tree and a palm and the woodpile and plants beyond that. In the back a larger palm and the fence which gives us privacy and gives the feel of a walled in garden. I have never seen or felt it so still. I stopped to experience it. Visually it was still – no movement at all – and there was a slight fog or mist in the air which made the air still and creates those acoustics that are different – this just magnified the audible silence. It was completely quiet. Not a leaf was moving.
It seemed to penetrate me and I felt a quiet stillness in my chest that took me aback. It was like it had entered into me. In that moment it felt like I had just connected with a stranger – something that I had not known but needed to know. There was also a “healing” feeling as if this stillness could push away the stresses of life and that within it was a place to be happy with no burdens or decisions or problems. All at once my mind was thinking about how different this was than any stillness I had ever experienced and how I might recreate it – but I guess I knew deep down that this was a rare moment and that I should stop and cherish it as one of those special life moments that might not come around again too soon or possibly ever.
This would be a significantly insignificant moment to most people. There was this thought that I could never share this moment with anyone unless they think me crazy and strange and, since it was significant to me, I felt a tinge of loneliness and even rejection and the thoughts of how experiences like this just serve to remind me of the pain of not being able to share my soul. I stood there and entered into as long as it lasted. Finally the leaves on the plants began to gently stir and it was then that I could hear the distant sound of cars on the highway suddenly faintly appear. It was over. Not seeing the kittens I opened the gate to look for them out front.
I headed towards the door but did not see them. Then from behind me I heard a sound and turned around to see Magic bolting towards me from the tree next to the driveway. There is this initial feeling of exhilaration as you realize what it is like for a living thing to be so happy to see you and to want to be with you. I touches something deep inside. Probably one of the main reasons people love pets. Magic ran to my feet and looked up at me with “loving eyes” blinking them slowly in recognition and was already purring. I picked her up in my arms. Sometimes she only wants to be hugged and then wants to get down, but not this time. She started to knead her paws into my shoulder in happiness and I could feel the claws starting to prick my skin. She nuzzled her head under my chin. That was such a great feeling. I was amazed at the feeling of love that swept over me. I was speaking sweet words to her in a sweet tone knowing that she could not understand them but hoping that she would pick up on the tone and the feeling behind what I was saying. I told her what I always tell her: that she is “as sweet as candy” and “as pretty as a picture”. I could feel her warmth on my chest and it was contrasted by the chill in the air. We were warming each other. I held her back to see her face and kissed her. She seems to like to be kissed. My daughter made the observation that when you kiss Magic she smells like the fresh outdoors. I love that smell. Magic did not indicate that she wanted to get down and that made me happy. I stood still with her becomes sometimes when I walk she wants to be put down and I did not want to spoil the moment. But eventually patience won and I slowly and gently walked with her. After several steps she wanted to get down and I lowered her to the sidewalk. She stayed with me though with her tail always touching my leg. I noticed that she does that – she keeps a physical connection when she is near you. And as I walked I have also learned that she gets under your feet because she wants to walk with you and be close and if you are not careful you will accidentally kick her. It is fun to walk with her for some reason and she seems to like to do it. So here was another wonderful moment.
Two special moments – back to back – in a row. They were like little gifts. I am still reliving them in my mind as I begin my day – trying to sear them into my consciousness so I won’t forget the peace and love I felt. It is sad to me that most people would not have the ability to perceive what I have just written to you and that they would pass by both things without taking the time to enter in. So it makes me thankful that I have the ability to see and experience simple pleasures like this. At the same time it makes me feel very different. That used to bother me, but with time and age I have come to love that I am different. So many people try so hard to be different – to be unique and stand out so they can feel some significance – but I am this way naturally and I see that as a gift – not a flaw. I know I am just in my own little world – but the truth is I love it here. It is full of wonder and imagination and fantasy and has a degree of still believing that there are fairies and magic and mythical monsters in the world. There are very few people on the earth that I invite into this place with me. But by writing all this to you – I just did.