Positive Building Blog

  • POETIC: Satisfaction

    the plainness of a grassy patch

    pleases me much more than

    the loudest field of lavender.


    the commonplace of green

    offers a helping hand

    to the artful scavenger


    the spectacle of purple

    and the smell that surely lingers

    entices the nose to want

    to touch and to see


    yet since I have no longing

    for perpetual longing

    i'll take what is

    right in front of me

  • SONG: "Can We Pretend"

         Bill Withers' “Can We Pretend” is a great song. It occupies a place in my repertoire these days. The theme of pretension is examined so simply, so as to let the feeling of the song carry the weight of its message. This message is that there is no pretending, and the melody expresses the acceptance that accompanies the feeling of wanting to do something that cannot be done. There is no blanket that can be laid over the feeling that will warm it to a sufficient temperature. There is no way to color the past which has already been painted. We can make corrections. But, still underneath those corrections lies what actually is.

         This isn't just applicable to the man-woman dynamic, but many other things, as well. It isn't simply a matter of writing the opposite in order to create a feeling of conflict and resolution. Many people who write things use the framework of opposition to inspire their writing, which I can understand. But, in using this technique, we must be sure that the thing we oppose warrants our opposition. In fully understanding Bill Withers' song, the listener must know the sensation. It is a strange feeling to have watched someone fumble a love so much as to wish it never existed. As the whole thing unravels, you are faced with the fact that you don't actually wish it never existed. You just want to do away with this particular feeling, which is in the hands of someone whose nature is somehow against yours.

         Man and woman harboring an opposing nature is certainly natural. The task at hand is to wrestle with that nature so that they fit together. This has not happened in “Can We Pretend.” For, 'there's a shadow hiding in [her] heart' and he is expecting her to move this shadow which is unmovable. Who knows why the shadow is there? It is obviously something mysterious. And so, Bill Withers song is a song of forced resignation. It's like leaving a job you enjoy because it just becomes rank with such vague hostility that it must be purged. Inevitably, it is a song about a common woman's nature colliding with a common man's nature.  It is a song about the great power and joy to be found in the act of acceptance.

  • PERSPECTIVE: The Ringing, Part Two

         I recently wrote about a ringing which appeared unexpectedly in my life. It was in my ear, and by default, it acted as a mediator between me and the world I heard. Well, I no longer hear the ringing. I can't tell whether it is only because it has been completely integrated into my experience. Perhaps, having served its purpose, it just up and left altogether. All I know is that my ears have returned to normality. The greatest thing about this absolution is that the pressure is also gone. For, much worse than the continuous tone was the pressure that accompanied it. These ears are far from their original state. But, I am once again contented, which is fine by me.

         Listening to William Grant Still's “Mother and Child” with reborn ears was quite the treat. It's been a couple of years since I wrote my essay on this work. I remembered what I thought as I tried to put into words the essence of my acceptance of that music. Romanticizing in the perfect moment is rare. Usually, reminiscence comes with melancholy of some sort. Naturally, since this essay included a bit about George Walker's “Lyric for Strings,” I queued that music to play directly afterward. It was pure bliss. With the revelation of new ears, I thought about my own music to come. I wondered what it would be, hoping to discover some sharp brightness deep within. I knew it was there. Though I can't hear it, I can feel it now.

         The feeling is certainly describable. I can't think of an instance that isn't describable, of course. But, many of those instances do not hold enough significance to warrant words. Presently, although I've been smoking cigarettes again, I feel clean inside, as if the ringing was some disinfectant which yelled over all of the contrasting spirits multi-tasking their way through my body. A bond that I sought for years has arrived. It is as if all of my colors have conspired to unify in a brilliant shade of brown, and as if that brown has taken over my entire being. Blood turned brown. Skin burnt like the brass of Jesus. I conspired in the open to make my skin into my ears, my ears into my tongue, and my tongue into my heart. This must be what that is.

  • DISCIPLINE: Cultivation Of A Sound Body & Mind Through Basic Instrument Associations

    Wind Instruments cultivate strong and steady breathing habits.

    If rhythm is the sole focus, and not tone or melody, Percussion Instruments cultivate extreme focus on expanding simplicity, as well as linear thematic development.

    Tonal/Melodic Percussion Instruments, such as the balafon or other derivations like the piano, cultivate focus centered on multiple lines of thinking.

    Stringed Instruments cultivate style.

    Vocalization cultivates strong and steady breathing and a deeper awareness of one's own body, as well as self-confidence and self-expression. Group vocalization encourages acceptance of a position or role, as well as the impulse to share.

    ****Performance can be antithetical to physical and mental cultivation, as it brings the direction of focus from inward to outward. However, if measured, sharing one's sound is invaluable. Music is intended to cultivate a balanced individual. One doesn't have to play everything from every angle in order to achieve balance. You may only want to apply these instruments to your life as they correspond with skills that you lack or qualities that you want to enhance in yourself.