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Archive for April, 2012

I Am – a movie we all need to see

I watched an amazing movie last night, entitled simply I Am. It is a film made by a director named Tom Shadyac, who is famous in his own right, having directed such films as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Bruce Almighty and other successful comedies. It tells the story of his journey after suffering head injuries following a biking accident, causing him to reevaluate his life and lifestyle, as well as asking the questions: What’s wrong with our world? and What can we do about it? He talked to and interviewed a string of great minds, from scientists to poets to religious leaders. And the underlying theme that I got out of this film is that we are all connected, all life here on this earth is connected, in a way that cannot be scientifically measured or proved in that way. And that connecting energy is love! This film also brought forth the knowing that our innate nature is that of compassion, but we have buried that under the guise of competition in our modern day societies. Yet the final message that came out of all this is one of hope; that as humans we have the power within us to change our world to one of cooperation and sharing, making sure that all are taken care of. As Tom Shadyac worked on this film and started to question his own lifestyle of excess, he eventually began to heal. He then took steps to simplify his life; selling his huge mansion of a home to live in a mobile home park, selling his private jet, and becoming an instructor at a nearby university, teaching screenwriting. Another message I garnered from this is that we are not meant to give up all our comforts of life and live in near poverty. But so many of us have so much more than we truly need to be happy and comfortable in our lives, at the expense of those who are living lives where their most basic needs are not met.  And as I reflect on the main thing that I got out of this wonderful film, it all comes back to this: Love is the most important thing.

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A sunny day at Saturday Market

The sun came out! And it stayed out, all day long! And you know what happens then? Portlanders come out of their homes, sans umbrellas, hats and hoodies to venture to the spectacle that is the Saturday Market. This is the March to December gathering down by the waterfront that consists of artists selling their unique creations, food vendors offering everything from soup to nuts, literally, and the best part as far as I’m concerned, the music that fills the streets – from some very inventive street musicians to those asked to play on the two stages in the market. My first stop in the market was the head shop(yes we have plenty of head shops here – in fact, Mary Jane’s House of Glass has two convenient locations, one on each side of the river)  that sells my favorite incense; only ten cents per cone with scents ranging from mango and cotton candy to sex on the beach and dragons breath – I’m still not sure how one knows what dragons breath smells like, but it smells pretty good to me. It was a busy day at the head shop, and I had to wait patiently to pay for my incense while the customer before me was getting their lovely glass bong wrapped. As I walked through the market, I could hear the music from the different street musicians playing all around me. A man was set up next to Skidmore Fountain, expertly playing a set of drums that were actually different sized buckets – and he had people dancing to the infectious beat. But the sound that really caught my ear was a group of young ragtag musicians not too far from the bucket man. They were quite a sight, all of them dressed in quirky clothing, and most of them sporting piercings and some very colorful tattoos. And the plethora of instruments they played was astounding – I saw a violin, a guitar, two banjos, a mandolin, a ukelele, someone played a saw, another played a washboard, there was a young man playing the spoons, and in the very back I saw someone actually playing a washtub bass. But the music that came out of this very large and unusual mix of instruments was really good, and it was fun and full of energy. The fervent applause after they played, and the pile of money in the open guitar case was testament to their talent. Then I wandered to one of the stages set up in the market, where I heard the funky sounds of an R & B band. I smiled to myself as I saw the lead singer; a young woman with a huge Afro, dressed in buckskin hiphuggers with beads on them, and a white bikini top of white fur. I felt transported back to the 70’s. And man, could that girl sing and dance! The song they were playing was “We Got the Funk”, and they sure did – the band played that funky music so well that people in the crowd were moving and swaying with the beat. There is nothing like listening to and watching live music; for me it is the mark of an absolutely perfect day, and nothing can compare.

Change of scenery

Usually when I read or write I prefer the quiet confines of my home. But there are those times when I just want to, need to get out of the house and immerse myself in the cacophony of people and places. And one of my favorite places is only a block away, a small local coffeehouse, with a vibe that calls to me at times. I can find myself becoming lost in a good book while the conversation and music swirls all around me, and sometimes I have to reach for pen and paper to write down thoughts that filter through it all. I never want to define myself as having to do this or that as a writer; sometimes I find I need a change of scenery in order to find my muse.

Running Away from Home

 

I slipped out

Through the open door

Down the hallway

Down the stairs

Down the street

 

I slipped through

The unlocked door

Of the coffeehouse

 

The place where some come

To meet and mingle

Others sit solitary

At a table

Under a canopy of hipster music

We are draped in coffee smells

Balancing bodies on tiny wooden chairs

 

I read pages out of a book

Then I glance at the street scene

People walking

People walking dogs

The espresso machine sounds angry

Clanging and hissing as it labors away

I scribble random words on the paper

A swirl of the coffee cup

A last swallow of the caramel coffee

 

Then I decide

I don’t want to run away from home

And I retrace my steps

 

 

Gifts from the rain

I think I’m going to get a t-shirt made that reads: I survived the wettest March on record in Portland. Yes, all you kind people who told me, “It rains all the time in Portland – why would you want to move there?”, you are correct! It does rain here quite a bit, but today the sun came out for a long overdue visit, and I hurried out to take some pictures of the beauty that is a result of all that rain. I saw so many others with cameras in hand, giddy at the break from the rainy days. But truth be told, I will take the constant wetness of rain over the bone-chilling cold of a Minnesota winter any day. I forgive Portland for raining so much lately, and I still find myself in love with this lovely city of so much color.

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