Monday, April 27, 2009

"Pipe Dream"


pipe dream
, Noun
(idiomatic) A plan, desire, or idea that will not likely work; a near
impossibility.

“Sissy … What’s a Pipe Dream?” asked the little girl, of her sister, who was in the process of packing; in preparation for a trip, to New York City. And it was then that “Sissy” knew the nature of her Mother, and Grandmother’s whispered conversations, down the hall.

Sissy was struggling with all manner of emotions and feelings. She had been given an unsolicited loan of funds, for her debut adventure into the world, that had been her Heart’s desire, and Yearning, for all her young life. So impressed was the kind and generous Gentleman … when he saw her perform in a local amateur production … that he sought her out after the show and asked her why she was not performing in the ‘Big Time.’ When she told him that she was saving her money for that dreamed-of journey … he made his generous offer. So, now she was off to make her way into the Theatrical Wonderland. And now she knew that her Mom and Granny thought that she was chasing a “Pipe Dream.”


So began Carol Burnett’s odyssey. And (unbeknownst to her on that day of beginnings) she would eventually go back to California, and fetch her little Sister, to share with her in better circumstances, and a better life, than either of them had ever before known.

Yesterday, 26 April, was Carol Burnett’s birthday. In 1933, our world was made richer and far better by Life’s gift, of that newborn life. And, as a result (on a completely personal note) my life would know, starting with my first viewing of The Carol Burnett Show, an illuminating ray of encouragement, relief, and unspeakable joy. From my first introduction to that magnificent display, of the infinite spectrum of this Lady’s Spirit … my Life was made immeasurably better. Yes, My Dear Friend, I do, indeed adore and unreservedly love Carol Burnett.

Every appearance of this wonderful woman … be it in performances with her personal Friends, Julie Andrews at Carnegie Hall, or Beverly Sills at The Met; in archival bits from Gary Moore’s Television Show; her dramatic and heart stirring portrayal of a grieving Mother, turned Activist, in “Friendly Fire” or, indeed, any of her many varied offerings, in everything from interviews, to Cameo appearances … has captured my attention, as well as my Heart. I am, happily, forever in her debt. First, as a Person … then through that wonderful Persons expressions of her Self, through her performances.

Please allow me to share, with You, Dear Friend, two segments from an interview, by American Masters, entitled “CAROL BURNETT: A Woman of Character.”

Q: What do you tell young performers who ask for your advice?
A: Sometimes I get letters, and if they leave me their phone number, I’ll call them because it’s easier than writing them back. A couple of little girls who are maybe 12 years old will write me a letter and say, “I want to be the second Carol Burnett.” So I’ll call them and I’ll say, “No, you don’t. You want to be the first Mary Jane Smith, because that’s who you are. There will never be another Mary Jane Smith. You’re the only one. So why would you want to be some second person? You just develop yourself and take classes in school and if there’s community theater, try out for that. And if you’re turned down, don’t ever take it personally, because it could just be that you weren’t the type they were looking for. But just keep on trying, because if you have the fire in the belly, you’re going to make it.” I never want to rain on anybody’s parade and say maybe you’re not talented enough. I don’t know that. I was pissed on a few times, you know? But I always felt there was something that I could do that would see me through.

Q: If you had your career to do over again, is there anything you would do differently?
A: No. It all happened the way it was supposed to. I wouldn’t change anything. I had such a great run. It’s not like I turned down My Fair Lady. I never regretted turning down anything, I never regretted losing a job because I always felt something else was out there. In fact, when I was in New York in ‘59, I was raising my kid sister, I had done Garry and I almost had the lead in a revival of Babes in Arms. They kept calling me back to sing a couple of songs, and it was like I had the part. The director wanted me, but then they decided they wanted to go with a name. I cried a little when I got the word. And my kid sister said, “But Sissy, you always say, like Pollyanna, one door closes, another opens.” I said, “You’re right.” I dried my eyes and the phone rang and it was to come down and audition for George Abbott in Once Upon a Mattress. Babes in Arms never did open on Broadway. When I left UCLA, my classmates said, “What are you going to do when you get to New York, girl?” I said, “I’m going to be in a Broadway show, and the first Broadway show I’m going to be in will be directed by George Abbott.” I always held that in the back of my mind. It makes you kind of wonder.


I need add nothing to what The Lady demonstrates in just these two exchanges. You can see, with me, something of the lovely scope of Character, that is hers.

When I watched her TV Show, it was as a young Man whose life was filled with turmoil, confusion, despair, and unhappiness, and hopelessness. Carol Burnett gave my Soul and Spirit a cleansing bath of joyful hope and encouragement that sustained me. All that I offer here, today, is a sincere, yet far-too-inadequate “Thank You!” to this Woman of great worth and merit to me, my life, and, indeed, the lives of countless millions, touched by her courageous Genius. She instilled a countering sense to that all-too-frequent Voice that regularly whispered to my inner Self, “You are pursuing a Pipe Dream.”

I love you, Dearest Carol Burnett ...

I'm so glad we had this time together
Just to have a laugh and sing a song
Seems we just get started and before you know it
Comes the time we have to say, "So long."

Happiest of Birthdays to you, My Darling Inspiration.


Photo (Edited) Credit: Randee St. Nicholas

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Doo-Wop


What, pray tell, is the name of this flood of sensation that this sixty-three year-old Man is carried away on? He is ‘simply’ watching a presentation of the music of the “Doo-Wop” period of the long-past 50’s and 60’s, on PBS television. How can he swept up in the grasp of something as ancient as “Let It Be Me?” What force is wafting him over the drudgery of Today, on the pulse of “Stay a Little Bit Longer?” Can those really be tears that he feels flowing as he indulges himself in a fresh awareness of life’s vital throb … magnified through the primal beat and sound of “Duke of Earl?” Yes, indeed!


He, still today … in this very moment, relishes the feeling of, and appreciation for, the dexterity and skill required to accomplish the unclasping of a bra … using only four fingers, without disturbing the rhythm and tempo of a pulsing moment of passionate anticipation. Oh, yes! This is real! And as present as today’s sunshine and sounds of traffic passing by. These sensations live on. Undiminished and undiluted by either the passage of time or the filters of lifetimes of experiences.

This singing of “Sixteen Candles” triggers an immediate response of those many instances of overwhelming appreciation of the sacredness and wonder of being sixteen years old. He knew, but could not, then, define the bright light of infinite Possibility that flooded his existence. And, wonder of wonders, he knows it still! And how does it return … refreshed and new? On the wings of these “silly,” raucous, and idealistically na├»ve, little songs. I love them!

So, My Darling Reader, I beg you to honor …dwell in … savour … and celebrate whatever emotion and sensation You have visited upon You today. For they are permanent and eternal parts of who You are. Always present and available for recall and reliving. And, please, I implore You, encourage and support a conscious appreciation for the wonder and majesty of the passions and delights that are presently real to those younger, and less experienced than You. Validate the legitimacy of their full array feelings. Lest they miss any opportunity to know the fullest spectrum of Life’s magnificent beauty.

This, Dear Friend, is as real as it gets. Now is as immediate and absolute as any moment has ever been. For this old Guy … for You … and for our children, and their children. Give all of yourself to your “Now.” Give all of You to our shared “Now.” Make Now a treasure to be revisited over, and over again … for all who your magnificent Soul touches. And … “Stay … a Little Bit Longer.”

Ain’t Life great?!
[huge smile]

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"Runaway Train" from Do-ing to Be-ing


“Every time that I have been here, you have instructed me to sit comfortably and then you have introduced your intended agenda …” I said to him, “Today, I would like for you to make yourself comfortable, and I am going to tell you what my agenda has been …” And I did. I told him about Her. I told him about “us”, and how we had become “us.” And this remarkable man (a gifted and accomplished Clinical Psychologist and University Professor), who had guided, coached, instructed, advised, listened to, exhorted, admonished, and cared about me, as my Psychologist and Friend, for four years … was thunderstruck.


“For all of these years, I have learned all about the make-up, the elements, the structure of You. Over that time I have witnessed you doing all of the 'right,' 'best,' and 'appropriate' things in your life. But this is the first time that I have ever seen you 'alive.’ The lights are on and you are 'at home.’ You have, prior to today, been a fully engaged Human … doing all of your life’s required and expected things. And now, for the first time, I see you as a complete Human Being.” I listened to his summary statement … and responded, “So, I have evolved from a “Human Doing”, to a “Human Being.” And we shared a mutual smile of acknowledgment and agreement.

Since that day, My Dear Reader, I have been focused on my responsibilities to that Being, that I now understand myself to have been wondrously created to be. And I have assumed the posture, that all of life’s required “doings”, of the “stuff” (the details required by the living of life), will be well and rightly taken care of, as a natural out-flowing from my moment-by-moment election ... my willful and knowing choice ... to be the most genuine and realistic Me, that I can honestly be. If I am Being the best John-Michael that I can be ... I needn't be focused on the doing of things. Those "things" will be done by someone else if I am not here to attend to them. But there is not ... has never been ... will never be ... anyone who can Be this funky individual that I have been so uniquely created to Be. Therefore, Dearest Friend, I must be about Being, and not sweat the Doings.

As Ghandi so beautifully put it, I “must be the changes that I want to see in my world. Hence the license tag on my vehicle that reads “justbeingme.” Just as my Email address is “justbnmebrown@juno.com", and this blog is “Just-Being-John-Michael" as my testimony to whomever may be open, and sensitive, to the message suggested there. For, My Dear Reader, that is what I was best created to be … Me. No other person can be this individual that I alone am. And Life holds no one else responsible for being all that I am capable of being … other than Me.


I went, that day, long ago, from that inhsightful Man's office alive, aglow, and being a functioning Me ... from the inside, out. He said that the energies, power, and force that She and I shared, reminded him of a “runaway train.” (And he mailed me a tape of a song so-entitled [which I still have and smile every time that I see it.]) That runaway train did as all runaway trains must do … it eventually surrendered to natural forces, circumstances, and elements … slowed … stopped … discharged its passengers, one at a time, at different stations, for them to pursue their own individual purposes. But I now write, and live, in the residual power of what I retain from that illumination, that life energy, and that sense of being that she and I discovered on our beautifully wild and wonderful train ride. And I will forever love and respect her, and all of my memories of that gift of our moments together.

Even better ... I can encourage You, Darling One, to whisper that question to yourself. "Am I being the person that is uniquely me? Or, am I doing all of the stuff ... fulfilling all of the expectations ... performing all of the roles ... that are imposed upon me by others?" It is my fondest hope that I can encourage you ... in this moment of quiet reflection ... to dare to see how truly wonderful you are. This is what I see when I read your comments ... visit your blog and read your revelations ... listen to various forms of expression of your hopes, dreams, and aspirations. I am aware (because I allow myself to be aware) of the "music" behind your words. And I want, ever so much, to give you a glimpse of the beauty that you can know ... if you will but permit yourself to dance a few graceful steps to that music ... the song of your Heart's yearnings.


To that end, I send this little note of personal reflection and experience to you. For, don't you know, I love You. Really! I do. [big ol' smile]

Monday, April 20, 2009

a Blade of Grass


‘Tis but a Blade of Grass.
But, since my earliest childhood, I have found beauty in it.
I know not why I am revisited, today, with recollections
of youthful hours spent in its comfortable gentleness.
I am quite satisfied to only accept the sensations.


These recalled feelings are Life’s Gift to Me.
I needn’t bring anything to it,
only dwell in this wave of relived awareness.
And it is alive … this experience of refreshed Perceptions.
I know quietude and tranquility in it.


I do not want to know the source of these pleasures.
For, this simple Blade of Grass induces the desire
to stop seeking understanding; to cease calculating;
To simply surrender to its uncomplicated presence …
And just Be … in the welcoming serenity of this Moment.


Ah! That’s it! The simplicity of boyhood.
When the sun warmed and lulled my Being.
When I was one, with all of Creation.
That time in which I knew no fears; when all of life
was uncomplicated, and as easy … as a Blade of Grass.


I thank You, My Dear Friend,
for sharing this Moment with Me.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Life's Tears


I return, today, to a thought shared three years ago, and, again, early last year. For, this afternoon, I sense (after some phone calls, this week, fraught with fears and sorrows) a ready and wanting Soul looking and listening for what lies in this reflection.


“Dad …Why do you always cry? You cry when you are happy and you cry when you are sad. Why?”

I knew that this was one of those rare moments when my concrete-thinking daughter was open to an insight that could have long-lasting consequences in the development of her ability to relate to her feelings. I had best be brief, succinct, and accurate. “Please God” I silently prayed.

“I cry because I allow myself to feel … and tears are an important part of the feeling system. You see, Sweetheart, we were created with our hearts capable of feeling both joy and sadness. But our hearts can’t contain too much of either. So … we have a safety system that keeps our hearts from breaking if we feel too much of either sadness or joy. The extra comes out as tears. They can be happy tears or sad tears. But they both come out so that our hearts don’t have too much of either to hold. Because I permit myself to feel a lot … I have a lot of extra.”

Those with whom I have shared the first part of my emerging book 'Why I Am Here and You Are There', will know that I live my life in response to the leading of “The Master Gardener” as my “still, small” inner voice speaks to my heart. Today I awoke with the recollection of the dialog (with my daughter) that I just shared with you and an acute sense that there is someone, some “plant” in the “Master Gardener’s” care that is in need of the nurturing benefit of this little message of encouragement. In my capacity of “Minister of Manure” I am compelled, by previous commitment to the Master, to spread some of the “compost” of my past experience where preparation has been made and a receptive Heart is readied. So, My Friend, whoever and wherever you are, here is the answer to your petition.

Go ahead … it is OK … allow yourself to feel … to embrace … to experience … to savor life as it is being presented to you at this very moment. Your heart will not break … tears will protect it from the hazard of too much (and the garden all around you will benefit from the watering of the excess of your courageous participation in the adventure at hand.) Live life … all of it … saving it is not an option. Invest YOURSELF in living. And if tears are the result … let All (your children, your family, your friends) know that the tears are from a heart overflowing with the excess of living life.

A Fun, "Feel Good Friday"

Just kick back and brace yourself for four minutes of unbridled "Feel Good!"

More than 200 dancers performed a specially directed version of "Do Re Mi", in the Central Station of Antwerp. It is reported that there were only two rehearsals for this wonderful stunt.

Enjoy it with me and know that I send all of my Heart's loving hopes for your happiest Friday, and weekend.




With my adoring "Thank You Sweetheart!" to Heather

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Downy Nest

Light, soft, and welcoming,
are these gentle recollections.
The remaining 'Feathers’ of memories …
residuals of visitations.


Having loved, cared for, and nurtured,
each, according to need and desire …
Mine was the Gift of enabling,
their Individual flights, to new Worlds.


Life’s ‘injured Birds’
visited upon my personal World …
Each and All strengthened and readied,
have flown to fulfillment of hopes and dreams.


And now, in sweet repose, my Heart delights,
in the comfort of my downy nest of reminiscences.
Wrapped in the grateful understanding,
that I have, indeed, known True Love.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Eloquence

Far more eloquently than I could ever speak ... the Voices of Children, displaced by L'Aquila's recent earthquakes, ring, true and pure, the expressions of innocent, and genuine, Hope. "Out of the mouths of babes" come my loving Best Wishes, and Desires, for You, My Darling Friend.


Children evacuated from their homes in the L'Aquila,
area hung paintings reading "Happy Easter"
at a tent city. AFP/BBC



IMAGE: AFP/BBC

The (Sometimes Impaired) Tortoise


I am gifted with a slow wit. My mind is blessed with shackles that do not permit dashes to conclusion, understanding, or expression. I am compelled to know such words as “tarry,” as operative terms for my comfortable functioning in life. I simply must linger, dwell, and know quiet moments of uninterrupted consideration … before I can appropriate an understanding of any setting, concept, hypothesis, theory, encounter, or engagement. This is the core operating Truth that governs the Being of One who is created as a “conceptual” thinker. I must form a concept … “see,” “feel,“ and “sense” the “picture” that lies in every element of life … before I can respond, effectively, to a circumstance, opportunity, or situation.


This is something that I have come to peace with in this world of “multi-tasking,” and hurried business, that denies precious time for stillness. I am a “Tortoise” in our world of exaltation of the “Hares.” If only I had understood this unflinching fact much earlier in my life! Instead, I was (most frequently) labeled, “Lazy” by teachers, family, employers, and some friends. For, you see, my “potential” (as exhibited in I/Q tests, and general functionality in my day-to-day tasks), was not being realized. And no one knew what to do with me. Most importantly … I did not know what to do with me.

Then Life visited a supreme Gift upon me. My son. And I became (through my immersion in his struggles with mental retardation) aware of the marvelous reality … that our brains function quite individually … with their own distinct set of “operating systems.” (If you will) And, unfortunately, those operating systems are just as likely, to be flawed, and hampered, in their functioning, as they are to be enhanced. So … not only are we working with unique and individualized “operating systems,” but we have varying degrees of operational efficiencies in each Individual’s brain. Wow! We are not “cookie cutter” replications of a “standard” set of capabilities! Some of us have learning and functioning challenges that are perfectly OK ... just requiring particular tactics and methods to deal with. This was a tremendously liberating insight for me.

Thusly, I became quite adept at recognizing my son’s abilities … and was able to address each aspect of his life … and its inherent sets of requirements … in the light of what he was naturally equipped to “process.” And, the same was (and is) true for me.

So, My Darling Friend, as I look at your lovely ’comments’ on my blog, and realize that I haven’t the capacity (at that moment) to respond to your thoughts (as I so enjoy doing.) I am at peace with my understanding that I must be patient with my Self. I must wait until I can linger, tarry, and be still with my complete focus on You and your message, alone, before speaking to your Presence. Then, when I am at that Place, I thoroughly enjoy the intimacy and special-ness of actually Being … in spirit and truth … with you through our shared exchange. This is a beautifully sacred reality for me … something that I relish and cherish. It is completely unacceptable, to me, to offer Life’s sweet Gift of our encounter, anything less than all (undistracted and undiluted) of who I am.

In light of all of this, I am permitting all of the mechanisms of my Self to deal with my ever-present Companion in life … dear clinical depression (not the "mood modifying 'Thing,' but the chemical 'functionality-limiting' Thing) … with an understanding that at the end of this particular “bout” I will, once again, return to that place that will permit my immersion in thoughts of You. For, you see, ‘Mister D’ saps those conceptualizing abilities … and leaves scant-little with which to focus and consider, all that a response, to You, deserves. I am not "down" ... just unable to focus, conceptualize, and appreciate the dimensions and scope of new thoughts or ideas. So, I thank You, My Darling Friend, for your patience and understanding with this old Tortoise. I will be back to celebrating your posts ... and responding to your comments on mine ... real soon. [smile]

Friday, April 10, 2009

"One Love"



With all of my Heart ...
to your beautiful Heart


I love YOU

John-Michael

Friday, April 03, 2009

A Tough Week


So ... tell me, again, about the difficult week

that
You had ...





IMAGE: AFP/BBC

Thursday, April 02, 2009

I Fancy Romance


How very unfortunate, it is, that we have neglected the common use of the word “fancy.” For, My Dear Reader, it bespeaks a depth of meaning not known to other, more superficial, terms. The Oxford Thesaurus offers these … 1. “1 wish for, want, desire; long for, yearn for, crave, have a yearning/craving for, hanker after, hunger for, thirst for, sigh for, pine for, dream of, covet.” 2. “Be attracted to, find attractive, be captivated by, be infatuated with, be taken with, desire, admire; lust after, burn for; informal have taken a shine to, have a crush on, have the hots for, be wild/mad/crazy about, have a thing about, have a pash on, have a soft spot for, be soft on, have eyes for, carry a torch for, go for, lech after/over.” There now! (Do you think that I've belaboured that enough?) [smile] ‘Leaves little room for doubt … no?

So, Dear Friend, when I tell you that I “fancied” that 1932 Pierce Arrow EDL (Enclosed Drive Limousine), you can know, beyond doubt, that what I am expressing is Something that is of substance. Something that is of the nature of, what we might usually consider to be,
romantic. And that is very close to getting us there. For, don’t you see, I have had this lingering Fancy for, nigh on to, forty-three years now … since 1966, when I was a strapping twenty-year-old Installer/Repairman for the Telephone Company, and She was a thirty-four-year-old Automotive Goddess. Yes! I fancied an “Older Woman.”


I have absolutely no recollection of why I was dispatched to the home of that regal Lady of quiet Southern charm and dignified Presence. I know not what inclined her to invite me out to the barn that had stood on that lakeside orange grove site for many a decade. But I DO remember, with distinct clarity, the impact of seeing that elegant Vision upon entering the barn. I was breathless! She bespoke a Romance that was the imagery of an age of Romance. If there had only been, just, her radiator cap alone … it would have been enough. Sure! It performed a utilitarian function. But, my-oh-my! The figure of that Archer pointing the way into an adventure ahead, was mesmerizing! It bespoke an entirely different Time of fantasies, dreams, hopeful idealisms, and fanciful pursuits. No cold, impersonal, corporate logo this! Oh no! We are talking Art here. Then my Hostess opened the back door!


I am captivated by the musty aroma, of long-enclosed woolen fabric, even as I form these words. In the heavy, Florida-humidity-laden, air, I was enveloped in a cloud of dry, musty, splendor. I still see that fold-down footrest, that my Guide demonstrated, for my edification. The rich fabrics and tailored upholsteries. We are not talking about those garish, slick, shiny interiors of rolling chambers, for gaudy showiness, as known in today's faux-limousines. Oh no! We are quietly speaking of intimate, cozy, and entirely-private nests of comfortable encapsulation. Here … see for yourself …


Nearly thirty years later, I was chatting, with one of our senior State Senators, and we spoke of his home, and neighbors. “I once did, some sort of, telephone service work, for your Neighbor.” I told him. And I described the Lady, her property, barn, and The Chariot. The Senator did recall the Neighbor Lady, her barn, her Son (who was enlisted in the Navy at the time of my visit) … but knew nothing of the Pierce Arrow, nor, of course, of the Lady’s plan to keep the Limousine in pristine condition, for her Son’s claiming, upon his discharge from military service. I, clearly, recalled it all. For, don’t you see, I was smitten! I ‘fancied’ that regal visage of long-lost Times and Tastes. Still do!

That … Dear Friend … is "Romance!" [smile]

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Contemplations on Rhossili Bay


I am, at once, set free and embraced …
Invigorated with Breath from afar,
and gentle Pulse, so near.

Knowing peaceful Solitude in the absence
of Any, requiring response or engagement …
Whilst accompanied by Hosts ...
content to share infinite Accommodations.

I am visited by unassuming Voices,
of present Thought, and distant Reflection …
Neither demanding priority, nor rank …
Both content to simply dwell.

Ne’er can be any doubt of Eternity’s presence …
Nor this Moment’s eternity.

John-Michael
31 March 2009



IMAGE: Jonathan Simminds (viewer), BBC

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