A time to reflect

Time is constantly moving. Yesterday while enjoying a beverage with Darlene at a local watering hole a Steve Miller Band classic played in the room. The unforgettable funky guitar riff, the 70’s futuristic synth runs and ‘do do dodo’s’ were followed by the familiar lyric that runs throughout… ‘time keeps on slippin slippin slippin, into the future.’

How true this is. Time just keeps going… it stops for nothing…  not for life changing events, nor for life-ending events… significant happenings, small joys, deep wounds or wonderful jubilations can all take place and time will not stop to acknowledge any of it. Time really does keep ‘slippin into the future’…

Left unchecked that is really an alarming thought!

It strikes me that rather than letting time slip away I could instead ‘make time’ to reflect on what has happened in my past, what is happening now and what I want for my future.

I know many would agree with me on the value of reflection. Many choose a weekly church service as a reflective practice. That is no longer my way. Rather, my ‘church’ may be sitting on my front steps with guitar in hand and, expressing a meditation musically, allowing what’s inside to come out. Sometimes it takes place while connecting with the beauty of nature. Sometimes, in a quietly shared moment with my closest friend and love.

However it happens, I find that I need to be intentional about taking time to reflect. I need to plan for it… do it on a regular schedule. Because if I don’t stop to reflect on my life –  what I value, what I need, who needs me or where I am headed – indeed ‘Time’ won’t do it for me.

On one such occasion, my reflection brought me this instrumental piece. I recorded it yesterday and offer it to you today.

How have you built a reflective practice into your life? I would love to hear about it!

Cheers,

Dean

Cognitive Surplus

Have you ever had a thought, or a series of musings, that would not leave you alone? Has your mind ever subjected you to a seemingly endless working of some question, challenge or problem? Did it persist throughout the day and into the night? Have you tossed and turned in your bed as your semi-conscious brain struggled to find a solution? Has a dream or semi-lucid state presented you with an answer that, by morning fall, had been reduced to a haze of incoherent images or ideas?

Yes? Me too!

I’m so damn tired I’ve been thinking when I should be sleeping. I’m so damn tired got to change up these hours I’ve been keeping…

… Cognitive Surplus

Trey Anastasio of the band Phish described a similar experience in ‘Sleep,’ a short track from their 8th studio album ‘Farmhouse.’ The lyric begins:

I can’t describe the feeling when
I’m in my bed asleep and then
I wake up with a vision blurred
and all my efforts are deterred
to reconstruct this image lost

On one (of many) such occasions, after a long night of semi-conscious problem solving, I awoke with only a vague memory of some brilliant (it must have been right?) solution. ?Rather than simply accepting the futility of this ‘mental pollution’ that had invaded my sleep I decided to fight back. I chose to make something out of nothing. I rolled out of bed, walked straight to our music room, grabbed my guitar and, within an hour or so (‘or so’ because I kind of lost track of time) wrote ‘Cognitive’ Surplus.’ This was only the second song that I had penned at the time. It attempts to capture this ‘vexation,’ shared by so many, in creative expression rather than just merely resigning to it.

“A helpful reprieve, this mental vacation until my next vexation”

In grappling with the lyric, I was intrigued by a phrase coined by my good friend Ron Pike. In one of our many (and dearly appreciated) conversations, Ron spoke about “confronting the saboteur on your shoulder.”  In a discussion about the pursuit of achievement he was referring, I believe, to the need to fight the debilitating effects of self-doubt.   As I considered Ron’s idea of negativity as a  ‘voice on my shoulder’  it occurred that there is another voice within as well… With this powerful notion in mind, and I thank Ron for his role in sparking this thought, I completed my lyrical bridge.

I like this song as it takes a fun and not so serious look at a shared human experience. I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed writing and recording!

Cheers,

Dean

‘Together’ … a song to my Love.

This woman, Darlene (Martens) Snider…

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… has been my partner and best friend since we were both… 

… quite young.

She is a wonderful mother and role model to our three daughters.

And these strong, intelligent, and thoughtful young women have grown in her likeness.

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She is Fun…

… She is Beautiful

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… She is Adventurous…

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… she carries herself with Grace…

And she is smoking Hot in her BMW Riding Jacket!

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Happy Anniversary to my love, life partner through thick and thin, and best friend…

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This woman, Darlene (Martens) Snider, has loved me at my best… and at my worst… I am full of humility and gratitude to have her in my life.

Darlene, please know that you are deeply loved. Be mine forever, as I will be yours!

Dean

Faith and Doubt

I have not met a human being that has never experienced doubt. I am pretty sure I don’t want to. Doubt, it seems to me, is just part of our shared human experience. Faith is also a shared human experience. Humans around the globe have ‘faith’ in common. They may place their faith in different entities – God, Allah, Science, Atheism, etc… –  but they do have ‘faith’ in common.

When it comes to Faith and Doubt, there is no shortage of perspectives. A quick google search reveals how differently people think on the topic.faith-and-doubt-cant-live-in-same-mindSome would argue that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind. They suggest as the Thomas S. Monson quote depicts, that one will necessarily ‘dispel the other.’ To follow this logic, faith would leave one without any doubt about the object of their worship.

anne-lamottOthers, such as Anne Lamott, would suggest the exact opposite. Lamott argues that certainty rather than doubt is actually the opposite of faith. Philosopher and theologian Paul Tillich suggests that doubt is an essential “element of faith” (Dynamics if Faith, Tillich, 1957).

 

faith-and-doubt  Given this line of thought, it could be said that faith actually NEEDS doubt. One definition of faith is ‘a firm belief in something for which there is no proof’ (Merriam Webster). In the absence of proof can there really be a certainty? I think not although I know many who believe there can be. They are certain of it.hand-in-hand

I like the picture of Faith and Doubt, as if they were characters in a story, walking hand in hand. A leap of faith, I believe, is only a leap of faith if there is doubt. Absent doubt, it would be better characterized as a leap of certainty.  Certainty scares me. There have been too many atrocities committed in the name ‘god’ by folks who were certain they were doing the right thing…

Anyway, I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic. I wrote some of my thoughts on Faith and Doubt into this song. “Is the struggle what it’s all about? In the darkness just trying to see…”

Cheers!

Dean

 

 

 

Morning of Music…

To my music loving friends…
I spent the morning listening to two remarkable musicians who both lead with the Trombone. I played Trombone all through HS and a little into college… James Pankow (Chicago’s Trombonist) was the musical hero of my youth. Just say yes to Trombone!
This morning I listened, over a lovely pot of Puer (a Yunnan black tea), to Doug Scarborough’s album ‘Bridges’ and Naomi Moon Siegel’s ‘Shoebox View’.
‘Bridges’ is a fabulous fusion of East and West Jazz. You will be glad you checked out!
I have the privilege of playing music with Doug on occasion and was a student in his song writing class at Whitman College this past fall. He is a gem of a human being. I urge you to watch his interview where he talks about ‘Bridges’.
He lives his words. Music can build a bridge of love and understanding between humans from different traditions and histories. What a great thought in these difficult times where there is much talk but precious little listening!
Naomi Moon Siegel is a Seattle artist who, in this debut album, has captured the attention and admiration of this listener and many others.
Naomi and a collaborating colleague were guests in Doug Scarborough’s song writing class. She was thoughtful and gracious in offering us some song writing and creative writing/composing nuggets from her experience. She also shared her music with us… fabulous!
Friends, do yourself a favour and give these two artists a listen!
Dean

Little Things…

“Love shared together over many long years can steadily burn or fade away… seems it’s just the little things that can go a long way in helping us make love stay” (from ‘Little Things’ by Dean Snider)

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Playing dress-up together at a Kentucky Derby themed event … Just one of the ‘little things’…

I have always loved the music of Dan Fogelberg. He had a beautiful and empathetic soul that he graciously shared through song. His passing in 2007 was, indeed, a great loss. In a 1982 greatest hits album he offered two previously unreleased songs, one of which was titled ‘Make Love Stay.’ In it he asks this age-old question:

Now that we love, Now that the lonely nights are over
How do we make love stay?
Now that we know The fire can burn bright or merely smolder
How do we keep it from dying away?

This lyric set to Fogelberg’s enchanting musical masterpiece has long been a favorite of mine. The imagery throughout is stunning, and the music is… haunting.

Almost three years ago as we faced the prospect of an empty nest, I considered that poignant question. Looking back on our life together – 30 plus years including four years of dating and almost 29 years of marriage to the fabulous, strong, smart, stunning and kind Darlene Snider (Martens) –  I tried to craft a thoughtful response. It may not be the haunting beauty of Fogelberg’s melodic question, but I am pleased with my suggested answer and humbly offer it here in a song of my own.

I think that the ‘little things,’ in a long life together, may not be ‘little’ at all. They may, in fact, be the ‘things’ of greatest significance big or small!

Written in 2014 I have played this song in public since that time. This first recording, however, was captured on GarageBand in my ‘garage room’ (man cave?) in December 2016.

May the little things keep your love burning bright!

Dean

 

Lucky Man

By Dean Snider

Beautiful and adorable at the same time, she is a mysterious yet open book. Gentle and strong, both vulnerable and fearless. This force of life, this woman, this partner, this lover this friend… There is no way to explain her presence in my life except to say that I have been undeservedly blessed.

This is a simple song of gratitude. I wrote it for Darlene Snider.

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Lucky, Indeed!

Please enjoy!

Todos Santos…

 

A week in this lovely place inspired a song… I wrote it in Todos Santos and recorded upon our return home. I hope you enjoy. I sure did!

Todos Santos (Falling in Love Again)  by Dean Snider

 

A Story about what’s on the inside…

The exterior held hints of interest. Ancient brick on arched doorways, desert vines growing up a corner wall, strung lights just visible to passers-by, warm terracotta suggesting care and the possibility of life.

The inside, however, is remarkably pleasant. Warm and welcoming smiles and gestures of kindness direct us to a cozy table for two that is seemingly unique and different from every other setting in the room. Mexican paintings and local art proudly adorn this open courtyard under a star-filled sky. A garden borders two-thirds of the room, a giant honeysuckle, a multitude of desert flowers and cacti complement the quaint space.

Once seated, our waiter greets us warmly and gently encourages our uncertain attempts at Spanish. Oscar tells us his name, asks ours, and with just this brief introduction it feels like we have made a new friend. He has been in Todos Santos for only four months after serving in several other locations throughout Mexico, but he finds it peaceful here, not so much of the party scene and with more opportunity for meaningful human contact. He is echoing a sentiment I had shared with Darlene only a few hours earlier. ‘The peace, the tranquility here in Todos Santos’ I had said, ‘the connection to place and to history… artists offering their own work and continuing designs of their grandparents before them’, I had been awestruck and drawn into the magic of this place.

Oscar suggests a meal from the presented menu that sounds just perfect. We accept because he is, of course, already a trusted friend. The food begins to arrive, and we are, for the next two and a half hours, treated to an absolute culinary delight over meaningful conversation, Darlene and I with Oscar joining in welcomed intervals. The full moon rises above the West wall of this interior courtyard and lends its soft glow to the room and our table.

If this had been one night, it would have been spectacular. It was, however, a full week repeated daily at different restaurant locations throughout this unique little town on the West Coast of Sur Baja. About 5000 people live in Todos Santos year around, and others who are drawn to the simple beauty of this provincial treasure join from various locations across the continent.

It is the famed home of the Hotel California, perhaps the one canonized by the Eagles 1976 classic album. The dark desert highway, the ‘cool wind’ and the ‘warm smell of colitis’ were all present. I never did hear the mission bell, but the mission stands, open to all, and offers a lovely, warm and acoustic room, a deeply spiritual place that coaxed a song… moved in me a melodic prayer of gratitude really… that I offered back to the universe.

More than a culinary experience, Todos Santos offered long walks on a beach – five miles of open beach – with almost no one in sight in either direction. Morning coffee watched whales spout and the occasional breach. Sunset witnessed the release of recently hatched Tortugas assisted by a group of trained human helpers ensuring their return to the sea.

This is indeed a special place. Not easily evident upon a first glance. There are only hints at first. But upon closer inspection, after taking time to explore the inside, the heart, and soul of this place, there is depth, character, joy, peace… there is life,… there is love. Here, after taking time to looks around, we found this genuinely remarkable jewel that is Todos Santos.

It strikes me that, as this is true here in this place, it is also true within each of us. We all have an exterior that provides hints of who we are. But our outer shell does not tell our whole unique story and barely even introduced the complete humans that we can be. The internal self, to be known, understood and appreciated, requires taking time to venture inside… to gently explore and to patiently allow its contents to be revealed.

After this fabulous week, a thought occurs to me…

May we take the necessary time to fully explore our own inner selves. As importantly, may we sit together with our loved ones paying close and patient attention as they choose to reveal and open their hearts to us. In this way, we may actually see and fully experience the beautiful and extraordinary lives that we have been graced with, both our own and the lives shared with us.

Dean