Living Memorials

When I heard the news of Bruce’s death in a plane crash, I recalled that I never really told him how much his friendship meant to me. His passing reminded me that I take a lot of people in my life for granted, never really telling them how much they inspire me, and how much I love them. I wrote a memorial for Bruce on this journal, and spoke at his public memorial in L.A. last week. But why do we wait? Perhaps we should be writing and speaking “living memorials” to our dear friends and families – while we are still together with them. As James Taylor wrote, “shower the people you love with love – tell them the way that you feel.” Ric Elias gave a “TED University” talk a few weeks ago (TED-U is a series of talks during TED off the main stage). He was on Captain Sully’s airplane that landed in the Hudson. I encourage you to watch his beautiful and important five-minute  

Blessed Are The Thieves

You ask me how I became a madman. It happened thus: One day, long before many gods were born, I woke from a deep sleep and found all my masks were stolen ” the seven masks I have fashioned and worn in seven lives ” I ran maskless through the crowded streets shouting, “Thieves, thieves, the cursed thieves.” Men and women laughed at me and some ran to their houses in fear of me. And when I reached the market place, a youth standing on a house-top cried, “He is a madman.” I looked up to behold him; the sun kissed my own naked face for the first time. For the first time the sun kissed my own naked face and my soul was inflamed with love for the sun, and I wanted my masks no more. And as if in a trance I cried, “Blessed, blessed are the thieves who stole my masks.” Thus I became a madman. And I have found both freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. – Kahlil Gibran, Prelude to The  

Happy Father’s Day

… I lost my dad to prostate cancer in 1994. We took care of him in the last few months of his long life (85). He died in my arms. He spent his last few weeks on morphine to dull what he described as horrible pain, but on the last couple of days, when I put the pills to his lips, he spit them out. He couldn’t talk, could barely move, but I knew he was all there inside, sensing transition and wanting to experience his last days of life with drug-free clarity. Dad had 5 brothers and 2 sisters, all of them now gone. Richard was the youngest brother, who left us in 2008. Dad spent the last decades of his life near his closest brother in the Nevada desert. He and Henry loved the desert. Henry had a favorite place he would go, miles into the Nevada wilderness. His ashes are spread in that place. My dad directed us to spread his ashes in the same place. A few years later, his brother Raymond also asked to be remembered in the same wilderness. Maybe someday I will do the same. My dad was an avid golfer all his adult life, until the cancer prevented him from walking. Some of my greatest memories are playing golf with dad and always being in awe of his skill. He loved to play golf at Lake Tahoe. One day, a freak August electrical storm rolled in without warning and struck him on the 3rd fairway. I still have the front page newspaper clipping from 1965. The headline read:   “Lightning KO’s Golfers” We were tent camping that week. When he came back from Barton emergency room (broken finger), the first thing he said to us (in his gruff, matter-of-fact manner) was:  “we’re getting a motel.” The urn I brought to his memorial in the desert was a sealed copper canister. In fact, it was sealed so well, I couldn’t get it open. Raymond and I considered our options and rummaged around the rental cars for something that might pry the lid. And then we found it – a golf course green repair tool. It worked splendidly, and we knew dad was smiling down on us. When we spread his ashes, we added some golf balls, tees, and of course the green repair  

Doc Kauffman

When Dan came home from school today, I noticed he was wearing a Fender Since 1946 tee-shirt. This triggered a memory I hadn’t thought about in years. In the early 1940’s, two men formed an Orange County partnership called Kauffman & Fender. Leo Fender and Clayton “Doc” Kauffman initially made Hawaiian lap steel guitars and later experimented with solid body prototype electrics of the Broadcaster (Telecaster) and Precision Bass. Kauffman left the company and Leo renamed it Fender Electric Instrument Company. When I was growing up in Orange County (circa 68-71), I would bring my 1958 Fender Stratocaster to Doc for “tune-ups”. In reality, my guitar didn’t need a tune-up. I just enjoyed hanging out with him. He had stories about electric instruments dating back to the 1920s, designing guitars for Rickenbacker in the 1930’s, and so much more. He never failed to remind me that the tremolo arm on my Strat was his patented design. Doc (1975 photo above by Rob Cusuman in Doc’s living room) would take me into his garage and walk me through all the steps of setting up a Stratocaster on his workbench – which I already knew. It was the only way I could hear more stories. One day, probably the last time I visited him, he grabbed on old piece of plastic — I think it was one of the newer (at that time) plastic milk cartons. He cut out a piece of plastic in the shape of a guitar pick. Then, with a conductors hole punch, he punched three small holes in the shape of a triangle. He handed it to me and said, “this is the Doc Kauffman pick”. Daniel’s tee-shirt reminded me about the Doc Kauffman pick. I remember years ago putting it in my Yamaha 12-string electric case, along with a broken Kluson low-E tuning machine from the 58 Strat. A moment ago, I dug into my case stack – and found it! Clay “Doc” Kauffman was the technical guru behind the first Fender guitars, some of which remain in production today (P-bass, Tele). I think it’s just too cool that, as a kid, I had a chance to hang with inventor of many of today’s most popular electric instruments. Wikipedia lists Doc’s passing in 1990. Apparently (I’ve not seen it) Doc has a section devoted to him in (Microsoft founder) Paul Allen’s Experience Music Project under the Space Needle in  

Robert Mondavi 1913-2008

I want to offer a tribute to someone who has made an impact in my life, someone who died yesterday at the age of 94. Robert Mondavi is widely considered the man who put California on the map as an icon of fine wine. I met Robert and Margrit two years ago while engineering NPR’s historic first live classical music webcast, from the new Napa Valley symphony hall. Robert was in a wheelchair and couldn’t hear so well. Margrit, his wife, promised to pass along my deep gratitude for their lifelong patronage of Northern California arts. Of all the projects they’ve underwritten, closest to my heart is the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts on the U.C. Davis campus. The new concert hall could not have been built without their spectacularly generous gift. Mondavi’s new hall represents a pinnacle in world-class acoustical design. I’ve been producing and engineering classical music in N. California for almost 20 years. Every chance I get to record in the new hall is like sneaking into a little bit of heaven. I consider this “my hall.” I was there often during construction, and made the first commercial recording in Mondavi Hall (Delos DE3360). Here are excerpts from that stunning performance. MP3-a MP3-b MP3-c Mondavi’s sons have since sold off the family business to a megalcohol conglomerate, but Robert’s legacy will live on, touching and enriching the lives of millions to come. Thank you Robert Mondavi. From the Chancellor of U.C. Davis In June 2004, UC Davis presented Robert and Margrit Mondavi with the UC Davis Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the university. But what I will treasure most about our friendship with Bob Mondavi was his sense of destiny. I remember him saying once, “If you wish to succeed, you must listen to yourself, to your own heart, and have the courage to go your own way, to find the right direction.” There’s no doubt that Mondavi accomplished his mission – to the betterment of the university, the wine industry, agriculture, the state of California – and beyond. And the Mondavis’ belief in UC Davis emboldened each of us to reach even higher. Through his leadership, Mondavi truly opened a new era of opportunity for UC Davis. He was convinced that the sciences and the arts were essential companions. He reassured each of us – no matter our calling in life – that we were capable of and responsible for creating a magnificent and enduring legacy. – Larry N. Vanderhoef , Chancellor of the University of California. Also this week.. I received a photograph from Portland Oregon-based artist Rebecca Gray. Her new painting of a rose is so stunning I wanted to share it. And finally, with the Jill Taylor post approaching 300 comments, I leave you with the results of my brain lateralization test: Brain Lateralization Test Results Right Brain (58%) The right hemisphere is the visual, figurative, artistic, and intuitive side of the brain. Left Brain (42%) The left hemisphere is the logical, articulate, assertive, and practical side of the brain Are You Right or Left Brained? personality tests by  

Viral Epiphany

The Jill Taylor TED Talk I posted the other day has generated over 150 comments. And the number of daily comments seem to be increasing. Not bad for a personal journal that averages less than 2 comments per post 🙂 When Jill gave this talk at TED, I was floored. I knew we had all just experienced something profound and incredibly powerful. The conference vibe palpably changed after Jill’s talk. TED became more open, perhaps “safer.” People were touched at a deep place they clearly weren’t expecting to be touched. I cannot recall anything ever posted on the Internet that has drawn such a unanimous outpouring of emotion, joy, and spiritual release. We need more of these kinds of cathartic, epiphanal experiences in our lives – to remind us of our deep commonality. I want to blog more on epiphany and paradigm shifting change. For now, enjoy some of the reactions I’ve copied here from Jill’s talk. tears are running down my cheeks when I imagine the beautiful world your are describing. truly this information is a gift from God. i was so freaking impressed with you doctor. i was crying so good at the end. a wonderful proud feeling to be human. it was truly a blessing for us all (your stroke) Choking on tears. Thank you. beautiful, passionate and powerful sharing. What a powerful, dynamic presentation.. you made my heart skip a beat! Thank you so very much. I am deeply moved, and quite frankly in tears. U have a remarkable message. forever will I be grateful for this video of your experience…I laughed, cried, and felt so knowing and unknowing all at the same time. I am incredibly moved to be a part of this experience with Jill What a gift! You touched my soul. I have never heard anyone describe the “eternal self” and “collective conscious” with such humility, reverance and beauty. Amazing amazing amazing exactly what we humaoids need on planet earth right now. What a passionate presentation of an extraordinary experience. One word – beautiful. How rare is it that a presenter truly puts themself out there – bare and open for the whole world to see – this is what really moved me – you touched me deep. Wow, wow and WOW! What a blessing for consciousness!!! I could experience her nourishing and rich vastness and was just left in tears… Hmmmm! – Haleluiah! Magnificent, moving, inspiring… totally put me in touch with my spirit and soul. As a meditation teacher and hospice volunteer this has deepened my life. Thank you dear Jill. Absolutely inspiring speech! It touched me and has opened my eyes to the possibilities. This a remarkable, exciting account! Thank You for this incredible information. What a moving and telling story that reveals a truth so profound. This presentation was truly inspiring! I do believe we are one and we are one of all. This is an amazing experience that proves it. Thank you Thank you Thank you! Awesome, awesome, awesome! THANK YOU FOR THE MOST WONDERFULBLESSING. This is absolutely phenomenal, brilliant, brilliant presentation. You deeply touched my heart and soul and explained for me a series of events that I have experienced over a 10 year period. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for having the courage to share your experience and helping me to understand my own “two worlds” experience. Fantastic, everyone should see this and be inspired to be a human BE-ing. brillant speach. thankyou. i hope to work with you one day. all love and congratulations – The light and love, Energy and vibration of this remarkable lady will shine for eternity. As a woman, mother, and teacher, Jill’s ephiphany makes me realize more than ever how far-reaching our actions are – there is NO LIMIT. AMAZING!! Your complex and invisible incidence was delivered with rare and exquisite language and emotion. Thank you from my heart of hearts for an awakening happening within my own consciousness. Thank you for giving me the words to understand my own being and responsibility better. You are a great teacher! This was an inspiring, brave, emotional, educational recount that I feel privileged to have watched. I can’t thank you enough for sharing this! It is brilliant, amazing, deeply moving! I wept with tears of joy. I must share with my loved ones! Marvelous, well presented. A touch of humor with an exsquisite story. I offer my deep respect for such an outstanding presentation. This is the most eloquent, heart-felt expose I have ever witnessed from a scientist. Inspiring! Truly brilliant!! Thank you! Jill, thank you so much – you have completely inspired me! Love to you and everyone else! What Jill is doing is phenomenal and inspiring. Thank you Ted Talks for bringing the world this extraordinary woman. And thank you Jill for your bravery… You’re words will stay with me  

Songs of the Soul

On a dark night, Inflamed by love-longing— O exquisite risk!— Undetected I slipped away. My house, at last, grown still. Secure in the darkness, I climbed the secret ladder in disguise— O exquisite risk!— Concealed by the darkness. My house, at last, grown still.   That sweet night: a secret. Nobody saw me; I did not see a thing. No other light, no other guide Than the one burning in my heart.   This light led the way More clearly than the risen sun To where he was waiting for me —The one I knew so intimately— In a place where no one could find us.   O night, that guided me! O night, sweeter than sunrise! O night, that joined lover with Beloved! Lover transformed in Beloved!   Upon my blossoming breast, Which I cultivated just for him, He drifted into sleep, And while I caressed him, A cedar breeze touched the air.   Wind blew down from the tower, Parting the locks of his hair. With his gentle hand He wounded my neck And all my senses were suspended.   I lost myself. Forgot myself. I lay my face against the Beloved’s face. Everything fell away and I left myself behind, Abandoning my cares Among the lilies, forgotten.   From Dark Night of the Soul (16c) – St. John of the Cross Translation Mirabai Starr    


“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” – G.K. Chesterton The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live. He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.” –Albert Schweitzer “A man of genius is unbearable, unless he possess at least two things besides: gratitude and purity.” –Friedrich Nietzsche “A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.” –Marcus Tullius Cicero “Here dies another day During which I have had eyes, ears, hands And the great world around me; And with tomorrow begins another. Why am I allowed two?” –G.K. Chesterton And from Jeremy Sherman: When should you call people on their inconsistencies? In effect, that means holding them down long enough for reality to hit. Not too soon or it will crush their aspirations. Not too late or they’ll invest in dangerous delusion. And when should you do the same for yourself? That is, hold yourself down or allow others to hold you down until you’re accountable to