When A Boat Is Just A Boat, And A Singer Is Just A Dream

A monk decides to meditate alone, away from his monastery. He takes his boat out to the middle of the lake, moors it there, closes his eyes and begins his meditation.

After a few hours of undisturbed silence, he suddenly feels the bump of another boat colliding with his own. With his eyes still closed, he senses his anger rising, and by the time he opens his eyes, he is ready to scream at the boatman who dared disturb his meditation. But when he opens his eyes, he sees it’s an empty boat that had probably got untethered and floated to the middle of the lake. read more

Chicken of the Sea: Why I Don’t Swim at Aquatic Park

I love the early mornings. The house is so still and the air is fresh and smells like the sea. The salty crispness makes me think of those early swimmers down at Aquatic Park, the little cove off the San Francisco Bay that is a short walk from my apartment.

The San Francisco bay is an estuary, which means that the ocean washes in and out and the water is surprisingly clean, at least at Aquatic Park. It is the cleanest beach in California. How bracing it is to step into that water first thing in the morning. Your mind gets wiped clear when you swim in ice water as the sun rises. read more

Finding Compassion Behind the Drumkit

In between all of the band time, I have been taking a course in Contemplative Psychotherapy. My version of fun. This year, we study Compassion. One of my favorite subjects. Lately we’ve been learning about the difference between what Buddhists call relative and ultimate compassion.

Relative compassion is a creation of the mind and of the false self. Therefore, it is subject to all of the confusion and danger that comes from attachment, craving and aversion. We want to help and that want, that desire, immediately clouds our vision in the way that desire clouds our vision whether we are desiring an object or desiring a feeling. We want not just to help, but to see ourselves helping. Desire carries with it aversion, and relative compassion puts our conditioned and biased experiences onto another’s situation. The ego can never truly be compassionate, because the ego is only ever looking to solidify itself. read more

Deeper Feeling

We’ve been shut in all week, the pug and I, due to the terrible Northern California fires and the subsequent sinus infection from the air quality. It’s been harrowing, watching the notices come in about the beautiful areas overtaken by firestorm, and the neighborhoods burning daily. It is paralyzing, watching and not being able to help beyond donation. It feels callous to participate in life going on while so much suffering is so close at hand.

That is a heavy feeling, this guilt of being momentarily spared. Each of us are assured of suffering in life. Suffering is happening right now, all around us, possibly within us, or within the people we are sitting near as we read this. Maybe the suffering is not as tangible as that of a home burning down, or of losing loved ones in tragedy, but in the minds of many, the anguish is just as real. It is the human condition to suffer, as long as we identify with the ego and its preferences and emotions and attachments. As long as we are in duality, we suffer. Light has its opposite. Just by shining bright it deepens the darkness of shadow on the other side. It is the human condition to live in both light and darkness. We will live in both, that is unavoidable. read more

Ten Ways to be an Awesome Studio Musician

One of my songwriting partners asked me to come into the recording studio for a couple of days and play drums on some songs that he’d been itching to get going. It’s been a while since I got to record anything but Zeppelin on the kit, so I was excited he asked.

The studio where we recorded is one of my favorite places in the world. I have been working there for 16 years, the whole time that I have lived in San Francisco. Nearly every project, every record I’ve made, it’s all come out of this place. The reason: Robert Preston, owner and engineer. He is my dear friend. I could never describe the depth of my delight in this human. Because of him, the studio is my happy place. read more

That Which Comes and Goes, Or, It’s Only Rock and Roll

That which comes and goes, rises and sets, is born and dies is the ego. That which always abides, never changes, and is devoid of qualities is the Self.
Ramana Maharshi

A joy of my life is showing people how to meditate, how to fall into that place of ego-less consciousness that is at the base of ourselves. During the one-hour calls, we find that open awareness that exists underneath our thoughts, emotions and personality, and we watch what comes up. We see what it’s like to be pulled away into the past and future by thought. We see what it’s like to observe our emotions devoid of story. We see pain rise and fall. We find the field of our true being, our truth. To live from this place is bliss. read more

To Protect and Border and Greet Each Other: Musings of Love at an Island Wedding

This weekend the band was flown to the East Coast, to an island wedding that was spectacularly fun and joyful and quite extravagant. We don’t play many weddings, and the ones we have played have sometimes ended awkwardly, with the bride obviously unhappy that she got talked into indulging the groom into hiring a pounding rock band for her reception. This one was not like that. We had a great time and were part of a series of musical events that kept the party going until late at night.

I was happy, seeing two people so obviously well-matched and in love. Married people like to see other people getting married. For most of my life I assumed that was because they wanted other suckers to commiserate with, to validate their poor choices. Which says everything about my previous mindset about marriage and pretty blatantly shows that I am probably not the best person to which you should hitch your wagon. read more

In Praise of Great Women

The most recent journey in a Summer of traveling was to the East Coast for a couple of shows and then a few days with my mentor in upstate New York. She has been a part of my life since I was 22, when I was living in New York City and bouncing like a ping pong ball from identity to identity. She was my teacher from the moment we met. I wanted to know what she knew, that easy and joyful way of being in the world, the seeking mind, the deep knowing. I wanted to be on the same path. I was too naive to know what that meant, but it was instinct to follow her influence. read more

Stream of Consciousness Airplane Ride

Sitting on the airplane next to a tall, thin young man with narrow wrists and a nose that hints at having been raised well and thoughtfully. His skin is poreless, this much I can see. He orders a burger from the United cart and eschews the bun, taking big gobbly bites that say that eating is something he wishes he didn’t have to do. He seems embarrassed to partake. I imagine that he wants to get back to his device, a device of a size that tells me I know nothing of the ocean of possibilities in technology. It sits before him on the tray. He keeps his hands in his lap and his body seems so straight and yet comfortable and still, and I think, this younger generation. There is so much they know that I don’t. read more

Love and Peace at 10,000 Feet

This Summer has had me traveling, for work and to see family. When I am home I savor it, soak up the San Francisco fog and my beloved routines made more precious because I know I’ll be leaving again soon. I love my home.

I also love to bop around, and to play drums, and I love my family, so it’s been worth pulling myself away from the ocean air and the cool nights to get a little adventure in.

Last week, I was in Colorado, the new home of my sister and her family, and I got to spend a couple of days with my hysterical nephews and lovely brother-in-law and my sister, all of whom I love beyond words. Then, I headed to a music festival in the mountains above Denver to play a show and hang with my musical sisters for a couple of days. read more