Category Archives: Unknown

Connect to the Chuckle Beyond the Easy Thought

Breaking out reactive control to embrace the unknown.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

“All want to do, is empty my emerald-filled pockets on this tear stained world for you.”- Hafiz

This weekend, Julia and I were fortunate to play a concert for two wonderful communities in Ohio. At one of the events, our dear friend and guest speaker, Lisa Ferraro, offered an inspired talk about being mindful of, what I’ll refer to as, “the easy thought” and the thought that follows on its heels.

Very often, our mind will assess a situation and present us with what it thinks will be the best, easiest or most pleasurable thing for us. Occasionally, this will be followed by a quieter thought that will seem harder but speaks to something that is beneficial on a deeper level which may turn out to be even more significant for us.

This, soul/heart/intuitive thought, (call it what you can dance with), often prompts us to embrace the unknown. Our mind is often annoyed with this thought because it will take more effort and a certain level of surrender. Lisa gave a wonderful personal example of an instance in which her easy thought told her to exit a delayed flight if given the chance and go have a fun with a friend at a great restaurant. Her second thought challenged her to stay on the flight even with risk of further delays, because the possibility that was ahead of her at a conference in NYC was so unknown that it was intriguing. When faced with the choice, she decided the original plan was more important and stayed the course. Lisa not only had an experience in NYC that was beyond what she could have imagined but she ended up being of tremendous service to a group of misplaced travelers attending the conference. Her story and talk encouraged us to listen to the thought that follows, allowing ourselves to go into the unknown and “letting love blow our minds.”

During our concert that followed, a colorfully dressed bearded character with a large peace sign necklace waltzed in and locked eyes with me. I smiled at him but his expression seemed to suggest, “we will see if you are for real.” As we started playing, song by song, we witnessed him rejoice with his whole being. His audible expressions added a tangible affirmation that lifted and drew others out of their shell. He approached us afterwards and extended an invitation to hire us that night to sing for his guided meditation group.

At this time, it is important to note that Julia and I had been marking the end of this concert as the end of our busy week/weekend and the beginning of well-earned rest. The light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak. We had been on the road and powered through a number of performances since we’d left NY mid-week. That morning’s 4:30 a.m. alarm reminded us, once again that by 3 pm, we would be able to “turn-off” for the evening, prior to our drive home the next day.

So, when I was approached by this gentleman, my easy thought was, “I’m not sure any amount of money could entice me.” Then, my subsequent thought was, “This is a unique opportunity to expand our community and who could possibly deny this wild appreciative being and his heart-expanding girlfriend?”  So, like a very wise man, I responded, “I have to first consult with my wife.”

She reluctantly agreed, as she was quite attached to our original plan, but was also inspired by the earlier talk.

Later that evening, we arrived at our host’s house and he was guiding a meditation that ended with telling the folks around him to “connect to the chuckle.” He had everyone giggle while focusing on how it centered the spirit, allowing the opportunity for connection. I thought, “Wow, this is a laughing bodhisattva, a spiritual prankster.”

He had set up a keyboard and introduced us to his students. We started to play, and with humility, I realized what a gift we had been given.

Here I thought that Frank, our host, was a joyful radical fringe element of the community we had met that morning. Now, I realized that he was the center of his own group and was acting as a sort of covalent bond, between circles. Julia and I strive to be a bridge between communities, so Frank was kin.

I have always maintained that consciousness thrives in small pockets, rather than in one big organized group. Frank and his girlfriend, Dawnzie, were an emerald-filled pocket onto themselves.

As we played, a young woman asked us to repeat one of our lyrics. Saying aloud to her, “If I could reach across the great divide, our tears would become nourishment and heal us from inside,” it struck me that part of the ability to reach across, was to listen past the easy thought and embrace the chuckle.

Posted all around the meeting room were mandalas, pictures of enlightened figures, and posters with many of Franks light-hearted sayings, such as, “Stay in the Pleasant Tense.” He offered us one of his books of poetry which delighted us all the way home. His phrases have started to come up like a play list in my mind:





-Frank Tennyson/ author of several books, including, Nod Wisely-Smile Knowingly, No One Wins When Clowns Fight, Zigzagging through the Straight and Narrow.

Enjoy a video of Frank talking about staying in the “Pleasant Tense”:

Wherever we travel, moment to moment we are offered so many riches, we cannot possibly contain them. Instead of remaining insular, we can listen for the ways we can expand and connect our circles, to spread the wealth around. Chuckling, we will find we are connected to more than we can give away. Julia and I are looking forward to nudging each other towards our intuitive thoughts more often.

Martin Lancelot Barre and Lila rocking through the changes

Young Martin

Marin Barre and band play at the Bayerischer Hof Nightclub November 2013

Martin Lancelot Barre

This weekend I met a dear childhood friend in Manhattan to go see a guitarist that had played in a band that all but defined my bliss and ambition in high school and college.  My friend lives in Brooklyn but as he has a family and our lives become entangled in the tending of the locomotive, we rarely get to see one another.   As with any great friendship, we pick up right away and the delight we derive from one another launches us right into an active appreciation that makes any activity an event.

It turns out that after many years at a job he excelled at, my friend saw the corporate writing on the wall. He walked away with a severance package and time to consider not just what job he could get, but what he really wants to do next. He conducted one hundred interviews in a hundred days.  Now, he is in the receiving space and is hopeful to hear something in the next two weeks.  He is one of those people who will bring so much to the table, they will have to have a feast.

It was appropriate that we were off to see the Martin (Lancelot) Barre band together.  Martin played guitar for Jethro Tull from their second album Stand Up in 1969. While they went through many personnel changes through the years, Ian Anderson said that it would be always be Tull if Martin was in the group.  Ian has gone solo but true to his word, is not touring around parading as Jethro Tull by himself.  I believe this was Ian’s choice to part ways but Martin didn’t choose to sulk over a bitter brandy.  I’m not sure he had a hundred interviews in a hundred days but he did put together a fine rock quartet that allows him to tour.  I have always considered Martin to be rock royalty and one of the most lyrical guitarists I have had the pleasure of listening to.  Not only was he humble and humorous but what was apparent was that he loves to play for its own sake.

The Sanskrit word Lila means divine play.  There is a Hindu concept that the whole of the universe is the result of this cosmic or divine play.  There were moments in the show when Martin would walk up to his singer/guitarist and bass player and the three would bring the intensity down to playfully harmonize instrumentally.  The joy generated in those moments was a little Lila for us all.  Even if you weren’t there; the circuit was completed by the audience and I feel that goes out concentrically.

In moments when the unknown overtakes you, may Lila carry you through.

PS- Attached is not one of the great rocking moments from the show, but a light jig : )

Martin Barre Band Jig