blog: the road from beauty to becoming
Sep 25, 2013
My trumpet teacher used to say to me, “Well, Kyle, it takes some people longer than others!”
How is it that it has taken me the better part of fifty years on this planet to figure some of this stuff out? Of course it’s one thing to say it, and another thing to do it, but to say the right thing—the deep truth about your own life—is surely a most significant step in the right direction.
And so, dear friends, with thanks to all the gracious people who are helping me to learn from my limitations, insecurities, and mistakes, I say to myself and also to you:
Be yourself. Make it your best self as often as you can. And when your less than best self shows up, accept that, too. Say “I'm sorry” whenever necessary. It’s much better not to hide. Then others around you will also feel safe to take off their “See, I’m doing great!” mask.
Give the people you love, your family and friends, the irreplaceable gift of your presence. In the end, that’s what they most deeply desire and need. Nothing is more precious these days than to give someone your full and undivided attention.
To do this consistently, you’re probably going have to radically scale back your aspirations and your schedule. Every encounter with another human being is an opportunity for greatness if you simply see them and hear them with empathy.
Try your very best to believe that you are loved just as you are.
Sep 17, 2013
NEXT UPCOMING LIVE PERFORMANCE: Saturday, September 21, Cucuru Gallery, in Old Colorado City, 8-10:30 pm
Welcome to my site.
This Fall I am going to be busy with my continuing work with Via Affirmativa, connecting artists and arts lovers, both locally and internationally, serving as a catalyst to collaborations that make beauty and intercultural friendship accessible to more and more people.
I'll also be busy with my new house concert movement, SOUL s p a c e, organizing performances in the homes of friends with my new quartet. If you live in Colorado, and might be interested in hosting a performance, please let me know.
I'm also excited about becoming the director of a new big band in Colorado Springs, the Academy Big Band, made up entirely of music teachers from the excellent school district in which our kids attend school, Academy District 20.
Our family enjoyed a wonderful summer reconnecting with our dear friends in Italy, and this past August we were deeply encouraged by the experience of participating in our 8th annual Via Affirmativa Gathering in Colorado Springs.
I hope we will cross paths in the near future!
Mar 8, 2013
One of the most beautiful things that I have seen in the last several months is the coy, little smile of the 8 month old little girl, Vienna, that my wife Kim is watching these days. When I drop by to pick up Kim at the end of the day, I always try to get to say hi to Vienna. The disrobing innocence of her expressions, the freshness of the wonder her face so vividly portrays (she just tried strained bananas for the first time in her life a couple of days ago and took a couple of seconds to throw her mouth wide-open after that initial taste!) is food for the soul of us world-weary adults. The promise of her being is a beatitude.
We're living these days in the midst of a sprawl of suburbs north of downtown Colorado Springs. Compared to the refinement of the medieval and renaissance stone buildings that populate Verona, Italy where we lived for the last 15 years, these twenty-year old wooden boxes speak mostly of expediency, but we're glad that our house works just fine as a place to live for our family. However, when I take a walk up the hill outside our neighborhood I can see clear over to the hills in the west where Pike's Peak looms like a benevolent patriarch, watching protectively over the hundreds of tar-shingle roofs and the people living under them. Every day the mountain dresses differently, thanks to shifting clouds, snows, and light. Even after a thousand glances it can still take your breath away with a look you've never quite seen before. It is always, in the truest sense of the word, majestic. The enchantment of its beauty transforms the city into a special place.
Beauty testifies that there is a generosity at the heart of the universe. Our task is to slow down enough to notice it and to hear what it has to say to us so that it does its transformative work way deep down inside. Gratitude is the soul's sure sign that we've listened. The voice of beauty whispers many messages, but always implicit in every utterance is the affirmation that "I am here for you . . . as a gift." In all of its manifestations, both around and within us, beauty is framed by a giving love.
None of us has earned the wondrous blue-green spectacle of the earth or the angelic presence of a new-born baby. We often get better than we deserve. Sometimes we get less than we deserve. What a grace it would be to give up keeping score of events, that we might learn to reimagine our existence in the light of beauty, as a gift. Then our art, and the lifelong art-project called our life could be a proper thank you.
Jan 12, 2013
I remember when I was younger--I mean way younger--when I was, say, 12 years old, problems were simpler and fewer. Like most of us, I suppose, I learned to say to myself, "Get rid of problems as soon as you can." As I remember those golden days, I sailed through my mornings, afternoons, and evenings without big problems--Mom and Dad would take care of those. I could occupy myself with small problems like who to play with after school and what to play: Wiffleball at Donnie's house, or "Kill the man with the ball" in our own backyard.
These days are different. Problems have multiplied like mushrooms, and not only my own. These days other people's problems are mine, too--especially those of my wife and our teenage kids. Now Kim and I are the "Mom and Dad." Sometimes we look at one another and say with a bit of astonishment, "We're the ones in charge?!" (don't let on with the kids about the astonished part!). In this season of life it feels like problems are constantly hovering over our heads, day after day. We have more than our share of good times, too, and yet that boyhood voice that hates problems still lingers and complains over the injustice of it all.
Maybe I need to hear another more grown-up voice, because I better get on with learning to live with problems. Twentieth Century Jewish prophet Abraham Joshua Heschel (who marched with Martin Luther King at Selma) found a more adult perspective. He once said:
"Actually, the greatness of a person is that they face problems. I would judge a person by how many deep problems they are concerned with. Here stands a person with no problems. Do you know why? . . . He's an idiot! Because a person has problems!"
At least we can thank God that we're not idiots.