Thursday, August 23, 2007

Fork in the Road

Is your suitcase packed for your next adventure?

Know which way to go?

Have your ticket to the promised land?

Me neither, but, that's ok. The latest release from those incredible young dudes The Infamous Stringdusters arrived on my doorstep this week and so it's all good, real good.

Last night I had dinner with a friend who is chewing on his resume and wondering what's next. I don't mind coaching my friends a little. For once I feel like I have a set of skills that is actually useful to the people in my life. This person has a long history of steady work in complex organizations. But when you want to reinvent yourself, how do you do it?

That's a good question. I've been working on it for a while now. I feel I'm closer than I was a year ago, but not close enough to leap.

Every now and then we find ourselves at the fork in the road. Sometimes we're on multiple journeys and come to a very forked road all at once. It can be a little daunting and sometimes choosing the path that looks right, or feels right, doesn't lead to the destination you'd hoped. The land of milk and honey can turn sour right quick when the thunder comes.

At one point I was certain that I had to move South. Have you seen the temperatures there lately? Nashville City Schools finally went to a half-day schedule this week, after kids and drivers endured 120+ temps on the school buses last week. Needless to say, it's just about as tropical right now in Ohio as it is on a cool 90 degree day in Tennessee or North Carolina. I'm not much motivated to tune up the skis left to me by my friend Souncreative who skipped town and is officially a happy Southehn magnolia now (with just two sets of skis).

On the other hand, it's really not just about the weather, it's about being closer to people who value what I value and who work in it every day. So maybe the trick is to find an environment like that, one that provides fodder for my passion and enough variety to hold my interest like the job I have now, but within a single institution. There are a few things that come to mind. The question is when, and for whom.

Exciting, but, scary.

I don't mind the fork in the road. Despite whining about change, I fairly like it. Well, I should say, I wouldn't like it every other day, but I like it enough to feel excited by the challenge and the perspective it occasionally brings.

But I respect that not everybody likes change. I have very good, very close friends who abhor it, and it's likely they find me odd and amusing but they put up with my boundless enthusiasm and vigor anyway.

I get through change like most everything else, with music. Fork in the Road is the title track from this Stringdusters effort, which everyone reading this blog should have. It is really a signature recording -- exquisite instrumental, a great mix of songs, lots of harmonic and instrumentation surprises (these guys are clever musicians and not hacks), seamless vocals. Pick it up, or just pick up a few tunes like this title track (not my favorite but certainly worth a listen). Listening will give you something to do while you're deciding what to do next.

Fork in the Road

If it's taking you a really long time to decide, try this incredible final track, a killer jam in the time honored Newgrass tradition:

Moon Man

If you still can't figure out where to go next, how about Nashville October 5-6-7 for IBMA's World of Bluegrass FanFest? Catch the lineup here. More to come on that real soon.


At August 24, 2007 9:48 AM, Anonymous blowin' down the house said...

-To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind

-Seng Tsan d. 606 C.E.

The Great Way is not difficult
for those not attached to preferences.
When neither love nor hate arises,
all is clear and undisguised.
Separate by the smallest amount, however,
and you are as far from it as heaven is from earth.

If you wish to know the truth,
then hold to no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind.

When the fundamental nature of things is not recognized
the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail.
The Way is perfect as vast space is perfect,
where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess.

Indeed, it is due to our grasping and rejecting
that we do not know the true nature of things.
Live neither in the entanglements of outer things,
nor in ideas or feelings of emptiness.
Be serene and at one with things
and erroneous views will disappear by themselves.

When you try to stop activity to achieve quietude,
your very effort fills you with activity.
As long as you remain attached to one extreme or another
you will never know Oneness.
Those who do not live in the Single Way
cannot be free in either activity or quietude, in assertion or denial.

Deny the reality of things
and you miss their reality;
assert the emptiness of things
and you miss their reality.
The more you talk and think about it
the further you wander from the truth.
So cease attachment to talking and thinking,
and there is nothing you will not be able to know.

To return to the root is to find the essence,
but to pursue appearances or "enlightenment" is to miss the source.
To awaken even for a moment
is to go beyond appearance and emptiness.

Changes that seem to occur in the empty world
we make real only because of our ignorance.

Do not seek for the truth;
Only cease to cherish opinions.

Do not remain in a dualistic state;
avoid such easy habits carefully.
If you attach even to a trace
of this and that, of right and wrong,
the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion.
Although all dualities arise from the One,
do not be attached even to ideas of this One.

When the mind exists undisturbed in the Way,
there is no objection to anything in the world;
and when there is no objection to anything,
things cease to be— in the old way.
When no discriminating attachment arises,
the old mind ceases to exist.
Let go of things as separate existences
and mind too vanishes.
Likewise when the thinking subject vanishes
so too do the objects created by mind.

The arising of other gives rise to self;
giving rise to self generates others.
Know these seeming two as facets
of the One Fundamental Reality.
In this Emptiness, these two are really one—
and each contains all phenomena.
If not comparing, nor attached to "refined" and "vulgar"—
you will not fall into judgment and opinion.

The Great Way is embracing and spacious—
to live in it is neither easy nor difficult.
Those who rely on limited views are fearful and irresolute:
The faster they hurry, the slower they go.
To have a narrow mind,
and to be attached to getting enlightenment
is to lose one's center and go astray.
When one is free from attachment,
all things are as they are,
and there is neither coming nor going.

When in harmony with the nature of things, your own fundamental nature,
and you will walk freely and undisturbed.
However, when mind is in bondage, the truth is hidden,
and everything is murky and unclear,
and the burdensome practice of judging
brings annoyance and weariness.
What benefit can be derived
from attachment to distinctions and separations?

If you wish to move in the One Way,
do not dislike the worlds of senses and ideas.
Indeed, to embrace them fully
is identical with true Enlightenment.
The wise person attaches to no goals
but the foolish person fetters himself or herself.
There is one Dharma, without differentiation.
Distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant.
To seek Mind with the discriminating mind
is the greatest of mistakes.

Rest and unrest derive from illusion;
with enlightenment, attachment to liking and disliking ceases.
All dualities come from ignorant inference.
They are like dreams, phantoms, hallucinations—
it is foolish to try to grasp them.
Gain and loss, right and wrong; finally abandon all such thoughts at once.

If the eye never sleeps,
all dreams will naturally cease.
If the mind makes no discriminations,
the ten thousand things
are as they are, of single essence.
To realize the mystery of this One-essence
is to be released from all entanglements.
When all things are seen without differentiation,
the One Self-essence is everywhere revealed.
No comparisons or analogies are possible
in this causeless, relationless state of just this One.

When movement stops, there is no movement—
and when no movement, there is no stopping.
When such dualities cease to exist
Oneness itself cannot exist.
To this ultimate state
no law or description applies.

For the Realized mind at one with the Way
all self-centered striving ceases.
Doubts and irresolutions vanish
and the Truth is confirmed in you.
With a single stroke you are freed from bondage;
nothing clings to you and you hold to nothing.
All is empty, clear, self-illuminating,
with no need to exert the mind.
Here, thinking, feeling, understanding, and imagination
are of no value.
In this world "as it really is"
there is neither self nor other-than-self.

To know this Reality directly
is possible only through practicing non-duality.
When you live this non-separation,
all things manifest the One, and nothing is excluded.
Whoever comes to enlightenment, no matter when or where,
Realizes personally this fundamental Source.

This Dharma-truth has nothing to do with big or small, with time and space.
Here a single thought is as ten thousand years.
Not here, not there—
but everywhere always right before your eyes.
Infinitely large and infinitely small: no difference,
for definitions are irrelevant
and no boundaries can be discerned.
So likewise with "existence" and "non-existence."

Don't waste your time in arguments and discussion
attempting to grasp the ungraspable.

Each thing reveals the One,
the One manifests as all things.
To live in this Realization
is not to worry about perfection or non-perfection.
To put your trust in the Heart-Mind is to live without separation,
and in this non-duality you are one with your Life-Source.

Words! Words!
The Way is beyond language,
for in it there is no yesterday,

no tomorrow

no today.

At August 24, 2007 2:55 PM, Blogger Blueberry said...

Yogi Berra said, When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

Seems like life is one long forked road, with every 5 year anniversary bringing along a set of circumstances that were unimaginable at the last one. Gaaaa! I refuse to plan ahead. That one will get me one day, and I will end up with the fork in me instead of the road.

Chris Eldridge from the 'Dusters recently took a fork in the road and decided to leave that band to give more time to his other band with Chris Thile, which looks like it will be called The Tensions Mountain Boys. Tensions Mountain, indeed. Isn't it always?

At August 24, 2007 10:33 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hi Blowin,
That's the problem -- it's more like, like against like. Like, you know? (Sorry. Couldn't help myself.) Seriously, these are beautiful words. It's not so much a choice of like over dislike as which of two good directions is the better at the moment.

"If you wish to know the truth, then hold no opinions for or against anything."

That is perfection.

You're right, Blueberry. It does seem like stuff comes in five-year spurts. Thanks for sharing this wisdom on your BIRTHDAY!

I used to be Plan Ahead Lady but I've scaled back to that which really only affects me. This is a new practice, akin to the above about holding no opinions. There is no point in holding on to hope that other people do or don't know what they're doing because they're just acting out of their own motivations, and I have no attachment to their outcomes. It's a form of nonattachment practice. My kids are involved in one case and it really is healthy to let it all really go. Not planning, in some regards, is something of a virtuous quality to cultivate.

And if I may, what the hell kind of name for a band is Tensions Mountain Boys??? The first time I saw that somewhere, I thought it was a typo. Damn kids. Too bad about Eldridge. I imagine kids will still remember him from, what was it, Countine Crowes? Or am I getting him confused with some other not-quite-grunge era band???

At August 24, 2007 10:44 PM, Anonymous E said...

The 'Dusters will be playing at 12:45 PM on Sunday September the ninth at the Black Swamp Arts festival in Bowling Green (one of the few bright spots in an otherwise disappointing lineup.)

At August 25, 2007 9:48 AM, Anonymous the house gets stronger said...

"Exciting, but, scary.

I don't mind the fork in the road. Despite whining about change, I fairly like it. Well, I should say, I wouldn't like it every other day, but I like it enough to feel excited by the challenge and the perspective it occasionally brings.

But I respect that not everybody likes change. I have very good, very close friends who abhor it, and it's likely they find me odd and amusing but they put up with my boundless enthusiasm and vigor anyway."

So sorry I didn't clarify.

Blowin' down the house, it may take like a lot of work, like! Ha!

It could be that the walls are hard to see, when looking in the mirror!

Yes, that is the case as i look into the mirror!

This is only a test, if it were a real emergency you will know it!!!


At August 26, 2007 5:23 PM, Blogger Blueberry said...

Chris Eldridge (Critter) is the son of Ben Eldridge (banjo) of Seldom Scene, and he has sat in with that band lots of times. Ben Eldridge. I don't think he has a grunge history. I am a little bit acquainted with Critter through both of us being big fans of Eric Johnson, although I believe that he picks Tony Rice as his favorite picker.

At August 26, 2007 7:08 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hi Blueberry! I thought there was a Seldom Scene connection but I couldn't remember which young band of hotties had the connection. How funny it's Chris Eldridge -- was he a Counting Crowe or am I thinking of someone else? How very cool. I do so love the Seldom Scene. I wish they would come out this way.

I hope you had a good birthday weekend!


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