We All Suffer

“It is because mankind are disposed to sympathize more entirely with our joy than with our sorrow, that we make parade of our riches, and conceal our poverty.  Nothing is so mortifying as to be obliged to expose our distress to the view of the public, and to feel, that though our situation is open to the eyes of all mankind, no mortal conceives for us the half of what we suffer.” ~ Adam Smith

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We don’t necessarily like to advertise our suffering.  We mainly see the best moments and highlight reels of people’s lives, while many of the deeper and lonelier moments are kept concealed.

The truth is, we all suffer, at the deepest levels.  Every single one of us. No one is immune to bad days.  We all have them.  

We go about our lives, pretending to have it all together — and on some days, it may even feel like we actually do.

We don’t.

We may at times fall under an illusion that we are in control.

We aren’t.

We know this deep down, as we become reminded of this hard truth at times in our lives — the times when reality comes crashing down upon you — feeling alone, and we cry…if we allow ourselves to.  We want to be strong for our loved ones, our spouses, our kids, driven by the fear of appearing weak when in fact, showing our humanity is not weakness.

I’ve spoken to many people whose pain and suffering happens to rise to the surface…unexpected, and in that moment, their loneliness revealed, despondency expressed — weeping about how alone and scared they really feel…at the deepest levels — the depths in which we rarely ever let anyone in far enough to see.  

We are like onions, having many layers that can be peeled back.  Many of us only ever get to see the top layer in most of our relationships.  There are many more layers to a person. We all have them.

We often do not have a safe space where we can reveal them. Read more

Blackstar

“The truth of course, is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time.” ~ David Bowie

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It’s now been almost three months since the release of David Bowie’s, Blackstar, his last and final album. I purchased this album on January 8th, 2016,  and immediately began listening, becoming more and more intrigued by its nuances. Every song on the album holds its own. Two days later, Bowie passed away after an 18-month battle with cancer. Listening back after his death, it all began to make sense.  Bowie knew he was dying, and this album was his last farewell.

Before this album, I wouldn’t of called myself a David Bowie fan.  I probably wouldn’t have even given it an initial listen if it weren’t for the musicians playing on it  — Mark Guiliana, Jason Lindner, Tim Lefebvre, and Donny McCaslin.  From Jason Lindner’s Now vs Now, to Mark Guiliana’s Beat Music, I was interested to hear Blackstar, and it didn’t disappoint.

This is one of my favorite new albums.  

As a percussionist, I really dig Mark Guiliana’s drumming, but in Blackstar, Bowie’s performance is what really shines through.  There’s always something captivating about raw human emotion and spirit.  I now find that it’s the imperfections that make the music for me.  Growing up in music education, a lot of the focus was on being as perfect as possible…never making a mistake.  We are in the age of autotuned, artificial, and perfect sounding vocals — masking the truth behind the real music.  It’s analogous to our society, focusing on appearing to be something, rather than just really being that.  Now, I realize that what really makes the music for me is the raw, true, human imperfections, and this is something very real that comes through Bowie’s performance.

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Why You Should Think About Your Death

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you will ever have.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

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The inevitable death.  Your death.  The fact that all of “this” is not going to last forever. The thought of your own existence not continuing can be scary. Sound depressing? Well, contemplating your own death doesn’t necessarily have to be.  Lately, I’ve been thinking about death almost every day.  I find it interesting that the older people get, the more they seem to think about death.  On the other hand, thinking about death is almost non-existent with younger people.  I think it would greatly benefit younger generations to be more mindful of death.

Mortality salience, or realizing that your death is in fact inevitable, can give rise to a much more appreciative, fulfilling, and present life. This appreciation and fulfillment can be found with or without any consideration of religious beliefs.  In other words, your ability to appreciate life’s moments doesn’t depend on whether or not you’re religious. This is not to say that religion or a belief in the afterlife isn’t helpful, as religion is very helpful to me. There’s more to it than just religion in and of itself. A deep attention and presence is still necessary to fully appreciate the significance of what’s really going on from moment to moment.  Being mindful of death and our mortality is a catalyst for this.

Most of the time, it appears that we all casually gloss over some very significant and deeply profound moments in our lives.  Even the moments that can be categorized as mundane have just as much significance and profundity as any other moment. Sometimes, those moments don’t seem to register as important “in the moment.”  Later upon reflection, perhaps as memories, we may feel those moments were in fact significant, but we weren’t really “there” for them.  We find it hard to connect to the present moment when we are incessantly looking for happiness in the future, which never arrives. Read more