Monday, August 20, 2007

Why I do what I do


Yeah, I'm bummed as well.


This is not how I wanted their day to go. Ma remains hospitalized at St. Rose down on Eastern. Dad is now safely ensconced at Silver Ridge since May. She's OK, but I'm anticipating now that things will only continue to decline. My Pop (he's 91 and addled with dementia) may just go on and on and on for years yet. My Mom, though -- I just don't know anymore.

It's all pretty surreal in some ways. I've spent most of my adult life thousands of miles distant from my parents. I left home literally the day I graduated high school, to go on the road with a lounge act in 1964, to the utter fury of my Dad, who disowned me for a time (I absurdly had a college football scholarship, but the music was in my bones, and I was through getting my undersized-if-aggressive ass kicked every Saturday). My parents were apoplectic over my decision. It took years for them to accept it. By that time I was on the west coast (SF and the Seattle area) and they'd retired to Florida.

Now, this little Buffalo Bob buckaroo gets to ride herd in his own corral. Yippee-aye-oh-tye-aaaa!

The geriatric roundup is now done, no more red-eye trips to Florida.


Thursday evening we took nephew Chasley to Lindo Michoacan, where we all mowed copious portions of our favorite Mexican food and washed it down with plenty of top shelf margaritas. Afterward, at about 11:45 pm, and just as I'd sunk firmly into a tequila-enhanced slumber, the phone rang. Mother had fallen twice over at the Cottage and was throwing up. 911 to St. Rose Siena up on Eastern. Ugh.

Figured I was gonna be sittin' in the ER for a while (which indeed turned out to be the case), so, along with my Power-of-Attorney papers and Mother's IDs, I grabbed my old copy of Steven Batchelor's "Buddhism Without Beliefs," a cool little book I'd read repeatedly while sitting bedside every day and night during Sissy's final 3-month hospital stay in 1998. It's a comforting read, one always worth coming back to.

A few snippets:

Even when I do things for the sake of others
No sense of amazement or conceit arises.

It is just like feeding myself;

I hope for nothing in return.

- Shantideva

'There are also moments when we experience ourselves not at odds with others but as participants in a shared reality...'

'Ethical integrity originates in empathy, for then we take the well-being of others to heart and are moved to be generous. Our thoughts, words, and deeds are based on a sense of what we have in common rather than what divides us...'

'While rooted in empathy, integrity requires courage and intelligence as well, because every significant ethical choice entails risk...'

'Ethical intelligence requires both the intelligence to understand the present situation as the fruition of former choices, and the courage to engage with it as the arena for the creation of what is to come. It empowers us to embrace the ambiguity of a present that is simultaneously tied to an irrevocable past and free for an undetermined future.'

'Ethical integrity is not moral certainty. A priori certainty about right and wrong is at odds with a changing an unreliable world, where the future lies open, waiting to be born from choices and acts. Such certainty may be consoling and strengthening, but it can blunt awareness of the uniqueness of each ethical moment. When we are faced with the unprecedented and unrepeatable complexities of this moment, the question is not "What is the right thing to do?" but "What is the compassionate thing to do?"...'

Yeah, it's a good book. Buy a copy, you'll dig it.

Now, as these principles pertain to Santa Fe, of course, I'd love to be able to be a personally profitable force for them, but that's not why I've done what I've done -- and will continue to do -- for them, and for the increasing number of others I've come to know through them. My admiration for those who risk it all to create music, and who devote such tireless energy to making it the best it can be, and who unfailingly interact with others in such a gracious and humble manner, well, my admiration and respect and empathic compassion compel me do do whatever I can to assist.

Two years ago next month I heard Santa Fe and The Fat City Horns for the first time, at Palace Station. I'm still not over the euphoric, humbling shock. As I said in an earlier post, I was friggin' tasered that night!

So, yeah, who knows what will come of the entire effort? But, recall the words of Tom Scott the night he sat in with Santa Fe back in April:

"I have to say, I am stunned. Not just the sheer amount of work, but the talent on this stage. You people are privileged to witness this band."


I take this privilege seriously. This is why I do what I do. Maybe some day it'll "pay off" in the conventional sense. I want it to pay off for Jerry and the guys. Irrespective of whether I ever see a dime of profit or not.

OK, enough gooey sentimentality: now, for a diversionary trip back down memory lane back to the year I left home:

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