Please use a discerning gaze when reading these claims, which deserve critical examination. This documentation represents a snapshot of my internal landscape at a certain point in time in my life during my collegiate career.

Starting off with some older Drake today

Original Entry:

On Rhythm… On Pulse

Rhythm and pulse are centers of gravity in sound. Not only do keys have centers, but so too does pulse.

As I play, I tap on 2 and 4 and engage with the feeling of pulse. As my mind sorts and integrates new information, the energy of my awareness shifts to enable my arms and hands to activate and maintain a pattern; when this happens, my awareness sometimes looses hold of my pulse on 2 and 4, and my imagination slides around outside of a feeling of time, causing me to oftentimes drop my entire act.

This is the moment to become more deeply aware of. When do I drop the whole show and loose track of the ground, the beat? What techniques or feels scramble my mind? These are the moments to realize.

All feelings are relative to a center; where I loose my center is where I work to move more deeply into it, to compensate for hectic changes.

If I continually drop my performance in one spot, this becomes the spot to thread a steady pulse that I can feel with my body.

I am aware of the feeling of my body. I harmonize with center through the feeling of pulse. My foot tends to feel pulse on 2 and 4. My arms, hands, and fingers feel vibrations emanating off of my guitar. I am my ability to harmonize multiple dimensions of feeling around a single unshakable center. My hands and fingers harmonize their rhythm with the pulse of my body, of my feet. I am my ability to smoothly drift through changes while maintaining a solid living root of pulse in my awareness.

Jamming some Papadosio For this Part

Current Reflections:

It’s fascinating to see the language of my mental operating system out of this era of my life. I was really taken with this “I am my ability to…” phrase, like it had some sort of super power. It was a phrase my friend Ryan Murray arrived with at festival when Mark England walked him through a process of examining his language and personal stories. I watched Ryan suddenly become empowered with his words in that moment, and rather than fully appreciating the process that brought him to this personal phrase, I just grabbed the phrase, believing it to be the magic fruit that could help me do anything.

Although I employed this phrase frequently, I’m not sure that it had the intrinsic power that I hoped for.

Do any of you notice features of your language and how it seems to change over time? If so, I’d love to hear about your perspective on your own linguistic process!

Beyond these initial observations of language, this entry is an interesting one. You may know that, Western music especially (as in Western Hemisphere) tends to use tonal or key centers. But at the time of this writing, I was realizing that the beat or pulse of music can also act as a center of gravity.

Here I am talking about “tapping on 2 and 4.” Just in case you don’t know, I’m talking about tapping my foot along with a metronome. Instead of tapping out every beat, I was actively practicing tapping my foot ONLY on beats 2 and 4.

Why? Why would you do such a thing?

This was one of the first and hardest lessons I learned at the University of Toledo in the Jazz department during my 2012 incarnation as a Saxophone Major. My Teacher at the time insisted that I “CUT THAT SHIT OUT,” (talking about me tapping my foot every beat) and “TAP THE 2 AND THE 4.”

I had no idea what the fuck that meant. Though I was quickly and harshly informed that beat 2 and beat 4 were typically the beats that the drummer would pump the high hat with their foot in many styles of traditional jazz.

So, I realized I was going to have to become my own drummer – at least in some capacity.

I smashed my head against the wall with this one for the entire semester. It took five months of continual (and painstaking) practice before this started to become even close to second nature.

Then I dropped out of school and forgot largely forgot about it.

After a year of shenanigans, I gathered up myself and reapplied to the University of Toledo, now incarnating as a guitar player (This had been my original intention back in 2012, although I accidentally auditioned on Saxophone, thinking I was just trying out for the big band or something, ending up lumped in with the other saxophone majors.)

During my year away, I had taken it upon myself to drill all my major scales and basic major and minor triads. Theoretically, I felt ready to hang, but as a player, I knew I had a LOT of mechanical work to do.

But you know what I didn’t need to do?

Kill myself to understanding tapping on 2 and 4. Turns out that shit was slowly aging like a fine wine in the cellar of my consciousness while I partied for a year. It happened to be so that I could tap 2 and 4 pretty effortlessly now.

This entry is interesting because I was noticing that, even though I had a pretty solid command of tapping beats 2 and 4, there were still moments in some tunes where I would completely lose the beat or turn myself around. The easiest place to do this for me was during an improvised solo. I always wanted to do the best I could (maybe trying to one-up my friends and peers), but usually I just ended up farting and fumbling around, loosing track of the beat and the form.

It was like: “Solo time? AHHHH!” *Screaming and spontaneous fires, people running in utter mayhem*

My most basic thought was embarrassing: “DO THE THING!” I’d scream to myself, watching my hands open and close like clamps in a claw machine.

Oh yeah.

All of my training went right out the window in panic and I’d just bang on the strings, using wide vibratos and bends when I ALWAYS landed on a b9, #9, b3, b6, or b7 on a major 7 chord (These happen to be among the WORST sounding unintentional tones a person could accidentally resolve to).

Eventually I became aware that it was perhaps, not a wonderful idea to panic and vomit every time I soloed.

Then, a friend, mentor, and wonderful teacher of mine, Mike Cantafio then taught me a way to take my foot tapping to the next level.

“On your left foot, keep tapping 2 and 4, but with your right foot, tap every beat 1, 2, 3, and 4. A teacher taught me this, then I applied it to EVERYTHING, and It’s CRAZY dude, it will help your time SO much. I can tell when drummers are dragging or rushing now. It’ll change your world!”

Bows Mike. That shit fucked up my mind and put me back on square one. It was hard.

Really. Fucking. Hard.

But I kept practicing. This exercise took YEARS before it began to feel natural, but guess what, it clicked together, even for a person as dense as myself.

This new approach to rhythm has changed my life.

It didn’t solve everything, but suddenly, I had much deeper and more stable roots to rely on when site-reading, playing melodies, and improvising solos.

After that, I started to wonder if I could root my rhythm more deeply, using my voice as another anchor point for rhythm.

I started counting the beats “1, 2, 3, 4” out loud. Easy, right? Sure, if you are playing quarter notes or maybe 8th notes. But how about syncopation? Triplets? 16th note syncopation? Quintuplets?

This is the cutting edge of my practice now, keeping my feet tapping and locked onto the beat, counting any subdivision that I choose, and creating musical phrases that have a beginning, middle, and end. Where do I lose the beat now? What moments overload my rhythmic center of gravity and cause me to drift through time?

And you know, maybe that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What if I could use this mistake, drifting through time, and harvest the result of it while still maintaining my grounded gravity of pulse? That sounds like freedom.

Bows

_/\_

Sam

Kogen

Please use a discerning gaze when reading these claims, which deserve critical examination. This documentation represents a snapshot of my internal landscape at a certain point in time in my life during my collegiate career.

Original Entry:

Shift in Dynamics:

My tendency is to worship exercises with the broad intention to get better. Now I realize I may shift the paradigm.

I observe my “weakness.” I generate an intention to strengthen these “weaknesses.” I apply an exercise as medicine, with intent to heal the sore spots; then, I allow time to process and heal.

Current Reflections:

A little misleading, this one. If you were expecting an exploration of “dynamics” within this entry, which in a musical sense would pertain to a sensitivity to volume when playing, then your assumption would be well informed. But for this entry, I was thinking about “dynamics,” not as in volume, but “dynamics,” as in, “What characterizes the dynamic of this specific relationship I have with my musical process? Or, “With what qualities am I relating to my process of music?”

For me, especially during the time that this entry was written, I was starting to recognize a generalized feeling inside of me – this feeling was one that intensely motivated me to practice with a furious vigor – I wanted to “get better.”

I mentioned in a previous entry how handicapped I felt throughout my undergrad education. I was always trying to catch up. I never felt qualified to make a statement, perform, or share my music, because, “my word, I hardly know what I am doing right now!”

As I went through my daily life in college, I would do my best to take care of all of the responsibilities handed to me, from an academic standpoint. This was my baseline. Beyond the bare minimum of marginal success within the school structure, I was always searching for the edges in my ability as a musician. Whenever I would meet for ensemble practice, lessons, or listening/performance lab, I would try to give my full attention to what was happening before me.

“Do I understand this?”

“What do I notice?”

“What is this person showing me within their performance, where are they at?”

“Is this something I could do, if I was asked?”

This internal running dialogue was present with me constantly, for better or worse. In a certain way, it created an immense amount of suffering, because I was constantly comparing myself to my peers and recognizing my perceived “lack” of ability.

In another light, this constant probing lead me to push myself harder and harder – I wanted to break my boundaries and limitations, I wanted to taste the freedom of crashing through impossibilities, I wanted to “BREAK ON THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE!”

And man, let me tell you, when breakthroughs happen, it’s SO dang sweet. (SO dang sweet)

But my god, there is certainly a lot of head-bonking when a person is put into a pressure cooker and constantly trying to break through their own barriers.

The result of this constant impulse to grow and push lead me to a place where I would encounter difficulty and my immediately response was “How do I get better? I need to get better. I will get better. It’s time to get better.”

I would sit down, and my god, I was going to do it. I was going to get better. In retrospect, this lead to quite a bit of unguided and wasted effort, because I actually had no idea what I was trying to do. I just had a vague sense that I needed to do something to close the discrepancy between what I knew was possible for me in relation to where I currently was.

Now don’t get me wrong. Out of this ruthless fire of trial and error, I discovered some effective ways to achieve certain results, as well as some quite peculiar ways to shift my perception of time* (but more on that later). But it also lead to exhaustion, hopelessness, and at least once, the reality that I was NOT cut out for music and should quit. (Thankfully my teacher met me with an astounding sense of compassion and gentleness, and I decided I would keep giving it a GO.)

So, this particular journal entry marks one of the first moments that I began to develop an awareness of this drama I was living out.

“Holy shit, I recognize that when things inspire me, my first impulse is to push as hard as I can on the concept of getting better.

“What if instead of just stomping on the accelerator, alternatively I took stock of where I am, what I am working on, and where I am missing the mark? Maybe I could stop wasting energy and begin to heal specific illnesses and difficulties in my playing?”

Of course, like many ideas, I thought this one was great. So I wrote it down, tried it for a few days, then got overwhelmed and mostly forgot about it. Then I would fall back into the same old drama: get inspired, feel insignificant, push, push, push, inevitably break, then remember “Oh wait, I think I’ve been here before? (Question mark?)

Spirals dude. Spirals.

If I’m being honest, I still fall into the same dramas to this day.

So really, this is refreshing, encountering this post. What a good reminder. It can be helpful to pause, take stock, think about what’s really going on, recall the steps that have lead to this moment, and to hone in on the particulars of the specific edge that I am encountering. It’s easy to keep pushing and pushing and pushing with good intent, but my word, this can actually be harmful. Perhaps its important to recall the importance of stopping and noticing what’s actually happening too.

Bows

_/\_

Sam

Kogen

Please use a discerning gaze when reading these claims, which deserve critical examination. This documentation represents a snapshot of my internal landscape at a certain point in time in my life during my collegiate career.

Original Entry:

Baskets of Practice:

There are multiple ways to approach practice. I have just discovered composition, applying the techniques I have learned into active and interactive play.

Craft practice is the space and time to familiarize with the subtleties of guitar. This is the place to mess up. Hard. Flounder. Miss it. Let it suck. Just notice. This isn’t perfection in a blink, this is rewiring my natural tendencies.

Cognitive practice stretches my conceptual understanding of music and is the time to explore the connections ripe within any musical ideas, this includes reading new material.

Forgetting.

Current Reflections:

I had to go back and double check all the journal titles I’ve used so far to make sure I wasn’t repeating myself with this entry, “Baskets of Practice.” This is something I’ve thought about so much and written in so many notebooks, I was half-convinced that I had already written about it – and you know, if I have before, I’m sure that this entry won’t be the last.

This way of relating to my musical practice is another gift from my teacher, Jay Rinsen Weik, and is something that I rely heavily upon in my own teaching and practice (even if my students don’t realize it).

The basic idea is this: it is possible to know the guitar, or music at large through different lenses. Although all of the lenses are inter-related, each lens provides a unique perspective into the universe of music.

When I first encountered the idea of “baskets” in music, it was in a conversation Rinsen titled “The Five Baskets of Knowing (On Guitar), which I dutifully scribbled down in my notebook.

And if my memory serves me off hand,(come on transient memory, let’s get it!) these were the baskets that he presented to me:

  • Notes as Letters
  • Notes as Numbers (relative to scale degrees)
  • Notes as pure sound
  • Intervals
  • Shape

I thought that this way of looking at Guitar, (which for me at the time, I was doing quite frequently and intensely) was absolutely brilliant.

Sure, I was aware of Shape on the guitar, that Basket of Knowing was probably the most familiar to me.

You know, because chords have different, like, shapes. For an instance, a G chord, cowboy style, its like a, a, well, I guess a big triangle? And C? That’s kinda like a staircase missing a stair, and then F Major 7? That ones is a STRAIGHT up staircase. And D major definitely has some MAJOR triangle vibes going on with it. D7 is like an INVERTED D major with triangular vibration. I guess A major is just like a block.

Scales have shapes, chords have shapes, arpeggios have shapes, the guitar can be a very visual instrument, especially when you first pick it up

Eherm.

All of my personal perceptions aside, the guitar basically presents like a gigantic graph, and people (myself included) tend to easily chart shapes of their own description onto the grid. In my opinion, it’s probably the most logical or natural way to start trying to understand the strange and infinite universe of THE GUITAR.

And in this particular lesson with Rinsen, I suddenly became aware of 4 new and distinctly different ways of conceptualizing and engaging with the guitar. A lot of the work I found myself doing in college involved getting to know the terrain of the guitar through some of these different lenses, or baskets.

Where do all the notes actually live on each string? How do the notes translate to numbers and scale degrees related to the major scale? What about the distance between notes? What does it actually sound like? Can you describe it and see it in all keys? Then, how do the baskets start to superimpose/relate to each other?

Whoa whoa whoa there cowboy, you are losing me.

It’s strange looking back now, having deeply investigated these five different ways of knowing. More than anything, I realize that I still have TONS to learn. But if someone is to pick up the study of guitar, (or music in general) in earnest, these different baskets of knowing can start to grow stable roots and can begin to inform the decisions a person makes when writing a song, taking a solo, or jamming around.

At school, I think my biggest wake up call came in the form of the following message: How can you be surgically intentional about what you play? How can we use our different ways of seeing and knowing, and how can we apply it intentionally rather than accidentally?

Of course, this doesn’t mean a player should be swimming in charts and graphs in their mind, thinking about every specific note they want to play and calculating or thinking about the right thing to play. Rather, how can we use everything we know to speak freely, to move fluidly through our baskets of perception, and to contribute something meaningful to the moment?

Are you still here?

For me, this was my first introduction into “baskets” of practice. Perhaps you can tell, but I was quite taken with the idea.

How interesting. We can investigate reality through different distinct lenses to help ourselves see things in new ways.

Rinsen had presented me with “The Five Baskets of Knowing on Guitar,” so I decided to look for ways to parse my musical practice out into different “baskets” or lenses.

SAM’S BASKETS OF PRACTICE FROM SOMETIME IN COLLEGE

Composition:

In this entry, for the first time, I was recognizing that I could use musical composition as a way to practice, apply, and integrate new information. A new composition can act as a vessel with which to explore new concepts and sounds – we can create a container for ourselves to play within.

Craft:

Another pillar offered by my teacher, craft practice involved studying the mechanics of the instrument, studying the techniques, and developing the ability to maneuver through musical space on the guitar. This includes Scales, Arpeggios, Notes on the Ax, cells, and shells. (I’m sure there are plenty of other craft-worthy pursuits that I haven’t mentioned.)

Cognitive:

Conceptually, how can the musical universe be mapped out? What are the 12 major keys? How about conceptualized as 7 flat keys, 7 sharp keys, and C major? That gives us 15 keys. How about the relative minor keys for each of the major keys? That would give us 30 different keys (Thanks @Victor Wooten) What is the circle of fourths? Fifths? How do the 12 different tones stack out in minor 3rds? Whole tones? What is a major 6th? What does that sound like in all keys?

These questions can start to help us build a map of the musical universe. They can help us navigate and respond to different musical moments that we encounter, giving us the gift of options, rather than keeping us limited to guesswork and shapes alone.

Forgetting:

My goodness, please forgive me, I just had my Covid Vaccine today and I’ve quite forgotten where I was going with this one.

Bows

_/\_

Sam

Kogen

Please use a discerning gaze when reading these claims, which deserve critical examination. This documentation represents a snapshot of my internal landscape at a certain point in time in my life during my collegiate career.

Original Entry:

Exploration of Circumstance:

Cats back in time didn’t attend music school to learn jazz. Cats used to roam and work. And work and Play.

I have a beautiful opportunity to receive an education, and I am misdirecting my attention, aiming to achieve, playing to achieve, not playing to play.

I consciously now choose to transform my drive to “achieve” scholastically into a drive to explore musicality as deeply as possible.

All of the tools are present. I can improvise, I just have a small amount of experience actively thinking, performing, and expressing as an improvisor over standard jazz repertoire.

Now is my chance to explore simple ideas with the vocabulary I know and to apply them with focused intent.

Current Reflections:

This one takes me back. God, music school is such a blessing and a curse. The theme in this journal entry is repeated often in lots of my notebooks from my college career – how can a person resolve to maintain their creativity, their heart, and their spark in the factory-like environment of academic jazz?

For me, it was never true that I wanted to or needed to specifically learn how to play Jazz. I loved the guitar and was kind of at a loss trying to figure things out on my own. It definitely didn’t cross my mind that I could take private lessons with a teacher outside of a university, so I assumed my only option was to take myself to college. When I got to UT, I was presented with two option: Classical Guitar, or Jazz.

Hmm, well Classical was nice but seemed a little too stiff to me. I guess that meant I was going to study jazz.

When I got to school, I had some basic facility and coordination. I knew my cowboy chords, I had a few nice Major and Minor 7 voicings, a melody or two (Autumn Leaves, which I auditioned with), and some basic arpeggio awareness, (though I couldn’t have articulated much about what I was doing), and off course a good ol’ single position minor pentatonic/blues scale.

I stumbled through a (likely) sub-par audition and was graciously admitted to the University of Toledo Jazz Department as a guitar player.

For me, I felt like I was severely handicapped for every year of my career spent in music school. I felt like I had to work 8 times as hard to understand basic concepts that some of my peers and contemporaries had been jamming with for years.

Throughout all of college, through both my junior and senior recital, I felt like an imposter. I was much more content to try and get my basic physical coordination together on the guitar than I ever was to learn repertoire. Repertoire felt like something I was never ready for.

How could I learn repertoire if I don’t know the basic mechanics of the instrument?

I spun in circles trying to understand Triads, 7th chords, notes on the ax (fretboard), scales, and cells. And my god, you can play each of those different forms in nearly infinite permutations. Triads live on 3 string sets, that’s 4 sets of 3, or Bass, Tenor, Alto, and Soprano string sets. There are 3 inversions of each triad, that’s 12 different shapes for a single chord. And there are Major, Minor, and Diminished triads, at the bare minimum. That is 12 Shapes times 3 different qualities, or 36 shapes for the 3 basic qualities of C. So we have 36 different shapes to learn for C major, C minor, and C diminished. And there are 12 keys (at a minimum), which gives us 36 shapes for each root times 12, giving us 432 different shapes and positions to play if we want to know all the basic triad forms in all keys for Major, Minor, and Diminished. And this is just ONE way to look at triads, because they can be constructed in different directions and ways across the guitar.

We haven’t even touched scales.

The volume of information was so vast, the demand so high, the sense of development so imperceptible, that after four years, I found myself asking, “What the fuck am I even doing?”

Forget musicality, I don’t even fully understand how this fucking instrument works. I can move “up” in how many ways? I can play arpeggios how many ways? I need to be able to do what to pass my sophomore scale barrier?

Dude, I faked the SHIT out of that. If they were to call a random scale in a random position, I would have been FUCKED.

Information overload.

Achieve.

Attain.

Pass.

Regurgitate.

Perform.

It made me feel sick. And I hated it. I couldn’t even remember why I was playing the damn thing.

Eventually I got to a place of anger. I was going to do it because “Fuck all of you, I’ll show you,”

which in reality was a miserable failure. I felt like a miserable failure. I couldn’t remember changes because I didn’t know which voicing were best to use. Do I use drop 2’s? Drop 3’s? Shell voicings? Which way was best for me, a beginner? But guitarist Peter Bernstein says that the root position Major 7 Drop 2 sound like crap, so he recommends just grabbing the chord tones you really like. And Be careful when you are playing with a piano player, you want to fit together like a puzzle. Don’t step on the piano players toes. And say something meaningful for your solo. Jesus. It’s so flat.

I hated it. I was never good enough. How was I supposed to integrate nearly 100 years of musical tradition in 4? It’s not possible. It didn’t matter how hard I pushed, how much I worked, how late I stayed up to practice. I felt like Captain Jack Sparrow at the beginning of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, sailing into the harbor standing at the tip-top of the mast, inches above the water, the rest of the ship sunk ages ago.

That’s what graduating from music school felt like, for me. The ceremonies and celebrations felt hollow. Sure I graduated with honors and bells and whistles, the ravenous academic benchmark satiated in the grids and forms I needed to pencil in to pass, but me? Why did I do this?

I have a better handle on what I need to work on, but I did NOT become “My ability to fucking play bebop.” Nor did I “Become my ability to stay rooted in any chord changes and take a coherent solo.” I crashed across the finish line feeling like an internal failure, dressed up in regalia that didn’t match my heart, and then I was pumped out into the world to “figure it out.”

So yes, I learned a lot. I became aware of ways to think, I developed a framework for understanding and practicing new concepts, and I finally learned a tune or two.

Looking back on my process, it makes my heart hurt. I see how hard I worked, how much I resolved to “do it,” and you know what? I did do it, but it hurt. Maybe I was just weak. Maybe I still am. But I did it. I started and I finished. And that means something, if only to me.

But maybe strength doesn’t come from never being weak. Maybe strength is something that you build, that you decide to continually show up for, something that you choose, amidst the waves of overwhelming demands.

I know it’s sensitive, my relationship to music. Part of me believes my value as a musician is tied to my ability to “pass,” to be judged well by those fucking people making the benchmarks. And yes, I know I need a thick skin, I know I need fail to grow. I know I need to be uncomfortable, to be rejected, to fall, to break. I know all of those things. I do.

And I know that the dichotomy of passing or failing is not the only way to relate to music. Sometimes I still need a reminder, something my teacher Jay Rinsen Weik told me as I was getting to the end of my wits and contemplating quitting music all together – Pass or Fail, did I show up? Did I contribute? Did I learn something? Because if I showed up, contributed, and learned, then whether I pass or fail, I always will win.

Sometimes it gets hard. Sometimes it seems to stay hard, but son, you gotta make it so you can win, you gotta be on your own team.

Don’t let the critic inside your head get you down folks. Keep at it and dig in.

Bows


_/\_

Sam

Kogen

Here is a piece that was composed back in 2012. It’s a little bit dated now, but I hope you enjoy.

 

The Gorgeous orb of fire gently sank beneath the clouds as a serene shipwreck into the mountains dotting the horizon. Raphael gazed deeply into her misty blue eyes and felt his heartstrings plunge into his glowing center, which he was confident they were sharing; they always had been, and they always would. The emotion swelled in his throat and he felt his eyes glisten as they captured the fading rays of perfection. Perfection…Perfection…Perfection…Perfection…

His mind hung on the word, the three syllables cutting through a strange emptiness he now felt. In fact, his attention swiveled completely and he almost began to feel nauseous. Something felt wrong. Impossibly wrong. It reminded him of a picture; the colors in the sky looked gruesomely lurid, over saturated and bloody. Gazing at his scaly hands, an ethereal sensation washed across his mind and tingled down through his pulsing body, his epidermis crawling with a reptilian dryness. It was all moving so slowly, much too slowly. As she laughed, drops of spittle hung in the air like flecks of dust in an endless vacuum, her honeycomb giggle crunching across his eardrums. From razor blue to a fiery purple to a sickening green, her eyes splintered and fractured the seemingly barren light. He could see the blood pumping through the veins in his eyes and he could see the emptiness of her perfect form cutting a womanly puzzle piece out of the inflated image of his vision. Time roiled around the seams and he realized himself yet again, frozen in a snapshot.

This is what happens to the moment after it passes through us… The thought echoed off indefinitely and grew louder with each oscillation. There was no resolve, the moment stagnated more deeply within itself and his world began to crumble. Billions of thoughts rushed through his mind at light speed, and each consumed his entire focus; He was trapped, a never ending roller coaster. The shattered image of his life had long ago faded, and his environment had taken on a new shape, a new form, breathing, moving, alive, yet absolutely empty. What is this. The question felt more like a command. A story, a book. Impossible. Thinking back, he remembered every single fairy tale and novel, every motion picture, every single storyline ever, beginning, middle, and end. It always happens so perfectly, the guy gets the girl, they overcome evil, live happily ever after. The dragon is always slain. Did they ever realize they were only a story? No. They couldn’t have. The thought was sickening, dreadful, empty.

As he sat in the charged scene that was rapidly consuming his essence, he felt empty. The air was electric, volatile, reacting to his every thought, so he leaned further into the emptiness. The blackness wrapped around him and pushed away from the light, from the crazy scene in his mind’s eye; he felt fear move through him, yet it didn’t bother him. It quickly passed and was replaced by an unending chain of emotions. He didn’t want any of them. The thoughts began to solidify and create unending waves of potential. None of it. I don’t want any of it. I don’t want. I long for nothing. This sick game pushed him over the edge. He wrapped himself even tighter in the blackness. The tension surged through his body, then resided like the ocean waves, then rewound around his soul, and lapsed back into emptiness. A lulling motion, as a hammock, or the wind in the trees, or the pulse of sex, or…

He could feel a strange point ahead of him. A velocity. A familiarity. He wanted to explode. Its all a game…A dance, a fight. It takes two…Who is it that writes the story…? As his mind froze, he felt another freeze, not so far away, just around the corner. Whirling around his eyes pierced the blackness for the presence, yet all he saw was a faint flicker, just out of reach. What is that? He softly wondered as it drew closer. A gentle tug, something delightful. Something soft, warm, familiar. He leaned closer and the light ballooned into a brilliant hue of color and he felt a slither around his fingertips. The life returned to his body and his eyes, and the lush grass beneath him seemed to hold him tightly, he fit perfectly into the form that held him. A sharp gasp of cool air and…

Raphael sat up into an orange and purple sky and a cool breeze on his brow, loving arms wrapped around his chest.

“What is it love?” Sarah asked as her lover shifted. A heavy sob caught her completely off guard and the incredible love in her heart pivoted 180 degrees and a dreadful unease began crawling up her back. “Raphael?” She ventured, her mind alert and worrying. His green eyes pierced her soul, and the tension faded immediately when she saw the emotion that lay beneath. The child within Raphael gazed up at her as if he had never seen such beauty in his entire life. Sarah almost felt like crying suddenly, and she realized they were sharing a similar feeling, though in her mind she couldn’t fathom what it was or where it had grown from, but it didn’t matter. “Are you okay?” She smiled through misty eyes.

He nodded dumbly and drew closer, feeling her heartbeat reverberate in his lungs. They sat for awhile in the starry night sky, leaning comfortably on the tree they had collapsed onto during their laughing fit, until they both drifted off into sleep. Sarah’s dreams tightly followed the experience of the night, from the breathtaking hike to the summit of hawk creek mountain, to the joyous laughter that brought them to their knees to the mysterious emotion that had moved Raphael to tears.

But the story and the teller, they slept in absolute peaceful emptiness…

©

Hey All,

Thanks for popping in and glancing over these words. I am honored that you have found your way into this small corner of the internet and have decided to stay.

I’ve never really done any public blogging before, although I love to journal in the physical world. I figured it might be a fun exploration to share some of my creative process in a more public way. There are some artists that I love, and as I sit and think about it, would invest quantities of time and attention into researching their process. Give a little, take a little, pass the inspiration around and document the results, and refine.

So now I need to take the time to go and snoop around and see what there is to learn from the people who inspire me. If you are interested, I’ll share it with you, dear friend and way-seeker, and I’d like to invite you to share any thoughts or feelings that you may have.

Thanks again for hanging for a minute. Stay frosty.

_/\_ Bows
Sam