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:

Sub-functions for Energy – Re-imagining Thoughts:

Thoughts of all types are abstract, ethereal, and intangible, at least in a certain sense. Feeling of Rhythm, time, gravity, density, and spaciousness are tangible anchors.

Perception seems to mesh together through 5 physical senses and a 6th mental sense of mind, of thought and imagination.

All too often I wander through my thoughts and loose my center, or so it seems. I am always centered, even when I’m not.

I change the basic way I relate to my thoughts.

Thoughts are like time; fleeting and perpetually changing. Thoughts are a reference points in reality, symbols to relate with, impermanent packets of ordered chaos transformed to manageable quanta with which we construct our schema of reality.

All perception acts as a reference point to harmonize with; tonics, dominants, extensions, people, plants, books situations…

I harmonize with all reference points of perception, toying with rhythm and content, with infinite potential to draw from, creating a life, a story, a song to offer to the universe, as the subtle and mysterious process it is.

Dissonance always points. Harmony Relaxes home.

Current Reflections:

Okay folks, here we go. It feels important to deeply acknowledge my process of growth over time – it’s brought me to this point and continues to propel me forward. Looking over these last few entries, it makes me smile, recognizing just how thinky I was during my college years. And maybe I’m still thinky even now, but there has a tangible and qualitative shift in the way that I relate to my thinking.

So, to dive into it –

Thoughts. What the fuck are they? Where do they come from? Who exactly perceives them and where are they perceived at? Now, in a way, it doesn’t really matter what the answer to those questions are. Regardless of the answers, thoughts are going to rise and dissipate. It seems that a more important question may be this: am I giving my power away to my thoughts? Am I letting my thoughts and emotions drag me around and create suffering? Because, regardless of their content, how can we stay present with the circumstances of our reality, exactly as reality shows up? And how can we meet whatever moment that is showing up from a place of generosity and patience? Can I show up in a way that doesn’t make the world a worse place for others or myself?

Now, in my original entry, after I introduce my subject of thoughts and their mysterious nature, I immediately focus on a feeling:

Feeling of Rhythm, time, gravity, density, and spaciousness are tangible anchors.”

From where I sit now, this is an interesting move that I pulled. Why?

Within the last few months, the Teachers and Sangha of the Buddhist Temple of Toledo offered a virtual teaching retreat for it’s members, focusing on the Home Liturgy outlined by the Abbot. I had the great fortune of joining for a portion of the week’s teachings, where I furiously scribbled poetry along with the teachings and conversations, using my words as a container for the wonderful wisdom that was being offered through the Zoom Retreat.

During the first day of teachings, the teachers focused in on the importance of ritual action and cultivating a feeling through intentional practice. In the context of Zen Buddhist practice, they were discussing the importance of creating a clean and aligned alter, creating a physical space of energetic power, and nurturing the actual feeling of the tradition within the body. This feeling is characterized by nobility, unity, grace, and ease, enabling the practitioner to skillfully use the alter and ritual action of lighting the candle, incense, and making bows as a means of empowerment and grounding, regardless of the circumstance of life in that moment.

In this moment, reviewing this entry from over five years ago, it strikes me as intriguing that within the first paragraph, I acknowledge the fleeting nature of thought and then immediately and subconsciously focus on ways of creating a tangible anchor in feeling. I had not explicitly received any teaching in my Zen training about this, though I was immersing in practice at the time. It seems that some of the unspoken and felt wisdom of the tradition was, even then, influencing my process.

Perhaps around this time, I had engaged in the formal process of becoming a Buddhist, called Jukai, taking up the 16 Boshisattva Precepts, encountering some novel ways of being in the world for the first time in my life. (Here is a picture of our Jukai class, I’m standing in the back wearing a blue necklace)

One of these novel ways of relating to the world I encountered at this time, came to me through a required reading called, “The Heart of Being” by Daido Roshi; There was a passage that spoke of the five sense organs and their object of perception, but also acknowledged a sixth sense organ – the mind – and it’s object of perception – thoughts. Framing the world in this way blew my mind at the time. Our mind is an organ of perception too? And it’s object of perception is thought? Just like our eyes see images and our ears hear sounds, our minds perceive thoughts? I was delighted at the revelation and spoke excitedly with my teacher, Rinsen Roshi; he smiled and told me “there is plenty more where that comes from within the practice.”

Now, back to the original entry, my intention here was to, at the time, and to the best of my ability, reframe the way I encountered my thoughts about music. I recognized that my thoughts were fluid and impermanent, always changing. So how could I center myself in my practice of music making, if not in my fluctuating thoughts?

Through ritualized practice. Through cultivating a feeling tone in the body, by invoking and evoking the tradition of Jazz and the musical ancestors that inspired me in a concrete and tangible way.

In my original entry, I say that “thoughts are a reference point in reality.” I don’t know if I would say it the same way now, perhaps I would leave this line out.

The juice? The nourishment?

All perception acts as a reference point to harmonize with; tonics, dominants, extensions, people, plants, books situations…

I harmonize with all reference points of perception, toying with rhythm and content, with infinite potential to draw from, creating a life, a story, a song to offer to the universe, as the subtle and mysterious process it is.

Or in other words, it is possible to harmonize with any moment in life, no matter the contents. It’s possible to meet the moment fully, in a way that, at the very least, does no harm, and perhaps at the best, actualizes good for others. Whether the circumstances are shitty, the notes are tense, creating augmented, droopy, diminished feelings, or divine, sweet, Lydian, sharp 11 major 7, minor 9 lullaby-esque sounds, or anywhere in between for that matter, it is possible to use the contents of the present circumstances as fuel for practice, as a way to express musicality and to transform suffering.

May the contents of the moment never hinder our ability to show up with compassion and generosity, and may it be so for all beings across space and time.




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.


This entry in particular I am hesitant to share. It feels incomplete and perhaps unhelpful to me now, as I sit in 2020; or at least it feels unhelpful in it’s current state. Throughout this writing, I believe my intention was to explore how practicing my guitar could relate to a logical and almost mathematical way of thinking. I was especially interested in how I could break down the seemingly complex task of succeeding in a collegiate Jazz performance program. The problems I see with my old writing now? It feels young and earnest, though only partially informed. If you are in for a few chuckles or head-scratchers, followed by a reframing of the ideas, I would invite you to read on. If not, I don’t blame you for passing this one over.

At a few moments in the original entry, I sprinkle in some current reflections in italics.

Original Entry:

Bite Sized Functions:

I get tired, so I rest. I get hungry, so I eat. I get energetic, so I move. Any of these “Functions,” when overstretched create tension, gyrations (so to speak), a lack of balance. I overcompensate, spill the beans, tip the scale; I must to experience myself. I am aware of tipping points, “highs,” as well as deficiencies, “lows.” I gravitate towards releases of energy (dopamine?), then inhabit their “niches” like tube worms clustered around hydrothermal vents. I love energy.

According to the first law of Thermodynamics, energy is considered constant in the universe, implying that…what? Either energy is infinite? Finite? Nothing? Speculations. Energy feels quite certainly like something, and from that something, somehow, I emerge. Learning to recognize form and balance is a life-long process; language, physical balance, motor skills, social interaction, music, arranging color, space and sound, drawing, and focus are all activities that I still actively shape and hone, even to this moment. From the entropic haze of reality I emerge, aware of the mess.

Energy transfers are like functions; variables and constants interact and changes occur. For example: a tree grows a fruit, which eventually gains more weight than the branch that birthed it, and it falls down, down, down. Splat. Potential for new tree, nourishment for the creatures below. (Now I try to frame my idea into a concept, which, in the present at 2020, seems a little less certain and concrete.)

The parent tree is constant (within it’s own relativity) and is responsible for producing fruit. The fruit, it’s weight, it’s health, it’s shape, it’s self, is variable, as it’s breaking point. Gravity is constant. The fruit falls.

Learning vocabulary on guitar is a situation composed of the same elements, constants and variables. Or, perhaps it is useful to consider how the situation of learning guitar could map onto the schema of constants and variables.

Inherent NotesForms
Musical RelationshipsSolos
Sounding (Whatever this means)Melodies

As I observe exchanges of energy, not only on guitar, but between musicians, I observe uniquely operating functions.

I am my ability to observe and interact with infinitely varied functions. (This technique of language shows up a lot in this era, as I tried to frame my intentions with Empowered Language, something that Mark England exposed me to at Gratifly Music and Arts Festival (Turns out Gratifly experienced some hard realities too). His website is linked, though I honestly have no idea what he has going on now days. Here’s a Tedx Talk he gave.)

Because I am my ability to observe and interact with infinitely varied functions, I choose to engage with small and manageable functions that promote opening, deepening in every Dharma that arises, like a tree fruiting to nourish and plant seeds.

Current Reflections:

As my Great Uncle John might say, “Boy, oh Boy.” If I could, I would pat this past version of myself on the shoulder and say, “Good try kid.”

I was really trying to take my experience of moments, framed in a dichotomy of yin and yang, (linked here is the Britannica encyclopedia’s cursory entry), as an interplay of opposites. I was attempting to boil my experience into a simple if/than, dualistic, ‘profound,’ or even worse, ‘informed‘ equation-esque way of thinking. This I would plaster over my growing sense of discomfort at the scope of material that I was constantly demanded to learn, memorize, and execute during my college years.

The problem? Life is way more messy than simple “constant and variable” dichotomies, and perhaps much deeper than a “this” and a “that.” My graph above makes me shudder. Any of the constants that I listed in those neat columns could easily be variables, and vice versa. And my imagery of the apple tree makes me groan a little bit. The tree is a variable. It could grow in any way depending on the weather, the environment, the people who live nearby, etc.

As I continue to live, practice, and grow, I’m starting to recognize that maybe life is one big variable, one giant expression of change. Sure, some things seem to stay the same. We can use them as a reference point for measurements and calculations. For example, we can use the sun to measure time. People have been using sundials forever. I just looked up how they work with this cached Yale Scientific Article. The sun is pretty apparently constant, but one day, you know, that fucking thing is going to burn itself out. Sundials won’t work for shit without a sun.

Maybe the universe is constant flux. And maybe it’s useful to consider how ancient spiritual wisdom, like that of the ancient Chinese philosophy of yin and yang applies to our lives right now, whatever our current endeavor.

But this original entry? Trying to frame some ultimate constants and variables? Pssh. There are thousands of different kinds of guitars. That’s a variable. You can tune the damn thing however you want. That’s a variable. Inherent notes? Eh…? Some systems of music use measured micro tones that fit into the cracks and spaces between our piano keys. Even Bach tempered his clavier so that the natural harmonics of the instrument would sound more in tune in all keys. And so on and so forth for the rest of that list above.

For me at the time, I was looking for some discipline. I was searching for a way to regiment and integrate the information I was encountering at music school – and it was a fucking lot of information. I needed to sit down and decide, “Okay, I am going to do it this way, with this tuning, with this feeling, with this approach and form.”

I needed this. I still do now, in a way, but especially then. Because before this time, I was just trying to figure out how the guitar worked with my own thoughts, ability, and mind.

Turns out there are a lot of heavy duty teachers and musicians in the lineage of Jazz, as there are across other musical traditions.

For me, deciding to learn music through the framework of jazz was a way to take the bull by the horns and say “listen here, Sam, you are going to learn the fuck out of this information in this particular tradition;” because ambling around noncommittally for a year was exciting and creative, but wasn’t really yielding the results I wanted. So I took it up and, by gum, I got myself through it. I’m still growing, struggling, and giving it my best; and, I actually use some principals of Yin and Yang in my guitar practice, but in a much more pragmatic way. Bows to my teacher for the practice.

So, the biggest take away from this, for me? My life is a constant process. Maybe change is the truth of the universe. And maybe intentional, critically-examined, and earnest ritualized effort is a vehicle for growth and actualization. And I see now that, not every stop along the way is the greatest place ever.

Sometimes I can be wrong.


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

Magnetic Learning:

I learn in a very mysterious way, through experience over time. I reference a knowledge body and relate new information to it. This information becomes magnetized towards me and my neural network and energetic library, or is repelled away from me and forgotten.

The emotions I create open gates for my soul, my center, my essence to draw experiences through.

“Negative” emotions are valid and insightful, creating a space of contrast for novel experience to emerge from.

Engaged and excited emotions quickly magnetize and charge, making learning embody a state of flow.

Lusting and “greedy” emotions draw towards a specific desire and nullify opportunities of opening and flowering in preference of one specific release. My question is this: can this ability for desire be harnessed in either a more helpful or less helpful way?

If I desire to play “better” or “cooler” music than what I already create, I disengage from reality and engage with impossible fluctuating standards. This is neither an excuse to curb the desire to expand and grow, nor is it necessarily helpful to catalyzing or enabling myself to expand or grow.

I define my standards and project them on reality.

I create a projection onto reality, reality creates an impression on me.

I am my ability to project and impress upon reality.

Because I am my ability to impress and project upon reality, I create harmony, commUNITY, and inspiration for the benefit of all sentient and unaware beings throughout all space and time.

Samuel Kogen Rugg

Projecting is giving energy, impressing is receiving energy.

Giving, receiving, and energy are empty.

I am silence, emptiness, nothing.

I am everything.

I am.

I III 3 delta

(Well, there was that Empowered Language Trip from Mark England showing up again, followed by some free association.)

Current Reflections:

Upon a few years of steeping and ripening, as I look back upon this entry, I can see that my focus in this writing is clearly focused on memory and learning. Questions like:

  • How do I learn new things?
  • Why do I forget some things, but remember other things so vividly?
  • Can I unearth a way to help ritualize the process of encountering new forms and practices?
  • Can I ritualize a way to integrate new forms and practices into my being and then directly apply them to my life in this moment?

At the time of this writing, I was intrigued with the idea of magnetic learning. What exactly does this mean, magnetic learning?

In my experience, it seems that the human creature has a very special ability. We can encounter new information, something we have never seen before, something that requires our body and mind to engage in a particular way, and something that then creates a specific novel result when actualized with experience. As we practice, it seems that this new form can become easier and easier, until it suddenly seems like it seems to show up on it’s own accord, with a mind and inertia of its own.

It’s almost like we this: We can engage so fully, so consistently, so consciously, and so regularly with a practice that we can literally wire up a new habit and plant it into our subconscious. All of our conscious effort and attention becomes so ritualized that we can offload it to automatic or subconscious action, but not mindlessly. Rather, we can offload it with full mindfulness. It’s like all of the hours of our consistent work, all of our full-contact, engaged, and present awareness – it never stops. We have created a version of our self that has no beginning or ending, but is always engaged in this particular form of our practice. And once it’s subconscious and automatic, we can engage with the process again and build on it.

Oh lord stop me.

Starting to sound like a Bill Evans quote my teacher Jay Rinsen Weik has taped to his office door at the University of Toledo:

It’s better to do something simple that is real. It’s something you can build on. because you know what you’re doing. Whereas, if you try to approximate something very advanced and don’t know what you’re doing, you can’t build on it.

The whole process of learning the facility of being able to play Jazz was to take these problems from the outer level in- one by one and to stay with it at a very intense conscious concentration level until that process becomes secondary and subconscious… Then you can begin concentrating on that next problem which will allow you to do a little bit more.

The full article is here. And it comes from a video called “The Universal Mind of Bill Evans,” here linked to the YouTube video.

For me, back in my undergraduate years at the University of Toledo, I was extremely interested in how our emotions effect our ability to learn. Do strong emotions help me learn and remember things more deeply?

If so, how can I cultivate a deeper emotional connection to the musical forms that I want to integrate? An amazing pianist, Josh Silver once told me that he likes to sit, close his eyes, and listen to a new tune he’s working on, imagining a film playing in his mind along with the music. This deeply struck me. At the time he delivered this wisdom, I was overwhelmed and out of my mind scrambling to get my shit together to just pass my finals. I tried his idea out once while I was learning the standard, “Here’s That Rainy Day,” Here from my senior recital.

A better one is Bill Evans, Here.

I haven’t forgotten the tune.

If I’m being honest, it’s likely rusty, but man, Josh’s insight really helped me out. And if you listen to him, he’s a, (pardon my language) a MOTHER FUCKER of a player. Deep respect Josh.

How can we create a powerful emotional connection with our art and craft, whatever it is? How can we make it personal, real, and meaningful? How can we use the building blocks of our craft and electrify it with our life? Maybe it’s time to take some of Rinsen’s, Bill Evans’, and Josh’s insights to heart.


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
Ethereal and Physical Bodies in Music:

My mind is part of a non-physical, energetic continuum that merges with a physical expression of this energy.

Before I play, I engage and focus my mind in sitting; I engage and focus my body in juggling, stimulating an experience of rhythm and harmony in motion.

Guitar is an intricate interaction of my physical and non-physical aspects of being, through time and space, in sound. Warming up and engaging both aspects of my being awakens fresh clay to mold with my intention and awareness.

Current reflection:

This is another short entry, so I thought I might unpack some of the ideas.

Around the time that I wrote this little snippet, I was first encountering some wisdom from my teacher, Jay Rinsen Weik, who was encouraging me to think about the different roles I inhabit in my life and the responsibilities associated with each. For example, at the time, I was inhabiting the active roll of undergraduate music student at the University of Toledo. Some of my responsibilities included: showing up to classes on time, finishing homework, and practicing. Pretty easy. I was also inhabiting the role of Zen Student, practicing with the community at the Buddhist Temple of Toledo; here I had a different set of responsibilities and roles, some of which included: taking care of my daily meditation practice, or Zazen, showing up to physical services when I could (this was back before the entire world was shut down from COVID), and sometimes filling liturgical roles, like clomping on a drum or playing certain bells during chants and moments of ceremony.

This entry, Ethereal and Physical Bodies in Music, was an extension and exploration of these, ‘The Roles of My Life at This Current Moment in Time – Sam Rugg, Undergraduate, early 2010’s’

Within my first sentence, “My mind is part of a non-physical, energetic continuum that merges with a physical expression of this energy,” I was appreciating the recognition of the apparent dichotomy that my body and mind seems to share. Clearly, if I sit and just think about how nice it would be to have a cheeseburger, alas, no cheeseburger will arise. But If I get my ass up and take some initiative with my body, I can bring my cheeseburger vision to life. As I continue to live, breathe, and practice my craft and engage with my Zen Training, my understanding keeps evolving and changing, but at its heart I think was really trying to acknowledge, “Hey I have a mind that thinks and a body that acts.”

At the same time that these two aspects of myself, mind and body seem to inhabit different spheres, I was also beginning to realize that, “Hey, maybe this mind/body split is less concrete than I have believed up to this moment.” I was starting to sense that my mind and body were woven into the same continuum, that their apparent separateness might actually be an incomplete perception. I started really diggin’ the thought that my mind and body were expressions of the same thing, but just across multiple dimensions.

“Maybe my body is the manifestation of my life through space, and my mind is the manifestation of my life through time!” I might think to myself.

Is it?

I don’t know.

But, however these two aspects of my being map out onto reality, I was feeling a deeper connection that I wanted to acknowledge, a seed of awareness that I wanted to cultivate.

The next line: “Before I play, I engage and focus my mind in sitting; I engage and focus my body in juggling, stimulating an experience of rhythm and harmony in motion.” Here, I am invoking some intentions that, if I’m being honest, sound really great to me from this current vantage point. I definitely have not been regularly framing my musical practice with these two warm-ups, meant to engage my ethereal and physical bodies before I hunker down to practice my instrument.

I reasoned that, if I took five or ten minutes to practice Zazen (my seated meditation), then I could effectively focus my mind and bring myself back to my center, internally. If I took another five or ten minutes to roll this focus into my juggling practice, (yes, I definitely have a juggling practice that I have been cultivating since late 2011) then I could engage my body with the natural rhythm of throwing and catching objects, spatial and temporal awareness, and the feeling of flow.

Focus the mind, focus the body, then hit the wood shed to sharpen my musical craft and training? Fuck yes. That still sounds great to me. Definitely have NOT been doing this over the last 5 – 7 years.

It’s funny, in this moment, I’m recognizing how wonderful it would be to intentionally frame my guitar practice with these specific, and almost liturgical practices: Focus mind, Focus Body, Warm Up on the Guitar, Shed my craft at the edge of my ability, then cool off, offer the merits, log the work, and close the book. Perhaps I was writing this entry, from all those years ago, to me now. I have the capacity and time to take this up. I wonder what this ritualized practice might yield for my life?

“Guitar is an intricate interaction of my physical and non-physical aspects of being, through time and space, in sound. Warming up and engaging both aspects of my being awakens fresh clay to mold with my intention and awareness.”

The coda. As I read over this entry and unpack it, I’m recognizing more and more the liturgical nature of this compact entry. In this last set of lines, I am tying up all of my intentions, tuning my mind and heart to a particular feeling-tone and quality that I would like to cultivate as I continue to engage with my spiritual, physical, and musical practices. In our own way, I think we each want to bring the best aspects of ourselves forward to the activities we cherish most in our life, striving to do the best we can with the circumstances we are given. Can we cherish all of the circumstances, not just the super-cool and most engaging moments, bringing our best to the most mundane and the most difficult moments of our lives?

May it be so.



Musical Liturgy #1

My mind is part of a non-physical, energetic continuum that merges with a physical expression of this energy.

Before I play, I engage and focus my mind in sitting; I engage and focus my body in juggling, stimulating an experience of rhythm and harmony in motion.

Guitar is an intricate interaction of my physical and non-physical aspects of being, through time and space, in sound. Warming up and engaging both aspects of my being awakens fresh clay to mold with my intention and awareness.”


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.


“On Emotion: From the Evolution of Consciousness by Robert Ornstein:

[Emotions] are at the frontline of experience. Since they evolved to short-circuit deliberations, they spring quickly into action before rational deliberation has time to function (92).”

I am my ability to reflect my emotions onto guitar and musical ideas.
I am my ability to feel and remember emotion encoded in music.
I am my ability to direct and harness emotion with my experience.

This entry is extremely short, so I figured that I might reflect upon the inspiration that moved me to write this several years ago.

I was incredible intrigued when I first read the above passage in Ornsteins’ book. The entire work is a trip, “The Evolution of Consciousness.” To see in writing, this claim that our emotions have an evolutionary nature that allows them to bypass our conscious thought, this hit me deeply. And looking back into time, doesn’t it make sense that emotions would allow our evolutionary ancestors to automatically react out of, say, mortal fear of a tiger in the bushes. To sit and contemplate whether or not the tiger was in the bushes, whether or not the tiger was real, or whether or not the tiger is actually just a perception existing in my own mind, all of these thoughts are going to quickly remove this ancient hominid’s genes from the pool.

These aren’t my thoughts. I’m sure I’ve heard Joe Rogan talk about this too. It’s not a new idea.

But the capacity to engage with music, interfacing with my emotions? That’s interesting. Because if I can engage with music, interfacing with my body and my emotions, can I tap into this instinctual capacity to bypass my logical thought? If my emotions are engaged, if I am deeply feeling something, anything, and then I engage with art, if I channel my feelings into what I’m doing, isn’t that so much richer and deeper than simply hacking apart all of music theory and spilling all the guts and appendages of my instrument’s technical nature onto the music stand in front of me? I went to school for Jazz studies. I am endlessly fascinated by the inner-workings of music theory, harmony, melody, voice leading, rhythm, and how all these elements show up through the instrument in front of me. I can pull up my rubber gloves and pick at things with my tweezers all day. But lord, I sounds pretty dry and boring if that’s all there is when I play.

So what is this about emotions short-circuiting our deliberations? What does it really mean to “play with feeling?” And that’s not rhetorical. Seriously. How does that feel? How do you do that? Are there some ways that I can always emerge from a place of deep feeling, visceral emotion, living vibration when I perform? Can I make a marriage of my arduous effort to organize shapes, structures, cells, intervals, scales, chord voicings, harmony, voice leading, and the whole musical catastrophe with raw-fucking-throbbing-emotion?

This is why I wrote this entry. This is the impulse behind my, perhaps corny, affirmations – how can I harness my biology to help my ego and my thoughts and my sense of self get the fuck out of the way? How can I bring my life and the reality of my successes and failures, the constant turmoil of emotional waves, my fears and insecurities, my power and strength, the still and unmoving ocean of my being, and everything I have into my art. What the fuck does that feel like?


I’ve decided to share my musical inspiration notebook from my college years, one entry at a time. Some entries are carbon copies right from my notebook, others have current reflections added into the original entries, marked with italics.

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.


Seeds of a Mental Construct:
My short time with Vector literally changed my entire perspective on reality and colored my subconscious. In 24 hours of “intense” periods of training, I was firmly enough enough rooted and wired efficiently enough to begin selling a product that I previously knew nothing about. Through a mix of listening and conscious interaction and practice, I was able to develop a strongly magnetized mental construct. I even dreamed of CutCo knives.
Maddie familiarized us to the product and the company. She taught us all about the sales approach, the marketing approach, had us practice from the manual, and gave us hands on experience cutting food.
I can utilize this approach to build my own musical and mental constructs. At this point, it is a scientific process; I am just trying things out, but with a cocktail of integrative practices and perspectives, I can develop and cultivate my musical intuition and my hearing-mind.
Perhaps instead of attempting to digest the entire of field of music, instead I could gear this first perspective towards digesting new tunes and material.

• For new tunes, I can familiarize myself to it through listening to a variety of versions of the song.
• Dissect the chord changes and read them aloud
• Play the melody with the recording
• Play the chords with the recording
• Establish a flow of scales with looper
• Play with triads through changes
• Play with seventh arpeggios through the changes.

Paving, excavating, polishing, building

This is a culmination of all I know. Each one of these bullets have infinite ways to open endless possibilities; is is a 3-day, 5 hour-a-day block of experience.

Each bullet should be practiced and thoroughly appreciated; there is no rush, but there is.

Hands-on playing can be balanced with critical (attentive) listening.

This approach can be geared towards classical materials as well.

I steep in exercise to promote growth.
I play as a listener.
When anger arises, I observe it and diffuse it by tracing and acknowledging its roots. For every anger, there exists a construct for translating, transmuting, and transforming emotion into motivation and understanding.

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