My wife is playing a concert series in Italy this summer. This is a TEDx Talk with the owner of the hotel.
Yesterday, we had a memorial service for my father-in-law. I read a blog entry that I wrote after he passed away:
My father-in-law passed away last week. If he knew I was publicly celebrating his life, he would probably say “awe jeez” with his mid-western nasal twang. He was a quiet humble man…except once. He bought an Indiana Jones hat at Universal Studios on a family vacation. He looked great in that hat and he knew it. He channeled Harrison Ford, Clint Eastwood and John Wayne. That hat with his grin was a handsome combination. He had three units of measurements: metric, standard and a Buick. For example: “that couch, awe jeez, that couch is as heavy as a Buick”. He was a Buick man. His was always clean and maintained. I only saw him cry once. It was the day after I married his daughter [it’s ok to laugh] but seriously, we were leaving for our honeymoon and we were about two hours into our Minnesota-goodbye. My wife said “dad, don’t cry because if you do, I will”. He said “ok” and the tears started. He shook my hand and welcomed me into the family. I thought he was going to cry a second time but he didn’t. It was when our son was born. He transitioned gracefully from dad to father-in-law to grandfather. No conversation about him is complete without mentioning Mario Lanza. It didn’t matter who was performing, you could have anyone and his response would be “that’s pretty good but it’s no Mario Lanza” The only CDs in his Buick were Lanza. Any conversation about music always returned to Lanza and his powerful voice and colorful lifestyle. Back in 2009, I was in LA for a performance. I was bored so I took a walk down Hollywood Blvd. I was near the intersection of Hollywood and Franklin just past the Kodak Theatre and what catches my eye, Mario Lanza’s Star on the sidewalk. I took a picture of it and sent it to him. We had an ongoing conversation over the course of seventeen years about science, religion, space, Einstein, circuit boards, contradictions, logic and anything else, usually in his Buick listening to Mario Lanza. Those conversations helped me mature and re-evaluate my attitudes and opinions about life. And for that, I’m thankful to have known him.
We gathered in the woods near his house and poured his ashes across the ground. A few other stories were sharded about his life and a poem was read by my brother-in-law. Then, my wife and sister-in-law presented my mother-in-law with a plaque with a star named after him. And so they can always be together, a second plaque with a star named after her. From the Nothern Hemisphere, look to the south and locate the Ophiuchus constellation and at the bottom tip, just to the right of the Serpens Cauda constellation, you’ll see two stars: one for Herman and one for Darlene.
There’s a lot of hate in the world and there doesn’t need to be. As people cling more to their supposed identity, they project their hatred: I am _______ therefore I hate ________. To me, the only identity worth identifying is humanity. I realize many will hate me for that statement because it doesn’t include anything else but it’s my opinion and I present it you, the reader, without hate.
I’ve been thinking a lot this year about social issues, political issues and what it is that defines who we are and the influence that has on our decisions. I’ve been walking around with all of these thoughts in my head and I just feel the need to write it all down and share it. I’ve always been kind of neutral in a way. I’m polite, I don’t ruffle a lot of feathers. It’s good but I’m aware that because of it, some people will brand me with their ideals and assume I think a particular way. Now of course, this says a lot about that type of person but that’s beside the point…or maybe it is the point. But my point, and maybe I just need to write this for myself, is to say what’s on my mind.
Religion: I’m all for religious freedom. Because of religious freedom, I have had the opportunity to worship, learn and participate in a variety of churches, synagogues and temples. I’ve been able to read and study about every religion and conclude on my own that I’m atheist. I believe that we all experience things in our lives that propel us in our development and at different stages, we require different things. I’m here. Now. I’ve been here for a while. And I’m cool, thank you.
Marriage: I’ve been married to a wonderful woman for 15 1/2 years. We’ve loved, laughed, argued, cried, whispered and shouted. We’ve moved several times. Supported each other financially and emotionally. We’ve had a child together. In short: Everything a couple can do. I think everyone should be able to marry. EVERYONE. If you are of legal age, of sound mind and in love: get married. The argument against same-sex marriage always comes down to procreation and attitudes of religion. You know where I stand with religion. Marriage is more than sex and children [insert joke here] It’s about two people announcing their commitment to each other.
Education: Elementary school is so important. The introduction to learning has to be a positive experience. A high standard needs to be set at a young age and the focus should be on learning, not passing a standardized test. Colleges have become 13th grade. I feel like I got my high school education in undergrad and my undergrad in grad school. I’d like to see more reasoning skills and problem solving than regurgitating.
Health: I feel that with each advancement in medicine, our society becomes more reckless. It seems like there is a pill for everything and every pill has a minimum of 20 possible side effects. I want to see an end to the industrialized diet. I wish everyone would shut up and eat their vegetables. I also wish everyone would park their cars and walk. Just move your body and all of your bodily functions will function properly.
Money: I remember reading an article in 1987 about what an industrialized nation does to a non-industrialized nation to make it industrialized. They convince the non-industrialized nation that they shouldn’t use their natural resources and that they should purchase them from the industrialized nation. I see America as an industrialized industrialized nation. We’re two layers deep in our own game. We have convinced everyone to buy what they don’t necessarily need. I choose to support products and services and in that regard, I support capitalism. I just question the “shop till ya drop” mentality. I’ve been a salesman and a lot of times, I sent customers home empty handed because I wanted to get them the right product so they could achieve their goals not just sell them something. ”Money makes the world go ‘round” I get it but let’s slow down. We’re in over our heads and every country in the world is feeling it. Our collective attitude about consuming has put us where we are today.
Those are my thoughts. Please conclude your own.