Monday, April 27, 2009

Tuning a Life

I've been a guitar player since I was a kid. I don't really speak the language of audio science, but I know that when two tones are "out of phase," their sound waves meet at less than optimum points and there is a loss of quality. Things don't sound good.

Musical instruments respond to their environment and to the exuberance with which they're played. It's their nature to go in and out of tune. Out-of-tune strings resonate at incompatible frequencies. They sound bad. They're "out of phase." Tuning your instrument brings its various tones into phase.

So does tuning a life.

When you're playing your guitar, you don't waste time wishing its out-of-tune strings were in tune, wondering how the strings got out of tune in the first place, thinking there is something wrong with a guitar that needs tuning. You just tune the damn thing and get on with your song. It's not a moral issue. The guitar doesn't need counseling or coaching or a 12-step program to help it stay in tune. What it needs is to be played, and listened to.

In other words, it needs care and attention.

And sometimes it needs a new set of strings.

Lives go in and out of tune all the time. Phases shift. Resonance decays. And as anyone who's ever put a new set of strings on a guitar knows, new strings need to be tuned more frequently than strings that have settled in.

Here's what I'm learning: that it's not the change itself that changes you. It's the care and attention you give yourself after you've made your change. Now is the time to listen very closely, and pay attention to the resonance. Because just putting on new strings isn't enough. They'll still sound like crap until they're tuned. And re-tuned. And tuned once again.

* * *

Dave Pollard at How to Save the World wrote a wonderful and thought-provoking review of 101 Reasons Why I'm an Unschooler this weekend, and it rocked my world, let me tell you. I don't know quite how to act, other than with care and attention, and a whole boatload of gratitude. Thank you, Dave.

And thank you, wonderful reader, be you new or returning. I'm grateful for your presence. Now let's tune up, and make some music.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

101 Reasons Why I'm An Unschooler

Now available for purchase
as a printed paperback book
or as a download.
Support independent publishing: buy this book on Lulu.
If you wander over to Lulu to take a look, please keep in mind that Lulu's online images aren't great. The actual book -- the one you can hold in your hands -- looks crisp and clean.

I'll probably share some thoughts about working with Lulu at some point, though I might be sharing them over on my other site. I hope you'll come visit there, too. Spare tho it may be over there at present, I do believe it'll feel more like home as soon as I hang some art and cook a few meals.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

This Space Taken

I'm working on a new project. It's taken over the hours of my day, the days of my week. In a good way, but still. All that space I was holding? It's now filled up.

My unschooler manifesto, 101 Reasons Why I'm An Unschooler, should be available for sale in a few days. Or not. As soon as everything's set, I'll let you know where/how to order.

Regular blogging will resume shortly. Thanks for checking in.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Holding Space

I used to keep an empty wooden frame on my wall, above my work table. It was empty on purpose -- not because I didn't have anything to put into it, but because it was holding space for work as yet unmade. The painting not yet painted, the essay not yet written.

For a while now I've been living within that frame. I've been holding space, getting reacquainted with the idea of empty.

I've been doing it out of necessity. It's been more difficult than I anticipated.

Holding space takes more work than I'm usually willing to do. I like to have stuff going on. I like to have important things to do. I like being busy.

But I've been working at being not-so-busy. At being in-between. At letting things pass by me, and through me, and around me. Life as preposition.

Do I need to tell you it's been a wee bit uncomfortable? I didn't think so. But honestly, dear reader, sometimes this life feels like so much unsettled grit in a glass of water, all stirred up and clouding my perspective, and I need to just let it all settle for a time in order to see where I am.

Sometimes "for a time" takes longer than I expect. Lots of grit. Lots of swirling.

Some of the discomfort of letting things settle comes from identifying too much with the grit -- with mistaking myself for all the crazy stuff swirling around me. I confuse that stuff with who I am and what I'm doing. And then, as I let it fall away, I get anxious, wondering where my life went.

Where I went.

And then I blink, and things are a little clearer, and I think, oh, okay. Here I am, right where I've been all along.

Is it ever like that for you? I'm sure it is. I can't be the only one.

Anyway, as I hold this space and let old things fall away, I've been playing with a new blog on Wordpress, trying out a fresh canvas, seeing how I like their different way of doing things. There isn't much there yet, not even a bonafide post, so if you wander over don't come away disappointed. It's just me, holding space, taking a breath, getting a little clarity before I plunge back into muddy water.