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music. art. love.
we're just here for a moment, then floating away...

Danny Musengo, voice
Molly Fletcher, violin
Paul Weinfeld, guitar
Walker Adams, percussion

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In our desire to be good at this or that, we often forget the goodness of just being an observer. You will never defeat all the beasts of the night, but you can be the moonlight that illuminates them without itself being affected. This, too, is a form of goodness. Some of life is always lived unconsciously, no matter how wise you become, and the morning will dawn when you wake to find that covert forces in you, like a swarm of termites, have taken down your loftiest intentions. And when the trees fall, you must know how to watch from a distance, without judging or defending, but with the understanding that you are separate from what you witness. Perhaps no one is entirely pure, but we all are innocent when we are sincerely learning.

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The greatest tragedy is to be too exhausted by guilt to be able to love. Your mind will tell you that you have to carry days and nights of regret on your back, but your heart knows that true repentance only requires a single moment of clarity. If you have hurt someone, apologize, but make your apology a water-wheel that turns the energy of sorrow back out into the world as sympathy and goodwill. Keep picturing the person you have hurt happy or at peace now, and if that is too much for you, then just be kind to the next person who crosses your path. Don’t lie down and let yourself be battered by waves of remorse. Turn, keep turning, with the river rushing through you, and empty yourself of anything that love cannot flow through.

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Your body is only “yours” the way a child can be yours: to love and to care for, but never to share a destiny with. Your body, like a child, is outgrowing you day by day, and many of the pains you feel are not due to some fault of yours, but only to the natural parting of your two paths. We forget this, the way we forget that our greatest human gift is compassion, not intervention. When a child is sick, you can try to make him better, but mostly he just needs someone to sit by his bed and remind him he’s not alone. If only we could be with ourselves in this same way, the nights would not be so long, nor pain separable from great joy.

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We often think of solitude as cutting ourselves off from the people and things we love. But solitude is not a cutting off, but a cutting loose of things so they can be free. When we take time to be alone, we make space for what is dead to depart and what is living to surprise us with its endurance and goodness. For the intimacy we are seeking is not the result of being near, but of letting all things be what they are, which requires a loving distance sometimes.

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If your conscience tells you to make a little more effort, then make a little more. But if your conscience tells you to make a lot more effort, ask yourself if you truly understand what effort is. For the extra effort needed to live and love well is usually the softest imaginable, like the slightest turn of a steering wheel or the gentlest nudge of a radio dial, and most movements greater than these only put the soul off course and out of tune. So ask yourself: What small thing could I do today that I could do joyfully, over and over, for the rest of my days? In the answer to this question lies the seed of greatest growth.

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Make it a practice of love to learn how to end conversations, even with those you are close to, for love needs a limit, just as a house needs a roof, to keep it safe and protected. It can be just as challenging sometimes to find affection in the ending of words as it is to find peace in the death of our bodies, but we have what it takes to learn both these skills, for in fact they are both related. In the middle of any interaction today, ask yourself: How can I close this circle with kindness? We are used to words ending only with a trauma, with the slamming of a door or the violence of some deliberate distraction, but we can end with love too: with a smile, a word of appreciation, and above all, the willingness to let die all that is not essential between us.

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It isn’t true that love lets you down. Bitterness will let you down, that’s for sure, but we rarely see the enormous faith we place in our own resentments. Every day, when things don’t go our way, we harbor a secret hope that if we hate them enough they will change. And resentment is waiting for us, like a car without brakes, to carry us forward in our wild pursuit of happiness. And then, when we hit the telephone pole, we think: How could love let this happen? But no one asked us to get in that car. We do this all by ourselves.

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We imagine our thoughts are the most human part of us, but they are often the most mechanical. The thinking mind is in many ways a machine that, if left unchecked, runs according to program till it runs itself down. What is truly human is not our ability to think, but our ability to interrupt thought, to ask, “Do I need to think this way right now?” Our capacity for interrupting thought is our most basic human freedom, but as with all freedoms, it frightens us too, for we have learned from a young age that we are lovable depending on how we think, and it can be hard for us to accept that we could be loved for who we are rather than what we do with our minds. So this is our great task: to be brave enough to switch off the machine and wait in the silence for a truer, more human, version of ourselves to appear.

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What we call “heartbreak” is not a breaking at all, but only the contraction of our awareness. For the truth is that we are loved from all directions: by the earth that feeds us, by the breath that sustains us, and by the wisdom that waits for us in all things. But because we so often experience love as a tightening of focus, a clenching of consciousness, we forget that when the narrow point of our affection disappears, we still always have the ability to pull back the lens and behold the complete scope of love. You can learn a lot about heartbreak by taking long walks, for as you move through streets or forests, upon the earth and under the sky, you will find your awareness naturally becoming as large as the world around you. And as you walk with this enlarged awareness, you will remember: Nothing in you has broken. Nothing has dried up. You are standing in a rainstorm of beauty and wonder. You don’t have to keep gathering water with a eyedropper.

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Try to make friends with the present moment, for it is the captain of the ship on which you are traveling. If you come to it, as we often do, with nothing but demands and agendas, it will not take you where you want to go. If the present moment seems tough or uncaring, remember that you have not yet earned its trust either. You must come to it with something in your hands: some appreciation, some willingness to listen. Keep reversing every experience by asking what you can give to it. If you think and live this way, you will find yourself in world that is no longer random, a world in which cooperation exists in all things. For after all, the journey you are making is everyone else’s too.

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