Tag Archives: creativity

Have I Found What I’m Looking For?

Reid Dickie

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates

            I was sitting in the Tim Horton’s at Stafford and Corydon and I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For by U2 came on the radio. (I know, Socrates, Tim Horton and U2 in the first three lines with Ken Wilber and St. Francis of Assisi yet to come! Please bear with me.) It got me wondering if, in my lifetime, I have found what I’m looking for, a question that demanded some serious introspection. Then I thought Chris and I could both blog on the question and post on the same day. People could compare and contrast our answers. Chris jumped at the idea. He is twenty-five years my junior and had an upbringing much different from mine. This should be interesting.

My search for an answer started with making a list of the most important things I have gone looking for in my life. It turned out to be a six item list: Love, Friendship, The Muse, Happiness, An Audience and My Life Purpose.

  • Love: When I was a romantic lad growing up in Shoal Lake in western Manitoba, I had an imaginary dream girl, the perfect woman who would love me forever, cherish everything about me, forgive all my sins and die happily in my arms, all the same things I would do for her. Her name was Johanna, inspired by Bob Dylan’s Visions of Johanna. I held onto my vision of Johanna through high school, took her to Toronto with me to learn radio announcing and brought her back to the prairies where I started my career. Still not having found my Johanna by that time, I was starting to lose hope, thinking it was all just a childish thing ready to be discarded. However, I kept searching and I found her. She was just using another name – Linda. I am among those incredibly fortunate men who found a perfect soul mate to love and understand him. I found the love I was looking for in full measure.

  • Friendship: At The Celebration of Light and Linda last fall, I was joined for a photograph by five guys I went to school with 50 years before. It is a most telling picture showing deep camaraderie and love. I could call on any one of these men today and they would help me, no matter what, and I would do the same for them. These are lifelong friends with whom I share common childhood experiences and mutual admiration. I have human friends of all ages and endeavours and find them stimulating and satisfying. My closest friendships feel more like family. Through shamanism, I have a pantheon of spirits who are also my friends but of an entirely different order. I have found the friends I was looking for.

Six buddies from Shoal Lake: from the left Terry Lewycky, Dennis Lewycky, Ernie Bart, myself, Mark Fikkert, Ron Bart

  • The Muse: My creativity is a family legacy from my mother and her father. Imaginative and always ready to tell a story, real or imagined, my teacher Mom exhorted me to get inside my own head and discover what’s there. I’ve had an eager and unabashed connection to my imagination ever since. On my About page, I wrote (quoting myself, writer’s bliss!): “I seem to have tapped into the source of an endless stream of ideas that flow like quicksilver through my mind, some of them getting captured and sent far and asunder in my own words. As Terence McKenna said, ‘Imagination is where we are coming from and imagination is where we are going to.’ I have honed my imagination to a fine nib that dips into the rainbow ink of many worlds, leaving behind a sometimes elegant, sometimes smeared trail of word crumbs. If they ever help anybody find their way home, my job is done.” Finding a life partner like Linda, equally imaginative and creative, was an unexpected bonus. Looking for The Muse is a process, it never ends. I have found The Muse and an ongoing connection to its process.
  • Happiness: The big truth here in ordinary reality is we only get little stabs at happiness, not long blissful swaths of it. The happiness we do experience is seldom of our own making, often artificially induced, always fleeting. Needy egos, the bind of the mind and the rolling thunder of life’s experience keep us from sustained happiness. Developing an inner practise like shamanism opens up new realms of potential happiness often leading to bliss. My power animal, Tiger, brings joyfulness into my life daily. Linda made me happy during her life and continues to do so after her death. Her consistent message is “Be happy.” Although this is not the forum to detail this, using wisdom flowing from her new vantage point, Linda has shown me a glimpse of heaven to illustrate why I should “be happy.” I have found happiness wherever I looked.     
  • An Audience: Both Chris and I are seeking our audiences this year. In my life, I have frequently had an audience: as a radio announcer, as an artist and performer, as an old friend prowling the stage of The Park Theatre at The Celebration and now with this blog. Today I’m finding my next audience in a whole new way. The content – me – is the same but the format is new and exciting, awash with instant possibilities combining images, video, audio and words. I am finding my audience here, view by view, in this burning ground of history where everything is immediately retrievable while the whole world watches.  
  • My Life Purpose: It’s not radio, not retail, not any of the myriad odd jobs I tried. It’s not even writing. My life purpose became clear to me when I was 45 years old. In 1994, I discovered a little book called The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner. He laid out the core elements of shamanism as it had been practiced for over 50,000 years, adapted the techniques and technology for modern people and, suddenly, I had access to the spirit world. I had found my Way! Though it would take me a few years to realize it, I had found my purpose, as well. Widely traveled, I visited dozens of ancient sacred sites on the Canadian prairies, performing rituals and exploring the realms opened up through my daily practice of neo-shamanism. Discovering my spiritual calling, my purpose has enriched my life beyond measure. 

St. Francis of Assisi said something so profoundly simple in its truth that it took me years to understand it. He said, “What you are looking for is what is looking.” I knew the things I was looking for, that was the easy part. But what is looking? I pondered this many times. My searching and scrambling seemed to be what I wanted but I never had any real perspective on myself until I figured out what St. Francis meant.

So, what is looking? Our very essence, this vast empty awareness in which we and everything we experience and perceive arises, that’s what is looking. Call it Spirit, cosmic consciousness, God. Ken Wilber calls it “the deepest suchness of our being where all worlds arise.” Spirit is what’s looking, partaking of the world through my eyes and my being, in fact, everyone’s eyes and beings. Spirit is the tireless watcher, the eternal Witness to all that arises. The most satisfying discovery of my life had always been plainly obvious. To experience it, all I did was get out of my own way.

The Answer: Yes, reflecting back over six decades I can honestly say I have found what I’m looking for and I have been found by what is looking for me. In both cases, it is Spirit. If I die tomorrow, I’ll have a smile on my face.

However, although satisfied so far, I am still committed to the search, to learn my whole life long, to shine my curiosity into new realms and discover what’s there. I can report today that what’s there is incredible!

Check out Chris’ blog to see if he’s found what he’s looking for.

 Chris welcomes the world to his blog.

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Filed under ken wilber, Life and Life Only, Linda, shaman, shamanism

Reid’s Pop Song of the Month and Why

Reid Dickie

Introduction

Quick definition of pop song: any popular song from any era regardless of musical genre.

         The criteria for getting to be Reid’s Pop Song of the Month is simple: I have to love the tune. It has to dye me, heal, console and inspire me, teach, enlarge and challenge me, contribute to my personal evolution, resonate through my lifetime and be a wonder-filled marriage of music and lyrics. Each tune has to have “seen me through” somehow. Not much to ask of a pop song, is it?  

          There are certainly elements of “trying to tell a stranger about rock and roll” when writing intimately about something utterly subjective like your favourite songs. With every song in this series, it might take a few listens to hear what I hear but if you never hear it, that’s fine too. Ear of the beholder. Besides, it’s only a pop song.

            Lest we fall into a pop culture miasma of foolishness and desire and lose track of our balance, I suggest you click on the Culture is not your friend link on my blogroll and let Terence McKenna fill you in. He makes a very clear distinction between art and culture, a distinction that is mostly invisible today.

REID’S POP SONG OF THE MONTH IS

And Your Bird Can Sing

The Beatles

            This time Reid’s Pop Song of the Month is my favourite all-time Beatles song, which comes from my all-time favourite Beatles album. Not one of their better-known tunes, And Your Bird Can Sing appeared on the 1966 album, Revolver, the UK edition. Click on the cover and give it a listen.

             The Beatles and the development of most of their songs have been well-documented and fully-exploited, giving us audial delights and candid peeks into their creative process. And Your Bird Can Sing evolved noticeably from the rough idea Lennon brought to the studio. In this age of instant retrieval, I found two earlier versions of the song. Working backwards, the version before the final has a distinct Byrds feel to it, appropriate to the tune’s content. The chiming guitars and sweet harmonies suggest Lennon’s fascination with the Byrds and his wonderful ability to mimic other musicians. The second and third verses are switched for the album version. By the time the final version appears, it has evolved from being a song influenced by the Byrds to being very much a Beatles song. Hear the middle version by clicking on the Lennons.

         Previous to that, we have an earlier, almost demo version very much at the kibitzing stage of development – stoned young Beatles having fun in the studio. Bass, tambourine, lyrics in progress, laughter and whistling at the end are all being developed but George’s guitar riff in the break and at the end is nearly complete. Later the riff  becomes the solid fuming basis used throughout the final cut. Click on the Remco Beatles dolls to give this earliest version a listen.

         What makes And Your Bird Can Sing sound so great to my ears?

            Let’s start with its context. The British version of Revolver is as the Beatles planned it with three songs the North American version lacked, one of them And Your Bird Can Sing. In addition to being my fave Beatles album, Revolver is also my Number One favourite album of all-time. A pristine moment in pop history, something utterly ephemeral passed through these four men and the surrounding crew and environment resulting in this Divine creation. The distance in sophistication and creative ease between Revolver and Beatlemania, recorded just 30 months earlier, is a quantum leap. Tracing Revolver’s musical evolution: Ticket To Ride, Rubber Soul, We Can Work It Out, Nowhere Man, Paperback Writer, Rain.

            This is how I interpret the whole album. After they get the taxes and death songs (Taxman and Eleanor Rigby) out of the way, the dream that is Revolver begins in earnest with I’m Only Sleeping. Every subsequent track takes us deeper and deeper that by track nine, And Your Bird Can Sing, we are lucid dreaming along with the lads. Here the dream takes flight.

            A perfect Lennon tune, oblique, lively and cutting, everyone comes through here. The searing break from the earliest version becomes the foundation for the whole song. Raw, harsh and rousing, George’s riff sounds like it’s been playing for five minutes before the song starts, creating immediate tension. The urgency of the riff reinforces and maintains the tension and the vitriolic tone of Lennon’s lyrics, a putdown of a woman who owns everything except Lennon. In British slang, a bird meant a girl, putting another spin on the lyric.

            McCartney comes through with yet another inventive bass line; his subdominant chord at the end releases the song’s tautness in a flutter. Muted (he sounds like he’s playing a cardboard box) but solid, Ringo’s masterful backbeat is complemented by his trippy high-hat work.

            The four guitar waves and McCartney’s exuberant harmony that accompany the line “You tell me that you’ve heard every sound there is” at 1:20 in the final version represent, to these humble ears, the three most stunning, thrilling and expansive seconds of pop music ever created, a fleeting gem of magic in a strikingly unusual setting, an astonishing musical moment in a career loaded with astonishing moments. The guitars in those subtly diminishing waves quintessentially define for me Chuck Berry’s description of Johnny B. Goode, “He could play guitar just like ringing a bell.”

            Though Rubber Soul has its moments, Revolver is the Beatles’ first cohesive challenge to fans, to other musicians, to the world. It directs us to look inside, to seek our true nature, to experiment with our consciousness, not in the blatant druggy Sgt Pepper fashion like a year later, but in a subtle, kind and innocent way that suggests creative play and a love for the world and all its problems. It made the world’s teenagers think about death and transcendence! For those reasons this music matured as I did, growing along with me, guiding me in some way, its message becoming clearer as I changed, yet changing with me. At the same time, Revolver has always been a comfortable reliable place to return to, to retreat from the world and dream along. I’m very grateful to have this album to accompany me through my life. It truly has dyed me. Thanks Fabs!

The Final Tally for And Your Bird Can Sing

            On the ascending scale of sweetness according to The Beatles song Savoy Truffle:

Savoy Truffle

Coconut fudge

Nice apple tart

Cool cherry cream

Coffee dessert

Ginger sling with a pineapple heart

Montelimar

Crème tangerine

Number of teeth you’ll need to pull (out of 32): 1

Compared to glucose/fructose, the likelihood of getting diabetes from listening to this tune repeatedly is: 2%

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