HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE (try it with headphones)!

It’s 4:00am… the snow begins to fall… a light dusting, at first, but soon accelerating into a swirl of mini cotton puffs. He’s driving home from a distant gig. The joint was packed and the crowd in-synch with the bone-jarring music. After the gig… floating on a reverie of gliding euphoria… he makes his way home. The snow puffs now look like stars flying by a warp-speed galaxy cruiser. Streetlight reflects from rooftops on this breezeless night, and the accumulating snow sets rooftops under a thick twinkling layer of cotton fluff. The faster he drives, the more pronounced the warp-speed illusion… long linear streaks across his car’s windshield. He recalls the image of twisting writhing bodies in front of him just a short time ago. He marveled at his own fingers meandering up and down the neck of his fretboard. The crowd projected an almost desperate energy and his mind traveled back to an earlier time when he and his bandmates dropped purple microdot just before the final set. The drug kicked in earlier than expected. The band was still three songs and an encore away from retreating to the designated party house. Stage lights seemed too low and close and this obscured his ability to see past a line of humanity seething at the lip of the stage. He began to misinterpret visual information seeing the frenzied front row dancers with thick tails protruding through their clothing. It was hard to keep this mirage in check, but luckily, he was able to enter that Zen state of flow… the auto-pilot. By and by he was able to detach his attention from the undulating room. YES… the writhing front row was populated by lizard people, but it didn’t break his flow. He soldiered on through the rest of the gig with a frenzied roller coaster of foot stomping… head banging… rainbow colored… gyrating pods of humanity. He gave no indication that what he saw in front of him would shock a normal person into a full head of gray … hell… for all he knew, the whole room was on the same ride, and god only knew what they saw looking at him.  

Half-way around the globe, a Zapatista engineer … stationed at a research base not far from the Mongol autonomous prefecture of Bayingolin made her way around Iron Gate Pass… near the historic Silk Road. She slipped into a quiet state of reverie, driving along the once cosmopolitan global commerce trail. She imagined the days when Mongol Khans enlisted, rather than killed talented members of conquered peoples. And how, once established, cultivated humane, family-focused communities. But now, working on a secret project deep in the Chinese continent, she questioned her life … she’s in constant danger. Under the watchful eye of Beijing’s surveillance state, she must maintain the veneer of loyal expertise. Her courage flags, from time to time, under the pressure of floating rumors. Unsettling stories of experts vanishing, only to return weeks later with memory gaps… days on end. And that 1000-yard stare common among those who’ve “seen too much.” Local leadership routinely turned a blind eye to atrocities perpetrated against those who didn’t, “tow the line.” But now… too many friends/colleagues have disappeared … or worse. She resolved to GTF-Outta Dodge and through much effort and stowaway ingenuity, she did finally make it to the U.S. southern border… unfortunately, the border agents had been defaulting to suspicion… regarding potential refugees as … “not the best” or “Rapists”… or “gang-bangers” or “bad hombres…” Now… the cold room… the handcuffs… the inevitable lonesome flight to Honduras.

Plato believed philosophers were uniquely worthy of leadership. He used the analogy of the “ship of state.” That a captain who understands navigation by the stars, all other things being equal, are the best kind of captains. In part, because they aren’t dependent upon others to accurately pilot the ship. And so it is with leaders who become philosophers or vice versa. Philosophers are best qualified to assess the righteousness of an organization’s trajectory… they are less dependent on others for the knowledge/wisdom that comes part and parcel with the study of philosophy. Though some may write philosophers/navigators off as “useless star(navel)gazers,” like a ship’s navigator, the philosopher is vital. Give them the power of leadership and your organization is in good hands. From where do we draw this resolve? From tradition? From experience? From the value of merciful restraint? Or the necessity of merciless progress? 

He remembers the day he realized he had to go under allowing a surgical team reroute some of his plumbing… flash forward to the day he was able to walk to the hospital cafeteria for some orange essence and tea. Then… the day he was able to enjoy a brewed cup from the humble coffee cherry. The sight of his first post-surgery nurse… he remembers it in a foggy cloud. Like … he swears… she was shrouded in shimmering glitter… her voice was the music of kindness and mercy… he’s sure he saw her wings and halo… no shit. At the same time, the grumpy bastard two doors down was yelling at her like she was his servant… his whipping post. Whatever they were paying her… it wasn’t enough. He marveled at her ability to project selfless compassion a mere two minutes after being verbally abused be a grumpy bastard. 

Recovering… unable to sleep… he maintain a sense of the moment… lucid and grounded. For some reason it seemed important not to let the mind wander into flights of nostalgia or fanciful dreams of possible futures… no… in the moment… detached but present … the urgent order of business. From time to time, he was instructed to get up and shuffle laps around the ward… a cul-de-sac of rooms occupied by survivors in various stages of healing. The surest way to get discharged was to “do laps.” He wasn’t up and about right out of the gate… but not much longer than a day and a half he was paying attention to lap count, intent on exceeding numbers from a previous session. Two in the morning… three in the afternoon and six in the evening and since he couldn’t actually sleep… two more sessions into the night. Once… after three or four days of this… he was killing all records for continuous walking and took a seat on a bench in the hall around 1:00am. He remembers nodding out a bit. The next thing he knew he was gently awake with a shake. It was one of the shift nurses. She told him he had been sitting, mostly upright, but unmoving for roughly three hours… sound asleep. They didn’t want to wake him because they knew it had been a few sleepless days. He couldn’t get into the bed because he was toting a receptacle draining fluid from his chest. He refused super-effective opioids because he knew how easy it would have been to stumble onto the hoses (2 of them). They were embedded under his skin next to the main incision. They were run up as far as the lower lobe of the lungs. Had he clumsily yanked them out, someone would have to put them back in and he’d be awake for the festivities. Needless to say… he passed on Dilaudid, and passed on Morphine.

Another flashback… barreling through the fluffy frozen puffs like a starship in warp drive, his reverie is broken by the realization he had made it. He was flourishing in a world he had imagined as far back as the 3rd grade. All he ever wanted out of this life was to immerse his soul in music and share the experience with others. A wave of Thanksgiving gratitude washed over him as the snow puffs streaked past his windshield. He then found himself snapped back into the present… convalescing at home… still unable to get any sustained sleep, but keenly aware of the fact that violence had been done to him and that violence had most likely saved, and maybe even added a couple decades to his life. On this Thanksgiving… his 2nd-life birthday, he had plenty of time to meditate on these things.

Powered by a refurbished heart, his lungs and pipes sing the music of gratitude for…

ROHLFIE’S (partial) LIST… !!

  • Loving Family
  • Excellent Friends
  • Righteous Workmates
  • Angels dressed as nurses
  • Human Physicians
  • Oatmeal and blueberries
  • Fuzzy Footwear
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Ice Water
  • Audiobooks
  • Rabble Rousers
  • Long Walks
  • Cool Breezes
  • Twizzlers
  • Lego-free Floors
  • Citrus
  • Warm Blankets
  • Green Tea
  • New Ideas
  • Civilizing Traditions
  • Sourdough Toast
  • Blue Skies
  • Rhythm
  • Melody
  • Harmony
  • Lyrical Poetry
  • Resonant Guitars
  • Music…music…music…
  • And another year to enjoy it  all… 🙂