I spent the first part of my working life in music. I took a slight detour in midlife, becoming a hospice volunteer after witnessing the care they provided a good friend as he approached the end of his life. Spending time with the dying has a way of changing you. At least it did me. After 8 years as a volunteer I returned to school and upon completion was hired as Chaplain at Hospice Care in the Berkshires. I am a graduate of One Spirit Interfaith Seminary in New York City as well as a member of Spiritual Directors International (SDI) and The Institute of Noectic Science (IONS). I am also a member of ASCAP (American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers). To my great surprise I was able to integrate music into my hospice work. I recently retired after 25 years with Hospice.
I am not a formally trained musician, I am a rock & roll musician. I've mostly flown by the seat of my pants, learning as I went along thanks to some of the very talented people I've had the honor of working with. Just to give you a little sense of where I'm coming from musically, I subscribe to Duke Ellingtons take on music, "If it sounds good it is good." I am mainly a guitarist but have also played bass, drums and some key boards. My roots are most certainly in Rock and Roll but the influences of Blues, Folk, Bluegrass, World, Funk, Soul as well as Jazz and Classical have all played a part in my development (as have some things that defied being labeled or categorized). Like the Duke said…..
Sometimes we get lucky and we know what we’re meant to do in life. For me it was music. When I discovered that I was able to make a living playing and performing I threw myself into it. Looking back from my perspective today I am struck by the fact that the one thing I've done consistently in my life since the age of 12 is music. Fortunately for me at the time I discovered music it seemed the culture was making a similar discovery, prompted by the arrival of The Beatles and the British Invasion. This created a tremendous demand and thousands of others like me seized the opportunity. Thanks to the economic reality of supply and demand I learned at an early age I could get paid for doing this thing I loved. After some years and some successes and time on the road I settled down to raise a family.
Oftentimes being a musician forces flexibility and you find yourself doing various kinds of work in order to supplement income during lean times, so I learned a number of different skills and trades. This led to what my wife Jane has called an "eclectic" career track. During that time I ran my own business for several years ( a musical instrument retail and repair shop), worked for others in sales, service and consulting, worked for a non-profit as a client advocate. I guess you could say fate intervened when I was led to hospice, first as a volunteer and then as a hospice chaplain. By the way, don't let that title fool you. I did not "get religion". What I did "get" was interested in helping people. During my years as a volunteer I had met many patients who did not necessarily embrace a religion as well as some who had been hurt by one. I wanted to help these people. So I chose an interfaith seminary and took a vow to serve "all faiths and no faith". In other words, to honor whatever that persons beliefs were. It was about them, not me. You see, by that time I'd come to the realization that to be a human being is no easy thing. As one of my patients had said when I asked him about his religious beliefs: "life is a predicament- the least I can do is help the poor schmuck sitting next to me on the bus-so that became my religion". I liked that idea. I'd heard Ram Dass say, "We are all just walking each other home." Another idea I could get behind. All-in-all I spent 25 years in hospice work doing my best to practice what they had suggested. So that's how Hospice became a legitimate 2nd place to music as far as consistency goes. But in truth it's still a distant second. That being said, I feel grateful for having been able to do this work. Thanks to hospice and all the people I got to meet I was reminded over and over again of the importance of honoring what calls to your heart. I do believe that each one of us has something special and unique and that's part of the reason that we're here in the first place. One of my favorite poems speaks to this idea of a calling. It's by William Stafford.
"The Way It Is"
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.While you hold it you can’t get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding.
You don’t ever let go of the thread.
For me music has been that thread. T.S Eliot wrote, "We shall not cease from our exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." In a sense I feel that's exactly what I've done.
On a personal note I am married and my wife Jane is also a musician and vocalist. We have 3 grown children and 4 grandchildren.
I continue writing and recording music as well as giving talks, conducting services and offering spiritual direction, counseling and support.
Thanks for stopping by.