Monday, September 19, 2011

Catching Up...New York to Holland

By now, I'm sure you all have concluded that I am the worst blogger ever. I just haven't felt inspired or committed to blogging on a regular basis; and combined with the variable access to internet, means I have a lot of catching up to do. So, here's a brief update of my travels from New York to Holland. I'm sure I will add more bits as I go along...well, we can only hope.

I tried to add a bit of video or pics* from our visit to the World Trade Center on 9.9.11, but it's taking too long to upload. Sue and I were both leaving New York in the evening of 9.10.11, on the day before the reopening of the fountain and center to the public. When we went, we were only able to go in the World Trade Financial Center and look through the window to the fountain. It was a very anti-climactic visit. We went mainly to quietly pay our sincere respects, and were glad not to be there when all the drama would be re-enacted. Afterwards, we went to Central Park and heard the Royal Scottish NY Choir sing some beautiful and patriotic songs. Then we took a fantastic bicycle ride through Central Park. We only had about 30 minutes, and we had to get back for our evening "off Broadway". We went to see "Rent", which was spectacular! I loved it, even if it was a bit dated and brought up all kinds of feelings for old friends who "left the building". I was glad we went to see an upbeat play, Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" which had some great old was very silly, but also very well done and just so old theater. I'm not a very discerning audience, because I've been on Maui so long and have basically been "cultureless" for years...I found myself so delighted to see live theater, that I wasn't very critical. And isn't that the point, that art-music-theater lifts one up regardless of how jaded we've become?

*I need to figure out how to upload pics/video to blog faster?....

I had an interesting trip through Iceland to Amsterdam. I then spent a few days in Amsterdam on a canal cruise, searching out one of the houses I used to live in, and the hostel I worked at was still open. I stayed at The Brouwer Hotel on the Singelstraat, which I had stayed in in the 1970's and is still owned by the same family; then I was lucky enough to stay at the owner's apartment, also on the Singel. I had a wonderful time in Amsterdam, despite the pervasive reek of the "coffeeshops". It didn't seem as if it had changed much from when I was there, but several Dutch people I talked with said that most people have moved out of the city to places like Delft because it is not at all the same as it used to be.

Since then I have been staying in Delft with my friend Mich, who used to live on Maui, and is now working in Holland. I love Delft! is the perfect Dutch city to visit, and I could stay here anytime. I have to run right now to get some coffee and other stuff, and the shops here close "dah" for now, and will sincerely try and catch up more stuff that's happened on the train to Paris...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


The World Convention: This convention, which is the first one I've attended since my home in Honolulu, was a kalaidascope. My timing was off on the actual events, but was impecable when it came to meeting up with the right person at the right time. I forgot I signed up for the Wednesday night boat cruise, so ended up staying at my brother's an extra day.

Thursday:  When I got on the train, there was a friend from the Big Island on his way to the convention. We had a nice "train" chat, and took the cab together. I found my friend from Sydney right away, and we hung out together for most of Thursday. I ran into some special people I really wanted to see, but mostly I just wandered around sampling the feel of it all. I didn't rush anywhere, or make myself show up anywhere; nor was I upset when I missed anything. I have been to hell and back. My inner self seems to be in this place of, "I'm just along for the ride". I'm not passive, I had high energy and enthusiasm for all that happened; but I'm just not piloting the boat anywhere.

Went to the Kickoff Meeting about Unity, and of course it is an incredible feeling to be in a room with 15 or 20, 000 like-minded persons and have a common theme together. There is nothing like it. The thing is, that as powerful as that feeling is, it is illusive. It can pump you up for a very short period of time, and it can even inspire you for a longer period of time so that you go out and do things in the name of that spirit. The power of the group, the power of the many, can make you feel powerful. My reality is that I am interested in what happens when that feeling goes away. What happens when it's just you and your life and your trials and your decisions? How do you respond then? The group can't live my life or walk my path; the group can only be there as a wall to lean against when I can't stand on my own. I love the fellowship that saved my life, that gave me back a life to live, that made the journey I've walked on possible; but I'm not 20,000. I am one and I believe it is the one that matters.

Special moments are the conversation I had with new friend from New Zealand about taking care of people you love, or maybe have to try and love, when they are ill. This has been a theme in my life for a long while now, and I am able to share some of my experience. We did get a few tears, talking about what’s it’s like to care for someone through illness and death. It was an intimate real conversation. I had a few talks like that about other topics throughout the convention. I prefer connecting with a few people one on one, than trying to seduce the mass; although I did enjoy the energy of  ?, 000 screaming meanies!

The line for the Blues Lunch was beyond the pale, but we managed to get in with a bit of sneakiness, and the show was really rockin’. I didn't feel bad because my friend had been very ill, and could not stand in the line. I saw a lot of people I knew, and of course, got right up next to the stage to take video! Kenny Wayne Shepherd (plug) was the group and guitarist. Some really good rock blues!!

Later we went to a great Japanese dinner with friends from Sydney and New Zealand. The restaurant was megaloud, but the company was great and so was the food. Am always amazed, on the mainland, at how loud everything is, and am surprised that people eat regularly in such loud, chaotic environments. /Stomach ulcers, anyone!
Made it back to the Comedy Show and had some good laughs, but was very bored with the family/children jokes. The jokes about us being anonymous, but walking all around with badges and logo bags were really apt!  The whole anonymity issue has become so difficult in this age of "social media". I'm not sure how it came about, but it was decided that we could post pictures from our convention on the net as long as we respect the identity of the participants by only posting to "friends". So now, if you go to a large convention, you are in affect giving permission to be posted on the net. Sounds to me like it was determined that there was no way to stop it or control it, so we "approved" it. I'm not opposed, because I spread stuff about myself and my friends all over the internet. I do try to respect and protect anonymity, where I can. I just wonder how we will address the issue of anonymity in the future, since it seems we've avoided addressing it now.

Friday: Went to the "Old-timer’s Meeting" which is always one of my favorites, although I could do without the continual stories about "how I met JK." Regardless of what anyone tells me, or all the  historic stuff  “very important peoples” quote; I was in Northern California in the early 80's, and I never heard a word about JK until I had been on Maui for several years. I still believe the whole JK thing was a brilliant PR idea someone thought up in the late 80's in order to make us more like the other guys, more appealing to the mass, and with the hope that we would have more credibility if we had a "founder". That is just my "wild and crazy" opinion, and nothing I've heard from all the multiple sources about this topic has changed my mind over the years. One of the things I loved about this group when I first came was that we didn't have a founder; and especially that we didn't have a male founder. I'm a bit soured to find out all these years later, that either I was tricked when I first came in, or we have now acquired something I personally didn't need.

I was wiped out by the end of Friday. Two days of non-stop walking, talking, visiting, listening; and basically I was exhausted, so my friend and I stayed in the hotel, caught up and watched a movie together. It reminded me of bonding with my sisters; watching movies. I was really bummed to miss Trombone Shorty, but I knew I had to pace myself.
Saturday:  We slept in Saturday, and I missed the Jazz Brunch, but after the crowd at the Blues Lunch, I was okay. We ended up in a meeting at the Marriott at the end of the first speaker; but I finally heard the best speaker I heard the whole convention. He was from Texas, and he sang. He's the first and only speaker I've ever heard sing, and it could have been so hokey, but he pulled it off and it was so inspiring.

Friends went off to see other friends, and I went to the Board Forum. I love to hear the questions asked, and the answers given bridging the gap between what we expect and what is possible for a world-wide group that has really its only own credibility to fall back on.

After, I grabbed some food and sat in the foyer people watching. I have had a strong sense this past month that I am not alone. I have felt close to a spirit that guides me. Being with my family, there has been a lot of reminiscing about Kent, and then at this convention with so many old friends. While I was sitting there on my own with an empty chair next to me, I could feel Kent’s energy so strongly, as if he was sitting right there with me. It was a strange, beautiful, and comforting feeling. There we were, together, people watching like we always used to do at these events. It was one of the few times I was alone, and I wasn’t. And now that I’ve reconnected with my spirit, I know that I never will be.

Went to a couple of workshops before and after, and heard some great stories. The best part of that was hearing all the trials others have gone through, and not found any reason to use or give up their lives. I’m not the exception. There are many of us who face devastating events in our lives, and muddle on through, coming out the other side wiser and filled with new life.

Went back to hotel to rest up for big meeting, and ended up reaching out to someone. I was so glad to be there for them, and they joined us for the meeting. Of course, it was incredable! After the meeting, we got lost looking for food, and ended up showing up at the same place with a bunch of friends. Then, we went back to go to the concert, but finally said “no way”!. Gave our tickets away a to lovely guy, and went to bed.

Sunday: Morning meeting sat in front of friends from Maui, and had a great meeting. Roommate had to leave for airport during meeting, so joined up with Maui friends. After, we all went to lunch and had a nice recap of our time. Went and laid by the pool with another friend for the afternoon. Spent the evening with room service and TV, completely zoned out. I know it doesn’t sound as exhausting as it really was, but it was an awesome time, and a great send off for my trip. Although I didn’t go around tracking down people from other countries, I was reassured that no matter where I go, I will be able to reach out and have friends and more than friends. I was also inspired to recommit to being of service in any way I am asked on my trip. I've already been asked to go to an institution in New York, and share in Holland! Reconfirming my commitment to do the will of my HP along the way and feeling my way along the flow lines as well as I am able. Bless you all.