Archive for the ‘Inspirational People’ Category

Listen to the Music – Change the World

28/04/2014

The Creation of a Song Can Change the World

Doobie Brothers' Tom Johnston at Elvis Costello in Queenstown, New Zealand, April 2014

Doobie Brothers’ Tom Johnston and Elvis Costello in Queenstown, New Zealand, April 2014

I’m here to kindly challenge a comment  Doobie Brothers singer/songwriter Tom Johnston made about his song “Listen to the Music” in an interview with SongFacts. If you’ve not heard the tune, you’re probably mistaken. You have, and just didn’t know it.  It’s been on top radio lists (topped the charts at #11) and has been heard in advertising for major brands and is one of the most uplifting songs written.

Last night we saw the Doobie Brothers in Queenstown New Zealand at the Queenstown Blues and Roots Festival. It was a great experience.  I used to drive many highway miles in my college days from the East Coast to Utah,  listening to their music, so seeing them live for the first time 40 years later was full-circle experience.

The Doobie Brothers’ first hit was written by the band’s lead vocalist Johnston, who also played guitar on the track.  Johnston described the motivation for the song as a call for world peace:
“The chord structure of it made me think of something positive, so the lyrics that came out of that were based on this utopian view of the world.

“The idea was that music would lift man up to a higher plane, and that world leaders, if they were able to sit down on some big grassy knoll where the sun was shining and  just listened to the music – such as the type I was playing – would figure out that everybody had more in common than they had not in common, and it was certainly not worth getting in such a bad state of affairs about.

“Everybody in the world would therefore benefit from this point of view. Just basically that music would make everything better. The world would be a much better place. And of course I’ve since kind of realized it doesn’t work that way.  It was very utopian and very unrealistic. It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

I think Johnston might have been a bit premature in that assessment.

Mark Laurent Singer Songwriter

Mark Laurent
Singer Songwriter

Auckland New Zealand recording artist Mark Laurent  writes in a song on track 2 of his album Undergrowth,
Everything we do, matters somewhere,
You let the cat jump out of the bag,
It hits the floor running and never looks back,

I’m gonna pick up this ball point pen, I’m going to change the world,
I play the chord and I play it again, I’m going to change the world,”

This adds fuel to the creative fire and idea, that words and music do indeed change the world and that Johnston’s intent in writing Listen tot the Music,  is actually being realized. To the untrained eye, it might seem hard to see sometimes, but by focusing on what is good in the world, actually we see that humankind is on the brink of colossal change for the better, evolution and at the same time upheaval.  The Hundredth Monkey Effect  is right at our doorstep.  The tipping point, when we’ll really be living fully in a humane, compassionate and just world is happening before our eyes.

The energy is changing throughout the world. Check out Where the Hell is Matt if you’ve not seen it yet, for a powerful video with regular people dancing from all over the world, set to very timely music which was written for the video. THAT sort of thing was simply not possible a few years ago. There is no way the old order can survive such positive vibes.

Pat Simmons and son performing Listen to the Music, Queenstown, NZ

Pat Simmons and son performing Listen to the Music, Queenstown, NZ

Speaking of positive vibes, when the Doobie Brothers played Listen to the Music as their encore, I could just feel a wave of energy. Call it what you want, but “that is powerful medicine”, as spiritual teacher Sun Bear used to say.

Co-lead band member Patrick Simmons also was putting out great vibes on stage.  “He must do inner work of some sort” I thought to myself,  as I saw him play the evening out. He seemed perfectly at home in his own skin playing on stage.  Probably, he’s just as peaceful off stage as he appears on stage, unlike a lot of rock stars, as witnessed by the tabloids, (not that I read them).

As I used to be a wire services photographer, (UPI) I usually take my camera to events, and caught a shot of Simmons sharing the microphone with a young performer. We thought it might have been one of the buskers who had played earlier, who had been  invited up on stage. It seemed to make a good shot, so I took few and sent them off the Doobie Brothers’ website. I got a quick reply and was informed the young performer is Simmons’ son Patrick Jr, who is doing good work on the music scene in his own right in Hawaii.  Maybe we can get him to come down to our Mountain Spirit Secluded Sanctuary here in Hawea/Wanaka to do a workshop sometime.

So, listen to the music everyone, and change the world. And to Tom Johnston…keep writing!

Images: Queenstown shots: R. Richards | Mark Laurent from his webpage
Editor’s Note: Stay tuned as I find some links for these songs.

 

 

 

Marty Schmidt & Son killed on K2

29/07/2013
Denali and Marty Schmidt, Mountain Guides Extraordinaire

Denali and Marty Schmidt, Mountain Guides Extraordinaire

A New Zealand father and son’s tent has been found wrecked and vital climbing tools left abandoned, confirming fears they have been swept away and killed in an avalanche on the world’s deadliest mountain. Marty Schmidt, 53, and Denali Schmidt, 25, were hoping to become the first father-and-son team to conquer K2 in Pakistan – but they hadn’t been heard from since Friday.

Others in their climbing party turned back the day before because of the threat of an avalanche and bad weather. A Sherpa went looking for the pair on Sunday and discovered their tent wrecked by an avalanche. Equipment they would have needed to keep moving was found intact nearby.

“The news from the findings of the Sherpa who went up to their camp has us grieving tonight. They’d need their crampons and axe to go either up or down on the mountain,” said Becky Rippel, co-owner of Canada-based mountain guide firm Peak Freaks, Marty Schmidt’s employer.

Late last night, Sequoia Di Angelo, daughter and sister of the climbers, emailed the Herald: “It is with great sorrow that I confirm the tragic deaths of my beloved brother and father, Denali and Marty Schmidt. May their spirits rest in peace and their smiles never be forgotten.”

British climber Adrian Hayes – one of those who turned back – said the Schmidts were well known, highly experienced and very strong mountaineers – Read the rest of this story at New Zealand Herald

Editor’s Note: Although I never met Marty in person, I was acquainted with him, and knew of his great reputation here in New Zealand. My heart goes out to his family in Christchurch, and extended family and friends elsewhere.

Living Life, When Life is Short

14/06/2013
Tom on board his yacht in Bluff, New Zealand

Tom on board his yacht in Bluff, New Zealand

I had the good fortune to meet Tom Shepherd yesterday, here in the little town of Kingston, New Zealand.
Although he won’t admit it, Tom has a remarkable story to tell, which actually isn’t over yet. He’s half way through a “figure-8 circumnavigation” of the North and South Islands of New Zealand – and he’s learning to sail as he goes along. What’s more impressive is he’s approaching his 84th birthday next month, and, he has been diagnosed with cancer. Seven years ago he was given six months to live. Every six months after that, for two years, nothing happened. He finally decided he wasn’t going to sit around to see would happen.  Learn more of his story:

When he sailed in to the docks in Motueka, near Nelson,  people were gathering and walking down the dock to greet him with “You must be Tom Shepherd, the fellow sailing down the coast.”  Word had traveled before his arrival. Since then he’s been interviewed by the Maori Channel here in New Zealand. He was kind enough to grant me the interview (see above), but, half joking, said he was considering going into hiding.

The next leg of his journey would provide an opportunity as a recluse, as he heads from New Zealand’s southern tip into the deep fjords of the the west coast. I want to keep track of this man – who is an inspiration. He’s getting out there and doing something. He’s not posting on Facebook or blogs, he’s just doing it. Tom’s adventure is about being alive as much as it is the uncharted journey on his yacht. It reminds me of the quote by William G.T. Shedd – “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”

Please see the posShepherd, Tomt interview clip, (below) of how Mr. Shepherd “rubbed off” on a bummed out cab driver in the Christchurch area. It’s been said that one of the tenants of a spiritual person is to serve as a fire that helps kindle the soul of another. Tom Shepherd humble, but the results around him seem to be clear. He’s making this place a better world, just by living.

See this great video piece on Maori TV’s Native Affairs about Tom’s Journey

Sixto Rodriguez – A 40-year Overnight Success.

01/03/2013
Sixto Rodriguez

Sixto Rodriguez

Searching for Suger Man – The Life and Times of Sixto Rodriguez
By R. Richards,
Mountain Spirit Institute Founder
It’s been said that happiness and sorrow are different sides of the same coin, and that presence is the razor’s edge one walks to weather life’s ups and downs in peace. This comes to mind when I think of Sixto Rodriguez‘s life story, told in the Oscar winning documentary, Searching for Sugar Man directed by Sweden’s Malik Bendjelloul.

Director and Subjects of Searching for Sugar Man

Director and Subjects of Searching for Sugar Man

For those unfamiliar with this documentary, it’s the story of a folk singer/songwriter with a powerful gift of prose and music who never “made it” in the U.S. when he released two albums in the early ’70’s. When the releases never took off, he just went back to work in his home town of Detroit, doing construction and remodels.  He and his promotional agents couldn’t believe his albums never became popular. (more…)

Never Give Up

26/11/2012

Tenacity

The Amazing Transformation of a Guy Who Never Gave Up

This veteran was a paratrooper, he jumped out of airplanes and all the stress from the landings added up.  All the doctors said there was no hope for him to walk again. They all turned him down on his request to attempt the impossible, except one. An inspiring story.

Ed Webster’s “Everest the Hard Way”

04/08/2012

Ed, at a book signing

I happened by the Kittery Trading Post last month, and there was climber, Ed Webster doing a book signing.  I had never met him, but certainly knew of him. I was instantly drawn to his book-signing table, as he talked with a family of four who wanted to know more about getting started in the sport of rock climbing. He seemed engaged and affable. Ed authored a rock climbing guidebook to the the White Mountains area which I carried with me on my early climbs in New Hampshire. It sits on my bookshelf, beat up from use. He’s also got quite a reputation as a climber.

Ed was recently in the Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee region presenting his slide show, Everest the Hard Way.  His 1988 Everest Kangshung Face new route, (more…)

Edward Abbey on Backcountry Skills

12/07/2012

Getting out of the city
North Cascades, WA

Edward Abbey: Action outdoorsman and author of Desert Solitaire, *The Monkey
Wrench Gang and 17 other popular novels and essay collections, was one of America’s most powerful and relentless spokesmen for the environment and certainly its most uninhibited. Here, at Abbey’s curmudgeonly bat, is his introduction to The Backcountry Handbook, of which I thought I’d post  the first half. I doubt many fans of Edward Abbey would find this little gem, buried in an outdoor handbook.

There’s one thing that gripes me in my lurching about in America’s blessed but overcrowded backcountry, it’s those androids from the moronic inferno of contemporary techno culture who apparently

Learned outdoors etiquette from The Boy Scout Handbook of I928.I mean the cretins who build their campfires with green logs laboriously chewed from living trees with dull hatchets. And then erect a corral of rocks to enclose a fire about l0 times bigger than even a White Man needs. And then,
upon departure from the scene of their felonies, pile all their garbage upon the smoldering remains-including such non-combustibles  as tinfoil and wet tin cans, wet condoms and Pampers-let it smoke and black- en and stink for  while and conclude the infamy by heaping this mess with a pile of mud and stones.  Everywhere we go in what’s left of natural America, we find these miniature trash dumps. The intention, no doubt, was to prevent forest fires, as Smokey the Bore has been instructing us for 50 years. But fires are natural, inevitable and good for the forest;   Any Native American can tell you that, if you can find one. (The true terror of the modern forest is not the wildfire but the logger with his chain saw, the road builder with his bulldozer, the cowboy with his cow. These types wreak far more destruction upon our forests than any wildfire ever did or could. And wreak it at our expense, financed by our tax dollars.) Why do these Ralph Lauren he-man Campfire Girls build giant fire rings filled with half-baked rubbish? I don’t know. No one knows. They are the product not of thought but of ritual, spastic reflex, ancient ideologies conceived in sin and whelped by bureaucrats. One discovers such mementos even in the sand and rock of the desert, where the nearest tree may be a scrubby juniper four feet tall, l0 feet away. Mysteries of the Wild.  But irksome. There are many things that irk, actually, not only me but you, but this is not the place for a complete listing.

Editor’s Note: Did you know that The Monkey Wrench Gang was blacklisted from the east coast booksellers during its first printing? Maybe the east coast establishment didn’t want to disturb the goings-on, as this book surely tends to do. I have a well-read family member, that has an incredible breadth of education and reading behind him. What’s more he was a hut ranger in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. He had never heard of Edward Abbey. I’m not sure if he’s read him yet. I’ll have to loan him my tattered copy of The Gang.

Buying From the Farm Stand via the River

11/07/2012

Cedar Circle Farm, view “not from the riverside”

Yesterday we had an interesting and serendipitous discovery of Cedar Circle Farms in East Thetford, Vermont.  We had planned to stop by the Lebanon Coop after a spontaneous ride in our little Boston Whaler where we put in just south of Lyme, NH and headed north to where we didn’t know on Connecticut River. It was a hot afternoon, and after putting along we decided to give the 25hp Merc all she’d do, and skimmed along the calm waters.  Never having been on the river before, we thought we’d do a little exploring, complete with our 1-yr old on board.
After about ten miles, we happened upon a boat landing on the Vermont side of the river, and decided to hop out and find out where we were. We met someone in the little village who told us we were in North Thetford. We happened to mention we were starting a juicing fast, and had to get back to Hanover, NH before the Coop closed.  She responded with, “ Hey, why don’t just get back in your boat and head south again a few minutes  to Cedar Circle Farm. They have a small boat landing and (more…)

One Hell of a Paddle

30/04/2012

Expedition 2012: From  Vermont to James Bay by Canoe
Paddling Forward, Giving Back

Expedition 2012's Route

By R.Richards
Family friend, Tom Bloch is one of ten crew members of Expedition 2012, an epic 1,200 mile canoe trip from Lake Dunmore Vermont to James Bay in Northern Canada, which is underway as we post this.

The expedition is an effort to support the Keewaydin Foundation in its ongoing mission to preserve “the Keewaydin Way”, and extend its benefits to an ever-greater range of today’s youth. The Foundation has three summer camps: Keewaydin Temagami (Ontario, Canada), Keewaydin Dunmore (Salisbury, Vermont), and Songadeewin of Keewaydin (Salisbury, Vermont).

To accomplish their goal, Expedition 2012 is committed to establish a new scholarship endowment for the Foundation. Expedition 2012 is using the extended wilderness canoe trip, which is a tradition at Keewaydin’s as a fundraising platform,  . They are paddling the long route over the course of 65 days in wood and canvas boats hand-crafted by the expedition members. During the course of this project, expedition members are additionally dedicated to environmental advocacy towards the preservation of the wilderness we hold dear. To learn more about the progress of the expedition, and to follow the the paddlers go here, or head over to  their blog

Keewaydin states on their website, “To live for a summer in a world largely unstructured and shaped only by nature itself… this is an adventure few are privileged to know.” and adds, “Through these programs, Keewaydin builds strong, independent character while exposing young men and women to a bygone lifestyle. Since 1893, Keewaydin has withstood the temptation of change, holding firm to what is dear of the past and leaving it untouched. Keewaydin’s simplicity and special link to the undisturbed wilderness set our programs apart from traditional camp experiences. This is the Keewaydin Way.” To learn more about the camp, visit their website.

The map, drawn up by Johnny Clore, shows the full itinerary of Expedition 2012 from Lake Dunmore down Otter Creek to Lake Champlain, then down the Richelieu River to the St. Lawrence Seaway.  From Montreal, we’ll head upstream on the Ottawa River for over three hundred miles and cut west for our resupply at Temagami by following the fabled “Trip In.”  From there the route leads over a swift succession of smaller lakes and rivers to the Abitibi River, where we will restock and head for the bay at Moosonee. Resupply locations are indicated with yellow stars. Click the “Itinerary” tab on the left to get a more detailed look at our itinerary.

Tom Bloch, On Expedition 2012

Tom Bloch has written a personal mission statement and essay, as have the other members of the team), which starts out…”I never went to summer camp.  Instead of big canvas tents and shiny green canoes, my childhood summers were filled with soccer camps and family hiking trips.  Now, here’s the shocker: I turned out just fine.  As of my college graduation last May, I was a reasonably well-adjusted, mild-mannered young man with sensible career aspirations and even a few healthy hobbies.  The world is rife with friendly, successful people who have never paddled a canoe.  In light of this, what is the value of Keewaydin?  Why this grand expedition? Read the rest of Tom’s entry here..

Buddhism & Mindfulness in the Mountains

01/04/2012

Lama Willa Miller, the spiritual leader of a Natural Dharma Fellowship branch in Massachusetts, talks about a new refuge center, and the importance of mindfulness in the mountains. Part 1

Lama Willa Miller

By R. Richards
Mountain Spirit Institute
The Dartmouth Lake Sunapee region of New Hampshire, USA has the good fortune of seeing a new Tibetan Buddhist Refuge open in the tiny town of Springfield. After a recent open house, we learned about what Lama Willa Miller, the leader of the  Cambridge Mass based branch of The Natural Dharma Fellowship, has in mind for the new retreat center called Wonderwell, as well as the link between Buddhism and the mountains. Learn more, check out this first in series of interviews we conducted on location. See Part II