using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : September 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2006 77 house on Martha’s Vineyard to take some photographs for the article. A standard photo shoot turned into a full day with him, his dogs, some of his family, and my two friends who had come along to Massachusetts for the road trip. To be honest, what made me want to write about Ben in the first place was an inkling that he and I would get along well. I could tell by listening to his music. Because if I was a musician and I could sing and play guitar that well, I would write songs like his. And if I could choose to have anyone else besides my parents to be my parents, I might very well choose Carly Simon and James Taylor. They are the rock star versions of my mom and dad. Getting to meet Ben was just a lucky offshoot of my job; getting to meet his mom was fortuity squared. I called my mother from the ferry back to the mainland that night on my cell phone. There was already a message from her want- ing to know how the photo shoot had gone. “Carly made us clam chowder and we ate leftover birthday cake from one plate with a bunch of forks while she and Ben read us poetry and there’s a pic- ture of them with the Dalai Lama on their refrigerator,” I told her. My mom’s shriek of excitement through the phone was audi- ble to my friends and several other passengers on the boat. Mom has been a fan of Carly Simon’s music since before I was born. “And she played a song for us,” I added, multiplying my mom’s vicarious enjoyment. “Up in her bedroom.” Mom laughed heartily at this. “Did you tell her I love her?” I had thought about it, but it wasn’t like that. What made meeting Ben and his family so cool was how kind they were, and—though it’s not as juicy to report—how normal. Just a mom and a son who enjoy each other’s company and were get- ting a kick out of the guests who showed up. I should be spe- cific—they are what I consider normal. People who are excited about life and want to read poems over cake to their guests, who are certain what voices their dogs would speak in if they could, who are up in their bedrooms listening to the same bar of music over and over again trying to figure out an elusive chord—this is normal to me. And normal relations between people are warm, open, authentic, and alive. Late that afternoon on Martha’s Vineyard, we took a break and sat in Ben’s living room with my friends. After insisting that we all try out his new foot massager, and that I take a seat in his most comfortable chair, we got onto the topic of watching groups in public. Ben recounted how he liked to watch people in restaurants and noticed that some families sitting around a table were always trying to make each other laugh. They were joking, they were singing, they were touching one another, looking at each other, teasing and making noise. Whereas certain families, he observed, were often quieter, cooler, more contained. “Polish people laugh more,” my friend Rachel said she had no- ticed. This made me smile, thinking of my own boisterous Polish family. We burst into song in the most embarrassing of places and the teasing goes on over years. There is a lot of hand-hold- ing, back-scratching, and cuddling (we even have a Zdybel-word for it: “lop-de-lopping”). So why do people often seem so cool and polite with one another? When did that become the norm? Why aren’t excitement and giddiness and intimacy be the accept- ed style of social interaction? When we arrived in her kitchen for dinner, Carly answered the door in her bathrobe and it never occurred to my friends and I to be uncomfortable. “It’s honesty in music that always reads well for people,” Ben said. “Whenever you hear something and you say, wow, that was fantastic, it’s because there’s nothing phony about it. You have to examine the idea of honesty because when you really look at it, it’s about not being distracted from the point, really—by your- self and by anything else, by any ulterior motives.” “And it’s amazing how effective that honesty is in drawing out an honest reaction from other people,” I said. “Oh, man,” Ben said, “and when you connect like that, it’s a way of bypassing all of the confusing human eventualities and getting down to connecting with people on a really elemental level. And that’s beautiful.” Ben has a tremendous amount of respect for his parents, he tells me—and when you first hear Ben you do a doubletake and swear it’s James singing—but it’s also clear that Ben is carving his own musical identity. “Music is so deep,” Ben said to me. “Over the past couple of years I’ve begun to devote the kind of time, energy, attention, and discipline to music that I’ve spent my whole life doing with other disciplines like martial arts and meditation and qi gong. And—at least from where I’m standing and looking at it—music is just as profound as that kind of stuff. So it feels like I’ve got years and years of research and hard work to spend on music.” I asked him which part of music he likes the best. “It’s that moment where I get lost in the telling of the story,” he responded. “It’s like mythology when you get involved in telling it. You become a part of the song and the music—it’s so ground- ing and calming to be connected to that. Sometimes it happens when I’m on stage, sometimes it happens when I’m writing, and most often it happens when I’m just sitting and practicing.” I meditate and like to play music myself. I know that it makes no difference whether I’m sitting at the piano or on the cushion when I have a moment of full awareness. Sometimes it comes out as silence, sometimes as song. “You need to get to that place with a song where you’re not thinking about who’s going to listen to it and what they’re going “Carly made us clam chowder,” I said, “and we ate leftover birthday cake while she and Ben read us poetry and there’s a picture of them with the Dalai Lama on their refrigerator.” My friends could hear my mother’s shriek of excitement through the phone.