Sunday, March 30, 2014

Tango Embrace

THE DREAM speaks . . . sings, flows, is air, is water, flux. I am in it and witness, play along as an actor on it’s stage. I am audience to my performance as well—yet I only long for the place of unfolding—not the witnessing, but the unfolding. What is it then to unfold and witness at the same time?
Can moments be slowed? Slowed into singularity so that only one time exists? Cessation of separation, to realize that sleep, waking, work, rest, play, happiness, sadness, success, failure, male-female, God, human, animal, plant,—all are unified in the borderless regions of oneness. -Written from Buenos Aires, Argentina, March 2010

"Tango Passion"
What is Buenos Aires without tango? The night I visited Cafe Tortoni, I went for tango. The Cafe is a classic Parisian style affair, with high ceilings, chandeliers, glistening tile floors, lacquered wooden tables and chairs, and artwork covering the walls. I went right by all this and straight downstairs, into a small dark cavern with tables and a stage. My eyes adjusted to the dark and I could see shadowy silhouettes of people seated, and soon, musicians came to take their positions besides the stage, and begin making the familiar, haunting, chords of tango music. The stage had a backdrop of a cafe, and the dancers arrived, in pairs. The area was small enough to feel intimate, and as if the spectacle was unfolding among friends gathered privately for a night of revelry.

I had my camera, and amid the strident song notes striking the chords of longing and pathos in everyone's hearts, and the stage smoke filtering the colored lights as the dancers strode, strutted, and twirled together, I took pictures.

"Tango Embrace"
Since then, I have sold my images from that evening, as prints and large scale mixed-media pieces. One has appeared on the cover of a french language novel.

The Steven Boone Gallery sold a large mixed-media piece today, called Tango Flair, and this is what inspired my blog today.

"Tango Flair"

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Life Away From The Familiar

The coast of Sicily

 Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” – Pat Conroy

 “Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” – Jack Kerouac

The experiences of life away from the familiar that comes from distant travel are not for everyone, but for me, the exciting effects of combining known elements with unknown ones is essential. I need to travel, to experience the freedom of motion that carries the possibility of expanded consciousness. Written upon the tablet of my memory are indelible streams of life that have come from living like the wind carving through space and time without inhibition, even circling the globe. I feel the fire of this passion that burned so bright and joyously unencumbered for the entire year of 2008, and is still alive with burning embers of that lovely flame—ready to leap into intensity again at the slightest opportunity. 
Masai youth, herding cattle . . . Tanzania

Camel at the Great Pyramids, Egypt
The feeling to explore new life is coming these days like an imperative. The flames that died down now long to spring forth once again. It almost hurts me to be settled. The strange apparition of a whirling dervish must challenge most peoples consciousness. Who could possibly care to live without being the occupant of a home? For most, home is where the heart is, but I also observe it is where stuff accumulates and that stuff requires guardianship. I don't care to be watching over stuff. To do so requires maintenance and expenditure. Let loose I say.

Material possessions do not hold more for me than a soft breeze and warm sunlight upon my skin, a bird song in my ears, the sight of new terrain to explore, and the incredible luxury of time, with the only requirement being that of awe and wonder.
At Ipsos, on the island of Corfu, Greece

Halong Bay, Vietnam
Come, Come, Whoever You Are
Wonderer, worshipper, lover of leaving.
It doesn't matter.
 Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vow

 a thousand times
Come, yet again, come, come. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Always Made The Effort

My father said that he never could see the “man in the moon.” The moon's face with it's big crater eyes and opened mouth that seemed to say “Oh,” had always been so obvious to me and a welcome sight, so his confession surprised me—especially since I held my dad to be a supremely thoughtful person.

I never heard the mention of God or Jesus or Moses while growing up. Most of my friends belonged to households with religious affiliations, at least nominally claiming to be of a particular spiritual persuasion. Not in my home. Yet, there were strong ethics involving morals and responsibility.

In my nineteenth year, while away at University, I found myself searching for meaning beyond the practical, and embarked on a spiritual pursuit, joining the Baha'i Faith. Perhaps my parents were surprised, especially when through the years my faith deepened. 

Throughout every religion are teachings on how to act in accordance with spiritual wisdom. Most religious people try and live righteously, with various degrees of success. Some are outwardly religious but inwardly lazy so as to make no effort toward benevolence or virtue.

Father always made the effort and could not tolerate liars or usurpers. As a young adult, after I found religion, we talked and he admitted that he regarded religion somewhat like Karl Marx (German, 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) did—as the “opiate of the masses.” The context of the Marx phrase appears in this sentence: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people." Father was determined not to accept unjust conditions in society. He felt that religion made people accept what they should not. When so much was being made of Mother Theresa caring for the destitute in India, taking a vow of poverty, he scoffed, and insisted her energies would be better used to change the sick nation so that systemic corruption and oppression were expunged and a new society with a more wholesome foundation was created to lift up the masses. Why accept the poverty and not change the conditions that created it?

Father left this world never having spoken the word “God,” but in his actions and beliefs living spiritually. I imagine his delight, when he “met his Maker,” and before Him, he stood clean, and they looked back at all those he unselfishly helped along the way.

Read here a very good article about my father, written in the Chronicle of Philanthropy:
Richard Boone: a Tireless but Humble Advocate for the Poor

Sunday, March 09, 2014

I Always Loved Him

Dad, second from left at top
My father, who died only two weeks ago, was an enigma to me. I always loved him, and he represented a good human being and my parent, but he was mysterious and indecipherable almost from beginning to end. He had a fabulous life as an activist for social justice, reaching into the highest echelons of government and philanthropy, working behind the scenes to bring about better conditions for disadvantaged and oppressed people. A consummate strategist, his ideas were not about giving handouts, but rather bringing about social change so people could rise out of poverty and become contributing members of society. (See New York Times article.)

Richard Boone's trajectory from the time he finished study at the University of Chicago was that of social work, and he immediately rose to leadership in any work he found himself. For most of his life, he was at the top of his field—always the executive director.

For a man who worked so hard, he also had five children and a wife. I am the oldest son, and all the other siblings followed within eight years. Our circumstances were poor to begin, but improved to stable middle-class and upper middle-class. My father was never about getting rich—it was not in his perspective. He was a devoted father, but not the ideal family man. His work took precedence. I do have fond memories, especially the days we lived in Washington DC—of vacations, wrestling matches with him on the living room floor, and visits with him on weekends in his bedroom, where he sat me down and asked about how my life was going, lending all his attention to me for a wonderful hour. He also informed my life with the fascinating people he brought home. People of all races who he championed and chose as allies—people who would never have appeared in the homes adjacent to us. One summer, when I was a youngster and our family lived on Long Island, we welcomed into our home two inner city kids, brother and sister, from a gang riddled neighborhood in Spanish Harlem, New York City. I do not know how my father found them. They spent the summer as part of our family. The boy told me about the zip guns his friends made to shoot, and I was very impressed. I don't know how my mother handled seven kids then . . . my father was always surprising her and sometimes she complained loudly.
My father's folder he kept for me . . .

Dad was mysterious to me in that he did not share his inner feelings and was impassive. He studied and thought, and could be incredibly attentive, but also inaccessible. He never said, “I love you.” Yet, I knew he did in a deep way.
I never saw his body after he died, but arrived to the family home a couple days after he was taken away. Nothing much remained, since he was not a great collector of things and mementos. But he had folders for all his children, and I found letters and correspondence between him and I that he had kept.
I also found some hand-written notes he had made and considered important enough to stash away. Since he had no religion, he developed his own philosophy and reason for living. His notes indicate his primary beliefs were in:
  1. The energy of love
  2. Recognition of the world being bigger than “self.”
  3. Live life so as to hurt others as little as possible.
  4. Know that the individual is not the center of everything.
  5. The imperative to build something of enduring value.
  6. The dynamic process of becoming.
  7. “Truth” can be found at any level; physical, emotional, rational, and spiritual.

I am feeling tides of emotion in the aftermath of father's passing. Death is final and draws a close to life.

Monday, March 03, 2014

A Symphony Plays

It is odd, returning to my father's home in the wake of his death. The house that he loved is intact and outwardly at least, stands as it has for years. My mother is home, and the yard, garden, and inside are all neat and tidy. Yet, it is as if a symphony plays—missing an important instrument, and it is strange.

Click here to visit the memorial site for:
Richard Wolf Boone, March 29, 1927 - February 26, 2014

Death of Father

To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
to earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty;
to find the best in others;
to leave the world a bit better
whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
to know that one life has breathed easier
because you lived here.
This is to have succeeded.
attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson