Friday, January 19, 2018

Dwight Trible’s Cosmic Vibrations’ Life Altering Experience by Calvin Gantt

It’ll be almost a week and I’m still incorporating, into my life, the message delivered by the Cosmic Vibrations, this past Sunday, at the Blue Whale. Listening to and watching percussionist Derf Retlaw, totally immersed in the essence of pulsating rythym, altered pitches and unspoken words thst emanated from each beat as he struck those drums with hands tempered by the practice and desire for profound perfection. 

Staring in awe at Breeze Smith, at his flawlessness in switching from bell to cymbal to rattle to gong and to every other sound making implement in his vast array of instrumentation, and wondering how he kept up with everybody else while improvisationally, with exhuberant expertise, doing what he do at the same time. 

Experiencing John B. Williams for the first time and realizing that the subtle yet outspoken nuances of handbone and upright bass can be harmoniously meshed, but only by one who has mastered both art forms to the degree where you know he knows what he’s talking about, cause you can hear what he’s saying through the sounds. 

Then there’s Christopher Garcia, another first time hearing for me but certainly not the last, cause I heard and saw the spirit of his connection to the earth, to the soil from which we all come, and to the cosmos of which we are all a part. He reminded me through the sound of instrument and voice, of who and what I am and that I need to be reminded of that aspect of self again and again. 

Pablo Calogero, our first meeting as well yet his postulation of vibratory sounds through the medium of that clandestine wooden piccolo, that monumental yet unimposing bass flute, and the bass clarinet a seemingly rare yet integral part of the repertoire of sound, flowed with such elegance and grace, while from time to time awakening me to a heretofore unheard articulation, that let me know that there’s much more that I have yet to hear. 

Then of course Dwight Trible, creator of sound that another might at best mimic, yet never duplicate. Purveyor of lyrical profundity that speaks volumes to our role in making right a situation that we are an integral part of, by both contributing to and continually suppporting through our continuum of complacency.

would certainly be remiss if I did not make mention of the standing room only crowd that participated and became a part of the surge and resurgence of energy that continued after the actual music had stopped, and its very essence followed us to the elevator, out into the streets, and stayed with us in the car ride home and beyond.

What is my major objective here? Well, I got a chance to interview Breeze Smith and Dwight Trible the Wednesday before the concert. I got a chance to witness their uncompromising humility, their undying love and fervent dedication to their craft, and their unrelenting respect for the musical expertise and willingness to give of themselves that they expressed as perpetuatingly present in every member of their group. So I’m here to tell you that everything they said they are, everything that they desired to convey during that interview, was made exponentially present on last Sunday night. Their commission to make the world a better place, to make real the dream shared by Martin Luther King more than fifty years ago, their sharing with others the desire for freeedom divinely given yet restricted by those in a position to do so, and their assurance to all of us that no dream need be deferred because we have the power to make any and all of them a reality. 

Thank you Cosmic Vibrations for allowing me the opportunity to make your objective my own, and I say to all others who read and listen to what I have to share… you won’t feel it the way I did unless you’re present where it is. Whenever and wherever you hear the Cosmic Vibrations are, do them, me and yourselves a service by being wherever that is.

Calvin Gantt is an Interfaith Minister, writer, and Talk Show Host at KUCI 88.9FM in Irvine.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Choice Is Not A Decision

So many times we think that when we choose one thing over the other, we’ve made a decision, when in reality we’ve made a choice. We’ve allowed some one or some thing to coerce us into a situation that we have reacted to rather than having been proactive about. Again, we have not created a decision, we have responded to a choice.

When Barak Obama ran for president,I created a mindset that would not allow anything to stop me from voting for him. When Hillary Clinton ran against Trump, I responded by choosing who I considered to be the lesser of two (2) evils.

Now don’t get it twisted. I’m not saying that a decision is right, and a choice is wrong. I’m contending that a decision allows us an opportunity to go inside ourselves, to examine our ethical and moral foundation, in terms of what we know is the righteous thing to do, and then to stand firm on that decision. 

On the other hand, a choice is based solely on our past experiences, and what we hope will happen in the future. We remember the last thing that happened when we made what we considered to be the wrong choice, and we’re hoping to make the right one this time around.

We’d like to have some degree of control over the outome, whether we make a decision or a choice. Yet the outcome of either is contingent on what is beyond our control, because what happens at the end of the day is entirely in the hands of a power greater than ourselves. For me that means that I am not liable for the aftermath of my decision or choice, but I am fully responsible for my intent, and the subsequent effort(s) I employ in an attempt to bring that intent into fruition. 

All of this is why I feel it to be of utmost importance that we focus on making decisions rather than choosing what another entity has put before us, Because by doing so, we have been coerced into making a choice based solely on our past experiences, and/or what we hope the future will be. 

We must first decide who we are, and not choose who we or others want us to be. We have to be immersed in a consciousness that says our integrity will not be compromised, and that we will stand firmly on what we know to be righteous. Only then can we be willing to acccept and subsequently, be okay with whatever the outcome is, because we have made a decision that is grounded and steadfast in righteousness and honorable intent, and not a choice based on what another believes to be right.

I’ll holla…

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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Doing It For Them Or For Us

Sadly enough, most of our lives are contingent on what we think other people think of us, rather than on improving what we already know about ourselves.  Our initial intent is to help others, but not long after having become doctors, lawyers, preachers, teachers, and other career minded individuals, our major focus becomes to do what others, especially those in authoritative positions, say is the right way to do what we do.

Let’s take educators for instance. We start off being dedicated to educating our students, by sharing with them all the knowledge, life lessons and wisdom we have attained. As time goes by however, and our admimistrators pressure us for better test scores and increased achievement results, we sucuumb to adhereing as best we can to the academic status quo. We already know that our salary and career advancement is greatly influenced by how well we conform to the standards that are in place, and we become so successful in suppressing and relinquishing our own ideas and intentions, that our conformity to the expectations of others becomes second nature.

It’s not just educators of course. It’s all of us who, subconsciously perhaps, support the selfish intententions of a society that was established by the few and is supported by the many. We have become so caught up in doing things in the way they’ve always been done, that we ignore the viable alternatives that may be more beneficial than the outdated concepts we have been trained to adhere to.

Having been continually indoctrinated with the notion that life is based on doing things either right or wrong, and that doing what we’ve been told to do is right, we forget that the righteousness that stems from loving one another is achieved through trial and error, and it supercedes both right and wrong. We’re going to make mistakes, which does not make us wrong if our intent is pure. We’re going to accomplish things as well, which does not make us right, but hopefully inspires ourselves and others to do even more.

There are two stories that may help to put things in perspective. The first is about the little girl who asked her mother and grandmother why they cut off the end of the pot roast before cooking it. They both said because it’s how her great grandmother did it and that it’s the right way for it to be done. Upon asking her great grandmother however, she found out that she did it because the roasting pan was too small.

The second story is about how all the animals watched as the tiny hummingbird flew down to the river to fill it’s little beak with water and flew back, time after time, to spit it on the raging jungle fire. When told by the huge elephants and hippos that she would never put the fire out she responded “Well I’d rather do something about it than just watch it burn. 

Let’s not just adhere to what we’re told is the right thing to do, let’s do all we can, while we can, until righteousness is the outcome.

I’ll holla…

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

INDIA...A Haven Of Tolerance And Acceptance

From my viewpoint, India is the most tolerant and accepting country on the planet. I first noticed this trait from a religious perspective, in that there are 1.3 billion people in this nation, comprised of Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Muslims, and yes Catholics and Protestants. And from the way in which they interact with one another, unless you’re familiar with their particular style of clothing, you wouldn’t know what religion they professed until after having spoken with them about it.

My contention is that because of their dedication to the tenets of their particular religious practices, the common thread being to treat people as you would like to be treated, India is a place where tolerance and acceptance of others is common behavior.

My wife Nicole and are were there for over two weeks, and although it took us four days to verbally interact with others on a personal level, once we started communicating however, it became a joy and rewarding experie nce to be in an environment where you were not judged by the color of your skin or the content of your character. Rather you were looked upon as the manisfestation of an opportunity, to learn about the beliefs and values of others, and to share and discuss common life objectives with those who not moments before were complete strangers.

In retrospect, I now realize that Indian people, as a whole, demonstrate a seemingly peculiar yearning to promote the   two attributes that we have all been gifted with, those attributes being tolerance and acceptance. Because of our competitive natures here in America however, we have a fear of giving too much leeway to somebody else. We thereby tend to be more concerned with judging and condemning others, rather than allowing them to be who they are and accepting them as such.

Why my concern? Because tolerance and acceptance are the first steps toward fulfilling God’s purpose for our being here. That purpose? Relieving others of pain and suffering. You see, only then can we be truly happy. And so as not to get it twisted, happiness is not just having the right mate, the slickest car, the biggest house, or the ideal job. Happiness is the result of doing God’s Will.

Each of us has been made perfect for God’s Purpose. We have each been given a unique gift that only we can use in the way we were gifted to use it. Whether it be the way we look, the way we walk, or the way we talk, only we can do it that way. So my suggestion to myself and to all of y’all is to be tolerant and accepting of whomever you come in contact with, and do what you can to make their life better as a result of having been in your presence. And while doing it…Be Happy.

I’ll holla…

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Shaunie D In Kenya A...A Dedication

Africa is an entire continent, not a country. As a matter of fact it’s the second largest and the second most populated continent in the world. Kenya is a whole nation, not a state. It’s 224,445 sq mi, and has a population of about 48 million people. That’s bigger than Iowa and California combined, and it’s comprised of 6 million more people. That’s where Shaunie D is going y’all, and we want to bless you Shaunie. We want to bless all the people you meet, and all that you see, hear and do while you’re there. It’s a big place, but so is what you’re about to do.

I’m gonna share your words, cause I know that by doing so we will all feel the post graduate frustration, the  subsequent anticipation and the well deserved heartfelt exuberance you expressed. Here’s what you said:

”I went through about 5 months of job hunting (and stressing) after graduation. It was so hard to be patient. In October I became a program assistant for an afterschool program called the “Kids Rock Klub”…Unfortunately they didn't get their grant renewed for the program, and I shifted from 40 hours a week to 15. Yikes! Good news though.Thanks to my boss passing my resume around, to different nonprofits, I start working for the Corona/Norco YMCA on the 13th. So many twists and turns with this post-grad life! Aside from that I'm going on a missions trip to Kenya in July! I've wanted to do it since I was 13 so words can't describe my excitement.”

Yes they can Shaunie, and we want you to always hold on to our belief that what you’re experiencing is a Divine Calling, your life is unfolding exactly as it should, and we’re more than excited about your future.

While you’re away, and we’re back here discussing the critical issues of the day, be present wherever you are and understand that it’s you who will determine whether to take what you learn and use it to guide our world toward justice and joy, to use the time spent there as an opportunity for reflection and relaxation, or maybe a combination of both. Just remember that whatever choice you make it’s the right choice, because your desire to go, and reason for wanting to be there, were made with the best of intentions.

If at any time while in the Motherland, where it all began, you begin feeling that some experience is falling short of what you thought it would be, please remember that it’s only because you expected something different, and your expectations were based only on what you heard or saw somebody else say. We all know that what you hear from somebody else is only an opinion if they have not experienced it. And even if they have, what they say can still be untrue if their motive for telling you is not pure. 

You fixin to know the truth Shaunie D, and when you get back, we want you to share it with us, and with all those who are willing to listen. So don’t expect any thing to be other than what it is, and accept every thing for what it is, cause it’s the truth Ruth, and we already know that we ain’t gonna get nothing but the truth from you.

We’ll holla…

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Expect Or Accept...The Choice Is Yours

There are two basic ways of dealing with other people. One is to have expectations of them, the other is to accept them for who they are. It makes sense to expect certain responses when coping with your children or others you are in charge of, because you have the power to reprimand them. With those who do not feel indebted to you however, children and otherwise, accepting unpleasant responses from them can be difficult to say the least.

Case in point is an excerpt from August Wilson’s play “Fences”, when the youngest son asked his dad “How come you ain't never liked me?” What did the father say? “Liked you? Who the hell says I got to like you?”  It was obvious that the son did not expect that response, and accepting it was the furthest thing from his mind. Nevertheless, it pointed out how important it is to not expect something from anyone or anything over whom we have no control. 

So what do we have control over? Our choices. What we can do is to 1) take a little time out before making mood-altering decisions, and 2) ask ourselves if we are willing to accept the consequences of our actions. We want of course to believe that we know a person well enough to have certain expectations of them, but it’s always safer to consider our inability to control what they say and do.

Making an effort to accept whatever the outcome of our requests might be, is a choice that allows us an opportunity to better know two people… the other person and ourself. After all, we both had choices and our willingness to accept the outcome of whatever the other person’s choice might be, will help us to learn how to accept both the bitter and the sweet.

I have earnestly tried to keep my expectations of others in alignment with what I expect of myself. Life lessons have proven time and time again however, that what I want might be unreasonable because I’m only going to get what another is willing to give.

My intent now is to not ponder over why a person responds in the way they do, but to realize that this is just where they are at this point in their life, and that what I need to do is focus more on how willing and able I am to accept that fact. Easier said then done of course, but it’s what I’ve chosen to do, and thus far, when I’m able to do it, my life becomes much simpler, and all the people in it, a lot easier to deal with. 

I’ll holla…

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Don't Be Skurred

An excerpt found in Richard Wright’s novel ‘Black Boy’ , published in 1945 reads as follows:

Our too-young and too-new America, lusty because it is lonely, aggressive because it is afraid, insists upon seeing the world in terms of good and bad, the holy and the evil, the high and the low, the white and the black; our America is frightened of fact, of history, of processes, of necessity. It hugs the easy way of damning those whom it cannot understand, of excluding those who look different, and it salves its conscience with a self-draped cloak of righteousness.”

I was born four (4) years after the 1945 publication of the above Richard Wright description of the United States, and am moved by both his ability to see things as they are, and his fearlessness in conveying them to all who would listen. I am not surprised, yet surely disheartened, that this description held true then, and still holds true today. With an overly assertive being taking on the highest political office in this nation, we might want to involve ourselves in addressing this ongoing description of our country.

Fear is still the tactic employed to keep us hoping that our so-called leaders will not allow harm to come to us as long as we adhere to the statutes that they have agreed upon and use to govern us. We’d like to think that we the people had a say so in the construction of these laws, yet we have no real knowledge of the motives for their imposition and enforcement. Most of us want to know why we must adhere to things that don’t seem fair, yet we don’t even ask the question cause we assume we’ll get the answer my father always gave me…”Cause I said so.”  We’re scared that if we even dare to question Big Daddy’s authority we risk losing protection from the threats of terrorism, global warming, xenophobia and other oft repeated fears. 

Now these fears are all justifiable, however they mask the fear that undergirds this country’s strategy. The United States’ fostering of racial inequity, its advocation of being right and other countries wrong, and its penalizing of those who dare to challenge its intent, are simply tactics employed by those in proverbial power to both offset and obscure the fear that surpasses all others…the fear of being found out.  

Let’s grow up y’all, and stop being satisfied with what’s being said and find a way to make folk accountable for what’s being done. We all have fears but let’s focus less on those  being perpetuated by folk who want to own and control everything, while convincing us that we can get some of it if we obey. We can then focus more on the practice of the real American dream…that being the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all, both here and abroad. We must look for, find and share the truth. Then and only then will our unsubstantiated fears have a chance of disappearing.

I thank Richard Wright for the insight and inspiration, my father for inadvertantly furthering my desire to know why, and all of you for lending an ear.

I’ll holla…

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