Dancing at the Midnight Hour [SSL 300]

Today, is about dancing in the darkness. Thriving in the middle of chaos. A review by Jordan T. Jones about a book by Rev Dr Otis Moss III. Don’t miss the links and photos at PART 2: the companion page 

The logo of the Benedictine Order Initia Nova

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If a Clarinet Had a Soul [SSL180]

Today, I bring you some reflections on Ella Fitzgerald—the First Lady of Jazz; the Subversive Stillness devotional entry for Feb 3rd (from author Robert Monson); and the poignant “I need you” prayer from Dr. Howard Thurman. 🚩Get access to extras, like website links related to the episode, are at the support page that is free today. https://www.patreon.com/posts/46866376 Listen now with the AUDIO PLAYER: Featured music on the episode is a sample of “Close Your Eyes” sung by Ella Fitzgerald. It is a CreativeCommons work (CC) gathered from the Library of Congress: archive.org
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So, I’ve noticed something:

It’s really common for creative types (musicians, writers, artists, filmmakers, etc) to get into a serious funk, especially come Autumn season. Whether it’s the chilly weather, the shorter periods of daylight, the pre-holiday blitz, or whatever else…plenty of us hit up against FUNK.

I’m not talking about catchy music (Funk as in…Soul music with a greater emphasis on beats, influences from rhythm and bluesjazz and psychedelic rock). No, I’m talking about the feeling that something is wrong in the universe.

I was all up in a funk when I read an article from Tim Ferriss. If this successful Mr Moneybags type who’s arguably America’s favorite life hacker gets hit up with a phase of Funk, why should I think it’s strange for me to splash into one. I started listening and looking around, and it turns out it’s “a thing”.

Perhaps it comes out as cynicism, annoyance, restlessness, or ennui.



  [ahn-wee, ahn-wee; French ahn-nwee]  


a feeling of utter weariness and discontent
resulting from satiety or lack of interest; 
The endless lecture produced an unbearable ennui.

(ennui isn’t mere boredom though, the connotation is really more of a life-weariness…a “funk”)

Maybe it’s just low-grade blah or maybe it’s full-blown depressive feelings.
Whatever it is, it’s common. You are not alone.


We have to push through. Yes, Winter will be long, but we can use the time to germinate our ideas and bloom in a few months.
If you’re feeling the onslaught of FALL FUNK let me know!
We’ll check up on each other. We’ll un-funk-ify!

Are you Skipping “Brain Pain” but picking the Plague?


Professor Bop via Compfight

Most of us don’t realize that we spend a bunch of time avoiding a familiar “Brain Pain”.

Just below our radar, but deeply connected with our emotions is an unsettling sense that something isn’t right.

That’s because it isn’t. Though it’s a normal sensation it’s not well-received.

We order and reorder things to avoid this feeling. But, it persists. And, it’ll make us do the strangest things.

Simply put: This “brain pain” happens when we try to hold two or more conflicting ideas together.

It’s officially called cognitive dissonance.

Unidentified, you don’t like it either.

But, in fact most of life and love is full of paradox and contradictions. All the great thinkers and spiritual masters speak of it.

The big problem?

Our cognitions don’t live together in a good jive and comfortable harmony. Our ideas, beliefs, values or emotional reactions have pointy and mismatched edges and we keep wanting things to piece together nicely like a glossy jigsaw puzzle.

Instead of feeling and living with dissonance, we try to avoid it or reduce it. Anything from changing our beliefs to be in keeping with the situation (to make it bearable), to reducing our regret through irrational justification, to reaffirming our bias even if a logical reason is absent. We are very irrational creatures and the more we think we are NOT the more irrational it is.

(It’s dissonant to be a partially rational creature, see?)

In wanting everything to “make sense” we pick fiction and live by figments instead.

You do it. I do it.

What’s worse?
The social pressure to relieve this sort of brain pain will blast toward us from everywhere. Maybe nowhere more powerfully than from our leaders. People in the pulpit, or the podium, power players in the board room or on news and media outlets they let the zingers fly that force you to inconsistently choice a faulty form of consistency. On cable television and radio of all stripes it’s a full-blown-plauge.

Everyone will try to sway you to give up the dissonance and see it their way (which they call “the right way”). It makes them feel better. But, the dissonance is part of reality just like it is part of jazz music. Not every note sounds just right or fits together seamlessly. It’s off-pitch and off-tempo. It’s very hard to predict.

How tricky! How disconcerting.

It is a mark of maturity to accept that reality is chock-a-block with inconsistency and incongruence. (That’s worth reading again.)

Though it can be unnerving, an abiding peace can yet remain in what seems a spongy place. This place is a good and useful tension of balance. It’s very hard to find and even harder to keep.

So, what about you?

Think about the things that create the discomforting feeling of dissonance for you.

• What are they? (relationships, finances, politics, tragedy, redemption?) Narrow it down to one or two big ones, for now.

• Have you been dodging logic or minimizing regret for the fantasy of consonance because you want to avoid the pain (and reality) of dissonance? Let’s be honest.

What could you hold in dissonance and balance that you haven’t been?

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