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Life Arts    H3'ed 1/17/09

A minute thirty is all it takes.

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Message mikel paul

Before I go home after yet another good day at my music shop (bad ones are rare), I total up the receipts like a good little owner does. Add ‘em up, department by department, make sure they check out, if not to the penny, at least close enough for jazz. I lock the doors, start my beat up F150 for a few seconds, and just sit. I glance up at my shop sign on the roof of my little shop, my little music spot in my little town in my NorCal, and think to myself… cool this is. Too cool. So cool.

Check it. I get to do what I love to do. Music. Play it, teach it, buy it, sell it… mostly, it is the folks, but most of all, it’s the kids I love and am here for. And, they are here for me. You know the ones.

The nine year old who walks in with his or her mom and/or dad, who both want him or her to get an acoustic guitar first. They are hoping with fingers crossed that I will confirm what they have been reading and reciting to their child in online verse, how playing acoustic guitar first strengthens and stretches your fingers quicker and makes switching to the electric later, so much easier. “Right Mr. Music Man”, they offer with a little wink? They smile when I agree with them, because it is true. But their looks tone down as I end my comment by happily telling the kid how cool the XXX AC/DC tee he or she is wearing is. That quick. Mom and dad get it. The second they came in the shop I thought they’d get it, because just by coming in, I sensed they cared. It’s simple really. It’s just the truth. Not an absolute. Just the truth. Giving an acoustic guitar to this kid is like giving a Labrador a Phillips head. A minute thirty is all it takes.

Or Bob, the 55 year young lawyer with island sized hands who wants to play

 “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” for his wife on their 30th. Really. And did. Just needed a wider necked guitar for his digits to dance. Permission granted. Or Domanique, who started on violin at 3 years 10 months and switched to piano because she heard Fur Elise being played by someone and just had to “do that”. So she did.

There are many who I’ve meet who do not or will not find in music like I have, their passion. But, maybe later though. Or maybe never. We do not know. It is beautiful what we don’t know. It is most beautiful however, to listen to what is wished for. From the soul.

The soul wants just two things. Joy and love. In any form, the soul will recognize and embrace them. Knowledge and intelligence have their place. But more often than not, they are on a mission of certainty and persuasion, not one centered in honesty or acceptance.


It is this little bit of magic that keeps me very much alive. Not knowing what will happen keeps me focused on the endless possibilities of the canvas we are and carry with us, not sure of the colors to be used on our canvas, but simply adding or not the colors that we each see or wish to see.

These days there are so many answers being bought and sold based on nothing more than chaos. Solutions that only add more chaos to issues born of it. It’s Grail City. These absolutes point to a telling chink in our armor. Our ability to notice is being replaced by, of all things, the falseness of knowing. Another grail.

Of all the sadness’s in life, the muting of a soul is to me the saddest. There is a line from Scent of a Woman that Pacino delivers I will never forget. “There is nothing like the sight of an amputated spirit. There is no prosthetic for that”. It’s akin to murder that we take away someone else’s possibilities just because we are in fear or afraid or selfish enough to believe it is our beacon that shines the brightest.

With all that is happening these days, not just here in America, but everywhere and in so many arenas both legal and illegal, both human and inhumane, it would seem we are at the precipice of numbing the very spirit of our mankind. Our collective soul. I do not say that lightly, nor do I mean it as eminent or self fulfilling. But I do believe we are fast losing our ability to accept differences . To notice that within acceptance of our differences, we find so much more to see. We find not only each other, but ourselves. Two folks watching water churning over a river rock see two different things. One man’s AC/DC is another man’s Leo Kottke.


As a long time ongoing atheist who likes to sometimes read the stories in the bible and of the man Jesus, I actually wonder sometimes if I am wrong about him. I remember how much I like the not knowing, and surmise that in my love of the unknown, I am according him less than he is or was. In the end though, I conclude, I do not know, and it is in this place that I can see the possibility that maybe I am wrong about him. But maybe not. Is does not change anything, what he really is or really was. But accepting he may be or may not be allows me to understand the possibilities without buying the book.

I look at Bob or Domanique and in a minute thirty a door can be opened, not just to someone else, but to you yourself. Everyday is a new possibility. A new alternative for someone else to see something and in that moment too, something for you to see. For when I have been gifted by someone’s discovery that I played a part in helping them find, I find something I can only describe as peace.

Like when 14 year old Nathan played at ‘open mic’ last week. He played guitar and sang a song he wrote. He’s been taking lessons for about 10 months. He’s played open mic before. And he is good. The you can feel it kind of good. The kind you can smell. Almost chords and a voice that is soft and unsure a bit. But so good. I call it special sauce. Nathan’s got it.

Anyway. He did his first self penned tune.


When he finished, I was a mess. So were the other 30 or so in the audience, many of whom are not musicians and who were a f’d up as me. Because you do not have to know music to recognize the truth when it smiles.

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Mikel Paul Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

61 years on this jumpin' green sphere. Musician. Own and operate a music store to help kids find a possible life long friend. I believe in the soul and the search. Two sons. Published songwriter. play bass, piano and gut string guitar. there are no (more...)
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