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The Inner Child





"An adult is one who has lost the grace, the freshness, the innocence of the child, who is no longer capable of feeling pure joy, who makes everything complicated, who spreads suffering everywhere, who is afraid of being happy, and who, because it is easier to bear, has gone back to sleep.  The wise man is a happy child."


        -Arnaund Desjardins (6.18.25 - 8.10.11)



I have a book of spiritual quotes - one for every day of the year.  I've had it for years. The above shows up every year on my birthday, August 11. I used to not like that this one was on my birthday - it was never a favorite. I always thought it was depressing or something. 


Or perhaps - it is so true - that it is difficult to digest. Really? Is what Arnaund describes really what an adult is? My brain could debate it but my heart says yes.  This idea that to find grace, or wisdom or God - one must be like a child is so common you could almost say it is cliche. Desjardins goes to great lengths to describe the qualities adults have lost understanding for and then to detail the habits we tend towards as human "grown ups".  


Not only have I been the grown up he describes most all my life - I still fall into these patterns often. Just one example - Do I make things more complicated then they need to be? Boy do I. I used to be much more complicated, though - so that is something.  When I do allow life from the perspective of the happy child, it is so different. Easier. Filling. Significant. 


By no coincidence, I was led to spend time with a dear friend, George, right before recording August Light. I spent a few hours per day with him, his wife, Laurie and their beautiful daughter, Gabrielle, age 3 and a 1/2.  Gabrielle has the kind of light behind her soulful eyes that is all sweetness. George asks me to play a song for them - and next thing I know we are making up songs about giraffes licking your face and elephants who go "quack".  In these precious moments, as I sing for her, it was by all means graceful, fresh, innocent and joyful. It was definitely not complicated, or causing pain - and we were so lost in it, who had time to be afraid of experiencing happiness?!  Gabrielle, with her precious smile and pure essence was reminding me why I started playing music in the first place... As I sang and watched her rocking in her daddy's arms - I noticed how purely full George's heart was. He had an expression you can't describe with words. In those moments, I saw the child within him - this grown up, father, salt and pepper haired MAN - holding his little girl with such tenderness and love. And I realize - that kind of love can only happen when we honor what Desjardins confronts us with - "The Wise Man is a Happy Child".  He can love his daughter so fully, because she has allowed him to access his inner child - his inner JOY.  It does not mean we are immature, or irresponsible, or don't pay our mortgage on time - it just means we strive to honor that part of us, the child within, which lives in our hearts. It is the part of us that flows and cherishes every moment as if it is the only thing that is happening. The part of us that doesn't even have to try - JOY just flows. 


We each have this child living inside. But how much time do we spend honoring it compared to how much time we spend stressing about work or bills?  I won't even venture one is more or less important than the other - but I only claim the modern world has many of us out of balance. We need more child within, and a lot less complicated adult. 


I won't pretend to understand the mystery of unlocking this energy. But I suspect that if we put our attention towards it, we might surprise ourselves. 


I propose we spend some time reflecting on what the child within each of us experiences as JOY.  Make it your intention to remember what that felt like. Was it the embrace of your parent? Running around like a crazy animal in your backyard?  I distinctly remember getting a guitar (cheap thing but I didn't know it, nor care) when I was 5 years old.  My heart felt like it was going to explode when I unwrapped it! It was a moment of pure JOY. I have this memory of looking at the thing in absolute awe. A few weeks ago, I glanced up and saw Bella - a 1999 Larivee D-10 6 string Acoustic Guitar. I've owned this guitar for many years - played it probably every day since then, live, on tours, minus some holidays and vacations. On this day, I was, again, struck with awe and wonder at how beautiful it was.  It was such a moment. And then a voice inside me - with total amazement said, "I know how to play that thing?!" - it was a moment that took me by such surprise. And I just felt so full and blessed. 2 days later - out of the blue, I've just made the arrangements to record an album - I didn't see it coming so fast. Are the two events related? 


What if you found your own way towards your inner child?. Simply have awareness towards it and it may unfold naturally.  Or you can go back to sleep…


August Light is an album that honors these concepts on many levels.  The songs take you on a journey from complicated adult thru happy child. 

Download August Light on iTunes 8/11




Silence & Stillness




Last year, a filmmaker wrote a part for me in her film, “Transients”.  The film was about a deaf musician and poet and his interaction with a paraplegic sculpture artist at an arts festival.  I played “Gabe”, the musician's best friend and I also wrote the music and songs for the film, one of which we perform live in one of the scenes.  Two of these songs appear on my new album (“In Pictures” and “Transient”).  The lead actor in the film is a deaf actor.  The director is deaf.  The DP is deaf.  And about half the crew was deaf.  Being on that set changed my life.  The first thing I noticed being around deaf people is that they are the absolute best listeners.  When deaf people communicate, they aren’t hearing - but they are receiving.  On set, there were about a dozen different ASL interpreters – so those of us that didn’t know sign language could still communicate with those that were deaf.  Imagine that, there I was, a musician, singer and songwriter – someone who is not only dependent on SOUND, but someone who had built much of his artistic identity around it.  Musicians tune in so deeply into sound textures, harmony, scales, notes – things being in “key”.  


And here I was acting in & writing MUSIC for this film – a film where most of its artists, crew, actors and audience would never hear what I was sonically creating.  At first, this came with enormous challenges.  How could I get the lead actor to play a drum in time?  Half the time, I can’t even get hearing drummers to play in time!  How would I write music that was true to the project and these beautiful people?  How would I write music that honored what I was experiencing?  I started by throwing traditional rhythm out the window – adding extra beats and taking some away – focusing more on the feeling.  Then I realized I could do away with song structure all together; and finally, melodically, I began to feel my way around new territory – sometimes it didn’t make any musical sense at all – except that it did because all I had left was a FEELING.  The space between notes became infinitely more important than the actual notes.  Silence and Music are not separate at all.  They are like PB&J.


On that set, I had a conversation (via interpreter) with Lauren Ridloff, a deaf woman who is the wife of Doug Ridloff, the lead actor.  She began to tell of her father, a songwriter, and told me that I reminded her of him.  He had passed away.  My first feeling was sadness, and I thought: “How would I feel if I had a daughter who could not hear my music?”  But as Lauren continued, I was flooded with unexpected emotion and clarity.  She began to describe how she would sit for hours with her father while he wrote and played music, how her favorite thing in the world was to watch him perform, how she felt that she only really got to know him deeply and spiritually – through his music.  She continued about her passion for music in general, her favorite artists (Paul Simon was one) and how connected she felt to music.  I want to be clear.  This is someone who was born deaf.  She has never experienced hearing in the way that we have – in her life, she has never heard a sound.  And yet, I knew absolutely, that her experience of music was just as powerful, connected, authentic and inspired as mine.


Something in my heart integrated and locked in to place in such a way in these moments.  Something fundamental inside of me shifted.  It was information I already understood mentally – but this moment was an accelerated enlightenment.  Sound does not actually matter.  What we see with our eyes does not actually matter.  Nothing that is physical and tangible actually matters.  There is a spirit inside of us – a force – and although it is something we cannot understand, it is something we can allow to lead us, our lives, and most importantly, our expression.  When we honor this, something gets communicated that is bigger than any of our normal senses - it is the vibration of spirit.


I have spent so much of my life focusing on the wrong things – namely, concerns such as is my voice strong enough?  Am I singing in pitch?  Is the music original enough?  Is it a “good” song? Etc. Etc…  All these are distractions from what I have always known – that all of this makes up about 1% of what is actually going on during artistic expression.  When we are connected to spirit, we are infinite and we transcend pitch, sound, tone, range.  I am not saying that as a singer I should completely throw those out the window – only that they require a very tiny amount of my focus.  When I am in the flow and inspiration comes through me – those things work themselves out without my attention.  They are just mechanical processes…  As such, they are useless without the creative intelligence behind them.  Have you ever heard a technically perfect singer who is soul-less – and you were not moved?  Conversely, have you ever heard a less technically proficient singer who nonetheless had some quality that moved you to tears?


Since then, every time I sing or play guitar, I imagine that my entire audience is deaf.  It immediately snaps me back to the heart of the matter – that my job as an artist is to express from the depth of my soul – and to forget about "how I sound" – that's all ego.  I pray each time that I will be carried.  I surrender to the creative intelligence and constantly work to turn off my brain – that useless voice that overwhelms me with judgment or contrived problems.  This is why I practice meditation – so that I may more efficiently access this better way to reach those that would humble me and witness my artistic expression.  So that my heart can clear a path.


In our Silence and Stillness, there is so much power.  We should honor it more – much more – and I am grateful to have learned this from my friends in the deaf community.


August Light is available everywhere on August 11th.  Visit 


“When you become aware of silence, immediately there is a state of inner still alertness.  You are present.  You have stepped outside of thousands of years of collective human conditioning.”  – Eckhart Tolle 





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