Creativity

June 23rd, 2016

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All of us are creative people. After all we each create a new experience every day. For some, that experience is pretty much the same —  day in and day out. Get up, do your stuff, eat breakfast, go to work, come home, eat dinner, watch your program, go to bed.

For others, perhaps the more creative types, the days take on various shapes as we try to diverge from the norm, we try to expand life into an experience of greater color to keep things interesting. We re-invent our lives daily and refuse to get bogged down in the sameness of the routine. So we create things, we make it up as we go along – just as I’m doing now.

Creativity isn’t difficult. It’s actually the easiest part of life. Personally, it’s what I live for. Oh I can get bogged down in the routine just like anybody else, and when that happens, I find myself fluctuating between the edges of happiness and unhappiness. I would love to be creative all the time, but that just doesn’t seem to be possible here on Planet Earth. No matter how hard I try, the routines keep popping up.

And when they do, I find that life goes by faster, time flies, the weeks spin by and leave little memory. What’s to remember? Not much. Just the daily grind?

So I revolt. I break away from the routine. I brush my teeth differently. I try sleeping in another position. I change my schedule, try a different breakfast combination, water the grass at a different time of day, read a book in the middle of the afternoon. Get creative.

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Not all these ideas work. Some are complete failures. Others are “take it or leave it” ideas. Occasionally one makes total sense and so it becomes part of my routine. It’s a good idea that sticks.

That’s what it means to be creative. Try something new. Break the mold. Lean out over the edge. Chance to fail. Chance to fall.

Creativity often results in mistake. It has to. After all, you’re out there in no man’s land, in an atmosphere of danger, not always knowing where you’re going, rarely sure of yourself, trusting something beyond the tried and true and the routine.

You want to be creative? You have to build the muscle – the muscle that allows failure, the muscle of determination to get up off the mat and try again, the muscle to lose and yet still march on.

You have to be willing to make a mistake and then make something of it. In music, there are musicians who read the music and stick to that no matter what. Then there are musicians who improvise – who take the chance to lean out over the cliff and go where their heart and soul takes them – not their brain.

When you do that, mistakes will be made, but that’s where the muscle comes in. The muscle is the ability to turn the mistake into something unexpectedly creative, to right the wrong in such a way that the wrong becomes a brilliancy. Improvisationalists do this all the time, and they pull it off because they are rooted into the music — the chord progressions, the groove, the feel — in such a way that they are tied to the cliff and cannot fall, but rather can lean out farther and farther. Because they have the muscle of the bedrock of music under them.

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The same goes with all art – whether it’s watercolor, sculpture, or writing. Be willing to go where no soul has gone before, be willing to try the untried, be willing to fail. It’s a brave man’s game. It takes courage.

If you fail all too often, you’re liable to say, “Well, I guess I’m not very creative.” But that would not be correct. It would simply mean that you’re not yet rooted enough in your craft to lean out so far over the edge. If we fail too often, we become dis-couraged – we lose our courage. We lose our ability to be creative.

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So go back to work on your craft. If you’re a musician, practice your scales. If you’re a writer, read more. If you’re a painter, study the masters. And if you’re simply human, try reading the biographies of great people.

Study greatness. Feed your roots. The size of the tree above the ground equals the root system below. If the tree above the ground becomes much bigger than its root system, that tree will eventually die and fall over. It’s the way of the world.

“The comfort zone is the great enemy to creativity; moving beyond it necessitates intuition, which in turn configures new perspectives and conquers fears.” ~Dan Stevens

“Passion is one great force that unleashes creativity, because if you’re passionate about something, then you’re more willing to take risks.” ~Yo-Yo Ma

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“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” ~Scott Adams

I Grew Grass

May 27th, 2016

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I grew grass! Well, I, personally, didn’t grow it. Rather I planted the seeds and watered it daily. Uhhh, actually, my neighbor, Bill, planted the seeds and put down the topsoil. But I did water it with my garden hose.

And miracle of all miracles, it grew!

I’m in awe of life and its amazing ability to create and re-create. We put these little skinny brown seeds in the dirt, scattered them around and covered them a bit and put on some other shiny green stuff on top of that so the birds wouldn’t eat the seeds. Then I watered it every day for a week … and nothing happened.

I didn’t really think it would. I mean, how could green stuff come from skinny brown stuff? It made no sense whatsoever.

But on the eighth day, lo’ and behold, little skinny green stuff began to emerge. And now, a week later, the little skinny green stuff has grown up to be … a lawn!

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Ya’ see, a tree in our front yard had died; the city came along and cut it down leaving a big patch of dirt. Ugly as sin! And we had just moved in! Something needed to be done!

And so neighbor, Bill, recommended GRASS!

Living in New York City two blocks from Times Square for 40 years simply did not prepare me for this. Life in the country is one miracle after another. What a trip!

Who invented this concept? Plant seeds, water, grass grows. What intelligence made this up? God? Mother Nature? Someone we haven’t even thought of yet?

It’s a mystery.

But oh so fascinating …

Yeah, I know, there’s a science behind all of this – Biology. I took a biology course once and it was explained to me, and I probably said, “Well OK, so that’s how it works”, but biology never explained the essence of the process. It explained the process, but we never got to the essence. Somehow it was overlooked.

Biology never explained Life.

Where did life come from? What did it look like? Where did it go when our tree died? Does it live in the dirt?

Seed + Water + Dirt + Life = Grass???

What a concept!

I once spent an afternoon getting to know a tree many years ago and had the same basic experience. I realized that the tree and I were essentially the same. What made us both was life. Life! We were each made of different stuff, but at the heart of each of us was life – essentially life. Without that life neither of us could possibly exist. And though we were each made of different stuff, what was the same in each of us was life.

You and I are each made of the same stuff, yet we are still very different. Perhaps we’re like me and the tree – different, but essentially the same. We both have life.

Maybe this is what’s meant by the Universal Truth that states, “We Are All One.” We are all one in life. We are all one in essence. We are all one in the miracle of this continuing energy.

Some of us are even different colors! If we miss the point, if we overlook the essence and fail to get down to the basic truth of who we really are and what really makes us up, if we fail to see this and miss the true concept, that’s called Racism.

If we’re really smart and in-depth thinkers and seers, we’ll simply know the truth and the truth shall make us free – free from racism.

This all came from growing grass.

You’ll have to excuse me now. I have to go water my lawn.

IAL Funder Letter #7

May 16th, 2016

Dear Friend,

Is Anybody Listening?

Who is our audience?

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You are.

But it must go beyond you. We speak to the “spiritual, but not religious”, the independent spiritual seekers, the millions of other healers on the planet – those that sit on the neighboring edges of our particular healing nation.

We offer an ‘alternative’ approach to awareness and healing – or perhaps an ‘additional’ approach.

The power of church in many people’s lives is great. But what about the many people who don’t go to church? What jogs their thought to a more spiritual approach and to the spiritual solutions that WILL solve the problems of our world?

Our particular language is music and song. It’s a universal language that speaks to all. It entertains, educates and inspires. It’s a joyful enterprise.

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Nobody has a corner on Truth. The Truth is simply available to all of us.

Learn More:

Is Anybody Listening

Participate Now:

http://watchfiremusic.com/wfm/is-anybody-listening/donate-now/

 

Thanks for listening,

Peter Link

What Have We Done?

April 28th, 2016
Geronimo and Wes Studi, actor

Geronimo and Wes Studi, actor

I know this is an old subject. Racism is just one of those issues that just keeps coming up, doesn’t it?

I watched a terrific movie the other night. It’s not a new movie. It’s an old movie on an old subject. A movie made in 1993. A particular subject that goes back to the beginnings of America. No, it’s not about slavery, but it certainly is about the enslavement of man.

Directed by Walter Hill, Story and Screenplay by John Milius and Staring Jason Patric, Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall and Matt Damon with a heart wrenching performance by Wes Studi, an American Indian of the Cherokee Nation, this totally compelling film, Geronimo, was both fascinating and broke my heart.

Wes Studi as Geronimo

Wes Studi as Geronimo

I’m a white guy – of English and German descent. Descendent of two warring nations and born into a third – America. For most of my life, I thought of myself and my country as the “good guys.”

I’m no longer so sure of that. (When was the last time you saw a movie and the CIA was the good guys?) And after the other night’s two hours with Wes Studi and his characterization of the great Geronimo, Apache warrior and last free man of his tribe, I find myself pretty disgusted with the whole notion of cowboys and Indians.

My God, how we did them wrong …

Geronimo of the Apache Nation

Geronimo of the Apache Nation

Sad to think that that period of such total confusion was one of the beginnings of America. We conquered the Indian Nations of America, wiped out their homes, imprisoned them, destroyed their culture, and looked down our not-so-holy noses at their religion and their God.

Shame.

We need these kinds of films. They are reminders of the gross mistakes we have made and reminders of the travesties of our actions.

The movie has haunted me for days.

I am deeply sorry.

 

IAL Funder Letter #5

April 22nd, 2016

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Dear Friend,

Let’s address the problems of Racism that we still face in the world today. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Browns or the Whites or the Blacks or the Greens. It’s all the same problem, the same issue.

With “Is Anybody Listening? – Concert Theater and Webcast, we’ll meet the problem head on.

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South Africa

Music and Lyrics by Peter Link

We come from Soweto

We come from a great confusion

We come from the ghetto

We look to South Africa

We look to South Africa

 

We come from Zimbabwe

We come from the streets of Harlem

We come from a new age

We know where the times have gone

So we go where the lines are drawn

           

We come from Botswanna

We come from a deep frustration

We come from Atlanta

We look to South Africa

We look to South Africa

 

Ah there I see in the great Serenghetti

The hope of our ancestors

Standing before me

I see in the ancient still mountains

And shining blue waters

The strength of Mandela

And still in the shanties of Capetown

The voices of children sing

“power to the people”            Amandla awaytu

“power to the people”            Amandla awaytu      

“power to the people”            awaytu

 

We come from Uganda

We come from the mask of slavery

We come from South Central

We look to South Africa

We look to South Africa

 

And now we look to the slums of Pretoria

To show us the way

As the straw shows the way of the wind

For there in the mood of South Africa

Lies a measure of truth

The writing is there on the wall

Where it always has been

 

We come from the bread lines

We come from the blackboard jungles

We rise from the confines

Impelled by the hand of God

We look to South Africa

 

Ah and I see upon Kilamanjaro

The souls of our forefathers

Standing before us

The mem’ries of Medgar

And Malcolm and Martin

Run deep in our blood

The fires of apartheid

Still burn through the tears screaming

“power to the people”            Amandla awaytu

“power to the people”            Amandla awaytu      

“power to the people”            awaytu

 

We come from Soweto

We come from the Zulu nation

We come from the ghetto

We look to South Africa

We look to South Africa

                  Lyric from “South Africa”, Act 1, “Is Anybody Listening?”

 

We each have the power to heal. We do it every day – in small ways, in big ways. Join us in this healing work.

Learn More:

Is Anybody Listening

Participate Now:

http://watchfiremusic.com/wfm/is-anybody-listening/donate-now/

 

Thanks for listening,

Peter Link

 

IAL Funder Letter #4

April 10th, 2016

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Dear Friend,

Is Anybody Listening?

There is something in the stillness

Calling softly to me

Even though I’m all alone

And the sound is like nothing

I’ve ever heard or seen

And it’s calling from the deep unknown

That’s right. It’s a calling. This project is a calling. We’re accepting the call.

Then the mountains move

And the cold wind roars

And the fire fills the sky

But temptation always passes by

Leaving something in the stillness

Calling softly to me

And so, we’re listening.

We believe there is a better way of fixing the problems of the world that we all face going forward, a more spiritual way of healing these issues.

It’s a still small voice

Oh a still small voice

Can ya’ hear it?

A still small voice

Calling to me

 And so I’m listening. And I’ve found that …

There is something in the silence

When I quiet my mind

And the water’s rolling over me

And the hush it is endless

And the song runs free

And the voice is like a melody

And I believe that music is the messenger in the communication of these profound ideas of restoration that every one of us already knows.

And the time shall come

When the choice is made

And the voice deep inside

Will stay with you and be your guide

Through the waters ahead

 Well, that time is now.

 It’s a still small voice

Can you hear it?

We each have the power to heal. We do it every day – in small ways, in big ways. Join us in this healing work.

Can you hear it calling?

Learn More:

Is Anybody Listening

Participate Now:

http://watchfiremusic.com/wfm/is-anybody-listening/donate-now/

 

Thanks for listening,

Peter Link

Lyrics from It’s A Still Small Voice, Act II, Is Anybody Listening?

The Birth Of A Nation (Of Soccer)

April 8th, 2016

Soccer-ball-American-flag

When I was a kid growin’ up, for an athlete, life was pretty much a 3-sport world — baseball, football and basketball.  St. Louis was my hometown and when I first got to high school I started noticing for the first time that local college, St. Louis University, had a pretty good soccer team. They were nationally recognized in a sport that was never played by anyone that I knew.

Nonetheless, I began to hear more about this international sport as I went out for basketball in the winter of my freshman year and even, to my surprise, found out that St. Louis was recognized as one of the soccer centers of our nation.  It was still very much a minor sport, however.

My high school, Principia, had a soccer team, and it played in the cold of the winter season, but all the best athletes pretty much played basketball.

After my sophomore year playing basketball and aggressively fouling out of nearly every game I played, my coach suggested to me that my rough and tumble nature might just be better for the soccer team.

Thus began my love affair with the sport of soccer.

At first I really wasn’t very good at it. I grew up with a ball in my hand, not on my foot. In my junior year I played little and learned a lot. For my senior year I decided that I would learn to shoot penalty shots since I had sat by and watched us lose far too many games blowing those shots in my junior year. So I would stay out after practice with our goalie for an extra hour each day and just shoot and shoot until I became good at it.

We had a decent team my senior year. I was still not particularly a skilled player, but I had a knack for scoring in close and around the goal probably because of my tireless work shooting penalty shots.

In track I was a pretty decent pole-vaulter and so at the end of my senior year I got an athletic scholarship to the University of Virginia.

There, in my freshman year of college, I got tremendous coaching in both soccer and pole-vaulting and improved my skill set in rapid fashion.

However, I decided that a big university was not for me and enrolled at a small college back in the mid-west called Principia College.

Sadly, Prin College did not have a soccer team.

College soccer season was a fall sport and rivaled football. Principia’s athletic director, Jim Crafton, was a die-hard football coach who lived for the fall football season.

He was not at all interested in supporting a soccer team as well with an enrollment of only 700-800 students.

But also transferring in that year were a couple of my other high school soccer teammates who were excellent players – Bill Foster, our center half and the best player on the H.S. team, and Jon Fisher, our right wing. Along with John Andrews, our right halfback, who was too light for college football and was already enrolled at Principia, we decided to try our luck at starting a student supported soccer club.

L>R: Jon Fisher, Link, Bill Foster, John Andrews - Founders of Prisoc

L>R: Jon Fisher, Link, Bill Foster, John Andrews – Founders of Prisoc

We knew we needed a coach, so we 4 sophomores met several times to see if there might be a potential coach and faculty sponsor in the faculty who might work with us. Hardly any of the staff even knew what soccer was at the time, but there was one longtime fine arts teacher of Swiss decent named Dr. Reinhardt Ross who had once played soccer and loved the sport. We asked him if he were interested and he jumped at the chance.

Along with our coach, Riney Ross, the four of us held tryouts, booked an 8 game season with other neighboring college’s varsity teams and even organized a season. Riney even went out and bought uniforms for us replete with school colors, shirts, pants and socks and our agreed upon name in blue across the back of the gold jerseys – Prisoc (Principia Soccer Club).

Bill Foster, Bud Kimbrough, Pete Link Bob Smith

Bill Foster, Bud Kimbrough, Pete Link Bob Smith

We ran a few ads in the school paper, The Pilot, and for our first game actually had about a hundred students come out to the game. We had to play early Saturday mornings because we did not dare schedule a game at the same time as the beloved football team that played each Saturday afternoon.Take-first-article_b-w

In the course of our season, soccer caught on at Principia. For the women on campus, it was a much more understandable game to watch. Also they knew who was playing since our faces weren’t covered up by football helmets.

Coach Crafton was not pleased. Several players on the soccer team were quite good athletes, Bill Foster being one of them, and in another world would have been playing football.

But we won more than 50% of our games that year and generated much respect and fun on campus. Besides, we were youth rebelling against the traditional, and in the 60s that was definitely the thing to do.

When was it not?

Our team was led by the great all-around play of Bill Foster, the fierce determination and never tiring Johnnie Andrews, a bulldog goalie named Alan Orcutt and the ever-graceful Jon Fisher. Bud Kimbrough, right forward, Bob Smith and Maurice Weidman, our two fullbacks and Kim Brady, halfback, also formed a tough defense that kept the games low scoring. I was center forward and high scorer.

We, little Principia College soccer club, actually played Washington University in St. Louis, a school of some 30,000 to a 3-3 tie in one game. We were on the map.

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Our second season went even better. We played a much longer schedule, some pretty tough colleges of far greater size and held our own. We won 66% of our games that year and the school support was tremendous. We’d have 300-400 people at each game at home and a busload at all away games. Even cheerleaders! One Saturday somebody counted the attendance at our game and also at the football game that afternoon and ours was the greater number. Soccer had arrived and the word was that Jim Crafton, the athletic director (the football coach) was not a happy guy.

But Jim Crafton was a most graceful man. Oh he loved his football, and this success of our little club had to be tough for him, but at the end of our junior year he announced that Prisoc would no longer be Prisoc – rather, starting in our senior year, 1965, it would now become Principia’s New Varsity Sport!

Thus soccer was born at Principia College.

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Our senior year let no one down. A new freshman came in, Chip McCarthy, who was really from another generation – a kid who had grown up playing soccer first — much like today’s kids. He had all the skills, great confidence, and he added a terrific scoring threat to our front line. He made a good team even better.

Kids-playing-soccer

For me, the most memorable moment that year, and probably the most memorable moment of my athletic lifetime was a game we played away at Eastern Illinois University’s home field. Eastern Illinois, a mid-west soccer powerhouse school of 13,000 vs little ol’ Principia (750) varsity.

I remember it was late in the year, it was freezing cold and we were scared silly to be facing such a team. But our defense held. At the end of the first half the score was 0-0. At the end of the game the score was still 0-0. We had played our hearts out. We were exhausted and our first string had played most of the game with very few substitutions.

The coaches decided instead of a penalty shot shoot out, we would play up to two 5-minute overtimes. At the end of the first overtime the score was still 0-0.

About 2 minutes into the second overtime when we just had nothing left, I suddenly found myself alone in front of their goal with the ball and only their goalie between me and victory. I turned to shoot and their goalie dove for the ball at my foot. But he missed and I was able to get around him and dribble the ball all the way into the goal. I wasn’t going to kick it even though I had a clear shot, because I knew this was the only chance we’d ever have. With no one now in front of me I took the ball right into the netting of the goal and collapsed into the net with the ball. Sudden death. We scored!

We had won the game. My teammates piled all over me trying to extract me from the net as the 5000 EIU supporters left the stadium in shock.

We had beaten the mighty giant. David and Goliath, an’ all that.

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Looking back, we were always a bit ragtag, but we were a team. We believed in ourselves and it didn’t matter that we were from a small school; we were a group of dedicated players with a cause far beyond the game itself. We were out to prove that soccer was a great game to be valued as an American sport.

Today, of course, it is. More kids across America probably play soccer than any other sport growing up.

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We were a small part of the beginning of this. Not just at Principia, but in America.

U.S.-Womens-National-Soccer-Team-Wins-Record-Setting-Third-World-Cup-America-Rejoices

U.S.-Womens-National-Soccer-Team-Wins-Record-Setting-Third-World-Cup-America-Rejoices

IAL Funder Letter #3

April 6th, 2016

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Dear Friend,

So far in my first two letters I’ve asked two questions: “What is the evening all about?” and “Why are we doing this?”

Here’s a third: Who can solve the issues we face in the world ahead?

And here’s how “Is Anybody Listening? will answer it.

Well here we are

Now at last together

Here we are

Soldiers seekers healers are we

What brings us to this mountain top?

What questions lie upon your tongues?

Tell me all about it

What questions lie upon your tongues?

 

Who will heal the world?

Who will save the children?

Who will cleanse the waters of the earth?

Who will heal the world?

Who will stir the ashes?

Who will bring the barren land to birth?

 

Who will rescue the fallen man?

Mend the broken hearted

Build the families

Give back the dignity

That’s now been taken away?

 

Who will heal the world?

Who will bridge the waters?

Who will break the barriers between man?

 

Now you know the answer lies with God

But the task he gives to me

 

So send me up to the mountain top

Send me into the valley below

Send me out into the wilderness

Here I am send me

Here am I   send me

Here I am

 

Who will heal the world?

Who will end the famine?

Who is there to multiply the loaves?

 

Now you know the power lies with God

But the hour belongs to you

 

So send me up to the mountain top

Send me into the valley below

Send me out into the wilderness

Here I am send me

Here am I send me

Here I am

 

Send me into the prison yards

Send me into the heart of danger

Send me out into the battleground

Here I am send me

Here am I send me

Here I am

 

Send me into the broken homes

Send me out into the asphalt jungles

Send me deep into the troubled sea

Here I am send me

Here am I send me

Here I am

 

Send me into intensive care

Send me where the people are dying

There my brothers will be set free

Here I am send me

Here am I send me

Here I am send me

            Lyrics from “Who Will Heal The World”, Act II, Is Anybody Listening?

Won’t you join us in this great adventure? Have you thought about what you can do to make a better world for yourself, your kids, all of mankind?

Here’s how you can participate:

 Donate Now:

http://watchfiremusic.com/wfm/is-anybody-listening/donate-now/

Visit the web page:

Is Anybody Listening

 

Thanks for listening,

Peter Link

 



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