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The Majesty of the Moment, an excerpt from Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment

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The Majesty of the Moment, an excerpt from Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment

Furious Fish CroppedWM

The Majesty of the Moment
an excerpt from Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment
by Ariel & Shya Kane

In early September 2004, our first day offshore in Venezuela, Shya caught and released his very first white marlin using a fly rod. Photo ops abounded at this exciting acrobatic, dancing, leaping event.

Earlier that day, the ocean was calm, calm, calm. Very unusual for that particular place, so we were told. But as we came into port at the end of our offshore adventure, we found out that the marina would be closed the following day. They were anticipating hurricane Ivan (the terrible), which was predicted to come closer to Venezuela than any hurricane ever had.

Due to where the country is located, big cyclones usually scoot by and leave the coastline unmolested. Although the storm was happening to the east and north of us, there was the expectation of big swells rolling in from the sea. On a walk around the marina, we found that the general consensus among the staff and crews of the docked boats was that closing the marina was a colossal over-reaction. Chances were, they said, that this would be another beautiful day.

After a meal of fresh fish and a glass of wine we retired, not knowing what to expect in the morning. We awoke in the middle of the night to the sound of rain pounding on the roof, the deluge of a tropical storm.

By morning the rain had stopped, but when we stepped out of our door and strolled to the boats, we could feel the adrenaline. People there were still rocking and reeling from the trauma of December 1999, when after 16 days of nonstop rain, the mountains along 65 miles of coast let loose. Tons of mud, rocks and debris had fallen into the sea just after midnight when most people were in bed. There were workers at the marina who had their entire village destroyed. One young man reportedly helped pull 50 people from the mud and destruction, saving their lives. His home was only one of four buildings left standing in his village after the slide. So with the prediction of extreme weather, the villagers who had survived that tragedy were on edge.

As we walked out along the dock we could feel the tension. Thirty million dollars worth of boats were lined up at the marina, cheek-by-jowl, and crews were rushing to add extra lines and bumpers… all hands on deck kind of thing.

Soon the tide began to surge and the boats went “clackety-clack” all in a line from left to right as the water rushed into the marina. In the distance, we could see the surge begin to jump over the sea wall. Shya and I fortified ourselves with double espressos (we still have our priorities straight, hurricane or not) and then I retrieved my camera and began snapping shots of the preparations. When some of the local men saw me, camera in hand, they suggested we climb to the roof of a nearby half-completed building (construction stopped after the mudslide of ’99 and had not yet resumed) if we wanted an unobstructed, bird’s eye view. We followed them through the dark and dusty underground garage, past the detritus of big boats, banged up props and the like, and began the assent to the roof. It was kind of eerie up there with half-finished railings and an open elevator shaft.

As we climbed the stairs, we stepped over the imprint of an iguana. It had died right there and was absorbed as it decayed, until only a ghostly shadow was left. When we reached the top, we went to the penthouse windows, a breathless eleven floors up. We could still feel the controlled chaos as we watched those below us.

A 63-foot Garlington, a big blue-hulled beauty, motored further into the marina and farther from the mouth of the harbor. The surge had been so unexpectedly large and fierce, the stress had destroyed the cement cleats on the dock to which it had been tied. Now they needed to find a new place to safely moor their boat. We paid special attention to that boat’s security, not only for them but also for us. This was the boat we had rented and all of our equipment was still onboard.

I began to take pictures as the sea first crested the seawall and then later as it went crashing in great massive waves. The seawall stood twenty feet but the swells were twenty-seven. Mountains of spray jetted skyward. The sailboats bobbed like toys. We could see brave souls clinging to masts with arms and legs, attempting to ride the storm. Soon the wind came up, sending sails lashing and flags whipping. And then, then the waves peaked and the worst had passed. Surprisingly, there was no rain. All was soon quiet.

The next morning, we found out that three people at the outer marina died that day. Hungry waves had devoured the docks and boats and men. Five surfers who foolishly had attempted to ride the walls of water also had perished, but our boat had weathered the storm without so much as a scratch. Later, as we rode past the destruction and out to sea, I found myself thinking about those lost souls.

I doubt that they woke up in the morning and knew it would be their last day on earth. They probably had plans for the next day and for the weekend ahead and for their lives. I found myself saying silent prayers for the victims and the grieving families of the men. It was one of those instances where I had a direct experience of the impermanence of things. One where I was grateful for the quirk of fate that left the two of us safe to live another day. There was still time for our lives to continue to unfold.

Shya and I had been brushed by the wingtips of nature’s fury, a single feather touch that left us trembling. It was a reminder of the preciousness and fragility of life and also of the majesty of the moment.

That Small Not So Still Voice

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7th Wave
That Small Not So Still Voice


That Small Not So Still Voice
An excerpt from Being Here: Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment
by Ariel & Shya Kane

This chapter is devoted to hearing that small still voice; the one that normally does not insist that you listen to it, rather it comes with valuable information that you often realize was important in retrospect. It usually comes, unformed, as an impression, a flash, or a fleeting thought. Then later you say to yourself, “Oh, that’s what it meant. I knew I should have…” This voice is different from the loud internal radio station, WKRAP, that plays those oldies and not so goodies, the records of how you can’t or aren’t good enough – the records you would eagerly smash if you got the chance.

In the following story, our friend Ty is presented with an undeniable opportunity to really listen to himself. Persistent by nature, Ty’s intuition was also persistent to get him to finally take action, even though he did not believe in “that sort of thing.”

Ty, a down to earth fellow in his mid-forties, has apple pink cheeks and the blush of youth. A farmer by trade, he spends his days tending his animals, preparing feed, managing workers, repairing machinery and basically keeping the farm running day-to-day. He once told us with a rueful grin that his animals would all have to up and die in order for him to take a proper vacation…we guess this is actually true.

Ty went to school and earned a degree in business and finance but chose to go back to the farm, like his father before him. As an only child, he has taken over running things on the family farm in Boring, Oregon. People might underestimate him because he is so humble, with a ready laugh and genuine interest in things, allowing him to ask questions in a guileless manner that others might find embarrassing. But if you were to sit down one day and have a casual chat with Ty, you would see the genius that is quietly sitting behind his kind eyes and his soft features.

As a man with dirt beneath his nails, Ty would be the first to tell you that he doesn’t think of himself as particularly intuitive, unless it’s the type of intuition that comes from years of experience – such as how to vary the feed or which antibiotic to use when his animals are showing signs of illness. So you can imagine his surprise when one frosty October evening he had a very peculiar dream. While he was sleeping, a voice came to him and very clearly said, “Return the trains.”

Watching his wife softly breathing beside him, Ty thought, That’s odd. What could this mean? It was such a specific instruction and it seemed so clear in its intent. But, he didn’t understand it.

At work that morning the words, “Return the trains,” came back to him so he tried to guess the meaning. But as he became involved in the long hours and heavy work, he put it out of his mind until a few days later, when the dream came again. It was just as specific and equally as frustratingly vague. “Return the trains,” it commanded. Awakened in the pre-dawn hours, he lay in his bed and pondered the meaning.

Ty realized that the theme of trains, in general, did have meaning for him. He’d had a fascination for trains as long as he could remember, starting when his grandfather gave him model trains. He had adored them as a child and still cherished them as an adult. How can I return these trains? Ty wondered. His grandfather was long since dead. Ty also likes real trains. When he was just a boy his grandfather took him to the train yard. With his small hand clutched in his granddad’s enormous one, they would watch the trains pull in and unload grain and timber. The hoot of a night train’s whistle still brought a nostalgic pang to his belly and occasionally a fluttering in his chest. But these trains were long gone; just phantoms of memory that could not be returned.

Being a practical sort, Ty dismissed the voice in his dreams and went to work. There was plenty to keep him occupied and at night, after spending the evening with his wife, he gratefully sank into bed. But sometime during the night, the voice came again. “Return the trains,” it insisted.

Now this was getting annoying and kind of weird. Keeping the nocturnal auditory visits private, he wondered what it could mean. It was then that Ty remembered his Uncle Clyde and his cousin, Clyde’s son Jack, who had also collected trains when he was a boy. Jack, now in his late 50’s, had also been an only child. When Ty was young, his cousin, ten years older than he, sometimes babysat him and they would play trains together. But that was a lifetime ago, before Uncle Clyde died from a brain tumor.

Early in the morning, Ty ruminated on the last time he saw his uncle alive. It was in 1984 when Uncle Clyde was close to death and in hospice care. He had visited him in the upstairs of Clyde’s old home. Even though his breathing was labored and his face was pale, his uncle was glad to see him. Ty was glad he had made the effort to go. The families were not particularly close. There had been no major falling out – it was just the way his folks were. Ty had not seen Jack for several years. When he came in, Jack was at his father’s bedside. A full Colonel in the Green Berets, he looked fierce in his lace up black boots and military uniform. Ty was impressed with the powerful man he had become.

“What are you doing here?” Jack had snapped. “Get out of this house. I never want to lay eyes on you again!”

Jack had looked like he meant it and that he had the means to back up the implied threat in his words. So, apart from the funeral a few days later, Ty had not seen his cousin in nearly two decades.

Suddenly Ty remembered one train in his extensive collection that he had not bought and neither had his grandfather. There was one Lionel in mint condition, still in its box, that had once belonged to Jack. When Ty was 13 and Jack was 23, his Uncle Clyde had deemed that Jack was too old for toys and had carelessly given the train to Ty and never thought of it again.

As Ty lay in his bed that night, he realized that yes, there was one train he could return. In the light of day, however, the farm demanded that he get to his chores so he put it out of his mind.

It seems that the mysterious voice had other ideas. It intruded on his sleep now every night, getting more specific. “Return the trains,” it commanded, “by Christmas!”

Thinking back on it later, Ty realized that he was a little cranky during that time, from having broken sleep. It was almost like having a young child in the house who didn’t care whether or not Ty needed sleep or if he was dead tired from a hard day. The voice called out to get his attention and to spur him to action. But Ty was dragging his feet. He didn’t believe in supernatural phenomena, you see. He believed in practicalities: animal husbandry, the earth, the seasons and such. So he put up with the noise and lack of sleep and went about his day with the kind of stubborn determination that helps a farmer make it though lean seasons.

New Year’s came and went as winter turned the corner and headed into spring. But the voice was not finished with Ty yet. It, too, was determined and keeping pace with the calendar, it began to wake him again. “Return the trains,” it said. Now there was a new instruction. “Return the trains by Easter!”

Eventually Ty thought, Enough is enough. The Saturday afternoon before Easter Sunday, Ty placed the box with the little train in a brown shopping bag. He donned a red pullover, khaki pants and a pair of clean work boots and whistled to his chocolate Labrador Retriever, Hershey, to come along for moral support. As he got ready to climb into his truck, Ty was struck by a thought, What if he doesn’t recognize me? It had been 20 years after all…

Click HERE to find out what happens!

But I Want to Be An Artist!

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But I Want to Be An Artist!


But I Want to Be An Artist!
An excerpt from Being Here, Modern Day Tales of Enlightenment
By Ariel & Shya Kane

One fall, my husband, Shya and I held one of our business courses called “Transformation in the Workplace,” in New York City. Folks from all different fields were there to discover what it takes to experience wellbeing on the job, and how to effectively communicate. As the weekend progressed, we got to hear each person’s individual reasons for attending and what they hoped to achieve.

As we spoke with Charlotte, a soft looking man in his mid-forties, Jonathan, sat up straighter in his chair. He was totally engaged in the conversation and since we had read his confidential questionnaire, we knew what he was grappling with.

When our conversation with Charlotte concluded, Shya asked who wanted to speak next. Without missing a beat, Jonathan leapt to his feet shouting out, “I do.” He grinned and folks chuckled at his exuberance.

“My name is Jonathan and I work at a large bank, running a bunch of their computer systems. I make a lot of money there, but I’m not happy. See, I’m a professional clarinet player, and I find that working during the day exhausts me and ruins my playing.”

“How so?” Shya asked.

“Well, Shya, at the end of the day I’m too tired to practice. I play my clarinet but most of the time it’s lackluster and I make mistakes. I know if I wasn’t so worn out from working at my ?*$%^&# job I could play better. I go to gigs now and I’m uninspired. I’m thinking of quitting the bank but I have a family to think of and the money is so good and I have a 401K but I don’t want to sell out for money. I want to be the artist that I know I am!”

As he spoke, Jonathan had worked himself up, his face flushed with passion. Others in the room were nodding as the professional actors and directors in the room could empathize with how day-to-day work gets in the way of being artistic. You could see it written on their faces, If only I could just act rather than have to get jobs, then I would be happy.

“How is the quality of your playing these days Jonathan?” Shya asked.

“Stale, Shya,” he said sadly. “Stale.”

“Well, Albert Einstein once said that you can’t solve a problem from within the system that created it,” Shya continued. “It sounds as if your possible solutions to your dilemma, stay and be stale or leave your job and forfeit benefits, will both result in creating problems. With transformation there is no down side.”

“I have a suggestion for an experiment,” I said. “But it will involve taking a risk. Are you ready?”

“Oh, yes!” he replied. It was obvious from his face that he hoped we would finally give him the permission he had not granted himself to chuck the job and his responsibilities to his family. Then he could go for being a full time musician at last. His eyes glowed with anticipation.

Shya and I glanced at each other and I continued, “Here is what we suggest. For the next two weeks, forget about your clarinet. Put it away.”

“Let go of all thoughts of being a musician,” Shya said.

Jonathan’s face fell and he looked ready to fight. He was sure we were just like his parents who didn’t want him to go for his truth. He thought we wanted him to do the sensible thing, the boring thing, the nine-to-five thing. He opened his mouth to protest as I finished the thought.

“…and at the end of these two weeks, see how this has improved your ability to play and how much it enhances your abilities as a musician.”

Jonathan repeatedly opened and closed his mouth in disbelief. “Wait a minute. Ariel, Shya, are you suggesting not playing for two weeks as a way to improve my musicianship?”

“Yup, exactly,” I said. “What do you have to lose? Are you willing to give it a go?”

Jonathan nodded slowly. He looked confused and he wasn’t sure what good it would do but he was willing.

“That’s great, Jonathan,” I said. “When you get home, put your clarinet in its case, and put away your music, your music stand and everything you associate with playing and practicing. For the next two weeks, pretend that your clarinet and your skills as a musician do not exist. You may think about it at first but if you find your mind wandering there, bring your attention back to what you’re doing. OK?”

“Absolutely, I’ll do it!” he pronounced with the same kind of enthusiasm he had demonstrated in the first place. The course continued and came to its natural conclusion. Two weeks quickly came and went and then Jonathan joined us once again for one of our Monday Night weekly seminars, but this time there was a bounce in his step and a glimmer in his eye.

At the first opportunity Jonathan stood and spoke. I noticed he was standing taller and looked more grounded in himself.

“I am so excited,” he announced. “Two weeks ago, Ariel and Shya gave me the weirdest, neatest, strangest, most inspired suggestion I have ever had in my life. I’ve been playing the clarinet since I was a child but for the past few years, particularly the last six months, there was no joy in it for me. I came to the Kanes’ business course hoping to find a way to bring some life back into my playing as I feel like I’ve been doing everything by rote lately.

I was shocked when they suggested that I put the clarinet and all my music away for two weeks and pretend it didn’t exist. I mean, I’m a pro! What kind of professional lets it slide for two weeks and expects to be able to play well?”

At this he grinned, “Ariel, Shya, I got my music and stand and clarinet out of the closet yesterday. It had been two weeks and a day! They were all so familiar and yet so new. I was excited to be able to pick a song and test the reed and I realized that I hadn’t felt this kind of spark for a long, long time. My fingers flew. Music flowed out of the tips of my fingers and the tone was so pure and I played for an hour without stopping and it seemed like just a moment had passed. All I can say is Wow! And, thank you both.”

“How was work the past two weeks?” Shya asked.

“It’s a little embarrassing how well I did. I guess I’ve always held a piece of myself back at the bank. I know it sounds irrational but it seemed that if I succeeded there I might get stuck in a 9- to-5 job and I might lose my creative juice. I’ve always been holding back with the hope of being an artist.”

“Are you an artist and did your work these past two weeks take away from that?” I asked.

“Yes, yes I am an artist and no, working at the bank didn’t take anything away. In fact, I got things done far faster than I ever thought possible this past week. I created new solutions to some old programming problems that we’ve been having for a while now. Even my boss noticed the difference. He stopped at my workstation yesterday and thanked me for a new piece of software I wrote. That has never happened before.”

“See Jonathan,” Shya said. “If you hold back your full expression of yourself in one area, you gradually get dimmer in all areas of your life, including or maybe especially in those areas you’re trying to protect. Life is like a magnificent river and it takes energy to stop the flow. Going about your life with excellence in your ‘day’ job turns it into a brilliant experience and it then becomes a creative act. As you go about your life with totality you become an artist wherever you go and whatever you do.”

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