Love is Love

Today marks a historic day – It was just announced hours that gay marriage is now legal in the United States of America!

This is indeed great news for our entire nation and the world. If you single out one group as being different, the message that sends is that we are all different and some are better than others. By granting all people the same rights, this country has acknowledged that even with our differences, people are all the same. We have taken a giant stand towards one of the visions this country was built upon, “justice for all”.

In celebration, here is my song “Love is Love” from my CD “Revelations”. Let’s all celebrate!

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The Value of Getting Away

I just returned from a trip to French Polynesia. I’ve been to Polynesia before (Easter Island and Hawaii) but this is my first trip to French Polynesia. I stayed on three islands: Taha’a, Bora Bora and Tahiti. The water I saw there is the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. There are so many shades of blue – some are so bright they look like they can’t be real.
The colorful waters around Taha'a

The colorful waters around Taha’a

As the airplane flew over the islands, I noticed from the window that just about all of the islands I could see had a “ring” around them protecting them from the open ocean. Some of these rings are quite far from the islands, but they surround each island almost completely. Inside the rings is where you find all those gorgeous blue colors. I later learned that these islands are the result of gradual sinking of volcanic islands that have cooled and left an open crater in the middle section of the island. As each island sank, the surrounding part of the island fell beneath the surface of the water, and coral grew around the fringes creating a barrier reef. So each of these islands (except 2, I was told) have barrier reefs protecting them from the rough ocean. Thus, the water, or lagoons, around the islands is clear, calm, and full of fish and coral. You could see the bottom clearly even 20 or 30 feet below. It was the most delicious water I’ve ever swam in – for sure!
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From the plane you can see the barrier reef. The faint white line is the breaking ocean. The island is on the right, just out of frame.

I got to do and experience things I can’t do in my day to day life. I snorkeled every day getting to see fish and coral I’ve never seen before. I swam with stingrays and a huge school of reef sharks (the guide I was with fed them before we got in the water – I don’t know if that was to make me feel safer or not, but it worked). I got a chance to see the Southern Cross, and to see stars at night like I’ve never seen them before. Being so remote and with so little electricity in the area, you could see thousands of stars all very bright. It was pretty amazing. And I would watch the moon rise at night, and it was so bright I literally felt like I needed sunglasses. The people I met there were very, very nice. One of them, who worked at my hotel on Bora Bora, paddles his canoe to and from work every day. Quite a different lifestyle than I’m used to!
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A glimpse of the amazing underwater world I dove in each day.

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I took this while snorkeling. There were so many sharks and they were so beautiful (and a bit scary).

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Me, with stingrays to my side and sharks circling behind me.

I’ve travelled a lot in my life, and I hope that continues. Whenever I visit another place (even places less remote and more like Los Angeles, where I live), I find it so valuable in many ways. We get so used to our environments that life becomes routine. For the most part we become blind to the world around us. Life becomes about appointments and to-do lists, and work, and things. The fact of being alive on a planet in the middle of a solar system gets lost, along with perspective and what is truly important. I know what may seem important to one person is different from what seems important to someone else, but I think one can boil things down to two universal things of importance: on a personal level – being able to experience life; on a grander level – protecting our planet so we can survive. Both of these points seem to have become difficult. “Modern life” is mostly geared towards results and not often, if ever, about experiencing living. There is certainly little attention paid to the larger world – nature, the earth, the planets, etc. – of which we are a part. Humans have a trait wanting to separate ourselves from everything else. Feeling that we are somehow more important or more intelligent than the rest of life. And I believe to go through life just “looking forward” and not “looking around” leads to an empty life. As for protecting the planet, the human quality of greed has distracted many people from being able to look at the bigger picture of the planet. A worry about jobs or profits blinds people to being able to see the long term damage they are doing to the planet, and thus to all living things – including themselves.

So for me a vacation is a way of forgetting my routine, my goals and my so called modern life. It is a chance to “look around” while being alive. It reinvigorates my connection to the planet and other living things (including people), and it helps me remember that I am part of a bigger thing. I’m connected to the sharks, the mountains, the oceans, the trees, the mosquitoes, the birds, the people who paddle to work, and the stars and planets that shine so brightly over the earth. It grounds me, and gives me a break from the mundane and stressful. I can’t think of anything I can recommend more than taking a break and putting yourself in a new environment – even just for a day or two. It doesn’t have to be across oceans, it can be an hours drive away. Just someplace where your eyes can find new things to gaze, your nose can find new smells, your mouth can taste new flavors. A place where your mind can clear and where you can become one with this glorious world we live in.

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Living in a Soulless World

Just returned from my workout at the gym. I’ve been going pretty regularly to the gym for a couple decades now, and have noticed that something has changed in the past few years. Suddenly, about half the people “working out” are texting. They sit on equipment “between sets” and text. It is rather bothersome to people like me, who are there just to work out. I’d much rather be focused on my workout – I get so much more out of it that way.

This is not something just happening at my gym. I don’t know if it’s worse in Los Angeles than other places, but people are texting everywhere. In their cars (which is illegal here), while walking on the street, while shopping in stores, eating in restaurants, and even when I’m at people’s homes – they are sometimes texting. I can never understand what is so important that people can’t be away from their phones for two hours. Have we turned into a culture of immediacy? Or is it just that we so desperate to connect anyway we can in this total electronic age we live in?

There is an outdoor shopping mall in Los Angeles called, “The Grove”.
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According to “Fortune”, it is the second most successful mall in the country. It is full of the same stores as many other higher end malls – The Gap, Nordstrom, Anthropology, The Apple Store, J. Crew, Barney’s New York, etc., along with a movie theater (the most successful theater in the country) and one of the last big bookstores around me – Barnes & Noble. It also has a trolley car that goes from one end of the mall to the other (not that far), and a fountain that shoots water to music occasionally. I don’t go there that often (and almost never go to the movies there) as it is way too crowded for me. But it occurs to me every time I’m there that people seem to be there to just hang out. People sit or stand by the fountain, or in the grassy area behind the fake pond with the fountain. Or they just walk the cobblestone street down the center of the mall where the trolly runs. Many of the people don’t have shopping bags with them, and don’t seem in a rush to shop. They are not even window shopping. Perhaps the popularity of this mall is because of a human need to be social – that need to be around other people? It is like a gathering place. I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. In this cell phone world it is no wonder people venture out to the mall to hang out and physically be with people in the flesh. After all, humans are social creatures.

There is a moneymaking trend going on of having us be more and more isolated – with the illusion of being more connected. I’m sure there are those who will disagree, but Facebook, cell phones, Twitter, Instagram, Skype, FaceTime, Vine, (and dare I say) blogging, and so on are not real human ways of connecting. They are a means of passing on information and opinions, but they lack actual human interaction. They don’t contain the experience of seeing the nuance in someone’s eyes while speaking with them, feeling the energy of a person’s reaction, or walking arm in arm with someone and feeling actual human touch. There are no substitutes for any of those experiences. And those are vital ways we connect with others. We are missing a thousand subtle ways we communicate with one another. Remove them and there is no heart, no soul to our interactions, only the passing along of information, opinions and implied feelings. Add to that, being alone while “communicating” and reacting to whatever we are reading, seeing or hearing and you don’t get an actual social environment, and it is certainly devoid of what makes us human. But as long as money can be made from software and telephones and electronics, there will be campaigns to make us think that is the best and only way to go about life.

It is very different than the pre computer world I grew up in. I know the joys and importance of what it is to “hang out” with people. I’ve grown from the value of face to face conversations countless times in my life. I have perspective on how important it is to be there for someone – really “be there” by their side – in the flesh. I was raised playing with other kids. We made up games, we used our imaginations. The phone would ring and we wouldn’t always be there to answer it. This was before answering machines, and sometimes you would call someone and let the phone ring and ring and ring and ring – twenty times maybe – in the hopes that they were just coming in the door and would finally pick up. They often didn’t – and life went on. Being with people was the important thing. Our lives were shaped that way. Having dinner at a friend’s house, or having them over for dinner. Either way, we all sat around a dinner table and talked. Talking, exchanging information person to person was the main course. Our lives were built on social events. It was a totally different world.

I’m not against technology (and I don’t think it is because I’m getting older) but I do think we are losing something very important these days because of it. As the world has become vastly more connected (through the internet and cell phones and so on), I think we are actually becoming more isolated. These modes of connection are actually impersonal, and you can present yourself anyway you choose and never know the person with whom you are communicating as a whole and actual person. It isn’t an authentic representation of someone. From my perspective, all this technology isn’t making people happier than they were when I was young. In fact, it seems to me, people are getting more stressed, more crazy, more paranoid, and more self-centric – and way more isolated. There is a reason putting someone in solitary confinement can be one of the most damaging things you can do to someone. I think it is worthy of us revisiting the way we live, and trying to put back that vital, actual human connection. Being connected will also bring back compassion, understanding, empathy and awareness of others – states that are slowly disappearing from day to day life.

As I’ve been doing with my blogs these days, I’m exploring what drives me to create the art I create. These feelings of living in an isolating world were the source for my song, “Soulless World”, from my third CD, “Revelations”. You can hear it here, and I’ve included the lyrics below the song. Enjoy!

SOULLESS WORLD
© Jay Jacobson
Get out of bed and go to work, that’s how I start my day
Drive with my bluetooth on and GPS, they lead the way
Something’s off I can feel it
One small dent
Lost my soul
Don’t know where it went
 
Texted it straight from my phone
Love conversing while alone
Left it by my new TV
Need my dose of reality
Isolating human race
Disappearing face to face
 
Where’s my soul
It’s a soulless world
Soulless world
Soulless world
Soulless world
Soulless world
 
Turned on my radio and all the songs they sound the same
Watched someone on TV trade their dignity for fame
Gone is beauty and refinement
We want bling
Lost our souls
It’s the missing thing
 
Lost it shopping at the mall
Expensive goods make me feel tall
Cashed it in to get more fame
Don’t be different be the same
The driving force right now is greed
Sell yourself and you’ll succeed
 
Lost our souls
It’s a soulless world
Soulless world
Soulless world
Soulless world
Soulless world
 
Sold it to a developer
Cash makes my world greener
Gave it to a missionary
They know just what’s best for me
The driving force right now is greed
Sell yourself and you’ll succeed
Lost our souls….

 

 

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Declutter and Taking the Long Way Home

For some unknown reason I have been sorting through my things and getting rid of lots of stuff. Books, DVDs, clothes, papers, and so much more “stuff”! I’m not a big shopper, and I’m not a hoarder, but over the years I have amassed a lot of “things” (especially living in the same house for over a decade). I’m cleaning out drawers, closets, shelves, boxes, and so on. Some of the things I’m finding have emotional attachments, some are things I’ve kept because I think I’ll need them “someday”, and others I’m no longer sure why I have. I suddenly can see how having all this stuff hanging around weighs me down. With the things I have emotional attachments to, I’m realizing that the memories they bring back are already in my mind, and will stay there regardless of keeping the item. As for the things I think I might need one day, I’ve allowed myself to realize I can buy the items anytime I need them. Some of the things I’ve had for years and never needed. It is like creating a false sense of security, and the price is carrying about “baggage” that on some real level weighs me down. It frees my mind to think that I don’t have to keep it in storage, and can buy it new and fresh if I need it. Getting rid of all this stuff is making me realize just how “mental” having all these things is. It’s very strange to have so many things – none of them vital for living. Any importance these items have is totally made up in my mind. Suddenly, I’m not sure why, my mind is open to seeing this distinction right now, and thus I am letting go of things I’ve had for years. 

A change in my thinking that is happening. I am in the mood to declutter my life – big time. Simplify it. As I get rid of things, it is becoming so clear that it really all about letting go. Emotionally and physically. Letting go of the past, thoughts of the future, or a false sense of security. Getting rid of things is making my mind feel less cluttered. Funny how that is happening. By letting go, I’m actually feeling a real sense of relief. I feel lighter.

Life has become so complicated. There are so many things to take care of, things to get done and endless chores, not to mention the bureaucracy and paperwork that you have to deal with from time to time. It is clutter, all of it. It is such a distraction from living and experiencing life. I guess my letting go of “things” is a way to get closer to the essence of living – to be present to life, real life, like nature and living things. It is so easy to let that fall by the wayside and end up with so many “things” and so little experiencing of life.

In the vein of my latest blog entries, I can relate this feeling to one of my songs. This one is from my latest CD, “The Ride”, and it is the song “Taking the Long Way Home”. It is one of two songs (so far) I have a music video for from the CD. It is an animation, and I created it myself. Perhaps this “bug” for getting rid of things and being more in tune with life started when I was writing songs for “The Ride”? It is definitely possible. I remember getting the idea for the song while driving home from my recording sessions. I always took a longer route with less traffic on it. It would take me about 15 minutes longer to get home this way, but it was stress free and I could actually enjoy the ride home and the sights along the way. I started to realize how much I was missing by wanting to just get where I’m going as quickly as possible. A full life includes appreciating the “insignificant” moments as well as the moments that seem important. I learned from my ride home each day, there really are no insignificant moments in life. There are only moments. And we can embrace them, give them weight, or ignore them. They all pass by no matter how we relate to them. And embracing them is embracing life.
Here is another look at “Taking the Long Way Home”. Enjoy!

 

 

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Peace At Last and Inspiration from Ingrid Bergman

As I’ve stated many times, I’m a sucker for a great quote. If you look through my older blog entries, I often ended them with a quote. I just ran across another quote – from another of my favorite actresses of all-time, Ingrid Bergman. She is someone who knew incredible success and extreme controversy. I believe she is one of the actors from Hollywood’s classic period who’s work is still modern today. If you don’t know her you should definitely check her out. The film, “Gaslight” is one of my personal favorites (and her first of three Academy Award winning roles). Here’s the quote by her:

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“Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get.”
– Ingrid Bergman.

I love how simply she put the distinction between success and happiness, and I find her words to be so true. The goals I wanted to accomplish when I was younger were the basis of many decisions I made – life altering decisions. They were fueled by the mistaken thought that having them come true would bring happiness. Through the years some goals have come true and some have not, and what I’ve realized in the process is that they really have very little (if anything) to do with truly being happy. Accomplishing a goal can make you temporally happy, and even make you think you are something that you’re not. Not accomplishing a goal can have the same effect – without the happy part. However, I’ve learned that accepting what is in front of you – regardless if it is what you want or not – is the key to happiness. It is the key to finding peace. It is a concept I investigated on my fourth CD, “Peace At Last”. The title song is exactly about finding peace through accepting “what is”. The second verse of the song is as follows:

Spent my time as a means to an end
Now I’ve shed all I used to defend
I am one with the moment at hand
It’s the soil of my life’s sacred land

It is one of my most successful songs, and the orchestration was the inspiration for my latest CD, “The Ride”. If you haven’t heard the song “Peace At Last”, you can hear it below:

 

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Lonely Motel

I just heard a great quote, which I haven’t heard in a while, by the brilliant Oscar Wilde:

“There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.”

Perfectly said! I don’t know how many of us are raised to understand how difficult life is. I certainly wasn’t. Not that life was so easy for me growing up – it wasn’t. I never had a lot of friends and was picked on in school constantly which was very difficult, especially being a very sensitive kid. The kids at school were very cruel and I had a very hard time. However, even while that was happening, I pictured my life turning out great, and me being happy when I got older. In my dreams, it was always visions only of happiness. As I’ve lived more and more, I understand that there are periods in life of happiness, periods of sadness, moments of fear, and times of grief – and so on. That has been one of the most important lessons I’ve learned in my life – to accept all of it. As expressed throughout my latest CD, “The Ride”, I see that life is a journey with all type of feelings and situations included in the mix – each one just as valid and appropriate as the next.

Perhaps being sensitive is one of the reasons I’ve always loved sad songs – especially as a kid. They said the things I didn’t give myself permission to feel. They sing of the loneliness or the pain or disappointment I felt, but didn’t express. Hearing someone else sing about it – the way I felt it – took a little burden off my shoulders and let me know I wasn’t the only one feeling that way. As a kid I remember hearing “At Seventeen” by Janis Ian, and even though she was singing about being a girl, I felt like the “ugly ducking” she sang about. I felt comfort from the song, and it let out some of the emotion I had bottled inside. I remember hearing Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car” for the first time. It stopped me in my tracks. I couldn’t breath. I bought it, and whenever I played it in private it would bring tears. I love sad songs. They are full of emotion and help dislodge feelings.

As a songwriter, I’ve only written a few completely sad songs. The one that immediately comes to mind is “Lonely Motel”, the only country song I’ve ever written or sang. It was released as a digital single only (since I didn’t think it fit on my CD at the time). I remember the concept of “checking in to a lonely motel” coming to me, and I knew at once – with those lyrics – it had to be a country song! A funny footnote about recording the song (which I still remember vividly) – I recorded the vocals while standing in a clothes closet! My producer at the time was in the process of moving his recording studio, and I recorded it in his house. The only place that was quiet enough with the right sound absorption was in a tiny closet full of clothes! So I stood there, with hanging clothes touching me in every direction, singing the song. I think somehow, it helped with interpreting the emotion of the lyrics. I’m very happy with how it came out. I love the orchestration and arrangement, and I’m often told it is one of the favorites of my songs by fans.

So for any of you who happen to be in a place where you feel you’ve given everything you have and nothing has worked out, here’s “Lonely Motel”:

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Dancing With the Stars – I Am Dancing!

I don’t watch much reality TV, but this season I heard Patti LaBelle was going to be on “Dancing With the Stars”. I’ve been a big fan of Patti’s for decades, seen her in concert a few times, and just love her, so I decided to watch the show. For those who have never seen it, the concept is simple: a famous star (who is not a dancer) is paired with a professional dancer, and each week they perform different dances (tango, rumba, waltz, modern, and so on) for four judges. Each week the couple with the lowest combined score (judge’s scores and viewer’s voting scores) goes home. They start with 12 stars at the beginning of the season, losing couples each week, until there is a winner 12 weeks later (I guess). Well we are now in week 10, about to start the semi-finals next week, and Miss Patti has already been eliminated (in week 5 or 6 I think) – but I’m still glued to the show!

I find “Dancing with the Stars” incredibly moving. The thing that surprises me about it, is that while everyone is dancing against everyone else, they are actually dancing against themselves. The real challenge for each of the stars is to personally grow each with, with each dance. They are given pointers and creative feedback on how to improve by the judges, and each star works hard to become the best dancer they can. It is very much about leaving behind all the doubts and thoughts we all have that hold us back. It is about expressing yourself and stepping into life. And dance, I’ve always thought, is the ultimate vehicle for expressing yourself.

It is pretty amazing to watch. Patti is 70, and still was moving and shaking on the floor with such infectious energy! And I’ve watched non dancers, like “The Bachelor”, Chris Soules, go from being clunky and stepping off the beat, to moving like a real dancer. Singer/actress Rumer Willis (daughter of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore) is one of the most graceful and stunning dancers I’ve seen. She is so gorgeous to watch dance. One of the most powerful couples on the show is Sergeant Noah Galloway (partnered with a dancer named Sharna). He lost his left arm above the elbow and left leg above the knee in his second tour of duty. It is nothing short of inspiring to watch him dance. Each week, he uses more and more of his body. I can’t believe how he lifts his partner and moves around the dance floor. It is nothing short of astonishing. A huge example of overcoming obstacles, and that we are capable of much much more than we think is possible. Here is one of his dances:

This show is so inspiring, and it makes me want to dance!

That brings me to a song from my “Peace At Last” CD, titled “I Am Dancing“. I didn’t write it for the show, but the theme of the song is very similar to the feelings I am getting from watching it. “I Am Dancing” is a song about finding one’s inner strength in the face of doubts and fears, and having that strength lead one though their life. I love this song. It too makes me want to dance! You can hear it by clicking the play button below.

Oh, and one little known fact: if there was one thing I would have loved to be that I’m not, it was a dancer!

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Bruce Jenner and “The Hidden Side of Me”

The big news this week is that Bruce Jenner, the Olympic gold medal decathlon winner, has come out as transgender. The man considered the “greatest athlete in the world” in his time, and the picture of strength and masculinity, announced on national TV that “for all intents and purposes, I’m a woman”. That takes great courage for anyone to do, not to mention his public persona and the fact that he did it on national TV. Bravo. Bravo!

In case you missed the interview, you can see it HERE,

I don’t know exactly why, but it seems to be very difficult to be yourself. It could be a societal thing or a human trait, but fearing we won’t be accepted can be so strong, it often creates a lot of stress and pain. Being oneself should be the easiest thing in the world, but it’s not. Maybe because we are social creatures with such a strong need to be accepted. Whether on a job interview, a date, at a social gathering, among friends, being picked for the dodgeball team in gym class, or in that ultimate relationship with our parents, we all inevitably want to be accepted. Being excluded or rejected is something none of us (understandably) want to feel or experience.

One option to try to avoid rejection is to pretend we are something we’re not. I don’t think taking that path is sustainable. We often hear, “the honeymoon is over” after a couple has been together for some time and they start to see the “real” person they are with. Or how many of us have made a decision or two (or more) based on what we thought we should do instead of what we felt in our heart? It took Bruce Jenner 65 years to accept who he/she truly is. I know from my own life it would be much easier to be what I think people want me to be than to be who I am, but there is nothing satisfying in that. And I believe if you cannot be yourself, you cannot truly express yourself in the world. No one will be totally accepted by everyone, and I’ve learned that the most important person who needs to accept me is me. Once I can accept myself the way I am, other’s opinions matter less, and I am free to fully express myself. And then those who accept and support me suddenly find me and stick around. No more phony, empty relationships. No more games. Life is much simpler. I can breathe more easily, and I find myself much happier.

For some reason, it seems that life is a never ending challenge to be myself. As I grow and let go of “protective behavior”, so to speak, and relax into “myself”, I inevitably find another new level to uncover. It never seems to end. It is like an onion, peeling back layer after layer after layer. I suppose that is the journey of a human life.

A world based on acceptance would be a true Garden of Eden. People could spend their time expressing themselves and contributing to society and to others, instead of spending lives grappling to “be OK”, or to “fit in” or to “find myself”. I think Bruce Jenner’s “coming out” is helping the world take a baby step towards accepting others for who they are – exactly the way they are. Seeing this man we identified a certain way come out as being totally different than we thought he was – filled with overwhelming doubts and insecurities just like us all – is very powerful. It can open our eyes to realize that we are all the same – even with all our differences. Hopefully, it will help all of us accept the things about ourselves that we are afraid to admit, the things we have shame about, or the things that we are told are wrong about us. Once the world reaches a place of acceptance, life will be so extraordinary for everyone.

This struggle to fully be oneself is something I write about in different ways in my music. I touched on it in previous blogs, “Goodbye ‘Glee’, Set the ‘Boy’ Free”, and “A Stand for Oneself in ‘No’, Sparked by Sophia Loren”, highlighting my songs, “No” and “Boy”. A song I wrote that directly touches on the subject of becoming your “true” self, is “The Hidden Side of Me”, from my second CD, “Ready”. This song, with its drum and bass sound, speaks about the courage and pain it takes to shed the facades and walls we’ve built, to become that truthful, hidden part of ourselves. Enjoy!

 

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Earth Day and “The Circle” of Life

Happy Earth Day! Today, April 22, is the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement, and it is a day on which worldwide events are held to support environmental protection. It is celebrated in more than 190 countries. How wonderful to officially acknowledge and celebrate our home!

I’ve been very lucky (and am very thankful) that I’ve seen a lot of this planet. To date I’ve visited at least 27 countries on 5 continents. I’ve seen deserts, glaciers, rain forests, pine forests, fjords, lakes, rivers, islands, oceans, mangroves, beaches, valleys, sounds, rock formations, icebergs, and jungles. One of the many things that traveling does is open my mind to how varied life is on this planet. There are so many different places and ways to live – none of them better or worse than any other – just different.

In the past 7 years or so, an interesting  thing has been happening. In every place I’ve visited during that time, people have mentioned a change in their climate. Whether it was too much rain, not enough rain, snow at the wrong time of year, snow for the first time, unusually high temperatures, or unusually cold weather. And there have been unusual sighting such as seeing birds that haven’t been seen in that part of the world before, or seeing a type of whale in their waters that they don’t normally see.

The planet is changing, big time. I remember the first unsettling moment I experienced regarding climate change. It was in 2009. I was on a three hour tour on a small boat in Alaska looking at the stunning “Sawyer Glacier”. Someone asked our guide if we’d see it calve (calving is when a piece of ice at the edge of the glacier breaks off and falls into the water). The guide (who visited the glacier weekly) told us the chances were very, very slim since he rarely sees that happen, and already saw it calve the week before. And, he pointed out, we would only be there for 20 minutes. He went on to say that if we did see it calve, it would be a bad sign that it was melting too quickly. In the next breath, we heard a huge cracking sound in the distance, and watched the far right edge of the glacier break off and fall into the water. In our 20 minutes in front of the Sawyer Glacier, we saw it calve 4 times. It was pretty spectacular and at the same time very ominous. Even our guide was concerned.
Two of the four times I witness the calving of the Sawyer Glacier

Two of the four times I witness the calving of the Sawyer Glacier

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Being Earth Day, I feel I need to address “global warming”. There are still many global warming “deniers” out there – many of whom I’ve run into throughout the years. So since it is Earth Day, I’m going to take a moment and give a brief explanation of global warming. I am not an expert or a scientist, but I am informed. I’ve read many, many articles from lots of different sources over the years, watched countless documentaries, and have spoken to many people from all over the globe during my travels. Funny enough, the only deniers I’ve met have all been in the USA. I’ve also noticed that the “deniers” have three things in common:

1. A disregard for science
2. They are uninformed
3. They lack common sense

Yes, I’ve been warned that global warming is a “conspiracy” to con us by the government and/or those “greedy green energy companies”. Yes, I’ve heard that it is just a “liberal hoax.” Yes, I’ve heard about the one “scientist” who says man has nothing to do with global warming. Yes I know the warming of the planet is a natural state of the earth. I’ve also been told many times that there are “record low temperatures” and record snow falls, “proving” that global warming is ridiculous and can’t be real. When I am told these comments, I quickly realize I am speaking with a person who is very uninformed about climate change. For those who don’t quite understand what global warming is, here is a brief, layman’s explanation:

GLOBAL WARMING 101:
Basically, the sun’s rays penetrate our atmosphere and warm the planet’s land and water. The planet warms from absorbing some of the sunlight, and then gives off heat – some of which radiates towards space leaving our atmosphere, and some of which remains in our atmosphere, trapped by a “blanket” of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gasses. This “blanket” of gasses is what keeps the Earth warm and livable for us all. However, it has been scientifically documented that since the Industrial Revolution, humans are using energy in greater quantities and creating more carbon dioxide gas than would have naturally occurred. The extra carbon dioxide and gasses drift up into the atmosphere making that “blanket” of gasses thicker, which traps even more of the Sun’s heat, thus, making the planet warm quicker than it would if that blanket wasn’t as thick. That is generally the concept.

If you do even a small about of research, you will find that just about every independent science organization from around the world agrees that man has directly contributed to speeding up the warming of the planet. Since the industrial revolution (around 1750), human activities (mostly burning fossil fuels, deforestation and agriculture) have substantially added much larger doses of CO2 and other heat-trapping gasses into the atmosphere. For instance, cars emit gasses. If you double the amount of cars being used, you double the amount of gasses emitted in the air. The more gas burning cars we use, the more gasses we emit into our air. It is common sense. Another example: Trees take in CO2 and convert it to oxygen. If man cuts down trees (which we’ve done by the billions), naturally, there are less trees removing CO2 from the air, leaving more of it in our atmosphere. Again, common sense.

All these gasses contribute to a thicker “blanket”, which makes the planet warmer. And that has many other consequences, among them the melting glaciers. One thing glaciers do is reflect the suns rays away from the Earth – like a mirror, as opposed to absorbing the sunlight like the oceans. As the glaciers shrink, we get a smaller “mirror” reflecting the sun’s rays away from the earth, and a larger surface (more ocean) absorbing the sun’s rays. I could go on and on (but I won’t). But one last point. As for the natural warming of the planet, research has proven that if you take away all of the gasses emitted by human activity since the Industrial Revolution, the planet would be fluctuating in the range it was before that time, instead of rising to the level it is now. Here is a great video which explains the science of it here if you are interested:

THE CIRCLE OF LIFE:

My first trip to Costa Rica opened my eyes to nature in a way I had never before witnessed. I stayed in an Eco-Lodge in the Osa Peninsula, which is described by National Geographic as being “the most biologically intense place on Earth”. There was life everywhere – mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, insects and so many different trees and plants. I saw monkeys, toucans, scarlet macaw’s, crocodiles, tapirs, sloths, poison dart frogs, eagles, snakes, spiders, iguanas, and so many other forms of life.
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A monkey eating a colorful grasshopper, in the Osa Peninsula.

 

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Two Scarlet Macaws in the trees, in the Osa Peninsula.

What I learned while being there was that everything in the rainforest has a place. It is a total balance of life. There were termite mounds on many trees. They eat the dead trees and keep the forest green. There were trees that grew like a parasite around another trees, killing the original tree. The new tree would become hollow inside where the dead tree was – becoming a perfect protective home to wildlife. Everywhere you looked, things worked together, like pieces of a puzzle fitting together. This got me thinking about the “circle of life”. And I realized how out of balance we are. There are just too many people, and we don’t give back to the Earth. We are no longer part of the circle. This inspired me to write a song, “The Circle” which can be found on my CD, “Revelations”. I even recorded some forest sounds in the Osa Peninsula, which I included in the song. Here are the lyrics, and you can hear the song by clicking at the bottom. Let’s each do something to help our home become more balanced. Why not plant a tree? It is a start!

THE CIRCLE
by Jay Jacobson
 
Nature does thrive in its pure state
All things alive do integrate
And then…
 
Quails eat the seeds and the fox eats the quail
The quail turns to dirt so that seeds can prevail
Living things all have a proper place
Nothing in the forest goes to waste
One thing dies yet another is gained
Give and take is the plan of how life sustains
 
We have stepped so far from the circle (We’re buried in a box)
As God we are miscast (Don’t even feed the worms)
We have stepped right out of the circle (We sit on porcelain)
Outside it we won’t last (Don’t fertilize the grass)
The circle is bigger than us
The circle is stronger than usThe circle is begging us to return
 
Mother earth is infested with man
Freeloaders who just take what we can
Take without a thought of giving back
Scales have tipped so far they’re out of whack
Think we sit at the top of the chain
To be on top you must be a part of the game
 
(We play with chemicals)
(Make waste that can’t be used)
(We tear down creature’s homes)
(We’ve overrun the earth)
 
That oil is mine
That rock is mine
That animal’s mine
That gold is mine
That tree is mine
That dirt is mine
That water is mine
That forest is mine
That ocean is mine
That air is mine
That land is mine
That country is mine
This world is mine
 
(We hunt just for the thrill)
(We killed our predators)
(We over fish and drill)
(We think we own the world)

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