On the sea he goes…

August 30, 2015

I had put an ad for guitar lessons in a few places online like Facebook and Craigslist, I got two inconclusive contacts then I received this message: I am not interested in guitar lessons but I would like to play with you, I am a violinist.” It was from Sari. Sari is an incredible musician, a violinist who has played all over Europe in orchestras as a guest. I didn’t know this at the time. I just had a really good vibe from the message, I contacted him and we set a time and place to meet and see what happens.

We first met at Galata tower. He was a bit late, he apologized profusely, we went to Chillout, where I was staying at the time and we got the instruments ready and started to play. His playing, his music was different, he had an immense passion for music, he held his violin with great gentleness. He listened intently as I went through some songs, then he played with a quiet intensity some of the music he loved.

From there we played a few nights at Atolye Kuledibi. What I will remember the most was the joy that arose when we played together, there was always at some point in the night when so much laughter would erupt, it was something magical. My songs, music are not what he knew and since I had no charts for most of the music, it was all about improvising, which he told me wasn’t his forte. But he had a way of enhancing the melodies, to support the whole journey of a song, and when the songs’s harmonies were closer to what he knew, he would take flight with gorgeous sounds and soul.

After the gigs he would never let me carry my heavy Gibson guitar and case, he would walk me back to Chillout, carrying the heavy thing and talking all along. That is when I got to know him more. Sari is Syrian. He spent the previous 4 years before coming to Istanbul stuck in a home that was bombed daily. He spoke of his hatred for all politicians, for money, for greed. He spoke of a brother whom he lost to the war, he spoke of his mother and sister, still stuck in that house, still bombed regularly. He spoke of the day when he was walking down a street in his neighborhood, fearing to be taken by either side; government or rebels. He told me that one day after having walked passed a parked car, maybe 3,4 steps further, the car exploded, killing those who were near. He would show me the videos taken from his house’s window at night time, flashes in the sky, fires raging everywhere around, bombings… He told me of how beautiful Syria was, how rich in history and how grand it had been. He told me of losing his friends one after another and how he should have been killed by now. He told me of the life before the war, his father an artist, sculptor, who had built their home, the good foods they used to eat, his music career with the orchestra, playing around the world…

Then he would get pensive and say: “Ah the life” “The life” for him was a madness that had been imposed on him and his loved ones. All this violence, all this loss. All of this willed by a few greedy, angry, sad and ugly men. All of which he had no say or choice upon.

One night after one of these gigs, as we walked up towards Tunel Square, he told me about the ships to Greece… That he would leave his violin behind with his best friend, and take his chances for Germany. He had been studying all sorts of options, through the forests in Macedonia, about not being caught in Hungary and all sorts of stratagems… the Syrians are very connected on social media and the news of a fair smuggler, a new route, a new hope travels very fast. He said his mother and sister do not want him to attempt this crossing. It is perilous, fraught with dangers and mostly, unscrupulous middle men can take all your money, can send you to death. My heart lurched with anguish. I argued the decision, suggested that he waits… There was a possibility then that he might be accepted in the Turkish music program in Ankara, at least wait to see if this happens.

That is when he explained to me that this choice, was possibly the only move he could make of his own volition, that to this point, all of his life was an incomprehensible and unjustifiable hell that had been imposed on him and all of his countrymen and women. This was his choice, this was his power to decide something. “I’m not afraid to die” he said, many times. He’s seen death over and over, death had been right next to him countless times “But at least this is my decision and maybe I can have a good life after this.”

I cannot argue with him. I see very clearly where he stands. What are the choices? Stay here in Istanbul until he runs out of money then becoming a “burden” a “migrant” an “illegal”?

I felt the sadness of losing him very strongly but at the same time, there is so much racism towards Syrians because of the 2 million plus arrivals of refugees who arrived to Turkey who is already not doing well economically.

He told me one day how “no one cares” in Europe and everywhere else, and he’s right. When I see all the inflamatory press against the “migrants” as if there were a mass of faceless animals coming to disturb and take over the settled lives of citizens. What people fail to see is that it is our Western colonialist ways with the middle east that have mostly turned the area into the violent mess that it is. When I see ordinary people’s refusal to open their hearts or even just try to be understanding. Lebanon has received over a million migrants, that is one out of 4 people there. Europe has had 123 thousand applications…. Lebanon is poor, Europe is rich. As too often we see the poor being far more generous than the rich…

refugees

In June he was about to go. I saw him a few days before his planned departure but at the last minute he decided not to. Too many bad news, a raft had sank in the Mediterranean, the news of how a Turkish sea patrol had gone by and ignored the emergency calls of the people sinking he then postponed his journey.

Three days ago, I could not stop thinking about him. I tried to message him, to phone him and I could not reach him. I then re-opened my Facebook account to see if he would still receive my message… he did. He wrote this to me:

“I am in Izmir now I am going to travel to Greece .
I miss you so much 🙂
If my trip is good I will send you a message later
I hope you are very well Dear…
Pray for me my friend…
Take care 

I was devastated. I wrote back to him and got this last message.

I’m so happy to meet you Danielle and so lucky
I love you so much you’re very kind ….you always gave it to me the good the energy

if I have a chance to start a new life I will meet you again and play the music together and record the new album with you I promise you

The life deserve the adventure…
Don’t worry about anything dear okay
All the love and respect to you dear 

Love and peace for everywhere
Sari

So there he goes, my beautiful friend, in the hands of Fate… I will pray, meditate for him every moment I think of it, everyday.

Ride Sari, ride the waves, land safely. My heart breaks at the thought that something terrible or terminal may come to you. But I also trust in you, in your knowing, in your courage and your strength. I know that at least this is something you decided and I know you have the inner strength to overcome anything.

I just wish for all of us in the west to be out of fear long enough to open our arms to those who suffer most. Those human beings who unlike you have lost everything because of circumstances beyond their own doings.

All my love Sari, be safe.

D&S

Advertisements

and…

August 28, 2015

“You are not your body.”

Oh! … yes, yes… I knew that…

“You are not your body.”

Vectors.

I wrote about vectors

I saw you and I as vectors connecting.

I didn’t know that science did too.

I saw you and I synapsing without the help of cell phones or internet

I saw something Divine unfolding the ribbon of road before my wheel

Magnificence.

Even the pains are magnificent,

they are the nudges of our very own divine intelligence trying to get our attention.

The course of the sun and the moon, lighting the scenes of our lives, allowing our eyes to see

such beauty, such perfections, such immense intelligence

Tight rope.

Trying to balance on a thin line above a void of reflexes, habits and unthinking

Thoughts, emotions like dizzying spells to throw you off the rope.

Anger

Sometimes this place repulses me

The fights, the bile.

The dirt, the uncaring, the violent disregard for life

The hatred, sectarianism, racism, misogyny.

The cigarette smoke I am forced to breathe when I hate it with all my being.

in return I am repulsed by my own self with its reactions and judgments,

I am challenged to challenge myself into equanimity.

Love

it comes and shatters all the walls

guides me towards my true essence, which is love. Divine.

Healing

giving respect, thought, to this body

Synergy with all living things, thankfulness for their gift

Action

Moving between the wheels of the grand machine of our fears and ignorance. Humbly.

Teach me, teach me… that is all I want.

1

Hey, hi y’all

August 22, 2015

wow,
no Facebook for a good two weeks. Honestly: I don’t miss it at all. I wonder about some people at times, but Facebook itself, it can go back to where it came from… The weirdest thing: first thing in the morning, the “turn-on-the-computer-and-see-if-there-are-little-red-dots-with-numbers-fever” has vanished. First few days it felt like: Now what?. No communications… so for a few days I plunged into the news… Hurriet, Sabah, Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN, even the CBC… then I realized that this was just another crutch to hold on to, so I gave that up too. How much the internet has taken all the room in our lives is mind boggling. I mean, not so long ago, no one had this…now it’s everything.

What I now have time for is to research some questions I had. My thyroid-anemia-and a million other freakin’ annoying symptom that can make life seem like a whole lot of nothings for nothing. In my searches I’ve found some answers and much inspiration, I am back to meditating. Powerfully enough, I realize that leaving Facebook allowed me to actually be able to perceive and acknowledge what was going on in my life.

So these days I work on re-balancing everything. I am putting awareness into everything that comes into my body, I meditate a couple times a day, I vowed to go out in the sun, get my 15 minutes for the vitamin D for the absorption of vitamins, I get excellent olive oil. We got that here at least and it is truly helpful. I plan for green things, even if it’s just parsley with carrots and lemon… I have found a host of herbs, plants, roots that can help many of my symptoms. So please, in case you were about to, don’t worry for my health, instead, just see me full of strength and laughing. I now make my own bread, sourdough, slow rise, I make Kefir, and I finally found Kombucha tea from which I will grow (hopefully successfully) a “Mother” from which I will be able to start making the tea and detoxing my body further. the big one left to conquer is sleep… when I get that down, then my little cells can get their renewal spa time back.

Other than that… still no news for the residence permit, still need a bit more work to alleviate all sorts of money related stresses, and I have a new friend… I told you about him, here is a photo:

a12

we’ve been getting closer and closer, he even brought me a rag and a bottle to play tug of war. Tonight he was about to follow me to the gig, he walked with me for 2 blocks, I never saw him do that… I had to walk back with him, I was too worried he’d be getting in trouble up on the boulevard. When I came back later tonight, he was around, almost as if he’d heard my steps, we hung out for 20 minutes or so.

Here is a photo from Atolye… tonight’s show. Life goes on. I am endeavoring to just appreciate now. it’s not always obvious, but when I do it’s amazing. and yeah… ditching Facebook was the best thing I could do, I highly recommend it.

a06

Here, Ekrem and Evren joined me.

a08

To be honest, there are days I have no idea what I am doing here, then there are days where I realize that I would feel this exact same way no matter where I would be, there are days where I wish for my motorcycle and nothing else. There are days where there is so much blissfulness and beauty that it makes me cry. I guess that is just life, the trick is to stay in my shoes and feel the earth and not head up in my head in the unknown future.

All my love.

Hello all my friends,

I decided to get the hell out of Facebook. Will it be permanent? I don’t know, for a while for sure to see what will happen.

I find myself getting pulled more and more into too many things, too much human madness, mindlessness. I started by disconnecting with certain groups that were mostly bringing negative stuff on my page but after spending the last few days mainly scrolling for something to bite at it was so very clear that I cannot let it be so I decided that I need to cut this out. Some say that FB is great for promotion but the truth is : I found that I make events, invite 200+ people and no one shows up. They click like dutifully, as I do myself on their pages but it is meaningless.

I feel that I must interface with real life, the real world. Go out and be alive, if anything, at least it will help my eyes by not staring at a computer screen endlessly.

I feel a bit of anxiety… of course, will I miss important things? but in truth, if someone really wants to find me, it’s easy to do, daniellehebert.com and everything is there.

So I will see how it turns out… I will disconnect in a day or two. I’ve already been getting many messages, people sending me their contact information so if you want to do so, please send a message.

I am very curious to see what will come of this… interesting experiment… I have a feeling it will be similar to when I killed my TV, much more time, much more clarity of mind and shielded from all the negativity, media, propaganda found on Facebook.

Love you all

a01

The power is out again. Candle lit anew. Twice tonight it’s gone out, and almost every day lately we have had power outages from 30 minutes to 12 hours. Hard to believe we are in one of the biggest cities in the world and we cannot keep the lights on.

But what is cool, is that all the fake music coming from all the bad speakers around is now silenced. We hear the traffic, the wind, the voices on the street 3 floors below, a man, a little girl, someone opened a window… the electrical hum is gone and my candle’s wick crackles next to me, it is now small, its last inch nestled in a metal cap from a Seyidoğlu jam jar. This type of candle’s wax runs profusely, laying itself down in voluptuous curves at the bottom of the cap and around the last standing inch of the candle and into my notebook.

The garbage men arrive around the corner, I hear the bags, with bottles clinking, the beep, beep of the truck backing up, “gel, gel, gel… gel-gel-gel-gel-gel!!!” sounds of plastic bags, sounds of them landing, the idling of the engine of the truck down on the dark street. The wind comes at regular intervals to gently run its hands on my face and shoulder, the window in front of me wide open. It’s been incredibly hot.. abnormally hot. Everyone agrees, too hot, not normal… Yes here too like in British Columbia where the forests burn wildly, the fevered breath of our sick planet licks us with fire. We all sweat 24/7.

Again I was told that I wasn’t going to play the second gig this week, so money will be very short once more. Like most everyone around me, we’re all poor, but life goes on. These days of no money, struggle arises; with financial stress, survival and mostly about what to do with my life and these thoughts can turn into an annoying meaningless mantra swirling around uselessly with dangling question marks, a mad dance, that exhausts and sweeps me away from reality… breathe… meditate… it is a dance.

Skubi was downstairs today, close to my house, I was really happy to see him. He had not been hanging around these last few days and I missed him. He is a beautiful dog. His anatomy, resembles a lot “my dog” who used to hang around Galata tower, the one who disappeared this spring… Skubi is here, watchful. I approach him his tail wags, his eyes soften and his whole body relaxes except for his front paw that comes up in a gentle surrender gesture, and he lets me pet him, he loves it on his head, chest, he closes his eyes.

People here are not used to dogs, most actually fear them. When they see him, they tense up, their hands come up in a defensive motion, and their whole body language speaks fear and aggression, that makes Skubi bark. “Shhhh!!!! Shhh!!!!” they shush waving their hands, and the dog barks more. I think of his life, street dog of an adopted neighborhood. His life dangling in the hands of the passerbys. Who ever will deem him a nuisance can eliminate him. He is fed by good souls I am grateful for their generosity towards him. It is a funny group of street animals around here, Mr Tomcat, the black and white cat, the red one, they all show up when they see an opportunity for food or petting. My friends.

August now. Wow. Again, summer races away like a thoroughbred, hooves relentlessly pounding the overheated soil.

I fell onto a piece of writing by Terence McKenna and it resonated deeply with me. Here is a bit of it:

“Culture is not your friend. Culture is for other peoples’ convenience and the convenience of various institutions, churches, companies, tax collection schemes, what have you. It is not your friend. It insults you. It disempowers you. It uses and abuses you. None of us are well-treated by culture.”
[…]
But the culture is a perversion. It fetishizes objects. It creates consumer mania. It preaches endless forms of false happiness, endless forms of false understanding in the form of squirrelly religions and silly cults. It invites people to diminish themselves and dehumanize themselves by behaving like machines.”

“We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.”
― Terence McKenna

This thing about creating our own culture, made me think of when I wrote the music for Aventuriere Accidentelle. At the time I was really angry with the music business and exhausted by the endless travels leading nowhere but into a loop of meaninglessness. That was when I decided to write without limiting anything, without trying to please anyone or respond to any fads. I had been writing for my band… for the shows.. the contests… trying to carve a niche, have a career…. And all that this did was to frustrate me as (we all know) it is impossible to please everyone and if in the process of creation you cheat your truth, the result will be agonizing. So I wrote a crazy story that had been ignited while taking off from the Ottawa airport enroute to Vancouver. The plane falling, the girl on a self-discovery trip. I imagined this music played by the likes of Francois Houle and Jesse Zubot because I knew these guys would have no problem with “crazy” and with roaming wildly into crazy songs… Ironically enough, this project was endorsed by all the arts organisations, I got grants to record, make videos, tour… I got awards… Ironic no? But I was cool with all this because I had followed my muse into very twisty trails.

Back to now… 2015, Istanbul, Turkey, dirt poor and somewhat disjointed with my surroundings and the people around me as I have been “hermiting” lately, just playing my guitar and slowly, slowly living. I am wondering what ‘my’ next roadshow will be. Or even if there will be one. What does my artist heart long for? What is worth talking about? I would love to tour… but as a counterweight to the desire, I have this idea that it’s impossible to make this work, to find the right people (agency, label, connections) to spark this into reality and the fear that maybe I don’t quite have what it takes. So I stand still.

Now, the power has just come back and the stupid music has started rising into the night air again… boom, chack, boom, chack… this canned, mechanized, predictable pieces of boredom that numbs the mind make me long for a cabin in the middle of a field…

Maybe I can put together some of the writing I have done since I am here as a collection of songs, my “Istanbul” songs and try to scramble recordings with some of the incredible musicians I have met here… They are not commercial songs… some of them quite esoteric, impressionistic, slow, with many colors of harmonies and rhythms… One night at Atolye Kuledibi, this guy had been watching us play intently, so at the break I went to speak to him, he revealed that he was in the recording industry, that he had managed ‘successful artists’ he then proceeded to tell me that we sounded nice but that he heard “no hits” in my compositions… Yeah, I know. In the mean time, the cycle of 5ths is getting more and more established in my hands and mind… maybe while I am at it I should also re-visit the multiplication tables, I never learned them… maybe it would be empowering?!

The blue moon. Did you hear or see the hype about it? I did and I went to watch her last night. She wasn’t blue… I waited, kept staring at her, she shone in her glory, changing us below, super charging the atmosphere with luminous energy but she never turned blue. Maybe when she reaches the horizon she will morph into blue I thought. I stood there, gazing, no one harassed me, lone woman standing alone outside of a Friday night, as if a kind of unspoken knowledge of what was going on called for restraint. After a while, I walked back home, but then she teased me again, out of my window, she appeared, between the apartment buildings, shrouded in passing wisps of clouds, I sat on the balcony, stared and stared. Letting her fill me with her essence, hoping to be bewitched, transformed, elevated. She shone with not a hint of shame or vanity, just brightly following her course over us here in Istanbul, over the Friday madness here in Taksim Over the waters of the Golden Horn and the shacks in Tarlabasi, and the 5 star hotels up the hill. Over this impossible thing that is Earth with all its billions of souls. She shone, glorious sky orb upon us humans.

A02

The Blue Moon, from my balcony

all my love.