I started piano lessons at the age of 11; I’ve never stopped playing since. I’ve continued to perform in public at least weekly for most of that time; often, I perform music I myself have written, such as the simple piece attached here.

We had books of old Scottish and Irish folk songs in our house when I was a teen, and my mother could sometimes be prevailed upon to sing if I ever played them. No one in my family really liked singing solos, so these were rare and memorable events. There was a connection to the old countries in this music, for her, and for me, and they make for some of my fondest memories.

I wrote this piece as a tribute to that music, trying to capture the feel of it rather than anything specific.

“Spéir,” by the way, is the Gaelic word for “Heaven”.

The Train Tracks of My Mind

I often write essays that seem to be one, two, or three sentences long. I use Twitter and Facebook to post them, many times, but here, I thought I’d collect some unused ones that are vaguely related thematically. – Owen

The cycle is perpetuated when you believe you must give in to hatred in order to defeat hatred.

Many philosophies exist simply to justify what people already felt like doing.

It’s hard to forgive people for not being the people we imagined they were. They often had no way of knowing this, of course, but that doesn’t stop us.

When I was twenty, a good friend of mine and her much older husband had their first child. Seeing her with the child, I wrote one of my first songs, the lyrics of which were:

Day is done
And you can’t know
My lovely one
How I live for you
The heart is true
And it’s in your smile
I’ll rest awhile
And sing my love for you

Dream away
At the closing
Of the day
And it’s hard to say
It’s hard to say
Why we spin our lies
And waste our lives
And hopes and dreams away

Treasure find,
Angel mine,
Be my world
Golden girl
Close your eyes
And sleep

Treasure find,
Angel mine,
Be my world
Golden girl
Close your eyes
And sleep

Treasure find,
Angel mine,
Best I’ve found
Love come down
Close your eyes
And sleep

I think I can sit down and remember this song all these years later – well enough to play and sing it – because I still remember how I felt seeing her with her baby. “Her baby” has children of her own, now, by the way.

Me, at sixteen: For all girls talk about how they want a guy with a ‘sense of humor’, they really mostly like guys with good bodies, good hair, and good teeth.

Met at fifty-four: I was right

My father used to talk about a subject even after you thought he was done. My ex-wife would try to interject herself after ten minutes or so, at the first sign of anything like silence, but he would start up again. She asked me about it later.

“The train tracks of my father’s mind don’t really have stations. That train doesn’t ever really stop.”

He’s been dead now for eleven years, and I realize: I’m pretty much just like him.

And it’s the same train, in a way.

Tomorrow and Today

“You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep.”

– reputed Navajo Proverb

And aren’t we all — pretending to be asleep, pretending we don’t notice what is going on around us, or even, because of us.

To live is to change, and to refuse change is to give up life. In fact, death being exactly that – the inability to ever change again.

To finally awake, we must cease to pretend we are asleep.

Her Name Was Grace

I’m in my bed, reading, about 10:30 at night, when my twenty-three year old daughter pops her head in. She’s so beautiful, in her glasses, smiling to see me still awake.

“Has it been a long day, Dad?”

“Yes. What about you?”

She grows a little more animated as she starts to tell me about how the work day went. Her image and her voice grow blurry within my dream, as I desperately try to hold on to what she is saying, what she looks like. But I can’t – she’s fading.

She’s gone.

Her name was Grace. She died six months into term more than twenty-three years ago. But she still visits me in my dreams, some nights.

I always know it’s her.

My ex-wife and I had a son after that; the doctor figured out why it happened and we got a baby to term. We then split up about three and a half years later. I remarried a couple of years later, to a woman who had three daughters, ages 10 to 16. That was going on seventeen years ago.

But still she makes these visits. Because every child we have, and every child we don’t have, aren’t just part of us, they are us.

The best part of us.

The eternal part of us.

I wish I could have held her once, and told her that her Daddy loved her.

So I tell her in dreams, and in whispered prayers before I go to bed at night. Even after all these years.

Her name was Grace, you know, and she was my beautiful daughter.

And she always will be.


Empty now,
The carpet filled with
The remnants of your loneliness —

For two and a half years,
In and out of rehab, and back to this
Five hundred sixty eight square feet

You’d finally a job
After eighteen months of nothingness,
Recently giving notice

And now, off to try your luck in
Another state

And what have I done?
I’ve paid for things
This apartment, power, phone,
Medicine, a doctor, a counselor,
Food, gas

Until such time as
You were able to pay for
Everything but the apartment
The medicine, and the counselor

I walked with you,
Talked with you,
Invited you over

But what is a father
But the repository of a daughter’s dreams
And the storehouse of a son’s resentment?
With you —
Stuck between the two

Empty now,
The air heavy with
The weight of your loneliness —

Rainbow Colors: Green

Today, the world is gray, and full of rain and lightning, and I sit here, dreaming of a green world, a different world, a world where people do not want to cause each other pain. Or themselves, for that matter.

Pain is so mixed up in everything we do, we come to want to control it. But pain is for us to endure, even to hate, but not to cause needlessly. The green comes when we maintain ourselves through all kinds of change in weather.

Growing things are everywhere, and we can either aid or hinder them in their growth. That includes ourselves, of course. It also includes not only those who we may see as being in our care, but those we think of primarily in terms of them taking care of us. The rain waters the garden, and the garden waters the rain.

There is so much to see that we have never seen, and so much to do that we have never done; but effort involves risk, and risk means the chance of pain, a pain beyond our control. So we all have to decide how far we are willing to go, and in what direction, to feel the magic that life has to offer.

Always teach with love. And learn the same way. For the love of all who came before us lives in us.

Love where you can; create where you are able; sustain what you find; grow what you are given.

Today, the world is gray, and full of rain and lightning, and I sit here, dreaming of a green world, a different world, a world where people live and love and seek and find; a world of pain endured, and lessons taught with kindness; a world grown green through nurture.

And I believe it is out there.