I have to apologize for the delay. I was in shock. My voice or the voice I borrow to whisper is no longer available for earth plane communications. So you will forgive me if this blog is not entirely devoted to Being Here Now, although my advice to live in this moment could never be more poignant or important than right now. It is in the realization of loss that one feels the bitter sting of life’s fragility… its brevity. “Oh, had we only known …” when a loved one, a family member, a pet or beloved public figure passes. Had we only known in advance that this person would be GONE.
This is the sad truth about James Gandolfini, the brilliant actor sometimes better known as the sensitive, complex New Jersey mafia boss in the HBO series The Sopranos. Who would have thought that Tony Soprano would be so quickly swooshed away… vanished and suddenly unavailable for us to admire or speculate impatiently about what J.G’s next big role might be?
His was the voice I used (and still intend to use …) to whisper instructions, to cajole, intimidate and in the worst of cases, to command. It is the voice E. heard when I ordered her into the Manhattan pet shop where I was waiting for my hysterical student to appear. His was the voice of the “angel” who saved Ms. Em (and me!) after her disastrous accident on the German Autobahn #3 near Aschaffenburg in April of 1993.
James Gandolfini’s throaty baritone, with his New Jersey accent was the ideal voice-choice for my purposes of other-worldly persuasion. His voice: Authoritative but still sensitive, respectful but with a slight threat… ideal. I could say that I am “deeply saddened” but this is what a presidential candidate might say about this incalculable loss to the art of acting. I can only express the VOID that E. is (along with his acting colleagues, directors, producers, friends, family and the millions of Soprano fans) feeling in the wake of this brilliant actor’s early departure. Granted, he is flying now, as free as I am. Jimmy (his friends called him) has his own cloud to be sure… but the feeling of loss for earthlings is colossal and real.
James Gandolfini’s funeral was held at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. I was happy about the choice of location because the huge edifice could accommodate the crowds of people needing to BE THERE NOW, to participate in and the honor the memory of that vulnerable stranger who through his immense talent was not a stranger at all. What made me dance was the animal-friendliness this Cathedral Church has proudly displayed since the tradition of blessing all animals began. Here are some links to the World Animal Day 2012.
Above a photo of Edie Falco (Carmela, Tony’s wife in The Sopranos series) holding a baby kangaroo for blessing at the Church Cathedral’s World Animal Day a few years ago. I am sure Edie could never have imagined the heartbreaking event that would bring her back to this location. Life can sometimes be strange indeed. I needn’t repeat myself but I will … Carpe diem.
Broadway theaters simultaneously dimmed their marquees at 8 p.m. on Wednesday in honor of this great artist. Thursday of last week was James Gandolfini’s funeral. On Youtube I recommend this video to get the feeling of BEING THERE at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. This is a beautiful tribute featuring fans who traveled long distances to be with other Tony Soprano fans. They simply could not stay away.
Finally, here is quotation that I chanced upon. (Ha-ha! Remember there are no coincidences.) I was looking over E.’s shoulder at the exact moment that her radio blared out the bad news from Rome. This was the sentence she was reading from Richard Ford’s Lay of the Land:
I mean, isn’t that the most cherished pre-post humus dream of all? The news of our premature demise catching everyone so unprepared that beautiful women have to leave fancy dinner parties to be alone for a while, their poor husbands looking around confused; grown men find they can’t finish their after-lunch remarks at the Founders Club because they’re so moved. Children wake up sobbing. Dogs howl, hounds begin to bark. All because something ineffable has been erased, and the world knows it and cannot be consoled.
-Richard Ford, The Lay of the Land (London: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2007), 74–75.
I liked the part about the dogs howling and the hounds barking… but seriously… this quotation is possibly more appropriate for the death of giants like JFK or the eventual, but looming, demise of Nelson Mandela, however, it is also in some wondrous way fitting for our beloved James Gandolfini.
Upon hearing this announcement E. put her book down, took off her reading glasses,and wept.
Ruffff! I am literally dancing up here! I’m so happy to see the positive human response to my first DogBlog posting. It heartens me to see that there are Homo sapiens out there actually thinking about slowing down, smelling the violets and Being Here Now. If I had one lesson to teach my recalcitrant mistress while I still inhabited the earth plane … that was it. Yes. This was and is the lesson: Be Here Now, every letter capitalized. Be = I am. Here = located on this space I presently occupy. Now = at this exact moment in time. With all my disciplinary growls, barks and (occasional but necessary) bites, even my outrageous temper tantrums … had but one distinct teaching goal: Live this moment. Concentrate, pay attention, be real, be authentic. Take this present moment as your only moment.
None of us … even us dogs … have a guarantee on tomorrow or even the next ten minutes. There are no guarantees, period. You don’t see even one of my species Canis lupis familiaris participating in any of the following activities: ruining our thumbs (even if we had them) texting, bowing our heads to our PCs, ipads, Smartphones and/or spending 40% (uh-oh … or even more) of our waking hours on the Internet being discouraged and jealous about the exciting lives of our ‘friends’. You will never see a dog missing WHAT IS because of getting distracted by what isn’t.
Sometimes it takes a wake up call to get humans to Be Here Now and to realize that there is just one life to live here on planet Earth. Sometimes it takes a frightening diagnosis, the loss of a job or an accident in traffic caused by lack of concentration to get a person to take the plunge back into the present moment. On the other hand and occasionally … a great teacher (could even be a Gurudog) enters to enlighten the human out of the artificial and back into what’s real. This is, of course, the easiest (well, at least the most positive) road back to accepting reality. The truth is that time waits for no one to catch up or make up. Lost time is lost. You can’t redo the past even the past that occurred just five seconds ago. Many Quantum Physicists would disagree citing the Parallel Reality Theory, but until scientists can put that theory into practice (which might be a few light years hence) what humans can do is to learn to value of the precious present.
It’s a fine thing when a dog can admire a human as much as I admired Andy Whitfield. I recommend an inspiring trailer for an especially moving documentary feature film: Andy Whitfield’s story is entitled: “Be Here Now” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wE_Y5brW-ZE
After watching this you may be wondering if your own life is passing you by . If you get the message then I rest my case.
Look around you. What do you see? Can you still see anything at all without a digital screen lighting the way to your comprehension of what you are seeing? It is my personal opinion (and particularly from my vantage point) that most humans are living in an altered (manipulated) state of reality that is spoiling real experience and one-on-one communication. Ask yourself: Have I forgotten (or never even learned) how to talk to someone without using my fingers? Have I forgotten (or never even learned) how to express real emotions face to face with another of my species? Think about this.
What would your life look like if someone took all your toys (and that is what all those electronic devices from the simplest to the most sophisticated are … don’t delude yourself) away from you? What would you do without just one of those toys? I ask you … the bigger question to ponder … what if there was no electricity to run the devices that control your happiness? What if? What on earth would you do? How would you cope?
So, for today this is the end of my lecture from beyond the Beyond. Straight from Whispering Fritz to those of you who might be reading this for comfort, for entertainment or for a new (or quite ancient) view of how to perceive what is going on all around you. Look to and learn from the dogs, cats and other animals on your planet. Watch and listen to them. They will teach you how to live in the moment … in real time. The clock is ticking. No kidding. You only have this moment. Never forget it.