Saturday, July 18, 2015
Monday, June 1, 2015
Being in Tune with Our Own Tune
We all need to, like, totally chill, and just find our own tune, and Groove to it . . . We run around like chickens without heads . . .’Cause we're tryin' to groove to someone else’s tune . . .
Can we just relax, and be in tune with our own tune?! It's stressful to live out of tune with our own song, our own instrument, our own paintbrush, or our quantum theory, or our way of arranging words . . .or way of making love, or way of reaching out from our islands of isolation and connecting with others . . . There are so many different means of expression. ‘Cause there are so many kinds of people...
...And when we're out of tune with our own tune, we go around leaking
(or spewing) stress, instead of sharing our love and the things about us that make us uniquely us . . . Don't worry about other people taking your goodness, or your heart, or what you have in you that is YOUR unique mission on earth to share; ‘Cause nobody can share it better than you!!
It doesn't matter if you're so physically bound up in your own body that you can't move a muscle;
Or so emotionally wounded that you're terrified to get out of bed, and facing another human being is an act so brave it makes the 12 tasks of Hercules look like nothing;
You still have it . . . It's still there, within you . . . that special something that makes you, you...and it's waiting for you to express it through your hands, your movements, your mind, your heart, your voice;
Or through or through a tiny sip of air, that powers a switch, that lets you, with such graceful slowness, express it one letter or symbol or braille bump at a time . . .
Can we, perhaps, find out who and what we actually are? And further, can we then share it with the straightforwardness, the kind of lack of pretense with which the birds or howler monkeys say their thing?
Friday, May 1, 2015
My name is Ben Rivers and I live in Berkeley, California.
Fifteen years ago, my life changed in a major way when I, at age 30-31, got Young Onset Parkinson's disease (YOPD). In the space of nine months, I went from having a powerful, athletic body which I was very much in command of, to having pretty advanced YOPD symptoms, including: Significant loss of voluntary motor control in my upper body, along with involuntary hand and arm tremors, frozen facial muscles, fixed stare, difficulty speaking and loss of vocal volume.
Following this, I spent 2.5 years living in Southeast Asia. The entire time I was there (the first 1.5 years of which, determined as I was to be self-sufficient, I took care of and did everything myself--including working--without the benefit of meds or caregivers) I was living with a smorgasbord of YOPD symptoms, including: "freezing up," slow movements, tremors, speech difficulties, "frozen face", involuntary staring, weakness and fatigue.
It is this combined experience of navigating at the same time the inner and outer worlds of battling a major disease (and dealing with significant disability) while living in the context of Southeast Asian landscapes, infrastructure (or lack thereof), people and cultures that forms the heart of my story.
It is also the story of successfully persevering against very challenging and ongoing odds to live out one of my lifelong dreams: to live in Southeast Asia for an extended period of time.
I learned many meaningful and humbling lessons from these experiences, including humor, humility and courage that I have chosen to use as an opportunity to deepen my connection with my own dignity. Along with this has come more respect for the dignity of all people.
Friday, April 24, 2015
The concert will be at 6:30PM on the UC Berkeley campus at Hertz Hall.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
If we can learn the lessons of being more aware — paying attention to attention itself, and the lack of it — this will serve us well our entire lives, and is actually a highly valuable — and useful — skill to have.
As Einstein famously said, the way of thinking — or, as Ken Wilber would say, the quality or level of of consciousness — that got us into this mess, is NOT the one that contains the answers to this mess. This is, actually, a major challenge for most of us — and, interestingly, one which is not the same as, nor bound up in, nor limited to, whatever current context, (or challenge, or suffering) we find ourselves in. If we don’t fundamentally become more aware of where/how our attention flows, and find a way to navigate the ship of our being into "new ways of thinking" — (Einstein), or "levels of consciousness with greater depth and span" (Wilber), the same issues will come back again, and again...on other stages, in other times, on other days. While this seems like a drag, it's actually a blessing from, and the way of, nature: It's evolution presenting us with opportunity after opportunity to "get it."
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
I'm super-excited to announce that...my composition, "Beauty for its Own Sake" (Mvmt 1) will be performed live at the UC Berkeley Undergraduate Composer's Club concert this December. I have rewritten the piece to be played by an ensemble of both electric and acoustic instruments (the first time I've mixed these worlds!)
Here are the details:
What: Undergraduate Composer's Club concert
Cost: Free, with reception and refreshments following the concert
Date and Time: Saturday, December 6th, 2014, 6:00 PM
Where: UC Berkeley Campus - Hertz Hall (south side of campus -- a short northbound walk from the junction of Bancroft Way and College Ave)
In general: The concert will feature pieces from eight different student composers. The total concert time for all eight pieces will be about two hours.
Details of my piece: "Beauty" will be played at 6:00 PM -- the first performance on the program. It will be about six minutes long.
Additional details/flyer below. Hope to see you there!
Monday, November 10, 2014
Through the joy of music, I'm excited to be able to share the experience and lessons I’ve learned about life and art through living with Parkinson’s disease.
With original songs, life vignettes, and poetry, I will take you on a journey through my particular approach to handling life’s challenges and joys.
It is my hope that you will have a great time, discover laughter, and leave the evening feeling lighter, happier, and with a sense of the unshakeable core we each have inside of us no matter what life throws our way.
Join me on July 19th at 6PM at at the Berkeley Arts Festival on University Ave.
Ben Rivers' "Shakin' with Joy" - San Juan Ridge - Full Event Flyer
Ben Rivers' "Shakin' with Joy" - San Juan Ridge - Mini Flyer
Ben Rivers - Artist Statement
Ben Rivers - Bio