N  a  p a  l  m     H  e  a  l  t  h     S  p  a  :     R  e  p  o  r  t     2  0  0  8






How to Compose


Q. Can I borrow the music

when I no longer hear it?


A. To write your way out of darkness is possible.

First, set yourself on fire.

Then, as whatever can be destroyed is burned away,

search for the spareness and brevity that remains,

the way moonlight pierces curtains.


Give up effort entirely,

languish, the way my fingers

radiate from my palm

yet remain embedded in my hand.


Or how without effort when I lift my hand

there remains an imprint,

an echo on the page

of something generated in another world.




Miles Davis's First Memory


I saw that blue flame [of a gas stove] and felt Š fear, real fear, for the first time in my

lifeŠ. The fear I had was almost like an irritation, a challenge to go forward into

something I knew nothing about. That's where I think my personal philosophy of life and

my commitment to everything started, with that moment. -Miles Davis


Who knows how these things come to be

but in a dream I came across a youth,

I saw him as I see you now.


He was wondering where he came from

where he was going

and so forth.


It was as if he was descending

a dark staircase into a darker

and deepening darkness.


I could follow him down,

going back to where I was before

or I could follow another route very near


the stairway he was on-one that rose into the sky

on the wings of chansons and so forth.

And then I just stepped over.




Glenn Gould


Music is coming through

the walls. The musician is dead,

and his music travels from the other room


to where it's headed-the melody simple,

the touch certain, the notes precise,

the nuances like pennants


hung upon a line, or stones dropped into a pond-

the melody a rope tossed across the incomprehensible,

the light in a black wind that blows toward us,


an envelope steamed open and a letter stained in red,

a school of incandescent fish,

a hillside of parrots in panicked flight


granite sculptures of naked women,

their faces the grey of marble columns,

the voice in your head that's not your own-


but of course that's what

any artist does-gives us hymns

so beautiful we almost believe


they're true,

because they're as real

as only a lie can be-


and then fourteen extraordinary lines

before he pauses halfway through the chorus,

as if to suggest that in two years he'd be dead.






Nothing is ever

what it seems so I

just go blindly into it-


that has always somehow

seemed important-

to just go blindly into it.




Non compos mentis (no power of mind)


There is nothing

to be done it just

goes on and on-for

instance, what are we to

make of these blossoms

like a cloud of bees

by which the flowergirl

hands us beauty?




Hiking the Talus Slope to Notchtop Mountain


Golden sunlight on schist.

Long's Peak a block of granite

four miles high.


In avalanche areas the aspens

bend downhill. When an elk

chews on aspen bark it grows bitter


and will never be chewed on again.

The branches of the firs and spruce

shed snow and so are the only trees


that survive in areas of heavy snowfall.

If you sit long enough, wildlife

will surround you.




Walking into the Crater


Looking back, I realize I prepared myself, consciously and unconsciously, for everything

that was about to happen. What launched it all was an impulse to act, as if someone or

something was pushing me, waking me, urging me to hurry.


But whatever pushed me soon stalled. I wasn't ready and the effort became an obstacle.

This setback allowed me to build the strength and resources I needed to eventually

succeed. There is an alpine lily that gathers energy for nineteen summers and on the

twentieth summer blooms and dies. Just so I gathered whatever strength I could and

entered the forest, not in ignorance but in confidence.


Success is beginner's luck-random events accomplished with the assistance of unseen

powers and guides. I owe my lucky escapes to those who made them possible, to those

who lifted me out of my own way and dragged me against my will whenever I decided to

abandon the adventure.


Once inside the forest I met a woman who led me into the lower world, where I lost

everything. I lost my loved ones, I lost my money, I lost my health, I lost my grasp of

the adventure. Still, I maintained faith in the future even though everything was going

wrong. I waited for the storm to pass because I knew that was what I had to do. By doing

nothing, by not struggling against what was happening even when it was undeserved and

unfair, I learned to listen better and to wait for what was about to happen.


And then I was betrayed. Good luck turned away. The magic that had brought me this far

was broken or lost. Nothing was as it seemed to be when I first started out. In an effort to

save myself I betrayed another version of my self, my next self. I broke promises, I

abandoned my principles. I got my hands dirty, I behaved shamefully. I believed I was in

danger but it was like something that was happening to me. I realized I was being hunted

and had only one desire-to escape.


Then darkness set in. In darkness I found what it was I was looking for. I found my

ideals, my goals, my life's purpose. But, immersed in darkness, someone had to pull the

curtains open to fill my eyes with light. After that, I moved forward under my own



On the journey back, I was guided by what I remembered of what the elders had told me

back when I had no way of understanding what they were talking about. I understood

what had come before and what was about to happen.


I returned to ordinary life, but with a piece of magic in my pocket. Every moment is

different from all the others because in every moment of brilliance a darkness has been



Now I know what to do. I travel through my days and hand a little piece of magic to

those who are unknowing, to those who will need it later on.