Wednesday, November 14, 2012


The sweetest (if not maybe the most powerful) way in which we can support each other is by helping to preserve in one an other that child-like sense of wonder.

Life lived from that space of wonder is miraculous and beautiful. It inspires us to learn to think differently and to seek out new possibilities.

Life lived without that sense of wonder and amazement becomes predictable, painful, and essentially uninspiring.

Action without inspiration is empty.

So, help the dreamer to dream. Those dreams are the seeds of inspiration. 

Those dreams are the seeds of their joy. =)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Learning is Great

I love learning, because it is something you never finish doing.

You learn what you learn, whether through sadness or fun or hardships or love, and then after you're done doing that, you just start learning whatever there is to learn next.

I always feel like the thing to do is to hurry up and learn your lessons. (To really learn them, of course, but not waste time not learning them). Not so much because those lessons will be learned, but because then you get to see what the next lesson will be.

I love learning. I'm hooked on seeing the next problem.

For me, learning is like climbing mountains. The best part of climbing a mountain is not just arriving at the top, it's what you get to see when you get there. And if you love climbing mountains, then there's nothing better to find when you reach the top of one mountain than another mountain you haven't climbed yet.

I think that - like climbing mountains - the more the you learn, the better you get at learning.

If you climb enough mountains, you get good at climbing mountains. How different can mountains be, really? At some level, every mountain is probably just another mountain. Sure, they're all unique and challenging in unique ways, but they are only ever challenging in the ways that mountains can be challenging.

I think learning is the probably the same. That learning is challenging. Of course each lesson is unique and challenging in unique ways, but only in the ways that learning can be challenging.

I love learning, but sometimes, I think it makes me a glutton for punishment.

I stay with learning even when it gets hard. Especially when it gets hard.

I can't get myself to tap out. I take whatever beating I have to take in round 4 so I can come back with the knockout on round 9 and learn the damn lesson.

I'm hoping that one day I'll get better at finding the knockout in round 2 or 3. That I'll learn to see situations more clearly and understand the lessons I'm learning more quickly.

I love the idea of the one punch knockout. That - if only once - I might see my life with clarity enough that I get to learn a lesson without having to take the beating. In and out in round 1. The crowd goes wild.

I love learning because it's something you never finish doing.

I figure, we all have to do something while we're here. If that's the case, it seems nicest to pick something you won't have to stop doing when you get old or busy or tired or any of those things that people "get."

So, I'm all the things I am. A musician, a teacher, a friend, a son, and a bunch of things more.

I feel lucky that I'm a lot of things.

I have a lot of opportunities to learn and I love learning.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Equality in Relationships

Equality is integrity in relationships.

I had an important realization a little while ago while I was reflecting that most of the people I've been working with lately happen to be women. 

What struck me was the word "happen." That I really felt that way. That I had great partners in business and in the thinking. That those relationship were rooted in equality. And then...after all that...those people happened to be women. I recognized in that moment that I don't carry prejudice. That I only love great thinking and integrous people. 

This was an exciting realization for me. Not because I it showed "just how neat" I am, but because I realized that this must be a reflection of the way that I was raised. That there must be other people that were raised the same and so feel the same way that I do. And I've found this to be true! A number of the women I know refuse to be a part of any relationship not rooted foremost in equality. They'd rather be alone. I recognized that men seem to be lagging in figuring this out. In particular, there seem to be a lot of complaints about men in the 20-30 year-old age range. Regardless, there are men who are achieving clarity regarding this issue. 

I do think things will change and here's why. I didn't always have the clarity that I have now regarding this. Although growing up, I never recognized any integrous reason for gender inequality, I was raised in a world where that was often the thinking expressed. The men attacking, women defending dynamic of dating always felt strange to me. It didn't feel honest. Although there was a recognition of strangeness in this interaction, I did date in this way. Since this realization, I've found incredible relief in my life. Dating is fun. It's just an extension of friendship. It's no longer an experience that feels painful. 

In dating, there's been a kind "line of scrimmage." Men tend to be the ones trying to push across this line. Women tend to defend this line. 

Q: What can we learn from this? 
A: That everyone knows where the line is! 

Men are insecure that if they don't push on the line, they will probably never again have sex. That's kind of what they've been taught. But, if you spend any time talking to women, they'll tell you that they like sex, too. That they like it at least as much as men. 

So, then why are we pushing on the line? If everyone knows where the line is and everyone likes having sex with people they want to have sex with, the line will move it's own. In a way that is mutual. Equal.

I think things are changing. That this is the most important development that will happen during the time our generation spends on this planet. I don't think things will change immediately, but I do believe they are changing. 

I believe that if we recognize a disconnect between truth and our world, it is our responsible to change it. I recognize that popular commercial media in practically no way seems to be descriptive of this change. My thinking is that this media is much more reflective of where we've been than where we are heading. I believe it is our responsibility to educate our own and - most importantly - the next generation of this disconnect. That we are the keepers of that change. 

And when things change, it will be transformative. No longer will so many interactions between men and women reflect this disconnect. That men an women will be able to interact from a place of equality. That relationships will no longer suffer the challenges that this disconnect inspires. The world will be happier and less painful. For everyone.

I am incredibly grateful for all of the women - and men - in my life who have helped me find my way on this path. 

If you have any thoughts, please share them. I recognize that there will be work required to make this transition. If there is some way I can help, please let me know. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Willingness is saying every yes. It's a whole-heartedness in all that I do. 

Willingness is being present with every relationship and in every situation.

It's an agreement with myself and the universe to do my best work always. 

It is through willingness that I experience my life as my own.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mama Rosa

I saw Brian Blade tonight.

In seeing his band, I realized his important it is to make your life your church. To find yourself in situations of unified intention that are in line with your intention. Be it in bands, business, matters of the heart, living situations, friendship, or anything else you intersect on a regular basis, that is how you can make your life your own. How you can make your life personal. How to have a life you love that challenges you to be the person you want to be.

Monday, September 10, 2012


Michael Topping and I went on a hike today and we were talking about failure and how much opportunity there is in failure. 

We agree that there is more often more opportunity in failure than in success. 

When you fail, your deficits become apparent. You learn what you need to improve. 

When you succeed, you're aptitudes are the most apparent. We usually know where our aptitudes lie. We hide behind then. We employ them as often as possible.

Our deficits are what we haven't learned yet, so often our deficits are hidden to us.

Failure allows the opportunity to see the holes in our thinking. To learn and then to set new goals for moving forward.

I asked Michael if there was anything you can do that gives more opportunity than failure.

He answered, "Asking questions."
Such a great answer!

Asking questions allows you to fail without the pain of actually failing. The opportunity to learn lessons through the understanding of other people's thinking - through their failures - without expending the resources a person has to expend in order to fail on their own.

We also believe that people have to come to their own conclusions. They have to learn their own lessons. That we all have resources through which we can become better informed and that can help us succeed, but our own success is our own responsibility.

So, although you can become informed by asking others questions.
- By studying the thinking of others. By really listening to the information provided to you. - The most valuable thing you can do is ask yourself questions.

Through asking yourself questions you allow yourself to come to your own conclusions.

Through this, your successes are your own successes and your failures are your own failures. At that point, there is opportunity. Opportunity to learn, then to help yourself, and then to help your community.

Michael and I wrote this together. We like it.

"With every mistake we must surely be learning." - The Beatles - My Guitar Gently Weeps

Friday, August 31, 2012


My Grandma passed away yesterday.

Needless to say, I've been thinking a lot about a lot of things these last two days. Mostly this:

I've been thinking about how everyone is the same.

Women People, Men People, Disabled People, Nicaraguan People, Chinese People, African American People, Cigarette Smoking People, Addicted-To-Heroine People, Rich People, Living-In-The-Slums-Of-Brazil People, White Power People, Buddhist People, Spiritual People, Atheist People, Short People, Famous People, Young People, Old People, Republican People, Homeless People.

That on the surface we seem different. We look different. We act different. We speak differently languages. We believe in ideals - with fervor - that are often substantially different. Given the same situation, we make different choices.

Even recognizing those differences, I still believe that everyone is the same. That the differences we perceive between people are illusory.

That we are not different because of our physicality or our choices in life, but the same because of the challenges we face.

My Grandma passed away today. I was close to my Grandma. I loved her deeply.

She was the most loving person I've ever met. She prayed every day for the well-being of her family, her community, and for peace. She loved unconditionally and lived only to serve. You couldn't leave her house hungry. Impossible.

I loved my Grandma, so today I am in pain. I feel pain for the loss of someone who was important to my growth and development as a person. I feel the pain that comes with losing someone who I loved and who loved me.

I believe that all people feel this loss the same way. The White Power People and the Disabled People. The Famous People and the Old People. Given this situation, everyone has the same pain.  Given this situation, people may act differently, but those actions stem from the same pain.

I don't believe we are different because of our differences, I believe we are the same because we all face the same challenges and the experience the same joys.

When people are challenged, there is pain. When there is joy in the life of a person, there is happiness.

Again, on the surface the challenges look different. Losing a job, losing a loved one, losing your position in life, losing friends. These all represent different experiences situationally, but at the core are all the experience of loss.

Everyone knows the experience of loss. White or Black. Rich or Poor. It's a pain everyone knows and it's a pain everyone knows the same way.

In the same way, we all know joy. Success is a powerful joy. It's a joy that people will strive towards relentlessly. Most interestingly, people can feel successful doing all sorts of things. Running fast, making money, stealing from others, empowering others, getting ahead of others, controlling others, making others happy. Although it's easy to judge "how" people find the joy of success, we can all understand the joy they experience.

To me, recording the countless, tiny differences between us before recognizing the systemic similarities seems short-sited.

I believe that we are all the same and that our "differences" simply represent own unique manifestations of this "sameness."  

That we are same because we share the same path.  A path that takes us through joy and through pain.  That to be a person is to be a person.

That the content of our lives my vary wildly, but the context of being alive is shared by everyone.

I'm sad today because I miss my Grandma, but I am hopeful because of this thinking:

I see clearly that we are all the same and because I can see that clearly, countless other people must see that clearly, too. I am a normal person. I play saxophone. I am a teacher. If this is something I can see, countless other people must see this, too.

If this is true, then people are starting to have the capacity to truly recognize each other as equal. Normal people can recognize this. This is new. This is amazing. And everything will change.

I believe we are all the same. The same in life and the same in death.

I'm grateful for the time I shared with my Grandma and thankful for all that I learned from her.

I want to be my Grandma when I grow up. She loved unconditionally. Everyone. She was amazing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

10 Years

Choosing to be a musician was the best choice I've made in my life.

The rewards, the challenges, the friendships and the profound sense of community, performing, teaching, and of course practicing - for me, this path has been perfect.  Ideal.

I know now that practically speaking, choosing to be a musician was a horrible idea.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into - I got good grades in school.  I could have been a doctor or something.  Instead, I'm poor. I'm tired. My body is sore from practicing.  None of these things are things I would have chosen on purpose.

Choosing to be a musician was the best choice I've made in my life.  Not because it has been easy, but because of how I've been challenged.

Along this path, I've been consistently challenged and challenged in ways that have often been painful.  Every challenge, though, has been a challenge to be more honest.  To be a better person.  To give more deeply.  To be more present.  To be more grateful.  To treat people unconditionally.  To learn from others - younger and older.  To listen to my heart and to really make choices that come from the best part of me.

Being a musician was the best choice I've made in my life.  Not because it has been easy, but because of how I've been challenged.  And through these challenges, I've learned how to be honest. How be a part of a community. How be myself.

And so you know I'm not kidding...
I'm writing this after working - practically straight - from 7:30am this morning until 11pm tonight.

I made the decision to become a musician about 10 years ago.  I was 17.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  Luckily, choosing to be a musician was the best choice I've ever made.

Thank you everyone who has been a part of my life these last 10 years.  I've learned so much with and from you.

Monday, August 27, 2012

It's Too Hot For A Doughnut.

The videos are up from my time at the Second Story Garage with Kent McLagan (b) and Jay Ellis (d). 

You can watch the videos here including an sweetly awkward interview with Jay, Kent, and I. Boy, was this a fun session. I remember laughing the whole time. 

My favorite video from this performance? Definitely the tune, "It's Too Hot For A Doughnut!" Those words are the title and the lyrics. 

Kent gave me a hard time about that one.
He did not agree that it was too hot for a doughnut.

It's Too Hot for a Doughnut!
Danny Meyer - Saxophone
Kent McLagan - Bass
Jay Ellis - Drums

You can watch the rest of the videos as well as videos from other local Boulder artists here.

Monday, August 20, 2012


I can play bebop.  Not like Charlie Parker could play bebop, but as well as any other 27-year-old white guy from Colorado can play bebop.  I can play bebop well enough to love doing it.

That wasn't always the case.   I had a really challenging time learning to play this music.  First, because it's really pretty hard.  Second, because I had a sort of resistance to learning it.  I wanted to play "my own" sounds.  Today, I still want to play "my own" sounds, but I realize now how helpful learning the language of bebop is in helping find those sounds.

This last Sunday, I went to an afternoon jam session run by a great pianist named Scott Martin at a local coffee shop.  Here's a recording from the session.

Scrapple From the Apple - By Charlie Parker

Scott Martin - Piano
Patrick McDevitt - Bass
Alwyn Robinson - Snare Drum
Danny Meyer - Saxophone

Since then, I have been reflecting on why I love playing bebop.  I think it's because it feels like dancing.  I think it's the closest to dancing you can get with two left feet.  Sadly, have two left feet.  Luckily, I have bebop.  

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Laughter and Acceptance

I've been reflecting on laughter and acceptance.

How sometimes there's a glaring truth standing in front of us. Everyone else sees it, but for some reason, we can't accept it. I'm wondering how we go about accepting something true as true.


I've been writing about my thinking lately and I've found that the writing feels much stronger when I ask questions rather than make statements. For example:

I think there is a difference between:
Stating: "People are inherently good."
And asking it as a question: "Perhaps, people are inherently good."

That there is a positionality in the statement - a point of contention. It feels dogmatic. Absolute. How could I possibly know what is true? For generations, people have "known" the "truth" and this "knowing" has led to things like sexism, racism, war, and a million other sources of pain in the world.

So, why, then, does it feel better to write about my thinking by asking questions than by making statements?

 I wonder if by asking a question, I am essentially removing myself from the equation. I'm giving the reader the opportunity to ask the question for themselves and by asking the question come to their own answer.

Yes," "No," "I don't know," "The Bush Administration," "Russia, 1942," "What is Homer Simpson?" Whatever their answer, it's alright. I've taking myself out of the running to be "Mr./Mrs. Super Nerd of Knowing-dom."

I've been thinking that maybe we're are all responsible to discover the "truth" on our own. That we can have help, - and there is definitely seems to be help available - but that ultimately, we are responsible for our own positionality in the world. That we have to discover our path in life through realizing our respective truths through our own experiences in our own lives.

 So, how can we help each other on the path to discovering our respective truths?

I think there are two ways to accept a new truth: To laugh at it or to state it. Sometimes it's scary to accept something as true, but if you can laugh your way there, you get to trick the ego into not noticing its death.

Why does everyone like the fat, happy buddha?

Because its way more fun to laugh yourself to enlightenment than it is to starve yourself there.

I wonder if that's also why people love comedians like Louis C.K and Doug Stanhope. They help people find their truth, but the easy way.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Life and Conciousness

Do you think it's a coincidence that as people get older and learn more, their bodies deteriorate?  

That we start out with all this physical energy and know nothing - have learned no lessons - and then end life with no physical energy, but have learned. 

Maybe life is just the transformation of physical energy into consciousness (energy).

Maybe, that's what all this is.  That's why there's so much motion in "the universe." Stars exploding, war, people falling love.  It's just the transformation of something we call physical energy into something we call consciousness. 

Maybe, where we are could be described simply as a place that is catalytic.  And here is miraculous and beautiful because when things change, it's beautiful. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Funko Moderno Dialogue

Some dialogue from the Funko Moderno performance at the PI the other day.

Art: Long ago, there were croutons, but we wiped them out. The croutons have moved to a island which is pictured on my shirt. This island is just for croutons and for people with rare diseases. 

The island is called Abkeffk Jugsh. People go for special vacations on this island. Would you, Otis, tell us about the vacations people take on Abkeffk Jugsh?

Otis: On the island, you see carnival of jello which is floating - it looks kind of like another island, but it's not. It's all jello. So that's very fun. You can eat all you like.

Art: And there are certain very different animals that live off the jello. Matt can you tell us about the jello feeding animals?

Matt: The whirrel is a cross between a squirrel and a whale. That's the only one I can think of.

Art: Yes, that's a very big, very small animal. It's big at night and small in the day. Then every leap year then it reverses. And if it eats too much green jello then it's just medium size. And it eats nuts and boats and it has a spout and out of which comes kind of Kool-Aid that you don't drink. I guarantee you don't drink the Kool-Aid. Mr. Sklar, he drank the Kool-Aid and ended up in the hospital.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Short, Recent Thoughts

It's seems great to know "just enough about something to get in trouble." The problem is that then you usually get in trouble.  And then you have to get out of trouble.  And you need to know a lot more than "just enough" to do that.

To change the world, you have to meet the world on its own terms.

There are no obligations but one: To take responsibly for one's own health and well-being.

All problems are misunderstandings. They represent a paradox in thinking.
(This comes from the thinking that there is no 'No.'  There is only 'Yes' and the absence of 'Yes.')

I like laughing about new things and looking at things of depth. My favorite moments, though, are when those two things happen together - to see a old truth in a new light or a new truth in an old light. Those are the best laughs and the deepest insights.

It's hard to find solutions through 1 or through infinity, because, then, all you are left with is luck.

First comes the inspiration which is inspiring. Then comes the work, which is work.

Find something you believe and then do work. Then you find someone else who believes in it, too. Then you work together. Then you find more like-minded people. Then the work goes more quickly. Soon, there is change.

Lessons and Learning

I wonder how many ways there are to learn. 

I wonder if every opportunity to learn is essentially the same and that we change. That there aren't fun lessons to learn and painful lessons to learn and sad lessons to learn. That there are only opportunities to learn and people. 

I wonder if saying that a lesson is painful is the same as describing a wind as an angry wind - it's personification of sorts. Then, if these descriptions are not descriptions of the lesson - the lesson only is - then they are descriptive of our relationship to the lesson. 

If so, then these descriptions are a tool. They are indicative of where we are in the process of learning that lesson. When there is pain or sadness, there is a lesson that we have not yet learned. There is a truth that we have not accepted - there is a paradox in our thinking. When there is joy, there is acceptance of what is and therefore we have learned the lesson. 

We can watch ourselves learn and in this way we can be our own guides. I wonder if we can ever actually be lost - that we can only be in denial of what is. 

<Having breakfast with Josh Moore in Steamboat Springs, Paradise.>

Friday, July 27, 2012

Interview with Mpho Muthubi

Mpho is a new friend of mine. Already, I have had with him some of the most inspiring conversations I have ever known. He is a brilliant and selfless human being. He gives of himself to the world unconditionally.

I met Mpho at events connected with the Unreasonable Institute.  

If you're not already familiar with what this incredible organization is doing, please check it out.  It's unbelievable.  It's the future.  Whoa.

Through conversations with Mpho, I learned that there is a powerful misconception that has taken hold in the world.

     There is a belief that there are massive, complicated, unsolvable
     problems in Africa.

     This is not true!

     The problems in Africa are actually massive, simple, and relatively
     easy to solve

This misunderstanding is represented as the truth so consistently in the media that even the people of Africa have started to believe it.  Know that it is not true.  The problems in Africa are solvable.  They are problems that have already been solved in the “first world.”  If we can recognize this and we can work together, we can challenge this misconception and empower countless people. The world will change...quickly.

The following interview took place Monday, July 23, 2012 at the Yellow Deli in Boulder, CO.

Danny Meyer: You love to travel.  Why do you love to travel?

Mpho Muthubi: Yes, I do.  Traveling makes gives me a lot of energy.  It makes me get in touch with a lot of cultures and to understand more about humanity.  To see if what I’m experiencing or going through as a person in my own country has anything akin to what other people are going through.  

DM:  What has been great about traveling to Boulder?

MM:  Well, a lot of things.  I’ve seen a lot of things that made me say, “Wow, this is the real first world.”  We talk about the first world and people talk about the third world...coming from Africa, we are the third world...developing.  I looked at stuff around here and I said, “This place is complete.  There is nothing else to be done here.  You guys are thinking that you still need to improve more, but for me, that’s about it.  You guys have everything here.  

What actually intrigued me, though, was that it was amazing how I moved around the places and there were no trash bins along the roads and stuff like that and still there is no litter.  I said, “’s nothing like that in Africa!” [Laughs] I said, “What sort of mentality is this?”  Are you much more aware of the [idea of] environmental upkeep than we are?  We’ve got all sorts of trash bins, but still we find people throwing stuff and you guys don’t have a lot of them, but the place is clean.  

I remember [walking in Boulder holding] a can of some soda for a long distance and I was looking for a trash can.  There was nothing.  What if I were in my country?  What would I have done with that thing?  I probably would have thrown it, and it would have probably accumulated into a heap of [trash].  So, I said, "Ok, fine.  I'm going to behave, here."  So, it taught me something.

In the streets, your motorists respect pedestrians.  The standard that I come from is quite different.  You guys will wait for a pedestrian crossing - even if it is coming from afar - you wait.  We don't do that!  In my country - or most countries that I know.  No way!  You'll see that when you come to Africa.  I'll show you.  If you try and stop, they may bump on you.  [laughs]
So, I saw the opposite of everything and everything has been good for me so far.

I went to a lot of restaurants and stuff, and one thing that sort of peeved me was that the price [of food] is very expensive.  Boulder is a bit expensive compared to other places.

DM:  So you intersected the Unreasonable Institute here.  We both saw the event yesterday [the Unreasonable Climax] and we were both very moved.  Could you talk some about the Unreasonable Institute and what your experiences were with it?

MM: The Unreasonable Institute: it's one hell of an undertaking.  I know the intentions that Daniel Epstein laid out yesterday - it's amazing.  Yes, I think they could match the Richard Branson type of thing.  The Virgin model.  And I wish they could do that, because what Richard Branson really does…he's a maverick and I love him for being a maverick.  Sort of turning everything upside down and making sure that people don't just get stuck into the old ways of doing things.  So, the disruption of traditional stuff has to happen.

For me, the Unreasonable Institute has been good. Not only good, but excellent, because it brought in people from all over the world - Asia, Africa, South America, America, Britain as well, and Europe.  By bring them together like that…the tapestry is now coming together.  All the threads are coming together and people are starting to understand that what [they] have in [their own] country, it’s not dissimilar than the problems other country are having.  Same problems globally.  For example, the transport of goods across borders. This is a problem in Mexico.  We have it as well.  People are able to solve problems together.  To help whoever needs to be helped. It's a team of people.  

Another thing is that I don't think I'll stop coming here.  [laughs]  I'm sold.  

DM:  Why do you write?

MM:  Why do I write? [pause] I try to read a lot of books.  Although the books that I read are not so much romantic books.  I'm kind of a cold person, maybe.  I read books that want to add value.  I'm not saying that romantic books are not adding value - they maybe adding value for couples or whatever, but for me it's all about wanting to help take a [group of] people from point A to point B and as they travel that area, they must make sure that they are enhancing peoples lives.  So, it's all about information.

DM:  So your next book that will be coming out, Voetsek, why did you write this book?  With this book you're trying to take "who" to "where."

MM:  I've used my country- South Africa - as a point of reference.  I've seen that there is some kind of laxity.  People are laid back, not wanting to tackle issues that are important.  It's to try to apply some shocks onto them and say, "Come on.  Do this.  Let's go."  Because other people in the vicinity are looking up to us.  Although we are not America…ok…but we're stable.  We have our problems, but relatively speaking, we're stable.  In the rest of Africa, we are called the "Gateway of Africa."  That's what we're called.  Whether we are like that, I don't know.  Maybe we're moving on to became the "Doormat of Africa."  [laughs] Could be, because I don't think that international conglomerates, when they do come to Africa, ask South Africa for permission to come.  They don't do that.  They just go and do whatever they want to do, anyway.  So, it's not like we are a gateway.  It's not like we are gatekeepers and the whole world must come to us asking.  They just go.  So, for me, that kind of title is undeserved and doesn't work.  That mentality - if South Africans are thinking that they are like that, I want to challenge them.  To say, "Unh Uh.  You are not.  Wake up," because other countries are doing the very same things that you're doing.  So, if you're going to think like that, you're going to be late.  The train will just pass you by.  So, wake up.  Be effective. Get into other countries.  Do your part, so that the problems that they have don't spill into our country, thereby creating a lot of commotion and stuff like that.  So, let's go and do things.

DM:  Who is the audience that you are hoping will read this book?

MM:  Ok, there is a saying in our country that says, “If you want to hide anything from a black person, put it in a book.”  Which means, a lot of people don’t read.  When they do read, it is when they want to pass exams.  So, exams and general books that teach a lot of things are two different things.  You’re talking academic and you’re talking groundbreaking books that make people to do things.  And most of the times, it’s groundbreaking books that turn things around.  

DM:  One thing you’ve said is that right now it’s not necessarily cool to learn in Africa.

MM:  In a way, yes.  A guy would go to buy a case of beer, which will cost him $50.  He can pay for that, but the same guy would not go and buy a book that would help him to get more beers.  [laughs] In the book, that’s where he’s going to get more ideas.  He’s not going to do that.  He’ll go for a beer, which he’s going to drink now and then it’s gone.  He’s not even sharing with his family.  So, for me, it’s kind of dumb for a person to do that.  That should be the cherry on top.  If you have already done all that you’re going to do, then fine.  Enjoy that.  

I think it was Obama that said that, "Children care more about their hair than what is in their head."  Something like that.  They go and get these nice hair styles and all these other things and earrings on their head, but what's inside there...  Nothing.

DM:  They're celebrating, but they haven't learned anything yet.

MM:  That's not right.  So, that's what I want to address.  To say, "Guys, come on.  Get the fundamentals right.”  The fundamentals are reading, getting skills, and stuff like that.  Then, you go and decorate yourself.  Do it.  Do that, but you can't decorate yourself without having the fundamentals right.

DM:  What is something that you see that Africa can learn from America...something that is clear to us, that your people overlook?

MM:  I think maybe it has to do with you being a homogeneous country.  Africa is not homogeneous.  Most Americans seem to think like that - that Africa is homogeneous.  It’s not.  It’s about 53 countries with all sorts of different objectives.  An American will say, “Hi, how are you doing?”  
“Where do you come from?”  
I say, “Africa.”
He’ll say, “Do you know a person named...?”  [Laughs]
What kind of...?  No.  

DM:  This is as ridiculous as if I told someone, “I am from the United States - from Colorado,” and someone were to say, “Oh! I’ve got a friend in Venezuela!”  

MM:  Yeah! [laughs] And I keep on hearing this!  I say, “What are you talking about?  Don’t you know?”

DM:  Ok, so we’re homogenized.  

MM:  Yeah.  We’re not.

DM:  So what could Africans learn from that gives us access, too?

MM:  Africans can learn something about tackling issues like you Americans do.  Obviously, we’re going to have to do that.  At first, we’re going to have to do that as individual countries, because we’ve got our own laws and borders; but where issues are common, then we have to think about coming together and solving the problem together.  That’s the thing.

DM:  Great answer.  The best answer!  

So, then what about the other way?  What could the American people learn from Africa?

MM:  Well, what you could learn is how you guys take things for granted.  

[Also,] there are a lot of opportunities that individual Americans can tap into or take advantage of in those developing countries, that for now you seem to have lost to the Chinese.  It’s true.  It’s that simple.  I hear the American president saying - I can’t quote him, but things like, “You’ve gotta lead.”  I’m not seeing that.  I’m not seeing the leading anymore.  I’m seeing the following; because those guys - the Chinese guys - are actually doing it.  

DM:  You were saying earlier that they [the Chinese] are intersecting the communities [in Africa] in a way that is supportive - that they are teaming up with other countries, rather than going and “imposing” or going and “taking.”

MM:  Yeah, that has to be done.  I know that at the governmental level they are tied up with bureaucracy.  These guys are tied up with a lot of policies and borders to go around.  The issue of party comes up.  Democrats and Republicans...

But individual Americans, they have to do that.  In fact, they have to drag the government by the nose and say, “This is what we’re doing.”  If you don’t do that, you stay irrelevant to a lot of developing countries in the world.  

So, if you come in and say you want to help out - whether it’s with angel funds or whatever it is, that’s what people appreciate and people will start thinking, “Whoa! They’re doing something!”  But if you don’t do that, and [the Chinese] do it, and you complain about...maybe their policies, people will say, “No.  Stuff it!  They’re helping!”  

Maybe in 10 years or 20 years time, it will be catastrophic or whatever; people now don’t think about that.  They think about what’s happening to them now.  If you come now and pontificate and say all sorts of thing like, “These are bad guys...”  I want to see.  Is there bread on my table, NOW?  Are my kids going to school, NOW?  Not then.  So whoever says, “Here’s bread.  Here’s education.”  I go for that person.  So, that is something that individual Americans must think about and say, “Let’s do these things.”  And then you will remain leaders.  Leaders in incorporation with others not imposing leaders.  

DM:  That is very important.  

Now, this next part gets fun for a minute.  You grew up listening to jazz.

MM:  Yes.

DM:  Why do you love listening to jazz?

MM:  It’s therapeutic.  

DM:  Why is it therapeutic?

MM:  Jazz kind of resonates with what we went through [in Africa] even as kids.  In Africa, these things are there.  Let’s take for instance, the blues.  That’s what happens all the time.  You find a woman, maybe grinding corn or something like that, it will be like blues.  There will be singing and all these things.  When they’re happy, when they’re sad, there will be that kind of blues kind of thing that goes on.  Those things have been there all the time.  

I’ll take you to go experience a certain dance called “ticona.” It’s played with a lot of different types of reed [instruments].  Like an ensemble of saxophones and clarinets and whatever you’ve got.  Their instruments, though.  You’ll hear different sounds.  And the music is long.  Very long.  

Other songs [in Africa] are played as a dirge.  If you’re not educated to hear the songs, you’ll think it’s just monotonous sounds, but it’s not monotonous sounds.  

DM:  What do you love about American jazz?

MM:  [I] grew up listening to American jazz.  John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Sonny Stitt, Duke Ellington, Shirley Scott, Satchmo.  For me, it’s something that makes me think.  American jazz makes me think.  And it’s kind of a spiritual type of thing, because someone is kind of talking.  When I saw you playing the other day, it was like you were talking.  

DM:  It is language.

MM:  It’s also an inner dialogue kind of thing.  I looked at this and thought, “Wow!”  It’s kind of well structured.  But it makes me think, more than anything.  It makes me think deeper. I get deeper into myself and think about lots of things.  It’s creativity.  Its kind of creativity flows into me and and produces more creativity.  So, when I listened to Ben Webster, that baritone... know how Ben Webster plays...kind of like “Vuvuvu” [does an impression of Ben Webster’s sound and vibrato].  It makes me so happy.  It’s unique.  

So, for me, After Hours by Dizzy Gillespie, Back to Back by Duke Ellington, My Favorite Things by John Coltrane.  These recordings make me think.  There is another one...The Creator Has A Master Plan by Pharoah Sanders.  

DM:  That’s a great record!

MM:  Yeah...I said, “Wow, this is something else!”

DM:  Something that you’ve said is, “Those who look inside themselves know what is inside another.”  Can you talk about that?

MM:  It comes from being honest with yourself, because human issues are human issues.  If I get hurt by something, whether it’s a death of a person or a relative or whatever, or there is some kind of happiness that another one is enjoying, it resonates with me.  It’s not like if I’m in Guatemala, and somebody dies in Guatemala, it won’t be the same feeling in India.   It will be the same feeling in India!  Whether you’ve got a billion pounds or you’ve a nickel, if that strikes, same pain.  You go through the same pain.  It’s not going to be different.

Let’s talk about what happened now in Aurora.  

DM:  The shooting.

MM:  Yes.  It shook...jolted the whole nation.  For you guys, this is rare.  For us, not as rare, but I feel the pain.  I understand.  Same pain.  Whether it’s been done by whoever, wherever, it’s the same pain.  It shouldn’t have happened.  We shouldn’t have allowed it to happen, but when it happens, we feel the same pain.  It comes to us can’t believe it.  

So, whether you’re Bill Gates or whoever.  Same thing.  If I’m going to eat an egg and he eats an egg, same egg.  I mean, it comes from a chicken, doesn’t it?  There’s no golden egg.  It’s the same egg.  Even if, maybe, you go to a restaurant where they pay $5000 per plate, whatever they’re eating, if it’s egg, it’s going to be the egg I eat.  So, even when it comes to pay, it’s that kind of thing as well.  

If we have to look inside ourselves and be honest with ourselves, we will find out that we’re just the same.  Inside them? Same.  Sorrow? Same.  Happiness? Same.  We’re all looking for joy.  This joy thing.  It sort of escapes us because sometimes we look for it in another direction [and it] is not there.  We look for it in, maybe, materials.  We want to gain more material stuff.  Maybe, kill this one and take his stuff to get more and more, but it [joy] keeps escaping us.  

The simple people in the world, funny enough, they find joy.  The other day, I looked at some guys that were scavenging [for] food in trash cans and eating that stuff.  And these guys are healthy and we are not healthy.  How is that?  I do not understand.  We go with probiotics and eat all these nice blah, blah, blah.  These guys go to a trash can, and somehow, nature or the universe just protects them; gives them health.  You can’t try that.  [laughs].  So, that’s it.  

DM:  So you’re saying that you don’t find it outside of yourself.

MM:  Yeah, you have to first find it inside you.  It’s inside you.  I think those that are more into the Bible will say that the Kingdom of God is not there, or there, or over there [points], it’s in you.  You’ve got to look into yourself to get it.  

When you are going to do something, your conscience tells you, “Don’t,” or, “Do it.”  When you feel like it’s pinching you and your spirit gets a bit sour or bitter, you know you’re not supposed to do it.  [It’s] what you call a gut feeling.  It tells [us], but we don’t do that 9/10 times.  We just do our thing and we land into trouble.  So we have to look into ourselves first.  Then we will see that a lot of things will help out.  

DM:  You’ve also said that you are “passionate about all people of the planet who present themselves as clear and unfettered by chains of bigotry and express first-class self-serving status.”  Can you talk more about what those things are and why those are important?

MM:  This ties up with what I said before; that we don’t have to think that we do I put it...  In the the 20th century, some guy called Hitler thought that maybe he was this special guy and that his race was so special that he decided to get rid of other people who didn’t look like him.  He thought that if you were not like that, you were not supposed to live.  What he forgot was that it’s not like everything has to be the same, because if everything is the same, then life will be boring.  That variety in itself - some people say it’s the spice of life - it’s necessary to be there.  Why is it like that?  Because it adds spice to life; it brings out challenges that [provide opportunities for] all those that have answers to add to show their prowess; to show their skills, to help out.  And for those, you don’t have to say, “Hey guys, please help.”  It’s not that they don’t know the answers themselves, it’s just that they can’t do anything about this.  And even though some people can do some things, they must not think [that] they are better, because those other ones might have something better in terms our country we call it Ubuntu.  

Nelson Mandela speaking about Ubuntu

Ubuntu basically means: you’re a person because of me.  I am a person because of you.  I think it was John Donne that said, “No man is an island unto himself.”  We are a piece of each other.  If you cry, I feel the pain.  We should actually be everybody’s keeper.  We have to be like that.  If we don’t do that and we think we are this special species, [then] life will be boring to us.

I read an article where someone was bemoaning the fact that in America some people do not have a sense of community, and that the only thing that will bring them together is when there is war.  When there is war, Americans will come together, but when there is no war, everybody is sort of independent.  They do their own thing.  “I don’t care what you’re doing, it’s my thing.  Go to hell!”  Something like that.  That makes people resort to getting into drugs because they want to try to kill that thing...that loneliness in the midst of beautiful things.  You know what I mean?  Here’s a person that’s got everything that is lonely.  Why?  Because there is no impact on another human being.  

If you’re not going to be able to touch...there’s a song that you guys [have]... “reach out and touch somebody’s hand and make the world a better place.”   So, if you don’t do that, you end up getting frustrated and end up doing drugs just to cool yourself out or to get high, because you’re not doing anything to help anyone.  So clever Americans, those that actually saw that this was killing them, they moved out to other countries and said they wanted to help (like what you want to do).  That will then give you a lot of peace within yourself.  You will see that you are doing something meaningful.  

When I was saying, “You guys take things for granted...”  [It was] because everything is here.  Ok for us, things like Wi-Fi, we have it here and there.  That restaurant there, you’ve got got to get in there and buy something.  But for you, almost every place has got a Wi-Fi.  It means you’re connected.  You get information quickly.  We don’t get that.  All we can do is go to what is called an internet cafe and pay money.  Or have our own and [for that] we’ve got to have a career or a business.  Sometimes, I don’t have money, and that means I won’t get information.  That is something that you take for granted.  

DM:  There is something we should talk about.  This is something that we found today talking together.  I think there is a misunderstanding. [I think] that Americans think that there are massive, complicated, unsolvable problems in Africa, and that is not the truth.  There are actually massive, simple, relatively easy to solve problems in Africa.  

MM:  And they don’t require a lot of things.  They just need the presence of people who have knowledge about the problem to share ideas and say, “Look we’ve been here.  We know how to tackle this thing.  This is how it has to be done.”  There could be variations there, but basically to say, “We know about this thing.”  And people will listen to you more because they know you’ve been there, and everything that comes to them has happened before [in America].   

DM:  What’s next for you?  You’ll release your next book, and then what are your plans?

MM:  After this book is released, I intend to travel to Kenya, Uganda, Liberia, Cameroon, Sri Lanka, and probably to  India.  How that is going to happen? We’re talking finance now. I don’t know, but I’ll try to get to one place before December.  If it doesn’t happen, then it will spill over into January and February.  Also, I would love to connect with this book back to the Unreasonable Institute.  If [that can happen] just think about where and how far it could go.  

We can do great things if we do them together.