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Next, I wondered: Would being more musically inclined lead to the logical conclusion that they would more often hear music in their heads? Nine of those who responded yes are very musically inclined, and five of them write music. However, there were many people who answered negatively that are musically inclined. But all who wrote music said yes, they heard music all the time. So it appears only the songwriters have a stronger inclination to hear music in their head. I only had one person out of 89 say that it annoyed them and wished it could be stopped. Another said that it was a gift from God, setting the tone for them each morning, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide them with the song they awoke to playing in their head. Now I know surveys aren’t necessarily the true picture. In fact, women seemed more inclined to answer; a couple of men answered with a joke instead of a yes or no. And the people who do hear music were more eager to talk about it. So there may be more who have no for an answer that weren’t inclined to respond to the survey. At any rate, it seemed to spark the same interest I’ve felt about the subject for some years. It’s comforting to know there are others out there who share the gift of music – in a very odd and personal way. Do you have the music in you?


“I don’t rate them, I just hit them.” ― Willie Mays

By Ted Smith Marion T. "Ted" Smith is the author of a new book, “Life in the Park: A Novel.” It is available on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.

A remarkable tale Imagine you are on a commuter train one lazy spring day enjoying the scenery as it passes by and the sweet breath of flowers. On the train with you are an old woman, a young couple with a baby, and an old man sitting in the back. Suddenly the tranquility is shattered at a stop when a large, filthy, and very belligerent drunk man dressed as a laborer gets on board. The first thing he does is strike the young woman holding the baby, which is miraculously unhurt. The couple scrambles away from him as does the old woman. He kicks at her but misses. It is a dangerous situation and unless something is done someone is going to get hurt. Now imagine that you are a martial arts master, specifically aikido. This art like virtually all Asian fighting styles is primarily defensive contrary to popular movies. The use of force is a last resort and then only to the extent necessary to neutralize the threat. Aikido is specifically designed to subdue an opponent without hurting him or her. Furthermore, the first principle is to avoid conflict wherever possible and to resolve conflicts peacefully. Studying and practicing aikido can be frustrating, especially for Americans, because you never or very rarely get to use your fighting skill. But here is a situation in which it appears there is no other choice. This conflict can only be resolved through violence, or so you think. This incident occurred in the life of Ram Dass, the American spiritual leader now in his 80s, while riding on a train in Tokyo. He had been studying aikido for several years as a young man but never had the opportunity to demonstrate his skill. Here was the perfect opportunity. So he stood up to confront the drunk, and according to his account he immediately became the focus of the drunk’s anger. “Oh, a foreigner! You need a lesson in Japanese manners,” the drunk bellowed. “I planned to take this turkey apart, but he had to make the first move,” Ram Dass said. “I wanted him mad so I pursed my lips and blew him an insolent kiss.” “Alright,” he hollered, “you’re gonna get a lesson!” As the drunk gathered himself to charge, there suddenly was a very loud, even earsplitting “hey” coming from the back of the car. It was the old man. He was a small man and looked to be in his 70s. “Hey,” he said again and with a wave of his hand, “Come here and talk to me.” He was beaming as if he was greeting an old friend.

The drunk staggered to the back of the car, now ignoring Ram Dass, and stood threateningly before the old man. “Why the hell should I talk to you?” The old man continued to beam at the drunk and said, “Watcha been drinking?” “Sake (a rice wine),” the drunk replied, “not that it is any of your business.” “Oh, that’s wonderful,” the old man said. “Absolutely wonderful! You see I love sake too. Every night me and my wife, she’s 76 you know, we warm up a little bottle of sake and we take it out into the garden and we sit on our old wooden bench and we watch the sun go down and we look to see how our persimmon tree is doing. My great-grandfather planted that tree, and we worry about whether it will recover from those ice storms we had last winter. Our tree has done better than I expected though, especially when you consider the poor quality of the soil. It’s gratifying to watch when we take our sake and go out to enjoy the evening, even when it rains.” The drunk was having trouble following the old man’s words, but his face softened and he replied, “I love persimmons too.” His voice trailed off. “Yes,” said the old man, smiling, “and I’m sure you have a wonderful wife.” “Nah,” replied the laborer, “my wife died.” The big man began to sob. “I don’t got no wife, I don’t got no home, I don’t got no job, I’m so ashamed of myself.” Tears began to roll down his cheeks. “My, my,” the old man said sympathetically, “that is a difficult predicament. Sit down here and tell me about it.” As Ram Dass remembers it, “There I was, standing in my well scrubbed youthful innocence, my ‘make this world safe for democracy’ righteousness, and I suddenly felt dirtier than he was. The train arrived at my stop and as the doors opened I turned my head for one last look. The laborer was sprawled on the seat, his head in the old man’s lap. The old man was softly stroking the filthy, matted hair. As the train pulled away I sat down on a bench. What I had wanted to do with muscle had been accomplished with kind words. I had just seen aikido tried in combat, and the essence of it is love.” As he said on stage that day, it was the first time he had ever seen an aikido master at work. The world needs more of them. Many, many more.

The best of the north ga mountains issue 33  
The best of the north ga mountains issue 33