Good Life Project

Clapton’s guitar – watching Wayne Henderson build the perfect instrument (book 7 of 12)

Clapton’s guitar – watching Wayne Henderson build the perfect instrument (book 7 of 12)

July 28, 2019
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In 2015 I listened to a riff from Jonathan Fields on Good Life Project, telling a tale about one of Eric Clapton’s guitars. It must have stuck with me (things have a habit to do just that), because when I stumbled upon a book entitled Clapton’s guitar – watching Wayne Henderson build the perfect instrument, by Allen St. John, in a thrift shop in Karlskrona in 2018, I bought it. And now, in 2019, I’ve read it. And what a read it’s been!

There’s this one thing that fascinates me. Professionals. It doesn’t really matter what the profession is, but someone who’s a pro just gets me going. I’ve blogged (and vlogged) about a few of them; massage therapists, physiotherapists and chiropractors, train conductors and smartphone salesmen.

This book. It’s about a pro. Or rather, about pros. Not just the one. There are many a professional featured in this book, but more than anything, it’s about Wayne Henderson, a master acoustic guitar builder. A luthier.

“[…] Wayne Henderson is a genius. His brand of genius harks back to the word’s unsullied origins: the Roman term for ‘begetter’. In the days of Ceasar, a genius wasn’t something you were, it was something you had. A genius was a vaguely protective being like a guardian angel, but most of all this Roman version of a genius was a maker, a conjurer, a genie, who could create very real things out of thin air. And in that old-school sense of the word, Wayne Henderson has a certain genius, an ancient forest nymph that sits on his shoulders and whispers directions every time he picks up a piece of wood.”

And I love it. What a joy, a thrill, a treat, to read this book! I don’t understand the half of it, now and again, when it comes to the technical terms for all of the parts and steps that make up building a handcrafted acoustic guitar but it simply doesn’t matter. I am enraptured anyway.

“Every guitar has its own voice, an individual timbre that’s as distinctive as a human voice – there’s no doubt that some techie could program voice recognition software to respond to the idiosyncratic strum of a particular guitar. Where does this voice come from? In a way, it comes from God or Mother Nature or whatever name you choose to apply to those things we can’t quite fathom and can’t quite control.”

Part of what makes this book such a delight to read are the many characters that congregate in Hendersons guitar work shop. Allen St. John paints their portraits beautifully, and except for the lack of smells from working pieces of wood, I feel as if I am perched on a stool in that workshop, watching skilled hands do their thing, all the while the gentle banter flows back and forth, as jokes and stories are being told.

“‘Number 1 is the state of mind of the person building the guitar’.
I was stunned.
In a single sentence, he [T.J. Thompson] had articulated the hypothesis I had been gradually creeping toward. An instrument is the sum total of not only the builder’s experience, but his experiences. You need to be a good man to build a good guitar. 

[…]

‘When people ask me how to build a better guitar, I always think and sometimes say, ‘Be a better person.’ You can’t keep your personality out of the work. It’s impossible.'”

Those paragraphs from pages 224 and 225 (of my hardcover edition from free press) are part of the insight that Jonathan Field riffed about, and when I read it, I remembered that I had actually blogged about this specific thing. Something with it resonated with me, and I think, perhaps, because I’d like for it to be universally true. I am not sure it is, but I would sure like for it to be!


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2019, to read and blog about 12 Swedish and 12 English books, one every other week, books that I already own.

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Certainty is a closing of the mind

March 16, 2019
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Listens to Jonathan Fields on Good Life Project, interviewing Milton Glaser. Interesting and thought-provoking, as these podcasts usually are. However, one thing stood out enormously in this episode:

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I’ve spent so much of my life in certainty. Ridiculously so, and only to a certain degree can I attribute this stance to youth and ignorance. I kept up that attitude for too long, to the detriment of my own well being.

I am experimenting more and more with the latter though – the doubting, the questioning, the exploration of new thought, new ideas, new ways of being and doing. And boy, does it ever make for a much more fun and exciting life! There is so much to discover in life, and that’s the road I want to travel.

But still, there are things I am certain of, I guess. But they become fewer and fewer. And I no longer believe my beliefs are permanent. It feels more like I am where I am today, believing whatever I have come to realize by this point of life, but who knows what tomorrow might bring? I sure don’t.

What are you certain about?


This is a reposting of a blog post originally published on my other blog January 26th, 2014. 

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The Ultimate Podcast list

January 28, 2019
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  1. Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn: Truth, Beauty, Banjo – On Being with Krista Tippett 
  2. Gordon Hempton: The Last Quiet Places: Silence and the Presence of Everything – On Being with Krista Tippett
  3. Seth Godin: Learn to see, leave them changed – Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields
  4. Mitch Albom: Building a life and living that matters – Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields
  5. Tyler Wetherall: My dad was a fugitive: A life on the run – Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields
  6. Sarah Bassin and Abdullah Antepli: Holy Envy – On Being with Krista Tippett
  7. The Personality Myth – Invisibilia
  8. Scilla Elworthy: Pioneering the possible – RSA Events
  9. Julia Butterfly Hill: Living with meaning – Peak Prosperity (blogged about here, here and here as well)
  10. Glenn Beck: What you do will be a pivot point – On Being with Krista Tippett
  11. Greatness is not just about skill, it’s about essence – Good Life Project riff with Jonathan Fields
  12. Mohammed Fairouz: The world in counterpoint – On Being with Krista Tippett
  13. Andi Puddicombe: From monk to entrepreneur: How Andy Puddicombe became the modern voice of meditation and mindfulness – Rich Roll podcast
  14. Help me remember – Terrible, Thanks for Asking
  15. Amichai Lau-Lavie: First Aid for Spiritual Seekers – On Being with Krista Tippett
  16. Seth Godin on Books, Business, Choices and Life – Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields
  17. Gretchen Rubin: The Four Tendencies (How to start and stick to anything) – Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields
  18. Linda and Charlie Bloom: When life partners become business partners – Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields
  19. Annette Gordon-Reed and Titus Kaphar: Are we actually citizens here – On Being with Krista Tippett
  20. How to become Batman – Invisibilia
  21. Bobby McFerrin: Catching song – On Being with Krista Tippett
  22. Ep. 33 Margaret Wheatley on leadership and Warriors for the Human Spirit – Leadermorphosis

The Ultimate Podcast list according to me.
It is my intention to blog about each and every one of these episodes. By clicking the link of each podcast you will be directed either to my blog post (with links to the episode) or to the podcast itself.
In time I might present the pods differently, but for now, a straight up and down numerical list which does not rank episodes it is. Post initially published 28JAN2019. Last updated 15JUN2019.

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On the issue of the day

November 20, 2018
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I often return to blog posts of the past. My blog posts of the past. As I’ve been blogging for 6 years – more or less daily for 5 of those years – there are quite a few blog posts to choose from.

When there’s an interesting article or question or observation asked, many times I am reminded of something I’ve written that is relevant to whatever prompted the connection being made in my mind. So I search for it (and oftentimes find what I am looking for. Not always though) and can share what I’ve written and pondered about… about whatever really. Fear. Mistakes. Dancing. Coaching. Existential questions. Anything really!

And what is apparent, is how timeless many of my posts are. They can be recent or have 5 years to them, and still be as relevant today as when I wrote them. It’s not valid for all of them though, and listening to Seth Godin on Good Life Project, I got some insight into why that is. Seth was telling Jonathan Fields about “the issue of the day” and how he makes a point n o t to write about is – in specifics (listen from about 49 minutes in):

I care enough about my vision of the world that if I thought that I could change the way we did things by blogging about it, specifically, I would do it. But I feel like, a) chiming in on the issue of the day is a trap because it protects us from having to take responsibility for a larger view. […]
I think you can read at least half my blog posts as political, but none of them are saying Today, I think this person is wrong and this person is right, because as soon as I do that it’s so easy to ignore what I said because I am not on the right team, what ever team you want to be on. And so, I don’t want to play that sort of short-term tribal thing. Instead I want to say thank you to people from where ever you are coming from for giving me two minutes of your time, think about this. And if you think about this and still want to support that, well that’s your choice because you are a grown-up. Because I don’t believe what you believe, I don’t know what you know, I don’t want what you want. But here, here is a thought that feels to me coherent, and hard to argue with, and I notice things, do you notice this? And I know that that kind of input has influenced my life coming up, particularly as a teenager and surely thereafter, way more than when someone says this person is right, that person is wrong.

This is truly food for thought for me, and in how and what I write. Because I do chime in, now and again, on the specifics of the issues of the day. And those are posts that have a much shorter lifespan than posts that take the larger view.

I love how a new thought can open up for new perspectives – will this lead to changes in how and what I write? Or not?

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Make sure it involves others!

November 14, 2018
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When asked If I offer out the phrase living a good life, what comes up for you? by Jonathan Fields on the pod The Good Life Project, Mitch Albom answers brilliantly.

Make sure it involves others, he said. Not sure that you can, you know, ever live a really good life if you’re not doing things for other people, if you don’t make helping other people or lifting other people a central part of your life. 

Mitch Albom is the author of Tuesdays with Morrie, a book I read a loooong time ago. I might have read some other book of his as well, not sure though. Mitch Albom hasn’t been top of mind, that’s for sure. But then, saw him featured on a recept episode of GLP, and clicked Play. And baaaam – I was hooked! By his gentle and thoughtful approach to life. By the example he’s setting, how he walks his talk. For real – at least what I can tell from this conversation. So I listened, and – yet again, it happens now and then – immediately pressed Play once I got to the end.

Well worth a second round of listening, and I might very well take Mitch on once more, for that matter.

At the end, he quotes his latest book, The next person you meet in heavenThe end of loneliness is when you realize how much need there is in the world, and how if you give to others in need, your loneliness goes away.

That sentence…Something about it makes me pause. Reflect. Upon my own feelings of loneliness. Of the loneliness I perceive in others around me, and the suffering I pick up from them, due to it. All in vain? I mean… he’s right, isn’t? Mitch, I mean? That if I truly realized how much there is to just dig into – there is no shortage what-so-ever of places, people, projects to get engaged in – I could have the busiest and most jam-packed action-filled life ever. If that’s what I aimed for. That is a choice available to me. And to you.

Listen to the pod. It’s worth an hour (or two. Or three…).

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Our past is a story we tell

April 28, 2018
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I think that something that was a real turning point for me was the realization that we have a choice how we view our past. I could have come out of dad’s incarceration, that time of separation, this kind of wild years, when I was a teenager and really hurting a great deal and seen it as a tragedy that this had happened to us, and told the story, that our dad abandoned us you know, and he made this choice to be a drug trafficker when he had young children, and can you believe that?

Our-past-is-a-story-we-tellI could have decided to tell the story that way, and then I would be a different person, and a less happy person. But I chose to tell it differently, and I chose to see it differently, and I believe in my version of events very truly but it is a choice that we make. Our past is a story we tell, and how we tell that story is a choice we make about who we are, and how we want to be perceived, and who we want to be, and I think being aware of that certainly empowers you to rethink in some ways. 

These are the words of Tyler Wetherall, a woman who grew up with a dad on the run, at the end of her long conversation with Jonathan Fields on the Good Life Project podcast. She touches a topic very dear to me, something which I certainly have given a lot of thought to these past years.

The realization that it is I who give value to my experiences, I color them, I make them significant or insignificant, meaningful or meaningless. With each layer I wrap around my experiences I have a choice. Each layer presents itself as an opportunity for me. I get to choose victimhood or ownership. Love or hate. Making myself large, or small. Helpless or in charge. At the mercy of someone else’s choices, or at the helm of my own life.

Does this mean I always make “the right” choice? No. Of course not.
But the more I practice (with ample help in my most valued question How does this serve me?) the easier it is to make decisions in the moment that do me good rather than the opposite. We get better at that which we focus on, at that which we practice – so I’ve made a choice to focus on being gentle towards myself, and being aware of the choices I have, is one way of honoring myself.

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Freedom to explore more, not freedom from…

December 24, 2017
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These past few weeks, I’ve been pondering what my intention for 2018 is to be. During 2017 I’ve had the intention of Wholeheartedness. A few years prior I’ve also gone into the new year with an intention, and I intend to do so again for 2018.

Somewhat surprisingly for myself, what’s been popping up has been different thoughts on going more analog, of letting go of habits of checking email, facebook, messenger and the likes once every few seconds, of deleting various app’s from my IPhone, app’s which are merely a mental distraction (and time trap), and not really value-adding at all.

So as a reminder, of what it really is I am looking for (more connection, more conversation, more value-adding interactions and smarter use of my time. As well as less mindless habitual waste of my time. If I am to rest, and relax, I want to do so in the analog.) I gift you Sherry Turkle in conversation with Jonathan Fields in Good Life Project. Sherry is pro-technology, but a proponent of a mindful and intentional use of technology, which is precisely what I intend to explore deeper during 2018.

She’s gotten a lot of flak for her thoughts on the matter, but I honestly think it’s well worth reflecting upon what it is we do with technology, and what it is doing to us (or perhaps more correctly: what it is I am letting technology do to me – I am no helpless victim here!). It’s not all positive, in the same way that I don’t think a n y t h i n g exists that is entirely positive. There’s two sides to every coin, and there’s also my strong belief that whatever works for me might not necessarily work for you. We might have different needs, ideas, ways to operate in the world, to relax, to get inspired and so on – and hence, during 2018 I will be exploring what a more mindful technology use will do for me.

Freedom.toOn an interesting side note, this is my use of digital technology so far this Christmas morning: Sitting in bed, writing on my IPad, listening to Spotify on my IPhone, after having checked my email (personal and work-accounts at that), my Messenger (said good morning to my eldest who’s up and about earlier than the rest of us), my Facebook- and Instagram-feeds, thrown my first Pokémon Go-ball, done some Wordfeud and WordBrain-puzzling and finished a fifteen minute Headspace meditation. Oh, plus buying a one-year subscription to the Freedom-app, using their 40% discount code (FLASH40) I received in my inbox this morning (valid 24 hours). So yeah – a bit of intentional use of technology is just what I want – the freedom to explore more of an intentional life, not freedom from technology! Important distinction for me.

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Be a better person

October 29, 2017
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Wanna make better stuff? Be a better person, Jonathan Fields says at the beginning of this weeks podcast tip of the Good Life Project (yet again a tip from GLP. Actually this is the third in a row – so if you haven’t listened to an episode yet, just do. They a_r_e really good, most of them!).

BoldomaticPost_Wanna-make-better-stuff-Be-a

Now, this is a Good Life Riff, meaning it’s only about five minutes long. Still. It’s worth listening to, and it sure puts a spin on things for me. Jonathan tells a story about guitars and guitar-makers in the riff, and says “You can’t keep your personality outside of the work“. It’s said about handmade guitars, but does it stop there? Isn’t that true for all work done by a human being?

In 2015 I ran a series on herothecoach.com with Sunday postings of podcasts to my liking. In 2017 I will be re-posting some of those blog posts, or posts with other podcast recommendations – and this is one of them, originally posted here – , mixing them up with new podcast recommendations. 

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A sucker for romantic love

August 27, 2017
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There’s one episode of Good Life Project that I’ve listened to over and over again, for the past year. It’s called When life partners become business partners: Linda & Charlie Bloom, and even disregarding all the wisdom contained in the conversation, it is one of those easy-going and flowing conversations between Jonathan and the Bloom’s, that makes me want to cuddle up and just sit listening to them all day long.

Linda and Charlie Bloom have a wonderful rapport, and their love, respect and awareness in what they do and say and how they act towards one another, makes me long to experience the same. I am most definitely a sucker for the all-encompassing, life-long romantic and highly conscious love, that’s clear to me. Especially so, after also having read Alain De Botton’s book The Course of Love last year, a book that I rated 3 out of 5 stars on GoodReads with this review:

An unusual grip, letting us follow along in a course of love, while being witnesses to a couple meeting, marrying, having kids and so on. Quite interesting, that’s for sure. And what a punch in the face for the all-encompassing romantic love… 

sucker for romantic loveSo I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. Is the Bloom-experience something which has happened for these two amazing people, making them outliers in a gigantic coordination system of human relationships, whereas the vast majority of us (the rest of humankind) will never ever have even the most minute of chances of actually experiencing something like it? Am I bonkers for believing it is within my grasp, that somewhere, somehow, there is the possibility of such a relationship for me?

I know the Bloom’s are not the only couple on Earth experiencing a romantic relationship as rich and rewarding as theirs; at the same time, I honestly believe relationships such as theirs is clearly in the minority. Most relationships likely never turn as deep and intentional as theirs. But is it because it’s “not possible” for the rest of up to attain that level of depth? Or is it more cause and effect; being in a minority, most of us have never witnessed anything like it, and hence most of us stumble along, in inadequately close but not close enough (not as close as they could be) relationships, never having had such a role model-relationship close by, to learn from, be inspired by, witness?

And even if we are lucky enough to actually be in the vicinity of such a relationship – would it truly benefit us? I mean – how to create a life together like this, how to be such a life partner, how to become a human, to evolve as a human being together with another soul – is not a topic that comes up a lot, is it? It’s not something we talk to our kids about: What works, what doesn’t work and what is missing from mum and dad’s relationship? is seldom the topic of conversation over dinner at home, is it? In my experience it’s seldom the topic even between the two (or more) souls directly involved in the relationship as such? But maybe it should be? Maybe there’s a lot to gain from having these conversations with those around us? Or am I totally losing it here? What do you think?

In 2015 I ran a series on herothecoach.com with Sunday postings of podcasts to my liking. In 2017 I will be re-posting some of those blog posts, mixing them up with new podcast recommendations, such as this one.

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Liberated being

August 13, 2017
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Short and sweet, another Good Life Project riff, on the word transformation and how it’s being used in the world of yoga, self-awareness and mindfulness. The term transformation, as it’s used in this crowd, really comes from is the sanskrit word/concept of jivanmukta. And jivanmukta isn’t about transformation, it’s about liberation. It translates into Liberated being.

BoldomaticPost_l-i-b-e-r-a-t-e-d-b-e-i-n-gWhen I listened to this podcast, there was a release within. A flash of lightning, an aha, that told me something I already knew, I just hadn’t put it into words. Jonathan Fields did that for me.

Liberated being – not transformed.
L i b e r a t e d !

So free yourself. Let yourself out of the cage created by and for you. Reveal what is already there, know there is nothing to transform. You don’t have to become someone else, transform into some other being, with different, better, more worthy traits and skills.

It’s all within you.

You cannot be found outside of You. You can only be found within.
So stop looking outside, thinking there’s something you can do, be, buy to find yourself. You cannot. Look inwards. Not to transform. To reveal. To get to know your true essence. To step into it, fully.

Sometimes. It scares me.
Becoming aware of my true essence, to feel, sense, notice it.
Other times, it’s the most divine experience, uplifting, hope giving, and enormously empowering. Because the power is there, within me. None else can empower me.
It’s within. I. Have. It. Already.

Let it out. Liberate it. Set it free.

It? Me!
Set me free. Let me out. Liberate myself.

Liberate thyself?

In 2015 I ran a series on herothecoach.com with Sunday postings of podcasts to my liking. In 2017 I will be re-posting some of those blog posts, or posts with other podcast recommendations – and this is one of them, originally posted here – , mixing them up with new podcast recommendations. 

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