As you might have guessed from last week, despite saying we would never move to DC, by the Summer we had made the decision to make a Change and permanently leave Texas for the DC area. Even though the project was not in the greatest shape, the opportunities looked brighter than returning to the Space program. But we had a critical presentation to a legend at IBM, a former Lab Director of our largest manufacturing facility who was now reporting directly to our President on technology strategy. His physical appearance and his demeanor lead to a nickname that stuck: The Count. He an intellect like Spock along with the ability to raise one eyebrow.. which was usually was not good. The pitch was going ok, and I was running short on time to make my flight home to start the permanent move to the area. I didn’t say anything, but suddenly that eyebrow went up…
… Washington area traffic was notorious for major traffic jams, particularly over what was known as “The Bridge”. It was a 4 lane span at that point across the Potomac – the ONLY way between Maryland where I was, and Virginia where the Dulles Airport was. And as an area that had paths established by horse and carriages, the roads were a little “windey” 😉 So I was a little nervous about making my flight, and The Count had figured that out. In the moments of stillness, all of the rumors of him “draining out your blood” ran through my head. He then pulled out a piece of graph paper (of course) and proceeded to draw a map of the “quickest way” to, over, and off of “The Bridge”. He smiled, genuinely, and said he was looking forward to me being in the area with my family. Telling this story later, people would call BS immediately, relaying stories of the time that he…. or when he…. But for now, I was eternally grateful, and used that map for the next few years…and only wish I had saved it.
Santana’s catalog is so large and varied that I decided to do another week on him and his journey, which fits perfectly with Change. It isn’t clear which came first, but his interest in jazz fusion and spirituality lead him to John McLaughlin and his Mahavishnu Orchestra. John grew up in a family of musicians, and started playing guitar at 11 after mastering the violin which his mother was a Concertmaster of. He was also around the edges of the London scene of the 60’s, even giving guitar lessons to Jimmy Page 😉 He became a session player, and as such could play almost anything, and was quickly picked up to play with Miles foray into electric/fusion. He was introduced by another great jazz guitarist, Larry Coryell, to Sri Chinmoy who quickly became his personal guru, and he became devoted to transcendental mediation.
He introduced Carlos to Sri who equally was looking for a path forward. His model of Change was one of strict adherence to music and poetry as expressions of devotion and thankfulness to the Divine, and forbid any alcohol or drug use. As Carlos had seen up close the effect of those on his band, he fell quickly into step, and started to separate from his existing band. McLaughlin had been given the name Mahavishnu by Sri, a part of the practice he ascribed to disciples, which is where his band name came from. He also gave Santana a new name – Devadip – which meant “The lamp, light, and eye of God”. Both masters of the fretboard, as they became devoted followers, they began to play together and released an album of jazz fusion, this track highlighting another Jazz masters similar turn to spiritual devotion, John Coltrane. They were close friends and played together off and on throughout the rest of the careers, and you can hear them urging each other on to higher and higher depths of complexity.
The funny thing about Change, is often looking backward it makes complete sense, and you can see clearly how simply small steps completely changed your trajectory and life. And – when looking forward, the path is so unclear – almost the opposite. It is probably why I have studied Change so much through the years – watching it happen around and to me, and then, leading it for myself and others. I have written about it a lot, but not the personal side of Change that is so important to consider. As I sense many around me rethinking their path forward, and seeking Change, I want to spend some time on some of the small steps along the way that made Change at least easier to understand, and how to develop your own Map. For now, reflect on the junctions on your own journey and start to recall the people and places that have led you here – both good and not. And assess what gift it all has been, and start the practice that Sri started Carlos on : Love, Devotion, and Surrender. I navigated the map to the Airport, caught my flight home, and prepared to move the family to the DC area where we would all be for the next 30 years. And where in many ways, we would learn the complexity of “fusion” of so many elements into … A Love Supreme.