Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Fear


I went to Catholic school for 13 years of my life.
My parents didn't have a lot of money, we were fairly poor, but it was very important
that we went to Catholic school, mostly because we lived in the city and the schools
in the 1970's in St. Louis were pretty rough.
My family was not overly religious, although my mother did have an altar in our apartment
and plenty of "Bloody Jesus" pictures.
I am not opposed to the Catholic religion at all, it is really the only one I know.
I am not a practicing Catholic, but that is mostly based on my own choices, not true opposition.
I say that because many people are either very religious or strictly opposed, I am in the middle.
As long as you're not hurting anyone, I think I am ok.

Anyway.....I went to church 6 days a week for about 9 years of my life.
We went everyday before school and on Sunday.
It was all I knew and it was more or less......scary.
It was frightening. Men and women dressed in black and plenty of pictures and statues of bloodied
bodies. As a small child, that is alarming and scary.
I was told from a very early age by these people in black that God loved me, but only if I behaved.
If I did not behave, I would be sent to "Hell"......and the "Devil" would obtain my small soul and it would burn for eternity and I would never see my loved ones again.

VERY SCARY

It scarred me for the rest of my life. I lived in fear for years. As a small child I laid in bed at night
afraid to go to sleep for fear that the "Devil" was going to come get me or a "Demon" would enter my bedroom and take me to "Hell".

I do believe that the above is basically torture and child abuse.

Why would grown men and women teach small children this shit if not to scare the "Hell" out of them???
I understand that the majority of what I was taught was to love one another, treat everyone the way I would like to be treated, to be fair and honest and generous.......but there was always this underlying
message of "sin" and "hell".......the "gnashing of teeth"....good Lord that one always sounded so awful it made me shutter.

It created a fear of the unknown that would last well into my 30's.
I was so fearful of what I could not see and of what was coming for me if I did not "behave".
It created these mental problems that would take half a lifetime to overcome.

I realize today that it is all bullshit.
There is no such place as "Hell" except maybe here on Earth.
There is certainly no "Devil" or "Demons" that are coming to get me or anyone.
That is crap that other men have invented to control other men.
Fear is a useful tool when you are trying to rule and oppress.

Most important today is that I realize I have nothing to fear but fear itself.....(thank you President Roosevelt)
It is true to the core. Fear is born of loneliness and being tired.
The mind will play tricks one us if we do not stay sheltered in love and the spiritual principles.
When we do not spend time helping others and doing service work, we become very selfish and self centered....and there is nothing more self centered than thinking that something is trying to "get you".

Whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs, that doesn't really matter.
No one should have to live in fear, and many people on this planet live with real fear today.

Fear of not eating today,  fear of an oppressive government or rogue army coming to chop off heads and kill everyone, fear of losing everything they own....again, Fear that a loved one will continue to abuse them......the list goes on. There is real fear in this world and it stinks.
Life is painful at best. Adding to this pain with mental fear is useless and morbid.

BUT......I did not just decide to release myself from this bondage of fear overnight on my own.
This is called "conditioning" and it is a form of mental illness.
The same way we could alter the physical shape of a living animal by keeping it in a cage or by trimming the limbs of a shrub, the world around us shapes our mind from a very young age and often times not for the good.  Belief, Racism, Sexism, Hatred, are all forms of mental illness.
No one is born with this thinking, it is taught from a very early age.

My "conditioning" began to change when I turned my will and my life over to the "God" of my understanding. When I worked the steps of a recovery program that brought about a psychic change and spiritual awakening. This psychic change made new beliefs possible.
It helped me to question my old thoughts and my old beliefs.
Maybe everything I knew was wrong.

Slowly over a period of time I began to understand that most of these fears were based on things that other men had told me. Books that other men wrote to make people believe a certain way.
I learned I did not have to count on other men anymore to be my guidance, I could have a direct
conversation with my Higher Power and listen and learn all on my own without any indirect contact.
None of the fear I had lived with came from "God", they came from man.
My Higher Power would not ever do anything to harm me or scare me into submission.

My Father told me something when I was young that I will never forget.
When I was about 6 years old we drove by a cemetery and I got scared and hid under the seat.
He said "What? Are you scared of the dead people?"........I said yes.
He said "What the hell are scared of them for? They're dead! The only ones you need to worry
about are the ones that are alive"........so true.

Fear is not necessary for me today. I have concern, and I have worry from time to time,
but I do not live in fear. I know that I am safe and that nothing is "coming to get me" that is not of this world.  I am one of the fortunate few. I live in the western world with food and no war on my doorstep. My children are not being taught to live in fear of some childish, made up monsters....
the cycle is broken.  I pray for those in this world that live with real fear today.
I pray that those that fear having no food will have food today.
I pray that those that fear war will take their loved ones, they will be spared today.
I pray that those that live in fear of continued abuse will be set free today.

Free your mind and the rest will follow.

Peace, Love.........






Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Thank You

Well it has been quite a crazy couple of weeks here in Southeast Texas.
I had a bad feeling about Hurricane Harvey from the beginning. I warned my wife and friends
that it looked like it was going to be bad.....and it was.
No on ever expects what happened to happen to them. We see mass flooding in India, and we think it's horrible, but it will never happen here.  We see hurricanes rip apart peoples homes, but it's
always somewhere else, it's not our house.

We sat in the house for days watching it all happen, the devastation come to life.
We got anxious and fearful and slept very little.
I had an overwhelming fear the house would flood........but it did not.
In fact, nothing happened at all. We must live on the one block that is high enough,
we had no water on our street at all.

As soon as it passed, everyone sprung into action to start rescuing and helping.
It was quite remarkable how it all came together so quickly.
Laura worked night and day volunteering, along with our two girls.
It finally made sense to me the idea of having the "Big" Texas trucks!!!
Every other man in SE Texas owns a boat and they were all heading out into areas
rescuing folks and saving lives. Black, White, Asian, Hispanic.....it did not matter.
We all came together to save lives and hep one another.

I asked what I could do, and Laura said I should go to work.
I was lucky enough to have work out of town and if I could get there, I should go to work.
As I left last thursday morning, I basically snuck out.. It was still too soon, the damage was
unbelievable and authorities did not have time to assess the situation yet. Both sides of Interstate 10
were under water, but luckily eastbound had the remains of one lane barely drivable.

When I got to the airport in Lafayette I looked at Facebook.
I saw my people out volunteering. I saw musicians out feeding the first responders,
gathering supplies at the local shelters. I kind of felt like a heel.
These guys and gals just lost all of their work and they were helping our area.....
while I was leaving Dodge to go make myself some money.

Thats when I decided to set up the Gofundme for the SE Texas Musicians.
It was to help get some of these folks some money for the loss of their gigs and so they
could continue to volunteer and help our community without having to worry about money.

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I set up a simple goal: $500 each for 25 musicians = $12,500

Between the generous donations online from all over the country and amazing blues fans
of Florida - we surpassed our goal. The remaining balance will go to local folks in need.

It is awesome to see everyone come together to help one another.
It is overwhelming the support and love you have all shown.
I cried more than once, and it felt good.

Thank you all so much for the donations and financial support.
Thank you to all of my friends who took a loss and instead of crying, took to the streets
in our community to help others.

Peace, Love....Zito

Monday, August 14, 2017

Humanity

It is a beautiful Monday morning on the road.
The sun is shining and I am thankful to be alive and healthy.
Unfortunately, some folks didn't have these luxuries this morning.
They didn't make it through the night or there lives were changed forever
with devastating sadness.  Some folks maybe just drifted off to sleep and
did not wake up. Whatever the case may be, I was awoken today to live and breathe
and serve.  So....here I am.
I do not watch the news much and what I see is usually bullshit, but the story of this weekends
hate rallies and protests are sad and tragedy beheld 3 lives and their families.
Hate is hate. Its wrong and it sucks.  No matter what our skin color, what our religion,
what our political views - we are all absolutely equal in the eyes of the Lord.
No man is above another.
That being said, I do not, and I repeat DO NOT believe that anyone that voted for our Commander in Chief is a supporter of the  Nazis that rallied this weekend. Anyone who suggests this idea or says this is true at all is WRONG. I know people that voted for President Trump and NONE of them condone any of this behavior. Not the people I know, but I am not friends with any Nazis.
That being said, their is no reason to be on defense in any of this matter at all.
Once people start getting beat, killed, run over...the argument is out the window.
Now it's just evil and hatred.

We need to stop putting people in categories and calling the names like "Libtard" and "Ultra Right Nazis" and whatever the hell we call people we don't agree with.
The only thing we should call people we don't agree with is another human being that doesn't think the way I do about this one particular subject. Because come on folks, in the end we have WAYYY more in common with one another than we do not.  We are all humans with basic needs and family and want peace and love.  Yes, there are a few warped minds out there with mental illness that want chaos and destruction, but NOT MOST PEOPLE.

We need to stop saying things that lump folks into these piles of categories.
If we find the common ground, we can then begin to understand one another more clearly and work on solutions.

I also am not a believer that this is how things are "now".
Thats not really true either. They have been this way since the beginning of time.
People have fought and had wars and killed each other over beliefs since we became man.
Just let this soak in.......right now, today.....is the safest time to ever be alive on planet Earth.

I am guilty of all of this thinking and behavior as well, I am not trying to preach or teach anyone anything, I am stating the obvious.  I need to remind myself when someone says something to me that I think is batshit crazy, that they are likely uninformed or maybe I am.
I try my best to give them the benefit of the doubt because I might be wrong.

I do Not believe things are terrible and everyone is awful and this world is deteriorating.
I believe just the opposite.
There is nothing spiritual about being pessimistic or "realistic" which is a snarky way of acting
as if you know better than the rest of us, you do not.

We are just people, all of us. Brown people, White people, Yellow People, Orange people.....
The media is a complete waste of time and it is nonsense. I say they are half to blame for the deaths this weekend at those rallies. They pumped that shit up from the beginning and I believe helped contribute to the chaos. TURN IT OFF!!!

Stop trying to correct one another and listen to each other.
Why does your fellow man believe something different than you?
It is not because he is stupid, he has different feelings and experiences.
Walk a mile in his or her shoes and see how it feels.

I try hard everyday to give myself a break. When I do, I give you one too.
If we all tried to give ourselves a break and just be people, today would be a little easier.

Peace, Love, Zito

Monday, July 24, 2017

Putting it out there

I've had a pretty wonderful summer, I have to say.
I spent 6 weeks on the road with my oldest son, Zach and my band.
We had a great tour of Europe and the NE United States.
It is a dream come true to have my son by my side onstage with me every night.
He is a very sweet, talented young man and I am excited to see what his future brings.

Being in Europe means not having normal phone service.
My phone works, but even at best it's not what it's like when I am at home.
The wifi is also very spotty.  This is mostly ok for me as I get a break from the hubbub
and just enjoy whats around me.
After weeks of not really being involved much in social media, I return to find the same old,
same old. People fighting about politics, fake ads and stupid IQ tests.
It is what it is, it's "social" media.
It's free. It started out awesome and became shit, just like everything else that is free.
You used to have to pay for music and it was awesome, now it's free and it's shit.
(but thats another story)

I notice a lot of people getting their feelings hurt because of social media.
They talk about what they believe or how they feel about something and then someone comes along
and ruins there day. They get their feelings hurt and run off sad and confused.
First if all, no one in the world would even come close to saying things to us the way they do on social media if we were in front of each other. It is easy to hide behind the curtain online.
Second, why even share your feelings or thoughts with anyone online if you're not comfortable putting it out there.  Someone is going to disagree. Someone is going to make snide, snarky remarks
sometimes just for the sake of being contrary.

People suck. They do. You know it and I know it, it's just the truth.
We are not always nice to each other. Everyone has been an ass online at sometime or another.
Luckily not everyone sucks at the same time.
We take turns being assholes, which makes it easier a cross to bear.

Really the important thing here is mostly on those of us who choose to share our thoughts or feelings with the world online. The word to focus on here is "choose". No one is making us share our feelings,
we are doing so willfully. If we "choose" to share our political beliefs, religious beliefs, recipes, movie critiques, and so on, we need to accept the fact that somebody is going to give us a big thumbs down. Someone will be trolling and see our share and decide to crush our dreams. It is going to happen, so we might as well be prepared. I mostly have taken the side that I don't share all of my feelings and beliefs online. It's too painful. The idea that somehow people are suddenly going to become rational and understanding is a dream. They're not.
Again, it's mostly on me. I should know that plenty of people do not believe what I believe and that is ok and good. We should not all believe the same thing, that would be weird.
I am more than fine with the "Live and Let Live" mantra of life.

The most important side of this to me is if I truly believe in something, then I will put it out there
and stand beside it, no matter what anyone else thinks. Who cares.
They are just people like me. They're not better than I am, we are equal.
When I sing my songs, I mean it. I believe in it. When I play my guitar, I am being 100% honest.
If you don't like it, I don't care. I am doing what I believe in my heart.

Girls being fat shamed is wrong. Kids being bullied is terrible.
But parents need to let them know that this is the world we now live in and it's not real.
Social media is NOT the real world. 99% of people would NEVER have the nerve to behave
they way they do online if we were face to face.

I love going online and seeing what my friends are up to. I want to see your baby pictures,
your kids playing sports and funny memes. If I see something I don't like, I skip through and continue on, just like real life.  I share stupid, silly shit and keep things light hearted.
When I get on a soapbox, I share how I feel and I know someone is not going to agree.

If I decide to "Put it out there", I take responsibility for the aftershock.
Chances are, I know what I am posting is going to ruffle some feathers and I am looking for a fight.
That is the bottom line.

In real life, I am all for putting it out there. I do not hold punches and I go for broke,
cause what the hell are we doing anyway. This life might end tomorrow and every breath counts.
I am not going to sulk around behind the trees hoping everyone is nice to me and likes me, they don't.
I am going to be me. I teach my kids the same thing.

To thine own self be true.

Until you know what that means, you won't be satisfied. Find out who you are and be it 100%

Spiritual principles teach me to be kind and understanding. I do my best.
Not everyone is living the way I do. I don't judge them or condemn them, and I certainly don't
stop living the way I do to accommodate others.
I just let them be. That is the hardest thing to do.......live and let live.

Put it out there. Be real and show the world what you're made of.
Just know that some asshole is going to come along and post a snarky meme below your thoughtful insight.  Forgive and forget....

Peace Love Zito.......


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I don't have to live that way today

I was reminded yet again of how blessed I am.
I played a show in Houston last week at the Heights Theater and stayed overnight in the area.
When my son and I left in the morning we found our car with the window broken and a good portion of my equipment stolen.  I was furious for about 30 minutes or so and then I calmed down and got some perspective.  I know the drill, this isn't the first time this has happened to me over the past 20 years.  I have learned what to do and what not to do the hard way.  We stayed at a good hotel, I parked in the light by a hotel room window and near the side door.
I backed the vehicle all the way up against the wall so the backdoor was not accessible.  I take in all of the guitars and gear that I can and cover the rest with a black blanket. (Now you all know my secret!) Whomever broke into the vehicle, had no idea I was carrying musical gear.

I took a video of the aftermath and posted it on Facebook to help get the word out in case our musician friends in Houston might see the gear in a pawn shop or music store.  I was inundated with an amazing outpouring of love and concern from fans and friends.  People offered to let us use their drums and amps or to buy us new instruments or give us money. It was crazy!  I became overwhelmed with all of the love and positive vibes we received.  After I calmed down a bit I realized it just wasn't that much stuff - a few amp heads, some cymbals and some effects.
Oh, they also stole our banana's and coffee.........!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hats off to my band - Matt Johnson and Terry Dry. These guys are the real deal.
They had replacement gear for us to use in Dallas that night in less than an hour.
They are so supportive of me and helpful all the time, the definition of team players.

I finally realized that more than anything, this is just a hassle.
Yes I have insurance and yes we will probably get the gear back as it was very specific and
most of it has my name on it.  We had to have a new window installed and clean out the car.
In the end, it just wasn't that big of a deal.

I started to think "I guess they needed this stuff more than I did."
I have plenty of gear to continue playing music, some would say too much (but they're crazy).
The man that replaced the glass was as sweet as he could be.  We were on the road to Dallas and only an hour later than expected. I thought... at least I didn't have to steal today to survive.

There were many times in my life when stealing was always an option and how I got by.
I hate a thief because I was a thief.  I would steal money out of someones purse, lie about where it
went. I would run out on a check at the restaurant, and eat food at the grocery store while walking around (because I hadn't eaten in days).  I always had an excuse for my behavior, and said I would make it up someday.
I know what life is like when you need to steal to survive......it sucks.
I am in no way excusing these folks, I want my shit back and they're deadbeats, plain and simple.
This just reminded me that I don't have to live that way today.
I have had the bondage of addiction lifted and I can be thankful.

My life is so different today. I sleep inside a nice house and play with my kids.
They stole a few things from me and I have so much more than I need.
Shit happens and it's not the end of the world.

More than anything I am thankful of the reminder of how good I have it today.
I guarantee the folks out stealing to survive don't have it this good, not even close.
I will pray for them and move on.

Today I don't have to steal to get by, I can be a productive member of society.

Peace, Love, Zito

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Service Work

When I first got clean and sober I had a lot of time on my hands.
I was unemployable, and the only thing I did was go to meetings every day.
So I learned to show up early and make coffee, clean the meeting room, and I stayed late
and talked with others and took the trash out.  On Saturdays I would meet other newcomers to
clean the room. Sweep and mop the floors, clean the bathrooms, do the dishes.
I was told this was service work and in order to stay clean I needed to be of service.
It was literally all I had to offer.  It put me in a state of mind that I have never lost, thankfully.
I began to understand and I brought that idea of service home with me.
I was living with my girlfriend (Laura) in her apartment in Port Arthur, Tx. I had no money to
contribute to food or rent or any of the other bills, so I began giving back with service.
I cleaned the apartment every day, did the laundry, cooked the meals, did all of the chores.
Again, it was all I had to offer, but I made sure I was doing everything I could.
Just because I was broke didn't mean I was broken. I was able bodied and capable.
If I contributed with service I wouldn't feel like a heel, it worked.
About 90 days into recovery I was asked to go with a group of people to the Franklin House
in Beaumont to help share a meeting. The Franklin House is a halfway home for addicts and alcoholics. So we would go there on Saturdays and have a meeting and share how the program was working in our lives in hopes that these folks would come join us at our meetings when they got released.  I was told this was service work and to be of service to my fellow man.
I was told I would feel better if I did something for someone else, it would help me forget how
crappy my own life was at this time. It worked absolutely.
As I continued in my own recovery I began to understand that being of service was a way of life.
I had lived an entire life of "what can you do for me?" and I was learning now to live life like "what can I do for you?". It has stuck for the past 13 and a half years.  Life is always about doing for someone other than myself.  Being of service to my family is very important. Making breakfast, cleaning the house, paying the bills on time, buying clothes for my children rather than buying things for myself.  I have to work to keep this family going, but I don't have to work 24 hours a day. I have learned to put work away and spend time with my family. I make sure I am not working too much, cause what's the point? I am also of service to my band members, to the people I work with.
I sincerely try to be of service every chance I get and in every aspect of my life and it is not easy and I do not always succeed, but it is a way of life I learned in recovery and I am thankful.
Being of service makes life so much easier and peaceful. Rather than taking so much, I just try to give away as much I can, whats the least I can live with? I sleep peaceful at night and have very little stress when I give it all away.  Funny enough, I always get back so much more in return.
I literally get back double what I give. Double the love, double the money and double the happiness.
Life is wonderful when I share it with others and it is dark and bleak when I keep it to myself.
I can't do everything I want to do, but I try my best to make sure I am of service everyday.
I bring it with me everywhere I go.  The less I need, the easier life becomes and ultimately death will
be an easy transition. That is the goal.

Peace, Love, Zito

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Interdependence

My sponsor tells me last week to do some study on "Interdependence".
It is very important in our world and the life around us.
We can never go it alone, even when we think we are doing so......we are not.
In the new day of Patriotism and self reliance, we need now more than ever to be mindful
of our interdependence with each other and our world.
From the Billionaire who says he made it on his own and doesn't want to contribute back
to the society that provided roads and business infrastructure to help achieve all of that money,
to the poorest of the poor who is stuck in a cycle of poverty with fear that there is no other life....
we the people are all connected. We are not only connected to each other as human beings, but we are connected to the animal world, the insect world, the aquatic world and the planet itself.
We are all dependent upon one another and our home, Earth.
We as human beings should care as much for each other as we do for ourselves, maybe more.
When we are doing good but our fellow man is not, that affects us. It affects us spiritually, emotionally and physically. We should be willing to do whatever it takes to help our fellow human beings.  Obviously we get so caught up in getting more for ourselves, we forget about sharing with those less fortunate. We label the less fortunate to make this greed easier to digest.
They are "Lazy" or "Dumb" or "Black" or "White" or "Muslim" or "Christian" or "Democrat" or "Republican". None of these labels actually exist. They are all made up by other fearful men.
Fear of losing control, fear of losing power, fear of losing money.
We disagree on how to help our fellow man, what is the best course of action - but we must not disagree that help is necessary for all.
In the end, when we die we will all go to the same place.......in the ground.
What happens on the other side remains a mystery for every single living being on this planet.
No one has the exact answer to life after death, all we can know absolutely is that we will die.
Everyone has a belief that they have acquired through conditioning or experience.
Whatever that belief may be, it is just a belief. It is not certain.
Faith is certain.
"Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." Hebrews 11:1
With true faith comes humility. I am not certain of the unknown, but I have faith it will all be wonderful. In the end we will all be in the same place. We are human beings, the same species.

Interdependence teaches us that we need each other. We need to help each other and have genuine concern for those around us, not just our close loved ones. We need to love those that we don't understand the most. Pray for them. Help the poor, share what we have with anyone in need.
The oxygen provided on this planet is the only reason any of us are breathing.
If we do things to jeopardize the oxygen, we are jeopardizing our own existence!
Don't let politics separate you from others. Don't let politics make your moral choices.
Love everyone as God loves.
Disagree, but know we are much more in agreement on a molecular level than we are on a political level. Politics is nonsense.

Interdependence is life. Everything, everyone has a place and a connection to one another.
That is truly awesome and amazing.
Everything we do affects everything and vice versa.
We are all truly connected.

"You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. "   The Desiderata - Max Ehrmann