Friday, September 7, 2018

Do the right thing

I miss the life of a child, although I think I might still be living one.
Of course, having younger children certainly keeps that flame alive as well.
I had an idea of what was right or wrong when I was a kid, it was and is inherent,
as all of us do. My family played a big role in this demonstration for better or for worse,
as did yours. Noon of us are perfect and we pick up bad habits from our parents and
surroundings. Bottom line is: Nurture over Nature. Sure we have natural inclinations but I assume
most of them to be good, not "bad". "Bad" behavior comes from nurture or lack there of.
This is obviously a debate that has been going since the dawn of man, and some may never agree,
but in my experience Nurture always outweighs Nature. Certainly my daughter may be headstrong and
stubborn all on her own, but she can learn to change that behavior. The idea that she cannot change
based on the idea that that is "just who she is" is ridiculous. Obviously, some are sicker than others and sincere mental problems is not something that can be learned away. I am talking about the idea that behavior can change based on nurture over nature. A wild animal is a wild animal, but a stubborn child can learn to be less stubborn over time, we all can. It may take drastic life changing events to get us to change, but it is certainly possible, I am living proof.
My point being, when I was a child I did the "right" thing because I was afraid I would get into trouble if I did the "wrong" thing. Like most of us and most children, I feared the wrath enough to not defy the rules. I did not begin to defy until much later in life. I was a late bloomer when it came to being rebellious. I might have wanted to steal or lie as a child but was certain I would get caught and in big trouble and that was good enough for me not to do it. I may have even slightly understood that stealing did not feel good and I did have a bike stolen from me when I was kid and it made me terribly mad.
But I don't think I really did the right thing for the right reason until later in life. I did the right thing because I was told to do so and that there would be negative consequences if I did the wrong thing.
"Right" and "Wrong" are of course subjective to culture and home life and religion and many other factors, and we can debate forever on "What" is right or wrong, but I believe we know what it is for ourselves, even at a young age. Although we may behave "wrong" for other reasons when we are young, like attention seeking and acting out, but that is probably the same reason anyone would behave badly when they're an adult as well.
Ok, this is getting heady and psychological and I am not a psychiatrist.
My thought is that somewhere along the way as an adult I began to realize that doing the "right" thing, whatever that may be for me, made me feel good. I was no longer doing the right thing because I felt I had to do so or suffer consequences, I was doing so because it's who I wanted to be and the consequences of positive action felt very good. I sincerely began to understand that taking something from someone that was not mine made me feel terrible inside and giving something that was mine to someone else for no other reason than to share my good fortune made me feel alive and connected.
Maybe my late arrival in life to being a productive member of society has allowed me to really appreciate what that means. I assume most "normal" people just grow up and understand these things all by themselves at a younger age in life, but I took the long and winding road because I too was stubborn and hard headed.....hmm, I wonder where my daughter gets that trait? :)

There is a strong and lasting feeling of peace that comes from surrendering to the spiritual principles
in this physical world and just going along for the betterment of the whole. There will always be a time to stand up when life is not going in the right direction, that is standing up for the principles themselves
not rebelliousness. Practicing anonymity to do what is right for the greater good because I am a part of the greater good, rather than doing something that only benefits myself is the peace we each desire.

I am thankful for this new mind and new personality I have acquired.
I am no longer a slave to my character defects, when something gets to difficult to deal with,
I can change. Change is always possible and is always happening, whether we like it or not.
Somethings we were told were okay when we were young are not okay today.
Change stirs fear in those that resist, do not resist change, accept change.
The more we resist, the more it hurts.
Th more we accept, the easier life becomes.
We cannot change anyone but ourselves. We are powerless over everyone else.
But we are not powerless over ourselves. We always have the ability to change.
It just takes willingness. Most often we are not willing to change for fear of the unknown.
Let go, it's the easier, softer way.

Peace, Love...Zito


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Dreams come true

Today is a special day for me.
I am performing at the Narcotics Anonymous World Convention in Orlando, Florida.
I have had the honor of this performance once before with the Royal Southern Brotherhood
in Philadelphia in 2013. It was a wonderful experience and one I will not soon forget.
Today is icing on the cake as I get an opportunity to be of service to a program that saved my life.
I am not sharing this with you in hopes of many "pat on the backs" but more to share my experience, strength and hope with anyone who is unsure if dreams come true. They do.
I was once lost and now I am found.
I remember a time in early recovery when I accepted the thought that  I may not be able to play music again. I may need to give up my love of performing to save myself. If I could not be trusted in bars or clubs to stay sober, then maybe I will need to stay away and just play my guitar at home.
It was do or die at that point and I was more than willing to give up what I loved doing to save my life.
When I told this to my early sponsor I was told that if and when I was spiritually fit I could do anything and go anywhere. I did not quite know exactly what that meant, but when the time was right, I was able
to yet again play my instrument and perform and I had no thought of drinking or using drugs.
I was there for a different reason. I had changed. My thinking had changed and I was no longer the same person. That was a long time ago and I have had the good fortune to continue to play my guitar and sing all around the world. It is almost as if I have lived two lives.

It is with honor and respect and quite a bit of excitement that I will get to play yet again today for so many of my fellow addicts and alcoholics. It is a very humbling experience and one I do not take lightly. I am thankful. I am grateful.
I have learned to be honest and open and to share.
I have also learned that God will always open the door but I have to willing to walk through it and do the work that is necessary for change.
This is a physical world, not a world of magic, yet magical is the experience.

Thanks for letting me share, I will do my best to serve.

Peace, Love...Zito

Monday, August 20, 2018

Don't Be Fooled Again

Today is the first day of school here in Nederland, Tx.
My wife Laura started teacher classes last week and the kids start today.
Everyone was excited to get back at it and meet their new teachers and friends.
I really enjoyed going to school when I was a kid, especially Grade School.
I went to Catholic School in St. Louis, Mo. for 13 years.
I started in Kindergarten and went all the way through, all in Catholic School.
St. Louis is made of parishes and I went to Holy Family School in the Tower Grove Southside
neighborhood. I had great times there and made great friends, a lot of them for life.
It was different than school today. I spent 9 years with about the same 25 kids. The classes were small
and we only had one teacher until 7th and 8th grade. I went to High School at Bishop DuBourg.
It was a Co-Ed High School with a great Theater program which I was heavily involved with.
I was in 15 full theatrical performances in High School and received a grant for College in Fine Arts.
I did not attend College, but I went to the campus for 6 months and talked to the girls.....

People will often joke about being Catholic or going to Catholic school.
"You survived?" or "Hows that Catholic Guilt?".....
and then there are always the jokes and questions about the Priests.
We did have a horrible situation with a Priest and Teacher at Bishop DuBourg when I was in school.
It was on the news and they were both found guilty and pulled from school one day.
It was quite a scene and one that none of us will forget anytime soon.
The details are not necessary, and some young people really suffered, it was sad and awful.

When the news came out in the past week about Pennsylvania, I immediately remember what happened at our school some 32 years ago.

It is awful and shameful and unforgivable.
It makes me angry and sick to my stomach.
I cannot defend Religion, I will not defend the perpetrators.

What I remember learning from our school tragedy was that these were "Men" that committed
these atrocities. These were men who were hiding in religion and using the school as their
shield. There is/was a lot of blame to go around, it goes all the way to the top and everyone has blood on their hands. There is no excuse.

This did not change my feelings for God.
My belief in a Higher Power was not challenged, my belief in "Man" was.
I knew then that I cannot fully trust a "Man" in power.
My father was of the same belief. He told me as a child many times, over and over
when I was afraid of ghosts or the supernatural he would say "what the hell are you worried about that for? Don't worry about the dead people, worry about the people that are alive."

I certainly don't want to live a life where I cannot trust people, thats not living.
I have trusted and I have been let down, and I have let others down that trusted me.....so is life.
But I have always questioned the motives of those who hold any power, especially when it
involves the "Word of God".
Obviously it is not fair to judge those who have not done wrong, but it's just as easy to not be
involved with them and move on.

I thoroughly enjoyed my life in the Catholic Church, I have no regrets.
My upbringing was classic and traditional and I am thankful for my education.
My parents had little to no money but they made sure that me and my siblings all went to
Catholic School. In the 1970's and 80's, public school in South St. Louis was pretty rough,
I count my blessings.

I guess my point is that I cannot ignore the horrible stories coming out of Pennsylvania.
It can only mean that there are many, many more stories to be told of many more young people
that suffered at the hands of a man in power. It's disheartening and sickening.
It reminds me that these are just men, they are not God.
I have found a direct line to the source in my adult life.
I have no need for intermediation.
It is not necessary for me to recite old prayers or carry old baggage from dead people.
That is not sacred to me, my personal connection is sacred.

Man will let me down, God will not.
Therefore I put all of my trust in my Higher Power, not in man.
I will not be fooled again.

The Source is alive and well and full of energy and Love, it cannot be dimmed
by the actions of men. God has no rules and regulations, only to Love and be Loved.
It seems too good to be true, but it is the absolute Truth.

This is a heavy topic, I know, but I needed to get this out there and share.
Go direct to the source, much less heartbreak and pain.

Peace, Love, Zito

Monday, July 23, 2018

Devotion

Devotion sounds religious, biblical even.
It is in one respect, devotion to a religious way of life, or can even refer to prayers.
I first heard the word when I was in Catholic school. (which I attended for 13 years, thank you )
I think we had to read these daily devotional prayer books.
It is a word with power and strength. It means giving all of yourself, but I always assumed that
this was giving all of yourself to the religion, I am not sure I understood how it applied beyond the church. Mostly because that is probably the only place I had ever heard the word in frequency.

I think a lot about my upbringing in the Catholic Church and with fond memories.
I did not have any bad experiences going to Catholic school. I did not understand the religion itself until much later in life as an adult, but all in all I had a good time. I do believe I was fortunate to get a very good education and an understanding of right and wrong that has stayed with me most of my life.
Yes I have enjoyed the "Catholic Guilt" over the years but I am pretty much over that now :)

Although I am not a practicing Catholic today, I have my own belief and experiences in a truly Higher Power and I am very pleased with my spiritual relationship. As I get older, I begin to see the religious teachings I was taught when I was young, come to life in experiences. It starts to make more sense.
Maybe I am just a slow learner or I am truly a "Missourian" (Missouri is the Show Me State)
When I was younger I think I was too caught up in the cloud of religious framework and not the actual intended spiritual principles.

This all brings me to this idea of devotion.
Devotion sounds religious, painful, mind-numbing and not fun......like having to say 1000 rosaries
as a punishment.
That is probably what I thought it meant when I was young and I certainly had no interest in being "Devoted" to anything....ugh.
The word reminded me of Priests and Nuns. They were devoted, and it didn't look all that fun to me.
It looked painful and frustrating, like they had to do it but they didn't really want to do it.
Not that all the Priests and Nuns I had over the years were all angry and coarse, I had plenty of really fun teachers that were ordained and seemed very content.
I just mean the general thought of this word "Devoted".....sounded painful.

It would be painful, if you were forced to put everything aside and put all of your energy toward
something you did not love, did not care for or believe in, it would be suffering.
But that is not devotion.
That is slavery. That is a required sentence by law.

Devotion is not painful, it is joyful. Devotion is radiant and full of love.
I understand that today. When I was young, I was so self-centered and full of ego that I could not comprehend this joyous love. Giving all of myself to someone or something sounded awful.
The older I got, the more responsibilities I was given and I shirked them. They were taking time away from me, my time to be self-centered. Drug and Alcohol abuse is the pinnacle of ego and mental illness.
I cannot be bothered by these other people on this planet, therefore I must excuse myself into my own tomb of thoughtlessness and feel sorry for myself..........good times.

I am learning the joy of devotion today.
The need for "Wanting" is being replaced with the joy of "Not-Needing" which brings about sheer happiness for what I already have, and it is so much more than I could ever deserve.
Devotion is a journey, an adventure really.
To be fully committed to a single-purpose is profound.
It starts with commitment, but the spiritual life is never ending, there is no limit to spirituality.
Once I realize the commitment to be ongoing and never ending and I feel the joy of this realization....
that is Devotion. It is not forced like slavery or painful, it is a gift.

I feel this in my life today. I feel this in my marriage and my family. I feel this in my music today.
Most important, I feel it in my recovery, my spiritual life.

My path is narrow. I have a short list of things to do today and they consume all of my time,
all of my energy and I could not be happier.
Devotion brings about real success.
Constancy is a quality that is righteous in this world,
something I strive for everyday.

Peace, Love, Zito




Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Success is lucky, but it's also aware

Anytime a friend or someone I know tells me that they feel wholeheartedly in a particular
way, I am very curious to how this happened. I ask questions, I play devil's advocate.
Some may think I am arguing because I believe the opposite to be true, but thats not always the case.
In fact, that is not usually the case. I am trying to learn something. I want to know how or why you have come to the conclusion that you have made up your  mind. That means, it's done....finished....you are no longer taking orders, the store is closed. This is not to say that I don't feel strongly on certain issues or beliefs in my heart and mind, I most certainly do, but I like to think that I leave room for error. I learned a valuable lesson some 14 and a half years ago when I got clean and sober and that was that I do not know everything and I might be wrong. At first this lesson was a large pill to swallow, it meant that quite possibly everything I knew up to 33 years of age was wrong. What I did know certainly was not working, but this went deeper. If I was going to change my way of thinking, I would need to change one thing......everything. So, I had to be willing to accept the fact that everything I knew could be wrong......example: maybe the sky isn't "Blue", maybe thats just what I was told by another human being and they didn't know what they were talking about. This sounds silly, but that is the level of open-mindedness I needed to be willing to change, and since it was a live or die situation, once aware of my malady I was more than willing to go along.
After years of working a spiritual program I have come to understand the same principles that started me on this path in a much different way, a more pro-active way.  In order to truly be successful in life,
I will need to see my closed-mindedness as an opportunity to learn. Every time I think I have made up my mind a very calm voice reminds me that I don't know everything.......maybe I need to learn something.  It's kind of a pain in the ass, but I accept this as my lot in life :)
So, I go out of my way to try and learn from those who directly oppose my views.
Sitting around like-minded people, having them pat me on the back is very detrimental to my spiritual progress. Jesus Christ himself did not hang out with the people at the church, the clerics and the leaders.....he hung with the whores and the sinners. Thats where he could be the most effective.
Now I am not comparing myself to Jesus, but I try and learn from His example.
I need to talk with people who have a different point of view. I need to try and learn why they feel the way they do, what is the history there and what brought them to this place of reasoning.
Anytime I see any of my friends making claim on Facebook that their political view is absolutely correct, I am put off. It does not matter what affiliation they are, it rubs me the wrong way.
Then I want to know why. I swallow my pride and ask questions.

I have been enjoying some success here lately and for that I am truly grateful.
It is nice to be recognized for your hard work and to be validated by your peers and community......
but it also means I have to work twice as hard now.
Bill Gates describes it best: Success is really about fanaticism.
No one in their right mind spends 10,000 hours on one thing in life if they are not really fanatical
about what they are doing. Talent always plays a role in success, and so does luck.
Don't count luck out. Even when you work hard and put in your time, it takes a certain amount
of luck for things to move forward. The difference between someone who is just lucky and a fanatic is the fanatic will continue the work when they are not lucky.
It takes deep desire to stay in the game and keep going, you must truly love what you are doing.
Since the age of 8 years old, I wanted to hold my guitar.
I am not the best guitarist in the world, but I have found a way to hold my guitar everyday.
If I had not been successful in music, I would still hold my guitar everyday.
This fanaticism with the guitar and music has never ended. I have hit walls from time to time, but I find a way to start over and keep going. I realize that I will never be the "best" at anything, but I am good at what I do and it is mostly because I love doing it. Because of this perseverance, I have been "lucky". I am the last man standing most of the time. I don't quit.
When I first moved to southeast Texas I met a wonderfully talented guitarist and singer named Scott McGill. My girlfriend (wife now :) told me he was the "best" guitarist around and that I had to see him play. This was in the middle of my using and drinking and I had quite an ego to boot.
I thought "Really? the BEST? How good could this guy be...?"
So, we went and saw Scott play one night. I walked up and introduced myself and said "So I hear your the best guitar player around...." He smiled and took his time and said "Well, I don't know about that, but I might be the best guitar player that shows up."
That has stuck with me all of these years.  Others quit, get hooked on drugs, become drunks...whatever, but Scott McGill shows up and plays every night.
(and he is by far the Best guitarist I know.)
I have based my entire career on this precept, show up and do the work.
Luck will find you if you are in the right place at the right time, and if doesn't, keep showing up
cause you are truly a fanatic about what you do.

This is what I am learning to apply to the rest of my life.
How will I learn anything if I know everything? If I am going to be successful in all areas of my life,
I need an extremely open mind.
When it comes to politics, I ask why. why do you feel that way?
Some people get upset if you just ask them, they get defensive because they think you are picking,
but I am not picking, I want to know.  Maybe it's not my business, but if my approach is right, I can usually get some answers. I think this idea of being extremely open minded could help us a lot today in our world. It's what is necessary to be successful in the future.
We need to ask each other questions and listen to the answers with care and concern.
Being aware of my closed mindedness is a gift from God.
Being aware of my fanaticism is also a gift.
The more I understand the more successful I become.
The more I realize I don't know everything, the better my chances are for learning.

If I keep my mind aware and open in politics, in belief, in reasoning and so on,
I will be more successful in my fanaticism, which is music.

Success is lucky, but it is also aware.
The idea is to show up for life everyday. Don't quit.
Don't make up your mind and decide......leave the door open.

Peace, Love, Zito



Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Conspiracy

Have you heard the one about the man in the bush?
Or the Deep State of "Forrest Gump"?
The Govt. has been putting fluoride in all of the water because kids don't brush their teeth!

Disclaimer: Anyone I know that is a believer in "Conspiracy Theories", this is not about you :)
(well maybe a little, but not really)

I love a good story, as much as the next person.
I love a mystery with complex details and plots that in the end wrap up into a great movie or book.
I am a child of the 70's that grew up watching TV all day and night.
I lived in the fantasy world of the television. I believed that life was like the Brady Bunch,
just not at my house. I thought that the good guy always got the girl in the end and that the bad guys
were always brought to justice. This, of course, is not true at all.
Life seems to have no rhyme or reason most times. Most times, no one gets the girl.
The "bad" guys were not as bad as we thought they were and the "good" guys were not so good.
Crazy huh?  We read history books and go to school and learn what is put in front of us as the truth.
No one ever considered that maybe the history we were learning was biased to the country we lived in.......that maybe if we had been born in Russia, our history lessons would be quite different, not just with the aspect of the country, but the outcomes and disputes with others.
Throughout history, many things have happened that are atrocious, blinding and unexplainable.
Wars that have torn through the fabric, hateful genocide and destruction.
Things happen and we need to explain them away some how.

The first "Conspiracy Theory" I ever heard of was the assassination of JFK.
I think I heard something about it in high school in history class, but kind of jokingly.
It was fascinating to say the least. Then a few years later the Oliver Stone movie came out and
I became very interested in this possibility. It was time consuming and very mysterious, I loved it.
What if this happened? What if the Govt did this? What are "they" not telling us??
You get the gist of it, it's exciting because it's not real life.
In reality the story seems so boring. A lone gunman shot the President from a tower in Dallas.
It just doesn't seem very fitting or mysterious at all........but as far as we absolutely know........
that is exactly what happened. In the end it doesn't really matter anyway, the man was killed.
He is dead and that is that. We can all agree that John F. Kennedy was shot to death in Dallas, Tx.
If there is a deep, dark secret story to this outcome.......he is still dead. And more importantly, there is nothing any of us can do about it at all. If "they" can kill the President of the USA, they surely can wack a half-ass blues musician. 

I believed most of these theories for a long time.
The more I used drugs and alcohol, the more conspiracy I believed.
The truth was never good enough, there was a deeper story to all of this.
In the end it took the responsibility away from me, I was free.  Why should I pay my bills
or taxes when this Govt. is corrupt and committing "sinister" crimes against it's own people.
911 was an inside job man.......

I watched two planes fly into two buildings on the morning of September 11th, 2001 live on tv.
I saw the second plane make impact with my own eyes. That happened.
It was brutal and awful and heartbreaking. How is this story in our history not enough.
Terrorists committed these awful crimes and killed thousands of people.
Believe what you want to believe, but thousands of people died that day for no good reason.

Ok, I cannot go through each and every conspiracy and tell you what I think, in the end it doesn't really matter what I think, it matters what you think.
My point is on a more spiritual level than anything else.
Once I worked the steps of my recovery program and began to follow the spiritual principles in my life, I made a commitment.....a commitment to the sad, awful truth.
The sad, awful truth is that life is painful at best. It hurts to be alive. Our bodies get older and breakdown and life around us is not always pleasant. My mind is sick and thinks on it's own and it makes me do awful things that I regret in the end. Once I realized the sad, awful truth.....I became responsible. I became responsible for taking the necessary steps to overcome the pain of living by following the spiritual principles. Spirituality was the only way to ease the pain of living and to at best sleep good at night. I am now responsible because I know the truth, I cannot claim ignorance anymore.  I am responsible for my life, my mind and how I treat the world.

What does this have to do with Conspiracy Theories???
Well, when I was using drugs and drinking heavily, I never believed the truth, I believed the lie.
I believed in whatever took responsibility away from me because I was irresponsible.
Today I cannot do that, I have to follow the truth whether I like it or not, that is my path.
The nature of believing in most of these Conspiracy Theories is that it explains away our responsibilities. We are no longer responsible for the world around us, because something more powerful is working against us. These "theories" create an untrusting mind. We do not trust others or the world because we believe their is a sinister plot underneath it all that is working against us,
much like belief in the boogie man or the devil.  If we clear away all of this mistrust and look at the sad, awful truth.....we are responsible.  If our Presidential choice was not elected, then it must be something larger than life that made this happen, we certainly could not have lost!
Global warming is a hoax! This cannot be true, science is a lie.......it must be, because if it's not a lie
we are truly responsible for the outcome.

We could argue all day about each and every conspiracy and I will say that some probably have good basis and I am certainly not suggesting that we all go along blindly accepting the world like sheep.
I am suggesting that this distrust is viral, it has created distrust in us all and for our fellow man.
It's infectious and awful and has to be stopped.

It seems easier to believe something that is so ridiculous than it is to believe the sad, awful truth.
The sad, awful truth is to take responsibility for our actions.
We play a part in all of this, we could try harder and do better.
Instead of blaming someone or something, try to step in and do our part to make it better.
Even if you think Global Warming is a complete hoax by the scientific community (my God that sounds so fucking ridiculous to even type), why wouldn't you want to do better for our planet and our future generations???
What if your candidate just actually lost because they did not get enough votes?
If that were the case (and probably are), we are mostly responsible.
We did not get the vote out and do more and stand up and take part in the process.

We always play a part in everything and are somewhat responsible for every outcome.
I am a true believer that the Conspiracy Theory is the plague of the modern adult.
It has created such a distrust and irresponsibility in us all that is going to continue to do harm for years, unless we get our heads out of our asses and take responsibility for our own lives.

Chances are - what happened, happened. There might be more, there might not be,
in the end we can do better.

The shortest distance between two points is a straight line.

I am certain than many people will read this today and take away a point to argue,
but I ask you to consider trusting the process and believing the sad, awful truth for a change.
In the end it has made me a better person for my family and the world around me.
I still have a long way to go, but life is much easier when you trust others.

Peace, Love...Zito

Monday, April 2, 2018

Rebirth

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter Holiday.
Even if you are not religious, it's nice to spend time with your loved ones,
or at least have a three day weekend, if you were that lucky.
I grew up Catholic and have always observed Easter as the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If you ever wonder where the Rabbits, and Eggs and candy and such come from,
they come from the Pagan holidays of old Europe before Christianity when people celebrated
the Spring Equinox and the goddess Eostre. Like most major Christian holidays, Christian Easter was organized around the already celebrated Spring festival and in the time of "Eosturmonath" named after the goddess and thus the name stuck. Rabbits/Hares were always a sign of Spring well before most religious celebrations as a time of rebirth and fertility. Eggs and the coloring of eggs predates Christianity as a very old Eastern European tradition to give to good children as a reward.
None of this takes away from the celebration of the resurrection. In fact it is meant to be a part of the celebration together, that is why the Catholic Church decided to celebrate the resurrected Christ at this time. It is also the time of Passover, the Jewish holiday celebrating the liberation of the Jewish people from slavery to the Egyptians. Some of the followers of Jesus said they had seen the living Christ after his death at this time and it made sense to celebrate his rebirth during Passover. In AD 325, the Emperor Constantine and the Council of Nicaea decided that Easter should be fixed on a Sunday after the first moon of the Vernal Equinox. This allowed the pagan celebration of Easter and the Spring Festival to coincide with the Resurrection Celebration and would help attract more people to the Catholic church and the Christian religion. It makes sense to me. Back then the Christian religion was the newest of religions and to allow the people to continue their celebrations and include the risen Christ, was an easier transition for all.
This is in brief, is why we call the holiday Easter and why you have chocolate bunnies and colored eggs during the celebration of the Resurrection. Similar stories of Christmas and the decorated tree and Halloween all have longer pagan traditions than they do religious.

None of this takes away from the resurrection of Jesus Christ, not at all.
This is just history and how it all came about. There is no right or wrong here, it is all based on one theme and one theme alone - rebirth.
Spring is rebirth. The time of year when it begins to warm up and the flowers and animals begin to come out again. Born again is the planet and life itself. This tradition of celebrating the new season of rebirth is as old as time. It only makes sense to celebrate the crucifixion and resurrection during this period of time. History dates that this is the time when this actually happened, so it all goes hand in hand. The rebirth of Christ in resurrected form.

Even if you are not religious, the resurrection story of Christ is full of learning and spiritual principles.
The idea that we can shed the human suffering and transform into the spiritual is a lesson for all.
 "Life is painful at best. The only thing that eases the physical pain is being spiritually minded." 
roughly translated from the teachings of Buddha. 
To live this life with a mind that is spiritually motivated rather than physically motivated is a rebirth that is unparalleled on this planet. It usually takes some suffering and some devoted change on our part, but it is possible for anyone who has the ability to be honest.  

I know all of this seems fluffy and upright, but I enjoy Easter today. I grew up Catholic and although I am not very religious, I am spiritual and I now I appreciate the traditions more than in the past. I have less contempt today for the religious life. When I think of all the things I can do to change even more, the one thing that comes to mind this spring is to be more understanding of my fellow man.  To let go of resentments and try and listen rather than explain. I owe no one an explanation. I need to listen to others and what they believe and understand that it is important to them, I am not greater than my fellow man, I am equal to.  If someone taking a knee at a football game makes me very angry and resentful, maybe I will try to understand why they feel this is important. I don't even have to agree with them, just try and understand. They are my brothers and sisters and they have a right to be here. If someone is angry with gun owners and thinks that guns should be banned, I will listen and try to comprehend why they feel that way, or vice versa.  Whatever the issues that are ruling our daily lives on social media, why not try to spend more time understanding the opposite view rather than explaining my view? Most people are not "dumb". Most people are not "bad". They're just having a different experience than we are. It is easy to explain away why someone does something wrong by calling it "evil" or blame society for the cause of tragedies......but it's much harder to take time to try and understand. Thats my goal to be reborn this spring, to stop explaining and listen more.  Inside, I know what it is right and wrong for me, but maybe that is not true for you.  In the end, I trust the process, and I know that is very hard for some people to do, but I do. I know that the good will outweigh the bad, it always has and always will. You may not be able to see it, but it's there. Horrible tragedies have taken place on this planet, atrocities that cannot be forgiven in our human hearts, but the Spirit of the Universe is not human and much greater than I can comprehend. I do not suggest that we sit idly by and let horrible things happen and write them off as God's plan. We must be involved. Stand up for our fellow man and take action for what is right in our hearts. If we have nothing to stand up for, at least do not belittle those that do, how lucky we must be to have not to worry about anything. 

Understanding. Rebirth. Resurrection.
Begin again in a new form. I will try my best and certainly will fail, but I will try.

I will also try NOT to eat every chocolate ass bunny that is laying around this house today, and trust me there are way too many. 

Give yourself a break this spring. If you give yourself a break, you most certainly will give me one too.

Peace, Love, Zito

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Consideration

I have been living the same social life you have been living........mostly online.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram...
It's easy, fun (most of the time) and a good way to stay in touch with those far away.
It still amazes me that I have meaningful conversations with folks I haven't seen in person
in 10 years.  Of course, it also has it's social drawbacks with politics and religion and worst of
all, "Belief", but all in all it has been a good experience and I find more and more ways to have fun again on social media.  Someone mentioned the other day that before social media, people didn't share their every thought with the world, so you really only knew what you had in common with the person. I agree, I definitely do not share my every waking thought with social media,  I don't want people to know everything about me, but some people do like to share it all.
I am a firm believer that if you share something that is personal, like a belief, someone is likely to oppose your view, and because you have shared it on "Social Media", then they will tell you what they think. I am not sure why that makes people angry, it seems to me thats exactly what "Social Media" is made for. I know if I share something political or religious or a hot topic, I am probably going to get some nay-sayers and I am ready to converse and argue my point. I certainly don't get mad when the oppose me, that seems silly. There is an easy fix for that, don't share!
Just keep it to yourself and you can sidestep the entire painful process.
I have also tried very hard to be open minded. When someone shares a view that I do not agree with,
I try to understand.....I may not always do my best, but I try. I wish we could all try a little harder.
My first thought is that this person is an idiot and obviously has no idea what they're talking about.....
but then I realize I am wrong. Of course they're not an idiot, thats another human being. They're must be a reason why they feel this way. So I try to understand where they're coming from and look at things from their perspective. This works 75% of the time, which is a pretty good percentage. There are some that are just sharing really dumb, false information to be inflammatory, so I don't even bother. I have come to understand that in the end, we are all just people. The color of our skin is just that....a different color. The religion we grew up with is just the religion we grew up with.  Our political affiliation is probably very much about where we were born and who told us what to believe when we were young. If I had been born in Syria, I would probably be a Muslim. Not even by choice, just by birth lottery. I was born white in south Saint Louis in 1970 to an Irish woman and a Sicilian man......guess what? I was raised Catholic. Thats just how they do it there.
I was also raised Democrat. My father was a union employee all of his life and I remember many times, when I was young, he was on strike and standing in the picket line all day, all week, for months.  All of this conditioning makes up who I am. I did not choose these beliefs, they were given to me. Over the years as an adult I made my own choices, but over time I settled on keeping some from my upbringing and some I chose on my own, and I am still openminded enough to make new choices.  When it comes to disagreeing with folks over religion, politics, belief, gun control, abortion.....I try and use the spiritual principles. They never do me wrong. The person I am at odds with is not a "Bad Guy", he is a person just like me. He has his own upbringing and experiences and they are just as valid as my own. I am not better than, or less than, I am equal to.
When I follow the spiritual principles, it all works out. When I think something "non-spiritual" about a person, I pray for them. That will usually help. When I look for a common ground, I begin to see them as human beings again and I become compassionate. That is true consideration.
I always remember that this other person is a child of the Universe and has a right to be here.

Some folks say life would be better off without social media, it was easier before this all swept into our lives......but I think that is wrong.  Maybe it seems like we are arguing and bickering more, but in the end we are talking to each other and sharing our very deepest thoughts and concerns. Talking is never a bad thing, neither is sharing. It is better that we talk about it and hash it out, than stew in it and become violent. I see a lot of people fighting online, but I also see a lot of people coming to a conclusion and agreeing on something or just agreeing to disagree, that is progress.

America is the great melting pot. We have all races, creeds, religions. It is a "Live and Let Live" world we have made, so we need to stand by our brothers and sisters and offer them consideration.
Just because we believe differently, does not mean we are different, we are very much the same.

Peace, Love...Zito

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

I can't hear you.....what?

Oh the joys of living life with an alcoholic, stubborn mind :)

Although I am certain most human beings can relate, it still makes me laugh at myself.
When I was young and began drinking, I drank way too much way too fast and would
consistently be told by folks around me that "maybe I had a problem, or needed to slow it down",
but of course I did not listen. They were dumb and didn't know what they were talking about.
So, I pressed on and took the hard way.  Why not? I was from the "Show-Me" state and I don't
generally believe things until I see with my own two eyes.
I could go on and on about the dementia of the alcoholic mind and the absurdity of this way of
thinking, but whats the point? I continue to deal with the same insanity today and haven't had
a drop of of the drink in over 14 years.

I am kind of being funny about all of this, because when it's this sad, you just have to laugh.
So, I play music for a living. (In case you didn't know)
I have been playing music and guitar since I was 10 years old. For hours everyday I have had
my head stuck in front of a loud ass amplifier, just noodling away at no avail.
By the time I was 16, I was playing in bands with loud drums and cymbals, loud guitars and bass
and of course singing through a guitar amplifier. (Cause thats all we had.)
I have been told since the 1980's that I would damage my ears if I did not protect them.
I knew guys that I played with in High School that would wear foam ear plugs to make sure they
didn't hurt themselves and I remember thinking they were absolute DORKS.
Wearing ear plugs seemed so NOT ROCK N ROLL!
Jimi Hendrix choked on his own vomit, THAT was Rock n Roll.
So, I NEVER wore earplugs, ever.

I have never worn protective earplugs or anything in my entire life when playing music,
going to a concert, playing loud guitar....nothing, nada, never.
I made fun of people who did!

Then in the 1990's comes along "In-Ear Monitors"
These are very highly tuned ear pieces that eliminate the need for loud monitor speakers on the stage
and allow the user to hear much better and at lower volumes so it is much safer for your hearing
and also blocks out all of the noise and high end destructive frequencies onstage.
In my mind, this was as "Dorky" as it could get.
UGH....SO not Rock n Roll.
You can't "Feel" the music, feel the rumble, the loud ass cymbals and guitars cranking out all of that
love and goodness....it just seemed weak.

So I went on for another 25 years or so, just cranking away at the volume and disregarding
anyones concern for my personal safety. They were all dumb and I knew better.

Long story short.......here I am with 14 years of sobriety. I have learned to make good choices
in my life, to take care of myself. I try to eat healthy, I try to exercise, get good sleep.
I wear my seatbelt, have insurance, pay my bills, take care of my kids....do all the shit you're supposed to do to be a good upstanding, decent member of society.
But I continue to be around High Volume all of the time with no protection.

Mario Dawson is a great drummer and musician. He is drumming for our 2018 Blues Caravan.
He plays regularly with Bernard Allison. We hit it off on our tour last month and had a wonderful time playing music together. He uses "In-Ear Monitors". He loves them. He showed his to me
and told me how they sounded better than anything I could imagine. He said I really should consider checking them out. So, I decided I would look into this possibility for the first time in my life.
I would consider trying these out. After all, I would like the consistency and maybe, just maybe
I would consider taking care of my ears.
So I set up an appointment to have ear molds made at a local Audiologist and have a hearing test.
I have never had a hearing test in my life. I walked into the office full of confidence and swagger.
I figured maybe I had a little loss on the high end, but overall I was probably fine.
(Because I'm Mike Zito, and I am fairly super human)
I took the test, and in my head "Aced It". I heard everything and this woman was going to tell me
that she was so surprised with my super human hearing..........nope.

She said, and I quote "You have significant hearing loss Mr. Zito".
"you have the hearing loss of an elderly man. If you continue on for another year with this type
of exposure, a hearing aid will not help you at all."

I was baffled. She went on "If you lose just another 10% of your high end hearing, the hairs in your
inner ears will die and things will sound muffled forever. You won't be able to tell if things are necessarily in tune and a hearing aid will not help you to hear clearly. It will be gone forever.
You MUST begin to use these In-Ear monitors immediately to help save what hearing you have left.
If you use these ear monitors from now on, you will hear onstage much better and at a lower volume and they will eliminate the noise thats destroying your ears. This is a choice you have to make,
do you want to hear your children in 10 years?"

Well, there you go. Ok, so what you're saying is I can still hear pretty good?
But I should try to protect myself.
This is what it takes for my alcoholic mind to accept change, it has to be life or death.
Not just the bottom, but the bottom of the bottom.
So, after all these years of making fun or people who were smarter than me, I have to eat crow
and wear these ear pieces onstage that will probably make everything sound better and therefore
I will probably perform better......fine.
Another day in the life of a fool.   I sent my ear molds off to have my first set of in-ear monitors
made for me and I will begin using them in a few weeks.
Feel free to make fun of me and call me a dork, I deserve it 100%.

I am once again lucky in life to have one last chance to save things.
She told me if I began using these at every show, I could go on for the rest of my life playing music
and enjoying what I do and wouldn't suffer much more significant hearing loss.
When faced with the only choice I have, live or die, I decide to choose live.
It's not the end of the world, it's the beginning of a new one.

I share all of this in fodder and in fun, because I love to laugh at myself.
I am an alcoholic, for always and forever.
I live in my own mind and it is a trip.

Maybe younger musicians along the way will see this old man wearing these things onstage
and think "hmm, maybe I should take care of my ears too"
or maybe they'll say "that is SO NOT ROCK N ROLL!"

Peace, Love, Zito




Monday, February 5, 2018

Dreams in action

Here we are, already into 2018 and hurdling ahead like no tomorrow.
This year has taken off with a blast, and despite the News outlets determination to bring about
the end of the world, things seems to be going along just as they always do....

I am alive and well and on the road in Germany with Ruf Records "Blues Caravan Tour".
Ruf Records has been doing this tour for years and it features 3 artists and a rhythm section
on tour, playing each others music and spreading the gospel of the Blues town by town.
I have always wanted to run away with the Caravan, but the time was never quite as right
as it was this year. When Thomas Ruf asked me and my manager to be involved in this years Caravan, we both agreed it was time. But little did we know how special this event would actually be.

2018 is the 20th anniversary of the passing of the great Luther Allison.
Luther Allison is my absolute hero in the Blues. His music changed my life and his energy
and love for his fans has inspired me to take up his torch and give 110% all of the time, no matter what.  His famous motto "Leave your ego, Play the music, Love the people" is tattooed on my right forearm.  Words to live by indeed.

Bernard Allison is the real deal, and has been for decades. I opened for Bernard in Omaha, Ne. in 2006 and we hit it off instantly. I have loved Bernard's work as well, his "Higher Power" album is an absolute must for Blues Rockers.  When I was told that Bernard would be coming back to Ruf Records and joining me on the Blues Caravan, I was ecstatic. When Thomas Ruf told us he was releasing a new Luther Allison Box Set commemorating the 20th Anniversary of his passing and that the 2018 Blues Caravan would be centered around performing and celebrating Luther's music.....
I was over the moon!

What a dream come true for a guy like me. Who would've thought all those years ago living in South St. Louis, listening to Ruf Records of Luther Allison would I be on tour with the mans son, performing his music every night all over the world......WOW is all I have to say.
I have been nothing but humbled by this opportunity in my life.

Bernard and I share a common bond, we both LOVE his Daddy's music and what he was about.
We have known each other for years, but really never had much of a chance to play together until now. We knew it would be good, but maybe not this good. We have a chemistry that doesn't happen everyday. We don't talk about it, we don't discuss it, it just happens and we laugh while we are playing. We have so much fun, it looks like we are little kids.  He will tell me sometimes after the show that it almost sounded like James Solberg and his Father, quite a compliment.
We truly enjoy playing together, for me it is probably the best I have ever played with another guitarist. We just fit and compliment each other.

The Caravan is not complete without a new artist, eager to step out on the scene.
Vanja Sky is a 22 year young lady from Zagreb, Croatia. She learned to play the Blues and Guitar from an old man in a wheel chair in Zagreb who sat outside and played all day.
She has a very good voice and is a strong singer. I had the honor of producing her debut album on Ruf and I was most impressed with her songwriting. She has some of the standard fair we all bring to the Blues table, some good rocking Blues ala SRV and a great cover of Rory Gallagher's Bad Penny,
but for me her slower ballads are deeper than usual. She has a sadness in some of the songs that is very real and haunting. She is a great newcomer for the tour and brings a freshness to the show.

The rhythm section this year is intense and honestly so good. Roger Inniss from the UK is on the Bass guitar and he is something else. Roger has done many Caravan tours before, so he knows how to handle to load of dealing with three artists, and he does so with ease and class. He is a groove-meister with a lot of soul. Mario Dawson hales from Bernard's band on the drums. He jumped in with both feet and seriously lays the groove down. He is strong and rocking and has killer chops for days, but he can swing with the best of them. He also smiles all night long, which is a great quality in a drummer. Roger and Mario are super fun and have this great positive energy they bring to the stage every single night.

There are no egos in this group. No one is a primadonna, everyone works hard to lift each other up
and bring out the best in the group.  I think it is because it is based around Luther Allison and his music. It's not really about us, we do our thing, but the greatness comes when we play the Masters music and share our love for him. The audiences here in Germany have eaten it up.
Luther is a legend in Europe and the love is still so strong today.

I cannot thank my friend Thomas Ruf enough. He started this record label 30 years ago more or less
with Luther Allison. He has kept the fire burning and shares stories with me of he and Luther's travels and touring together. He tells me "I learned everything I know from the Chicago man."
His love and devotion to Luther Allison's Legacy is awe inspiring.
He loves him and misses his friend.

I just wanted to share with you where I am at and what I am doing, as I always do.
I am one of the fortunate few, I am living my dream in action.
The good Lord has blessed me beyond necessity and I am eternally grateful. I play this music
with all my heart, every night and we bring the joy to the people, just as Luther would want.

I haven't had this much fun playing music before, and I think Bernard would say the same,
other than playing with his Daddy.

Peace, Love, Zito



Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Breathing

Happy 2018!
I hope you had wonderful holidays with your families and friends.

When I got clean and sober in 2003, I had no idea how to live.
I had no idea how to function in life without being a thief, a liar, and a cheat.
I was very uncomfortable in my own skin.
I came to understand that I had a serious personality problem and was highly insecure.
Through time and hard work I began to understand who I was and how to live in society.
I began looking people in the eyes when I spoke to them and slowly became comfortable
with the sound of my own voice.  This has been an ongoing process for the past 14 years
and everyday I become more at ease with myself.

Playing music once I became sober was even harder.
I could hear ALL of the music. I could hear my "mistakes", others "mistakes".....
I could hear everything. There was nothing to hide behind anymore.
I had to learn how to perform and play my instrument all over again.
What sounded good to me in the past did not sound as good now and what began to sound
very good to me, I was not very good at.  I would get frustrated with myself easily and with others.
I also noticed that when I played my guitar......I held my breathe.

This was a HUGE awakening for me.
As soon as I stopped singing and began playing the guitar as a solo instrument, I held my breathe.
I held it all the way until I was finished or I could not hold it anymore.
The music did not flow out of me, it was stifled and stiff and choppy.
I couldn't understand why, I don't think I ever did this before......which is probably true.
If I was drunk, I was loose and carefree so it just all kinda came out. I was not so concerned with
how it all sounded, I just played what I felt because I had no inhibitions.
I tried to not hold my breathe when I played and it was awkward and out of rhythm.

I began to notice that I held my breathe a lot.
When others talked and I wanted to interrupt......I held my breathe.
When I had sex......I held my breathe.
When I prayed.......I held my breathe.
When I did not get my way.......I held my breathe.
I literally held my breathe almost all of the time, except when I needed air so bad I would let go and breathe....but only when it was do or die.

It was a revelation. It changed my life. I realized that it was me, I don't do anything until it's do or die.
I was so stubborn and self centered and rebellious that I couldn't even breathe properly until it might kill me to not do so. Everything slowly began to make sense.
I was not partaking in the miracle of life, I was holding my breathe like a spoiled child until I got my way......and I have no idea what I thought I wasn't getting.

So.....I began to play my guitar and breathe. It was like starting all over from the beginning.
I practiced breathing and playing. I would continue to hold my breathe onstage, but I was more mindful of it now and when I did catch myself, I would let the air out and take big breathes while I was playing. It changed everything. I began to play slower and more melodic. I began to take my time and not be in such a hurry, mostly because I could not be in a hurry with my simple, slow breathing. I did this with everything in my life, When I listened to others I diligently took slow, easy breathes in tempo. When I prayed, I would breathe slowly and deeply. It affected everything in the most positive and peaceful way.  My life began to change.......but this is one paragraph that is sharing 14 years of a process that is still ongoing.
I still hold my breathe everyday, but I am much more aware of this and I let go and breathe deep when I realize what I am doing. Slowly over a period of time, I breathe more easily and maybe more than I hold my breathe.

I have learned so much from breathing.
Air is life and without it we are dead.  I have to take part in the breathing process whether I want
to or not. My body will fight my mind on this one and do it all by itself when I am not looking.
This air is all around me and I cannot see it, but I am in the middle of it all of the time and I am breathing it in and out to stay alive.  When I breathe and realize the process, I am overcome with peace and calm. When I apply breathing to making love, the love comes through me.
When I apply breathing to playing my guitar, the music flows through me.
Love is like air, it is all around me, it is what this world is made of. Love is the 5th dimension.
When I let love into my heart and share that love with the world around me, I am taking part in the world and the world is taking part in me. When I cut myself off from the love, I am cut off. I am on my own, choking and gasping. I can't feel the energy and I have nothing to share. The music does not come from me, it comes from the Love. If I hold my breathe and play my guitar, it starts out ok but ends badly with a bunch of notes that make no sense. It doesn't move you and it serves no purpose other than my ego. When I breathe and let go and play what comes through me, I will become more open to what the Love wants to share. When the Love is shared through the music, you can feel it and it I can feel it and we have an other worldly experience. This is true with all of life.
Playing music isn't important, the Love is important.
Breathing is important, it saves my life every second.
When I stop breathing, I begin to die.
I am cut off of the Love, the air that flows through us all.

This may all sound very hokey and cheesy to some of you and maybe even silly,
but not to me. I used to idolize Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, SRV, and others for being crazy on drugs
and alcohol when they played music, thinking they were "otherworldly".
But I realize today, they were trying to find the Spirituality in the music, to play from somewhere
other than themselves. It's in the air, it's all around us, we just have to be open to accepting the Love.
The drugs and alcohol do not work, not in the long run. They might open your mind at first,
but they will only go so far and they will stop working if you use them long enough.

The deeper, more narrow path is spiritual. It is where the true Love can be found.
It all begins with breathing.

I try not to judge myself today, I play what I feel.
I breathe and let it go and be of service to the Higher Love.

Peace, Love, Zito