Why Do We Sabotage Ourselves?


Self Sabotage

Have you had the experience where something good happened and you feel you sabotaged the outcome by going in a different direction, taking action that didn’t seem to serve you at all? Have you wondered why?

It can be fear, yes — whether fear of success, or fear of failure, or fear you are not good enough, or that you are not worthy of good things. All that can apply, because those things beset most of us at one time or another. But maybe, just maybe, that is not always the whole story.

On the one hand, of course, it is like shooting ourselves in the foot — we end up losing a great opportunity, or a chance to live a dream, or to meet someone we admire, or achieve a goal desired.

On the other hand, sometimes, it could signal the seeds of a new awareness, our inner voice giving us insight into some greater knowledge — that whatever we are being offered is not what we need at that time, or truly want, or because in the end in our heart and spirit we know the direction, opportunity, or meeting presented to us is not part of the true destiny we are meant to create on earth in this incarnation. Over time, this voice can become stronger, if nurtured.

Being Conscious–or Unconscious

Life is all about choices — making them, rejecting them, being afraid of them. It all depends on how conscious we are of what we are doing. Do we react most of the time when things happen? Do we blame fate or fortune or other people or our parents or those who betrayed us or the unfairness of life for whatever outcome has occurred ? This is being unconscious.

What if, instead, we let ourselves step back and look at the larger picture? What if we chose awareness and took responsibility for what we see, knowing how we choose to act in any given situation will determine the outcome for us, more than anything else? Awareness is being conscious.

How Do We Become Aware?

This is a process that never stops — for we are on this earth to learn the truth and that is why it is such an extraordinary, unique, and blessed experience, no matter what happens.

But there are signs we can trust that we are becoming more aware, ensuring our choices are not self-sabotage after all, but an emerging wisdom.

These signs come from our subconscious mind deep within and are unmistakable, such as:

  • You want to know more about who you are.
  • You feel a restlessness, an energy rising that questions what is going on.
  • You sense a willingness to consider forgiving someone or something in your life.
  • You understand the meaning of the words “I’d rather be free than right.”
  • You find being in Nature often is more than a respite — it is a necessity for your spirit.
  • You sense a greater connectedness to a feeling of Oneness.

And the process, the learning, only expands. Life for you is no longer about being safe and more about being authentic to your true being.

That is when sabotaging your dreams becomes impossible. The rising inner voice is louder, and you listen more closely, and more often.

You begin to live the conscious life.

You allow yourself to become aware.

Using Self-Doubt to Your Advantage


How can self-doubt be an advantage in our existence? Obviously it can be paralyzing, for we are afraid what we are doing is not the best or good or enough. We seem to fret about this often. We would readily say the last thing exploring the emotion of self-doubt brings us is happiness, right?

Maybe, but then again, maybe not. For it can also be a light in the mysterious and sometimes stormy path our life takes.

It is more than possible that self-doubt is there as something to explore intentionally, because everyone experiences it — like some code we have been given at birth to figure out. And it spurs us onward or stops us in our tracks. Our free will decides which way.

The most successful people in the world have self-doubt. Why? That is the point — and perhaps the advantage — the bridge into full wholeness of self. We are meant to take this winding journey of uncertainty because through it we learn to trust ourselves, to know our strength and purpose of will, to realize when something matters to us, and to keep doing what we are doing no matter what tries to stop us, including that inner, doubtful voice — the one that comes from ego, the one we use to compare ourselves with someone else, anyone else, except our own true voice.

You may have doubted yourself, but have you noticed that more often than not you have prospered in spite of that? It is called life, and it is shaped according to your desires, dreams, and courage. You are the arbiter, no one else.

Would you know what courage is if you had never been afraid? Would you be able to gather strength against the odds if you had never experienced failure and seen how you could rise from it like the phoenix?

Every time you go through self-doubt and push through to the other side, you are more than you were before. That is a good thing. Trust in who you are and who you are becoming.

You Are Meant to Thrive


snow crystal https://www.flickr.com/photos/151798735@N05/33574539376/in/album-72157680437808676/


You are here to thrive in the unique essence of who you are. You were born in God’s grace. Everything good is intended for you. This is true at all levels of your being — emotional, spiritual, intellectual, psychological, mental, and practical. You are as unique as a snowflake, for no one like you will ever exist again exactly the same way.

So What Seems to Go Wrong, to Our Way of Thinking?

Somewhere along the line most of us picked up a different story, and for reasons mysterious and unwarranted, we believed it — that we were not worthy, that we had to doubt ourselves, that we were not loved.

The negativity we buy into informs us to one degree or another, in one endeavor or another, that we have less value.


Such thinking and feeling derives from misconceptions, of which there are many. But these three seem to flourish more than others.

  • You believe what others think of you matters, even when they put you down.
  • You feel you must please others even when it defies your own sense of well-being.
  • You don’t trust in who you are.

Most people spend more time in inner criticism than they do in thinking positively about themselves — in a ratio of 80% to 20%. Even high achievers will do this. Even people who have done good works for humanity will doubt they have value. Artists and composers and successful entrepreneurs — the same story. As if they all had won the prize of success by fooling their audiences.

But self-criticism is not virtue. You deserve to thrive in joy, valuing who you are. There is no doubt of this.

How We Compensate

Someone said to me that it was wrong to boast about what they had done. I would probably agree that it is not the best way to proceed, for it rarely is done to share joy but to cover up insecurities.

But I am not thinking of that aspect so much as what happens to people when they do not trust their own right to become all that they can be — when they censor themselves out of fear, or assume the patterns of the past are fixed.

It is a truth that change is the only constant. There is always a chance to do things differently. There is always a way to alter the path you are on and move into something that matters to you.

Telling the Story

I wrote a post a while back called “The Stories We Tell Ourselves.” The thing is, the story we tell ourselves IS the one we believe, even if it’s wrong. It is a form of hypnosis we achieve so well because we tell ourselves this story many times a day.

Changing the story is not easy — but it is the best thing you can do for yourself. It is a process ongoing, as you learn and make adjustments and choose your path. External events can affect you so fast and so much. You need to give yourself space to let go of reflex actions and responses triggered by that inner hypnosis.

Shedding the Reaction

We are human, we are going to react, and we must feel what we feel. But let the negative feeling exist only for a split second. After that, shed it like a snake’s skin.

The negative opinion of others is not something we are meant to own and keep. We might learn something new, but we cannot thrive on such opinions. They do not belong to us.

Instead, we are meant to acknowledge the dance of life, the choreography of all that happens to us, whatever it is, and choose how we want to be from then on.


Believe in the power that is within you…

Believe in the song that sings inside you…

Believe in your right to do and be…

It is your birthright.

You, in your human form, are the precious, tangible evocation of Spirit.

You are meant to thrive.

Billy the Kid Versus “Billy the Kid”–the Power of Legend


Billy the Kid--Public Domain--Ben Wittig

One of the most iconic figures that came out of stories of the Wild West was Billy the Kid, also known as William H. Bonney, a gunfighter who entered American folklore and inspired more than one tall tale. His life as a “desperado” has been described in books, film, music, and on stage. A television series ran two years in the early 1960s, depicting Billy as a pretty nice guy–a fabrication that appealed widely to audiences. In every depiction, he is followed by Sheriff Pat Garrett, the man who eventually shot and killed him in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Billy was 21 years old.

Billy the Kid murdered eight people, lived for a time as a cattle rustler, and when he was first captured by Garrett managed to release himself from handcuffs and shackles, kill two deputies, and escape–some said singing on his horse on his way out. His crimes were written up by the New York Sun. His reputation was enhanced further when a bounty of $500.00 was put on his head. In today’s money, that is equivalent to $11,000.00.

Copland’s “Billy the Kid”

When Aaron Copland wrote his “Billy the Kid: Ballet Suite” in 1938, he saw it as “perception of the pioneer West, in which a figure such as Billy played a vivid role.” It is a marvelous piece, filled with folk tunes and cowboy songs woven into it, and hailed as the beginning of the unique “American sound” in classical music. The music romanticizes Billy, and only much later did Copland observe that had he known the real criminal mindset of Billy the Kid, he might not have written the music at all. But it is a grand piece, and we would be bereft without it. It is an old argument–is something of less value because of the premise that inspired it? Or does creativity require  a different dimension of judgment?

Why the Myth of the Cowboy”?

What is a more salient observation, though, is the question of why Americans have absorbed the myth of the gunfighter so absolutely. The degree has varied, but it is a myth that has never been forsaken.

Many years ago I worked on a grant for the National Endowment for the Arts about the last of the cowboys. In the course of it I went with others to Missouri and saw Jesse James’ homestead, a farmhouse that lay in the distance across an open field. I’d grown up watching westerns–it was a thrill to see that legendary place. But that is the power of myth–of believing something that was always in the distance, that sparked the imagination, and brought with a feeling of adventure and action and glamour. For that is exactly what the legends of the cowboys did–brought us into a world that didn’t exist, but we half wished did–a world where we never experienced the same routine, never stayed in one place, always had a new horizon ahead of us. That is the power of myth–that we can be more than we think we are.

But the Truth of It…

The truth of it is we have extolled, valued, remembered, and absorbed legends that belong to killers and thieves, a violent set of characters who lived larger than life, yes, but with the intent to do harm, whenever they had the chance. These were not nice people. For whatever reasons, they were damaged in some way, perhaps even by the relentless westward expansion of America that took no prisoners. We have as our heroes people who would as soon do us in as say hello.

Yet the power of the legends does not fade, even now. Our society is a mirror to the Old West, though we are far ahead of it in time. We visualize violence as a virtue–a hero’s path. Look at 80% of the films and television shows now available. It is a world, in that respect, that has not changed.

The question is–is this the truth we want? Is that why it persists? Or does it signal something else we are unwilling to give up?

This Is the Forest Primeval


This is the forest primeval

These words open Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem Evangeline, published in 1847:

“THIS is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.”

I have heard this poem since childhood, read aloud to me by my father and read also in school often. The sometimes archaic expressions did not phase us back then–we understood the idea was that we were meant to feel the words when we listened.

Although Longfellow tells the true story in this poem of a place called Acadie and the expulsion of the French from Nova Scotia by the British, separating two lovers, these opening words are an image from his home near the coast of Maine, at a time when the pristine wilderness in America still existed much as it had before the invasion of the Europeans in the early 1600s. This aspect carried great meaning to his contemporary audience, for the book went through six printings in its first six months and was received with enthusiasm internationally.

Why? It was more than the story. In the setting he gives, we are delivered into a region that existed much as it had for millennia, that had never until now been explored, that was still a symbol of the frontier to many, though soon that frontier would encompass the west at a furious pace. And it was a place also experiencing the encroachment of the foreign invasion–faster than could be dreamed.

There is a curious contradiction in the American  mindset, a two-sided vision of our reality. On the one hand is our materialism, our sense of ownership of the land and everything on it, there for the taking. On the other is awe, something embedded in us by the poets and artists and writers and painters and composers who have from the beginning attempted to explain this vast landscape in symbols of their own, an awe that at its source reveals a deep love and reverence for the incomprehensible beauty and gift of the earth we live on, of this wilderness we have entered. 

We have so far tended to learn only one side of that contradiction, the hunt and grab one.

Yet we are not bereft of the other side, the awe and acknowledgment of this wondrous land. It is still there to know.

God willing we keep it so.

Distraction: Are You Addicted To It?



An absolutely wonderful and wise person, James Van Praagh, described in one of his books what he felt held him back the most whenever he let it:  DISTRACTION! He put a large piece of paper on his refrigerator with that one word on it, to remind himself not to yield to the seductive power of getting distracted from his purpose or in his life. He wasn’t suggesting we must be focused all the time. But he was observing that we must be wiling to allow quiet time, reflective time, and also to use time with some form of intention.

No Quiet Time

What is it we seem to do these days? It isn’t to allow quiet time. Very much the opposite. Pema Chodron described in an interview with Bill Moyers that when she was on a plane journey, the battery of sounds from devices all around her was overwhelming–cell phones, broadcasts, movies, laptops, video games–no one was just sitting and looking out the window, or engaged in thought–the closest they came to quiet time was when they were sleeping. What struck her most was that people seemed afraid to be in their own thoughts, as if there was some real disconnect going on between the inner and outer selves.

Becoming Oblivious

Late in his life Ray Bradbury watched people walking along the street with ear buds, listening to a device, oblivious to the world around them, and not speaking to the person they were with. He shouted out in frustration that he’d written a story about that very happening in 1953 and it was supposed to be science fiction! But the telling point in his story wasn’t that we should not enjoy listening to a recording–perhaps an audiobook, or music, but that we seemed to use our devices unceasingly, constantly, for everything–as if being without the device were impossible. What would he say to the sea of heads walking along the streets now! Heads everywhere bent to their cell phones anxiously seeing what message had come in. Was it important? Did it help them discover some idea? Was it vital to receive, so much so they had to check even while dining or at a movie and grow anxious, get an adrenaline flow, if no messages showed up for awhile? Unless they were emergency personnel or doctors, they had no reason to do this–did they?

So What Is Going On?

Maybe people cannot stand themselves, or are afraid of their own thoughts? Sure, sometimes, we all are. But this level of usage, this passion for checking for messages, is different in degree, in its omnipresent visibility. This kind of distraction, at a subconscious level, comes from a persistent,  almost insatiable desire to escape the reality that is, to control reality as much as possible, to make sure everything that is going on is known, sorted, addressed–with nothing left to chance.

Addiction Tipping Point

It’s possible that soon we will have reached a tipping point, in which our consuming need to be “doing” something has translated into an addiction to stare at our phones–not missing a single message, or a new tweet, or an ad for a movie, or a news flash, or a word from an unknown admirer–anything will do.

It is a global event. Each country has its own version of this, whether it be Twitter, Snapchat, or Whatsapp, and more. It is a global phenomenon that on its good side allow a level of communication unheard of, unimagined, in just a decade. But at what price?

Addictive Effect On Us

It is also a terrible burden, for it slices our life into fragments of experience. And these fragments are forgotten as soon as they arrive–our need is to have them happen, not to remember them. They keep us from ourselves, from our work, and from each other–we have become silos of texting.

Perhaps most of all it is the distraction of our technology that has taken us away from being involved in life in deeper ways.

It has taken us away from  being “present” in our own life.

But the technology is not at fault. It is neutral. It makes no decisions. It has no power. It does not control anything. Unless we say so.

We are the ones who choose to give our own personal power away to it.

We always, always, always have the right to say NO to using the devices, to turning on the phones. We can–sometimes–refuse the distraction of it all. Our decision. Our responsibility. Our choice.

What Does That Mean?

Are we are willing to know who we are and, for a while at least,
enter the quiet time within, uninterrupted?

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Erasing the Debris of Old Energy


CC BY-NC-SA 2.0--Thicket--Haataja

Erasing the debris of old energy frees us. But it is not easy to do. It is like trying to cut through a dense thicket with a pocket knife. We often cannot fathom what a better tool might be, or even how to use it. Yet that debris weighs us down, saps our energy, so that we are not giving 100% of ourselves to life and living.

How can we remove that debris? What often goes unacknowledged is that sometimes we don’t want to–not because we want to stay where we are so much as that we are afraid to move out of the familiar, even if that familiar state is not good for us.

Change–any kind of change–is a step out into the unknown. It isn’t surprising how many of us hesitate to do that. Anything could happen and what control would we have over it, when the shift into something new has no markers for us to follow?

But the heavy word in that sentence is “control.” It is fear that drives us when we think something could be out of our control. We are not accustomed to letting life evolve. We have to make things happen–our way. And there is the difficulty–the thicket we create for ourselves, and the debris we keep adding to it, inside ourselves, to make sure we are safe–all comes from the feeling that whatever happens must be our way or else it does not make sense to us.

Staying aware but allowing each moment to be whatever it is, whatever it is showing us–this is not easy to do. It takes practice.

That practice is to let go–let go of our demand that everything be safe and stay safe, be familiar and stay familiar. Of course, we want some predictability in our life–and we enjoy doing things in familiar ways for study, for community, for entertainment. But that is different than choosing to leave our comfort zone in an action of trust that new worlds of perception might open, or are opening.

Our creativity–at a core level–comes from allowing ourselves to explore other ways of being. We don’t have to follow them, necessarily. But we discover suddenly there is a new energy in us, running through us, that in its natural evolution expands our consciousness.

And in essence, consciousness–all levels of our consciousness–creates the precious uniqueness of who we are.

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Dare To Be Known


dare to be known

If there is one thing that seems to affect most of us, it is a hesitancy to dare to be known, to let who we are “show up” — so that our authentic selves are visible wherever we are. Instead, we try to hide, to disguise, to cover up, to misdirect any attention away from our true inner being. It could even be said we are content to be anonymous.

Now, by all accounts, this appears to be the opposite of our day-to-day experience wherein each person we encounter wants their opinion, thought, idea, or outlook to be front and center. People want to be heard, to be noticed, to have a feeling of being wanted, desirable, important, liked, admired, praised. Each of us at some level feels each of these things.

The difference is that being noticed or praised or important has nothing to do with our authentic self. To dare to be known has nothing to do with any action we take or behavior we lay claim to.

Living an authentic life means we look at who we are in terms of one thing only–that we love who we are. Everything begins there.

What Is Your Inner Chatter About Yourself?

Have you caught yourself thinking negative things about your appearance, thoughts, behavior, outlook, achievements, social skills, intellect, likeability, worthiness? Or do you find most of the time the voice inside your head has good things to say — that you are not only loving but loved, that your presence on earth is unique and for that reason alone invaluable, that you matter as much as anyone else, that your outlook is creative and life-giving?

A good guess is that if you dared to log your inner chatter about yourself for even one hour, the negative to positive comments would have a ratio of 80/20 — or even 90/10. Most of us habitually diminish ourselves by feeling disappointment at our choices in the past, distress over our personality, uncertainty in what we believe, and intense fear other people will find out we are not valuable.

The truth is every person is valuable, no exceptions. What happens is we forget, or ignore, or cannot accept this truth. Why not? The reasons are as varied as the number of people on the planet. No two stories are the same.

Do You Deserve the Good Life?

You don’t have to do anything to deserve the good life. You ARE the good life, and every time you choose to know this — to remember this — you give that feeling to everyone you encounter.

It isn’t rocket science. If in your spirit you feel loved, then you automatically send that love out into the world wherever you go.This doesn’t mean you will like everyone you meet, or find common ground  with them, or experience only positive things. It just means you allow all that because it is life. You deal with what you have to and move on. Without judgment.

You don’t feel loved, you say? If you exist, you are loved, by God, by All That Is, by the Universe–you choose whatever word works for you. Just know it is true. There is no doubt of this. And you are meant to love who you are. Without judgment. Your presence here is no accident.

When we dare to be known as we are, we are saying YES to who we are.

It changes everything.

Try it just once for ten minutes. If you dare. You will be amazed at what happens.

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Trust Yourself


Trust Yourself

Do you trust yourself? Do you believe you are made of “star stuff,” as the scientists tell us? Do you know how perfect you are?

You do know these things. We all do, but we live life often in a state of amnesia, or as if this information is meant to be hidden away. Our focus is given over to time-honored distractions instead — fitting in, being a certain way to please another, choosing a safe career or path or point of view, not rocking the boat, settling for less, distrusting our abilities and talents…

and distrusting our ability to thrive.

Yet here we are, created in the image of God, every single person and creature and tree and flower on the planet. Every sigh of the wind, every pebble on a dirt path, every leaf blown across a field or along the street, every sea tide — all are evidence of God in and on the Earth, just as your own presence is.

Choosing to Say Yes

When you trust yourself, you say YES to life. You have already lived many stories, gone through many stages, and walked many unexpected paths.

It is a certainty things have not turned out the way you have planned, not always or even often. Life requires us to FEEL it all. It is a journey through your  feelings, according to the details  of your experiences and reactions and actions taken. Saying YES to this is acknowledging not only the life-force, but your own place in it.

There is no “objectivity.” What we see is through  the prism of our emotions. That is our purpose on this earth — to sort through our emotions and discover how to experience them in a way that adds to the quality of our life. This is how we bring passion into our heart and spirit.

Integrating Trust into Who You Are

There is no way anyone else’s feelings affect you as much as your own feelings do. They are the manifestation of your heart, not your brain — they are the source of joy or pain, according to how much you have discovered about yourself, and how  much of that you are willing to face, absorb, and integrate.

We tend to spend an inordinate amount of time doing what we are supposed to do. It is easier, and it is often safer. Yet it means — it always means — we are letting go of our innate being, who we are in God’s image — to accommodate a way of life that is not genuine to our soul.

Our public institutions — and that includes the law, religion, groups, and family — have rules for us to follow. These are often fine–they create a choreography of action and response, a dance, if you like, of what is both predictable  and unexpected. We learn from these. It is when we give our power — or trust — over to them to the exclusion of the inner heart that we begin to falter in spirit.

Integrating trust in ourselves into everything we do brings peace, and a joy that cannot  be contained.

It also brings a feeling of inner power, a feeling that we are meant to give service to the planet, to ourselves and those we love, and to the voice of the stars that sing all the time in our very cells.

Why John Williams Inspires Us…


why john williams inspires us...

It’s understood that music enhances films, and no one has done that better than John Williams. But as I listen to his compositions, I wonder sometimes whether in fact his music does much more. Perhaps sometimes his music is the primary reason the film succeeds.

The common cliche is that all filmmaking is a collaborative process, so I wager Williams would be the first to deny the possibility his music alters anything. He’s written so many scores, including the scores for Star Wars, Home, Alone!, E.T., Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark,  Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Jurassic Park, Superman, Harry Potter–movies I adore.

But I find if I mute the score when I’m watching those films, something seriously changes. It is as if the heart of the film is absent. Not just its emotional feeling tone, but the reason I’m watching.

The Music Is Telling the Story…

Williams’ music creates the story at a level we can’t resist:

  • “Luke’s Theme” plays as young Skywalker looks out at the discs of two suns–it is the notes we hear that reveal Luke’s yearning–a haunting, unforgettable image.
  • The neighborhood filled with Christmas lights as the camera zooms in becomes enchanted with the synth chimes and celeste, the woodwinds and sleigh bells that Williams gives to the opening of Home, Alone! He used the celeste again in the first Harry Potter film as “Hedwig’s Theme.” Who doesn’t want to enter a magical world like these two musical openings promise? (I remember a television ad appearing before the first film was released playing this theme as it showed the snowy owl Hedwig tracking to a bookstore–it pulled one in like a magnet.)
  • In Superman, there is marvelous thematic music, but underlying it also is something in the music itself that offers a sense of the unknown, of the immense mythology of the franchise, its origins back in the 30s, and the entry into a world that has such a wonderful being in it, our own mystical yearning for that kind of goodness.

His Music IS Storytelling

In these movies, as in the others he scored for, including Schindler’s List, I can’t separate the music from the film itself. Without the music, the movie loses more of its meaning.  What Williams has created does define the experience of watching the story. His music is storytelling. It can’t be left out.

As in Star Wars…

I remember in an interview George Lucas said that on the opening night of Star Wars he and his wife Marcia went out to get something to eat in L.A., and were astonished to see a mob of people across the street and a line around the block. He wondered why and suddenly realized it was to see Star Wars. He hadn’t expected such response. He felt it was a film he hadn’t been able to shape in its full potential, that he lacked the technical devices he needed to make it better.

I remember watching it in a theater in New York City, in Times Square, a few days after its release, and taking my three-year old son with me, and both of us sat mesmerized along with the rest of the world by the opening credits made colossal by Williams’ extraordinary music as the story began to unfold. Imagine that opening scene without that remarkable score. If for Lucas the technical aspects were not what he had dreamed of, Williams’ music made the entire movie a riveting, totally absorbing and emotional experience.

A Truly American Composer

He wrote symphonic themes, too, that were so essentially, blazingly American, defining the films that way. I remember hearing him conduct his original music for the film The Reivers. It held in it the same contours of folk melodies attached to the American landscape that appeared with Aaron Copland’s exquisite music in “Appalachian Spring” and “The Red Pony,” or Virgil Thomson’s “The Plow That Broke the Plains” for the documentary on the Dust Bowl. Williams is a true artist, and how fortunate we are he brought that same classical tradition into the movies.

And how fortunate that insightful directors asked him to write his brilliant  music for their films. So he did in ways that ensured the characters and their stories would forever be part of our hearts, and often, part of our souls.