Why a 5-yen coin hangs in my office

In the mid-1980s I had been living in Japan. When I left I was flat broke with nothing but a few coins in my pocket, and a suitcase full of cassettes of new-age music—a brand new genre that had barely reached the shores of North America. I got a job right away working at a radio station in Los Angeles that experimented with that relaxing music.

My appetite for that genre became ravenous. I devoured all of it I could find, at record shops and at concerts. I spent hours each day drifting into Shangri-La with Kitaro, Vangelis, Andreas Vollenweider, Osamu Kitajima, Tangerine Dream and loads of lesser-known artists from exotic places with unpronounceable names. Meanwhile, I experimented with my own compositions.

Fast-forward three decades. A little Japanese furin bell hangs on my office door. It rings every time a person walks in. Suspended from that bell is one of the 5-yen coins I carried in my pocket in Japan all those years ago not knowing what the future would hold.

Every time that bell rings I am reminded of humble beginnings and the wonder and excitement of what still lies ahead.

Here’s what happened when I went a week without social media

I have embraced electronic communications since I was really young. Staying connected is just one of those things that makes the world more interesting. In 1995, twenty years before Facebook, I had a pager connected to my email so that I could get “instant messages” including email and news updates anywhere. Yes, a pager. But in those days, we were willing to look ridiculous to stay connected! Continue reading “Here’s what happened when I went a week without social media”