The Origins Of My Inspiration...

Over the next few weeks, I'll be publishing articles highlighting some of the people who've influenced my life and being. Heroes of my own as it were.

These posts will in some cases, include interviews or cover many aspects about what makes them a hero to me, where the term hero actually means someone who inspires you to better yourself and participate in the world in a meaningful way, against the social tidal forces that would simply suffocate most of us into stagnation.

They can be as modest as a favourite Artist, Youtuber or Blogger a positive influence from your childhood and life or perhaps an activist or public figure that inspires you to pursue your dreams and to affect the world.

So without further ado, I introduce the first and foremost influences in my life: my parents.

My Father, David Schindler,
the real inspiration for Bryce Maxwell
I'd like to introduce you to the man who along with my Mother, raised my brother and I, making the promise to us that as long as we were under his care that we'd always have a roof over our head and a full belly, and I can honestly say that was the least of what my brother and I gained from this man who is my Father.

Firstly, my brother and I were inspired from the start by my parents, though it took my parents a lot of hard work for us to progress in life as we started as a family from the very bottom. So nothing in life was simply handed to either of my parents. They worked hard for everything they had and even harder so that they could raise two (sometimes mischievous) boys.

Thanks to my parents and to my Father (I call him David though he's still my Father), we ventured out across Canada and through the northern United States visiting nearly every province in Canada, in a retrofitted van/camper. By the time I was nine years old, I'd seen most of Canada, from the West over to Ontario and by the time I was 15, I'd seen Ontario eastwards to Quebec and into New Brunswick as well. This was all part of my parents' doing for us growing up as kids. I'd also been many places in the United States as well, including the Big Easy itself: New Orleans, though I was far too young to appreciate the music that makes New Orleans tick.

By the time I was in my teens, along with my brother and I, we'd had a very solid beginning to life and learned the value of responsibility and perseverance once again, thanks to my parents.

Specifically, my love for the Piano comes from my Father. I started taking lessons when I was around 7 or 8 years old, and during that time my Father taught me a lot as well. One of my favourite sayings of his that he has about music relates to the fact that so many people regard a musical education as being limiting. The way he'd put it makes perfect sense. If you want to be a rebel and write your own music, your own way, then you have to learn the rules of music and theory, because you can't break rules that you don't know. When you get a music education, you're immediately thrust much closer to the limits of what humankind explores with regard to music and you know the familiar music like the back of your own hands. There's no stifling your creativity. You just have more options and are aware of much more than you would be otherwise not to mention that you can think in music the same way that you can think in your language of choice. You can even write music in your head, then write it down without even needing to be near an instrument.

He'd certainly been involved with music since his days in school, and later, gigging as a professional musician and even an arranger from the time that was a big deal.

Thanks to my Father, I gained this early insight into music and its relationship to mathematics, without turning creativity into a form of probabilistic determinism. There is real creativity, but there are also reasons why all of humankind, even those civilizations out of contact with one another developed systems of musical theory that are so strikingly similar that they could hardly be regarded as being different from one another. Like language. Sure languages have different symbols. They have distinct concepts between them, but most of those symbols correspond directly by way of symbols we call words. So I came to realize this through my Father's guidance at a fairly young age.

I came to love both science and mysticism as well, though I favoured science because back then I wanted to be Scientist. As a result of my own choices, I didn't really create the kind of foundation that would lead me to an education, or career as a Scientist and our lives got a lot bumpier during our teenage years. Especially for my parents, who after years of hard work and dedication to their music careers, literally lost everything over the course of a couple of years. They lost some due to changes in the economy. Some due to the malice of thieves and criminals who broke into my parent's apartment and stole the last of my parent's musical equipment, no less than a year after my parents had lost their home, and their business. That was a very rough time for us and especially so for them, but they persevered and those events nearly tore our family apart. People don't realize how much damage comes from such crimes, and for those thieves to target a family who'd just lost their business and home. Pretty despicable. It still makes me angry when I think about it.

So my Father being the determined fellow that he is, immediately went out and got a job. Any job. Working gruelling labour and long hours for years until he and my Mother had enough money to put another down payment on a small house. They never had anything handed to them in their life. For my parents, it was a case of: if you build it, they will come. Even in the face of starting from nothing. Working hard and eventually buying a home (paying a sizeable monthly mortgage), starting a business and working their regular musical gigs, they lost it all, but kept a roof over our heads at all times. They worked for years to save up for another down payment and pay off their prior responsibilities to their business and mortgage. They paid a $26,000 down payment (right down to bringing rolls of pennies to the bank) and bought another house and started again with two young adult children. During that time, my parents had to give up their music careers in order for all of this to happen and to keep a roof over our heads. But we always had a Piano. Always.

My love of music, the Piano, the Sciences, Mysticism, creativity and a great deal many other things come from my parents and each of my parents can be found in my books in one way or another.

Most certainly and the most obvious is the fact that the real-life Bryce Maxwell is based upon my Father. Sure, my Father isn't a Quantum Physicist, but he's familiar enough with the topic much like myself that he could talk with people in the field intuitively. Moreso however, it's his heart for music that really comes out in the character and leads him to become a mentor for the character Alicia to pursue her career in the sciences. Alicia isn't a projection of me (as a female) and what I didn't become, but more so a calling card to young women of all shapes and sizes and levels of confidence to pursue your dreams. Something I got from both my Mother and my Father, but there were times when it really came out through him and our connection to the Piano.

That's why Bryce Maxwell is one of my favourite characters both to write and even to read afterwards, though there is no character in my books that isn't a part of that whole, but this post is about my parents and their connection to what became Shhhh! Digital Media.

I did a post the other day about some of my Mother's more recent musical work and nothing gives me more joy than to know that my Mother is working on music again. During my childhood, my Mother ensured that any Halloween that my brother and I went out and celebrated trick or treating, that we had awesome costumes.

Keep in mind that this is long before cosplay. My Mother was making modern cosplay quality costumes in the late 1970s and early 1980s and I kid you not. I went out one year in a full-bodied costume head to toe as Spiderman. The costume was nearly as good as the one from the Toby McGuire feature films. The following year I went out as Lizard Man (Curt Connors, one of Spiderman's arch enemies). That costume was absolutely incredible and along the lines of a dinosaur mascot for a baseball team or something of that nature. It was incredible. So year after year, with my Mother being a talented dressmaker and seamstress too, she would design our Halloween costumes. That was how I gained immense respect for both the costume designers in Film and Fashion designers. That of course would go on to translate to my character, Heylyn Yates aka Ai Yuanlin Ying or the Butterfly Dragon.

When I was studying Piano lessons back when I was 8 or 9, I spent about nine months learning Tae Kwon Do at a YMCA that was right around the corner from my Piano lessons, along with my brother. That put the seed for Martial arts in the character but it was really solidified by the drummer from my parent's band, Stewart Morgan (Sensei), who at that time was a Blackbelt in Goju Ryu, real authentic Kumite based Okinawan Karate (which both my brother and I would train in, to a limited degree later in life). I eventually went on and studied Goju Jujitsu Ryu. My brother carried on the martial arts tradition by having his children train, one of which I believe is two steps (Kyu) away from achieving his Blackbelt. Hence why the foundation for the Martial Arts in the character The Butterfly Dragon starts with Goju Ryu, inspired by Stewart Morgan Sensei. The second step came from the modest training I'd had in Tae Kwon Do when I was 8 or 9 which accounts for "Tiger" Hoon Kwang and his Dojang being the second step. There is also a very good Dojang in our community (Eagle Tae Kwon Do).

When I was in my mid-thirties, I studied Chen Style Tai Chi (from a real Chen Master) at Riverdale Park outside of Bridgepoint Hospital during the first decade of the new Millenium (around 2004/2005) where it was free as long as you could get up at 5am to make it for the class. He'd walk four kilometers to the park arriving at around 5:30 AM to teach. After class he'd walk back. He did this in his eighties. No kidding. That's where and when I developed the mysticism for the world of the Butterfly Dragon, taking it further to base it upon Shaolin Kung Fu and eventually Wing Chun as being the third step. 

Ironically, a decade and a half later, I'd find work as a landscaper at forty eight years old (while writing A Piano, A Full Glass And The Disappearance Of Time), and join Aikido (a Japanese martial art based upon Aiki-jutsu from the original Samurai curriculum and focused upon joint locks, holds and weapons training including the Wakashazi and the Katana amongst others), to which I'd attend classes three times a week after having walked four kilometres to and from my work, keeping in mind that I'd do gruelly labour for the day between walking to and from that work. I got a taste of what its like for an eighty year old guy to wakeup at 4 AM every day and walk four kilometres just so he could teach a Tai Chi class (a Chinese based martial arts system focused on exercise, meditation and balance) for an hour and a half, and then walk home four kilometres afterwards.

Despite what people say about Aikido, it is worth it as a philosophy and when practiced with other martial arts and a regimen of daily exercise, it has practical application and is very rewarding.

There are many other influences for everything I've ever created as part of Shhhh! Digital Media, but my parents are the most prolific and ever-present in all of my work. If anything, I learned from my parents, always to be perseverant, responsible and keep a good compass. One that doesn't jump back and forth between directions every second. One who voyages thousands of miles with a broken compass, is still stuck in the same place even after decades of travel and I mean that in a metaphorical not literal sense. Lessons that took me into my mid thirties to learn.

I'm focusing on presenting some of the body of my parent's work in this post and seeing as I started with my Mother's recent work with boyfriend, Wayne Buttery on another post, I'll begin with some of my Father's recent musical work and share some of my parent's musical history.

Livin' The Life That I Love

Written and arranged by David Schindler. Drums and Percussion by Stewart Morgan. Vocals: Neil Parent.

Want to see a small sample of Bryce in action?

David Schindler Cocktail Piano and Wedding Sampler

Narration And Piano: David Schindler

This is something my parents Rita Johns and David Schindler recorded back in 1987.

Haunted By Love (1987)

Written and Performed by: Rita Johns and David Schindler

A Little Bit Of Love (1981)

Written and Performed by: Rita Johns and David Schindler
It was this album that resulted in my Mother's (and Father's) Juno Nomination
for Most Promising Female Vocalist.

She's In Love (With Her Radio)

Written by D. McBride, M. Roth. Performed by Rita Johns. Produced by Jack Richardson

My parent's body of work goes much, much further but there is no digital record for much of it as is the case with many things that came before 1990. There were no digital cameras or camcorders when I was growing up, so there's many things that I would love to share visually that I can't. For instance, my mother started out professionally as a vocalist, singing for jingles at Chum Radio in Toronto back in the late nineteen sixties, while my father David around the same time into the early nineteen seventies was gigging professionally as a "jobber", a musician who'd gig with numerous different artists, playing in a different band every week or doing studio work.

The most important thing I'm trying to express here is that most of what I've created at Shhhh! Digital Media, though it did originate in my mind and made its way out through my hands in one way or another, it really began with my parents.

I could mention the fact that my friendship and involvement with a beautiful Chinese Classical Opera Singer really inspired me into returning to a story about the Butterfly Dragon I'd first written as a child. I could mention the fact that Miranda K., a childhood friend of mine (and Blackbelt) also was part of what inspired the Butterfly Dragon. Or Jasmine Lee, a beautiful Korean woman who risked racist attacks upon her person to be in a mixed-culture relationship with myself.

All of what's present in A Lady's Prerogative is also something I learned from my parents early on and that is to carry on that tradition of liberating inspiration for women, and to pursue that mysterious curiosity that pushes us to learn and grow.

So what I can't post here for you to see about the best of my parents, is immortalized in much of my writing. They're the foundation from which my brother and I sprang, and the foundation from which I built Shhhh! Digital Media from ever so humble and meagre beginnings. I could talk about the numerous other inspirations in my life, but really it all comes down to my parents: the people who raised me. My parents and my Granny.

Coming up in the future, I'll be talking with some inspirations, including some involved in music and film production, with interviews as well.