Welcome to The Compass!

Founded in July 2010 by four friends in different parts of the United States with the idea to help bring about a more perfect union of art, experience, creativity, learning, and overall better living, The Compass has returned after nearly four years of dormancy. We - Tim Goodier, Anthony Martino, Paul Riley and Luke See - are excited to relaunch The Compass as Pinpoints' official center for artistic expression.

For those familiar with the first incarnation of The Compass, this new version will be different. We will not have a rotating schedule for the four founders to share their creativity. Instead, we will be posting when we have something worthy to share. But, more importantly, we want to provide a space for all Pinpoints community members to share their creativity here. Perhaps you have a poem ready for others' eyes; perhaps a series of photos await a gallery to host them. The Compass is your space - our space - to publish your work. Simply send it to WeTheCompass@pinpoints.community and we'll work with you to post it.

For a Minute There...

April 29, 2018
Submitted by: Paul Riley

What I remember first is the darkness. On the edges of the scene, it's a starless black. In the middle is a man fleeing from the unseen driver peering through the windshield. We see this man's stumbling gait and know he will not escape. What chance does a broken body stand against 20th century technology? It will not take long.

He collapses. We see his pudgy face bewildered and afraid; we see the physique of every paunchy father who spends his workday sitting; we see defeat.

But the man stands and takes a moment to view his adversary, eyes to high beams. It's in that moment that he sees an opening, a chance to survive. In reverse, the car speeds away, but can't escape the blazing path that has sprung from the hands of this man. The video ends in flames. Nobody gets out alive.

"Karma Police" by Radiohead has never left my memory since I first saw it nearly 20 years ago. But less important to me is the video. It's one brief lyric that has clawed its way into my brain, never to leave, a perfect phrase that resurfaces in all those moments of sober realization: "For a minute there, I lost myself."

I've been thinking at lot about the gap between who I want to be and the person who actually shows up to play each morning. I often feel like I'm not living up to the ideal version of Paul Riley that I've developed over three decades of reading, discussing and idolizing. And when I fall short, I feel like the ideal me stays on the bench while another version runs out to the field, gnashing his teeth at enemies real and imagined, stumbling over himself like a fool.

It's in these moments when I consider the many mistakes I've made out of anger and sadness. I think of the friends I've hurt, the friends I've lost, the venomous bile of hatred and rage I've spat out to flood the streets of cities and towns I speed through on my way to a better place to be. In so many ways, I've failed.

Then I remember what I've known for years: there are three Paul Rileys. There's the ideal: the wannabe Mr. Rogers whose limitless compassion and curiosity prevents him from contributing to the suffering or distress of anyone. There's the dismal me: the despicable creature skulking through the world with malice toward all and charity toward none. There's the real me: somewhere between, unable to be either of the other imagined persons because there will always be distance from the ideal as well as from the villain. They exist to provide context for the real me. They allow me to place myself on a continuum and recalibrate if necessary.

I think of that man in the video, the one pursued by a faceless driver. I think of his pasty face, his squinting eyes, his resignation at the end of the road. And I remember that I don't have to keep running, that when I fall, I can choose to stand up, to turn around, look at where I am and make a choice.

So here I am today: reflecting on three or four years of discontent and anger, choosing to stand up. I tell myself, "For a minute there, I lost myself," and I get back to work.


February 16, 2017
Submitted by: Paul Riley

Two years ago, one of my new year's resolutions was to write a new song every month. I didn't meet that goal, but I'm proud of the six songs I did write and record. As I went through the year, I found the songs telling a story. It's fitting then that this set of songs - and the first post on The Compass - begins with "Janus."

Janus is the Roman god of beginnings, endings and transitions, and inspired this song about crossing the threshold from one year to another. How terrifying it can be to enter something new, to find yourself facing uncertainty.

There's no way to clearly and cleanly split what is now from what was then. It all flows. What appears to begin as something new has antecedents - nothing exists without coming from something else. So as we enter 2017, afraid or celebratory or somewhere in between, we should remember that today came from yesterday and tomorrow will come from today. Your actions affect the flow.

Words and Music by Paul Riley

Everything starts, everything ends.
Everything flows, everything blends.
What d’ya say we demarcate,
split the world in half, split future from past?
But hands that tell time aren’t longitude lines.
Midnight won’t change a thing in my mind.

The new world is here, or so they all claim.
The countdown complete, but so much remains.

Confetti falls, cute couples kiss.
Who’s gonna clean the inevitable mess?
A bottle of beer just disappears.
A half empty cup down the throat of a fool.
You can’t cut me off - I’m not ready to leave.
Making time stop, the last trick up my sleeve.

The new world is here, or so they all claim.
The countdown complete, but so much remains.

Throw a pebble into the water,
but the water’s frozen so the pebble bounces up.

The new baby cries at old man’s wheeze.
Discovery brings the rush of disease.
If you want this year too, I’ll give it to you.
Walk back through the door and all this is yours.
But taxis arrived - head out to the night.
Find your way home with only starlight.

The new world is here, or so they all claim.
The countdown complete, but so much remains.