In This Place We Learn To Wait

September 25, 2012

ImageSometimes I get so mad, mired in the mundane. Lusting after adventure while I feel my knees, under my desk, degenerating long before their time. Wondering if, by the time I make it to Maccu Piccu, I will be able to even climb it any longer. Wondering if I will ever fucking make it to Maccu Piccu at all.

On the other hand, I’m not positive that I want progress, anyway. I seem to dig my heels in as everyone marches forward, and I’m just tied to this life. Maybe dragged behind it like a sleigh, or a dead body. Bumping along with minimal resistance.

I know it’s my choice, but I can’t slow anything down. All I really want to do is stop it for a while because these are the best years of my life. Or so I have been told. I wish I could enjoy them, each one of them; savoring slowly, lingering in seconds, reveling in the moments in between. Instead I am watching life out the window of this train– it’s happening to me, but not really. Some snapshots, an occasional stop at a station; eventually, I’ll just get to the end with everyone else and shuffle off. I know people who have toured Spain with the same passivity I am living my life.

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The train’s not moving that fast, but I can’t jump from it, either. Hop off into the brambles and hope my barrel roll is up to snuff.

Or can I? Maybe I am simply afraid of the future.

Okay, I am afraid of the future. But it doesn’t feel all that simple.

I am afraid of what comes next; while the people around me are getting married, making babies, settling in for a life of mortgage payments, and biweekly paychecks, and I don’t desire any of that. I wonder if it’s just me. Should I be so quick to judge their happiness in complacency? Should I want that? Am I broken?

Twenty Five years, and what do I have to show for it? Student loan debt, a few creature comforts. I’ll be the proud owner of a 2003 Subaru Legacy this coming winter. Where am I going? Not in the car, just generally.

It’s so comfortable to maintain the status quo. I imagine it similar to the feeling Himalayan climbers have as frostbite sets in during a major storm. You just go on ahead without me, I’ll be fine. I’m just going to sit here and warm up for a while.

For Auld Lange Syne, My Dear

December 29, 2010

At the end of each December, we in the first world feel compelled to reflect, introspect, and project into the future. We think about the past 365 days, and all the nouns and verbs that have filled them.

Our linear human sensibilities provoke nostalgia over another measured segment of a relative concept. We think back on all the promises we made ourselves 52 weeks ago, and how successfully these goals were met. Realistically, we could pick any day to start over. To get a new job, a new lover, a new home. We could select any of the 364 “other” days to begin our diets, stop procrastinating, or spend more time with the kids.

But something about this singular date 1/1 incites within our ambitious little souls an urge for improvement. Something about this mid-winter’s day– after the excitement of the holidays has worn out it’s welcome, and the guests have all gone home– causes us to think about who we’ve been and, more importantly, who we want to be.

The word of the day is Resolution.

What can one do to be more, or different? What changes can be made, starting January first, to improve our lifestyles? To become better humans?

I spent the first 6 hours of 2010 inside my head. Sitting at the wheel of my car in a parking lot, with a friend I’ve had since highschool. We talked. And sat. We listened to one of my favorite Grateful Dead shows, loudly, and opened the moon roof in the snow. I thought about who I was sitting with. I thought about everyone I was not with. I thought about Phish launching their drummer from a cannon in Miami, my car, and the strides I made in 2009. I thought about work, about my family, and how long it had been since my last drink. And then I made some resolutions.

Stretch more, drink lots of water, and be nice to your car.

That was it. Those were the best, most reasonable resolutions I could envision for myself. Being more limber, hydrated, and ready for action. Baby steps.

Here, in the final stretch of 2010, there is no doubt in my mind that this was a personally successful year. I kept all my resolutions, and then some. Early last January, I began spending time with a man whom has, many times over the past 12 months, been the sunshine in my otherwise overcast Rochester sky. In the spring, I started this blog which has, to date, well over 5,000 hits. In the summer I saw a bunch of shows, and began a large-scale writing project– which is still very much underway. In August, I was blessed with the opportunity to visit some friends in Colorado, who are some of the most wonderful and inspiring people I know. I’ve lost ten pounds. I’ve only been sick once. I feel good about myself, inside and out.

And now, a year after sitting stagnant in my blue Subaru (which got 4 new tires and a new head-gasket in 2010) in a parking lot in my hometown, thinking about Phish and the world at large; I am getting in my car and driving to the biggest city on the east coast to see one of my favorite bands with friends from all over the country. For whatever negativity and complaining occurred (and I know I’m full of it), I feel overwhelming gratitude toward everyone and everything that has pushed this year toward it’s culmination.

For 2011, I am resolving to create more structure in my life outside of the 9-5. Join a yoga class, or a team (kickball in 2010 did happen), or volunteer some time. Getting in the habit of doing things I enjoy. I’m also promising myself I will write more and sleep better. That’s it.

Drink responsibly. Get home safely. Love and appreciate the life you’ve been given. Happy New Year, see you all in 2011.

“If you believe in peace, act peacefully; if you believe in love, acting lovingly; if you believe every which way, then act every which way, that’s perfectly valid – but don’t go out trying to sell your beliefs to the system. You end up contradicting what you profess to believe in, and you set a bum example. If you want to change the world, change yourself.” [[TomRobbins.StillLifeWithWoodpecker]]


Out on a High Wire

December 21, 2010

There’s a fine line…

Between right and wrong; genius and insanity; fact and fiction. Between comedy and tragedy; love and hate; excitement and danger; art and pornography. Between success and failure; perception and reality. There’s a fine line.

Somewhere, there is this microscopic division elusively chalked, deceptively drawn in the sand. Somewhere, there is a border and an other side. There exists– between the perfectly ok and horrendously offensive– a detectible limitation, however small it may be. In fact, the smaller this division, the more curiously appealing it’s location becomes.

Lately, I have found myself in the throes of a deep introspection. I know, what else is new? But something about this feels much more fundamental than my daily identity crisis– more tangible. It was pointed out to me that this may be what is referred to as a paradigm shift. That feels right.

I recognized this shift after a long stretch of unusual reservation on my part. Instead of boisterously participating in conversations, I noticed myself with minimal contribution. Not for lack of knowledge, but because I couldn’t pick a damn side. On anything. I tried writing and, before I could really complete a thought, found myself making a blatant counterpoint. It is frustrating to be so personally conflicted.

There is a fine line between knowing exactly what you mean, and having no clue what the fuck you are talking about.

So I’m standing somewhere near this fine line. I must be. It feels like everything and nothing, all at once. And the line is moving, creeping, edging further. It is changing, rearranging the landscape of everything I “know.” Meanwhile, grasping desperately at my ideologies, I feel them tumbling after. Jumbling into some familiar, yet foreign archetype of social framework.

I am wondering whether it’s just me, or if there’s not something at work in our collective consciousness– everyone testing the edges. As though humanity is trying to suss out where precisely that fine line lies. All of us pushing against the box at once.

It’s very subtle, yet legitimate; feels more like slide than a plunge. Cognizant evolution.

Whatever it is, I’m so ready.

Move Me Brightly

August 20, 2010

Inspiration is the holy grail of human existence.

That moment where the proverbial lightbulb illuminates is almost indescribably priceless.

It is like the first rest stop after a very long road trip– instantly relieving. Primally satisfying.

When our creative minds culminate in such a revelatory burst, it feels like a release. Like we’ve finished a puzzle, solved a riddle, or discovered a new planet, inspiration leaves us with a child-like, or perhaps even post-coital joy. I believe the gratification we get from our own inventiveness stems from a deeply psychological place; a place where the innocence of a new idea can be fostered before it is exposed to the world. We cradle our little flash of brilliance like a newborn, admiring with a private smile. We feel good about it, if only for a moment, before we share it with anyone else.

At least I know I do.

To expect a constant flow of inspiration is pretty idealistic. Sure, there have been some impressive minds in our time with the ability to consistently crank out well-composed, thoroughly engaging art or ideas, but we call those people prodigies. They are anomalies. Exceptions, not the rule. For the most part, I think the human condition is nothing if not a search for the next big thing: fire, paper, guitars, and computers. The rest of the animal kingdom surely teems with envy at our mere ability to conceptualize, nonetheless produce, such commonplace phenomena.

When inspiration strikes without warning, it’s just that much better. As a writer, and friend to many artists and musicians, I am all too familiar with the struggle to create. I have experienced firsthand the frustration that accompanies artistic obstruction: when a writer is not writing what, then, are they?

For many years, I kept my output high by working under pressure. As a journalist, it was easiest for me to contrive the (admittedly often banal) content when I was on a deadline. It prevented me from overanalyzing my opening sentence, my verbiage, and the placement of each comma. When generating articles for a news-type publication, it was best to stick with the facts, to be engaging but not controversial. That type of writing was, for me, was like a marathon runner hitting up the gym. It kept me in shape, kept my ego sufficiently stroked, but it wasn’t personally gratifying. It felt good, because it was words (mmm words), but it wasn’t truly inspired. It didn’t have any soul.

Then I stopped writing.

For the first time since I could put letters and phrases together, I just didn’t have the desire to do so. Initially, I felt a relief at the lack of pressure, lack of expectation, lack of mandate to do something I had once so greatly enjoyed. I felt a “good riddance” emotion toward my former passion. I was bitter toward my lack of inspiration, and frustrated by the robotic quality of my creation.

In my mind, it was better to not be writing at all than to be writing only blurbs, yawn-worthy local news, or mundane blog posts about (what i felt to be) my mundane life. I rationalized the unimportance of my art. Convinced myself that nobody would miss it, not even me. Of course, I realize now the role of perspective in all this. I wasn’t down on my writing as much as I was just down on myself.

Recently, after a nearly two year hiatus, inspiration and I were reacquainted. We fumbled for a bit, like awkward lovers, but I have discovered that our romance is not only still alive, but hotter than ever! It started sort of slowly, but now I feel back into the swing of things. I have been filling up notebooks and journals, I have been blogging and writing prose. There is no financial or physical reward, and it’s almost better this way. Satisfaction is derived solely from pairing nouns with their congruous adjectives, assigning actions their befitting descriptors, and telling stories with the flair of drama I see in even the most platitudinous events.

I have found my muse and unearthed the dormant artist within. I am feeling more like myself than ever before and that, in and of itself, is a truly inspirational thing.

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things. [[Ray.Bradbury]]