Only Speak in Pantomimes

September 9, 2010

All too often, I open my mouth and, instead of expressing the poignant conjecture which had only moments before occupied my brain, I find myself stranded in the Gobi Desert of sentences. I awkwardly twist, attempt at backtracking, and tangentially grab hold of any remaining shred of logic before I realize that my foot is now too far down my throat to say anything else.

In this way, I frequently embarrass myself, and have been known to confuse, berate, or offend others. I don’t intend to, quite the opposite, actually. My brand of honesty is just a little too honest. Like an obnoxious game show contestant, I share too much of the process and not enough well-developed thought. My emotions take charge of the rhetoric while my rational mind follows thisclose behind screaming “Stop talking! SHUT! UP!”

This is why I’m best in black and white. Letters, spaces, and punctuation. Structured sentences and fully-formed theses. My mental processes require stringent editing– I need to be cut, deleted, and re-evaluated before I can be taken seriously. And, even then,  my intentions come across botched, at best.

Language is our species’ blessing and curse. It helps us understand, and just as often misunderstand, one another. it can be literal or ambiguous, sarcastic or dead serious. Unlike much of the animal kingdom, our “language” is not based soley in brain chemicals, hormones, or singly interpretive waves. Our methodology is so convoluted, even “yes” and “no”  become interchangeable.

People crave communication. Contact with others keeps our reality consistent. We find comfort in shared experience: if the sky appeared crimson to you, basic instinct would be to seek a second opinion. We just want to be sure we’re all on the same page, or at least still in the same book.

In my human scramble to ensure a cohesive reality, I find myself sharing thoughts that aren’t quite thoughts at all. I express my perception of things as facts when, in reality, I can be rather presumptuous; occasionally all-together wrong.

Knowing this about myself, I will sometimes go so far as to rehearse even a minor monologue aloud before it’s delivery. But in the end, without fail, I say too much. I elaborate some trivial detail; drive home some irrelevant or questionably related point. I see my proverbial foot heading toward my mouth, recognize that I am about to make a fool of myself, and then proceed to either continue making things awkward or flail about wildly making conclusions that sound more like accusations.

I have a fear of the things people find “between the lines” during dialogue, so I fill that space with nonsense. I’m discovering, however, that there is truly greater value in conversational minimalism. Something about the mystery.

This is what I find most encouraging about the writing trades: they allow mediocre people who are patient and industrious to revise their stupidity, to edit themselves into something like intelligence. They also allow lunatics to seem saner than sane. [[WampetersFomaAndGranfalloons.KurtVonnegut]]

Viral

September 3, 2010

I’m just going to come right out and say this: I love the internet. Love. It. You don’t have to come clean, too. I already know I’m not alone.

Every day millions, maybe billions (pfft, math…) open up their chosen Internet browser to their chosen home page and begin scouring the world wide web for new information. This multitude checks e-mail, reads news happening in every corner of the globe, and uploads content to be perused and critiqued by others. Human beings are transmitting and receiving information constantly, and almost instantaneously, from the moment we wake up in the morning and log onto iChat, Twitter, or Outlook.

From the time we type the first letter into that search bar, and Google’s A.I. finishes our very thoughts like a familiar lover, we are connected to something much bigger than ourselves. And I find that AWESOME.

Some people are frightened of “Big Brother,” afraid of our technologies surreptitiously and systematically destroying our morality and sense of self, but not I. I welcome Big Brother as my generation’s surrogate father. A silent, omnipotent cultural observer. Both a mirror and projection of contemporary society. A place where we can all have a soapbox, megaphone, and hecklers. Biggest fans and antagonizers. The Internet is a place where popular vote really means something.

I embrace this age of index-card-sized portable phone/ camera/ computers. I clear the future of these technologies for landing; seriously can’t wait.

Why so hyped up on the Interwebs, you ask? Honestly, just think about it. Long and hard. Think about how incredible it is that not only can we communicate with strangers in Russia, but we can hold conversation in real-time– actually SEE one another– while doing any number of other things at the same time, including holding other conversations. We can instantly share with every one of our “Friends” on Facebook how adorable our cats look in silly hats, or our snarky commentary on the latest pop culture trends.

The internet is a place where everyone has a pretty fair shot at fame (although perhaps not always intentional). For something, or seemingly nothing, it doesn’t matter. If you have a good or controversial enough YouTube video, UStream, or website, It doesn’t matter who you are. In fact, you don’t even have to be yourself!

The age-old game of “who you know” has had it’s gates crashed by ambitious “nobodies” armed with e-mail addresses, Twitter handles, and thoroughly Google’d “close sources.” The masses have begun to rebel against social elitism, recognizing our anatomic and genetic equality. The general public has begun policing itself– checking corporate power, political powers, and reality stars’ egos alike, with the threat of rallying a digital mutiny. Brushing shoulders with stardom and celebrity has never been so simple. Amassing a small army against tyrannical bureaucrats doesn’t even require putting on pants. In an era where Facebook officiates relationship status, and families text each other from the next room, it is certainly not out of line to say you “know” someone when they’ve validated your online friendship!

Limitless forums, pages, social networks, and directories all point different arrows to the same destination. A veritable wonderland in the space between fact and fiction. A place where human intrigue gets to take the stage– where pet tricks and hostage situations are equally “recommended viewing.” The internet is a place that demonstrates the best and worst qualities of contemporary civilization, often simultaneously. The internet is our societal Id. Raw, real, uncensored.

The Internet is dynamite, volatile and ominous.

As long as there are matches, there will be fuses. As long as there are fuses, no walls are safe. As long as every wall is threatened, the world can happen. [[StillLifeWithWoodpecker.TomRobbins]]

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]]

Time Turns Elastic

July 23, 2010

I struggle daily with what I believe. It changes by the week, with the stars, and typically without warning.  It is not so much my fundamental or moral beliefs as it is general perspective. It’s as though I can have a whole new outlook in the blink of an eye.

This leads me to believe I am a fickle example of humanity; which is sort of upsetting, although I can’t really seem to pinpoint why.

The tides of time impact everyone differently. I believe some level of personal conflict is derived from my unstable perspective on the passage of time. For me, time is a confusing combination of math and memory. I have difficulty addressing past events in a very accurate sequence unless I write them down. Some seconds feel like decades. Some days like weeks. Some years feel like months.

I often wake up 3 months ahead of myself, convinced I’ve just put in a 9 day work week. Many times, my hour has 83 minutes and my nights last whole lunar cycles. Some days seem to end without starting; and the years shuffle convincingly, like a magician’s well-worn deck of cards.

With the time/ space continuum perpetually in flux, it becomes hard for me to manage reality and my emotions about it. As a result I really try to address things as they happen, and like to resolve things before I blink my eye and discover several years have gone by. When I leave things unfinished, I have a tendency to not come back to them. I need immediate answers. Conclusions help me complete a scenario so I can file it away. The longer situational paperwork sits on my mental desk, the less likely it is to ever find it’s proper drawer.

In some cases, my brain gets stuck in a bermuda triangle. An infinite loop. Time keeps moving but I can’t move with it…

I know only that I am gaining knowledge and that I look differently than I did last decade. These are my primary indicators of progress. Where dates and times seem extremely important to some, I just can’t get them to all stand in line. Some days the numbers on the clock seem to enslave me. Others, they send me into a nostalgic swirl of self-evaluation where I lose my present to the past.

And nobody promises the future.

Defer no time, delays have dangerous ends.                                    [[HenryTheVI.WilliamShakespeare]]

The Crabby Archer

June 16, 2010

Usually, I try to remain somewhat esoteric and removed here. It’s not so much a privacy concern as it is just the way I write. My college degrees are in Journalism and Anthropology– I embody the third person on a practically subconscious level. I remove myself, and the faces and places around me, from reality when I write, and sometimes when I think. Everything becomes conceptual; the old “makes sense on paper” trick.

That said, I am going to talk about me. On my blog. Right now. Because I need to think.

I believe in the stars. I believe in the universe as something much, much larger than myself. I believe I am a tiny part of a massive machine– a speck on the face of all that is. My faith lies in the heavenly bodies: the push and pull of forces well beyond human control. As the moon moves the ocean tides, so too do I believe the alignment of the mammoth planetary and gaseous bodies in our universe, and perhaps the entirety of the cosmos, affect my measly life on earth.

Of course, I do not gobble Astrology as fact, any more than I gobble the Bible stories as fact.  I take a lot of faith with a grain of salt: people want more than anything to believe. In something. Often so much that logic and reason take back seat to miracle and hope. This is an endearingly human trait.

Anyhow, in an attempt to make sense of my world, I look to the sky.

Sagittarius is known as the nomad of the zodiac. Always seeking something more, something bigger, something else. Perpetually on the hunt for connections and greater wisdom, Sagittarius looks incessantly for some truth between the most well-composed lines. The archer is a mutable fire sign; burning with a near-desperate philosophical passion; feeding the flames with an ever evolving setting and cast of characters. There is never a dull moment because dull moments simply don’t exist.

In many ways, I am a Sagittarius through and through.

In my life, I am forever walking the world in someone else’s shoes, while simultaneously trying to remember that others aren’t always doing the same. I find myself often compromising large parts of myself in hopes of “getting” someone else’s process. Never believing there are only two sides to a story, I find myself at a nearly pathetic loss for words when attempting to describe the big picture as I see it. As the communicator of the zodiac, I desire, more than anything, understanding. Universal cohesion.

These traits are what makes me both weak and strong. Wise and naive. Simple, yet novelly complicated. My inability to deal with events outside the context of the bigger picture often leads to wildly dramatic confrontations, passionate outbursts, and some seriously stretched, but seemingly (to me anyways) logical conclusions.

My ascending sign is in Cancer. An ascending sign is the zodiac sign which was rising on the horizon at the time of our birth. This sign influences the “face” we put on– it’s more the way people perceive us than the way we feel or act. Cancers are notoriously among the most emotional of the zodiac, as a cardinal water sign. Cardinal signs are of the take-action sort, while water signs are heavily entrenched in feelings and nurturing.

Where this leaves Cancer is fiercely emotional and illogically indifferent to that fact. Cancer is, to some degree, emotionally insatiable. With Cancer as my rising sign, I see a lot of these traits surface in relationships and general human interaction.

I tend to live with my heads in the clouds, helplessly optimistic, and, more often than not, fall flat on my face in the end. And it is always to extreme disappointment, which I do not handle well. At all. Enter emotional disaster.

I could go on analyzing and over analyzing my star chart, but so what?

What does this all mean, why does it matter?

I suppose it doesn’t. Ultimately, this is probably just my Sagittarian desire to further complete the jigsaw puzzle of life. I just need it all to make sense. Understand that, no matter how much I know, how much I rationalize, how much I attempt to use logic brain all the time, there is something bigger at work.

That who I am is much more than a mass of rapidly replicating DNA cells transporting water from one large body of it to another on this blue ball floating in a space full of other balls and burning gasses. That something of it all was predetermined, out of my hands.

I need to know that Kat was created, in many ways, before she was capable of conscious self-realization. That Kat is controlled by forces so massive, yet so subtle, people deny their existence at all. That the good days, and the bad days, and the sporadic doses of insanity are, in fact, very real, and out of our mortal earthly control. Something in me needs to know that the full moon, the alignment of our solar system, and the death of supernovas millions of lightyears away all touch me somehow. The vastness of it all is dwarfing, and comprehension of such intangible concepts brings me to tears.

I’m not really sure where this is going.

And usually, this gets deleted. I hate it. It was a waste of time.

But this time, here it is. Because it doesn’t make any sense.

Here it is because this is– in so many ways, and on so many levels– me.

Welcome to my brain. This train doesn’t make stops.

The people I’ve known are beacons of light. Every one of them, a star– shining with varying intensity– in the night sky of my life; guiding me through the existential galaxy. Constellations of lovers, friends, and familiar faces; reminding me where I am going, how far I have come, and always, always, how to get home.

From the people who have left heavy footprints in my heart, to those who’ve merely brushed shoulders my aura, every one of them has made it real, made it worth it, and made me who I am. Without the electricity of other humans, I truly feel that this life would be meaningless.

I try my best to be all these things in return. It hardly feels like enough, sometimes. The compassion I have been fortunate enough to witness in my fellow humans is nothing short of inspirational. The collective spirit is bouncy, flexible, and incomprehensibly strong.

There are times that we call upon others for their frankness or their clemency. Times when we need an honest opinion, a helping hand, or just a sympathetic ear.

There have been times in my life where a hug has saved me.

There have been times when seeming strangers were actually the best friends I had.

One phrase I have given a lot of thought to is one I hear with incredibly frequency in the English language: “Just remember to breathe.”

I have given this sentiment a good deal of thought because it is so baseline simple, yet so profoundly elegant, that it really does merit at least a footnote in our mental manuscript. This advice is most often given to another person when they confide in us that their lives are becoming unmanageable, or out of their control. Be it relationship woes, stress at work, or financial difficulty, everyone gets to feeling overwhelmed on occasion.

When you break it down into just language, reminding another person to breathe is such an absurd thing to do. Breathing is one of the things we’ve been scheduled for on reflex. One of the few things humans should hardly ever have to think about. Yet, when I find myself in over my head, bogged down with negative though, that simple reminder somehow helps put things in perspective.

Just remember to breathe.

In the modern era, where a full time job is hardly enough, where we’re all are on-demand 24 hours a day, and where everyone expects the extraordinary, it truly can be difficult to lose sight of any purpose. As I always say, in reference to the legend of Sisyphus, it feels like rolling the boulder– you get to the top, and it all tumbles back down. Every time.

An inevitability.

There are points when this cycle becomes too much, too maddening. When the day-to-day has us ready to scream, cry, rip out our hair. Where the menial tasks begin to take over our lives and we are ready to just throw in the towel, call it a day, and give right the hell up.

Because if the car has a flat tire, the bank is calling again, you’ve been sick for a week, and the dog peed on the floor– what is the point of living, anyways??

Just remember to breathe.

This cliche’d pattern of sounds uttered from just another mass of rapidly replicating DNA is somehow consoling. It’s the lowest common denominator, breathing, it’s quite literally what keeps us alive.

But more than simply being a reminder to another human to continue their maintenance, it’s an expression of your desire for that person to stay alive, and in the moment. One breath at a time. The one thing we have to continue doing regularly, every day, is the one thing we hardly ever think about. An action we take entirely for granted.

Above and beyond it’s straightforward implication, “just remember to breathe” is a reminder of the connection between all living things; it is a suggestion to slow down and appreciate the ebb and flow; it is a prompt to surrender to the machine and, if only for a moment, to remain in the present, focusing on what one really needs. This reminder is a mainstay of Eastern religions and meditative thought, not for nothing.

In spite of what the news man tells me, humanity has not left me roughed-up along the side of the road after prom quite yet. The altruistic instincts, the sweet sympathies, and the constant cascade of loving energy I feel tells me that being part of the greater network is worth it. If I can provide for others even a small fraction of what they provide for me, I would consider this life a success.

Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again. [[L.FrankBaum]]

Sapphic Springtime

April 5, 2010

Of all the seasons– those four familiar sisters– my heart and soul belong to Spring. Throughout the harsh infancy of the year, I dream faithfully of her soft kisses, emboldened colors, and callow heat.

It is for Spring only that I endure Summer’s burning gaze, Autumn’s rusty advances, Winter’s icy breaths through double-paned glass, down comforters, and long underpants.

It is Spring who I invite inside; ask to stay a little longer; slip into something more comfortable. This gentle season, this temperate mistress.

In diffident disclosure, slowly she permits demure gazes into her ethereal blues, greens, and browns. Languid moments of savory trepidation between Spring’s dark worried tears and her bold imitations of sister Summer. Those times the whole world seems in love.

Spring awakens with no urgency. She slowly rubs the remainder of the winter from her eyes. She sighs. Yawns. A nearly imperceptible shift in the rhythmic breathing of the globe. She blinks. Stretches. Smiles.

She reaches out for the heat of the cosmos. Yearns for the affection of the day, which gladly reciprocates her desires, leaving the light on just a little longer. Spring speaks sweetly with the callous ground, caressing his deep faults, coercing from him life long forgotten. She perfumes the breeze and sends out invites to her Debutante ball.

Spring’s vitality, her decidedly resplendent aura, permeates the troposphere. The volatile gases of our greenhouse, falling madly in love, put the sign out on the door. Winter’s chromatic greyscale gives way to the playful spectrum. Spring can do little to suppress her true intentions, blushing wildly and begging for a full release.

And, between those deliriously sober early mornings and the ever-retreating dewy dusks, Spring finds her voice and cries out. The birds, the bugs, the belladonna– all awaken to her primal call. Cacophonous symphonies of frogs reply.  In a ritual as old as time, this reticent season caves to her sybaritic desires. Voyeuristically, we gaze on. We revel in her unapologetic fervor, we bask in the light of her ardent earthly urge. The leaves return to the trees just in time to catch her climax. Rivers and streams wantonly devour their banks, white-capped and unrestrained. The flowers throw themselves at the feet of this rapturous performer.

Spring has come.

Hope its as good for you as it is for me.