Archive for January, 2014


Holding patterns

January 20, 2014

I realized the other day I’ve stopped thinking about what I’ll do when I leave here. It was kind of liberating.

Quick backstory.
I’m in the okanagan right now, living with my aunt and my cousin for the winter (which has yet to really assert itself in any recognizable way. Strange, but it makes driving easier and shoveling the driveway easiest, so I’m not complaining. It’s just odd in a is it really January? kind of way) to help out with the chores and daily activities that can be taxing or daunting without help.
When I first got here I was living and interacting and finding a fit within lives established and regimented. Like it would be anywhere. If you move in with someone, you are adding something (one hopes) to a life that has a routine, a format. Ideally one is adaptable enough to find a place within that and things go smoothly. We were starting to establish an inclusive routine. Regardless of this, I was still surfing the rental ads from the paper of the place I’ll move to in the spring (dog friendly forested acreage ideal, obviously), thinking about a job I might get, some things I might do (scuba lessons finally?), you know, the future. That elusive place filled with possibility and expectation (regardless of how furiously I try not to have those) where a life is waiting to be lived. 
It’s a place I visit often, the future. It rarely looks anything like I imagined when I get there. There being 2 months, 6 days, 5 years, however far from where I’m at now. 

At this moment, I pretty much know how far into the future I’m thinking about, at least in the present tense. About 6 weeks. Early march is when I leave here and head to the next adventure. I’m saying early march because things change often and who knows when I’ll actually leave. It might be earlier or later than that time, it’s best not to be too rigid in terms of constructs such as time. My hope is that whatever is happening here by that time will be such that my presence is no longer needed and I can take my littlest hobo tendencies west, to the sea. To see what happens when I focus my attention more directly on the thing that I’ve been subtly (or not so subtly) manifesting since November 2012. A little place, for a girl, a black dog and a piano to live in rainforesty bliss, not too far from the ocean. 

Ok, but as for now…recently there’s been enough activity around here that I needed to be very present, very attentive, very involved directly, rather than just an add-on to the activity. I stopped writing because the things I’m processing at the end of the day have less to do with me, or at least, less to do with just me. I’ve spoken before about my life not being my own and while there are moments of resentment, as there would be when it feels as though we have no choice in what we do, ultimately I made the choice to be here and I am truly glad that I did because I have been helpful. 
I still do less in a day than I believe I could be doing, especially with regard to exercise and physical activity. But I’m falling into bed at night feeling as though I’ve earned it. Isn’t that the point? There will come a time when it makes sense to start looking for a place to rent, for an address of my own in the place I’d like to call home at least for a time, if not forever (which is a really long time). For now, at least for a while, I’m living a life in the here and now, not thinking too far beyond a couple of days, a week at most. 

I haven’t lost sight of the future and I’m ecstatic about what might happen in it. But it’s good to know that every once in a while I can lose track of it because I’m so damned delightfully present. 



January 11, 2014

It’s hard to know what you can show people while still retaining a sense of self, some semblance of dignity. If I express my opinion or my taste about something, there’s always a (strong) possibility someone is going to find some kind of fault with it. Not even fault, but their opinion of exactly the same thing might differ. I tend to forget that’s totally okay. Of course when someone’s taste runs to something I find distasteful, for instance reality television, it’s really difficult for me to understand why someone might like that. I might drop not too subtle hints that I’m under the impression the television you’re watching on a regular basis is making you stupider by spoon feeding you scripted drama to encourage you to become a listless voyeur, rather than a proactive participant in the most involved rpg ever, your own freaking life. 
Can you imagine how forthcoming that person might be the next time I ask them about something that interests them? I even watch myself do it, when someone asks, for example, what kind of music I like. I tend to stick with genres, watching their expression as I’m listing them until I get to one they seem to spark at a little bit. Then I will get more specific with bands or artists within that genre in the hope that I’m cementing in their mind what a cultured individual I am. 

I wonder if this is what spurred the ironically liking things movement. If you like something ironically (I’m still not sure what it means to do that) it protects you from being thought a cultural troglodyte or worse, out of touch with what’s happening. No one is immune to this. Of course there are people who don’t care for the most part what people think. I like to believe I spend a good amount of time in that realm because for the most part, when I meet people, I’m not really impressed by them, especially after they admit to loving reality television. I am part of the problem. I am a fucking snob. Music, film (see, I called it film), cars, clothes, pick it, I judge it. I’m not sure how to stop doing that. Perhaps the problem isn’t that I judge it, perhaps the trouble lies in my opining about how I’ve judged it to be shite and therefore if you enjoy it, you are put into a category of people who lack sense? I don’t think it’s as black and white as all that. 

I love Duran Duran. Honestly I do. I want to hang out with them in jungles and let the telephone ring while I was dancing in the rain and dress sharp on fast moving boats and electric fucking barbarella all over the goddamn place. You can say whatever you want about them, I seriously don’t fucking care. Don’t listen (unless you’re trapped in a car with me on the way to burning man and aren’t as asleep as I think you are) don’t look, don’t fucking acknowledge them to be one of the best parts of the 80’s. And there were many. A lot of the good parts of the 80’s started in the 70’s, it’s true, but I digress.
Honestly you can look at me and say what is wrong with you that you love Duran Duran so much? It doesn’t actually even touch me. You could be Simon LeFuckingBon and ask me that and it won’t diminish the joy that bubbles in my soul when I hear their music. Ok, it’s not actually so extreme but I really do truly fucking love them.

The point is this. If I can take that feeling and extend it to cover everything that I love, there’s no concern of getting my feelings hurt. I’m suddenly not in a vulnerable position because there’s nothing you can say or do to make me think I’m wrong in feeling that way. Hmm, here’s an example of something potentially in this realm. I heard a song by a guy and I love it. I’m teaching myself to play it on the piano right now. I wondered about his other music, looked him up and discovered he created a song specifically for a movie franchise that I loathe. Of course I watched it, I sometimes eat fast food and then hate myself, it’s pretty much the same thing. Ooh, maybe that’s the reality tv connection! For another time…ANYWAY! Suddenly my feeling about the original song, which I LOVE changed. I actually went to a place where I imagined playing it for someone and them asking me who wrote it. And me telling them well, this guy wrote it but I didn’t know he had written this other music for this thing I think is crap, just in case you’re judging me on something I haven’t actually learned or played or to my knowledge even fucking heard before. I SERIOUSLY DID THAT.  I haven’t learned the song yet and I’m already writing the script where I justify having learned it to the person somewhere in my future who is going to hear it, if I ever get over myself and have the balls to play it for anyone. 

Last stop? Crazytown. Wow brain. You never fail to impress. 

But it is a crazy place we live, maybe it’s just me, where there’s this need to be cool or accountable or in sync with some ideal. When I hear the song careless whisper (I do a stunning ukulele version, by the way) it makes me think of being 8 years old in Hawaii because it was the most popular song on MTV that month. I’m probably not going to scream, TURN IT UP! but I’m not necessarily going to hide that I’m singing along. I might scream actually, I do have a thing for that.. 

I don’t know what the solution is. There will probably always be people that I will try to look, act, sound, be cooler in front of than others because it’s something we do around people whose opinions we care about. One would hope that those are people who care enough about us to not make us want to put up defenses or walls to protect ourselves from being thought lesser than, when we express an opinion or a learn a song or like a particular tv show. And I’m not talking about good natured ribbing, though I would lay odds you’re joining me on the chorus of total eclipse of the heart, I’m talking about something crueler. Something that can almost be a deflection, a distraction because perhaps there is something you don’t want light cast upon. It’s okay to have secrets, to reserve parts of yourself (ideally not that there is someone in your freezer, I’m probably going to judge those tastes a little harshly) that you share with the closest friends, not from a place of fear, but of reverence? But we’ve evolved into a social order that puts so much emphasis on fitting in and being thought, I don’t even know if cool is the word anymore. I don’t know what the word is, I’m that much out of the loop.
I guess my problem lies not with what people think of me, but how afraid I am of what it could be. There’s not much validity to living there because at the end of the day, it’s my head I’m living in. Of course I don’t need to scream my love for certain musicians from the rooftops, but neither do I need to be ashamed of it because someone else doesn’t have the same associations, memories, good times to go with it. And I don’t need to express my dismay that there might be something they love which I find reprehensible just because I’m not an addlepated twit without a brain in my skull.

Yeah, still working on that compassion thing.  


Musical overload/apathy

January 7, 2014

It seems as though there is a lot of music out there. More than anyone could actually listen to or process or make sense of. I have a personal catalogue of music that I lost track of years ago. I didn’t lose it, I just have no idea what is in it. Every so often I make a cup of tea (tonight was hot chocolate with chili powder but you get the idea), sit down with it and scream “WE’RE NOT LEAVING HERE UNTIL I UNDERSTAND WHAT EXACTLY IS GOING ON!” And then I log on to facebook, notice links to sets on soundcloud (this one by my very talented friend Nicole is particularly good) or end up wandering in the wasteland of videos that lead me to unexpected places. Earlier I was watching videos of Suzi Quatro, which of course led me to Happy Days(remember when she was Leather Trocadero?), a fight between fonzie and tom hanks, Mork and Mindy outtakes….it’s a crazy internet out there. Needless to say, cup of hot chocolate finished, it’s 3 hours later and I haven’t managed to make it past the A’s. Do I have too much music?  Is an abundance of easily accessible music creating an apathy towards music in general?

Between free downloads from the internet (the legal kind from people who’ve posted mixes they made themselves), music swapping parties with friends (all dealing with music acquired legally with no copyright infringement at all) and cd’s that I have bought and burned onto my laptop so I could have a digital copy (because do cd’s still exist?) I have accrued a library of sounds and happiness that is so large most of the time I can’t be bothered. I keep a 120 gigabyte ipod barely 1/12 full at any given time. I spend more time trying to organize the music folder into a system that makes sense than I do actually listening to music. It’s at the point where there is no reason to have folders of individual artists. A good portion of them I’m completely clueless about. It’s better if I class them by genre, or would be if the majority of them didn’t span at least 3 or 4 different genres at a time.

Now and again I have this moment where I almost wipe the drive completely clean. There is a part of my brain that loves organization. I was the kid who would mess up her room so that I could clean it and reorganize and move the furniture and create a whole new space. And what better way to create space than to delete everything. Oh, there is a part of me that craves the clean empty space of a drive with nothing on it, ready to be filled with new and meaningful. Because honestly, I’m sure I have music I will never listen to but what if someone I really want to think I’m cool is perusing my collection one day? Yes, I actually think like that. Of course, right this second I can’t think of a single band that I haven’t deleted to keep that fringe element who might be cruising around in my data interested and thinking I’m sooo cool for liking…. but I know they’re there.

Regardless of this need for people who might never be in my house, much less my hard drive (there’s an innuendo there somewhere) to think I’m cool (actually there was this guy whose name I don’t know, I called him Jersey, down in Costa Rica who spent a good portion of the night being impressed by the quality of the taste of my hard drive..BAM! Validated! True story. Thank you so much Bill Withers… ) I will forever continue to collect music. Every so often there will be a purge (does anyone really need Harry Chapin’s ENTIRE discography?) when I try to scale back and save room for the new ones flocking in. But honestly I’ve mostly stopped asking when at friend’s houses who is this? I must have it! I might ask who it is, but it’s rare that I’ll store the info in my brain long enough to seek them out unless they really truly resonate.

But I wonder how much of this has to do with the fact that I am addressless right this second. I mean, I live places. I have a room of my own, I have a bed and some books and a dresser with my clothes in it. Which is actually a step up from my mum’s place where things were in milk crates or strewn about the floor in a haphazard fashion. Maybe the next place I live I’ll have a desk like surface to write on, rather just lolling around on a bed in various positions until I get uncomfortable and shift again.
At any rate, I have a rule (that I break constantly) which states, I am not allowed to acquire books if I don’t have an address. I wonder if subliminally, my brain is shutting down on the music front as well because, while I do have a stereo, it’s in a box in a storage locker. Perhaps it’s just a phase, but what does one do with too much data? How do you process it all? How do I justify having so much that I’ve never listened to? Is it like this for everyone who collects music the way I do? Because I think the hard drive with stored data, a lot of which is music and film is a pretty common occurrence these days. At least at all the music swapping parties I’ve been to.

Then I think about the music I wish were more available (everything by Alan Lomax!) and how much shite there is out there (yes, I’ve turned into my father with regards to popular music–that’s not music! IT’S CRAP!) and I wonder if there will be subsequent generations who never filter back far enough to hear the booker t and the mg’s, of which sunday sermon is my favourite song in the world. It was a rite of passage for me to move away from the music of my parents (for me that was 30-40’s jazz) and into something more contemporary (70’s punk) before finding the happy medium between the two in blues, r&b from the 40’s-70’s. The first time I heard Led Zeppelin? Oh my world. And (am I crazy to think this?) it seemed as though there wasn’t as much music to get in the way of hearing everything to some extent at least once, if you were looking around enough. But now, there is so much of everything and new things and electronic music alone has every imaginable english and non english word you could think of to describe sounds that most of the time people aren’t even sure how to dance to! But I digress.

It could be that lack of address is creating a place of musical limbo. There are a lot of things in my brain that I’m perfectly aware are in a holding pattern, in anticipation of the new year (march 1st) which is the magical date I have decided on to be the day my life belongs to me and no one else for the first time in a while. I’ll still have accountability to friends or projects or festivals or things that need doing, but my first point of desire is to find a house.  An address of my own, where my books can live on shelves, my piano can live near a window, my dog can frolic in the yard and surrounding woods, we can set up lights and have secret garden parties and practice for the circus which I might still run away and join someday, and there will be music. Glorious music. But at that point, I might just throw my hard drive in the ocean and make my own. As if I would, you never know when a hot surfer will want to stay up all night and check out your data.  (BAM!)


Walking a mile.

January 7, 2014

It’s so easy to stand over here and say, this is how it should be. I sit in my room, laptop literally on my lap with my legs akimbo, writing letters to Iceland and Denmark and Japan and marine parks and aquatic centres, all with the hope and the desire that they’ll read my letter and say, holy fuck she’s right! This IS how it should be. We need to stop killing all the fishes and the dolphins and the whales and putting them in tanks and keeping polar bears in hot places and drilling for oil (seriously, what happens to your car if it has no oil in it? Why would it be any different with the damn planet?) indiscriminately and setting canadian scientists on fire (or books, whichever) and just generally being douchebags. 

Because I’m over here and I am judging you. I am judging you knowing that there are things I could be doing that are better and cleaner and saner and proactive and helpful and I am not doing them. 

I am a judgemental asshole. I find fault with what you are doing, I’m going to tell you all about it (I’ve got the prime minister of Japan on speed email) and I’m going to hope that you, instead of taking offense at my indig-fucking-nation, would have the decency to say, there’s more to it than what you know. And then tell me about it. Tell me all about what I need to know about wanktress little pop tarts needing to wear a full length goddamn fur coat to perform at a concert, more so than the 50 goddamn fuzzy beasts that once had lives and hope and cute little eyes. Tell me about the Japanese people needing to hold on to a tradition archaic and useless and dangerous! to feed people meat they wouldn’t necessarily want if the government would stop lying to them about how much mercury it contains. Tell me about tap water that you can set on fire! Because we’re just too damned wrapped up in being addicted to petrol to consider trying something different. 

Tell me what the benefit is to these things so I can understand why we have such a hard time owning the fact that we can be so cruel, so inhumane, so shortsighted, so goddamn blind to what seems to me the black and white of right and wrong. And I am a person who does not believe there is a whole lot of black and white in right and wrong. That’s a post for another day though. 
I know how hard it is to admit you’re doing, have done, will do something wrong. There are a million ways to justify it. Every one of them is probably a lie. If there needs to be a justification, it suggests that something needs to be proven true. Which suggests there is a possibility that it is not. Truth is a luscious thing to dance with, to manipulate. We do it all the time, we do it every day. I forgot my shopping bags. I could ask for a box, but that means someone has to go into the back and get a box and now I’m holding up the line because everyone in line behind me has somewhere so important they need to be, I’ll just get plastic. Besides, I need garbage bags for the smaller receptacles around the house. Never mind the fact that I have about a billion bags already that I’ll take in for recycling some day. See what I did there. A tiny tiny thing. Yet, I’ve created a need for more plastic bags to be created. I’ve just served an industry that contributes to the death and suffering of creatures all over the fucking place because I could justify, I’m just one person. 

That’s how it works. That’s how we get to continue passing blame, shirking responsibility, refusing to accept that the fault is ours. I haven’t done anything wrong. If anything I’m a victim of circumstance. Fuck that. You’re an asshole. Know how I know? Because I’ve been one too. I will be again, have no fear of that. But I’m doing my goddamn best to acknowledge my part in all this. 

So sure, I understand there’s more than one side to the story. I understand that there might be more to it than my, in most cases, super uninformed brain has a clue about, much less any right to judge. But if you’re being an asshole and hurting things and someone says, hey asshole, why are you hurting those things? Is the proper response really, what are you talking about? I haven’t hurt anything! It was already like that! Your perspective is totally fucked and you’re just projecting your asshole judgements on to me and you couldn’t possibily understand because you have no insight into my culture/tradition/feelings/frustrations/desire to wear fur/love of oil/hatred of science/whatever. 

Methnks thou doth protest too much. If you can’t stop being an asshole, just admit that you are one from time to time, we all have our moments. Get over yourself.



Cap’n Grudge.

January 5, 2014

When I was young, we had quite a few books from the Serendipity series. I loved those books. I still do. They’re awesome. There were some that most certainly were my sister’s and some that were definitely mine. I knew the stories inside and out. I loved the fuzzy dudes in Bangalee who insisted it was cool to be messy, til the trash monster showed up. The look on the gnome from nome and his otter friend’s face when they discover the secret of how to keep warm almost makes me cry just thinking about it. The wheedle on the needle and his awesome earmuffs. How sad catundra was when the other forest creatures made fun of her. How incredibly beautiful the world is through the eyes of kartusch the blind snake. Oh! And there was one with crystalline illustrations so utterly beautiful..I can’t remember which one that was. I think it had a flower. There was a deer who was the most beautiful deer, and she came across a lizard who was the most beautiful lizard and they stood there to let the other admire them, never realizing in the grass there was a mouse who was the most beautiful mouse. I have no idea what the lesson was in that one, but it was a really beautiful mouse.
I could go on and on about every character in every book, how the illustrations held me in thrall, and how much I’ve carried with me because of these stories. But the one that I recall in my mind tonight is Cap’n Smudge. We never had the actual book about Serendipity, I have no idea what her story was. But I knew she was important because the publishing company was named after her, she was on every single book! The first time I encountered her was in Cap’n Smudge. The upshot of the story is this. Cap’n Smudge is a foul dude with a dirty beard and a sad looking mudlark friend because he can’t afford a parrot. He has a peg leg that’s actually a mop handle(the other sailors set his on fire and he couldn’t afford a new one) so he has a nasty temperament and everyone gives him a wide berth. He consistently pollutes the ocean because all the other sailors rely on fishing to earn their keep and they keep catching garbage. They ask Serendipity for help. She approaches him and asks him to stop being a douchebag and he throws a bunch of garbage on her. Finally she breaks through his rough exterior and learns that he’s not a bad guy but after being treated so abhorrently for so long by the actual douchebags of the story, of course he’s fucking angry. They give him a new peg leg and apologize and he takes a bath, then there’s a poem.  I don’t know if that counts as being the “upshot” of the story because it’s mostly the whole thing. I’m not sure I know what an upshot actually is.

The reason why this book has a resonance tonight is because lately I’ve been getting angry about stuff that I should have let go of because it’s toxic to hold on to shite. Ok yes, no one set my legs on fire and then made fun of my inability to afford new legs. But hurt is hurt and when friends do or say things that hurt you, goddamn it hurts! And it hurts way more than if a stranger does it. A stranger calls you names or lies to you or tells you you’re a shitty person, who gives a fuck? What do they know? But if it’s someone you love, someone whose opinion matters, that can kill you. It’s really hard in the moment to consider that this person doesn’t know you that well because they love you, don’t they? Even if their actions or words right this second suggest they might be talking about a different person. This is the place I fucking live. I CONSIDER THAT SOMEONE ELSE KNOWS THE TRUTH ABOUT ME MORE THAN I DO BECAUSE I’M SUCH A GODDAMN SHITTY HUMAN. How do we get to this point where we doubt the sanity of knowing our own minds so easily.

I consider and carry and hold that there is something in me I’m in such denial about, that I am so oblivious to and THANK FUCKING GOD YOU POINTED IT OUT BECAUSE HERE I WAS WALKING AROUND THINKING I WAS PRETTY FUCKING OKAY.

Fuck off. But it’s someone you love, it’s someone who wouldn’t hurt you unless of course they were in such pain themselves that they need a place for that pain to go, that isn’t them. So in the moment, perhaps all you can do is wallow in this place of not being as good or healthy or sane a person as you had thought you were.
That’s where perspective comes in. No one has the right to make you feel anything you don’t give them the power to.  GodDAMN I used to hate it when my mom said that, but she’s right. The problem is, we put so much stock in what our loved ones think of us, we don’t often separate what’s happening with them from what’s happening with us. It’s really easy to take things personally. It’s also easy to project that hurt back onto them, later (sometimes years later) when you realize where it was coming from and honestly it had very little to do with you. That doesn’t stop the hurt, but it might start the grudge. The cap’n grudge. The I’m going to spend the next 7 years throwing garbage into your ocean and you’re going to eat boot rather than humuhumunukunukupua’a (yes, that’s a real fish) because you set my leg on fire.

And here’s the dirty part. The gum wrappers in your beard part…

It feels good to hold a grudge.

As weird and wrong as that sounds, and even while it’s slowly killing you inside, there is  a delicious righteousness to it. Because if you can have a grudge against someone or something, there’s a seeming justification there. You are right to think they were douchebags for setting your peg leg on fire. But are you going to react by dumping garbage in the ocean so they can’t catch anything but boots?

Not everyone has a large pink sea serpent to intervene and be the voice of reason. We have to be our own voices of reason and fuck that’s hard to do. It’s hard to be around someone who you know so well, who hurt you or someone close to you so much and still feel the same way about them. It might never happen. You might never know the whole story, never know how you would have reacted in that situation. It’s so fucking easy to say, well I would have had more honour, more honesty, more openness, less hurt, less confusion, more understanding. But the reality is, you don’t know.

Honestly, and I use that word knowing myself to be a storyteller with a talent for whimsy and fancy, there is no reason to lie. There is no reason to hide. There is no reason not to trust that someone who loves you won’t understand how painful it can be to live with something you don’t think you could ever share.
Conversely, I’m hopeful there is no reason not to forgive someone. Sometimes it takes time. I would imagine in some instances it might take a lifetime. It might never ever be the same again, but the hope is that we’re better for change, as painful and tumultuous it might be in the moment. Hopefully it eventually seems reasonable that the change had to happen, if only to spur one from a scenario where stagnation is confused with contentment.

And so, keeping in the spirit of those wonderful books by Stephen Cosgrove and illustrated by Robin James, I’ll finish with a poem that should concisely, coherently and rhymingly sum up everything I’ve said.

If you are feeling angry
Because a friend has done you wrong
And in the moment you don’t know
They just aren’t feeling strong

It’s hard to be compassionate
It’s quite tough not to judge
Breathe in, breathe out
And don’t be cap’n grudge.

Your legs are not on fire
Your life is yours to live
How much healthier will it feel
If you could just forgive?


It was Shimmeree! The one with the flower was Shimmeree!!!


A question of ego(tism)

January 4, 2014

The notion put forth by myself last night regarding my sadness when faced with other’s creativity being a result of my need to be the most clever person in the room has prompted me to spend a good portion of the day mulling over the possibility that there is some truth to this.

One line from the desiderata goes thusly “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” Why is that I’m so okay with the idea there are lesser persons than myself and so not cool with the definite possibility that there might be greater? That previous sentence was only kind of a joke.
It’s a place I frequent, the I’m so fucking awesome my hair can do cartwheels domain. It’s, at least to my way of thinking, coming from pretty much the same mindset and offering about the same benefit as the sarcastic/self-deprecating version of the same sentence. I don’t think there is any major benefit to either, they’re both in a category with back-handed compliments. With one there’s a kind of insincere humility and the other allows for a slow erosion of self-worth. Neither come from an honest place.
Speaking of the “joke” I made earlier when I talked of being okay with lesser but not really entertaining the notion that anyone is greater. It’s actually more a lie than a joke, but since I say it in a funny voice or acknowledge the improbability of it being true, it becomes comical?
Of course there are people I consider greater than me, I wrote a whole fucking blog post specifically mentioning 3 of them yesterday!  So my “joke” that I really can’t imagine anyone being greater than I am was exactly that. But it’s not very clever because it relies on my ability to pigeon hole myself into a place where I’m better than some at everything and not as good as others at everything. Savvy? That actually seems a little confusing. That’s fair, I’m a little confused. I’m not quite sure where I’m going with this, hence the “question” of ego, rather than the “solution”.

It seems as though there is a wide and unfair pendulum swing here. On the one side, I’m lesser than people who have accomplished great things, not once taking into account our different circumstances, opportunities, ambitions, desires, inspirations, etc. I don’t allow for the possibility that I would kick Neil Gaiman’s ass at hula hooping, make Neal Stephenson weep with joy when he tastes my baking, knock Clive Barker away from his writing desk (i’m just presuming he has one and doesn’t prop his laptop awkwardly on his knees) because he has never seen anyone do a one handed cartwheel into the splits while juggling fire.
Honestly, the reason I don’t allow for those possibilities is because I’m not comparing my hula ability to Neil Gaiman’s, but it was a valiant effort little ego friend. It’s my own way of saying, it’s okay that you’re not as good as him at reinventing Sherlock Holmes, there are other things you can do. Leave the writing to him and do those things!
That’s all dandy, but I’m talking about an ego-driven need for a sense of legacy. When you look back, what will you have done that made a difference somewhere. Where were you great? I guess what I’m really wondering is this. Does that great thing I do, whatever it is, have to be greater than someone else’s effort for it to matter? This is the question I’m putting to my ego tonight.

Why does it have to be that I’m lesser than people who are well known to be great at things they’ve worked hard to be great at, especially since I have never worked really hard at any of those things? Also, why is it funny to be better than everyone else? Where is the goddamn happy medium here? I think the problem actually comes from that desiderata line, somewhat. There will always be greater and lesser persons than yourself. That’s feeding the self-flattery/self-deprecating pendulum beast all fucking day long! It then becomes necessary to put everyone you interact with into one of two categories, making it possible to look upon them with either disdain or envy. I think where the desiderata gets it right is where it says ‘don’t compare yourself with others.’ I know it doesn’t say exactly that, but it pretty much says exactly that. If you don’t do it, there’s no issue. It’s hard not to though, I’ll freely admit that. It’s very difficult to come from a place of knowledge and not at some point or another hold that over someone else. Something that makes me crazy is when a question is asked and there’s that jackass in the crowd who says, you don’t know? And then doesn’t immediately tell the person the answer. How readily is someone going to ask a question if they’re going to be made to feel like an idiot for not already knowing something that perhaps they never had a reason to know? But it’s that (horrible/wonderful?) moment of being greater than someone, if only slightly and if only for a moment. It’s really quite sad.

I do not honestly think that my sadness when I encounter incredible talent or skill comes from a place of wanting to be better than the source of it. I don’t quite understand it completely. I know that there is a fear that I am 37 and so there are things in my life that if I don’t start doing soon will pass beyond the realm of my capability. I don’t say there are those things I will miss out on, I say there is a fear I will miss out on. Those feelings pass because truthfully, as I get older I realize I don’t want to do everything. I don’t care about being a physicist, a mathematician, a marine biologist, a race car driver, a rock climber, a marathon runner, a ship’s captain, a pool hustler, an amazingly talented knitter (I would like to be able to make my own legwarmers though) and a host of other things. There are so many things I can do and there’s so many opportunities for me to achieve them still. Being all wah, poor me because I don’t spend 22 hours of every day practicing to be good enough for Cirque du Soleil? Getting my panties in a bunch because I don’t write as imaginatively as Clive Barker? Getting my ego in a twist because I’m not as amazingly patient a human as Jane Goodall? Even Jane Goodall probably isn’t as patient as Jane Goodall is. And this is the point I often forget. I have no idea what the actual lives of these people I proclaim myself to be lesser than are. And so comparisons are pointless. I probably won’t stop making them, but I guess the best way is to be aware of it. It’s funny how being concious of something is so often a key to if not stopping the behaviour, at least changing it, altering how it affects me. So that leads to another question. How much of the ego comes from a place of mindfulness? Maybe I’ll figure that out once I start learning about neurology. Again, does neurology have anything to do with things like ego and emotion and mindfulness? Somehow I don’t think so but only because I’m not sure any of those things stem from the nervous system. But I really don’t know. Yet.


Creativity makes me sad.

January 3, 2014

It’s completely bonkers to me how something can make me so depressed and ecstatic at the same time. (Way to go crazy brain!) I wonder often if I would understand this better if I studied to become a neuroscientist. Which thanks to this site, this one, this one, this page over here and this, from a different perspective but on the same site I could, in theory gather enough information if not to become a neuroscientist, at very least begin to understand what makes the human mind (mine in particular, I find myself fascinating) feel the way it does about the things it interacts with.
Wait, does neuroscience take into account emotional response? That’s how little I know about it. When I know more, I’ll better be able to answer that question. In the meantime, I’m addressing the very simple yet slightly confusing statement I began with.

Creativity makes me sad.

I read Clive Barker (I recently stumbled across Imajica, my all time favourite book by him in a store, bound in the cover that happens to be my favourite, with the image that I’ve often desired as a tattoo, kinda) or Neil Gaiman or Neal Stephenson and I lose myself in these fantastic worlds they create. That’s not fair, they don’t just invent these worlds(though they do), they flesh them out with a depth so rich, I become transported and emotionally involved in these characters, creatures and places. Especially with Clive Barker, he was my first foray into the dark and monster strewn fantasy worlds. The monsters that have come from his brain and found purchase in mine, have affected how I view the world (when I was younger, I wanted so much to go to Midian (the one near Athabasca not the Red Sea) because that’s where the monsters live. I imagine even if it hadn’t been destroyed by asshole rednecks back in the 80’s, it would be buried under the tar sands by now) and how much the possibility of magic is a common, everyday occurrence for me. He did that and he’ll probably never know how much enchantment my existence is filled with because of his incredibly gifted brain.

I would write him a letter to say so but it might make him die. That’s how Roald Dahl died, I’m pretty sure. I sent him a letter and the only copy of what might be the best story I’ve ever written (I can say that because it’s the only copy) and found out he died either just before or just after it got there. Either way, his death will forever resonate with my having tried to contact him (thanks yet again, crazy brain) and so I will never make that mistake again. Unless I try it out of someone I don’t like very much, but that doesn’t seem right either. There are many people on earth I wish many different things upon, mostly in the realm of a third eye enema, but rarely do I wish death on anyone. That was a strange detour…

Yes, it’s great to let people know you think they are awesome. But how much better is it to take what they’ve given you and use it to channel your own creativity into a place where someone else benefits and finds delight in a place they never expected to find it. And then they write or draw or create something and the whole beautiful thing perpetuates itself into a glorious abundance of really awesome stuff. Lenny Bruce(among others) inspired George Carlin (they rode to the police station in the same truck after being arrested at a nightclub, one for obscenity and the other for refusing to produce identification) and Richard Pryor, who in turn inspired…it just goes on and on. It’s the same with writers, primatologists, painters, scientists. Politicians? Maybe not so much anymore. And soldiers? Are there any young people out there who want to grow up to be just like Nathan Hale anymore? Here I go sideways again. Super distracted tonight.

Ok, what I’m wondering is this. Is it unusual to feel both ecstatic by the extent of engagement into an imagined reality such as Mr Barker creates in Imajica and totally depressed when faced with the possibility that my brain will never come up with something as beautiful and courageous and lasting?
Everytime I pick up a book by Neil Gaiman, I go into it knowing that at some point, I’m going to shake my head in dismay at my inability to come up with something to match it. He comes up with story ideas that are so good and so obviously needing to be written, they can’t help but be brilliant. A beautifully dark what came after Narnia story. A Cthulu mythos tale with the perfect mix of horrific and hilarious. And a mashup of two of the best known genres, which I never expected to meet, though they work together perfectly. Those are just his ideas transposed onto worlds that already exist. When he puts his mind and pen to concieving something new? It’s love. And Neal Stephenson? I cannot even begin to express my euphoria when it comes to his abilities. I’m not even going to try. The amount of times I look up from his books probably with a look of oh WOW! on my face is a lot. How could I possibly hope to compete with such heavy hitters…these are only three of the multitude* of writers I’m both mad for and mad about. We’re all mad here.

Of course, the cheerleader (she’s so optimistic) constantly throws in that three letter game changer, that even let’s just stay in our pyjamas until we die brain can’t dispute. YET. I haven’t come up with anything as profound or beautiful or haunting or mystical or terrifying or intelligent, yet. Which leaves it wide open. Well played we can do it brain.
I also know that there is folly in comparing myself to others, especially when those others have realized their gifts for storytelling in a coherent and almost businesslike manner. They have found a method that works, that helps them channel those delightful thoughts and ideas into word on paper. I don’t even have a desk! I’m writing this half sitting up on a bed with my knees at an awkward angle propping up the laptop (a feature to be addressed come the new year**, once I have addressed my desire for an address of my own. It’s happening.)
Also, I’m still rambling over here, trying to find the method of narrative that works best. The nice thing is these days, I’m writing by hand just as often as I do here, which is better for me I think. It used to be all by hand and it was prolific and somewhat focused because there was more physicality to it.
Then the age of the laptop, with the ease of the backspace button, and fingers that can suddenly move as fast as my mind, if not faster sometimes. Except that things would be started (files and files and files worth), a single line, a paragraph and stored with an ambiguous title that rarely gets looked at again. There is no accountability because there’s no paper being used, how does one feel guilty about taking up kilobytes as opposed to space in a book. I can start a new file and save it and close it and never look at it again until later when I think what the hell is that and open it and think, huh. That was the start of something kind of interesting, too bad I’m not there anymore. Maybe I’ll try to follow through on it someday when I have the time. Because there are so many days like that. It can be an endless cycle of creative depression where my brain says thing such as “I bet Richard K. Morgan doesn’t have endless files filled with story ideas he never follows through on.” Which is insane because I totally bet he does. If he uses a laptop. Which I totally bet he does. The point is, I rarely start something on paper that I don’t follow through on, at least 3 quarters of the page. Is it out of sympathetic obligation to the tree? Or is it that my brain just feels more responsible for what it’s writing when the only option for editing is a severe stroke of a pen through a line that will still exist even when it’s crossed out.

Either way, for whatever reason I feel sad when I find something so good it makes me happy. It’s not limited to writing or rehabilitating chimpanzees in Tanzania or cirque du soleil (i.e things I really would like to do) because I have exactly the same feeling watching Bob Ross paint something. It starts off as seemingly little and suddenly it’s coherent and recognizable and those simple lines just made a goddamn happy little mountain! It extends to films and music and pretty much everything that is awesome that I didn’t do. I am overjoyed that it exists, but a little sad that it doesn’t exist because of me. That I know of. Oh ego brain, you silly thing with your need to be intrinsic, no matter what is happening. I guess that’s not unusual, but I wonder if that’s really all it is. Is it just that my ego is so vast, it gets upset at the notion that there might be people out there better at things than we are? If that’s the case, there looks to be a whole lifetime of  disappointments to discover. How wonderful.

*Dianna Wynne-Jones, Ursula LeGuin, Alan Moore, Madeleine L’engle, Ray Bradbury, Grant Morrison, Steven Erikson, HP Lovecraft and many more. Just to be clear, I’m speaking of fiction writers who have the ability to, at least for a short time if not forever, convince me utterly that something very fantastic or impossible is perfectly reasonable and probably true. Whether it be another world, species, ability, whatever. Other fiction writers can make me emotionally invested, but the parameters of their worlds may not be so fanciful or grotesque.
**the new year starts on march first. For me at least.

%d bloggers like this: