Sometimes you just have those moments when you feel a little tired, weak, or depressed. Well, I guess the new diet isn’t working out after all. Close the windows. Lock the door. You’ve just got to lay down and ride it out for a few days. Get up to pee. Bowel movements to get out all that waste you put into your system the week before. Maybe have a half warm beer if you get thirsty and finally turn your phone back on sometime over the weekend before the next week starts.
And voila, rebirth. The sun shines bright again. Women are pretty again. Dogs smile at you as you walk down the street. Life is good. Enlightened, floating three inches off the ground. Recharge successful.
Obviously, oversleeping is a sure sign of depression. But that’s an ugly word that feels too abused to me. Yet, I do believe that when things aren’t working out the way you tried or planned or hoped, maybe the answer is to do nothing rather than forcing something to happen.
Light travels fast, my friend, and it shall find its way back to you again.
The Alarm Clock
Perhaps, those of us that go through this are just ahead of the curve. Wait. What?
After years of medicine and drugs and therapy, maybe they’ll realize that they should stop trying to do something about it. Stop running a hundred miles an hour all the time with one more cup of Joe or pill to get you through the day.
Just give up sometimes, like trying to learn something new; a language, an instrument, or a job, just stop trying and then you just do it perfectly when you accept you can’t do it.
So apply that to life, just stop trying so hard.
Are you making it happen or is it happening to you? We always divide life into those two categories. We may divide the ‘happenings’ differently depending on our culture, upbringing, and whatnot. Taking responsibility for certain things in our life and blaming bad luck or extenuating circumstances on others. But that’s all relative and based on our own perception and understanding of the world.
Yet we keep trying to control things. To create our own destinies. Get up. Do it. Go back to sleep. And if you’re sleepy, or dead, or whatever, you’re wrong or you better have a good reason for being so.
We are so obsessed and too attached to these routines. Up. Down. Do something. Get some rest, so you can get up and get tired from doing the same things again. Make sure you pass by the bar or yell at your partner about it on the way too. But hey, we need a dollar, don’t we?
That isn’t true for everybody. Maybe there’s just a few of us that feel that way. We don’t fit in anywhere. We look around. Move around. We try. Sometimes. People with their time and places to go, always having something to say to each other.
But not all our flowers grow in the same soil, do they? Some aren’t like others. Other people are like other people. Joining groups. Being productive members of society. Raising smaller versions of themselves while voting for the guy or gal that reminds them most of themselves.
My Heart is a Thousand Years Old
In a way, you feel tired as an old soul. It feels like we’ve done it all before already. What’s the point of doing it again? Let the other young souls have their fun. Have their hopes. We’ll sit on the porch and watch the others run around while we smoke our harmful cigarettes and take long naps.
The others won’t see us as their own, they’ll suffocate us by all their flags and murder us by their concern. And it isn’t their fault. It is ours. It’s a burning hell they can’t understand. A hell of oneself.
I once asked a friend, ‘There must be something wrong with me. Should I get help?’
And so did I.
‘If he cured me, then what would I do?’ I said.
He smiled and took a sip of his beer.
And so did I.
I did try a shrink, a few times, but not for my sake, but for others. Then I kept reading. Watts and Thoreau. Bukowski and Campbell. Jung and Plath. Huxley, Salinger, and Fitzgerald. And if there was something wrong with me, at least I had company.
'Aus der Kriegsschule des lebens: was mich nicht umbringt, macht mich stärker', Friedrich Nietzsche...'From the War School of Life: what does not kill me, makes me stronger.'
The Greeks came up with this affliction long ago and as usual, Christians later adopted it as their own. Thomas Aquinas identifies acedia with 'the sorrow of the world.' It can hit any man or woman at any age. But to try and describe it, it is best thought of as a sense of immobility. Moving through mud to cross the room. And there is little to no care or wonder left in the world.
If you know somebody that has it, you might hear things like: ‘I just couldn’t be bothered.’ ‘Two tears in a bucket.’ or; ‘This is it. I’m not going to get past it this time.’ It’s like Churchill's ‘black dog.’ And to most, they get over it and go back to punching their time clocks in short time.
For others, usually the more sensitive types, they fall too deep and get themselves in a place they can’t escape from. Well, there is that other option, and if you read French philosophers/writers like Camus or Sartre, it seems like a valid option.
So, there’s the dish you ordered. You’ve made (or accepted your role to be) yourself; a writer, an artist, or a musician, and there isn’t the fame and fortune for your suffering. Just a sad meal with moldy garnish and no waiter to take the plate away. Congratulations, you’re a stereotype and the little violin is coming out to play for you while you eat it up.
Yet some of us see the plate, know it, accept it, and watch our small romantic candle flickering away.
Sometimes there’s a beautiful woman sitting across from you. She loves you. She loves your sweet words when they are for her. She loves the passion you live for life. She loves you until she sees how dark it is. Then she runs away or leaves when she sees the other side of that passion, when she sees that to be able to give that much pleasure, you must also feel that much pain. Then she gets scared and leaves.
The same can happen with family or friends or anyone that gets close enough to the real you. Everybody is no doubt a little twisted, dark, and sad on the inside. But then again, some of us have no choice it seems to wear it on ourselves at least a little so it doesn’t destroy us from the inside.
Despite that, despite losing our loved ones, despite isolating ourselves, we carry on. We use this dangerous darkness as a source of fuel for our creative pursuits.
Fire and Mountains
The Laughing Heart by Charles Bukowski
your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
-- by Charles Bukowski
This poem can be an everlasting flame of hope, but I feel today it is lost in what is now accepted to be an artist. Today’s creative people are portrayed by Zooey Deschanel or Mario Lopez. Not to say they aren’t creative, but the exiles of society, living in depravity, all too familiar with crippling depression or living on a can of beans a day to try to make it are shunned or outcast in favor of the quirky and cute, cartoonish and bland. Modern day artists aren’t rebels, deviants, or free-thinkers. They make it all seem so safe, fun, and charming.
Perhaps this is a good thing, but just like I could never respect an officer who was never enlisted before, I know that I can’t appreciate an artist who hasn’t lived in his or her ruts, understood her valleys, and accepted his suffering and despair.
It’s brave to face that night and not let it destroy you. In fact, braving the night, makes all the shit sound inspiring, even hopeful.
There’s somewhere between the brain and soul most of us live. If we lose all of our soul and just use our brain, we become an intellectual. Yuck. If we do the opposite and become nothing but spirit, (We look like an alcoholic?) we go insane. Yikes. If we lose both, we become accepted.
Sad this is what most look for, but it is understandable due to the security of being part of the tribe. Though you will eventually realize you lose a part (or parts) of yourself along the way in order to achieve that.
'I have spent a good many years since―too many, I think―being ashamed about what I write. I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction or poetry who has ever published a line has been accused by someone of wasting his or her God-given talent. If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that's all.'
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
So be wary of feeling accepted. If you want to create something. If you want to create for this world and not just consume as most do, especially something that will be new or different, obviously risk are taken and noses will be turned in the upwards direction. So write or create, and do it for yourself.
'If you expect to succeed as a writer, rudeness should be the second-to-least of your concerns. The least of all should be polite society and what it expects. If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.'
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
My Memoir (So Far)
I’ve been blessed with a crappy life in my attempts to become a writer. That’s not to say I’ve lived such a hard and sad life. I’ve been fortunate in many things. Really. Being born as an American. Loving parents even if they weren’t so loving to each other in the end. Safe food. A roof. And quite honestly, rich in most measures of life.
Yet, I’m glad I didn’t make it the way I wanted to when I was young. I’ve learned and grew much more on this downward spiral from top to bottom while lighting candles of hope myself on the way down. I’ve pretty much failed at everything I’ve attempted in life. Education. Marriage. Business. Soldiering. Being the average drone bee. Even writing. But fuck have I learned along the way.
If I had been Marcel Proust or some one hit wonder at 17 or 21 or even 25, I would have lost everything worth writing about that connects me to the reality of most people. I would be disconnected in a world that worships me for a fluke. A glimpse of raw talent unsculpted.
And I’m not saying I’ve lived the most interesting life since nor am I talented, but I’ve learned to find the beauty and humor in the most mundane things, like a dog wagging his tail or my favorite bag of peanuts on sale. It’s sad for me to see that most people are dead and accepted by 28 in today’s world.
Once more into the grinder, dear friend.
One of the biggest glares I get, overwhelming feelings I take in from people, especially those closest to me, is the idea that they think I am on some sort of ego trip to be a writer. As if carrying paper to the copy machine or fixing an air conditioner is below my inflated narcissism.
The problem is that it’s far from the truth. I’m thinking about the story of the freon gas from its creation in the laboratory to the tank to the truck to the house it’s now being placed in before sent through ventilation and inhaled by people that don’t know how their printer even works much less what they are inhaling.
So when you ask me for a wrench, it’s not that I’m beyond getting dirty or participating in manual labor. I feel good after a hard days work like any man. However, I can not help floating in the clouds to somewhere else. Sure with enough booze and music and whatnot, I could shut my brain off and turn the wrench, but that goes back to dying at 28.
So I have strengths and weaknesses. Point to something and I’ll make a story. Tell me to get up at 5am and focus on other people’s needs for 8-10 hours and I get lost, frustrated, and angry. Social exile is a given to me. I accept it as my weakness.
And yes, others will say that it is by choice, that I don’t make the effort to live like them. Don’t worry, besides here, I won’t mention the fact that they can’t create something from nothing like I do. Yeah… that still sounds egotistical, but I guess I’m just an asshole for realizing and accepting that what’s right for some isn’t right for others and vice versa.
Brave New World
'If one's different, one's bound to be lonely.'
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Rejection. Mockery. Isolation. It doesn’t take much study to find out who suffered this in history. Dedicating yourself to something beyond social endeavors will, quite logically, leave you feeling deeply lonely.
'We live as we dream - alone.'
― Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
We can look at the great writers I keep referencing, or someone as strange as the friendly-lonely riddle that is van Gogh, and see that there is something else going on with these types of people (famous or not).
It truly seems that it is necessary, whatever this is that we have been talking about, is necessary for the creative process. Not ideal or sufficient, but necessary for one to truly detach themselves from society.
Je Ne Suis Pas Judas
Given, you can prosecute a person for attaching themselves to a group of outcast. A niche. A belonging. But this isn’t a goth kid dressing in his vampire uniform with his other vampire friends crying on the world wide web together. This is someone that has spent more time with books and dogs and trees than other humans.
It isn’t something to be proud of or ashamed of for me. It is just something I know that works best for me. I love people in the big picture of being another creature of this universe, but I can only be around them in the right dose, like anything else in life. So I mostly travel alone and occasionally allow a few to get close.
No doubt I see myself as a unique tone, shade, or part of the collective whole. But I still see myself as part of the whole. Not better or worse, and just as much trying to be loved and accepted as everybody else. And doing it in the only honest and true way I know how to do it.
'Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.'
― Dr. Seuss
Whether I’m daydreaming and wasting somebody’s important time and money or I’m trying to live my dream in some fantasy land of all my favorite writers, laughing at jokes and each other’s clever words. I won’t deny the fact that I am alone in being me.
And whether you are there with me or not, I’ll continue to smile and move on with my defiance that earns me all my cynical glares for as long as I live.