Thursday, March 8, 2012

2012: Lessons Learned So Far

I’ve been feeling for some time like a great change is occurring, if not in the world at least in myself. This could be just me emerging from that quarter-life crisis we all have, when we finally find footing after being flung into a world that looks and feels and acts nothing at all like we were told it would.

I’ve been taking it one day at a time in everything I do, trying my best to live by a philosophy that maintains simply that if you don’t like your life and your world, change it. It is further driven by a sense of rational optimism that is informed merely by the good results it produces.

I’m certain now that the recent and abrupt termination of an otherwise awesome relationship with a wonderful woman was absolutely meant to occur. The dedicated crew of impassioned and creative people I’ve been fortunate enough to acquire is also, I feel, no accident.

As cuckoo as it sounds, at this very moment in my life, I’m prepared to accept that forces beyond my power or control are guiding me in a certain direction.

That I should choose to include a pomegranate as a decidedly important symbol in my music video, only to find that my art director himself possesses a pomegranate bush. Added to this the odd fact that it began leafing the very first day I met with him to discuss the project, and may very well begin to flower at precisely the same time we shoot. The full moon on the day we begin pre-production, as well as the solar storm we are currently experiencing and various other little things of this nature all seem very synchronistic.

That this all is circumstantial is obvious, but there is also the feeling of it. I have become very much intuitive about everything now. Even my body has found a way to tell me exactly what food to eat, and it seems stubborn in its refusal to accept anything else. Beer, for some reason, is in great supply these days. The hearty type, with lots of body and very dark.

All this is to say that I am feeling more and more like a player in my own life, and not just an actor or an observer. All my life I’ve judged the merit of my own actions on the sensibilities and successes of others. I wasted time in college in this futile attempt to gain acceptance and to depend on the advice and opinions of others.

But as monumental a task as learning to truly form your own opinions can be, it is still only half the battle. If you truly want to carve out a niche for yourself and be a free spirit, there are things you will learn that may leave you with that feeling of existential dread in the pit of your stomach keeping you up at night. Just know this is temporary.

I believe the lack of appetite I’ve had these days is related to this. No longer do I care what people think, but no more do I care to change what people think about anything, even me. I can help them to understand me, but no expectations should be made of it.

The truth is, I just can’t care enough anymore. It’s not possible. It has taken all of the energy and passion I can muster just to forge on for myself. Perhaps someday when my hair is gray, I will have something to say, when I can no longer be a player. Or sooner, if I can obtain any sort of mastery which others would want to hear of.

One thing I can speak of, though, is that oft-neglected aspect of optimism that even the most positive person can forget: the valley. If you’re a pessimist, your world is pretty flat. Ever so often you find a mountain that might reach into the heavens, but it will be rare. An optimist, though, lives in the Alps. There are peaks and valleys galore. It can be a most beautiful sight, but the hardest part is that no mountain looks more intimidating than when viewed from the valley. The relativity makes the valley unbearable.

I imagine a world where the sanctimony and pretension that pollutes most human interactions will wither away, and I believe that we are seeing it happen today. The rebel spirit in all of us that decries intolerance and cruelty has never been louder. The wretched fuel normally reserved for heated political discourse is now dwindling and the loud cry of justice bellows through bottom-up forms of media like Youtube and Facebook.

That our economy will be wrecked by runaway inflation is inevitable, as will be the panic that follows. But never underestimate the power of human ingenuity and goodness.

I can’t describe my place any more clearly than that. That everyone has a path to walk is a fact not needed to explain my own path. I may talk about humanity’s desire for knowledge to combat ignorance, but this just may be my purpose.

One thing is certain, though, and this is perhaps my purpose for writing this: If you are not on the right path, the universe will tell you! To a Christian, this is akin to turning your back on God. To a scientist, this is like choosing to abandon good logic and sound reason. You will find success to be very difficult if you stray from the path.

I don’t know who chose the path – if it was some god or angel or alien or even me, before I was born – but it exists. The universe is set up in a specific way, and a reckless life isn’t any more sustainable than a snowflake on the Tucson asphalt in August. All that matters is taking the hints the universe gives you and the rest is up to you.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Ode to The Mint

To Kricket, who, together with a young Justin, beat us at pool and won a free pint of the finest Natty Light a Tucson dive bar has to offer, and who greeted my friend and I with the joke, “That break was a Dolly Parton break: all bust and no balls,” I say: Thank you. To Louis, who complemented me on my Stetson hat and concluded a ten minute diatribe with the words: “I just can’t stand the sound of rocks under my feet,” I thank you. To the woman who slapped her hands together, proclaiming, “Alright! Let’s do this!” Who then emerged from the restroom with a rake, together with a gentleman wielding a mop, and proceeded to play a most impressive game of pool with said tools in the accompaniment of her Toxic Avenger and concluded her evening with the aforementioned Louise on the dancefloor – as if it was made for her – I say: Congratulations, you’ve got it. And finally, to the remarkably gracious bartender who let me into the holy of holies to gander at the beer selection and left me with a tab I could have paid with the change in my pocket: I am very grateful.

There are people in this world who continue to inspire me, and they are the ones who seem to care the least about social norms, or about intellectual endeavors. They don’t care about politics or class, or where you come from. You meet them, and the meeting is the best part. The real human moments occur in the most unlikely of places. They occur when people gather to express – with stubborn optimism – their desire for a better life. That they should succeed is beside the point. The pursuit is its own justification.