Friday, June 8, 2018
June 8, 2018. Anthony Bourdain, the food guy, committed suicide. It was last night or this morning. His body was found this morning by a friend. What a thing to do to a friend. When I heard the news on the radio I wept. I called my wife to tell her what he had done and I had a hard time telling her. It messed me up. I’ve known good people to do this. To take their life into their own hands. And it is always a mistake. Always.
I started watching Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” show on Netflix a while back. There was something intensely likeable about this guy. He was the guy next door. He was the troubled friend who did a lot of stupid stuff but you wanted to be his friend anyway. He was the persistent pessimist who was as curious as three people put together. And we find out now that he was doomed by his world view. I was hoping he would start to figure things out. Things that would have helped him to deal with his pain. But he didn’t.
His daughter now has to pay the price for that.
I couldn’t tell if he was humble or arrogant. I’m sure he was both, but maybe you know what I mean. At any given moment. He himself was "parts unknown." I couldn’t tell if he was happy or sad. It all seemed to be at war within him, and the simple joys of food and culture were becoming less and less of a reason to stay alive. Which is tough because if his daughter wasn’t going to be reason enough, the food and the culture was all he had left to him. Or so it seems. And in the end that’s not much to hold on to. I can’t say I know, really, what it was he was holding on to, but it wasn’t anything eternal as far as I can tell.
I have to admit that I can’t always tell the difference between humility and insecurity, or outright fear. I was mixed up with what I was seeing in Bourdain on his show, and I get mixed up myself. What I mean is that I can’t always tell within myself, in my own heart and mind. I’m not talking about trying to judge others. I’m talking about making sense of myself. But I could be talking about judging myself in an unreasonable way as well. I don’t know. At least sometimes I don’t know.
It can be debilitating.
I want to walk in humility every moment of every day. There is no situation or condition that humility doesn’t fit. True humility is always appropriate in every situation. And I believe it leads us to a place of hope.
But I’m laced with all kinds of insecurities and fears as well. Things I can’t talk about much because I can’t really “remember” the sources. They’re rooted in neglect and mistakes and sorrows and abuses, many of which I can’t even remember anymore intellectually, but my emotions remember just fine. My emotions remember things that my mind has long ago let go of. And the emotional sores still pull away from touch like any sore that is tender. Cuts that just won’t heal. And you wonder when the tenderness will go away. When will you be able to handle touch again? And what will you lose in the process?
What if my artistry is rooted in my pain?
It’s hard to think of anything that fills people with empathy more than pain does. And empathy connects us with other human beings. I think I connected with Anthony’s pain. Not that he expressed it much in words. It was in his eyes. It was always fighting with his curiosity. And his humility. That’s what I think, anyway. Pain can make us very arrogant in quiet, rebellious ways that can be incredibly destructive.
In the Bible, in Hebrews 4:15, Jesus is described as having empathy with us, with our humanity, and we’re meant to take hope from the fact. And I do. But there’s a part of me that wonders how it’s possible. What is human/divine empathy? What does it really mean from his perspective? What does it bring about in the world? What does it lead to? I have only scratched the surface.
There is a misty realm of metaphor in my head that drives a lot of what I do and don’t do. It’s like a mud puddle. To be more artsy fartsy about it: it’s a kind of Tolkienesque realm of true myth, where the real things of the past, things now shrouded in darkness, loom and shape the present, and it becomes something you have to fight against sometimes because it is controlling and oppressive, leaving you wondering why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s all real, and yet if feels like a long, mythic history of what it means to be human, to be making choices and feel like you’re in control, but finding out the hard way that control is a very illusory thing. Realizing that we are not as strong as we think we are. And we are certainly not, in the ultimate sense, in control of much of anything. So we cling to what we think we can hold on to and shape what we think we can shape. And we try to get that ring into the fires of Mount Doom without destroying ourselves.
Perhaps we should trust someone else to take care of that ring for us? Is that cowardly? Perhaps it's just realistic.
When it comes to living here. On earth. How much of Leonardo is in David? Know what I mean? How much of McCartney is actually in his songs? And I mean all of them. Sum total. How much Paul is there? How much of himself will he be leaving behind and will anyone be able to tell what’s what? How much of Anthony was in his food and in his show? And who really cares?
What if, in the end, it's not about you? And it never was?
Why couldn’t Anthony figure out why another day was worth the effort? If not for himself, then for others? For his daughter? At this point blame is pointless and worthless. It won’t change a thing. But what was going on in that mind of his? I guess the big question is: how could he have drifted so far away from what’s really important? Isn’t that a question worth thinking about?
I don’t look down on him for it. I’m not angry with him. But I am sad. And I'm really going to miss him.
To some degree, dust is a ruler in this place. Dust and rust. And decay. And they don’t care what we think. Do you really believe you can fight them on your own?
Peace to you.
© LW Publishing 2018
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
One might wonder whats wrong with a person who willingly writes things down and sends them off into the world with no concern over whether or not anyone is interested in reading those things. Many bloggers, like myself, simply don't reach very many people, if any, with their random thoughts. So what's the point of it? Why not just think about it and let it be?
I'll tell you why.
Because the brain, or at least MY brain, is an echo chamber that rings and rings with the sounds of so many virtual realities that there's a genuine sense of non reality created by everything that goes on in there. Ultimately, for me, what's IN the brain doesn't add up to very much, if anything. It's what I get OUT of my brain, in one way or another, that manages to do anything of any worth. My brain does nothing more than mix the paint. All the things I do to get things out of my brain and into the world, those things are the act of painting. I don't actually paint. This is a metaphor. But I enjoy looking at the paintings (or the songs or the words on a page or whatever). They make life feel more real for me. They make me feel connected to the universe I happen to be planted in. They help my feet to feel like they're touching the ground. And who knows, the Creator might want to do something with this stuff. You never know.
Sometimes I do create things that seem to matter to people in different ways. And I really like that. I feel like I have, hopefully, made life a little less dark for people sometimes. But if I was the only person left in the world, I would still create. I'm created to create.
So this is just me again, taking one small step onto terra firma. The ground feels good.
© LW Publishing 2018
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Troblems and Prubles
Come waddling westward
Biting at heels
With hatreds and zeals
With monkeyshine monies
And sugars and honeys
With dripping loose lips
That have sunk many ships
Troblems and Prubles
Rustle on rooftops
Hiding in walls
With muffled catcalls
With something to say about
Any and everything
There is no sin
That they will not swim in
Troblems and Prubles
Have answers for everything
Sing out of key
But they sing with such glee!
With choruses chiming
And words out of rhyming
And now they are saying
Goodbye with a grin
Because we all know
They will be back again
© LW Publishing 2015
Wednesday, November 11, 2015
My eyeballs are letting me down.
The fact is, they've never been much to write home about. They've never been functioning at maximum capacity. For me, it's a way of life.
When I was a little kid, I tried to take piano lessons. I was SO excited about learning the piano. But the teacher told my parents I just didn't have musical talent. (This was said with certainty about an individual who grew up to sing, play drums, guitar, some keys and a little banjo to boot, not to mention playing in several bands and writing hundreds of songs.)
Turns out, the real issue was my eyeballs. They couldn't see like they should if the music was too far from my face, which it was, and no one knew about it until after I was expelled from the world of the Piano-Forte. What did I know? I thought that's what the world looked like. And my physical limitation had me branded as a "no talent."
I have lived with this eye thing my whole life and I am not really sore about it. At this point, it would be like being sore because you have brown hair or green eyes. It's just the way it is.
And now my eyeballs have started a new journey of instability and insufficiency. They call it "Vitreous Detachment." The inside of my eyes are sort of falling apart. People don't seem to realize, in general, how gooey and gross the inside of an eye is. But when it starts coming apart in there and blocking your vision, well, it's hard to ignore. It's like looking through a veil of snot floating in salt water. And it's stubborn. It won't move out of the way
I'm told I will probably not go blind. Probably. And I have to admit that I like seeing things. But I will still have to adjust to the pseudosnot inside my eyes, clouding the sunniest of days. I also have to watch diligently for other signs of trouble.
Your body, it seems to me, is supposed to be your friend. It carries around your taste buds, which makes eating enjoyable. I'm thankful for that. It carries around your brain, which is certainly helpful. But as time goes by, this good friend starts letting you down a little bit at a time. You start losing your trust in this old buddy ol'pal. But what can you do?
In this case, it's the only friend you've got.
Peace to you.
© LW Publishing 2015
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Lettuce, or large chunks of ice floating in the ocean, it adds up the same. There are parts you can see and parts you can't. There are things that don't show. How come we don't use artichokes as a symbol for the human condition? Or rocks?
If we were able to unwrap one another, if we we're able to dive below and see what's underneath, I think we would have a very hard time living with each other. Sure, there would be some good stuff living in there that we didn't know about, but we tend, I think, to show the good. Of course we do. It's the other stuff that sits and waits for some tragic moment of opportunity to strike out at the world we fear.
Perhaps our ignorance is a kind of grace.
But what if you knew it all? What if you knew every tendency toward the darkness in the people around you? What if you knew every single dehumanizing thought that came to mind in the people in your life? Where would love be then?
For us, I think, it would melt like ice on a hot stove. Wilt like lettuce in the sun.
But the Creator sees it all and somehow still finds a way to love. It is astounding to me. And all I really have to go on is myself. I can only guess at the darkness in others. But I am fairly well aware of the darkness in myself. And even that is a guarded self awareness. After all, we have to live with ourselves, don't we? Don't we?
The truth is that I don't deserve any of the love I have in my life. But it's there anyway. And I'm thankful for it. And it teaches me to love in spite of the darkness; in spite of the things that are not seen.
© LW Publishing 2015
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
There it is. A painting of Isaac Newton. He looks like he could have been a member of Kiss. He would have been chased out of the Bible Belt in the sixties, right?
According to Mr. Newton, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
What this has to do with figs, I have no idea.
But I find that this truth is remarkably untrue when it comes to emotional energy and the realities of everyday life. In particular, it doesn't apply to the arts. Using religious ideas to express it, it seems to me that Karma is not only not true, it is practically a joke. No offense intended to those who embrace the idea, but almost every aspect of life among humans demonstrates that there is no balance to the force. Everything is about as out of balance as you can get, and there aren't enough Darth Vaders in the universe to bring it into balance, no matter what anyone thinks about it.
And then there's God. The real One. Who doesn't seem all that interested in our sense of what is balanced and what isn't. He's got his own scale and we aren't allowed to touch it. So sad, too bad. But, the truth is, we'd only mess it up anyway because we simply don't know the true value of things.
How have you been?
I've been enveloped in the process of change. I'm changing in subtle but distinct ways, and it's making me a little nervous because I'm not really sure where it's all headed. I wonder if I'm going to end up being someone I don't care too much for, or will I be someone I could hope to be? I'm starting to feel the inevitable pull of "aging." And I'm not really what you could call old yet. Or at least I hope you don't.
Thing is, you'd think that if you put in a lot of effort, you could count on the results to some degree. You'd think you'd end up with some control over what comes next. But, alas, that's just not the way it goes. At least not always. Then again, who knows?
Certainly not me.
And by the way...
I've been writing a lot of new songs after quite a long dry spell.
I have no idea.
I like it but it can be a bit unnerving how things come and go. And they do. Come and go, that is.
Turns out that some beasts require a lot of fodder to produce a few little morsels of meaningful something or other. And feeding those beasts can get very tiring.
If you don't believe me, just ask all of those artists with unfinished works.
Peace to you.
© LW Publishing 2014
Friday, February 28, 2014
Here’s what I think I think:
I have discovered that the best way to get “into” a prolific author is AFTER that author has already been established and gotten a good number of books published. If you can manage to get “into” them a decade after they hit the scene, then you’re really going to be able to have an inexpensive, enjoyable, relaxed time reading their books. If you read them a decade later and they stink, then they were probably stinky to begin with. You just aren’t all caught up in the hype. Which is a good thing in my book.
Last fall I started reading the John Grisham books. In case you live under a rock and don’t know, John Grisham is a best selling writer of “legal thrillers” who almost single handedly turned the genre into a huge industry. His first big book was his second book, “The Firm,” which they made a movie out of. In fact, they made movies out of most of the books he wrote over the first ten years of output. The movies were pretty much in the category of “just okay” because they could communicate the plot lines and story ideas of Grisham (which is not his greatest strength), but they can not communicate the flair, simplicity, smoothness and readability of his writing (which are his real strengths). Movie makers have the same problem with writers like Ray Bradbury and Stephen King. John Grisham could write about pretty much anything, I think, and make it readable. In fact, I wish he’d try some other things more often. I’d love to see him team up with a horror writer and see what happens. Or just write a novel about monsters and see what happens. But that’s just me.
The point here, though, is that I didn’t start reading his books until this past fall. I started with his first (and one of his best) books, called “A Time To Kill.” This book was published in 1989, 24 years before I started reading Grisham’s books. I finally just decided to see what all the hub bub was about.
I didn’t give thought to this at first, but I really liked the book and have been progressively reading through his canon, like you would do with any author you really like. But, because I’m behind the times, I have been getting these books very cheap, on discount racks, at the library, or loaned to me by people who’ve had them sitting on the shelves for years, collecting dust since they read them years ago. As a result of this, when his new book came out last fall, called “Sycamore Row,” which happens to be a sequel to the first novel, “A Time To Kill,” I was not at all tempted to jump into the “gotta have it now” fray. I’m still way back at “The Broker” (2005). I’ve got plenty of time to kill (ha ha) before I get to the new one. And I’m happy to work my way to it, watching the price drop and drop as time goes by. Why? Because I am not a rich man and I think it is stupid of me to get something NOW for reasons that don’t make any sense.
I have stopped buying books when they first come out. That, I have determined, is for rich people.
So, you do what you want. I won’t interfere. I won’t judge you. But I’m going to go ahead and let those other people out there, hustling through the hurley burley, worry about reading the latest and greatest book by their author of choice. Let them pay top dollar to read it the day it comes out. There are plenty of those people and their obsessive nature will always provide retailers with big income and all the rest in our gotta have it now world. And when those readers finally give decide to clean house and donate that book to a book sale, where it will probably sell for a quarter, I’ll be there to pick up the pieces.
And I’ll enjoy it just as much.
Peace to you.
© LW Publishing 2014