From Out of the Rabbit Hole… What am I Hearing?

It is the time of Strange Days that seem to continue with no end in sight. Everyone wants a Guarantee of Safe Return to Normal. And how is there going to be one?

People want to known. And want to avoid curiosity. Curiosity is asking questions. That can be a bit dangerous in this climate. Right now, no one is listening to anything out sign of their own echo chamber.

I am only here to state my own Case for Curiosity as relief to these current events.

I have been trying hard to eliminate as much as possible the News that I expose myself to on a daily basis. And I do not start my mornings off with exposure to it. Somedays, it is just to catch a Weather Report. Which can bring about an aggravation all of its own.

During the work week, every morning I start prepping my breakfast and lunch for work. And getting my Creative Work Load of books and notepads into my backpack. I am not a morning person and I need to wake up and get the brain cells firing up. Local radio is for the most part repetitive music that I can tune out into the background. Don’t get me wrong. I do like AC/DC, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Metallica. But do I really need to hear Back in Black, Bohemian Rhapsody, Stairway to Heaven, Money or Enter Sandman again? And I do like these songs. In order counter this dilemma I stream WFMU’s Wake and Bake Morning Show hosted Clay Pigeon. It is an eclectic blend of music that is all over the place. Going into a Sonic Rabbit Hole with music does wonders to help with the waking up process. The Mental Exposure to Wake up. Along with the 2 Mug Fills of Black Coffee.

And then it is off for my morning commute. I have to take Route 33 (aka The Kensington) into the downtown Buffalo area. This road is basically how to quickly get from the airport located in the eastern suburb of Buffalo to get into downtown Buffalo. It is not a road for the timid driver. It is a road where the speed limit “unofficially” seems to be set by a Secret Division of NASCAR. It may be posted at 55 MPH but it goes about 65-72 MPH. And there at times that it has the driving etiquette of a Mad Max movie. I keep pace drinking my coffee and more music. This time I tune into Buffalo State College’s 91.3 FM. I am not trying to relive or reconnect on some level to my past college days. It is that once again the music playing on the station is different. I have to Tune In mentally rather than being Tuned Out with the same routine music.

I channel surf the radio when I am on longer drives. I also keep a notepad on the passenger seat to mark down stations and times when I hear a song that catches my ear. Most stations these days keep a playlist on their websites. I do my own research about what I experienced. I also use the pad to mark down landmarks or whatever I may notice during my traveling about. As I am getting older, the idea of “I will remember later” has become more of myth than a reality. And I should act accordingly. And I Write it down.

An example of this. One morning I heard a song that really made my ears perk up. I looked down at the radio I thought I was on 91.3FM but I had surfed into 91.1 FM the Jazz station out of Toronto. I am not a Deep Diver when it comes to Jazz music. I have some John Coltrane and Mile Davis CD’s and that is about it. But I did my research later that day. And determined the song was Rose Rouge by St Germain. Never heard of them but the song got my attention. And I downloaded their album Tourist. This is no where close to what I listen to on a normal day. I find this album to have a meditative quality for myself. It is different. It works for me. This is good.

Some late nights I have been listening to Gustav Holtz’s The Planet.

And The Best Radio You Never Heard podcast is another way I break out my normal music listening routine.

My Suggestion for you.

Take sometime for yourself and channel surf. Explore. It will not hurt you.

Analog Re- Setting

“Research your own experience for the truth…

Absorb what is useful…

Add what is specifically your own…

The creating individual is more than any style or system.”

– Bruce Lee

A year ago, I was doing my own self review. And what I needed to change up for myself in the months that were ahead. I wanted a more Analog Existence. Do more actual live events. Concerts. Museums. Places. And do actually Experiences. But then IT struck. And I do not want to say its actual name anymore. Because I hear that name almost 100 times a day now.

Due to social distancing with its requirements. And places with reduced occupancy. The upcoming Winter months. I am going to be pretty much on my own until March/April. So I had better make peace with it. Or at least try to get better dealing with it. Especially, towards my own works.

I really have to do better at getting away from the screentime. And accept the irony that my work needs a computer to get posted at some point. In a way, it reminds me of the “cut the cord on the detonator” scene in action movies playing metaphorically in life.

I am Trying and Re-Trying to implement habits that get my existence into more of An Analog Setting. I bought a Journal. This is something I can take with me and leave the laptop or tablet behind. The purpose is to work out ideas for other projects I that I want to try out to see if I can make them work.

The quote I found that I wrote on the first page for myself.

It is helping me to generate ideas. But I am not going to show those pages here. I learned along time ago, until the first draft that ideas get a lot of criticism. Most the criticism is draining rather than constructive. And part of rediscovering my own process is to align with what works for me.

The other Daily Reminder to Myself is to Walk.

Turn off the phone. Take out the ear buds.

Walk. Observe. Listen. And Keep Walking.

“It is only ideas gained from walking that have any worth”

– Friedrich Nietzsche

In a social hypermedia world, doing this is, is a rebellious act.

Pause (D)

NOTE: On My Instagram Page, I usually do not write anything to go along with any “art” I make. I only do that with the camera photos I take. But with this one it was different.

I have been out of synch with routinely doing my Creative Works.

Back in March, with the Quarantine announced. I did not get any time off from my job becuase I work for what is deemed to be an “essential business.” (And I am not going to say which one. But it is not health care related) The work flow at the job dropped considerably. (But given things now. I have a job).

Time on daily basis became more of an abstract for me. So plenty of time. Right?

I bought Extra Art Supplies to fill the time since pretty much everything else was shut down. I was going to experiment with new ideas of working with my own personal artistic work

.What happened?

Nothing.

I somehow hit the Middle Button. And I did it to myself.

As Daily Life became ever changing moment on what the answers were and the actions need to get through this time. And being an Election Year the Volume on Everything got Amped Up. Vasts amounts of Noise.

With the Powers That Are changing where the finish line is and extended the tunnel as not to be able to see the light of the virus. I call the “Abbey Normal”.

I needed to Escape All of It. But I did not. To keep myself amused during the Slow Work Day. As I work in a now Socially Distant work space. Approximately, 100K square feet to myself for the day. I got addicted to Facebook postings. And For Better (Most likely Worse) Facebook just became a way to keep my brain firing with something.

So My Art Time suffered because I let myself get caught up with too much noise about a situation that I can do very little to fix.

There were many days I just stared at the blank piece of paper in front of me. I would take the crayons make a few passes on the paper. Stare back at that piece of paper. And Just Crumple It Up. My Free Throw Game at the Recycle Bin did not improve. But I was making more attempts. At least in Throws.

Finally, got One Art Piece to work out for me.

Because as a now work and create on my own. (For the most part) The problem was (and still is) that I am judging My Work before it is ever finished. I have to remind myself that the Process > Product. Now, More than ever.

I Am Stuck With Myself. And I had Better Make Peace with that.

I have to Stop Myself from Getting Caught Up with the notions of What is Quantity and What is Quality with my Creative Self. Because it makes me sound like a politician. That’s the last person I need!

Recalibrating

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It is hard to believe that I spent this much time away from doing my work with this blog. The 2 week Quarantine is now over 6 months long. The Quarantine seems to be a Hodge Podge of Abrttary Rules and Fragments of Information. I will leave at this.

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens” – Jimi Hendrix

I learned the lesson that I have to put my own “oxygen mask” on myself first. And I did not do such a good job with that for the last few months. I was and I am still writing on an almost daily method. I have lots of ideas on several notepads. However, my daily structure of work also got infected by Hodge Podge Methods. The lesson is that ideas without a specific way measure to measure them is not a course that inspires Action. In order to spark my own momentum I have to reestablish my own Specific Routines.

I do have a lot to say and write as I review my notepads.

I am in the process of reconfiguring them into more manageable form. Even if the environment and society around me seems far off course in trying to do that. And the 2020 Election Noise is not helping. So why look for it to help even?

I just want you to know. I am here. I am working. Again.

There is the song “Blown Wide Open” by Big Wreck has become my current theme song. And for meditation in these days.

F=ma , And I Made Art With It

(Or least in my view something that perceived to be art.)

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The following post is an idea I had last year. And I did not like how it was coming together. I put it aside. It got lost in my files of notes.

Researching items and services on the Net. A lot of noise is readily available. Customer Reviews are pretty much hack and cliché writing. Along with being divided. It is the greatest thing (5 stars) or it pretty much sucks (1 star). Does anyone know the concept of “Ebbs and flows”? There is the compromise of the “middle ground”. Nothing is perfect. But some parts do function. There is the concept of Wabi-Sabi. The Japanese atheistic view that the world is “imperfect”. And yet still is able in some way to be functional.

undefined It seems to be a “broken world”. But there is a chance for repair. The Japanese concept of Kintsugi (“golden repair). They would take broken pottery and fill the cracks with gold, silver or platinum. it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. This what history is. It is the Good. It is the Bad. And trying to amp up one side and deny the existence of either. It is a Fool’s Game.

It is these concepts that lead me to try something different for my

Instagram Art Project.

Searching my book shelves trying to find a certain title. Came across the book “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all small stuff” by Richard Carlson (1997). I forgot I even had it. And I don’t even remember how I came to have it either. So, over the next few mornings I would skip around and through the various chapters. Chapter 53 really stuck with me that I kept rereading.

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undefinedThis mug was on a shelf. I colored out the organization’s name because what I want to do here is not meant to be a slight to them. The place I got this one from has been part of me for close to 40 years.

I get a mug from them almost every year. Plus, out of them. This one had the color I wanted to use. So, I whacked it with a hammer. And then I set about trying to reassemble it back together. I wanted make a reminder for myself. That things and people have their time and place. But time is going to change two things. It is what time is good at doing.

And at a consistent rate on top of it. History. Good. And Bad. undefined

Ending up “Humpty Dumpty-ing” it.

Less than 30 seconds to make the pieces. And about two weeks to glue as many of them that I could glue back together again.

The pieces would not go back perfectly. Even after trying to grind a few to get them to fit.

A lesson in Unintended Consequences. My original plan vs what happened. Along with me lower quality of mathematical abilities. My “calculations” were very “off”. My imagination for how this was supposed to go vs. the reality of my best of intentions.

Gorilla Glue is a messy “medium” to work with. It does have strength. It does bond. But it is inconsistent and imperfect in doing so. A bit of Wabi-Sabi came to play. In the end, I couldn’t fit all the pieces. Had to surrender the effort. Maybe the empty spaces are those things that need to forgotten. Or maybe it is for the idea to clear space for new things to fit.

undefinedThe Mug with all of its imperfections is back on the shelf. The place and the organization are still going to be there for me. It is what is was. But time is changing what it is in the moment. That is the cycle. I know my view may not be completely shared by those who were and are there now.

Everyone, got their own “Mug”. But everyone views and interacts with it with their own internal process.

Good. Bad. Complete. Incomplete.

History.

Imperfect.

Yet still functioning.

Still evolving.

With and against time.

As it always will. And none of us are the Center of the Universe.

The Resolutions Paradox

It has been a very long time since I posted. The last few months, I have many setbacks and other issues. And being a “party of one” I was strectched to almost have a full force meltdown. I had plans and I had goals.

I fell short but with a solid landing on my face. Metaphorically.

Plus, I hate this time of year when everyone seems to be publishing there Year in Review Top 10 picks. They just remind me of how much I seem to be behind and off course.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress”

– Frederick Douglass

I know everyone starts a new year off with a bunch of resolutions. There is a lot of energy for them. But it is very easy to slip on a clean slate because there is no real traction to start. So I am taking a slower and steadier pace for myself this year when it comes to make such personal proclamations for myself. It is more of a process of getting back in touch and in tume with my Creative Nature.

So I am researching my own experiences and trying to see what is out there that can help me.

This are a few things I have found. So far. But I have to be cautious of how far I go into the rabbit hole that I created here.

The Accidental Creative podcast episode that has Four Questions to start with. (And there is a downloadable worksheet available)

Tim Ferriss recommends you do a personal review of yourself instead of resolutions

Gretchin Rubin has Six Questions to Ask and 13 Tips for Keeping Resolutions

So I am working myself through all of these and more. And I have to keep an ongoing reminder to myself on the Value of Process. And this is on my wall at home.

And with all of these a very important point to keep for myself also.

And I also have a daily habit of rereading a passage from an Austin Kleon book or a Ryan Holiday book.

Plus, as I was assembling my thoughts for this post on my notepad I remembered this story of the late Gene Roddenberry

SO! I Let Myself Slip

There are two movies that I re-watched over the last week.

Fight Club because it is about a man at odds with the framework of modern society.

And Almost Famous about a young man trying to find his own voice within the noise of those around them. And this scene still holds for me after all the years.

Somehow, I find myself in this moment somewhere in between those two fictional worlds.

Don’t lie about it. You made a mistake. Admit it and move on. Just don’t do it again. Ever.

                                    Anthony Bourdain.

I let myself get out of daily habit the last couple of months. Especially, with writing to keep this block fresh. I did not make time for the Process. And I let myself listen to bad feedback on my product. I tried to make better plans. And encountered other “hiccups” to happen. So, I have been a bit more “angry and frustrated.” I took this week off from work to catch up on the outdoor housework before the chill sets in. But it has rained every day. The Internet went down at my house but I can’t get a time to fix it until I see what the next week work schedule is. I have been going to the library everyday to use their wi-fi to work with my laptop. I do not like working around people because I have a habit of pacing about when I have Writer’s Block. At the library, I have to sit in place to do the work. A habit that is hard for me to do.

But the Work must get done.

All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.

                                    Blaise Pascal.

I found this quote, in the latest book from Ryan Holiday titled Stillness is the Key. And right now, it is the reading I need to do. If only for myself. I don’t know anyone in my life at this moment that is able to or willing to talk about the ideas of Stoic Thinking. When I cannot find the conversation, I can find the book. I also have become quite aware lately of people who will not expend one ounce of energy on a thought outside of their own view. And I do not want to go into politics. It is all Noise Over any substance. It is all theater disguised as action. I recommend watching the Marx’s Brothers’ movie Duck Soup. It still works as satire within regards to our current climate.

Another book that arrived from me last week was Creative Calling by Chase Jarvis. I need to take more from the tips and clues of those people like him who are doing the Work. Lecturers and those who just bang on their podium are never going to be people that will make any notable change.

I also recognized I need to work on myself and for myself. Especially, with my own skill sets. As James Altucher says, Choose Yourself. I bought myself the Creative Pass on CreativeLIve.com.

And once again, over and over I have to remind myself to …Just Do the Work.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are

                                    Theodore Roosevelt

I have also been reading again the short stories by Ray Bradbury. Many of the stories are about people overcoming dire circumstances. He reminds the reader that mistakes will be made on our journey into the future. And yet we will arrive at that point.

I need to get back into a thought process that is more forward thinking than reactive to the moment.

More Mystery.

Less History. 

Do the Work.

P.S. I have to admit to my shortcomings and what is beyond my current skill set.

I have another website that is in need of reworking but I have no skill at web design. Even with What You See is What You Get Website Editors.

I am looking for help.

Frequency

“Sometimes I go out and hear people talk about irrelevant things and then I tell myself this is why I don’t go out” – Keanu Reeves

“You’ll never stumble upon the unexpected if you only stick to the familiar”

A few podcasts to recommend

Chuck’s mind and his tales are fascinating to listen to.

And speaking of fascinating minds. I am currently reading “Raised in Captivity” by Chuck Klosterman

https://www.goodlifeproject.com/podcast/artists-way-julia-cameron/

I am still working through her book The Artist’s Way

https://www.goodlifeproject.com/podcast/austin-kleon/

His books I use as reminders to keep going with my creative work

Another habit I am trying to use with more frequency in my life is music. I am trying to avoid as much as possible news outlets. It does not matter which political side you are on. They are all noise without any pragmatic actionable desire. Because if you turn them off, they lose advertisement revenue. And you being “incited” keeps you watching.

Plus, the Human Soul was not designed to debate politics 24/7.

Sound bites and clichés are not deep thoughts.

So, I have been trying to add more times of music. And I am trying to explore different artists. I like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, Rush, Metallica, Queen, Nirvana but the local radio stations only play the same 3-4 songs by them. And repeat. Over and over.

My message to radio programmers. Get some backbone.

I recently watched Wacken(it was streaming on Amazon Prime) about the yearly German heavy metal festival. I have also been doing a search for heavy metal bands from different countries and cultures. I am very curious how the music is interpreted.

And they have a streaming music site  https://www.wackenradio.com/

I just wish the wi-fi at work was more consistent.

I try to avoid listening to any talk radio/ news while I am commuting to work in the morning. One of the local college radio stations seem to have finally invested in a stronger signal. https://wbny.buffalostate.edu/

I am not trying to go back and relive the youth of my college days. And listen to what is known as Alternative Music. (Which is one the most generic descriptions for music) It is because they are playing music without constant chatter and it is different from the other corporate music stations. When I was a teenager at the time there was a weekly 3-4-hour heavy metal show on this station. And that where I heard for the first time Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer, Metal Church, Fates Warning etc. But once college music aka alternative music went mainstream then the heavy metal got pushed out.

Speaking of alternative music. I was joking with a friend and I made a reply/joke referring to the song “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” by R.E.M. It is a song that was influenced by the October 1986 attack on news reporter Dan Rather in which he was attacked by a stranger who kept yelling at him “Kenneth, what is the frequency?” R.E.M.’s singer Michael Stipe said, “It was the premier unsolved American surrealist act of the 20th century. It is a misunderstanding that was scarily random, media-hyped and just plain bizarre”

This case would not be solved until 1997.

But this song and the references sent me into Rabbit Hole of web searches. It just got me into doing some research and making notes. And I have way too many links about it to share. I am not sure what the story is in all of it. I have to write every day and whatever gets that muscle going. So be it. I cannot edit and shape a series of blank notepad pages.

And I have been having a return to watching The X-Files, The Twilight Zone and The Alfred Hitchcock Show. (And have yet to go into Black Mirror) I am not interested in trying to figure out “conspiracy” rather I am more intrigued by “mystery” in the life that surrounds this world. And this is another reason why I feel at odds with the state of politics in this country. Because to both sides it is all “conspiracy at the hands of the other side.”

But for me.

I just have to continue on with my curiosities, explorations, inquiries and creative outputs.

The Obstacle Will Be the Way

So I need to remind myself.

Over and Over Again.

It is always something. And this blog had to be put to the side for a little bit. It was also a lesson/reminder to make time to Do the Work. I was keeping up with my notebooks. But not really assembling any of those notes into some actual “product”.

I found this quote.

“Life is trying things to see if they work.” – Ray Bradbury

There were and still are some challenges in my life that I need to deal with. I will spare the details. But there is no way to use any form of technology without swearing at it.

I keep going back to read sections of the book The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. It is good to have a personal library in my reach.

And it brings yet another Ray Bradbury quote.

“A college cannot educate you; a library can educate you. You go to a library to find yourself. You pull the books off the shelves, you open them, and you see yourself there. And you say, “I’ll be goddamned, there I am.”

The part of summer I like is being able to sit in the yard and feel the grass on my bare feet.

I was trying to read Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and for reasons I can’t understand. I kept getting interrupted. I mean more the usual amount. So I will be going back at this book at a later time. I do like my mythological tales when it comes to reading. And with my movie watching. But there comes a time when I have to draw from the experiences of others. And find a book for that.

So, I went through my shelves and pulled out D-Day June 6,1944: The Climatic Battle of World War II by Stephen Ambrose. I am not comparing my present-day challenges to those actual men who landed at the shores of Normandy. The book for me is about ordinary people taking on an extraordinary situation. How they took on challenges that time where there was no guarantee of success. It is the story about how all the planning that went into that day was altered quickly once the gunfire started. How the Allied Forces were able “to face and surpass” the challenges. I wish History was taught like this in terms of a narrative. And as something to learn from. It was a lot more than just date in time.

And I am now on to reading the new Chuck Klosterman book Raised in Captivity: Fictional Nonfiction. His writing always seems to make my brain work in a new way. And that is a challenge I need to take for myself.

When dealing with “obstacles” I need to return to the books and writers that make me think. And spark my imaginations. And to stay away from the reading sources that are nothing but rhetoric and cliche. They are just “static noise”.

I was thinking about a song to link to for an ending here. And I started to think about the differences and similarities of “mythological heroes” and “ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances”. I came up with two titles.

John Williams, The Superman Theme

Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Fanfare for the Common Man

Element /(ary)

I am not sure who said this quote first. “If you want to make God Laugh, then tell him your plans.” And I sure do have Him “bellyaching”.

And it was not my Intention to go over a month without posting. Things happened. Details will be spared.

Before I get into this post. I am going to share and two unexpected finds that I have had repeated listening of. 

Humble the Poet on the James Altucher podcast. I had never heard of this guest so I went into without knowledge or expectation. His book “Unlearned” is refreshing voice to get into. For me it is similar in ways to the book “The Daily Stoic: 366 Daily Meditiations for Clarity, Effectiveness, and Serenity” by Ryan Holiday. (It is an almost daily read for me.)

WWE wrestler Becky Lynch on Brian Koppleman’s The Moment podcast. I am not a regular watcher of wrestling anymore. But the story told here of her journey is something that should be heard. And why you should be Authentic to Yourself.

I am starting looking at elements of my daily surroundings. And seeing if I can reduce them in some way to their basic elements. I kept breaking them down to water and oxygen.

I am going to start with water. Or being in the realm of my own Creative Flow State.

This quote from Bruce Lee is becoming an almost daily mantra for me.

“You must be shapeless, formless, like water.When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot.          Water can drip and it can crash.

Become like water my friend.”

The parts of the speech from the late David Foster Wallace used in the video This is Water.

Writer Neil Gaiman’s Commencement speech.

For me it is all about rediscovering that Flow of Energy that puts me closer into a Better State of Action to do My Creative Work.

Another Note. 2 Books I am Reading and Rereading for: My Own Process.

An Audience of One: Reclaiming Creativity for Its Own Sake by Srinivas Rao with Robin Dellabough

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

The other element is Oxygen. I have read this idea or decree from many sources. “If you don’t put on your own oxygen mask first, then you can’t help anyone else.”

Humble the Poet reminds us Putting Yourself First is Not Selfish

I have been looking at my existence in various of life’s situations. And I wonder if my presence there is giving me oxygen. In other words, are my creative efforts being seen. And what I can do. Is that able to give oxygen to others?

I ask myself, “Am I only showing up there, just to be seen? And not really heard.” Why waste the “oxygen”? It is not personal for me anymore but more of an act of energy conservation. Not to mention the cost of gas for my truck.

It is coming down to this for me now. I need to be Present First with Myself.

Am I going to have Oxygen there?

And does it Keep My Flow State in Motion?

Closing music that comes to mind as I close up this post. Usually I can only think of one song. But this is what came flowing out of my audio spicket.

Disconnect –The Rollins Band

Merchandise – Fugazi

Sabbath Bloody Sabbath – Black Sabbath