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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.”
part of summer I like is being able to sit in the yard and feel the grass on my
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.
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.
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
“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
The parts of the speech from the late David Foster Wallace used in the video This is Water.
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
I don’t write immediate reviews of the books, movies, music
and whatever else personally. I am a bit envious of the people who can. And
have to ask how they avoid the constant interruptions of people when you do try
to be more “expedient”? The real reason is I think my thoughts need more time
to digest for myself. And I am going to delude myself into thinking that all my
ideas are the result of my own notion of “genius thinking”. (MEMO – Stay away
as much as possible from people who do think they are “genius”.)
I also wonder how after a TV Show or Movie is shown for the
first time that people can post explanations of the show and show all the
hidden “Easter eggs” within hour of seeing it.
I did not see John
Wick when it first came out. I looked at the title and I was a bit
underwhelmed with it. I had no expectations other that this will probably go to
the DVD bargain bin pretty quickly. AND I WAS SO WRONG. I just saw Part 3. And
all I have to say for now that there is still a strong story to tell around
this character. I can’t wait for Part 4. Which is something you never hear
around a movie trilogy. I still don’t know how they pump out movies in The Fast and the Furious franchise. I
only saw the first one last year because I wanted to see what I may have missed
with all the hype. As a starting point for a franchise, I do not know how they
continued from there. But they seemed to have found a way. Good for them. It is
just not my thing.
Enjoy movies but beware of going in expectations.
Speaking of expectations. Two fan bases that have a bitter love/hate relation with the art they are always consuming. Metallica and Game of Thrones fans. (And let’s not even get into with the Star Wars crowd.)
Please remember Game
of Thrones was not the first to give a WTF ending.
However, now more than ever we live in the era of Keyboard Crusaders who have opinions over everything. And are pretty much for the most part unhappy about almost everything.
I have noticed more often than not the people who are
Hyper-Critical on most things are the last people who are willing to actually
do any effort to make the change. I use to try to brainstorm ideas with other
people. All I used to get was a reply that “I was not making any sense.” That
might be true. But THEN they would tell me what I should be writing and how. So
instead of me being a writer I was so supposed their secretary. I am not saying
I always right with my ideas. In fact, whenever I write something about 40-60%
of them never survive past my brainstorming or I have to edit them into
something else. But as I listened to their ideas which they felt so High About,
all I could think was that they were not very good. And going in a different
direction that was not very useful or helpful. The Lesson: I Had To Protect My
Time and Space. And Be Careful to Where and With Whom Get My Energy.
Maybe Burger King ruined people by saying, “You Can Have It Your Way”. But as I get older, I begin to be more sympathetic with Michael Douglass in Falling Downwho was also have the same existential crisis over the burger. But I did work in retail and I know customers intend to be a self-absorbed idiots.
As for the final season of Game of Thrones, I think I will have to go back and re-watch the
season. It is a matter once again of stepping back and digesting my own
thoughts and opinions. I will admit that it seemed different. I did read the
books but after Season 5 the show had to be done with no actually source
material from the books. And writing for a book and writing for TV/Movies is
This was so far the better explanation of the last season in
terms of writing.
The other problem I have with a lot of criticism is there is
at times too much of Mob Mentality. It is either Too Much Praise or Too Much
Virtual. And I don’t even want to get into The Team Blood Sport when people mix
in their political slants into the criticism on an art form. Because most of
the time reading them when that happens, all I can say is “Really?” The effort
of the artists regardless of the medium really has nothing to do with you.
The next part of the thoughts in my head came from two different people.
“When someone is properly grounded in life, they shouldn’t have to look outside themselves for approval.”
I am not looking for approval. However, I am looking for engagement. It would be nice to have a conversation that is not just a one-sided one in my own head. But reading social media postings have made me weary that such a conversation is possible. No one seems to be to “give and take”. Many people seem to be “doubling down” on their position.
It would be nice to have some extra eyeballs to look at my process. And sometimes extra hands to help pitch in would be nice. Or someone to split the driving with on a road trip to explore a place unknown.
This goes along with a quote from James Altucher, “Explaining is draining.”
I hate talking with people and the conversation seems more about gossiping. Also, nothing is more draining than to listen to people who are hypercritical of practically everything. They know how it should be done. However, they never show up to help with “the work” aspects. It is what I learned in the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.Eliminate the Crazymakers as much as possible. (And I have to be honest I had to see the same tendencies within myself. And serve up a slice of “Humble Pie” for myself to chew on. And just continue to be a “Work in Progress”.) I am not going to get on soapbox and say who did what. It is just best to let some distance happen.
What goes. Goes. What stays. Stays.
But I also need to very much get out of my own Echo Chamber with My own Creatives.
Some final points that came as I was writing this post.
Mentorless.com (another must read site for myself) posted Art and Money. And I know how much a source of tension these two have with each other.
It is always the “unforeseen” that mucks up the plan. In this case, this week’s posting that should’ve been last week’s posting. But as I was editing my notes for it, I really had two separate Main Ideas that didn’t gel as a single posting.
(Or do I need to be thinking about reconfiguring what is with my work)
Here are two other sites where I am posting my work.
(Click the Icons for the links)
This is for my almost “daily” artwork postings.
I have not been as active on this lately. I found the platform polluted with too much “political outrage” over the last few years. But I am slowly returning to it. The character limitations are a good way to practice my editing skills. It is just time to rethink my approach to this site. And my expectations.
If you like what you please click to follow me on those sites.
Now on to what has been influencing me over the last week or so.
I have been on some sort of High Fidelity kick for a bit. (By the way the title is both a good book and a movie) I have been doing some deep thinking over some of the music I have been listening to. And musically, I am like a squirrel lately. I am all over the place. And may end up being run over by a car. In a metaphorically sense.
Two Songs I have been replaying quite frequently.
“Rise” by Public Image LTD. Listening and watching John Lydon singing this song now makes me think about how the words and meaning working together changes over time. As a younger man questioning things with the lyrics “I could be wrong, I could be right”. But the same man with more age to him those lyrics sound like those of a person accepting things for what they are.
As another lyric line goes….. “May the road rise with you”
And then to “Anger is energy.”
I am not sure if I want to focus on that. But when it comes to anger for me it manifests itself as “Resistance”. The idea of this form of resistance comes from The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. And here is a bunch of quotes from that book.
The Second Song is “Come as You Are” by Nirvana. To me this is a song to remind myself to “just try to be in the present” given the situation. Also, the “Unplugged” album I have been listening over and over because the songs to me seem to have an underlying narrative that connects. What I think that is. Is still a mystery to me. But I will keep listening until I think “I cracked the code”.
We all need help. And we have to help too. But in this current political climate, I am not sure if either is sign is truly asking for real pragmatic action. Though there is a lot of demands coming from “top of whoever’s soapbox”.
But I know for the most part. Regardless of the Noise Volume. No one is really listening anymore at this moment.
I am going to stop here before I go into a tangent on this idea.
As I work on trying to figure out the format and layout of
the blog. I still have to get things out. Waiting for perfection is a trap that
catches me. And way too often. Right now, the posts are the main drive. And I work
Here are two quotes that I found this week.
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
About my resetting. Or how I try to set my day each morning.
Morning Pages. But they have not been easy during the winter months. Getting up early is hard in the pitch-black morning. The furnace running signals to me that the bed is a comfortable place to be. But each morning is a chance to go again. I try to do 3 pages but I am content with a page for the moment. I modified this exercise by keeping my notebook nearby during the day. I try to make a list of my ideas throughout the day. Along with anything that catches my attention like quotes, songs, articles, etc.
I do not turn on the news in the morning. Unless I need a weather or traffic update before work. Most of the news is about things that I can’t control anyways. And why would I need that daily reminder? And maybe you stop with the news too.
Also, I check out BrainPickings for a morning read. I may print out the article to read on break. It is a good site for curated reading of the works from people of the past. I find more insight and wisdom in reading that has been digested over time. Daily Current News articles I am finding are more about “inciting fear”. And by the way, both and all sides are fully guilty.
Music is a better way to help make the coffee work in the morning. I stream WFMU’s “Wake-N-Bake”. (From 6:15AM to 7AM) It is an eclectic blend of music.(Just take a look at the playlists on the website) And very different from what I listen to throughout the day. New and different music in the morning helps me to start to tune in with my thoughts for the day ahead. And not be bogged down the same music over and over again. (It is why I hate most of my local music stations.)