08/27/03: Dredging

I'm very lucky in that I have so many daily distractions and fond memories of joyous life experiences that I rarely, if ever, spend time dwelling on particularly traumatic stuff from long ago. I'm duly blessed in that I haven't really had many of these traumatic experiences, but I'd be lying if I said I had none.

While this isn't the forum to get into the specifics, suffice it to say that last night was the first time in my adult life that I was forced to really concentrate on the few not-so-pretty events in my little life. I learned a lot about myself... that I have grown up so much, and that some of my basic instincts and philosophies about human interaction may quite possibly be based on (tainted by?) these experiences. So it forced me to really examine things, and I guess the long and the short of it is that I've adjusted well and I'm comfy with who I am, regardless of the sorrows (and triumphs) I've had. The way I see it is, it's not the adversity or triumphs that define you, but how you've handled each.

In other news entirely, I was talking to Chris last night and he said something so astounding that it knocked me on me arse. He said, "I have no frikkin' idea what I want to do, like, ever. One day I want to be a writer, the next minute I want to be a singer, the next minute I want to be an actor, the next minute I want to be a director. And then one moment I wanna live in New York, and then I think that I want to live in Philadelphia, and two seconds later I think I want to be in Baltimore, and then I also think I should move to L.A. though deep down I know that's stupid. I have no clue what I want to do."   I guess why this blows me away is because I thought I was the only mentalcase that had no idea what they wanted. Do I want to live out east? Do I want to move back to Phoenix for a few years? Do I want to teach into teach music full time and starve? Do I want to teach lessons out of my house? Do I want to stay in Delaware so I can nurture Knappuccino's Coffeehouse and have the opportunity to make amazing music with Matt-o-blatt, Brian and maybe even Trainor? Is all of that musical satisfaction and love for the east coast worth giving up for a shot at something that may not have the potential to work?

I look at some friends of mine who are in their early 30s and doing what God put them on the planet to do. They're there. They've arrived. They're coasting now. They've won. Joe Trainor is working full-time in the Wilmington Music School as the assistant director of the whole shebang, he teaches music all day, and between students he works on his own music in his own recording studio. Ian frikkin' Anderson has played one of Joe's songs on stage. Joe won! Joe has arrived! Joe's got the rest of his life figured out. He's 30-something, he's got more frikkin' talent in one cell's endoplasmic reticulum than half the people I know combined. Plus, he's got a bright, beautiful daughter and people who love and respect the crap out of him. Joe won.       Rob Edsall is 30-something, he's got a PhD and he teaches what he is passionate about (geography/cartography) at a university. He's a respected professor and an absolutely beautiful and brilliant human, he speaks at a zillion well-attended conferences; he's travelled a bunch, he's directed music groups and sang in a million others, he's got neat hobbies at which he excels, owns a cool house, has dogs, and he's genuinely dug by everyone. Totally has his crap together. Rob won.     My brother has a communications/film degree, won an Emmy at age 21, is married to a goddess and they have three beautiful kids. Jeff works from home doing what he loves (I.T. stuff) which leaves him plenty of time to do the fun stuff at which he's incredible... directing and set design. His wife Mindy is a stay-at-home mom and gets to do all the cool Mom-stuff she loves and is so wonderful at. They have a house, warm friends, plus plenty of toys and gadgets. They've won.       And Jeremy-- good heavens, Jeremy. Before he was 30 he wrote three industry-praised books on Windows 2000 that you can just pick up at Borders, he's tech-edited some other books, learned how to use a trapeze, acted in a butt-load of shows and earned Equity points, he travelled to Israel and participated in an archaeological dig. And in his post-30 years, he done even cooler stuff-- got engaged to a magical girl, traveled all over the planet to be the keynote speaker at a bazillion Windows 2000 conferences, he's one of the world's foremost authorities on Windows 2000 Active Directory planning (yes, honestly, one of three of the world's foremost authorities). He has Mark Minasi's beach house phone number. He and Bill Boswell go out of their way to meet for lunch or dinner when they're in town. MICROSOFT CALLS JEREMY FOR HELP AND ADVICE. Holy crap!  Jeremy won!

Make no mistake (thanks, Dubya), none of this is to say "Poor me." And I don't think that those of us who are indecisive have (or are?) somehow "lost." Despite my general indecision about where I want to be and what I want to be doing, I think I have my crap together too. I have proven to myself that no matter where I live, I have supportive friends, a great job, a fine dwelling place and the comfortable means to travel to see friends and/or family at regular intervals, a social calendar filled with creatively inspiring activities, the mental and emotional tools to make informed decisions, the confidence to be a dork, a new appreciation for health, and above all, an honest genuine smile on my face. Most people can't say this. So I've won, too. Maybe some people's winnings are a stable, comfortable life; and maybe mine is the living in flux without which I'd perhaps go crazy.   Hmmm. Maybe I'm onto something here.

We all know how itchy I get with the same thing day in and day out, which is why I like dynamic jobs, and why I like to move around so much. Mix it up-- keep it interesting. I don't want to be stagnant. When I left Arizona in 1999, my great friend Jeff Davey suggested that this constant moving around is just me trying to escape something. I'm not sure what I'm trying to escape... stagnation? Comfort? Routine? Part of me knows I'd be bored to tears doing the same thing for 20 years... pulling the same weeds, going to the same job and doing the same routine: eat, work, sleep; eat, work, sleep. I dunno. I feel like I'm in the prime of my life: I will never be healthier, stronger, in better shape, more mobile, more free. So I feel like I should just pick a place and BE there, so I don't let these magical years go to waste. Otherwise, I'm gonna be 90 and thinking, "If I only hadn't pissed away my 30s and wishing I was somewhere else and not getting anything done." I feel like I'm just marking time waiting for something to happen. ("He stepped on his dreams so many times and wore out the path he needed to take to find the life he thought would just happen to him like the changing of a season")

But even with that said, the older I get, the more I just want to settle down, choose a partner in crime and be in one place. Set up shop. I want to have neighbors. I want to have a pet. I want the comfort of knowing every curbstone along my street like I did on my street growing up. I want to watch the saplings grow to big climbing trees. I want a hammock and some iced tea. I want to mow the lawn (once; and then hire a lawn guy). I want to watch someone age. I want to take a million road trips and fantastize about moving to every single place I visit from the comfort of my blue couch.

I don't know how I could want such diametrically opposed things.


This is how it was in the cold cold northeast while the wind blew the city smoke around
from underneath the quilt she whispered: I can't stay here anymore
Deep down I have felt this for a long time
I've been meaning to act but I get so behind
I just want to be up on a southern mountain
by the blue air and the green valley surrounded
where it hurts to breathe and you can be who you are
and you can be closer to heaven
I can't abide the impurity of city life
the violence and the degradation
my ideals have all been destroyed or beaten
And the wind continued louder
And the wind continued louder
So slowly she got up off the couch got dressed and went outside
leaving me here to wrestle with an enemy I don't even know how to describe
in the cold cold northeast
in the cold cold northeast

I watched Fight Club a while back and was struck by the line: "We have all been raised on television to believe that we would grow up to be movie stars and sports heroes and rock gods. Our parents all had the big wars or the great depression. Our war is a spiritual one, and our great depression is our lives. We were lied to, and we are pissed off." Part of me got caught up in the moment and I wanted to scream "YEAH! RIGHT ON!", but the bigger part of me knows that I'm happy being a small-time rock star in my small-time little town.   Everybody's gotta be somewhere.

Jerm says the secret to life is to be happy where you are with what you've got. I think Jerm is wise beyond his years. Aside from my 8-year struggle with what coast I want to be on (ha), I have always been elementally happy with whatever I had. Even making 8 bucks an hour and barely scraping by, there was joy in a 99-cent Slurpee. In boring meetings, in traffic jams, in the hospital with my dad, I manage to find humor and goodness in the simplest things, and I think that right there, is the key to everything. No matter what crap is going on, there's still gonna be a dog with his head out the car window or a bird on my sidewalk, and that's all that really matters.