Friday, November 7, 2008

Day three hundred and ten ... Living comfortably in the eye of the storm.

As Americans, we paint ourselves in a corner.

There are so many so-called eventualities in our lives it's a wonder that we have managed to stay above ground for the seventy or so years we have been told, on average, we all get.

I have sort of taken it upon myself to dispel as many of these myths as I can. For in doing so I hope to not only learn how I can live better, longer, and happier than previously planned, but to perhaps suggest ways for anyone who thinks I make any sense at all to adopt, adapt, and improve on these ideas and make their world a better place. And if you make your world a better place, it stands to reason that everyone will enjoy living in it a bit better alongside you.

The way I see it, as long as you are not a total asshole, you should be able to live as joyful a life as you could ever imagine.

But, as I have said, we like to impose rigorous destinies on ourselves.

We are told that hating our job is part of the deal. We hear how everybody despises work, and how only a few lucky ones get to do what they love.

Well this, I can almost guarantee, is the kind of rhetoric that comes from somebody who hates their job, someone who can't stand the fact that they have ended up working for somebody who they either do not respect, do not get respect from, or just plainly loathes. 

Perhaps it's a sign of martyrdom.

Lord knows I'm guilty of it. I played the part to the hilt when I was using. I felt like I had to endure the added pain and confusion that comes not only with drinking and drugging at the pace I had become accustomed to, but to also add onto that a hectic work schedule, gigs every weekend, and constantly deceiving myself, my friends, and my family. And my boss was a tyrant who didn't understand me. And anyone who would listen could hear me talking about how much my life is crazy and how I can't seem to find time to do anything I'm supposed to and that I would kill for a few days off so I could "get my head together."


But something strange happened when I cleaned up my act--after I had been sober for a few months, and the glow of it all had started to wear off, and I was just doing what I was doing: being productive and getting healthy--I started to look each way, like a kid who just stuffed a comic book under his shirt and is waiting for a tap on the shoulder from the clerk, waiting for something bad to happen, waiting for a brick of distress to fall from the ledge above and hit me smack dab on the head. I was looking for the mess that I was sure was going to ensnare me and hold me hostage for a while; a mess I didn't remember making ... because I didn't make it. But then again, I didn't remember making a lot of the messes that I was responsible for, regardless of whether or not the evidence was smeared all over me.

And I was so used to it I couldn't believe this new state of calm belonged to me. Because I had always had the pile of shit to climb over after a long blowout my mental limbs were atrophying from lack of stress.

I didn't know what to do.

And so I was on edge for quite some time.

Because when you get used to a certain course of events flowing on a regular basis it doesn't matter if one or more of the variables change. It doesn't matter if the scenery isn't the same. It doesn't matter if the light shines at a different angle and with a different hue.

Because you've memorized your lines and you know your blocking and what the hell is taking your cast mates so long and where is the director because we only have the hall for a certain amount of time and this show isn't going to put itself on.

And then you realize the light's on you.

You hear a ricochet of impatient but polite coughs.

You come to understand, as you start to make out the strange appearance of dust from a packed house as it floats unbelievably upward into the pointed icicle beam from the follow-spot and back to the place of origin: the lighting booth, far in the back, manned by a shadow, lit from diffusion, and concentrating intently on you. 

It moves as you move.

And that's when I realized that things were different. That's when I figured out that just because I had become used to having some part--any part--of my life in a disarray didn't mean that it was an eventuality merely because I was human. I began to believe that I can have it all. I can have an existence free from stress, anger, confusion, self-loathing, and suspicion. And I can love my job and get better without getting bored. 

And I stopped looking over my shoulder for the smack in the head I had come to expect.

This is not bragging folks, as much as it may sound like it. This is the result of hard work. This is the end-product of making an effort to turn my life around instead of wallowing in my own filth and remorse. It is the proof that if you want something bad enough--something that you can write down on a piece of paper, like I did back in September of 2007 when I declared myself "divorced" from alcohol--that you can have it and not feel like you don't deserve it.

And I'm encouraging anyone who reads this who has something they want to accomplish in their lives to just fucking do it. 

The great guitarist Nels Cline once said, "Self doubt is the enemy of inspiration." This is so true in my life that when I saw it written down in print I nearly cried from the simplicity and succinctness of it all. For years I had said I couldn't do something and therefore I never tried. It was so easy to give up because it was all in my head. Much like the times when it was so difficult to give up because it was also all in my head.

And then, when you do it and it's done and you're standing there looking at what you have accomplished, don't be tricked into thinking that something else in your life has to take the place of that fucked up part you just fixed. Don't feel like you don't deserve to have this new feeling inside your mental home because it doesn't match the rest of the furniture in the room. And don't let the new addition draw attention to inconsequential flaws in the other pieces you've arranged. Just leave it be for a while. Take a walk and clear your head. And when you return and walk through that door again just take it all in and see how a little time can wear the edges in your mind's memory of a supposedly mismatched piece so it blends nicely with the rest.  

Just don't forget it's there.

And don't forget to use it.


Sit down. 

Enjoy the show. 

You're on in five.

Thanks for reading.


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