From January to September, the light lasts a little longer each day.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015
On The Edge Of Adventure
Time is an elusive fox, darting in and out of the shrubs of our existence.
The days are sparks - flying off the heavily hammered, razor point of a fire-forged iron arrow. Highway lines stretch out and then shrink and flip by the eyes like Pacman pellets. The wind beckons us forward, and we worry, and we wipe our eyes un-wet, but we go anyways. Because we have to - and we need to.
It's in me now.
I'm about to embark on a cross-country trek - one that will be epic and of the ages, I'm sure, and there are many elements of it that are unsettling. But beyond the shadow of a doubt, I know I will learn from it, and build upon some musical improvisational skills, and I will see some friendly and much missed faces. And I will grow with and play beside the likes of a new friend named Ali McCormick. Ali is a skilled and energetic songwriter, and she is from a region of Ontario that I highly adore - Lanark.
The waves of events have been crashing upon me, and with my waxed board of activities, I've been trudging against a wild wake. Trying to find the right one. Slingin' taxes. Writing bios. Posting dim-lit thoughts. Sleeping, Waking. Repeating. Carving riffs out of fretboards. Searching for harmonies on a vocal plane of throat-fire.
Our stories are being made whether we like it or not - in both my life and yours - and we need to get with the making.
I've been saddle-baggin'. Ridin' through dusty trails of T4's, donation receipts, coffee machines, half-drunk curdled cream cups, ripped adding machine tapes, busted paper clips and 9+ hour days.
I'm pushin' it hard, but I feel alright. My step is in pace with the action. My Horse carries me forth. Shows. Late nights. Phone calls. Preparation. Endless fucking preparation. Runs in the dark in my neighbourhood. Last night, a cat climbed on the hood of an old red Honda Civic on my street and locked eyes with me as I ran. He was a white/orange half-fluffy cat. He looked quite puzzled at my activity. On a night where the sleepy burb-dwellers around me were all slumbering, this cat studied my strange movement actions. I stared him down through my sweat, and I pushed on.
Black Eye from Uncle Tupelo is playing on repeat in my head. Some beautiful songs from those fellers. I need to make some mixes for my upcoming west-Can tour.
We get power from people. In today's breakneck world, no one wants to let themselves be affected by the words of another. You get that shirky, half-cocky response of 'I know' - instead of a 'Wow! I never thought about that!' The truth is you didn't know, so stop acting like a know-it-all dick. Everyone is their own dark, conniving genius and no one lets the light of other people in.
Let yourself be affected. You do not know it all - trust me. Let the rush of anxiety and worry be a motivator. When your heart beats a bit faster, feel it. Don't wish it away. Let it wash over you. I'll try to do the same.
Sometimes, I am unhappy with myself. I worry. I don't like the decisions that I make and I feel a bit awash in a sea of mistakes. I feel guilt about my past and secrets that have never reared their monstrous, horned heads. I know I have a selfish side and wish I could be more giving and less narcissistic. I wish I had more success with my art. I wish I had a family of my own. I wish I had a steady job. I wish I had more wishes. I wish. I wish.
But in the same turn, the dark clouds part and the heart slows a little. I realize who I am and the changes I've wrestled through in two short years. The sun comes and reminds us that we are so small and so in need of each other.
Vagabond-ery can bring anxiety at times, because there are usually no clear turns on the outstretched highway. You roll through the foggy patches and you slow down the engine. But when the veil lifts and the ribbon of the road unwinds before your eyes, it's a pretty damned good life.
The open road is calling. The spring is widening. The light is lasting longer, and our joints are getting stronger. Sometimes, I'm afraid to sing the songs that mean something. I want to lay back and look cool. Crack a sideways smile and slink away into some dark corner of the stage.
The goal is perpetual motion.
If it means I'm getting somewhere, I'd rather look stupid than cool.
What a sucky life it is for some to just cluck about, and talk, and yak, and talk, and talk their lives away - and isn't it strange that those folks usually don't talk about themselves or their own projects - they spend useless energy on the banal practice of worrying about what other people are doing.
It's lame and it's frustrating.
It's a major reason why I can't participate in organized religion. The gossip - the fucking seedy, horrific, dripping gossip. Is there any practice that's dirtier? It's just so head-shakingly awful.
I understand the challenges of confrontation, but if all you do is spin yarns with your fellow knitters, maybe you should get a new hobby.
It sucks when friendships change, and sometimes for the worsening. Something happens to one party and nothing is ever explained or assumed, but you know that it's different. Augmented. Altered. And you can't quite put your finger on why - but it just is there. Hanging. Like the elephant in the room.
And when it's brought up by one side, the other side denies that anything is wrong.
It's like a sinking marriage.
The real friends are the ones who sail through the dark times together, duke it out, and get back on board together and hit the high seas.
Those are the friends I care to journey with - not the strange, silent neg-deniers.
Today, I woke up around 8:20 am and thought 'Wow - I have the whole day ahead of me!' and sauntered to the bathroom. I went in the bathroom for what seemed like 10 minutes. 45 minutes later, I checked the clock and wondered how time evaded me like that. That minx.
It is now 12:57 am, and this day shot past me like a rocket to the outer rim of Neptune.
Some days, the tricksy fox of time is sand in our fingers. Seemingly in our grasp, but quickly and elusively falling into the wind.
On a coffee shop walk at 2 pm, the wind was a forcefield against me, pushing my body to an angular shark fin through the ocean of air. And I liked the feeling. I was forced to slow down.
It's shooting past us, in crack-sparks from a cottage fire.
You can hear it. The dogs are barking a bit louder, and the birds are letting their songs dangle in the air for a few minutes more. The canopy of the sky is opening, welcoming us winter-beaten Canadians into another era of golden splendour. Snow is nearly all melted and creeks are rushing forward.
We get some time to take account for our feelings and to really evaluate love beyond any poetic ramblings.
We can see it and touch it.
I was once kissed on the neck by a girl named April when I was in grade school. I don't remember what grade it was (probably three or four), but I just remember the sensation when it happened. A bunch of us were playing tag on the play structure out back of Leslie Park Public School. There were jokes about cooties going around, and the boys were asserting their young male stupidity. And for a second, I was sort of almost tackled by April on the ground and kissed on my neck in a 'fuck you cooties' sort of way. A fraction of a second later, she was gone and playing again with the group of people. I remember bringing it up later, and she denied that it ever happened.
And now, another April is my muse - the one in our calendar. Glow on.
Sometimes, I hate the pages of my book. I look back and re-trace my steps, and I can see that my motivation has been dipped the warm waters of social acceptance. I have an addiction - and it's called 'being liked by everyone' (BLBE).
It's an epidemic, and I don't think there is a cure. I've asked others about how to combat it, but then I usually stop asking once the conversation turns serious or awkward, and I try to interject a real funny joke so that they'll laugh and forget about my problems. Laughing makes people like me.
Even if there is a hint of conflict with someone, I try to escape it because I am worried that the conflict will bring a bitter, raging fire of hatred.
Sometimes, we can't keep up. The thoughts come and we feel certain and strange feelings, and we are not sure why or how to even file them away properly. The cabinets of our emotions are overstuffed and spilling on to the already crowded floors of our minds. The sky cracks strange, and we shrug at the unexpected shift of the tectonic plates of our beings.
I've sensed that many of my friends and family are going through some rough patches right now. There is something about this spring that is causing some tension and toil and grief. For some, it's strange and unexpected loss. For others, it's a lack of courage and that insistent, tiny, degrading and wimpy voice that tells you to not take the courageous, adventurous step towards a new path.
For some, it's the precipice of strange times and not quite being in a battle - but being on the edge of one, and possibly emerging into something great.
That all may be true, and it may all be bullshit, but know this:
You are good enough - just how you are. Anything good or worthwhile in this life takes work. You will get there, and you are loved.
Some days, you catch it. There's something magical out there, and you need to go hunt for it. And if you're lucky, you just might catch a mind-bending glimpse.
Like a giant in in the land where I once felt like an ant, I embarked on an adventure tonight. With the sun hanging high in the bright spring-house of the sky a little longer each day, I checked the sunset time on google and headed over to a familiar old haunt; the neighbourhood train tracks. Many a morning and night, I found myself as a youngster drawn to those tracks. They were my path to and from high school for many years. I listened to Gish on cassette more times than I can count. One night, during college, I had a state of the union talk about some hard times on the tracks with one of my best friends Steve, and he listened, and we appreciated a well-worn friendship. I've prayed there. Rarely used by trains in my childhood, and almost never now, they are a monument of my life path. There was always something illuminating about them that brought my dreams to life. I was never a massive train enthusiast, but I guess I saw that they led somewhere off in the distance. I've always been a little obsessed with the actual lines of the rails, and their mysterious disappearance beyond the snag of my eye.
Armed with my camera tonight, as a much older man than I was in those rampart days of my space-pirate youth, I climbed the same hill to get to the summit. The fields behind the adjacent townhouses were aglow with an orangey spectre. The sun dogs were barking - moving and hinting at something beautiful I couldn't quite see. I thought about a lot of things as I shot a few random snaps. I even climbed an old abandoned train tower (that felt quite rickety and was rusted to hell) and got a few quick magical snaps of the boomy, brazen ball of fire making its descent into the horizon for yet another night. My hands felt like freezer meat after a few minutes of being up there, as I only had my polar bear hoodie and no gloves (and -2 is not the warmest of spring temperatures). I was alone, and completely immersed in the dying light.
As I left the tracks and descended the half-snowy, half-muddy hill, I heard the crust breaking beneath my feet. And I thought about how my life has changed in many ways, and how in many ways, it's just beginning, and how I've taken a road less traveled. Not an easy road, and not a road for the faint of heart, but an enriching, exciting, bittersweet and love-filled one, nonetheless. And for a moment, as I crossed the field below the looming apartment building complex by the shoddy tennis courts, I stared at the orangey field beside the tracks, and couldn't help but be overcome, if only for a moment, by raw, unbridled emotion. I let the silence wash over me as I stared into the sinking sun, and I felt a few tears welling up in my eyes and a lump in my throat as I exhaled. I found myself saying the words 'thank you', for no apparent reason - but there in that golden, frozen moment, it seemed to make perfect sense.
And in a blinding instant, I realized that being thankful is all at once a massive surrender, and a universal key that unlocks many things. Our generation is often one of complaint and anger and complacency and wanton distress - but where we often fail is that we don't know where we are lucky. To know what I have known and to see what I have seen, I know that every moment is gain. Every mad, happy, sad, angry, terrible, beautiful minute. It's a fucking carousel - it whirs, it spins and it lights up in an enchanting manner, and then it is over. The failures. The lies. The rejected love. The triumphs. The gut-sting laughter. The moments where a friend let a guard down and let you into the painful realness. The music. The awakenings. The anxiety. The hurt. The moments of being bullied. The uncool nights of teenage-dom and longing to be different. The growth into who you are - and the sobering realization that as fucked up as we may be, the more you grow into the real you, the more you are unknowingly inspiring others to do the same.
And here I sit, typing - recalling all of it. Clicking on my keys. Putting another day to rest. And I am overcome. And thankful.
I Don't Know What I Should Do With My Hands When I Talk To You
The Weakerthans have written some incredibly gorgeous and soul-sewing songs over the years. One of those is, without a doubt, the joyous but dark ode of Pamphleteer.
There is nary a songwriter out there who can get inside the mind of the average citizen like John K Samson. He gets people. He is a beat poet from Winnipeg who curls and writes words like Northrop Frye. He is a 1920's Canadian author in a modern era.
Never stop searching for the good music. It's out there, and you're most likely missing out on the fearful whirl of its gargantuan truth tornado.
This life is filled with some crazy fucking majesty. Once, while in Nicaragua, I lived for a while on an island that had two volcanoes on it. The island was surrounded by a fresh water lake.
It was surreal, mind blowing, scary and beautiful. I didn't appreciate it fully while I was there, because I was afraid of a scorpion chomping on my ding-dong or getting ass-horned by a bull in the street, but it was some sheer beauty.