Category Archives: Personal Journal

Personal Journal | March 13, 2022

So I’ve been working hard on resolving long-term issues and angsts, as this Covid pandemic finally fades away. I want to clear the decks for action, get away from so much introspection, and get on with the business of arting. (That’s “of arting” not “o farting”).

On of the biggest mental blocks I’ve had is justifying my art without any indication it matters a damn to the world at large. There’s no acclaim, no fame, no celebrity. No appreciation of the work itself. No money, no followning, no recognition.

So the question became, after 69 years of cranking out tens of thousands of pages of text, thousands of photographs, hundreds of musical compositions and videos with no standard by which it appears to amount to anthing at all, how do I keep going without the ongoing pain of feeling that it makes not difference?

I’ve been working on this one for decades, and of late I’ve felt I was growing closer to a clear understanding of the problem, if not a solution to it. And then, a couple days ago, for some unfathomable reason, I remembered a skit I saw performed at a talent show in my high school auditorim some half century ago.

It was a one-man presentation, in mime until the very end. This teenager took on the character of a very elderly man. By following his actions, we divined that the old man was in a small apartment, taking ingredients out of the cabinet, mixing them together, and putting the result in the oven. Time passes. He takes out his creation – a small item, upon which he puts somethings small and verticle – and lights it. It is a candle on top of a cupcake. He turns to the audience, holding the plate with the cupcake on it and speaking for the first time, singing, “Happy birthday to me… Happy birthday to me…” Lights fade.

Now I’m pretty sure that sketch no longer exists anywhere in my mind. But it still exists there. And it has affected how I dealt with my step-dad before he caught Covid in the early days, later dying.

It gave me understanding and compassion. It put me in the shoes of that lonely old man (who was really just a teenager on stage). But if that actor is still alive, I wonder if he would even remember that moment himself. And I wonder if any of the other thousand or so kids in that auditorim that day also recall it, from time to time.

That gave me my answer. What we create as artists (like this very post) should not be judged based on any visible indication that the work has value or popularity. Perhaps some works never hit a single mark. Perhaps others touch many hearts, but in the dark so no one notices.

There’s no feedback, no comments, not even more than the occasional page “like” to validate or justify having created. And creating for its own merit, because that is what an artist does, never spoke to me. I don’t create for myself, and I don’t create because I can’t help it (though I can’t). I do it because I want to put good into the world – something I’ve thought of or saw or built that will make the world a tiny bit better, one heart or mind at a time.

But without the stats, I felt like I hadn’t broken through. But now, as the pandemic ebbs and having just turned 69, I want to set my sails unfettered to explore new lands in both the outer and inner frontiers. And I needed that agnst gone in order to catch the wind.

Because of that lone artist some 50 years ago, I had not only changed my behavior with the older members of my family due to heightened awareness, but I am now also changed to my core as an artist myself, by recognizing that when I create something in which I find value and then float it out across the cyber sea, it may sink, but it also might be fished out by some web surfer who is similarly affected as I was. And, good was put into the world.

And so, I’m pulling out all the stops. No more worrying about publication or sales. Sure, I’ll post links to what I’ve created here and on my FB page and elsewhere, but each and every new work, or the first releasing of an old one I’ve never shared before is one more chance that, here and there, one or the other will change things for the better, just a little bit. And it is THAT knowledge that ends my artistic ansgt and enables me to proceed full tilt with reckless creation.

Next Steps

Spent all last week updating my business websites so I could finish the last stage of my retirement and put them all on auto-pilot.

Some weren’t mobile compatible, some had menus that just went to raw feeds in various categories rather than to curated master pages listing top posts in that category with a link to the feed and to the search function.

I finished that job just before noon yesterday (Friday) and now on Saturday night I take stock of what I want to do next.

Teresa is playing cover music by a number of amazing modern bands – folks who have it nailed and play it with the same passion as the originals, ranging from Asian bands, Australian Bands, even Russian Bands – all just as good (if not better) than the originals.

She said to me the other day, you know, if you’re going to retire, you really ought to ask yourself. If you were starting out right now from scratch, what would you do, what would you build, how would you spend your time?

Tough question. The answer, of course, lies in being able to rip off the filter of preconception and to stare into the wild wind of truth. To do this, I’ve been inundating myself in hours and hours of new modern streaming movies and series, mostly epic sci-fi as I enjoyed as a kid.

Teresa said I need to get back to who I was – to what I used to love. Problem was, I don’t know that I ever really embraced those things back in the day when I was a child. I was always looking for the impact what I built and created and did might have, and that was more important to me than the thing itself. So though the projects I pursued did spring from my interests, they all became work efforts where the focus was not on what I was getting out of it but what I might accomplish.

And so, I can’t get back to what I never had.

But I can have it now, for the first time.

And that is what my next steps are all about: to look at what I have already built, mostly disorganized and unpolished (a raw fount of creativity), look deep into where I truly find meaning in life, and then bring that all together into a wave of renovation, reorganization, and re-creation.

Hence, I am here. Back to the personal web site I created as a storefront for everything I have ever made or conceived. I guess I was in love with what I’d spewed forth into the world – so in love I couldn’t stand the thought of it being lost to the world once I am gone, and at 68 that is often on my mind.

Perhaps at one time long ago I cared about fame and fortune, but that time is long passed. And here I find I want nothing more than to express the thoughts and visions I have and have had – to share them, whether they survive me or not, or perhaps even whether or not they are seen.

At least I said them. At least I was here. At least I lived before I died.

Update

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. Middle of the Covid pandemic. Missing seeing my kids and grandkids, having seen them only a couple times in the past two years due to risk of exposure.

Also, re-evaluating how I wish to approach my art, my science and my life in general now that, at 68, I’m well in to the last act of days.

Conclusions arrived at:

No more doing anything I don’t really need to do that I don’t want to do, no matter how much sense it makes.

No more spending a lot of time posting on platforms that will barely outlive me, such as my own web sites and blogs like this one.

No more spending money to advertise my work so it gets exposure: your loss.

Settled on posting my entire archive to YouTube so it will be around practically forever (since they put ads on all my content.

Facebook looked good for a while, but though your personal page remains when you die, the independent pages you create from that personal page stop being listed in their search engine if you aren’t regularly posting. So what’s the point? Besides – who searches for anything on Facebook anyway?

No, the only long-term solution that costs nothing and (so far) has been “permanent” is YouTube. But that takes some clever thinking to figure out how to put still picture, and books up there. Basically, I need to narrate my books as audio books and turn that into video with just the book cover as the image. Doing that now with the book I co-wrote with Chris: Dramatica – A new Theory of Story

Hopefully I’ll get all my other books protected and backed up to YouTube the same way.

So, writing here is no longer an attempt to share my wares, but has become a release – a place to share what’s going on now and to vent about life in general.

I’ll be coming back more often now, but not to create a master archive of my work – just to trade in words that have no lasting impact and serve only to satisfy my need to dump stuff out of my head so there’s room for new stuff.

That is all.

Why the blog?

One of the reasons I’m keeping my journal as a blog this time around, rather than as word document to be published later, is that I seem to thrive on the immediacy of it – the momentary excitement of an idea that drives me.

Knowing, previously, that my writings would have to wait what seemed like an interminable time in order to be made available to others was a real motivation killer.

So, I went to my Facebook account and spent several years throwing myself into posting and curating all the wonderful things I wanted to share. But as we learned in the video I included in my previous post – NOTHING! Not a like, not a share, not an included link clicked – NOTHING!

I tried, I really did. I wasn’t craving an audience or a following. I just wanted to know that of the friends and followers I did have, the art and insights I developed were meaningful.

But, as it turns out, most folks just want to hear about your cat and your grandkids and see the funny meme you reposted. Nobody wants to consider your original music, your artistic photographs, your philosophic epiphanies – NOBODY!

So, the more they resisted, the more I persisted. The less they commented, the more I posted until even family and friends had enough, blocked my notifications and just dropped by my page from time to time to add a polite like or noncommittal comment.

In truth, I drove them out. I have the never-ending rush of ideas within me, often to the point I feel as if I’ll explode. And only by writing a song, a poem, posting a new photograph or explaining a new insight can I avoid the endless screaming of the Muse. (“Tell me, Clarice, is the Muse still screaming?”)

So here I’ve come, a place where no one else goes: my blog. And in it I shall post my endless journal of experiences, concepts, and creations – I will cleanse myself of the debris of past inspiration to make room for the next batch and send it down the pike as quickly as I can before I am smothered by my own thoughts.

Here’s some music I composed and recorded some twenty-odd years ago but never got the mix right on it. Just went back to the original elements and nailed it (within the limits that my tawdry tracks could, in their insufficient original form be nailed, even with a good mix).

Posted under my musical performer name of Tarnished Karma:

Another Beginning…

It’s been more than ten years since I kept a personal journal. To be perfectly honest, I thought I was done with that format. Yet here we are again.

Why again? Why now? Damned if I know. But more precisely, I don’t think it is one thing but rather a multiplicity of influences that draws in my Muse and guides my hand.

Among these are the end of the Covid pandemic. After fifteen months in self-imposed exile, venturing not into any store or building other than our own home, disinfecting every surface of every food item delivered to our door by the supermarket, and even quarantining our mail and packages for three days in the workshop out back until the three-day life of Covid has been exceeded – after all that – life is opening up once again.

Like mammals cautiously venturing forth after hunkering in their subterranean nests while the dinosaurs died, the three of us here – Mary, Teresa, and myself – are finally returning to the edges, the outskirts, of what were once our normal lives.

But perhaps the greatest driving force that has led me to return to this format was the death of my step-father from Covid just a year ago.

He raised me from age seven when he married my mother who had divorced shortly after I was born. He was a wonderful father and, though at times we lived far apart and seldom spoke save on holidays, I always felt close to him, and him to me.

And, generously, life allowed us an extra span of communion during his final four years when I moved back down to my childhood home and could visit him nearly every week at his nursing care facility.

I would share the latest about family and friends, reminisce with him about our early days together as a family before my mom passed on nearly a third of a century ago, and I would bring him his favorite foods, videos to enjoy, music in which to become lost, and listen with eager attention as he spoke of his own childhood and his adventures in the years before I knew him.

His loss made me reassess my own scant time remaining to walk the planet. And as I turned my attention to dozens of boxes of family mementos stretching back to the late 1800s, which I have preserved as their conservator for decades and now feel compelled to sort and organize before passing on to my children, as I lift every lid and embrace the memories and moments each contains, I find myself struggling with permanence – not as one might attempt to fashion a legacy (though I went through that phase) but more philosophically as I try to understand where the meaning truly resides: in the acts of kindness or anger we ripple out into the world, in the insights and experiences we capture and send to anonymous others as messages in bottles, or is the pure organic essence of bling alive and becoming one with the immediacy of present experience the spark that ignites the blaze of self awareness that illuminates the universe so others might find their own way?

And yet, it might be far more simple, that which compels me to once again keep a journal. It may be no more than my inherent need to express myself, even if no one is listening, even if there in no one else in the room.

I am sure I will revisit all of these issues time and time again as I continue in this new incarnation of an old habit. But for now, as a means of wrapping these thoughts in a more complete context, I offer the following video from my YouTube channel, recorded live not yet a month previous: