the beach today
I tell myself
through clenched teeth
yourself to myself
go, go, gone
the beach today
I tell myself
through clenched teeth
yourself to myself
go, go, gone
I really should be writing here more often. Because everyday I have revelations and interesting thoughts, dynamic mini-conceptual-breakthroughs. And yet... and yet... I let them come and go and many go unrecorded.
Why? Am I being lazy? Neglectful? Some sort of sabotage? Not sure.
There is a bit of laziness. Like - I don't need to write it all down. There'll be new stuff tomorrow. If it's really important I'll think it again... etc
I should be keeping an updated log. It's my job. I'm a poet, a writer, an artist, a philosopher. If I become too lax in my journals, well... well... the progression will be too staccato. Some important revelations may be overlooked, slip away.
Sure, no great loss to humanity, but a shame, nonetheless. For who is to say what is important and what has an effect and what that effect may be. My job is not to second guess those kind of things. It's just to do what I have set out to do in this blog and record my truth, un-edited, freely, unselfconsciously. Then, let the words do their thing, go where they will, be whispers or screams, be heard and hindered or ignored. Be laughed at or with. Not my concern. I am simply the conduit.
My life is lived differently to many. I am a solo explorer. I spend an inordinate amount of time with my self. I use the time to create art, just to be, to observe, to experience being alive, to witness and assess the human condition. I pay close attention. I am my own guinea pig. I am the scientist and the subject. A living experiment. Ongoing. So I must write the reports! I berate myself.
So what's the AMAZING thoughts from today?
Er, I've forgotten. Ha ha ha.
No, let me think.
Today was about trying to balance the mix of inner world and outer world. As our perception, our concepts, our beliefs are the filters through which we perceive the outside world, every experience is subjective. There is no truth. Just versions. So when I go out, like I did today - to the cafe (flatwhite and new artwork!), to the shops (slippers!), to the beach (bodysurfing!), to the pub (poker!) - what I am really doing is using the existing structure of reality to comfortably fit into my idea of how I want things to occur.
And I'm happy to report that, apart from not winning at poker, it was quite successful. I did notice that along the way, various small things did stress me out and as best as I could and as swiftly as I could I made an effort to quell these moments of unease. They were only trivial - a lady parking her car too close to mine unnecessarily - a guy at poker taking forever to shuffle as he crapped on with some uninteresting tale - as examples - but I noticed the mini spikes in my serenity and attempted to limit their amplitude.
We all seek, desire peace and comfort. We want to belong. We want to feel at ease, unthreatened. This is basic. Beyond that we want some excitement, some joy, some attention, some love. We're all the same. But different. Different needs and expectations, different perception and behaviour.
All you can do is try and streamline your own life experience to best suit your true, individual self. And who is that? It's an evolving thing, of course. Be to fully know yourself, you need to pay attention. And more than that, you need to consider things and make modifications.
Having said that, some choose not to at all. And that can be valid, too. Who am I to say? My personal quest is to find meaning and substance where I can and then share it. With a joke, an essay, through images or video. Whatever is at hand.
Which brings me back to the starting point. The reason I need to be more consistent with this blog is because if it is going to be worthwhile - then it's up to me to make it so. I can't predict what will come out. But I can make the effort to begin with the first few words - whatever comes - more often. And, so, I will.
I did this artwork yesterday, then conveniently dreamt I had a horse just this morning. He was big and wild but we got along well and he was very friendly with me. It was in one of those funky dream landscapes, vividly real at the time but on contemplation afterwards, lacking definition. It was in an urban environment and there were plenty of other people with horses. For some reason, he didn't want to come in contact with the other horses, so we went down a big hill.
Any amateur psychiatrists in the house?
I have awaken early this morning and not been able to get back to sleep - which is rare for me because I'm the consumate night owl / late riser. I generally love the dreams I have in the mornings. But today, no, there's a motor running in my stomach area and it won't allow me to disappear - even though I've had just four or five hours kip.
Lying in bed, a memory from school days came back to me. It's something I haven't thought about for a long time. It is quite a notable event from my formative years.
I attended St Mary's International School in Tokyo, Japan from 1970 to '78. It was run on the US system by Canadian Brothers. It was a high academic performance oriented, success driven school with 99% of it's students continuing on to university education. The boys there were the sons of diplomats and heads of foreign corporations as well as rich Japanese bilingual kids who's parents had returned from overseas postings or who were from mixed marriages.
There are plenty of stories from those days, but the one that I remembered this morning is to do with a lesson, well a few lesson I learnt about how the world works.
Every year the school would have a carnival and as part of a fundraiser would get the students to sell raffle tickets. I was in year eight, about thirteen years old. Our class held a competition to see who could sell the most tickets, with a prize at the end of the month for the biggest seller.
During school years I was never really competitive or one to strive to win things. But for some reason I decided that I was going to try and sell more raffle tickets than any of my classmates. I liked the raffle books themselves: quality printing, a well crafted detachable serrated ticket printed on a sturdy stock. Each book had either twenty five or fifty tickets - I can't quite recall. One ticket sold for two hundred yen - which in those days, the mid seventies, was something like the equivalent of six or seven dollars I suppose.
Not many of the other kids really took it on. Most just sold five or ten to family members. A few tried selling them on the streets to Japanese but it was not an easy task as it involved a lot of explaining about where the school was, what it was, what the prizes were, when the draw would be, etc. And also, convincing - about how it was worth it, how good the prizes were, how they could be picked up easily, etc
The average Sho was not that interested. I knew this because I took it to task and every afternoon, after getting home from school, I went up the road from our house in Nishi Azabu, positioned myself on the footpath outside the Azabu Zemusho (Tax Office) and attempted to sell as many as I could for the month leading up to final day.
It was hard going. "Sumimasen. Kujibiki o kaimasen ka?" was my opening line. "Excuse me, would you be interested in buying a raffle ticket?" Most people would not even stop. Japanese - at least back then - do not like their routines disturbed. They were on their way to the next meeting or heading home from work or whatever. Who was this gaijin kid who spoke Japanese?
A few were curious. I had a whole speech, a self-devised, soft-sell sales pitch. But getting money off people isn't easy. Even if it was for a good cause. (Education of rich foreign kids!)
I learnt a lot about human behaviour in that month of arvos. The nice people, the generous ones, the kind ones, were truly magnificent. They saw things for what they were. A kid busting his ass trying to sell some tickets. They didn't care about the chance of the prizes. They cared about me. It was touching. The majority, though: indifferent, detached, uninterested.
I remember thinking at the time - I will never forget what it means to be kind to someone who is trying hard and needs a hand.
Anyway, day in - day out, I slowly climbed and maintained top position on the ladder. A few other kids were impressed. How do you do it? I can't sell any!
On the morning of the last day, I handed in my final book of stubs. It was over. My fifty or sixty hours of effort would be soon paying off - with the imminent announcement of the winner and the accolades and prize (I forget what it was exactly but something desirable). I was a shoe in. Nobody was even close. It felt good to have achieved something with hard work and dedication.
The final tally was done and the announcement was made.
"And the winner is... "
I almost stood up and began walking towards the front, confident and proud as I was.
Everyone cheered and clapped. Andreas, a likeable half Swiss/half Japanese boy rushed to the front and collected his reward.
Meanwhile I was gobsmacked, sitting up the back, silent and confused. What? What happened?
It turns out that Andreas, not even a blip on the sales efforts radar, had waited till the day before the end, then just got his very wealthy father to purchase 5,000 yen more worth of tickets, so that he could win.
There was nothing I could do. It was a harsh and completely unexpected reality. All that work.... All that energy and effort... for nil.
And yet, as the days went by and the sting subsided, I began to realise that my time had not been wasted. I really learnt a lot out there on the streets during those afternoons. I came into contact with many, many people. Some bought just one - a few bought five, maybe one guy bought ten, even. Those interactions, those connections I had with those strangers had an effect on me that went beyond the value of winning the prize. I learnt about people, about humanity. I learnt subtle lessons from my wide sampling of behaviours and responses that would help shape me as a person.
Since those days, I almost always give to the homeless, to buskers, to people in need trying to sell small wares on the street. Something, however small, something given invites a human exchange and warm connection that is worth more than money. It says, I'm listening, I see you, I care.
Mwaahhh... right? A happy ending! Worthwhile time spent not-sleeping-in. Having said that, I think I'll have a wee lie down right now. >wink<
One of the things that comes with the territory of being an artist is a constant questioning and mental investigation/exploration in the essence of being. As well as creating images on a daily basis, I find myself constantly contemplating the nature of existence. Why is life like it is? What is the meaning/point? Is there a way to evolve through astute consideration/cogitation?
My lifestyle is simple. I make pictures, I do some writing, I take long walks. My haunts are the library, cafes, the beach. One of the great assets of being an artist is that you have time to think and time to just be. Daily life is incredibly demanding for everyone, some more than others and it is rare and valuable to be able to withdraw from the constant demands and stresses to take time to think in solitude.
It is not something that I necessarily like all the time, but my mind strives to come to terms with the nature of reality. Why is it the way it is? What is the point of everything? Where are we headed as a species? etc etc
These kinds of questions are tackled by philosophers, poets, writers and artists. In a way it is our job. It doesn't pay - at least not in money - but it is still important. Vital, in fact, to the evolution of mankind. By not being busy all the time, we are allowed to zone out of everyday demands and attempt to truly comprehend what being human means.
It's a fucking hard job. Some may call it navel gazing and a waste of time. But I don't think so. By not being distracted by work demands, schedules, timetables and common social considerations, thinkers are able to mentally float free in search of new horizons, new ways of looking at things. After all it's all about perception and perspective. There is no one way. There is no correct answer or single response. Time moves on, and yet, it is timeless.
Any given event can be recounted by even a small sampling of observant individuals in any infinite number of wide ranging ways. What is the reality? There is none. It is all story. Which story is it that you wish to believe? Are you game enough to make up your own? At what point does illusion reveal it's true nature?
One can go round in circles thinking this kind of stuff and at times it seems pointless. Why bother? Why not just get on with things? But then, why not bother? Why not TRY and work out the eternal mystery? Of course, it won't be solved, not by a mere mortal - there is no solution - BUT - what is wrong with attempting to scale one hundred fold Everest? Each of our lives is to do with as we choose/ are compelled to/ are lead to believe we should.
An artist is a kind of anarchist. He is a malcontent. He is a fighter in the cause of truth and meaning. He wants to take in everything life presents and ingest it, grapple with it, be seduced by it, be immersed in it, dance with it, get punched it the stomach by it. Then, he will take it all and make something of his own devising from it. He will say, I don't know what the fuck it's all about, but somehow, by spending time with words or colours or sounds, I have created these things. They may translate as something comprehensible to others, enjoyable perhaps, provocative maybe. They may assist in the journey of others to find and redefine their individual meaning of what life is. If that happens, then sweeeet! It it fails to translate or adds no substance, well so be it. It won't stop him from trying.
An artist is born to make art. That's all we can do. This in itself is kind of wonderful. At least we are not killers, or corrupt politicians, or greedy business people, or sadistic military or police. We are mellow. We are peace loving. We are searchers, adventurers, gypsies, nomads, explorers.
We care about people and have time to listen and empathise, to learn from our fellow folk. We love life. Yes, it's a struggle but by asking 'what if?' and 'why?' and by considering 'how about..?' and by spending time with the simple and pure elements of life and nature, we may be able to contribute to making this world a better place.
We are weirdos, yes, by some definitions. But we see well beyond the restrictions of labels and opinions. We reside in the realms of pure existence. We have a place in the world. Our job is to keep things real by being unreal. Yeah, that's it. Unreal, man. Unreal: man.
After all, it's all just a dream, right?
Have you been here?
I wanna go!
It must exist somewhere.
Does anyone know?
It looks familiar, eh?
Maybe it was in a dream.
The colours are splendid
And a mysterious form
Perhaps if we pretended
We were there
That it's our norm...
It's inviting, right?
Soft and juicy
It can't be too far from here...
And yet so elusive
Within us all, though
Resides that deep desire
To find these places
To climb under the wire
And make a run
For the distant,
Into the mist
We want to escape
To that we so solemnly
You're a very sensitive fellow. But you are also very thoughtful, observant and wise. Your instincts are good - continue to follow them and believe in your own, unique, world view.
You have to put up with a lot of crap from figures of authority. They are often wrong, as you suspected, and are really just stupid bullies. You fight them and lose because they hold all the power. But I admire your sense of righteousness and low tolerance for injustice. Don't let those fuckers break you! (They won't.)
Although you have a naturally positive and adventurous, hopeful outlook, you are often deeply saddened by your circumstances. You feel misunderstood and misaligned. You don't really fit in with conventional ways. This will not change.
Your curiosity, love of reading, love of exploration and FUN are a centre point to your being. Your instinct is to do what makes you happy. This is a good thing. Stick with it.
You love people - good people, open minded people, playful people, big hearted people. You are a champion for the under dog. Heck, you are the under dog!
Much of what you learn is though interacting with others - outside of the school system. You instinctively seek and find slightly older mentors who offer you new insight, support and reassurance. This is a good thing and will continue into your thirties.
You love of romance and woman will continue to grow. Aren't they amazing creatures. As best as you can, treat them with respect and kindness. They thrive on attention and emotional connection. A few will try and get the better of you, but don't worry, they will soon fall away.
You will be lucky enough to have some wonderful, exciting relationships with some truly beautiful women as you get older. Don't worry too much if it doesn't always turn out right for now. There's plenty to look forward to.
I remember you sitting on the steps, alone, outside the dance or the club, on occasion and feeling alone, sad. Wishing you could find someone to have a heart connection with. Don't worry, kid. They will come.
You will marry, too. It won't last but you didn't want it to. She wasn't the right one and you knew this before you proposed. But, ironically, getting married was the only way out. She was a tough one to shake. She had emotional power over you. It wasn't until you become husband and wife and she cheated on you that you could sever the ties and walk away with clear conscience and freshly empowered.
Your thirties are when you will really have some hugely rewarding love affairs and relationships. Some that last years, others months and a few for only weeks. But, kid, believe me, you will not be disappointed.
Later in life, in your fifties, you'll remain un-remarried. After a promising relationship in your late forties that turns sour, you decide that being single is actually your preference. You love your freedom and independence.
From early on, you choose to be a free spirit. You do not like to be pinned down, committed, or stuck. You like to sleep when you want, wake when you want and do as you choose with your time. This makes holding a job quite difficult. And after trying a few in your late twenties you decide it's not for you.
After all, you are an artist. An artist and a writer. Did I mention that? Yes, it's true. Your love of books and art and movies never wanes and you begin to express your own truth. You go to art school. You study film making. You write and publish your own poetry and stories and comics. You even publish a book when you are forty. It's called 'All I've Ever Wanted Is What I Know I Can Never Have.' Nice title!
You study screenwriting at UCLA and end up writing six feature films. None of them get made, so you kind of give up and go back to painting. But you continue to make short films and write journals and poems and comics, of course. You've always loved comics!
You do stand up for a while. Solo and as a duo. You tour briefly. It's a tough road. Not for you. You also have your own comedy radio show. That is good. You always wanted that! You create some great characters and really enjoy writing and performing. You even win an award for you comedy writing! And cash!
You move to Byron Bay for seven years. Then get invited to perform your original comedic monologue in New York! Cool, huh?! They pay for you to go over, so you pack up and go. NYC isn't your style so you move to LA. It's good there, but, once again, you are an outsider and despite some elements that you really enjoy, you decide to return to Australia.
You love your country more than ever and eventually end up back up north. This time in Mullumbimby. There are cows and chickens in the backyard. The sky is big. The sea is close by. You visit every day - you've always loved, indeed, needed the ocean. The air is clean and fresh. Country living, the simple life suits you.
You don't have much. An old car, an old computer, a small room you rent and a storage shed full of painting from the 25 plus art exhibitions you've held over the last 30 years.
When I say you don't have much, I mean, of course, material things. You have plenty. Health, freedom, imagination. Your future is open to possibility...
It's hard being an artist. Especially one that isn't motivated to self promote. Still, every day you create new works - two, three, four, five.... You love seeing what comes out. It reminds you of the comic covers you so used to enjoy as a kid. You've got plans to publish a book of your own recent comics - you've done over 200 of them over the last year. That will be good, huh?
Anyway, gotta go now, kid. Just thought I'd say hello and tell you some things. Of course you won't get this back then.
But you've got it now. Take it easy.
Such a beautiful song. It suddenly came to mind last night, forty years after I first heard it. It reminded me of a girl I shared significant, wonderful feelings with. She really liked this song, too. We heard it together when we were kids, in a department store. Maybe we held hands. I was only twelve at the time but I was beginning to realise emotions like longing and desire were more powerful and ran deeper than I had thought.
This song was so full of feeling and such a strong comment on and mirror of feelings of intimacy that like a magic tune that opens the cave doors that lead to a tunnel that ends up in the candle lit cavern of love itself, it seduced me, made me short of breath, made me aware of a unexplored and expanding part of my own psyche that would blossom over the years to come.
The girl remained a friend over the next half a dozen years. We didn't see each other much but stayed in contact. I had a handful of girlfriends and shared some fun times, but none of them captured my heart.
Six or seven years later, fate brought us back together and we renewed our friendship and eventually become lovers. It was romantic and enthralling. Time had strengthened the bond and the eventual physical union was inevitable and glorious. It lasted most of a year until I went away for a while and she betrayed me. She begged forgiveness on my return but the damage was done. I had to walk away.
Like the reality of being in love and it's eventual demise, there's a haunting sadness to this song. Would I do it all again? Of course. And I did. A few times over the next three decades. But none were ever as sweet or as pure as the first.
Nowadays when I lie in bed in the morning or pre-slumber, alone, I will sometimes spontaneously recall profound moments from my past and get up and write them down just like I have this entry. Funny how it goes. From un-initiated, wide-eyed, innocent romantic to world weary, hardened, veteran romantic.
Will love be coming back around to disrupt my blissful solitude once again? Perhaps just one final time? Ahhh, we'll see.
ART GETS ME HIGH
Author & Artist