Thursday, January 29, 2009

Another Year Older...

In seeking wisdom, thou art wise; in imagining
that thou hast attained it, thou art a fool.
-Ben Sira

Well, I guess it's impossible to avoid. Another year has passed for yours truly. I always thought that age was supposed to bring with it wisdom. The truth, if there is such a beast, is that I now have more questions and less answers than I ever did before. I certainly am not getting wiser at the rate that my children are getting older. Despite my efforts, neither am I gaining wealth, success, access, nor acceptance. I do not say these things to garner sympathy, or to bitch and complain. It simply is.

I generally do not participate in holidays, especially if they are of a religious nature. It is not a statement of protest, I just can't think of any reason that my participation is necessary. So, around my house, birthdays are the thing. We often celebrate a family member's birthday for a couple of weeks. Last year, I turned forty years old. Typically, forty is considered the most "difficult" birthday. A crossroads, if you will, into the second half of your natural life. While I did pay attention last year, it didn't get me down. However, this year feels more strenuous. It could have to do with the financial strains I'm feeling right now, I mean who isn't, right? But, the truth is that I've been pretty much submerged in financial woes for the last 8-10 years. Maybe I'm just feeling the wear and tear of it all, but I'm still not all too attached to fiscal well-being, even if I am beginning to recognize that my age is becoming a factor in any attempt I make to change that. At some point, it is harder to reinvent yourself. Hopefully, I'm not quite there yet. So, what is it? The gray in my beard? While I do keep it shaved for stage work (no one wants to see gray hair on a rock'n'roller unless they've earned it in the public eye), offstage it fails to get under my skin. How about attractiveness? Well, truth is, I think women find me more attractive now than they ever have. Is it the steady approach of my impending walk into old age and eventually death? That's getting closer, but death truly doesn't bother me. Actually, it's really the only thing that you can completely depend on in this life. Believe me, we are ALL going to die. I don't look forward to watching my once lithe and agile body disintegrate into anything less, but at least it's lithe and agile now. No, I think the answer lies behind me.

I'm halfway through my life now, and so far I've produced nothing that will outlast me besides one beautiful child. She is my heart, but honestly, most people produce children at some point or other, and usually more than one. I don't subscribe to the idea that one must immortalize one's self in order to have made a statement with their life. It's just that I always thought, somehow, that I would. Maybe that's the problem with me this year. I've officially crossed over into middle-age without having made a lasting statement with my life, and faced with my declining years as they advance toward me, I'm feeling a little less inclined to believe that I ever will. That's the hard one.

So, I will continue to thank everyone as they wish me "happy birthday", and I will continue to be myself throughout the next year and beyond. I will continue the long march, but without the burden of the tyranny of expectation. It will make these boots a little heavier, but the backpack will be lighter. Perhaps therein lies a little wisdom.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


2008 was the year for the word "elitist." It was the battle cry of the Republican political machine, leading us to wonder when they became so populist. How dare they expect us to stand for the degradation of having our government fall into the hands of educated and rational people, er, in other words "Elitists!" At one time, being called elite was not an insult. It meant that you were the best, or the pick. Sometimes it was used to describe the conspicuously wealthy. Voltaire was an elitist. He believed that the general masses were far too undereducated and stupid to take the helm of governance. He felt that the business of governance needed to be guided by those whose education and experience gave them a cause as well as the tools for deep consideration of political philosophy. How many guys down at the docks have read Machiavelli, for example. Do you suppose that "Joe the Plumber" was familiar with Hegel and Locke? How many congressmen and senators do you suppose are familiar with them? Do you suppose it matters?

Yes. If you insert Jethro into a position of power alongside a well-read and thoughtful Machiavellian, and expect him to do anything other than become another pawn in the game of power brokering, you need to wake up. Coming at it from the other side, being a moron is not an indicator of honesty. Some of the most dishonest people I can think of came from humble beginnings and were never really educated. There's a reason we prefer to make nighttime ATM withdrawals in a nicer neighborhood.

In many ways, I consider myself a "populist." For example, I like the idea of socialized health care. (I'll approach that one in a different post.) I, however, hold no idealistic view about the abilities and motivations of the masses when it comes to wielding political power. Power corrupts. Sudden power when you've never had it corrupts absolutely. The world needs ditch-diggers too. Now if you want to have a conversation about why the ditch-digger can't have a house and a car and send his kid to college... But, I digress.

This year was a very big year in the history of the word "elitist." Its meaning was battered by politicians, reporters, and ultimately the general population. Its sound became a hiss emanating from the fearful and confused corners of middle America. "That man expects me to elevate my conversation above the level of Jerry Springer and Pat Robertson. - He must be an elitist, if he's not going to dummy-down everything he says to the third-grade level adopted by the nation's newspapers so that my undereducated ass can understand it." "She talks just like me, and apparently doesn't understand our system of government any better than I do. She must be for the people, because she's definitely of them. She's a populist in a $150,000 dress!"

So, to the word "elitist," I offer to you the thanks of our people for making yourself so abundantly available for use by everyone, and likewise let me offer the apologies of our people for the years it's going to take for you to have any meaning at all again. You've had your fifteen minutes of fame. Congratulations.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Six Months Later...

"I wasted time, and now doth time waste me." -William Shakespeare

Six months later... here I am.
After months of wandering through the desert and the accompanying hallucinations (talking to fires, watching the sea part for me...) I'm ready to once again take the helm of this ship of fool. I wish that I could say that it's been a particularly interesting six months. I wish that I could say that I've had my reasons not to write. Truth is, while the last six months have contained some interesting events, the only reason I've had not to write is that I'm a slacker. (It says that in my profile.) This reminds me of the smattering of journals that lie around my house cluttering shelves and corners that otherwise would contain, well, nothing. Since I began college, back in the days before electricity, I've tried many times to keep journals. When you look at them today, one journal may have three weeks worth of entries, and another maybe a month, and the next one perhaps a week. My photographs are the same way. I always used to wear long hair. About a year before I left West Virginia for South Carolina, I got all of my hair cut off. It was the first time my hair had been short since I was still in high school. I do not have a single photograph of myself from that entire two-to-three year period! A friend's father photographed my first wedding for the cost of materials. We never had a single photograph reproduced or enlarged. As far as I know, my ex-wife still has two albums full of proofs from our wedding.

What do these things say about me? I can't commit to a long-term project? I know that already. I don't have enough self-esteem to document my life? I would argue that I don't have enough ego to document my life. I'm usually too caught up in actually experiencing my life to stop and photograph it or journal about it. That's my New Year's rationalization. I don't make resolutions very often, but rationalizations are one of my many addictions. How long can you go without a rationalization?

Well, this time is different. I lost some faith in this blog because I took the time to write it, and no one was reading it. At the moment, I still don't have much faith in people reading it, but my reason for writing it is a little different. Most of my writing these days is about promoting my band. We won't get into how successful that's been either. I need an outlet. A pressure release valve, if you will. So, I will begin anew with this beast that I've not yet come to know intimately. Maybe someone will find it and find some value in it as well. Only time will tell.