Archive for inspiration

Letter to my Son on His Third Birthday

Ryland,

You are three years old now. Just three years, so young, and yet you are already so wise. Every day you amaze me with your enlightened perspective on the world. Being able to experience the wonder of parenthood with you has made true for me all the clichés that are spewed about parenting and children; I guess the clichés are clichés for a reason. Suffice it to say, that having you in my life has impacted and changed me in ways that I could never replicated any other way, with the DNA of my very being having been forever altered by your very existence. Thank you for that.

You are an amazing, beautiful, soulful force of light in this world, never let that go. The world is always in need of special people, people who can see the positive, find the joys in the everyday and the mundane, the people who relish waking up to each new day, and conquering it with reckless abandon and love. You do this, while maintaining who you are, and choosing compassion and love over all else.

Of course, you are only three years old and do not realize that you do all, or probably any, of this right now. That is perfectly fine, I see it, mom sees it, and the world sees it. It will become incumbent upon you as you continue to grow, and become more self-realized, to maintain these traits (and expand them further). This will be the real test, the piece that impacts everyone as they journey into adulthood, the mission to maintain the wanderlust and carefree love and joy of a child, and carry it through as it merges into your adult traits and spot in the world.

I was unable to carryover, nearly all adults are in the same situation, it is the sad truth about our society, that we strip away much, if not all, of the amazing traits that children hold, and in exchange swap them out for expectations, misguided notions of success and happiness, conformity, self-doubt, and self-consciousness. We will have plenty of time to discuss and for me to teach you about holding on to this, so no need to belabor the point any further here now.

I want you to know how much you are loved and cherished by mom and me, and by the rest of your family. We love you more deeply than any letter or words could ever even attempt to capture (although I will try anyway). We would do anything for you. Every choice and decision we make in life is tied to you and enriching your life. You are surrounded by love and support, a rarity (unfortunately) in the world today.

What do I want for you, three year old Ryland? I simply want you to continue being you, unencumbered and free. There will be plenty of time, situations, and people who will try to do otherwise. Stay true, remain full of love, continue to be bold, always be silly, and realize you have something magical inside you, a presence and energy that radiates out into the world, making you capable of great things. Be you.

There is so much more to say, so much more to teach. I will save those words and those lessons to be whispered into your ear each and every day that we are together, as I guide you, and you guide me, through life.

Love,

Daddy

Something New Every Day

The many faces of a person- my persona shifted from face to face. Today I am this. Tomorrow I am that. Perceptions of myself ever evolving as I sit and stare, stare and stand, in the continuous flow of life. I recently acknowledged, both too myself and in written form, that I am learning something new about myself every day. With no real knowledge of what has sparked this, nor any real need to know, the days have been filled with self-reflection, micro ah ha moments, and a mind which is always on- peculiar being unable to calm the mind in nearly any situation- this is my attempted release.

A deep dark robust taste hearkens to memories of dark chocolate, sweet coffee, and velvety cake, swirling around in the glass, as well as my mind. The precise yet free flowing sounds of Miles’ horn next to me, a slightly uncomfortable feeling in the air, an uncleanliness on my skin that only a humid summer’s night can capture. The sun is still out, but it is fading- I am fading, fading deeper within these thoughts, and within myself. A sultry groove fills the air- thanks Miles.

I am lost without creativity, specifically without writing- this is one of the many things I have learned about myself recently. Not just a hobby, nor a casual pursuit, writing and being a writer is something that I identify as a core trait of my very being, something that at times I have regrettably not made room nor effort for. The feeling of not being true to yourself- my own worst critic.

I take much more pride and harness much more joy out of my career (which I always considered as separate, vast majority of the time very separate from me being a writer) than I have ever realized. My current work and reflection has taught me that.

I pause for a moment, for another sip, to enjoy the air, to find what comes next? Perhaps all of these- perhaps none- but I take the sip anyways. Life of a writer.

I am bothered by myself when I am anything but truthful, true, and honest in my efforts, and in my integrity on life’s values. I have not always been that way.

I find joys in simple things, and in things that my prior versions of myself and others may find mundane and dull. A quiet weekend night at home with my family, a few minutes to read a book, a chance to de-clutter my home, or even a simple conversation with a friend or loved-one. This is not to say that all wild times, and all adventures are behind me, they are not- this is simply to say that I can now appreciate both, and often times prefer the “mundane and dull”. The power of sitting on the floor playing with your son and his toys is simply undeniable, and the greatest concert, party, or wild adventure could not compare…and believe me, I love a wild party.

Another sip, strong, warm, altering…perfect.

I am no longer the one who provokes, who welcomes altercation, who yearns for a moment, any moment to make a statement, a physical impact, and perpetuate conflict in the world. This is part of the reason I no longer play the game. I strive to be strong, to be calm, to find peace, and to bring good into the world and to those I come in contact with. I have no regrets on my self-appointed role and work for the Nation, it is simply is just not who I am anymore. We all grow- we all evolve.

Another sip, and it is gone. Such is life. Drink it up.

My desire to curtail and control my impulsive and addictive personality is another point of my recent thought meanders. It is a rollercoaster of want, desire, need, followed by satisfaction, which is always followed by near-immediate regret and self-loathing.

I am blessed- truly blessed. I want for nothing, yet find myself getting down on occasion. This is another realization (that I already knew, but have rededicated my focus to), a true appreciation for my circumstances, and the will to carry on confidently with them.

Time. Time, is on my side. Yes it is…I don’t know why I said that.

Every day is a chance to better myself, to learn from my experiences, to realize that about myself that I previously have been scared to, or felt it too difficult.

I gather much of my inspiration from my son- he is my little Buddha.

I am learning to not be so hard on myself, to let myself be, and to let go and embrace it. As Laura and I discussed the other day over an evening walk, it is time to “own it”.

I truly have been learning something about myself every day lately, and I hope that I continue to do so. Norek out…

Sequence XLVII

{Writer’s Note} a few months back, around the start of the new year, I started a new writing project, one that had tied to it, some of my highest aspirations. That project is not the focus of this piece, but some backstory is required in order to fully understand how this piece starts. This new year project is being written in a journal that was given to me as a Christmas gift from my brother and sister-in-law, adding to the special meaning behind it. I will be divulging more about this project shortly, but for now, I want to share a secondary project, one that came to me amidst my on-and-off writing of the new year project.

 

It has been several days since I last contributed any written thoughts to this project {see writer’s note}. In that time I have discovered a new thought, a plan, a project, a roadmap for the unroadmapable, a way to take singular, yet significant steps towards betterment. Sequence XLVII.

So what is Sequence XLVII? The Sequence is a combination of forty-seven different iterations of actions, projects, activities, and experiences, each specifically selected to better myself, to bring me closer to being a more enlightened and positive being. These forty-seven items, or iterations, called iterations because while they are all unique events, each is bonded as a piece, a segment, that when combined makeup an existence for myself of awareness, and hopefully, just that much closer to enlightenment.

I do not necessarily refer to enlightenment as Buddhahood, or biblical revelation; rather, I use enlightenment simply to refer to an (re)evolution (awakedness) of myself to be a more closely aligned version of myself to a positive and impactful true-being. I acknowledge that it would be grandiose and ego-driven to believe I had any idea on how to realize enlightenment; this is not that, this is betterment, achieving a greater me.

The iterations were intentionally selected and given an initial ordering by myself to act as a roadmap of directional force, propelling me forward in this endeavor. This is a needed experience for me now; I have grown weary, beat-up, so often consumed by terrible feelings of dissatisfaction, muted emotion, lack of meaning and life satisfaction, despair, anger, and regret. I often feel as if I have lost my ability to truly live a happy life. I know I lost it, because I had it, I have had segments of my life that were fulfilled, that left me with overall life satisfaction, joy and wonderment. I have had it, so I can realize now when I do not. This is not a result or fault of anyone outside of myself, no one decision, no one experience did this, it is not about my career, my family, my home, my friends, my experiences around me, it is about me, my self (or non-self) realization, my being, my vision and approach to life. It is on me, and because it is on me, it is open for me to change, to make better, and to regain that spark. I need to and will do this. And for this, I have created the Sequence, Sequence XLVII, within which I have embedded forty-seven iterations of specific actions for me to complete.

Iteration 01, daily appreciation for life, is ready to begin.

 

{Writer’s Note} Iteration 01 and all future iterations will be discussed in detail as the subject of future writings. Each iteration will have its own written piece(s). There is an undertone of darkness and bleakness in the latter portion of this piece as I describe why I need this. That is not the full scope of my feelings on this, and especially on life in general, it is simply how I was feeling in that moment, at that time; it is an honest and naked look at me at a moment in time. Much like each one of us, I am a yin and yang of emotions, outlooks and feelings. Some days light, some days dark. It was my realization that the dark days were outweighing the light days, so the Sequence was created as a sort of spiritual to-do list to rebalance the scales and tip them in the favor of the light. I hope that as the reader you can find some commonalty and inspiration in my journey with the Sequence.

Winter Remembrance

The winter rushes in like drops of sweat on a furled brow. The winds cut through the town as razors through air. Windblown mind freezes of collective shivering mind states. When you look back, everything happens so quickly, it is the nature of being. Still, I continue to be amazed by this. The train rolls on and I recount my autumnal now winter remembrance- trying desperately to slow it down, to capture the moments, get it all back (what?), and in the process I remain blind to the truth, an erroneous life mindset of false separations and inconsequential barriers and holdings. The truth swirls all around and within, yet we remain concrete in our views and separation. So many emotions and thoughts, they weigh me down, although I strive to float free. You cannot help but reminisce- it is natural (un?) to want to remember, glorify, romanticize it all, and find special purpose and meaning. The rat scurries past the back alley skid row whino at dawn- what beauty is in recounting that?

The baby is born, the first blooms of spring push through, breaking the earth’s barrier- a child becomes and adult, a hill becomes a mountain- a geriatric ancient wise sad soul is taken into the void, a mighty oak crumbles and becomes one with the earth (again)- between all these expected times of life, there is an infinite stream of bliss and sadness- the truly triumphant, followed by the most wrenching pain and misery- a chaotic beautiful masterpiece that will crush even the brightest soul if we are not careful. I am guilty the same as anyone, I hold too tight and crave too much meaning, allow and falsely create too much control. We wouldn’t be the storytellers, the people that we are, if we did not recount and hold tight to the bosom. It is inherent, yet untrue- realizations of wiping the slate clean, only to realize the slate was never full, and the slate was never a slate- mind weary wanderings.

Things are different now- perhaps they always have been. Looking out over the moving car, only to realize that it is all separation and isolation. Sometimes I look back with fondness, happiness and joy, but more often it is with regret, dissatisfaction, sadness, and an overall blunting of life. Why? Even in this moment of writing flow escape, I stop, tap the pen, pondering the reason- the weight bears down on my chest- the weight of eons of existence and action (no action) to forgo this contemplation is to forgo my truth- no matter how flawed. I turn the page and it is blank, for a moment I want to stop, leave it in its (im)perfect Buddha mind-state and call it my greatest work- instead I scribble this all over it and continue on with my meandering ways.

Taking it all back, what is my remembrance?

It is her- it is mainly her. It is all of them, but above all others, it is her. It is the great times from youth through adulthood that I vividly recall. I remember that which I do not remember. It is feelings, emotions, connections- it is hurt and pain, it is days with my brother and dad sinking model ships at Bode Lake. It is seeing my son’s face for the first time and praying for his safe arrival. It is all that has come, but especially that which has yet to occur. I remember past, present and future. It is that nagging hope and at the same time fear that when I look back on my life as a body of work the story will be incomplete, unrealized. It is hoping to have one moment of pure writerness adventure seeking joy spontaneity. The lone observer immersed in the most interesting of settings, recording it all with hyper-focus. It is the smallest of and the grandest of moments- the moments I did not even realize were moments.

What is my remembrance? Perhaps most importantly, it is my mortal struggle to understand change’s truth- the ever evolving force that binds it all together. Change in its purest most understood form can be a catalyst to set one free, release from mortal confusion and blindness. We hold tight that which we hold dearest, convince ourselves that it can last forever, or at the least never change until it is gone. This is flawed. Family, relationships, careers, possessions- we cling to these and spend energy and waste moments trying to dictate something that we have no control over. To have complete control in life is to let go of and realize you in fact have no control- the illusion of a life in balance. I am reminded often about change’s power and will, including the these first winter moments, where the landscape has changed seemingly in the blink of an eye, into a world almost forgotten. This is my winter remembrance.

Rucksack

Upcoming…

  • Reflections on keeping momentum going in writing
  • Opening up about inspiration and attachment

 

I remember it all, the dream, the anticipation, that unknown beautifully terrifying feeling in the bottom of your stomach. It was time. I seemed ready to conquer, to make it happen, to transform. I sat and starred at the still newly worn green rucksack, the perfect item I had selected to hold my writing necessities. A sacred vessel in which within would hold the treasures allowing me to transform. I selected the green rucksack (and called it rucksack versus backpack) because of him, because of Kerouac. A nod to his wandering, dharma bum, traveling within the void, my inspiration and closest known author to what I strive to do. I am sentimental in that way, placing special meaning on a rucksack, an attachment to help inspire me (the attachment to an object alone would upset the dharma bum- sorry Jack). So there I sat, staring at the pack, feeling lost, lost and disappointed. The writing adventure started off a glorious blaze of hope and inspiration, settled into a groove, and over the past few weeks has nearly fallen by the wayside. Why? Did I not care anymore, had I lost the passion? No, quite the opposite as a matter of fact. I have been missing it- pining for a block of time to write, pick up the pen and let it all spill out, my soul escaping through vestibules of life’s cement jungle, each crack filled with an endless stream of wordy waves of liquid night fueled passion words. This is my struggle. I (again) have let the distractions of life get in the way. Then it hit me- I felt despair- I felt loss- loss for the dream I had felt grow closer, that now had receded deep into the void, a faint twinkle tempting and eluding me daily.

Tonight has been good. This has been good. The pen is active, the mind sharp, and the flame still burning- time to dust off that old green rucksack and get on the road Jack.

 

Looking Back…

It takes strong focus and sometimes recommitment to achieve success

Why “Live Every Day as if it is Your Last” is Bad Advice

Upcoming…

  • A critical review of a popular saying
  • I imagine my chaotic twenty-four hours
  • Lessons learned on how we can apply the saying without causing societal breakdown

“Live every day as if it is your last.” This well-known life advice has been stated, restated, and over-saturated throughout the years from everyone and everything from friends, family, strangers, Hallmark cards, motivational posters, to internet images. We have heard it so many times and on the surface it seems like great advice, a push motivation to help the individual see the fragility in life and seek out full-life optimization in each moment of each day. We do need to appreciate the day, enjoy the moments that present themselves, and go for what we want now, instead of assuming we will have time later on. Still, this phrase is bad advice. You should not live every day as if it is your last, for the good of you and the good of mankind. If each of us were one hundred percent honest with ourselves, fantasized out what we would do with our last twenty-four hours in this life and did that EXACT scenario every single day, chaos would ensue and society would breakdown.

Consider that faced with our own twenty-four hour mortality, the majority of people would forgo obligations in exchange for a last few precious hours with family, make reckless impulsive decisions, play out situations that they would never do in real-life because of the repercussions that would follow the next day, and in general burn out their twenty-four hours in a chaotic, emotional mess of glory.

I imagine nobody reporting to work, offices empty, commerce at a standstill. The impulsive individuals causing chaos by indulging in all forms of sin, debauchery, excess, and violations of social norms and laws, followed by countless relationships (family, friend, partner, colleague) destroyed by the silver forked tongue of people who have nothing to lose and no repercussions by speaking their mind with no filter- the immediate stalling and caving of society, all within twenty-four hours.

What would I do with my last twenty-four hours? First and foremost, I would spend all of my time with my family, my wife, son, brother, mom, dad, etc. I would forgo all obligations such as chores, work, and social obligations. My family and I would get outside, experience nature, do as we pleased, and not be bothered by what others are doing or may think. Honestly, I would probably also take in a few indulgences and risking endeavors.

Now imagine my scenario above, add in your own scenario, and multiply that by the choices and actions of every single person on the planet- pure chaos, hell on earth.

So why does this popular phrase hold so much weight and end up being uttered daily with the best of intentions? First, we want to believe that we can be free, do as we please, and experience life unfettered. Second, while the literal interpretation is flawed, the intention is a valuable message.

The message is simple, live life in the present. Do not wait for life to align perfectly for your dreams and desires, you need to do it now, whatever that “it” is. Many spiritual practices share a central theme of be present in the moment. That is what this phrase is getting at. We can learn a lot from that perspective.

In the end, be aware of what you desire in life, find ways every day to pursue those desires, and be grateful and present in each moment.

Let Go of Perfection and Embrace Reality

I can be very hard on myself and I know I am not alone. So often we are force fed the notion of perfection, the ridiculously unobtainable ideal that will always elude us and leave us in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction, an unneeded striving for something bigger, better, faster, more attractive, more expensive. There is nothing wrong with goals, ambitions, dreams and desires- we need that- a motivation to keep moving forward, to better ourselves. Speaking in generalities (of course), we all do this to some extent, some more than others.

Think about it. What do you beat yourself up about? Run one more mile next time, score ten points higher on the next test, wow your coworkers in the next company meeting? Or maybe you just consider it challenging yourself. Perhaps you tell yourself you will pick the perfect partner next relationship, lose five more pounds, write a better story.

In the proper setting these can all be great motivating goals and aspirations. But in the (all too common) incorrect setting, they become negatives, undo stressors, reminders that we have fallen just short, and still have longer ways to go.

So how can the same item be both a negative and a positive? Perspective. Our perspective is key. I struggle with this daily, but being able to be happy with ourselves, appreciate and celebrate our wins (no matter how small), see the big picture, and simply be in the present moment, are the groundwork for happiness and satisfaction in life.

By way of example, my wife (somewhat) recently completed a graduate degree program. One of the first things a close relative asked her moments after graduation was “congratulations, what is next? When will you get that doctoral degree?” Think about it…

My wife had literally just completed the symbolic celebration of the culmination of years of study and work walking in her graduation ceremony, and what she is immediately met with is a thin veil of congratulations, saturated with a polluted mindset bent on the continual “one-up”, keeping up with the Joneses, stuck in a cycle of perpetual reinforcement of the notion that we need something bigger, better, shinier. Ridiculous, yet it pervades all around us. Luckily she is well aware of this, we have talked at length. But, had she not been, she would become victim to the “do better” cycle.

What I have come to realize for myself is it is not just a factor in our career world, nor only in our personal life ,this mentality seeps into nearly every nuance of existence- but it does not have to. You are good enough. You have accomplished a lot. You need to celebrate who you are and what you have done.

Perfection is a myth, a fairytale the ill-intentioned sells us to further their agenda, and what the well-intentioned convince themselves in a faulty mindset. Fault and imperfections are reality and should be embraced. We learn through experience, through our mistakes and life lessons.

In summary:

  • Perfection is a myth– This applies to all aspects of life both personal and professional
  • Reality is beautifully and perfectly flawed– We learn the most from our trials and tribulations, building character through embracing and even loving flaws
  • Accepting imperfections in others is a talent– and key component of interconnectedness and understanding in life
  • The difference between positive goals and a flawed approach is perspective

The next time your coworker, direct report, partner, child, whomever, falls short and exposes themselves for anything but a perfect ideal, take a moment, experience the situation, and take a critical eye to what can be learned from the situation. Focus on showing a level of compassion, understanding and connectedness. You may be surprised at what happens next.

What would a benefit be to you and your world from accepting imperfection?

These are the thoughts of one person, a person who is perfectly flawed, like us all.

Who Do You Want to Be? (You Already Are That) Now How to Show the World

It is when we have embraced our true-self in all aspects of life that we are at our optimal.

Self-reflection and a razor sharp critique of myself have been reoccurring elements over the past few months for me. Ever since being released from a corporate job I held for just a tad over a decade, I have done a lot of soul searching. To be transparent, self-reflection and the search for the ever elusive true happiness have always been cornerstones of my persona. Since my childhood days I have written. The writing has always been introspective and contemplative on not just myself, but on society and life as a whole. So when it came time for me to confront a major career change, fresh on the heels of the birth of my firstborn and several other key milestones in life, I truly was at a crossroads. But unlike many who approach a crossroads, I did not enter the lonely intersection with apprehension, fear, anxiety, or wondering who I was (or who I was to become). For me, the crossroads were bright, warm, inviting, and what was once a soft almost silent ambient sound that beckoned me towards my truth, was now an in your face message screaming at me- no more hiding softly just below the ever-present buzz of daily life, never being noticed- this sound was piercing, loud, intentional , and real. My life was calling and it was up to me to answer. And I have.

I am a writer. A little bit left of center writer, but a writer nonetheless. The fact that I had spent a decade in a corporate world said nothing about this. That was the path I had chosen coming just out of college (get that career job Scott…get that house…make sure it has a white picket fence…). I learned a lot, met great people, was able to provide comfortably for myself and my family, and it is that path through corporate America that led me exactly to where I am today- happy and excited to be heading down a new twist in the path- happily running past my crossroads, blazing towards what is next.

Cliché to say, but I would not change a thing about that portion of my path; for to change any component of the path may have altered my experiences in a way that would take away from what I have come to hold most dear- and that was/is my truth. So many have commented to me recently “oh, so you are a writer now”, or “you are getting into writing now”. That, along with my own intensive self-reflection got me thinking, who do I want to be?

I very quickly realized that I did not need to be asking myself that question; it is easy to go there given my circumstances, but it was a faulty query at its base-level. Losing a job does not negate or change who you are. Yes, you may go a new route (like me), acquire new skills, rethink many aspects of your life, but you are still you…always have been…always will be. I do not mean to insinuate that we can only be one thing, or that we are limited in what we can do in life. There are no limits, and many truths about ourselves will only be revealed throughout our time in this life as we navigate and are exposed to different factors. But it is there. What I call our true-selves, is at the very basis of our makeup. Understanding who I am and what that means for myself at this point in time is freeing. To understand one’s truth is next to the sublime.

Who we are, our true, vulnerable, naked self is rarely (unfortunately) exactly (or even close) to the person we are perceived as in everyday life by the masses, as well as by some of the people closest to us. The simple living, neo-hippie, free-flowing writer/artist masked by what others blindly (by no fault of their own) see as a standard run of the mill suburbanite father, husband and corporate worker bee.

Let the wild truth within run free, unfettered by expectations and safe choices- embrace your truth and the mask will fall away until the world sees you as you have always known you are and have been.

Freedom and peace with our lives is a paramount pursuit. That pursuit is within and not dependent upon others.

Coming out of the introspective, deep, philosophical leanings of realizing out truths have always been with us, there is a different level of being, a (albeit more superficial) benefit to helping others to see our truth.

So how can we help others, even the casual observer, see our truth deep down to our core? How do we materialize into the world the miraculous bits and pieces that make up our truest fibers?

Here is what has worked for me (perhaps it has or will work for you)…

  1. Pursue Your Dreams
    1. You have to make it happen. I have always been a writer, wrote when I could, and knew that I would love to pursue it professionally one day; but it was not until I took legitimate steps to make this a reality and see just how far down the rabbit hole I could go (still a long ways to go) that the gap between my inner-identity and the outer-self began to be bridged and meld together in a noticeable way. You need to take actionable steps out in the world to help people see your truth.
  2. Embrace Your Truth- hide nothing
    1. As with much advice, it is always easier said than done, but being as open and transparent as possible (be an open book) with whom you are, what you want, and what you will be doing is freeing and eye opening. It only took one or two soul opening conversations with my family about being a writer and how I feel when I embrace that piece of me for those around me to get it. After that, I found people’s support and curiosity inspirational.
  3. Stay Strong- do not fade away, justify, or feel the need to rationalize
    1. Many will not understand, especially when we are challenging the norm. You will be met with resistance, some so intense it may make you doubt yourself- do not let it. This is your truth and your truth alone- own it. Strength and confidence in who we are will attract others and can turn nonbelievers into devote followers.
  4. Be Obsessive
    1. This is all about who you are as deep as possible, it is about losing the mask, shedding the expectations laid by others for a magnificent blindingly bright light of your truth- be obsessive. Dive in with everything you have, trusting yourself implicitly. If there is anything worth doing full-bore, it is this.

These are snippets, short capsules meant to detail what I (as one individual) have done for myself. The focus has been on career change, but is applicable across the spectrum of life, whether it be a similar career shift, a new religious or political leaning, sharing an alternative lifestyle with the world, or declaring your allegiance for a formerly embarrassing television show. The point is, whatever your situation, own it.

I encourage you to leave your own thoughts. Share your truth. Best wishes on your own unique adventure.

Scott Norek

Blogger and Freelance Writer at scottnorek.com http://bit.ly/1KOSW02

Writers Today vs. Writers of Old (Part 1)

Upcoming…

  • Writer of today compared to that of yesteryear
  • Traits of the historical writer
  • Quips on modern society
  • A promise for more to come

 

Being a writer- prior to twenty years ago (give or take), it meant basically the same thing throughout the ages, creative spirit holed away somewhere, isolated, banging out page after page on a typewriter. I imagine Jack Kerouac sitting at an old wooden desk, not old in that classy antique sort of way, but old in that just plain old, beat-up, and forgotten by time sort of way, the luster gone, wood splitting and rough, the legs uneven and wobbly, the surface barely suitable for a family to eat at, years of abuse- but perfect for the true writer, for the artist who cares not for the luxuries or even sometimes the bare necessities in life, but rather is so laser focused on their craft that they will sit in a skid row motel, at an abused desk, eyes blurry from countless hours of straight typing, just being what they are. I pick Kerouac as he is an inspiration for me, a lighthouse that has guided me in my writing; but while the scenario may change from skid row motel, it is the same for the writers of history and legend- simplicity in their craft.

Artist, paper, pencil/pen/quill (you get it), typewriter, and whatever ambience/setting they need, mixed in with a little inspiration (the indulgences), and you have the skeleton of a writer’s life. Sprinkle in some poverty, heartache, struggles, pains, misery, with a sense of adventure, excitement, inspiration, and you have the perfect storm for so many of the writers that have etched their names in history’s library.

What is it all? Simple- it was simple. Life was simple, if not a challenge for the writer. The term starving artist is there for a reason. What made the memorable ones memorable and countless more that time has forgotten is singular focus- Writing. They wrote because that is who they were, and they shut out much of the rest of the world (unless it suited them to engage with the world for their writing).

So what is the writer’s life like today? There is no way to marginalize all the unique personalities and life paths that the pantheon of today’s writers have, yet I will (forgive). Today’s writer still has all the characteristics I described earlier, the simple mad crazy driven desire to do their art, a willingness at times to forgo anything else, and the need for the right setting, but with all of that (which was enough and often too much for writers of yesteryear) they have modern (last twenty years) society. The internet, social networking, self-publishing, celebrity obsession, technology entwined into EVERY component of life, and looking out- a world that would seem like science fiction and make a good many of the writers of yesterday shed a tear for humanity.

How pure and how true it must have been to have been the writers of a long gone era, just to write and experience life. Thoreau never had to worry about how many Twitter followers he had, whether he should self-publish or not; he never overthought about a photo he was taking and what filter to use before it went up on Instagram. Critique today comes from the anonymous, the obscure, the virtual masses so quick to destroy your passions with hateful words spewed out over a laptop’s keyboard.

There is a lot of greatness, exposure, possibilities and new mediums that come with this modern age (more for another post), I acknowledge that- but for today, for right now, I am on the idea of the writer’s life as it exist in its simplest form- one individual- writing. Modern benefits aside, one cannot deny that the scope of the writer, the need to stay connected, and the overexposure at times, has taken away from much of the simplicity that has always been at the core of being a writer.

Leather bound journal and pencil have been replaced by laptop, tablet, smart phone, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, LinkedIn, etc…and for many, that is pure bliss, exactly what they want, what they need. But there are throwbacks out there. The writers who prefer to stay low-tech, carry paper and pen as they stomp throughout the world in search of their next inspiration- Thoreau at Walden pond, Kerouac at Big Sur. It is for those that I write.

As I said, there is much more to be said for the modern era of writing, and I will, just not right now. For now, I am going to pack up the computer, turn off the music, not obsess over Twitter or Facebook- for now I am going to disconnect and go out into the world. I encourage you to do the same.

 

Looking Back…

  • I generalize and romanticize the writer, but it was different, simpler before
  • The modern day writer must be plugged into social networking, the media, the age of technology
  • While this is a godsend for many modern writers today, there are throwback writers (old-school)

Author’s note…

  • This topic could be written about for hours and days, endless in its length of discussion. This is a snippet, a quick thought burst from one modern day writer.

I will do a companion (part 2) piece that highlights the benefits of the modern era. Stay tuned…

Inspiration and A Hard Day’s Work

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Upcoming…

  • Inspiration and Mood Setting
  • Outdoors
  • Suburban Ideals
  • Good Ol’ Fashioned Hard Day’s Work
  • Going With the Day

Author’s Note…

  • This is a short piece that I am including to display the nature of my day-to-day life as a suburbanite, parent and partner. You will also get a glimpse (very small scale) of my drive to seek adventure and go for the unknown in each day.

Instincts and going for it. It has worked so far this morning and afternoon (also the day of Ryland’s 11th month). After an inspired writing session fueled by Grapefruit Sculpin and ambiance and by incense and psychedelic music, I rushed outdoors just having dodged the rain to start to unbury my backyard from the overly earthy attack of overgrown shrubbery and weeds- in a place like Bartlett Illinois, we must be seen as having the scarlet letter for how we maintain- or in this case do not maintain our yard. Two (now three)out there neo-hippieesque souls swimming an endless sea of cookie cutter, drones of well to-do cogs in the suburban idealism wheel- we need to get out- get back to the land and live in the mountains. We are out of place here and it goes well beyond our unkempt yard, peeling house paint, untrained dogs, lack of interest in playing the “hey how are you doing neighbor”, it is partially these things, but more- deeper- it is our outlook, our beliefs, our passions, our goals, our dreams…and our disgust for all things expected and cookie cutter. Having cleared my yard the best I can in an hour or so time frame I return indoors, shirt sweated, mud streaks cast about shoes and socks drenched with stagnant remnants of the day’s monsoons we have gotten. It is in this moment I feel a sense of pride. First for having accomplished a chore, it was overdue, but there is also something primordial, earthy, basic, savage, and manly about working in the yard, using tools, sweating, lifting stone. I am man in this moment. A quick shower washes away the glory and I am back down to modern era, the alpha brute stomping through the mud washed away swirling down the shower drain. I call my dad to see if he wants to grab lunch. The plans seem initially foiled by the fact that my dad is amidst a chain of to-dos hoping from place to place and is catching lunch nearly a half hour away from me. We end the conversation as we will meet up some time soon, but then I think, hell, why not now? I text my dad that I will be driving out to him to meet for lunch. The long and short of it is a great adventure of time with my dad, including some great finds for Ryland at a local thrift store and some more than decent food. Post lunch I head out looking for my next stop to write, and here we are, beer in hand.

 

Looking Back…

  • The mood and atmosphere is critical to the creative day
  • So is the willingness to break routine and go for it