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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.

Duality

Upcoming…

  • A return to the wild free-flow of spontaneous prose
  • Train life
  • Duality
  • Letting go and not being limited by structure, proper form, or standard rules

 

The first winter storm has come and gone. Here I sit, motionless, yet continually in motion- the duality of life. The train roars on down the line- steel, wood, and ice collide in a swarmingly dark lovely cold attack windblown beautiful mind story. Here I sit. Rows of individuals, all faced forward, quiet, still, stoic- missing out on the connectedness of life. Here I sit.

The next stop has arrived- a flood, a momentary bustle of beehive kinetic flickering dance light excitement. It quickly dies down- the cold rows of warriors reminiscent of my time in China with Terra Cotta- resumes. Here I remain, in the back of the car so that I can observe, discover what the first minutes of dusk have to offer.

Outwardly I sip on a multi-layered flavored coffee in a throw-away Styrofoam cup. Internally I envision and long for a dented, cracked, faded, blue stainless steel with the little white flecks camping mug- the type you would carry with you on all of your travels and keep for decades. This is my duality- a modern worker with the spirit of a lonesome dharma bum traveler.

A few snow-capped trees pass by and I am reminded that the holidays are quickly approaching- that insane lovely time of chaos and peace- this is my family’s duality. Slyly I catch a peak of a fellow passenger’s laptop, discover what she is doing with her ride, this is what the train is in the morning- individual bubbles being gently penetrated by the next onlooker for a sense of connection and oneness. The young man (how old have I become) in front of me reeks of too much cologne- his attempt to be noticed, to scream out in a world that has trapped him in- this is peoples’ duality.

Pausing to reflect on my works, I realize that they are always there- even when you are not writing, you are writing. We roll on. It all happens so quickly, one moment you believe it will never come, and the next moment you are looking back to see what has happened- this is time’s duality.

Outside the moving looking glass inspired (uninspired) window, countless tracks litter the snow- quiet the bringer of truth and exposure, the snow tells a tale of who or what has been where- a tale that we cannot escape. The train rolls on and here I sit. Just as quickly as the snow appears and marks our tracks it will disappear and leave only a faint trace- this is the snow’s duality.

The snow is life.

Wild and frantic, the car bounces over the tracks, not a smooth gentle lover, but rather a rough around the edges sort. Here I sit. Here we all sit. This is life’s commonality.

 

Looking Back…

  • Writing can be free, uninhibited and wild
  • The Yin and Yang of life is everywhere

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.

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…

Scott’s Excellent Adventure

Upcoming…

  • Making the most of the day
  • Slowing down life enough to have a moment
  • Adventure in many forms
  • Finding joy in the everyday

 

Author’s Note…

  • I talked with my wife on this topic last night and today it is my blog

Adventure. This topic was front and center primary in a late night talk between Laura and I last night. I have been finding myself pontificating so much during the day, having so much I want to let loose and riff on with Laura, by the time she comes home, settled in, we have taken care of our son and put him down to sleep for the evening, and finally have a moment to just talk, I am a damn ready to burst in my mind, having played out parts of the conversation (stop Scott- be in the moment) and I could go a million miles an hour- speedy word genius of forgone (Neal Cassady) staggering down the winding road, jumping from topic to topic. The ever elusive and mad ramblings of a man possessed. I have trouble holding it all in recently- a whirling dervish of mad riffs, long winded expulsions and stream after stream of intricately laced story. On this night we traded off points on adventure- having both realized that we are in good spirits individually and as a couple as of late, we dissected that fact. Discussed the whys, the hours, the experiences, and the outcomes. A sense of adventure and of experience, searching each out and devouring them whole in each day was our primary takeaway. We all need adventure, as often and as madly as possible. I had almost forgotten (and am sure many others have) how to do this on a day to day basis, how to find time, even if just a moment to be wowed by the day, to be amazed by life. My former professional life in corporate compliance did nothing to facilitate this, and in many ways was crippling. I realize I am in a special kind of situation being able to be a stay at home parent and aspiring writer that facilitates these ambitions. But we can all do it. We have to be able to…

(I took a rather lengthy pause here to stop writing, hear the music, and absorb the nature that I had immersed myself in.)

Adventure will mean something different to everyone, but the primordial need and the baseline effect are generally the same. Life is made up of moments, and within each moment that we bridge we choose to either be present or mindlessly follow suit- we can either seek out truth and connectedness with the world around us, or we can continue on mindless, numb, oblivious to the preciousness. This is what was happening to me- too caught up in the grind, the routine, the have-to-dos, I had forgotten how to enjoy, how to be simple. Recently we have been seizing this though- two individuals both in desperate need of release- finding that groove, peeling back the veil just a bit to step into the shallow waters of tranquility and the liquid essence of adventure. Truth seekers.

Everyone is different (already said) and everyone’s level of awareness is also. Life can be a slow twisting knot, becoming ever more tight as each day passes by, until there is no more slack left and you are trapped in a life and in a way of living, approaching each day that is a far cry from your true aligned self. Take a moment, discover something new in your everyday routine. Notice the person you have never noticed before, see the beauty in the flower garden you blindly pass every day, read a new book, hear a new song, build a campfire, tell someone you love them, sit in the grass (and do nothing else besides sit), take a new lover, say yes to that party invitation, take that solitary walk at night, play ball with your dog, live, adventure, experience- fully, deeply, madly, passionately, and as frequently as possible. For it all comes to an end- times change- moments are lost- people exit your world- life continues on. Finite yet endless. Each day does not need to be a wild madcap adventure burning down the city- all you need are moments, experiences to feel the touch- the touch of glory- of truth. Peace. I am trying more and more to do this every day. I feel beyond being right, it is almost a cliché prerequisite for the writer/artist.

Devour life.

For me, most recently, it has been putting my words out in the world in a very public way, meeting new people at a wedding, playing in the pool in my backyard with my son, taking a walk on my own, taking a risk pursuing a desire, and taking a moment to take pride in my wife’s accomplishments and praise her for it. All different, all experiences, all micro adventures in their own right. All took me out of the daily routine, tested my boundaries, showed me something new and reminded me about adventure in life (that is life).

 

Looking Back…

  • Adventure and excitement in life can be found every day
  • It just takes us a conscious effort to find it

The Intent Observer

FullSizeRender_1Upcoming…

  • Afternoon drinking
  • Observing society
  • Kerouac and Van Gogh

 

The afternoon is winding down, the air has turned from a crisp morning dew to a breathy cool breeze. The sun doing its best to stay present and accounted for amongst a stream of wispy clouds. The veranda outside of the Schaumburg Beer Market is simple, classic, and perfect for a mid-afternoon drink and write. The metal grated table and chairs increase the feeling of openness to the elements, as well as a free flow of life. The wind swirls around, clouds creep by, and I feverishly write. I have grown to love these types of locations, an outdoor seating area nested within a crowded city- evokes imagery of traveling on vacation, the unknown adventure of the living pulse of a city happening all around you- and a nod to the past writers and artists, all of which I have to believe spent countless hours and days in locales just like this- out, in the thick of life, observing, interacting, and watching the intricate dance of people going about their day, each a different story to tell-and there the artist sits- a part of it all- yet strategically removed enough to be detailed observer- Jack Kerouac at the Skid Row diner. Me, in the Schaumburg afternoon, outside patio of the Beer Market. Visions of Van Gogh sitting at a similar table outside of a (now) historic European village comes to mind. Though admittingly the scene here for me is much more subdued and commercialized (it is Schaumburg) than Vincent’s image I conjure, madman painter, inebriated on various drink and substance, genius mind swirling with beauty and inspiration. The conservative well-to-do parade down the cobblestone street, umbrellas, top hats- while he sits stoic, creating, living, taking it all in. For me it is office workers zipping by in their cars, the young family heading over to their fast-food chain of choice. Inspiring locales are still very much alive, they just take more work to find them today in the modern era. I need to find the inspiration around me- remind myself of the beauty that exists within each day.

 

Looking Back…

  • The artist needs to be a part of society, yet remain invisible

A Summer’s Day Drink

FullSizeRender

Upcoming…

  • Summer day writing
  • Patio beer garden
  • The midday crowd

Author’s Note…

  • I wrote this piece a few weeks into my new push to write on a serious level after having just left the corporate world behind. I have several writers who I admire and on this day found myself  imagining myself alongside them, observing the world.

 

Another day out to write. These days became a mecca for me, something I pine for each day (be in the moment Scott). Just a little bit past the noon hour and I find myself seated outside at a patio bar in Wheaton, Illinois. Chair and table, while comfortable and a perfect location to see the entirety of the patio and have the rays of the sun kiss my skin, are amusing to me. A rather cheap plastic (maybe not plastic- but I call everything plastic that is not metal) with a sublimated inlay to give the visual illusion of wicker furniture. Who knew wicker furniture was so sheik and something to be cheaply imitated for the masses. My drinks have arrived. The sun hits my neck in a way that I know my skin will be altered by it- the days of summer. I mention the furniture not as a knock on the establishment (although I am sure that is how it reads- do not pass judgment Scott), but simply as a unique observation (thank you Jack- the observation machine). Life is different now in this career transition, living the life of a writer on these days, the freedom, the art, the craft, the adventure. The world is different now on a Thursday afternoon, Chicago suburbs, at a local ale house. the people I see are different- a wonderful concoction of office workers out for lunch, stay-at-home parents (like me) meandering through the afternoon, latte in hand, clad in hidden mystery sunglasses, the random wanders who neither appear to be office workers escaping the day, nor stay-at-home moms and dads, but rather nondescript (to the casual observer) in their societally chosen lot (and here I am, wanting to escape that, yet I perpetuate)- entrepreneurs, like myself…or maybe they are just wanderers, wanderers in life’s infinite mystery. We’d all be so lucky. As I turn the page, the sun continues its rotation and is now absorbing not just my outer facing arm, but my entire body. Summer days. The patio at Warren’s has quickly gone from my own little slice of solitude to a near bustling party. A table of suburbanite family, followed closely by a young duo of early twenty-something girls (tea pleased, unsweetened, with a lemon). This is merely the start to my evening. Later tonight I meet brother and friends for drinks and dinner in Schaumburg.

I often wonder how the great writers (in my mind) enjoyed their days how did they spend them, in pursuit of inspiration and their art? Would they be out on a veranda, on a warm(ing) summer afternoon enjoying a few drinks, pen and paper in hand? I like to believe they did exactly that. Kerouac, Thompson, Bukowski, how were your days? Thoreau, how was your old-timey day?- Brilliant and simple? My jealously runs deep. The sun is reaching an apex on me, taunting me with its beautiful dazzlement, while scorching my flesh. Oh cruel bringer of ruin and joy- that is life.

 

Looking Back…

  • The artist exist amongst society, while experiencing the everyday happenings through a different lens