Archive for writing

Visions of Me, Reading Visions of Cody

“Ah the mad hearts of all of us.” ― Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody

I have ran through many places, many times, worn many faces, I have started, stopped, and restarted time on several occasions, all in the daunting task of completing a read-through of Visions of Cody. At times, the days were cold and sent shudders to the very marrow of my bones, other times, the sun scorched my neck, reminding me of nature’s raw beautiful power and its indifference to my speck of functioning in the world. Jack Kerouac is my ultimate muse author, and having read nearly two dozen of his books, I still was not ready for the wild, free-flowing, at times seemingly disjointed and nonsensical writings that make up Visions of Cody, or at least I was not at first, second, or even third try. Visions of Cody, in all its 400 plus pages of spontaneous (I mean really meandering and spontaneous) prose, is a moment in my life, an accomplished feeling of having experienced an admired writer’s most experimental and complex piece. And in the end, I am better for it.

So what is this piece I am writing now? Well, it is not so much a book review, as it is a momentary snapshot glimpse view back into my experiences with Visions of Cody…my visions of me, reading Visions of Cody.

The first two sections, and approximately one-hundred pages, visually resemble the original scroll version of On the Road, long blocks of small type-font, with little room for paragraph breaks, a true stream of consciousness, and spontaneous prose tale. I was hooked right away. I went into the book knowing of its legendary (in a hip underground beat sort of way) reputation, but was still left in amazement by the hyper-stream of consciousness, and the beautifully, and often tragic, acute attention to detail, so much detail for even the most mundane of situations, that painted vivid imagery in my mind, transporting me back to this bygone era of America. Consider this, there is probably an easy one and a half, to two pages wholly dedicated to describing a countertop and chairs in a skid-row diner. This is part of what Visions of Cody did, it brought you so close to what would in any other situation be considered the dull and mundane, and transformed it into a passionate and somber look back at Americana, as it once existed from coast to coast.

“I can’t think of anybody…who knows the sum and substance of what I know and feel and cry about in my secret self all the time when I don’t feel strong, the sorrows of time and personality, and can therefore on all levels make it all the way with me” ― Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody

The next two sections, and nearly two-hundred pages,  of Visions of Cody goes even further down the experimental and avant-garde rabbit hole of writing,  transcribing, word for word, a series of tape recordings between Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassidy, and other various Beats. It needs to be noted that these recordings are painstakingly random, at times incoherent, confusing, and are the result of much intoxication by all involved. It is in this stage of the book, that I am conflicted, torn between my love for self-expression, spontaneity, the “out there”, avant-garde, and the generally askew from the norm, torn between all this, and my ultimate takeaway, that while the intent of transcribing tape recordings of people in true naked conversations is bold and exciting (in theory), the end result is disjointed (and not in a good way) and lacking in true Kerouac storytelling depth. It lacked heart.

Countless cups of coffee, seasons of the year, and a kaleidoscope of people, places, and things came and went in my life as I read this book- my ever-present companion, Visions of Cody. There was some sort of bayou hoodoo spell conjured up within the pages of Visions, for each time I read a segment, my mind raced with intrigue, icons, lost visions, teleportation, and a heart-warming fondness for the less than glamorous side of America, the hard-working, the down-trodden, the people who will not show up on any billboards, wont star in a Hollywood movie, and would not even make a footnote in their local paper. This is the true America, the one Jack Kerouac saw disappearing, that he thought worth saving, the Americana of the blues, of railroad yards, late nights in bars, road trips across the country, a seemingly simpler time that was fading fast. This is just as poignant today as it was then, that is the beauty of Jack’s writing.

The remaining pages of Visions of Cody continues in the stream in which the book started, forgoing the tape recordings, and holds some of the most powerful and beautiful sections of prose I have ever read. I am not one for hero-worship, but I will say that there are some brilliant flashes of storytelling tangled within the stream of consciousness behemoth that is Visions of Cody.

In the end, Visions of Cody made me feel accomplished, rewarded for having made it through. It also left me inspired, inspired to continue writing, seeking adventure, living life on my own terms, and focusing on the little things in life, for they are what make up our memories (stories) we take with us forever. Perhaps, even more than any of those takeaways, Visions of Cody showed me a new level of pride in America (Americana), in the simple hard-working truth of the nation, and the unmolested beauty that still remains down every back-road, if we are just willing to let go, travel, and see what we have flown by blinded for too long, and for that, I am grateful that Visions of Cody is here.

“…the great black bird broods outside my window in the high dark night waiting to enfold me when I leave the house tomorrow only I’m going to dodge it successfully by sheer animalism and ability and even exhilaration, so goodnight” ― Jack Kerouac, Visions of Cody

Writer’s Notes and Five Passages

{Writer’s Note}

This piece is disjointed, and intentionally so. It is a collection of several small pieces that I have written in my personal journals over the past couple of months. Individually each piece is not my finest work; together they are not my finest work. So why include them as a public posting, because what they lack in prize-worthy writing, they are abundant with message, with exposure, a summary of sorts as to where my head has been at, in what has come to be a very long creative drought. So please, read on through the lens of me trying to understand me, a little self-help and self-realization. This is a peak behind the curtain.

Passage 1:

I have never been completely honest in my writing, and this will be no different. Total honesty is a scary thing. To pull back the veil and expose the most intimate of truths is something, I would safely bet that, the majority of us have either never done, or if we are so fortunate, may have done on such rare occasion that these moments, while probably profound and full of meaning, are so few and far between, that they seem foreign, as not a part of us as they are intimate. The writer, or more generally, the artist seeks to do this through their chosen medium as often as possible, with many claiming that they are open and honest, brutally honest, and free in all the ways others are not- “I tell it how it is”, “I say what is on my mind”, all common catchphrases they will employ. So often, the ones most prone to boast about something are in fact the ones least likely to possess that trait, or have that truth. If we say it enough, others will believe it. If we say it enough, even we can start to believe our own lie.

Perhaps we proclaim what we are, when it is the farthest thing from the truth- our simple yet manipulated attempt at changing our truth?

Truth in art, art in truth, will either set you free?

So what is this all about? Why so much focus on truth, perception, and reality, because, each is prominent in my identity. The attempt to learn and understand each has mystified me for as long as I can remember- pulling back the veil, the elusive search for “the meaning”.

My writing can be largely summarized as focused on two things, perception and truth. Really two opposite notions always intertwined.

As I come off a long creative drought, I feel energized, empowered with a new power- an expanded arsenal and a needed mindset to push through.

Will all subsequent work be complete truth, free of shadows and alterations? No.

As alluded to prior, I don’t believe most of us possess the capability at-will, even if we have convinced ourselves we do. But there is no reason we cannot challenge ourselves to get there, to pursue what may seem unattainable. For in this pursuit is where life happens.

For myself, I want my writing, my art, to creep closer and closer to this truth, each piece, a truer reflection of me, and I encourage that we all can do that in life, regardless of your artistic leanings.

For each individual to live a little truer, a little more in line with who they are each day, that is progress my friends, that is evolution, that is enlightenment.

Passage 2:

I am in search of my own authenticity. Family aside, no other singular item is more important to me right now. My last piece discussed truth and perception, both playing directly into my search for the authentic-self. The ego-me tells myself that I have been the authentic-self for short bursts of time in prior, younger years. Truth is, that may or may not be true. It is entirely more likely that I have not been witness to my authentic-self yet, and I have only proceeded to play the part of the fool in my own memory induced illusion.

At some point, Stella lost her groove and, I believe, Austin Powers mojo went astray…well I know Stella got her groove back and Austin Powers was just fine (baby), so why not me, but on a much more real, personal, and impactful way than a couple of late 90s mediocre Hollywood story lies. This is the search for me, the authentic-self, something that I have convinced myself I need here and now, in no particular terms.

But what does that even mean, authentic-self? If I knew exactly what it meant, I would probably also have found it for myself. So I can tell you what it is not (what the problem is) and give you a (likely) inaccurate fumbled portrayal of what I think the authentic-self is, on a high-level all-people bird’s eye view.

{Writer’s Note}

I have removed content here. The subsequent paragraph did not delve deeper into the authentic-self, but instead, went on a crazy tangential rift about caves, creatures, and darkness, for no foreseeable reason other than it is what came to mind.

Maybe that’s just it, maybe the groundhog peeping of the authentic-self comes out of nowhere, is bizarre, does not make sense, and deviates you from that nice tidy little path you had laid out for yourself…truth…art.

Passage 3:

Change.

Change in all forms.

Today we sing, tomorrow we dance.

The night’s sky flickers with memories of a bygone era.

Here we stand, united in our moment.

I find myself meandering much more the last few days than I have in a while. Gentle winds take me here and there.

The meandering wanderer is not looked down upon, it is welcomed, wanted, needed. For too long I have been caught up in a race, a frantic need to measure up, measure up and “get things done”- complete the list.

I have added and added, said yes, made it my task, layer upon layer of complexity, of complication, until it was no longer bearable, and I was no longer me. I feel that sense of self-knowing coming back now. What once seemed like a barren desert, now feels like a cold rush of water infused into my veins, filling me with potential and direction.

No stranger to redirection, self-reflection (loathing?), and contemplation, I have found this current crossroads most perplexing and having the most gravitas.

Moments, they happen when we least expect them.

For better or for worse, my career, or better yet focus in life has become more clear and structured in the last few days. Structure, be sure you are the architect of the construction.

Passage 4:

I told myself today that I would be traveling- I had various destinations in mind, but was willing to deviate. I have fallen into routine and trappings of my own design- even a day of travel and adventure; I can quickly turn into routine and the expected. It is difficult to escape and be free in modern America, especially in the unhealthy hustle and bustle of major metropolitan areas such as Chicago, where I reside on its suburban outskirts. I have long been obsessed with the writings and lifestyle experiences of Jack Kerouac, the, to me, simple adventures in an era of slower living, basic joys, and still plenty of America (and life) left to explore. We all have the explorer within, mine aches with a longing I cannot currently satiate. Satiation of my core needs and identities is a big focus for me, it is rampant in my writing.

In my push to be deeper, I find memories of ultra-shallowness, such as focus on and concern for the outfit I put together for the day, “what says writer… breakthrough…what says adventure?”

As a writer, I have had so many stop and go, or rather go and stop moments over the past 6-12 months that I am left with a disappointment and a fear of the well having run dry. That scares me. Briefly I considered complicated and impractical options, ways to fix this creative rut…quickly jumping off of that speeding bullet train of crap and instead going simple.

My plan…to write everything… to write and write, about everything and anything (or is it the other way around?), and while I am continually writing, I will also be sharing nearly all of it.

This is the only real way I know how to get back in, to slide back into that groove of writer, creator, artist, satisfied being. So, let it be so.

Passage 5:

{Writer’s Note}

This fifth and final passage catches me on a day when I felt shallow as an artist, feeling as if I had denied my art all of me, and instead been selective and manipulative with what I let others see, or even write for myself. It is a very brief piece that alludes to a possible future project exploring the depths of my being.

I am a broken person. This I realize.

Yet I have the grace within, everyone does.

Describing the Beast:

So much of what I do in my writing is self-analyze, self-medicate, and self-help myself. My writing is intimate, it’s intimate when it is obviously intimate, and it is intimate even when it seems distant and removed. I believe all art, or at least all genuine art is intimate, it tells the story of the individual, in one way or another. A little bit, or sometimes nearly the entire artist is embedded within the deep recesses of the piece. And while my writing goes to a certain depth, I freely admit it is limited, it goes medium’ish deep into me. I have never dared to go deep into the recesses of my being. In a recent piece I said that I would be breaking my writer’s block by writing about anything and everything. I feel that in addition to that, I need to take a stab at going deep, deep down into the abyss…down into the abyss and describe the beast- but how to begin?

Where does one start with an exposition such as this? How does one simply let go and dive into the darkness?

I am flawed, completely and utterly beautifully flawed. Both heavenly and brimstone, I, like nearly all in life, am a duality of existence. So how to begin? Perhaps a tit for tat, a positive and then a negative. I have much I am proud of, and enough that I am not. I have shined in many moment so far, and stumbled in even more. I am me.

There are countless tales to tell, but what fits and describes the beast? Today will probably not be the day I decide that…

{Writer’s Note}

So there you have it, five passages mashed together to provide you a glimpse (albeit hodge-podge) of me speaking to me, trying to figure me out, and in the process find a way to get back. Perhaps you can relate. We all, in some way, need to get back, to get back to something or someone.

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

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

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…

Ten Week Reflection on My Path

Upcoming…

  • Self-reflection on the first steps in my new life path
  • How it has impacted me and the people around me
  • A tidbit or two on what we can all do to find truth

 

It has been exactly ten weeks today since I stepped out of the office of my corporate compliance position I had held for the last ten years for the last time. As of that day, I no longer was required (are we ever really required- we make choices even if we do not think they are choices) to come into the office, complete my corporate duties, and contribute to a for-profit publicly traded company, that today seems a distant memory and eons away from who I am right now, in this moment. Sure, the departure from corporate life was not on my own accord, my hand forced via riff, but it was welcomed, it was needed.

It has always been in me, writer, artist, and I have always known that a corporate life, while rich with many material benefits and comforts, was not me, not deep down to my truth. It is possible (and probable) that there is a corporate career out there that would align directly with my true-self, my core beliefs and passions. I will not deny that. What I will say is that I am and have always been a writer, artist, and a seeker of adventure and truth. The world is a wonderful mysterious place and it calls to me, beckoning me to explore it, experience it, and to understand (try to) its infinite mysteries and truths.

This is where I need to be, this is what my path needs to be, a primary focus on life, experiences, and a continued searching of truth and beauty. I was not doing that from my desk in a corporate office, focusing on regulatory compliance.

I feel more alive today and more satisfied in each day than I have in a very long time. Many would look at my situation and see an unfortunate individual laid off from a (seemingly and was for ten years) stable, very well paying corporate position, which provided an excess of financial and material comfort, evidence of career progression, success and promise for the future. These people would see all that and conclude that it was a tragedy, a worrisome situation, one difficult to recover from, and wonder, “what will he do next?” “How will he match that success in the job market today?” and I get it…I do. I understand that mindset.

It is a mindset I have had to battle and explain away to so many of my closest friends and family members. As a husband and father to a one year old son, the traditional standard of success, comfort and safety are hard societal tags to shake.

But there is a different type of success, a different standard for life, a more fulfilling and true ideal to strive for. That is what I am going for now. The path to live it my everyday as my true-self, to pursue my passions, my dreams, the components that I most closely identify with at the core of my being. My wife Laura and I have always fancied ourselves a little bit different, slightly left of the mainstream, neo-hippie types caught up in a corporate suburbanite world. In between morning commutes to the office and painstaking repetitive maintenance of our suburban sprawl, I dreamt of escape, of running away, leaving it all behind, going simple, primitive, free and living away, secluded, perhaps a remote rustic cabin tucked deeply into a woody pine, the fresh mountain air in the morning, the simple and true reality sounds of birds, insects, a babbling brook…and us, just the family and peace.

So now and for the last ten weeks, I found myself able to escape, able to explore this path. With the support of my wife and a desire to take this leap, I have experienced a lot.

It is no easy task to go from amateur (still am), casual writer in my free time, writing pieces only for myself, or at least only seen by myself, the hidden work of an artist at heart and mind for the entirety of my life (as far as I can recall), to choosing to leap into the public eye and make my works, my emotions, my truths, and my very being available for public consumption. Our emotions, identifiers, and stories are very personal to all of us…imagine taking your journal, spilling your desires, fears, insecurities, struggles and accomplishments out into the world. This is what I am doing, this is what I have chosen to do…and I love every second of it.

I miss no part of my former corporate career. I miss several people, but nothing else. That is not to imply I am not grateful for the opportunity, the company, the experience, or the path it took me on for the last ten years. That part of my life brought me many great memories and provided in a particular way for me and my family. It also led me to where I am today, sitting here, literally recounting my past years in a creative writing form that has always been primary to my true-self. I am not ungrateful, but I also do not miss any part of it and do not desire to return down that path. That path is done; it is no longer part of my current or future story (as far as my limited perspective can see).

What I have today is brilliant, special, engaging, and beautiful. I have a purpose and a path that makes me feel alive and deeply satisfied in a life fulfilling way. I am a writer.

In ten weeks on this new path, I have learned many things:

  1. It is difficult and can seem impossible at times, but being true to yourself as deeply and honestly as possible is liberating. There is nothing like it.
  2. You must first discover what being true to yourself really means. We may think we know, have convinced ourselves we know what we desire, what we need, but it may be a wall, a facade, a compromise we have made in life to deal with and accept our circumstances. Take time, find solitude for however long you need, listen to yourself and discover the silent voice within that whispers to your soul. Hear what it has to say.
  3. Following a path that veers any degree from what you have done in the past, what is expected of you, and or is unconventional for whatever slice of society you are a part of will be misunderstood and met with a great degree of confusion. Be true, honest, open and frank with those that you feel need to, or you care to explain yourself to. Even if your decision is not for them and they do not understand, if you are being true to your core, they will understand and feel that. People will respond to your vibrations you set out, as long as they are pure and true.
  4. We can all do it; we all need to do it. We can find ourselves and make it work in our life. It will not happen overnight, it takes time. Finding truth starts with desire and unbreakable determination. Never lose sight, even when times may be their darkest.

It has already been, but also has only been ten weeks since I have pushed down this new path. I still have so much to learn, so much to experience.

I welcome comments (comment link at bottom of each blog post- may show as “no comments”). Let me know a way you have followed your path that others can learn from.

There will be more recaps to come, for now, adventure on my fellow life travelers. Find your peace.

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 New Blog Site and Me

Upcoming…

  • I explore my mind-state on the night of my blog go-live
  • Glimpse into why I write

 

On the eve of the go-live for my blog site, I sit with mixed feelings- excitement, apprehension, joy, wonder, unease, apprehension (wrote that twice- mean something?), but mostly, I am on edge in the greatest way possible. I have always been a writer and artist, since I can remember as a child. I remember creating my own versions of the story of the Alamo and of the cinematic Aliens series; both done in word and picture. I believe I still even have the Alamo story. Writing for me has always been a release, an escape, a way to try to not only understand the world, but especially myself- what makes me tick, why I feel the way I do, why I am the way I am. Who I am…

Writing and all other forms of art have always been amateur for me, something I just did for pleasure, in my spare time. Thing is, there was always spare time, ample amounts, when I was younger; but as the years went on and I sank further and further into the typical American suburban life, that time for art, that time for writing seemed to all but disappear outside of neatly pocketed manic bursts. It is in those moments that I would feverishly write as much as I could, until my arm cramped and hand felt numb. The pulsating agony and joy of a blur of spontaneous writing.  In a way, it is what I have always done, but it took discovering my now Holy Grail author Jack Kerouac, to discover and find acceptance in this method. Jack called it spontaneous prose, and he was the unwilling master and ambassador. A style of writing that says that first thought is best thought- no need to rewrite- no need to ponder- no editing, going back, scratch that, use this instead- total trust in one’s instincts and inner voice. Autonomous writing in a way.  To use a contemporary example, it is akin to the hip-hop artist of today who do not write their lyrics down, they just rap from their mind and one-take it in the studio. But my muse is Kerouac, (again) unwilling leader and ambassador of the Beat generation, a group hell bent on freedom of expression, adventure, and a willingness to go for it in writing, life and in every sense. This is what I try to also do. This will come through as very diverse, sometimes chaotic, occasionally brilliant, and followed by a few misses, in my work. I am not about polished, I am not about the boundaries, the rules, the expectations, and trying to ensure my work fits a mainstream idea.

My work is simply me, through and through. This means it will not be for everyone. For some will not get it and dismiss is; while others will see truth, similarity to themselves and understand why I do this. I am very open, frank and introspective in my works.  Acting as my harshest critic and as my biggest advocate, I wind and snake my way through life via written word- each moment captured for record, understanding, retrospection, and discovery. The ever illusive search for the eternal truth, the ultimate reality hidden just beneath our noses, just existing in godly glory just beyond our eyes.

As I said, I have always written and considered myself at my core and artist; but this has not been able to play itself out in what is commonly referred to as my professional life, my career. That is until now. No, I am not a published author, nor a blogger who has so many followers, so many visits that a generate money. I do not have a job in the writing industry; in fact I do not have a conventional job at this moment. That is the short version of a long story behind this new career path. I have spent the past ten years at the same corporate entity, in various roles, most recently as a corporate compliance Director- about as far away as possible from being an artist/writer. Those ten years culminated in me being one of many rifted in a massive company-wide layoff.

That is the catalyst for this, the chance to find a new direction, to retake hold of my life, to make myself happy, find true joy and purpose in what I do. My chance to write.

In some way, everything I will post on the blog will be about my new path. Some more obvious than others- yet all being true glimpses into my mind, my life, my view of the world- for better or worse.

What do I hope readers get out of my work? Who knows…how can I truly answer that without sounding cliché? I would be lying if I said I did not care if anyone enjoyed it, found meaning, found some level of truth. And in another sense, I am doing this as my own therapy- my own truth being peeled back from my innermost psyche and jettisoned into the world.

I have put a lot of work into getting this blog page up and running, and the initial spattering of posts are not a representation of my favorite work, best work, worst work, or anything down the middle; they are simply some of my most recent work. Like I said, I have been writing all my life and have the vast majority of those works hand written locked safe away. How would one who has been on this earth the better half of thirty years as myself go about handpicking his best or favorite works at this juncture? An exercise in futility. I will go back. I will resurrect some of the works from the vault.

For now, take a look into me through my written word at this juncture in time. As I continue to post more for the world, hopefully the intricacies of my world and my mind will become living entities out there, and I will find truth, meaning and oneness with my true-self and the ultimate reality.

Ready for the journey?

 

Looking Back…

  • I am a writer, always have been
  • I am taking a leap to see how far down the rabbit hole I can go

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