Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Artist’s Dreams

M C A from The Beastie Boys passed away from cancer yesterday. This news instantly put me in a funk. The Beastie Boys were a huge influence to my generation but an even bigger influence in the “Skate-Punk World,” I’ve been part of for what seems like a lifetime. The 1980’s and 90’s would not have been the same without their music.

When an artist like M C A passes away it makes me evaluate what is most important, writing or art wise, at that moment in my life. What do I need to finish, and what have I already done that I can look back on with pride? This is how I’m wired. The writer / artist’s mind is constantly thinking, trying to make sense of the world that surrounds them. Evaluating what has been done, what could be done, and how much time we still have to do it before our time is up… All of this is evaluated against the physical and mental shape we’re in at that moment.

Sadly for the artist, time is always against us, especially if you’ve given everything to make your dreams come true. “Walking The Path Less Traveled!” As Mr. Frost would say. Inevitably, one day, you wake up to the fact, you’re scared, tattooed, and physically worn-out; no longer hirable because your body’s paid a heavy price from years of underpaying jobs. The sleepless nights of writing show in the faint smeared shadows under your eyes. Nights where the wall clock clicks in perfect rhythm; the insomniac’s makeshift metronome moving through time with the sweep of its long pointed hands. Your words of everyday conversations have now turned to whispers wrapped softly with the slight sound of a wheeze.

But you also realize it’s all worth it. For your true voice is now stronger than ever. Because the path you’ve chosen, many faded years ago, is that of a writer, an artist… It was not some dead-end job submerged in quarter raises and promises of, “one day too this all could be yours.” It was page after page of writing all that you felt inside for a world that seemed to be asleep. Asleep to anything creative you were trying to do. When the rejection letters outnumber the junk mail, you still kept sending work out. Submission, after submission, after submission. Until you start to see your work published. This is the greatest feeling in the world.

I think, I get my hardheaded determination to make something out of my dreams from my father. If he wanted to do something, he did it. He didn’t talk about it, he did it. He once made the top ten in sales for the linen company he worked for back in the early 1960’s. This was on a national level. He went door to door selling his service in addition to driving his route, picking up, and dropping off the big bulky bags of clothing. But what really made this so amazing was, he stuttered and was uncomfortable communicating with strangers.

Another example came years later. After never showing any interest in music, my father came home from work one day holding a banjo. He said, he had always wanted to learn how to play. I think everyone’s jaw dropped at the same time. It was just so out of the norm for him. But we loved to see him pursue something he had only dreamed about for 50 years.

So night after night he plucked away at its strings with his thick fingers trying so hard to make some type of recognizable sound. Slowly he learned some set-chords, then songs. I was amazed at how hard he tried to learn to play after hours of working landscaping in the hot Florida sun.

So, if you want your dreams to become a reality you need to start now. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Tomorrow may never come. Never let someone tell you, you are too old to do something or to young, especially yourself... If you want to do something in this life of ours, do it.

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