It’s been an interesting week. The last post was more of a rant than a pep talk, but kind of a tongue in cheek rant. Mostly I was speaking to our human need to make meaning out of seeming nonsense, how we need to believe that when we go through hard trial after hard trial, that it’s for a reason, that we can put it to good purpose.
I thought about it a few times this week, especially as I bumped into more than a few people who mentioned my blog or that they are reading this blog and I cringed inwardly at times thinking about what I shared. Do I really want everyone in all of these different social circles I’m a part of to know these things?
Yea, actually. I don’t really care. It’s what I write about. Write what you know, they say, and I know a lot about my own life and what I’ve learned from the experiences I’ve gone through. Isn’t that the point of existence? To learn?
It’s always awkward when you blog and write non-fiction about your life, because people get to know this word-based version of you without really spending time with you or actually knowing knowing you. They don’t call, they don’t write, they read.
I know this is a peril of the writing life, and have read up enough on how other personal non-fiction writers deal with it to have expected as much.
I also observed something like this when I dated my ex boyfriend. He was on a big record label, wrote beautiful music and attracted all these amazing fans due to his talent. Because of his success, people projected this personality onto him that kind of existed, but kind of didn’t. He was a person, with lots of real person issues.
I’ve wondered many times over the years what compels us to channel the muse. When I was younger, I was more mystical about it, thought my talents came straight from the gods (I think there’s a pantheon these days, like in old Greek days. Talk to me tomorrow and I might just call it “the universe” again). I thought musicians, writers and poets had a higher calling and thus were unique due to this special gift.
As I’ve grown up a bit, I’ve noticed a lot of our worship of icons in music, writing and art is based on this projected image of who we THINK the artist is, but in reality, artists are human beings and have just as many flaws as anyone else. And I’ve met all sorts of free souls in other lines of work who are contributing just as much, sometimes a lot more, than artists are to the world. Even Thoreau wasn’t really “roughing it,” if you look back at the facts. I recently read that his mom washed his laundry and brought him meals. Things get shined up and glamorized, we create gods out of men and pin all these attributes on them that don’t exist.
Now, in my case, I’m not being turned into a god, but people do get to see some sides of me I may not tell them in person, mostly stuff that’s pretty seemingly personal to them. This doesn’t mean I still don’t startle when someone I barely know asks me how that thing is going that they read about on my blog. I imagine we all deal with this due to Facebook to some extent, people reading about us but not commenting and then in person mentioning something they read about us.
It’s always interesting to learn that people are paying attention. I get a bit freaked out.
Most of my life, I sought connection through art and music, and now that I am slowly finding it, I’m kind of blown away. It’s been a subtle, slow build, but I’ve learned that what I put my mind to and work hard for, truly believe in, tends to manifest in the universe’s own time, slowly or quickly, I never can tell. And most stuff that doesn’t manifest is usually because I’m not quite ready for it yet. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear–if you’re paying attention.
I had the honor of reading some of Lenore Kandel’s poetry at the Minna Gallery in San Francisco last night as part of the Litquake festival. She was a quite talented woman poet of the Beat era; she wrote a lot of poems that resonate with me. She was very zen, and also wrote provocative poems about love and sex and relationships and existence that got banned in the ’60s (they talk about fucking. A lot. And sex and love as a transcendent experience of worship).
It was a gift to see different and very talented people reading favorite poems of hers, a testament to how one poet’s work can speak to many people and affect them on a deep, deep level. It was also nice to not read my own poems or play my own music, but to support the ghost of a poet who obviously meant a lot to the people she touched, many of whom read last night.
This poetry, music, writing shit is amazing, folks. Never forget that. This is why we do it. One of the readers got up and talked about how Kandel was a poet who lived a very minimal life, never liked to play the game, but here her poetry was simply amazing. She was injured in a car accident at a relatively young age, seriously damaging her spine, lived in the same apartment in Bernal Heights, San Francisco, for forty years or so, with a little garden and a ton of book and tea.
There are a lot of talented amazing souls floating around in the world who will never rise above their base line income, but that’s not the point. The point is that Kandel lives on through her work and the memories of the people who knew her. The point is who we touch, and not the number of people we touch, necessarily, but the quality of the touching. And lest this devolve into some type of sex joke about touching, I’m going to leave off there.