Always first an artist

For the first time in many years, I’m in love with a new song. It used to happen a lot when I was younger. Music was life for me in many ways. But as musical tastes changed I found it happening less and less. I didn’t like the EQ’s of new music. I didn’t like the instrumentation of new music. I didn’t like the chordal arrangements, the vocalizations, the words. I tried to like something. Anything. But it just never hit the G spot for me. Been spending quiet time with the radio on, most of it blending into that meh of pop muzik that I detest. Then the above song came on.

Different sound, different EQ, different chordal progression…

And the words.

*sigh* I like the song so much it gets me past that horrible keyboard sound in the lead section…

Attitude. A bit of dirt on that bass and guitar. A bit of slop in the manner of performance. Now I know what happened to rock. Thought it all got dissolved into R&B trills and hip-hop raps.

Oh, Goddess! There’s still life out there…

So. I know what I’m splurging on. This week. Gotta find the CD; I want the real, full sound files. Gotta find a bit of cash for it, too. Hope it’s in the 15 euro range rather than the 30 euro range.

Wake up, youngster. There’s still music being made out there that you’ll like. There’s still stuff going on you want to be a part of. And yes, there’s still life out there…

…No, I don’t want to get into the heavy psychological examination of why I’m in love with a song titled ‘Sorry’. I think it’s all rather obvious, don’t you? I’d rather focus on my joy over finding a sound I like. The neighbors are in danger of hearing that CD blasted at full volume for days on end once I get my hands on it. Hope they like it, too.

I find it odd how often I’m lead back to my childhood. Like I keep finding little scraps of myself that got cut off somewhere along the road. Oh, yeah. I remember feeling that way. I remember that joy, the sense of my entire spirit being filled with light and beauty. Why did I stop doing that? Why did I stop myself from enjoying that? My suspicion is that I’ve been punishing myself. Telling myself I don’t even deserve that feeling, and taking it away from myself.

Maybe all this childhood memory crap is a good thing. Maybe it means I’m finally forgiving myself.

…That’s…difficult to ponder. Makes me want to cry for all those wasted fucking years, but that gets me nowhere. I’d rather accept it all in one swallow: the good and the bad of it. The bad of it is that I’ve cut myself off from the world for a long time. The good of it is I’ve given myself time to think, time to sort, time to develop outside the influence of out there. The bad of it is I’ve beaten myself up and made myself feel awful. The good of it is I’ve learned so very much, and that’s enriched my writing, my mind, and my life.

I am proud of what I do these days. No hidden qualms, no thinking something isn’t quite right with my work but I can’t put my finger on it. I am confident, assured of my writing. I don’t claim to be perfect, and between typos, my Midwestern upbringing and poor grammatical understanding I never am. There’s always something to correct in my writing. I’ve become okay with that because I know that’s essentially just fluff. The core is good. The core is strong. If once out of every 5000 words I’ve got a typo or grammatical mistake, I’m not that bothered by it. It’s the development of the idea that I’m concerned about. The strength of the story, the lack of plot holes, the ability to drive an audience the way I want. Yes. Now there, I shine. I know it, and I’m not gonna dither around. This is my strength: good plots, good development. I have full rights to feel proud of myself on that note.

That’s good. A foundation to build on. My brother’s always telling me to think about the foundation. Turn weaknesses into strengths. If my bro had a life motto, I think it would be “Know Thyself”. He’s had to; he struggled for 50 odd years with undiagnosed autism and ADHD. He’s taught me to learn to accept what I can and can’t do, and work with it. I’m still new at it, still struggling with the whole acceptance thing. But I am finding reasons to be proud, things to enjoy, alternative paths I hadn’t considered earlier…

Maybe I’m defective. Or maybe I’m dumb.

…But sorry? Truthfully, no. Not in the long run. I know – as I’ve always known – that every step along the way leads me to where I stand now. I knew back when I was 20 what I was doing, what I was allowing myself to step into: that world, that dirt. I knew when I was 30 that my decision not to use my degree and suck up to some middle management toadie would result in certain circumstances. I knew. I always knew. I knew the chances I was taking.

But I won’t blame myself for it. I did what I did. I learned. I grew. Maybe I grew crookedly rather than straight, but who’s to say the twisted trunk of a tree isn’t just as lovely as a razor straight trunk? In truth, isn’t the twisted trunk a more beautiful thing? Doesn’t it scream out to you in its visual representation(s) of pain, the action of time, the determination to persevere?

…I know myself well enough to know this: if I had done everything differently, if I had taken a job and done the marriage/kids/house thing, I’d still be struggling right now. I’d still be in crisis, only it would be from the other side of it. That, above all, is what I’ve always known. I had to choose between the artist in me and what society called ‘successful’.

I am always first an artist.

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