“I got a rock…”

greatpumpkinwallme and my Peanuts pals hangin’ out in the pumpkin patch

Well, I’m camped out in the most sincere pumpkin patch I could find with a bottle of whiskey and a trick-or-treat bag full of rocks, and I’m just certain that this is the year I’m finally going to get a visit from the Great Pumpkin.

char_69253Each year the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch that he thinks is the most sincere.  He’s got to pick this one– he’s got to!  I don’t see how a pumpkin patch can be more sincere than this one.  You can look all around, and there’s not a sign of hypocrisy– nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.

 
Attaboy, Linus– don’t stop believin’.

Happy Halloween, y’all.

“it was too cold always…”

Stevie Smith, circa 1969

Stevie Smith was a tiny thing.  A diminutive poet of tremendous talent with a truly unique and wonderful voice, her Collected Poems remains one of my favorite volumes of poetry I own in part for its uniqueness (her Thurber-esque line drawings scattered throughout the book are particularly priceless).

Stevie Smith Collected PoemsStevie suffered from depression (as many poets and creative types are want to do) and yet she never seemed to let that depression get the better of her, channeling that sadness into a prolific writing talent whose lighthearted and humorous tone belied the loneliness and melancholy at its roots.  To this day, I never cease to be amazed at how she managed to accomplish that.

Below is perhaps her most famous poem, and also (admittedly) my favorite.  

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Every time I read this poem, I can’t help but recall a family vacation to Ha Ha Tonka when I was a child.  My younger brother Cole, who was about eight or nine years old at the time (and who couldn’t swim), had waded out from the lake shore far enough for my father to take notice.  Seeing that my brother’s head was just above water, my father called out to Cole to stand up.  My brother yelled back, “I AM standing up!”  Dad quickly dived into the water to retrieve my brother before he drowned.  Sometimes family’s good that way, I guess.

Do You Realize?

Listening to late night radio again and happened to hear a tune I hadn’t heard in a long, long time.  I’ve never really been a huge fan of The Flaming Lips, as they’re more or less a pyschedelic jam band (and I fucking hate psychedelic jam bands), but I can distinctly remember hearing this song for the very first time on the radio in 2002 and being so moved that I had to pull over my car to finish it.

So here’s a brutally honest and beautifully poignant song (both lyrically and musically) from an otherwise absurdist band.  The video’s a bit ridiculous, but the song sure as hell isn’t.

Do you realize… that you have the most beautiful face?
Do you realize… we’re floating in space?
Do you realize… that happiness makes you cry?
Do you realize… that everyone you know someday will die?

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes,
let them know you realize that life goes fast–

it’s hard to make the good things last–
you realize the sun doesn’t go down–
it’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.

Do you realize? (oh, oh, oh)
Do you realize… that everyone you know someday will die?
And instead of saying all of your goodbyes,
let them know you realize that life goes fast–

it’s hard to make the good things last–
you realize the sun doesn’t go down–
it’s just an illusion caused by the world spinning round.
Do you realize… that you have the most beautiful face?

Do you realize?

(apologies to The Flaming Lips)

Thought For The Day

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And what if you don’t have EITHER of those things, Gretchen darlin’?  What then?

Coincidentally, Gretchen Rubin is originally from Kansas City, home to the baseball team I rooted for as a child (who just won Game 1 of the World Series in 14 innings) and home also to one of my oldest (and loneliest) friends, Steve, who I actually drove up to K.C. to visit last week.  It was good catching up with my ol’ pal whom I hadn’t seen in years, but Steve is a fellow depressive as well as a fellow victim of loneliness, so it was a little despiriting to commisserate with someone who’s also battling melancholia as severely as I am.  What makes Steve different, though, is that he’s hands down the funniest motherfucker I’ve ever known as well as an optimist at heart, so through all of his adversity he has managed to retain both his senses of humor and hope, which is more than I can say for myself.

Mic Drop

This was a mistake.  I’ve been acting crazy…  that phone call just pulled me back to reality.  You were right– I don’t love you.  You don’t love me.  We’re just two lonely people trying to hate ourselves a little less.  Maybe that’s all we’re ever going to be.  Maybe that’s all we ever were.

I like cartoons ’cause they’re funny.

The Snows of Kilimanjaro

follow_your_bliss_by_eltormento

Joseph Campbell is perhaps most famous for his mantra, “follow your bliss,” but this is dangerous advice (or so my father once said).  I can remember discussing Campbell with my father a few years back, and when I invoked this mantra, he told me “a lot of lives have been ruined that way.”  I, of course, thought my father was full of shit.  I didn’t want to believe him, partly because I’m an idealist and a romantic at heart, but mostly because I was ignorant and completely out of my mind at the time.  I was in the midst of an existential crisis, which I wasn’t handling very well at all, and I decided I had to make some radical changes in my life because I just knew that to not do so would mean certain doom.  So I made those changes and “followed my bliss” at my own peril, and now (too late, as always) I realize that my father was right.

Somehow or other during this existential crisis I managed to find myself on a mailing list for a motivational speaker by the name of Scott Dinsmore.  He founded a company called “Live Your Legend” whose purpose was to help folks “change the world by doing work you love and surrounding yourself with the people who make it possible,” which seemed like something I could get behind.  I never bothered to unsubscribe from his mailing list because his e-mails were few and far between and weren’t at all intrusive, unlike the ones I get from Pottery Barn.  [Side note: How did I get on their mailing list, anyway? And why the hell can’t I get off of it?  Being on the Pottery Barn mailing list is like being in the mafia– you’re in it for life.]  If anything, Scott seemed to be an infectiously positive guy and his Live Your Legend e-mails brought encouragement and hope to me in a dark time in my life.  I figured I didn’t have enough affirmation or motivation in my life, so why not remain subscribed?  I truly do believe in the importance of affirmations, though I don’t really practice them myself (hmmm… maybe that’s the problem).

scottdinsmoreScott and Chelsea on vacation

In the occasional updates I received, I followed Scott and his wife Chelsea as they sold all of their possessions and left their home in San Francisco to embark on a globetrekking adventure.  All in all they visited twenty countries on their journey, which ended in Tanzania.  Apparently it was a lifelong goal of Scott’s to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, so that’s exactly what he and his wife set out to do.  Well, I recently received an e-mail from the “Live Your Legend Team” rather than Scott himself (which I thought was odd) with the subject line of “In Memory of the Greatest Living Legend of Them All: Scott Dinsmore” (which was even more odd).

During his ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro, shortly before he was to reach the summit, Scott was struck in the head by a falling rock and killed.  He was 33 years old.

I couldn’t help but draw a parallel to Hemingway’s famous short story “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” which tells the story of a writer who [spoiler alert] dies while on vacation with his wife in Tanzania.  As he’s dying, the character finds himself reflecting on his life and wondering whether or not he’s lived up to his full potential.  But Hemingway’s protagonist had plenty of time to reflect, as he was slowly dying of gangrene.  Scott, on the other hand, was likely killed the instant the rock struck his head, thereby preventing him from such reflection.  But from what little I knew of this man through his e-mails, had he been afforded the time for such reflection, there would be no doubt that he was indeed living up to his full potential.

Below is video from his TED talk on doing what you love, and it’s worth a watch.  And feel free to check out his Live Your Legend page, too, if you’re so inclined.  As for me, I think I’m done trying to believe in the power of positive thinking.  Life is just too random and absurd to comprehend anymore.