To Sleep Perchance to Live

To have all the experiences that daily Waking Life restricts us from.

To travel to places we cannot afford and that the society will not allow us.

To love people we will never get the chance to love because they do not love us.

To rekindle friendships with friends long gone.

To have long-lasting meaningful conversations with The Dead.

To kindle friendships with the Unborn.

To sleep perchance to really live, and make life worth it.

It escapes the daily doldrums and sometimes it’s so much sweeter without the pain, without the discomfort or the embarrassment.

Perchance sleeping isn’t really sleeping at all.

For what is this Waking Life?

Wafting odors of trash that needs to be taken out, again. The pots and pans on the stove with leftover food in them rotting with more stink. The dishes that need to be washed.

The bug crawling across your chest.

The aching knees that remind you of things falling to pieces.

The Daily Grind of going to a workplace to barely afford your lifestyle no matter how much money they ever give you.

Twenty thousand, fifty thousand, 1 million, you’ll spend it all. You’ll need more. You’ll always run out! I promise.

What is daily life?

What is awake?

Is this awake?

Or is that awake?

To sleep is sometimes to be more awake than the zombies I see going about their daily lives.

They’re sleepwalking all day long.

Perchance to sleep may be better than perchance to wake. Dreams are a glory of which we are able to live through them.

You may never fly with those knees but you will soar in your dreams.

You may never love or be loved with what’s in the daily mirror, but you can have it all in Dream Land.

He’ll find you attractive there.

She’ll think you’re irresistible there.

You’ll never fall short in the sack while dreaming in your sack.

You get what you want, you experience pleasures and pain that you never would get the opportunity to otherwise.

You can soar and you can sink in dreams.

Perchance we’ll see you there when you’re done sleepwalking all damned day.

The Artist D, August 2018

The Artist D, August 2018

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I Have a Reservation

Never be afraid to live your life alone. I swear to you that this may be one of the meanings of life. We emerge from the primordial goo all stuck together as a ball of molecules. We shape into humans. Alone as alone can be in this cosmic thing.

As soon as we leave the womb we start to seek a connection back into the goo. We have not been aware of singularity and are frightened by it. Perhaps that’s what all the crying is about. I believe this is why we forever seek our “other halves” and want to be around tribes. We are nostalgic for the goo we emerged from.

I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong before.

But I live this life alone. I am surrounded by lovers, partners, friends, and yet I am still alone. Sometimes I think it’s for the best because there are enough people in my head, any more people would be a crowd.

This is why I don’t hesitate to say, “Table for one, please.” At the fanciest restaurants around. The kind where the waiter tries not to look at you “like that” as he shuffles you to the small group of tables “for one.”

The overheard conversations of others keep my attention and I am not required to interact with them. That is an added bonus. I get dinner and a show all thanks to the theater of the living.

Sometimes I will glance over at the empty chair across from me and get that human twinge of self pity. How nice would it be if a friend was here with me? It would be nice, but it wasn’t meant to be at this time and in this place. Maybe a friend will join me next time.

Besides, if I was here holding court and entertaining a friend, I never would have got to listen to the lady at the next table seriously discussing aliens being trapped in volcanoes. Did you know that when the volcano erupted the bits and pieces of alien bodies blew everywhere? And since they had nowhere to go they absorbed into the humans all around them. Which is why, I assume, she thinks we are all made up of extraterrestrials.

The only down side to listening to other people’s conversations is the usual social restriction of not being able to plunk myself down at their table and say, “Please, do tell me more!” Although in some cases this would be perfectly alright.

Don’t hold back from going it alone. Make the reservation, treat yourself solo. Take you and all of your imaginary friends out to dinner sometime. This may be the only time our souls, spirits, and molecules are alone together. Take advantage of that, do not wallow in it as if it were a prison sentence.

Be bold alone as you would be with others. We’ll all be together again soon in a big dump of gooey ooze anyway. Where, if I am correct about any of this, we will never be able to reserve that table for one again.

The Artist D

The Artist D, June 2018

Death of Passivity

I have always loved the ocean because it speaks to life. The ocean is a visual representation of life as I see it. I’ve often described the need to flow with the cosmic waves. If you become too stuck, too solidly stubborn against the waves, you will suffer more friction and destruction than if you were to just “go with the flow.” Much like how with struggle it becomes much easier to drown.

We creatures float through the galaxy like objects in the sea. All of the swirling, floating, and interweaving is critical for it to make a masterpiece. It’s a chaotic dancing stew, yet it all seems to work out for the best. The tide comes in and washes over the rocks to clear off some creatures while feeding others. If you happen to be one of these clam-like creatures you actually depend on it. You don’t really swim. You float, you’re buried, you’re uncovered, you live. It’s the Art of Being. Clams need not do anything other than be themselves while their environment carries them to live the life that they happen to live.

I think you will be taken care of whether you decide to swim or float in this universe. There is a place for both. However, we should not hold ourselves back when it comes time to paddle our feet to get us to the next place.

For most of my life I have often held myself back from swimming. I opted instead to float. I’ve let the waves of the universe carry me to some pretty great places. With that in mind I have always hesitated to start swimming in another direction.

I have feared changing course in life just about as much as I would fear changing course in the literal ocean. I am afraid to start purposefully swimming towards better land only to end up in one of those tidal wave storms which puts you farther away. Then you’re clinging to a plank, pissed off, and dying of hypothermia.

There’s also a big difference between swimming and flailing your arms violently until the ocean of our universe pulls you under into death. I see a lot of people confuse the two of these all of the time, literally and figuratively. Especially figuratively! There is an incredible amount of people out there struggling violently against the waves, gasping for air, and they have no idea. They’d tell you that they’re swimming. I’d tell them that they’re sinking.

If you float when you could swim you are being passive, possibly too passive. I am guilty of being passive at times when I should have been ravenously paddling. I’ve let people in my life just because they happen to have come into it. I’ve let a lot of things happen to me just because they were happening. It’s the pile of drugs you take just because they happen to be on the coffee table. It’s the sex you have just because the person happens to be all over you. It’s the job you take just because they hired you. It’s the first husband or wife you marry because they were the first one to put up with your cranky ass.

For far too long I was under the impression that this was the way it worked. In a lot of ways that can work, but it will not always be the way and you should not always accept it as such.

There is nothing wrong with making decisions. There is nothing wrong with saying “no” when you don’t want something. The same goes for if you want to say “yes” to something. There’s actually nothing wrong with asking for what you want! This is simple and obvious, yet completely unbelievable to a lot of people.

I was one of those people. That personality is still buried within me. If the opportunity came along then we might as well do it. If the opportunity did not come along then let’s forget about it. There wasn’t much push to obtain the opportunity. There wasn’t a lot of swimming against the current.

I deceptively resembled a person who took chances because I did take chances – passively. I blindly threw myself off of a lot of cliffs and hoped for the best. That’s where my faith in the flow of the universe stems from. That’s where I got terribly confused about being a drifter, never decidedly swimming to the desired opportunity.

This is why I had absolutely no understanding of college students. To put yourself in an eight year program with a belief that you are actually going to get to the end is as likely as swimming a straight line in a hurricane. Do you know how much can change in eight years? Do you know how much you probably will never want to do in eight years what you are doing today? I could not fathom the desire to do anything of the sort. For me, a one year plan was quite enough because I knew that at the end of that plan I’d be ready for a completely different map.

The only thing that has changed my mind about long term planning is finally capturing some realization about the hurricane in between. If we are open to changes of course during our plans then it makes sense. It turns out that most people understood this. I was far too black and white to see it until now.

The dawning realization has been that it’s OK to make hard choices. It’s OK to decline an invitation or disagree with an associate. We learn this even more when we are placed in management of others or owning a business. That can be learned from the corporate world or from managing an underground art magazine. Are you ready to have difficult conversations with people you may not like? Are you going to cope with the disagreement when your word is the final word? Are you OK with pointing out things that someone else may have absolutely no clue about? Would you be willing to fire someone for their shitty behaviors?

We do not always need to float. We are not all clams. We are allowed to decide on a course of action which may not be easy, but doable, if we have working arms, legs, or a giant propeller for a nose. The balancing act is to learn when to stop driving your boat into the Tsunami. The secret is to know the difference between swimming and flailing.

The Artist D, Autumn 2017

The Artist D, Autumn 2017, Beating a Metaphor to Death since circa 1997

She Lay Dying

She sits and waits on the sofa that has harbored many moments. Her eyes stare blankly at the walls, the television, and the family. She lay watching with a stomach distended and skin turned yellow from failures. The body has been wracked with disease. Dis ease. A cancerous cancer.

She’s waiting now and her eyes tell me she’s questioning. Is she questioning? A life slowly set to rewind like a pencil in an old school cassette tape. Her life was full with every moment lived. A loving relationship that lasted forever. Two competent and grown children. Many successful careers under the belt providing for a family, a home, cars, boats, and adventures.

But she’s staring now because the moments have passed. The only moment is now and what has happened before is a flash in memory. She’s not eating anymore. She’s done with eating. She will not be returning to the table.

An extra decade tacked on by modern medicine. An extra stretch of life fulfilled thanks to science. The regularity of being microwaved, injected, spliced, and diced has held the body together for another round.

A full life. Like a lot of lives. Filled with stuff. There’s lots of stuff, but it all ends the same. It all ends. Some of us get to stare, to wind down, to watch the garbage decompose while we are still within it. So, those who can now stare at all that is. And they wonder how, what, why, what for?

This tiny little life. This little stretch of road filled with jumping and jiving. The race to get it all done before we find ourselves on the sofa as we turn yellow and fall to pieces. To await the next text message from Mr. Death.

She stares in wonder and in agony. Or is that just us? We never know what it’s like until it’s just us. Maybe she’s happy. Maybe she’s content. Perhaps she’s come to peace. After all, modern medicine provided the time to write the final chapter in full with no questions asked. A lot of people don’t get that chance. There isn’t always a final chapter.

So, maybe it’s just us watching and having the harder time. As death is far harder on those who are left than those who have left.

Top of the Mountain

On the Mountaintop, by The Artist D, February 2017

Youthquake

We are always sixteen and I am not much better than He. I got locked into a certain style of step somewhere around the age of 15. That’s when I was engraved.

I found me between 15 to 17 years and have been working on Him, Her, and It ever since.

Some people grow up. Some people stay too young at heart. I know some fellows who have a baseline of about 8 years old as they head into their 60’s. I am no better. I have remained a teenager. My baseline is angsty teen. I am in love with being against the Lemmings.

The other day I was hiking down a steep cliff in the woods. I wanted to get down to the furiously rushing river beneath. It was a fenced off area where people aren’t supposed to go. There were all of these deterrents at the top. I saw a fence, some wire, big yellow pointy signs with stick figures in peril. All indicators which translate to, “Try me.”

I carefully climbed down the embankment, strategically choosing each foothold. While I did this some passersby stopped to observe. They too saw my goal of rushing river water down below. Once I safely got to the bottom I sat on a rock to do what my angsty internal teen loves to do. I sat and thought.

As I sat and thought about thinking I eventually heard a screaming panic coming from behind me. The people who were watching at the top were now tumbling downward to the bottom.

“Oh no. My ankle!” The Lemming screamed.

You may better understand me if you were ever fortunate enough to play the Lemmings game on 3.5″ floppy disc (Lemmings © PSYGNOSIS 1991). The computer game where you lead adorably cute piles of green-haired Lemmings to their death off steep cliffs.

I calmly observed the pile of tourists who now lay at the base of the cliff rubbing their ankles and emptying dirt out of their shoes. Battered and bruised they picked themselves back up to complete taking selfies for Instagram.

This is what I am against. They go to work. They go to school. They take selfies. They climb unstrategically. They have no problem dedicating 92.5% of their entire existence to an algebraic equation which has a lot of factors all equaling zero.

This is why I am always sixteen. I do not prescribe to that and I will never accept it as the right thing, even if it is a thing I have to do. I’ll do your thing, but I don’t have to like it.

They accept it and go with the flow. They sign up for adulthood and I run the other way. They buy a V-Neck Shirt while I get a pair of scissors to make my own. They tumble while I strategically climb downward.

My baseline is sixteen. My brain is set to punk. It is the fountain of youth. I love being petty. I adore finding the anger and the angst. To be anti-society and inexcusably horny, with some blended ADHD bipolar youthquake forever brewing against becoming a Normal Lemming. To rage against tumbling down the cliffs of adulthood to their boring lead-lined coffins.

To sit on a rock where I am not allowed to think and think about thinking.

The Artist D's Rushing River, February 2017

The Artist D’s Rushing River, February 2017

Cavemen with Smart Phones

The people of Earth love to sum everything up into a nice neat package called a Year and label it with a number. Then they like to discuss those years like chapters in a book. They like to say 1999 was a good year or they’ll never forget the 80’s.

Every year in recent memory the people say the same thing to me about how terrible their year has been. I’ve observed that it has actually grown exponentially from a personal “bad year” to a group experience. They used to tell me that they had a bad year. The year gave them personal challenges, losses, and there was no fairy bopping them on the head with a magic wand. These days they say we have all had a bad year. In 2016 we lost David Bowie and countless other classics. We have continued to experience senseless mass killings. We are face to face with very specific discriminations. To a lot of folks we are entering the Dark Ages due to electing specific potential Mad Men into the kingdom.

With every year comes along another person to tell me how bad they have had it. Now they come to tell me how bad we have had it. Every year I respond that it’s all about perception and you make of it what you will. I still believe that, but I do have to take a moment to ponder why people continually think it is always and forever getting worse.

The way we treat our lifestyles has changed drastically from the last century to this one. This is sadly the only thing that has changed. The sociopolitical landscape seems to be exactly the same as it has always been. The players get switched out for more of the same and our day to day doldrums remain. It’s more about how we have reconceptualized the way we treat things. And to sound like a complete broken record I believe we can heap the blame all on top of The Internet.

The technology of the 21st Century has drastically altered the way we treat old stuff. Life is like your average cake. The frosting can be exciting and delicious, but eventually underneath it all you will find the same dry lump of baked substance. That’s where we currently are in the 21st Century. Our problems remain the same, but we have changed the way we digest them.

We are basically cavemen with smart phones. We still brush our own teeth in the morning. We elect dangerous people into government positions. We exist in this weak flesh luggage that can give out at any moment. Buried underneath all of this technological advancement sits the same sad fleshy thing that has been there for hundreds of years. We really are born naked and the rest is drag. Clothing and makeup is drag. Flashy cars, enormous houses, and breast implants are drag. Technology is drag!

They tell me that 2016 was a horrible year for everyone. I remain firmly by the defense of perception. This life is what you make of it. Whether you have or you have not. I have turned a cold can of pork and beans into a lavish event for myself. You don’t need a movie when you have a blank wall and an imagination. Life really is what you make of what happens to be laying around. And maybe the key really is you have to be a little bit psycho to get that picture.

Even so, is it really worse than ever? Yes, we did lose David Bowie this year and so many of our classics are dying. But that’s what people do. They die. Yes, we have corruption in the government and people on both sides are all about vying for their own personal wealth and interests. But that’s nothing new. The people felt the same way about Presidents Franklin Pierce, George W Bush, and James Buchanan (all sweeping generalities throughout time). Yes, people keep killing other people for no good reason. But people have certainly always done that!

I watch a lot of old black and white television. I get lost in and romanticize the 1950’s quite often. I see calm and collected people speaking properly to each other. They appeared happy and in control of their lives. However, they were dealing with the Cold War, communism, and other challenges. They too lost legends due to death, some too soon and others right on time. While I am certainly no historian, I can guarantee that if you pick any year out of thousands and spoke with most people they would tell you that they were experiencing “Big Problems.” I bet a lot of them would also tell you that it was “The Worst Year Ever.”

The Internet is to blame because it changes the frosting on the historical cake. Instead of reading your news once a day at arm’s length (literally and figuratively) you get it right up close in the palm of your hand. The news of the world is on your socializing walls. Your friends all talk about it because it’s all in front of your faces all of the damned time. Instead of coming home to the Nightly News you get the daily news. It can ping you on your mobile device at every release of another headline. The news has been readily available and in people’s faces, but now it has seeped into everything. We used to come to The Internet to get away from life, now we live life on the Internet. Our safe havens keep going away.

We used to have safe havens from the current goings on. Life was compartmentalized because we lacked technology. People had to wait for things and that waiting created special moments away from the madness that was history repeating itself. Remember when you had to fax your manuscript to the publisher in New York? Remember how long it took you to create that manuscript on the typewriter before faxing it all? All of that technological lag created safe spaces. For when you waited you found other things to do. You picked up a book and comforted yourself. You came home at night and relaxed, because you didn’t have everything (literally everything) at the tips of your fingers to fill your junkie brain with until you pass out in bed.

The Internet brings closeness and constant awareness to the same problems we have always had. The problems haven’t changed. The way we display those problems has changed. It sheds more light upon them than ever before. Which is what actually really bothers you. Deep down you do realize that the cake is the same and you’re finally pissed off about that. You’re frustrated that we have advanced in our ways of displaying the content, but the content remains the same. The headlines are the same whether it’s a yellowed newspaper from 1945 or a shiny tablet from 2016!

It’s just like me always telling you that it’s a shame we all still have to go to work every day. It’s also a shame that we still have to go to war. It’s a shame that we have advanced so far and yet we haven’t overcome death. These things people have always taken as part of the story. You work, pay taxes, and then you die. We’re swimming in advancement and yet the mass populace still thinks they have to work, pay taxes, and die. Silly humans …

You’ll never get over the hump until you begin to understand why you are so angry at each passing year. It’s not getting worse, it’s getting the same. We either perceive to take it as is or collectively change it. That’s why I dabble in the arts of perception. I’d rather control my own perception instead of attempt to change everybody else’s. I know that reworking the basic life and social concepts of 7 billion Earthlings is just a touch outside of my capacity.

Originally published on TGForum.com, December 2016.

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The Artist D, December 2016

Never Good at Goodbyes

Life is a forever mutating piece of work. It’s no wonder people get caught droning along in an inescapable pattern. It’s easy to become a slave to it once you realize that things outside of the pattern are swirling like mud in space. The people of Earth love a good template to follow so things feel better on the inside. It’s the birth, education, marriage, career, and retirement model that most people sign up for. This paints lives with a broad brush while giving humans just a tiny bit of push and shove to make them still feel accomplished.

If you remove the normal templates it is easy to see chaos theory in action. I’ve always enjoyed playing many parts within this one and only life I am lucky enough to live. On the stage of life mine must look like a Cher concert with a new costume change with each and every song! I’ve always moved from one thing to another as quick as possible in order to cram another experience in. A lot of these shifts have been subtle, but most of them have been drastic and heartbreaking.

It’s important to never let heartbreak get in the way of important changes to continue your journey. It’s more important to never stop yourself from making a heartbreaking decision just because it’s heartbreaking. That’s where people being people get all tied up in minutia. It’s very hard to tell your family that you will leave them and go on your own way. It’s very hard to leave a marriage, even if you weren’t having all that much fun, because it’s leaving the comfort of a known construct. We get extremely used to the holes we dig ourselves into and even unhappiness becomes a familiar addiction to continue.

Life acts like ocean waves. It will bring things to you and pull things away from you. It will push you here and there. Sometimes the more you fight the more you get pulled under. Other times the waves will be tsunamic and the flow of the universe will make all of the drastic decisions for you.

Death is one of life’s natural decision makers. Death is the pinnacle of loss and separation. If you thought leaving home broke your heart or signing the divorce papers ripped a hole through your house, all those things become so less permanent when death washes into your harbor. It is as great of an equalizer as all of those poets said it was. No matter who you are and how well you ramble along, sooner or later your path and the path of all those connected to you will be drastically altered by death.

It is how we live with death that makes all of the difference when it comes to it. Are we to let tsunamis destroy us or just shift us out to sea for another round of adventure? Since I cannot explain death or understand how it really even fits, I take it as a natural wave of loss that swirls around and eventually moves everyone along. I take death and group it in with all of the other heart-wrenching loss changes which comes with every move we make. Since that is all very natural I can’t say change is bad and therefore I continue to change my costume with every song.

I’ve lost many young and old friends to death. I’ve lost a lot more to lethargy and lack of communication. Change brings sadness to many mammals. It’s a baby creature being pushed out of the tree and forced to go build its own nest. It cries. It mopes! It builds its nest and gets over it. Just as much as it’s a human creature deciding to do whatever it is they feel they need to do to fulfill what they think is life. Change is important and all of those tears of separation are perfectly fine.

It’s the moment you realize that drastic change is unavoidable whether you sit in the same spot or move frantically from chapter to chapter. Change will happen no matter how much you lift the drawbridge and fill the mote with alligators. And if changes haunt like the Reaper then maybe you would rather make some tough calls and live the life you have. Step out and swallow the changes you can make instead of sitting in fear holding tightly on to your tradition, your template and your familiarities.

The Artist D, July 2014

The Artist D, July 2014