My life happens first and my art imitates it. That’s the usual way. What I experience becomes my authority in what I bring across on stage, in a scene, a song, a mood, emotion, sentiment, argument.
I admit I’m an adventurer, happier on the edge than in the center. Yet anchored in the center with at least one foot, or even just one finger….tip. In waves, with my whole body. That’s usually after I’ve been out exploring and, like a satisfied cat, am back in a sun-soaked window licking myself. My fur, of course. My surfaces.
My sun sign is in an earth planet, and all the other dominant aspects are in fire signs. It isn’t always easy or practical – these opposites and their eternal tugging – but it makes for me better art than were I simply grounded or simply restless. Actually, I was painfully shy as a kid, as a young immigrant freshly off the boat (or in my case plane, as my Dad was an airline man), but that’s another entry.
What I want to write about is this subject of life happening first… scary life some days…
I was deep into my upcoming album project yesterday, writing a lot and in a self-imposed exile. After dinner RM and I were noodling away at our respective noodles when he suddenly let out a gasp and “Oh God.” Something about Boston. Explosions. The marathon. The marathon? Are they kidding?! I broke from my writing and Googled Boston and there it was…a new story about mayhem and terror and injuries and death in a place where people are running. Running. Sporting. Competing…with themselves. Lots and lots of people. No, I had no desire to watch the gory details and have them playing in my head at sleeping time. I turned my machines off.
Now it is morning. I have not opened myself to it – the unfathomable, inexplicable, horrible to which we are all witness and vulnerable, we fear, and on some level, implicate. Events like this color a day, a week, a month, a lifetime. We artists are sponges after all. We feed on this stuff. Six years after my Off-Broadway success with a piece called Little Death, I’m creating the next chapter in its life. I live with this project. I breathe it in and out. Destruction is one of its many themes. But this morning, life happening first is too much for my art. Too external. Too violent.
I am building a shield around myself for as long as I can…for certainly it is dominating the news now as such things do and have only too recently done in a town not far away.
It pisses me off. Another group of people mowed down in their innocence. People passionate about running are innocent. They’re alive with running and with what’s running them. The people watching are innocent. They’re passionate about watching running, or watching movies. In the throes of our passions we’re unguarded. We’re vulnerable. We’re children. Does that go for the bomb-makers too?
Last night someone on Facebook wrote…”I love Boston, now I can’t trust it anymore.” I left a comment:”If you give away your trust, they’ve won.”
I feel this morning a giant NO. No, I will not turn to this. No, I will not distract myself with it, fall off my writing streak, my creativity, my creation. For then you have power over me…you tiny and frightened and miserable souls with your desperate pleas for attention. You are not animals. Animals don’t do this to each other. No living thing in this world takes from it what a human is so capable of taking.
This is all I’m permitting on the subject. A blog entry on how to erect a wall. A wall around myself to protect my innocence and inspirations which come from who knows where but someplace good. I am in the business of breaking walls down not building them up and in that way, you takers have won. For the moment.
But I set the tone here. The choice is mine of how much I give away and how much I retain. Today I stay with art and life will content itself with imitation.
Later I will visit Lenny’s grave just over in Greenwood. Kindred spirit. Good for the soul. The highest point in Brooklyn is near where he rests and from where you could have watched New York burning 12 years ago.
“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.” – Leonard Bernstein
Postscript: Bomb-maker – I call you tiny, frightened, miserable and desperate in your plea for attention. Not very nice of me, is it. For all I know you are passionate about what you do and believe your inspiration comes from some good place too. In my heart I know that you and I are neighbors and that railing against you is railing against myself. That the impulse in me to diminish you is a tiny seed compared to the full-blown jungle who’ve created, but it’s the same impulse nonetheless. To the soil all seeds are the same. Nobody knows until one breaks through the crust of the earth what kind of thing it is and whether it will bloom by day or by night. You and I each exercise our passion according to our cherished beliefs, but here’s the thing: In my world, nobody has to die so I can be heard.