do things that give you joy, but don’t do them too much.

I’ve been playing in a Misfits cover band for a while now, and I love it. We don’t practice very often, only once every two weeks or so, and I think that’s part of why it continues to be so fun even after many months — if we were practicing like a serious band, for hours on end a few times a week, we’d be sick of the songs, sick of each other, sick of the time commitment. It would ruin the whole thing. But by only doing it every now and then, it stays fresh to us. It’s a dandy thing.

What’s even dandier is that there is a double whammy effect to this project staying fun: when people love what they do, that thing they are doing is injected with an energy and vibrancy that is difficult to quantify yet is easily felt by anyone who isn’t a complete clod. This element is actually one of the primary things I look for in art: does it feel like the artist is being honest? Does it feel like they are truly passionate about this thing they created? Does this art convey a joy that the artist experienced during its creation? That’s the shit I seek.

And I think our cover band has that — we don’t practice a lot, so it’s fun, and because it’s fun, our performances are infused with this intangible yet critical element. A good example is that there was a song that we played in a previous incarnation of the band but we axed it from the set because it didn’t feel good at the time. It felt limp, it lacked conviction. But then the band changed a few members and one of the new members really wanted to perform that song so we gave it another shot, and guess what. Now that song works — it has the conviction and energy that it was missing before. One guy loved the song, his enthusiasm infected the rest of us and affected our individual performances, and then those individual performances combined to create a unified, inspired thing. All the song needed to kick ass was some good vibes infused into it. Crazy.

The lesson here is clear: do what you love and don’t overdo it.

Advertisements

i think my friends and i are getting better with age

When I was a teenager, I pretty much hated most of my friend’s choices of girlfriends and boyfriends. I didn’t understand what my friends saw in their partners. Some of them were weird, some were gross, some were stupid, some were basket cases; by and large, they sucked.

I was no exception. I attempted to bring some odd ducks into our fold, and it rarely went well. Usually the gang would tolerate my gf until we split up, then they’d tell me what they had thought of her. It wasn’t usually kind.

But you know what? They were right. Most of my gf’s were wack. And I was right when I didn’t like their partners either. Because when we were young, we were dumb, naive, inexperienced. We were easily infatuated, we weren’t critical of the people we dated. If there was even a hint of mutual attraction, that was usually enough. Sometimes one-sided attraction was enough, if we were desperately insecure and just seeking the approval of someone, anyone. Yep, we just had terribly low standards back then, and most of our partners sucked.

I actually believed it would always be like that. I thought the partners of my friends would always be intolerable wedges driven between us, gremlins trying to sabotage the fine machinery of our friendships.

bugs-gremlin

I loved that gremlin guy when I was a kid. I still think he’s cute.

Thank heavens, I was wrong. Once we hit our 20’s, most of us became a bit more discerning in our choice of partners. Slowly but surely, I began to genuinely like more and more of may pals’ significant others. It was quite a welcomed change. It’s even reached a point now where my friend’s partners are so good that their pals are worth knowing. That opens up entirely new friend circles and social scenes.

I find it all pretty amazing. It makes me proud of how my friends and I have grown as people, and happy that a byproduct of that is meeting even more good people. There are many aspects of aging that suck but becoming smarter, more confident people who attract other smart, confident people isn’t one of them.

i want everyone and everything that has been a part of my life to know how much i appreciate their role in it

tonight i was on a run when i got a song by testament stuck in my head. i don’t like the song now, it was just something i was into when i was in junior high and have long since outgrown. i haven’t even thought about it in many years. anyway, the song reminded me of being 14, my first girlfriend, and how i felt in general back then. there have been so many poignant feelings throughout my life that i still remember vividly, and testament and my first girlfriend were certainly the catalysts for a lot of those feelings when i was 14. while i no longer have any love for or interest in testament or that girlfriend, i can absolutely appreciate how they influenced me then, and how those influences reverberate through my life even now. for that influence, i am grateful beyond words. i piss and moan more than the average dimwit but i’m actually remarkably content, often even overflowing with love for the world, the universe, life, death, and everything else. and when i overflow with joy, i have to acknowledge that i could not have reached this wondrous moment without all of the experiences that have lead me to now.

i wish i could reach out to everyone that has influenced me and let them know how grateful i am to them.

maybe i already am though.

in love with the loveless, in tune with the tuneless, yet again. it’s a thing lately.

in love with the loveless. in tune with the tuneless.

for some time now, maybe 6 months or so, i’ve been feeling hyper emotional. and only in a good way too — i’ve been more touched by nice things than usual, but i have not screamed at jenn and then sobbed when she leaves a dirty dish in the sink. it’s pretty great.

i think it has to do with how much i’ve been thinking about the whole ‘we are stardust’ thing. incidentally, there must be a better name for this idea. that idea being we and everything we know is made of particles that have been recycled for aeons, which means you and i and everything else is, at some tiny level, comprised of things that have been other people, animals, plants, mountains, stars, clouds, planets, etc. i think it’s fascinating.

from there, it’s easy to start asking yourself all kinds of crazy philosophical questions. like, if we are all made from the same stuff, does that make all humans brethren in some way? does it makes us brethren with everything in the world, the cosmos? does it make us all one extended being? if that’s the case, what does it mean when we can’t get along with other people or the world around us? it really gets me thinking.

but regardless of where my imagination wanders with this train of thought, i always end up feeling far more connected to vast, incredible things, and i like that feeling. it’s a feeling of contentment, belonging — i want to use the word joy but don’t like its connotations of smiling idiocy. when i use that word, i mean it in a more serene, collected way. so there it is — yes, even joy.

and that feeling usually reminds me of an old divine comedy song where neil hannon describes a young ballerina being “in love with the loveless, in tune with the tuneless.” i don’t know what he means with that line but i know that for me, it captures the way that i feel when i am hit by those waves of contentment, belonging, and even…ugh…

…joy.

 

on amy grant and the subversive powers of nostalgia

i’ve touched on here before about how much i like amy grant. i want to talk about that some more now.

when i hear old amy grant tunes like baby baby, every heartbeat, that’s what love is for, and good for me, i feel awesome. it’s not just the superb pop songwriting, charming vocals, and oh-so-80’s-but-not-ridiculous production, though. part of the appeal is that it reminds me of being a kid — an 11 year old kid, to be precise.

(yup, i’ve posted this video on my blog before and i know that’s lame but i don’t care. it’s one of my favourite songs of all time and i think it deserves more careful consideration. so check it out again and enlighten your dumb selves, you clods. pay special attention to the synth solo that starts at 2:22 and the chord progression behind it. they’re fascinating, especially in the context of a massive pop hit.)

tonight i got to wondering why this particular nostalgia feels so good to me, what is so special about that period of my life. i realized that this song, and amy grant in general, reminds me of my grade 5 crush on diane lamoureux. sure, that’s a pleasant memory, but let’s go deeper — why is that crush such a pleasant memory?

i think there are a few factors at play here but the most important are these: first, in my ignorant 11 year old imagination, i pictured diane and myself together in perfect harmony, and with that, everything would be right in the world. we’d be happy and do fun stuff together and hold hands and every day would be a sunny summer vacation. i pictured it being 100% bliss, and i believed it really might happen like that. like a lot of other 11 year olds, i wasn’t aware of the fact that relationships are hell: there are arguments, deception, disillusionment — normal relationship stuff that every adult is innately conscious of. i had a hyper-simplified, delusional impression of what love and relationships were like. but you know what? though my impression of how things would go was deeply flawed, it felt amazing. it was pure ecstasy to think of what might be between diane and me.

the other important factor is that nothing ever ruined my fantasy. she never told me i smelled bad or that she didn’t like me that way, i never saw her hold hands with someone else and break my heart. the school year simply ended, we went our separate ways, i never saw her again, and i more or less forgot about her. it was the perfect ending, like something out of the wonder years.

longform-original-14285-1416531095-3

one of my fave stories of the whole series, actually.

in a nutshell, my crush on diane lamoureux was the perfect childhood crush. and now that i have more life experience and know love isn’t like i envisioned it as a kid, it’s impossible for me to recapture the incredible, innocent joy that crush gave me…until i listen to amy grant, that is. then the grade 5 feeling comes flooding back, and it feels just as good now as it did then.

and that’s why i think i have such a strong reaction to ms. grant’s old pop songs. yup, they’re genuinely fantastic and deserving of much praise all on their own, but when you couple that stuff with the inimitable, blissful ignorance of young love, they conjure up a feeling that is well nigh impossible to beat.

i love digging, getting to know myself better.

mick-stevens-man-lying-on-psychiatrist-s-couch-looks-up-at-diploma-on-wall-institute-cartoon_a-l-9176144-8736194

hello me, meet the real me.

for the record, i don’t even know how well i knew diane lamoureux. i can’t remember if we hung out or even talked much, and i have no reason to believe she reciprocated my fondness at all. i think the whole romance was very likely nothing more than a fantasy within my tiny 11 year old mind. not that it matters. my recollection of it still feels good and that’s what counts.

the wrap

well, festivus has come and gone. so has xmas. and now we are in the tense period between xmas and new years eve, a weird time that feels kind of like an extended holiday even though everyone is back to work and stores are open for their regular hours. and i feel appropriately tense and weird.

festivus was wonderful. i was so overwhelmed with joy that the next day, i wanted to reach out to everyone i saw the night before and tell them all how much i love and appreciate them. this song came on out of nowhere at the very end of festivus and became a perfect soundtrack to my giddy over-stimulation.

jenn and i slept in late the following day and then spent the afternoon and xmas eve with her parents at their place. it snowed while we walked on the beach, which is no small feat in maple bay. my holiday high continued.

xmas morning was lovely too. i made breakfast for jenn and i, we unwrapped our presents to each other, and we dog walked with matt and chant. it was all one can hope for from xmas. i worked that night, which turned out to be the boiling point for my hatred for my employer but that’s a boring story not worth sharing here, and luckily, hasn’t really affected how i’m feeling now.

what will new years eve hold? will it measure up to the rest of this holiday season? no one knows but i’m still feeling a bit giddy, and looking forward to whatever the night ends up bringing.

chaossymbol

although i’m hoping for complete and utter chaos, naturally.

let’s do something together apart

there’s an old couple i often see in my neighbourhood. they go for walks together a lot but they are always at least 20 ft apart. i don’t think i’ve ever seen them within what i consider a ‘normal’ couple range, and i don’t understand what the hell they’re doing. do they hate each other? does one simply walk faster or slower than the other? do they ever talk about why they do this, or how weird it is? why not go for walks on their own instead of perpetuating this twisted charade?

walking_too_fast_by_tomato39-d5fdody

it’s a grim day when a piece of shit like this is the best image i can find to illustrate my point. maybe i need to take a sabbatical.

i’m fascinated/horrified by this couple because i think they probably loathe each other’s company and only go for walks together out of some awful sense of obligation. i hope i’m wrong but if i had to bet on it, that’s what i’d put money on.

and just this last week, i saw something similar but even more sad. it was another old couple going for a walk far apart from each other, but the lady looked deathly ill — she was emaciated, frail, pale, and used a few canes to steady herself. it looked like she is probably dying of cancer, and not far from the end. she was trailing well behind her partner who appeared to have no time to wait for such a poor, wretched creature. he was up ahead and looked annoyed.

the first example bothers me but the second example REALLY bothers me. i know i can be a miserable bastard much of the time but i’m pretty confident i won’t ever walk a good 25 ft ahead of jenn, even if she is sick as fuck and i want to get the damn walk over with so i can get back to judge judy or whatever it is these old pricks are in such a hurry for. call me a dandy but i actually like walking with my wife. i even like holding her hand, despite her repeated protests.

call me a militant romantic, i suppose.