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I decided the music = the Force.
Some days the music is the invisible thing that binds the universe together. Those are nice days.
Then there are days like today where I’m struggling, change the station, and then I’m all “Yessss, let the loud angry music flow through you. Now you feel the power of the dark siiiiiiiiide.” as I cross off items off my list and chug black coffee.
When I was growing up, 2015 one of the many dates plucked out of the aether as ‘the future’. When writers and artists imagined the day after tomorrow, this is when it happened. Technologies that changed mankind almost beyond recognition. Travel to the stars and then beyond.
The fever dreams of the generations before are still alive today and getting odder and more interesting as we time travel the old fashioned and patient way.
If I have to grow old and gray to see the future, I’m willing, but deep down I see the future that could be, that should be. As human and strange as can be, but real nonetheless.
Insert Monty Python reference here.
I have been thinking about this post over at Metafilter on creative types who start late in life. (Mefi is just about the last place where I still RTFA) In a way, I find this reassuring and in a way I feel like it’s just false hope for people like me who failed to “live up to their potential.”
Man, if I could go back in time I don’t know if I’d start with gob-smacking all the well meaning gifted & talented teachers or with trying to get some basics through my own thick skull about the difference between talent (innate and unlearned) and craft (a product of hard work and dedication and study).
Like so many other people I know, I was told I was special and that I would go on to do amazing things. Not that I could if I worked very hard and wanted it bad enough, just that it would happen. No one put a map in my hands and told me to pack for a looong hike. And I get it. Things changed so drastically between me being 6 and me being 26. How could anyone really give advice? But in hindsight, certain virtues will always be valuable. I’ve learned how to harness my gifts and yoke them beside my skills over the years and I make a pretty decent living today.
But don’t get me started on writing. I had a vague plan of going to school for either Creative Writing or programming or both and then writing amazing stories, making mind-blowing video games, or both. And my life happened. I had a son, I got some rejection letters, I learned that programming and storytelling both needed something more than talent and ambition. I bounced around a while, finished my degree, started working in IT and finally figured out some things about myself and the missing ingredients for success.
When I was young, like late single digits, I figured out that we could all die, that everything could just… go away. I don’t remember the exact trigger for this realization, but it stuck with me. Death, as a fact and as a bogeyman, has been a persistent and present figure in my life. Dead Poets Society and the many notable poets who lived brief but incandescent lives got into me as I read and studied. They got it. They understood that we were all going to die, probably sooner rather than later, and if you didn’t grab every moment, push the throttle to the redline, jump off every cliff, then you’ve wasted immeasurable gifts.
Now here I am, a year shy of 40, second son on my lap wiggling like a fool as I type one-handed. Still alive.
Everything in my gut when I was young told me that I would be dead (or at least dead inside) by now. I had to produce my great works before my time was up. Except I really didn’t know how and couldn’t figure it out. So I wrote and drew and failed and gave up.
Except I didn’t, not really. I moved on. I worked, raised a son, fell in love, moved north, traveled, and watched the world go on. And still inside I felt like there were stories that wanted to be shared. I gained a little wisdom and a lot of patience as I lost freedom and free time. I undertook creative journeys that were abortive and doomed from the start. But the lessons I learned stayed with me as I moved on to the next project.
So here I am. Nearly forty. A dad twice over. Gray coming in. Belly permanently a little bigger than it should be. Back and knees aching just a little more than I’m comfortable with. And I’m finally starting to feel like I grasp the basics of storytelling well enough to start my journey. I probably won’t have anything worth printing for years, and yet I’m a little excited by the prospect. Maybe it will never come together, gel into the project that I can see clearly in my mind but so rarely translates into a document that others can see and experience.
And yet, if it does not, does that matter? Am I running to win a race? Or am I continually competing against my own best time? No other person can tell the stories that I can tell, so no other person could possibly do it better. So my only imperative is to do the best that I am able and hope that I find satisfaction with a job well done at last.
Just some recent photos on Flickr. I snap a lot of shots, but most are really only interesting to me and sometimes the family. My more interesting stuff ends up here sooner or later.
Lately I’ve been focusing more on post-processing. Not just how to render a faithful image, but how to convey something with use of color and light. I have a long way to go. I’ve been shooting for a little over a year now, and I’m just starting to feel like I’m getting past the surface.