New Beginnings: Taking 2018 by Force

I’m a very different person than I was five years ago.

I spent the final days of 2017 wrapped in a quilt of quiet introspection, pondering over the stitched-together squares of the man I was, the man I’m becoming with the encroaching drums of a milestone 40th birthday tolling like dark bells along the steamy horizon, and the checkerboard journey between it all. Once upon a time I read film blogs like No Film School and Film Courage. Now I peruse articles from Tricycle. Long ago I had opinions hardened like clay about what film was, what constituted art, what the meaning of a good life was. Now, with those opinions shattered, I record daily inspirational videos on Instagram and RT @ZENandTAO regularly.

Renew Yourself

I moisturize my face with fancy face balm made locally here in New Jersey. I do this 1990s ab workout every day. (“These exercises are safe, effective, and fun.”) Every. Day. I don’t lament the loss of my hair at the back of my skull where my father lost his, and his father before him, I simply have a lot of fedoras to choose from.

I do yoga. I meditate. I collect art primarily from a single artist.

Enough said.

Because this is not a confession.

Like the bulk of the rest of the world, I’ve softened up. This is not necessarily a bad thing, or a good thing. And from a Taoist perspective, this is the Way to truly Be: “Bend but don’t break,” says the Tao Te Ching. “Be flexible yet firmly rooted.” Well, I seem to have lost sight of that second bit.

See, I’ve become complacent with all that I have. Grateful, but silent. Pensive, yet silent still, and seldom openly vocal about anything that might matter to me deep down in my core. But over the past few months, there’s been an awakening within me. I can hear the sparks struggling to rekindle and flicker back to life like one of those wood wick candles cracking the matterless air around it, wanting to explode. No matter how much a person tries to ignore what’s going on in the world, there’s a heat that swells up in even the most relaxed and silent parts of us. In short, I’m emerging from a hibernation. Someone has reawakened deep inside me, though even he is not the same person I’d subconsciously packed away in the pit of my being five years ago.

And he hungers and has a lot to say about his time at rest in the belly of this whale of my own beaching, dreaming up, as Eddie Vedder once said, “a new self, for himself.”

Once you reawaken (or re-woke, I guess, to use the more modern equivalent, you emerge a little less than who you once were, but possess the potential to be something even greater than you ever might have imagined. You’re uncertain of your footing, insecure of abilities you once took for granted, and your surroundings, no matter how many times you’ve stepped into that shower or turned off that light to lay down and sleep, appears unfamiliar, even if only superficially.

It takes training to get one back to her or his fighting weight, and that’s about where I’m at now. This first blog post of 2018 is evidence of this. Case in point: only a few years ago, I used to blog a lot more than I do now. Compare my output in 2010 –– a brain-boggling thirty blog posts! –– to that of, say, 2016’s five and 2017’s pathetic coughing out of three posts, one of which was simply an announcement. Granted, I had much more time back in 2010 than I did over the past two years, but this is simply an excuse. A writer must write! And this year, there will be blogs published. Probably not thirty of them, but definitely more than three, even if only to clear my own head of the clutter that meditation sometimes leaves behind in the crevices of my mind where the darker thoughts dwell. But mainly, I’ll be writing blog posts to train myself to be more confident with the work that I put out to you, be it a blog post, new poetry, a short film, or any other creative manifestations of my spirit. I want to give you the best, and to do that, I must get through the worst.

And I’ll give that to you as well, and take you along on that journey with me, show you the process and my progress. I’ve been thinking a lot about the society we’re creating through technology and social media, and I see the positive with the negative of it all. Sometimes it feels as though no one’s ever seen a single Terminator film or the countless other movies out there that portray us as the creators of our own downfall and eventual destruction. It starts innocently enough: we ask Alexa to play that hipster song with the whistling, and she knows which song we mean. It starts to feel as though she knows us. And she does, perhaps better than we know ourselves. But we’ve provided her with the means to manipulate us since the moment we signed up for an email account. And then there’s one-time phone calls for birthdays and new year’s best wishes becoming quick text messages to ultimately being a single post on our Facebook walls. Human connection slowly becoming a thing of myth and wonder, and nothing more.

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This here –– what you just read? That’s part of the process. My process. Our journey. Together. This is the sort of thing I think about on the reg, aside from the fact that it still irks me two seconds later that I didn’t finish writing out the word “regular” and instead chose to write out the more popular phrase “on the reg.” One is quite meaningless. The other, quite the opposite. These are some of the new themes I’m looking to explore further in my own writings, mainly in my poetry and my next short film Every Breath I Take (working title), which takes place in the near future and examines how our own dependency to technology and data can be our undoing.

Okay, this is a confession: I’m afraid. Not of the future. Not of the Trump idiocracy. Not of losing a job, my friends, or a piece of sanity. I’m afraid of this insecurity that I feel in a world where everyone gets a pat on the back for just attempting to do something bigger than themselves. Where first place gets us just as shiny a trophy as 50th place. Nowadays, people exude confidence because they feel they are entitled to it. They will not be booed off a stage because booing someone is the same as bullying them, and we don’t tolerate that here. Now.

But how will we ever learn to grow from adversity? To fight for what’s right and not simply stand in the streets on a cold night and protest an executive order? How will we  learn that sometimes it’s okay to Malcolm X your way through life instead of sitting idly by and accepting what you think you deserve, even if you deserve less. Or more.

When I recharge my batteries to 100%, world, you’d better watch the fuck out and get outa my Path. I’m coming for you, full speed ahead!

*      *     *     *     *

So, I confessed to you –– now it’s your turn: what are you afraid of? Oh, c’mon, now! It took me a lot to openly admit all of the above in a blog post –– probably not the best way to start off a new year. But it is a start. Chime in, folks!

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