Happy New…Can I Still Say That?
Six days into 2016 and homeboy comes bustin' out with "Happy New Year" like it's a novel thing to say at this point. I know, I know. But isn't there some kind of statute of limitations on how much time has passed before you start looking like a dork with ravings of "Happy New Year"? Isn't it like the whole thing with wearing white and Labor Day? And notice that I didn't state whether it was before or after Labor Day because I really don't know and am honestly too lazy to look it up.
"Lazy" isn't the right word. "Tired of looking at a computer screen" is the phrase that's slithering across my frontal lobe, but it's been a productive few days here at Casa de Milagro. That whole "out with the old and in with the new" thing has been taken severely to heart and it's been my mission, even since before New Year's Eve, to radically, and literally, clean house to make room for the promise of 2016. As you may recall from my previous blog, I've made a decision to make sweeping changes in how I conduct day-to-day life and many of those changes have already taken effect. I'm spending less time on Facebook, routing pictures of interest and personal comments to other social media (in the grand scheme of things, it's all still pretty important for an artist to have that "presence") and working very hard at streamlining things here at the studio. From my way-back days as a member of Campus Life, I took with me the concept of the four areas of life that require constant attention and maintenance; social, physical, mental and spiritual. I still divide my time between those four regions, though not as equally as I would like. One of the things I've planned to do this year is re-focus myself so that all four areas receive the same amount of nurturing and care. Here's how I'm working on it.
For me, this involves contact with people, whether in-person or online and I strive each day to be available and present in the lives of others. In order to not lose touch, I've had to redistribute the time that I spend on some things and re-apply that time in other places. It can't be all business, all the time. Today, I hunkered down over my absolutely disgustingly cluttered e-mail box and went to town, answering unanswered e-mails, getting back with folks, deleting well-meaning-but-still-as-yet-unused folders, filing and organizing topics and, thanks to Yahoo Themes, making my inbox look prettier. You know. It's the little things. I felt like Zelda Rubinstein in "Poltergeist" when I had finally seen the rare sight of a completely empty inbox. "This house is clean." Of course, we all know how well that worked out. Hopefully, in the area of social interaction, especially online, I'll fare a lot better and not have any corpses bobbing about in my swimming pool.
I'm usually in pretty decent shape, but when I go on tour, the workouts diminish and the ingestion of Mexican food ramps up to fever pitch (not to mention copious amounts of gigante' margaritas.) I leave home fit and come home looking like the Pilsbury Doughboy. When I got back from fall tour, I weighed in at 189 pounds and decided that I needed a complete rehaul of my lifestyle expectations. So, even as Jae and I went on vacation, I was watching what I ate, difficult to do when you're going to so many "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" locations, and working out as often as I could. That trend has continued through the holidays and up to the present where I've managed to shed 17.2 pounds over the course of two months. Saying "no" to pumpkin pie and that extra serving of egg nog was tough, but it's paying off and I feel fantastic. Weight Watchers has been the plan I've used for a while now and it works when you stick to the plan. They recently changed their science, much to the horror of longtime plan users, and it's really even better than before. Protein, fruits and veggies are lower in points while sugar, fats and carbs are higher. There's really no way around it - eating like a rabbit is better for you and if you have patience, you can still suck on chocolate and not feel guilty about it. I suck on chocolate a lot. Just smaller pieces. I also started using a Fitbit Flex, which ties right into the Weight Watchers phone app and helps motivate me to keep moving. Then, Jae got me an Apple Watch for Christmas and though I wasn't impressed enough to want one when they first came out, I can now totally see why people have been raving about it. It actually pokes you and tells you to get your entire ass up and moving around. Nothing like being bossed around by technology.
Yes, some would say I'm completely mental and they wouldn't be too far from the truth. Without going into gory details, there's a history of conditions in my bloodline and I've dealt with the goofy rigors of ADHD since I was a kid. I decided to go back and start seeing someone to help me sort through whatever else is rattling around up there. As Laurie Anderson says, "half of the problem is seeing the problem and only an EXPERT can deal with the problem." Who that expert is may differ depending on what you ultimately believe, but studied folks more wise than I are better at this sort of thing, plus they have papers on their walls in frames proving that they did the work. Many believe that ADHD sufferers develop Obsessive Compulsive Disorder late in life and it certainly shows signs of living here lately. It's not terribly annoying, but I didn't used to care much. Now, as Joy says about Anger in the awesome film "Inside Out", I "care very deeply" about the stuff that I didn't use to care very deeply about. Like eggs in cartons and crooked pictures and the placement of glasses on a table. Watch me set up my merch table sometime. I'm like a savant. Watch me stand near someone else's merch table. Stephen Seifert be like, "dude, stop rearranging my stuff."
There's other stuff percolating upstairs, some of it scares me, which is why I'm going to get shrunk. I do know one thing: music keeps me sane and high-functioning. I think I'd truly be dead without it (and God's grace.)
Speaking of God; there's that. Or is it That? People are funny about religion but I've always maintained that religion is just man's attempt to be holy. I don't think God cares about religion as much as He cares (very deeply) about us not hurting and killing each other all the time and, of course, spirituality. I don't talk about it much because that's my conviction. When asked, I'll spill. But you start talking about things of the spirit and it becomes a very divisive thing, which is totally ridiculous, like politics and sports. I avoid conversations or voluntary utterances about all three taboo topics just to keep things chill whenever I'm in a public forum. I will say this, though. Running my own business in a supremely purpose-driven life keeps me zipping so much that I've neglected to chill out, be still and maintain a proper attitude of prayer about things. I need to dial it down, slow it a tad, breath deep, tune out of the world and into the Divine more often than I have in recent years. I wrote and directed a short film called "Meds" back in 2002 and the first line of the film is spoken by a character whose loyalties are seemingly "this" before they suddenly reveal themselves to be "that." She says, "it was explained to me once that we're not humans trying to live a spiritual life. More like spirits trying to live a human life." Or, as Peter Gabriel sings in "I Grieve":
"it's just the car that we ride in
a home we reside in
the face that we hide in
the way we are tied in"
"did I dream this belief
or did I believe this dream?"
Again, if you wanna know what I believe; ask. If you don't, I'm cool with that, too. We've all got jobs to do on this planet, in this galaxy, in this universe and mine just happens to be based around 12 chromatic notes. I stick to the job and let other people stick to theirs. Man, if we could all do that, we'd get along so much better.
It's been a very busy six days, cleaning house in all departments, especially the one that I live in. I've thrown out more stuff. Just decluttering. I'm sure the garbage men all hate me now, but tons of crap laying around in plain sight is not only unsightly but it's just not good for your head. City dwellers already have so much to deal with, from noise, air and light pollution to bad city water and electromagnetic fields and power lines every which way. No wonder all the country folks think we're crazy. They're right. All of that stuff is scientifically proven to degrade your quality of life, so I'm doing what I can with what I have and chucking what I have with all I can. I want to be free to engage with people, a true gift when we can meet together and find common ground; I want to be lighter on my feet and in better health; I desire to be mentally sound or at least mentally aware so that I can fake it till I make it; and I want to dwell within the Divine because, after all, that's why I'm here on this rock. There's no point in letting the signal to noise ratio get out of whack. I find inspiration in the artists who have spoken the Truth more often than not and so I close with another Peter Gabriel quote that really sums up my daily mantra and I hope it speaks to you, too.
"and in this place, can you reassure me
with a touch, a smile, while the cradle's burning?
All the while the world is turning to noise
oh, the more that it's surrounding us
the more that it destroys
turn up the signal
wipe out the noise."