Success

Wee hours.

I just want to feel that the blogging I do is worthy and worthwhile. My sister thinks I ought to have a job that earns money for my sense of self esteem. She doesn’t understand the value of writing, its utility, its beauty: its indispensability. I don’t want a pedestrian job that goes nowhere. Sometimes it seems that nothing I do leads to fruition and this thing called success. But the definition of success is relative to each individual. If I were to attain a degree of fame or notoriety by my writing then I’d count myself a successful man. The naysaying from my sister may serve to motivate me a bit more: it drives me to defy her and her small minded opinions. I remember now how I felt toward the family at the start of my recovery, my reasons for blogging versus Facebook and for deactivating my Facebook account… Never allow other people to shame you into or out of anything. Don’t feel guilty when your values clash with theirs. Be proud of who you are and what you do. What others may see as foolish idealism is your winning lottery ticket. Their pragmatism is only proof of their blindness. Let them grub for transitory things. We have more important things to accomplish. 

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Seven thirty.

The air has cleared of the smoke somewhat since yesterday. Also yesterday, I did some reading work on Percy Bysshe Shelley for an understanding of his rejection of Christianity, although he admired the Greeks, and he still believed in a certain Power coeternal with nature. I was about to read Alastor again. But I think Shelley was kind of dumb to multiply entities in his view of the world. If phenomena can be explained solely by physics then what do we need the spirit for? I knew a friend who used to say, “Something’s keeping my heart beating.” And I told him it was his nervous system and the AV nodes of his heart, and it was all physical. Of course, I played the devil’s advocate with him; my bad. He told me that I was fucked if I wanted to stay sober. For a while, I fulfilled his prophecy, almost as if to make him happy. It came to a point where it didn’t matter whom I was pleasing. Everything was different when it became a life and death decision. Then it was just me and the booze; no one else counted. And that’s what I have to remember when those AA’s get in my face these days, telling me I’m going to relapse and what not. What they say says more about themselves than about me. And tomorrow is my anniversary no matter what people say. Now it’s my turn to say someone is fucked. 

Once and Future

Eleven ten.

Lose one, gain one. I looked for an old copy of Stephen Crane but could find it nowhere in the house, so I concluded that I gave it away to a friend and later forgot it. In the process of searching, I found an Ian Fleming book I thought was lost. From Russia with Love was a novel I read forty years ago in the summer, and then my mother decided to reread it as well. After that, she revisited the whole series of James Bond, leaving me in the dust. The last Fleming I finished was Diamonds Are Forever, just as I was starting high school.

How interesting if I could tap the psychology of myself when I was 15 years old. At the time I lacked the words to identify my feelings and thoughts, though I know I was growing more sensitive and perhaps a bit depressed moving into high school. I think I was ambivalent regarding music, because it was a huge relief to drop the school band program as a junior. Now I don’t remember how that came about or whose decision it was. I believe maybe it was mine, but my mother disapproved strongly. My health dictated something else. She cried when the doctor said I had mononucleosis. He kept me out of school for five weeks and put me on horse pills of erythromycin. Mom felt so badly that she made me oatmeal several times daily. I played a lot of Phoenix on my Atari setup, which messed with my vision. A girl from school called me on the phone a few times. I felt awkward and didn’t know what to say.

My phase of Edgar Rice Burroughs ended after tenth grade; I never finished Tarzan and the Madman, the 23rd in the series. I didn’t feel like a hero anymore. Life became more complicated than good guys and bad guys. The heroes themselves could show weakness and melancholy, or perhaps I was the one who changed. My reading changed to match my self concept. Eventually the hero thing dissolved totally.

Still it would be cool to have another peek at From Russia with Love. I had a wonderful time during the summer when I first read it. My friends and I played Rush tunes in Pleasant Hill, and we were really pretty good. For a time I felt I was on top of the world. I guess disappointment is inevitable but you have to get up again sooner or later. Sometimes it’s later.

Lady Windermere

Quarter of three. Just now I went to the little store around the corner. In his driveway, Colin was blowing leaves a bit early in the season. The same smoke alarm started cheeping again, so I’ll have to hit the button on it. At the market, JR helped a woman out with a lot of plastic bags of empties. Cathy covered the registers and rang up my Snapple tea. I saw some rather rough looking people today, strutting around puffing cigarettes, and I think they come out in the afternoon. Generally, the morning bunch is nicer and more reputable. I’ve been going to that place for nearly twenty years, to begin with for a watering hole, but now just for convenience of location. When I reflect on it, the place seems haunted with old memories of how it used to be. Since those days, I had therapy that was traumatizing, opening a can of worms we should’ve left alone. But as it is, I know more than I ever did before the experience… The little store in the afternoon is quite a seamy place, or can be, depending on when you hit it. Sometimes I feel that I fit right in with the squalor; yet other times I long for something better, like a gutter ball looking at the stars on a romantic night. I’ve got one foot in each world, though I know I’ll never live to colonize the stars: or perhaps I’m wrong about that. Stranger things have happened. 

Very Fitzgerald

Seven thirty.

The cloud formation I can see from here is very pretty, more natural than during the wildfires. When I go out the front door, the writing in the sky might say, “Surrender, Robert!” Vapor trails left by a Wicked Witch. This idea made me laugh. No clue what it pertains to or what it means. I only got up an hour ago. Guess it’s time to go to the store. So far I feel good today.

Quarter of nine. I met with a couple of surprises on my outing this morning. The first was seeing Lisa, who used to work at Karen’s salon, in the parking lot of the market. She greeted me by name and with a deft movement stripped off her mask while I fumbled to remember who she was. Then she told me she had a new job at a salon that fit her better. I’m happy for her on one hand, but the happiness is superficial when you begin to think about it. I also think to myself that cream rises to the top, but it’s always at the expense of somebody else. Maybe I’m being too Charlie Brown about an otherwise good thing… The other surprise was the sight of schoolchildren on their way to the middle school. I was a bit worried for them crossing Maxwell Road, but apparently they knew how to do that… The more I think about Lisa, the more I dislike her supercilious attitude. There’s something very Scott Fitzgerald in this scenario: an oligarchy of the beautiful people, whereas those without beauty are the losers. It makes me self conscious. I tramp around the neighborhood in soiled clothes, the epitome of penury; and yet I have something that Lisa seems to lack. Give me a few minutes and I might recall what it is… Does she know who Fitzgerald is? And what is an oligarchy? 

Ladders

Two twenty in the morning.

I admit that playing my G&L bass pulls up certain psychological things for me, some difficult thoughts and feelings due to having owned another such bass before… I now remember a truth about an acquaintance I used to know, a successful Nashville music producer today. He was a user and manipulator of people to get from one place to the next in his career. We had a dark history with each other. Why would I envy him now? He stepped on a lot of people and broke a lot of bones to get where he is. His religion was a total sham. Maybe religion is intended for those who need it. As I think about it, perhaps it’s a delusion for me to want to be where I feel I belong. The picture of the old disco band was not as rosy as I contrive it today. A sinister cloud of darkness hung over the band in a moral way. Those people were dishonest and shallow… The ladder of success is no ladder to heaven. At the foot of it are heaped the casualties kicked off by the ones a rung higher. Is it sour grapes to say that blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth? 

Eye Contact

Quarter after four.

I was just thinking about winners and losers, and how some people take off like a skyrocket and never look back. And then there are the ones like me who get derailed by illness, bad luck, and overthinking things. But I still wouldn’t trade identities with a successful person whose personality was a fake and who climbed the ladder by pushing others down. If that’s the meaning of success, then I guess I wasn’t cut out for that sort of thing. I think maybe the definition of success is relative. The music business is different things to different people. I was never good at hiding behind a persona, or putting on masks for different occasions. I’ve known a couple of successful people who advanced by being dishonest and cagey, and unscrupulous about that. Now I ponder this item called morality, and what makes a person deep and substantial, authentic and real. I know I’d rather have the real thing than an evasive illusion, so I’m content to be myself and not one of the winners of the world. Perhaps those people will be haunted by their conscience later in life. My own life will have been far richer and deeper, more meaningful and maybe a little more beautiful.