What We Do

So many distractions and diversions, and ugliness. It’s all around, inescapable. You can drown in it.

And here I am, in the midst of my own crisis, knowing it will end soon, but not how.

No, nothing related to my spouse, family, or health, thank goodness.

I’m trying my best to stay focused, on the path of full realization, which has taken SO very long. Frankly, I’m exhausted. It’s like I have to keep breaking down more and more personal barriers, over and over, a never ending process.

But isn’t that what it is supposed to be? Broken and on your back? When all you can do is look up and focus on the one thing you should have been paying attention to all along?

The one thing that you should have wrestled, worked out, fought with, got ignited over, fell in love with, cursed at, and breathed your breath for?

Shouldn’t it be the one thing that drives you, moves you? That impels you to move forward, backwards, inside out, and upside down, and back again?

Shouldn’t it be that one thing that defines and hones you, that guides each precarious step down that one path?

You have to build it, carve it out, define it, create it.

And there it is, that word that has driven me somewhat for the last 18 years, since I left organized religion: create.

I remember beginner band. Squeaks, squawks, and blats; the uninspired sounds of effort. The feeling of my lips about to fall off after first learning how to buzz through that 7C cornet mouthpiece. The first summer with my Selmer Bundy cornet.

I started late, 14. I practiced diligently to make up for my age. The thing is, I was a beginner, first. I couldn’t simply be an expert, even if I played one of my Ed Sueta beginner exercises perfectly. Over and over I had to play it, and then over and over and over again. My favorite memory of that first summer was of me trying to play through my exercises while my mother affectionately ate a lemon in front of me, knowing full well what would happen.

Despite my best efforts, though I loved playing my cornet through high school, a slight lisp made it impossible for me to double-major in voice and cornet at the university. I could barely double-tongue, much less triple. I wasn’t too upset about it, though I miss playing at times.

Regardless, it is a metaphor for learning any skill or discipline: as beginner of anything, you have to practice, practice, practice… and then practice more. Work it out, be daring, try different approaches, methods, and styles; listen to others who are experts or advanced; read, listen, learn. You are going to squeak, squawk, and blat many times. And before you know it, you’ll be producing something pleasant, something unique, something that is you and only you.

I’ve always wanted to create. I remember an elementary comic strip about a droopy dog named King. I remember writing music in middle and high school. My first year in college writing class, with Dr. Skerpan, before I fucked up, espousing extremest ideology, becoming a simpleton with an 18-year-old mind and maturity, until the last few months of my 29th year, when my true soul finally broke free.

Damn… damn, damn, damn, damn, damn!

Sometimes, I wish I could be Florida Evans after her husband, James, died, and smash the casserole dish in the kitchen.

So, am I going to work it out? Or am I going to take the easy way out?

No, it has to be worked out, like everything else I’ve had to deliberately learn since my 30th birthday.

The canvas won’t stay blank.

The pages will not remain empty.

The music won’t go unwritten or unperformed.


Just start… and practice, practice, practice.

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