Thursday, February 25, 2010

All the sweet serenity of books

When you consider that the world's greatest thinkers have put their thoughts, opinions, and ideas into a format that we can access, isn't it a shame that most people don't bother to read, to explore the contents, and to see how those thoughts, opinions, and ideas can change their lives? We have a chance to have a few hours of intimate discourse with people we would never have met otherwise, how lucky are we? Over the years I have taken great pride in my book collection, and as I journeyed back East, I made sure my bounded pieces of heaven tagged along. Inspiration is the essence of living, and I felt obliged to share with you those words of some of the most majestic thinkers that have helped me facilitate my wild imagination, laugh uncontrollably, and appreciate my love for the written word. I mean, even Abe Lincoln said, "Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new after all."

"If you take a book with you on a journey, an odd thing happens. The book begins collecting your memories. And forever after you have only to open that book to be back where you first read it. It will all come into your mind with the very first words - the sights you saw in that place, what it smelled like, the ice cream you ate while you were reading it...yes, books are like flypaper--memories cling to the printed page better than anything else." -
Inkheart, Cornelia Funke

"Whenever I see an old lady slip and fall on a wet sidewalk, my first instinct is to laugh. But then I think, what if I was an ant, and she fell on me. Then it wouldn't seem quite so funny." -Deep Thoughts, Jack Handey

"When his life was ruined, his family killed, his farm destroyed, Job knelt down on the grown and yelled up to the heavens, "Why God? Why me?" and the thundering voice of God answered, "There's just something about you that pissed me off." -Storm of the Century, Stephen King

"The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off." -Gloria Steinem

"You get a little moody sometimes but I think that's because you like to read. People that like to read are always a little fucked up." -The Prince of Tides, Pat Conroy

"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious." -Studly Einstein

"A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading." -William Styron

"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect." -Anais Nin

"Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese." -Alarms and Discursions, G.K. Chesterton

"Remember to always be yourself. Unless you suck." -Joss Whedon

"People aren't either wicked or noble. They're like chef's salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict." -The Grim Grotto, Lemony Snicket

"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself." -Neil Gaiman (I love you)

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." -Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury.

"It's not denial. I'm just selective about the reality I accept." -Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes guys)

"I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions." -Magical Thinking: True Stories, Augusten Burroughs

"If more of us valued food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a much merrier world." -J.R.R. Tolkien

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try, again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it." -W.C. Fields

"I can never read all the books I want, I can never be all the people I want, and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited." -Sylvia Plath

"The Paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one nights stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or just hit delete...Remember, to spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever. Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side. Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent. Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person might not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind." -Bob Moorehead

"Taking one's chances is like taking a bath, because sometimes you end up feeling comfortable and warm, and sometimes there is something terrible lurking around that you cannot see until it is too late and you can do nothing else but scream and cling to a plastic duck." -Lemony Snicket

"Here is a lesson in creative writing. First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college." -A Man Without a Country, Kurt Vonnegut

"The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on. If you can change the way people think. The way they see themselves. The way they see the world. You can change the way people live their lives. That's the only lasting thing you can create." -Choke, Chuck Palahniuk

"One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple." -The Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac

"Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters." -Neil Gaiman

"If things start happening, don't worry, don't stew, just go right along and you'll start happening too." -Dr. Seuss

"Book collecting is an obsession, an occupation, a disease, an addiction, a fascination, an absurdity, a fate. It is not a hobby, those who do it must do it. Those who do not do it, think of it as a cousin of stamp collecting, a sister of the trophy cabinet, bastard of a sound bank account and a weak mind." -Jeanette Winterson

"Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind." -Don Quixote, Cervantes

"If there is no love in the world, we will make a new world, and we will give it walls, and we will furnish it with soft, red interiors, from the inside out, and give it a knocker that resonates like a diamond falling to a jeweler's felt so that we should never hear it. Love me, because love doesn't exist, and I have tried everything that does." -Everything is Illuminated (A MUST READ) Jonathan Safran Foer

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye." -Miss Piggy, Jim Henson

"Reality continues to ruin my life" -Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson

"Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them." -Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can't Avoid, Lemony Snicket

"You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children." -Madeleine L'Engle

"People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that's what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. A true soul mate is probably the most important person you'll ever meet, because they tear down your walls and smack you awake. But to live with a soul mate forever? Nah. Too painful. Soul mates, they come into your life just to reveal another layer of yourself to you, and then leave. A soul mates purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduces you to your spiritual master..." -Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert

"Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very' - your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be." -Twain

"And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." -Ronald Dahl

"If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world." -C.S. Lewis

"Life isn't divided into genres. It's a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you're lucky." -Alan Moore

"And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." -Sylvia Plath

"I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." -Einstein

"Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience-this is the ideal life." -Twain

"If you go home with somebody, and they don't have books, don't fuck 'em." -John Water

"Literature is a luxury-Fiction is a necessity." -G.K. Chesterton

"The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours." -The History Boys, Alan Bennett

And last but not least, from one of my favorite books, American Gods, by one of my favorite writers, Neil Gaiman...

I can believe in things that are true and things that aren't true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they're true or not.

I can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and the Beatles and Marilyn Monroe and Elvis and Mister Ed. Listen - I believe that people are
perfectible, that knowledge is infinite, that the world is run by secret banking cartels and is visited by aliens on a regular basis, nice ones that look like wrinkled lemurs and bad ones who mutilate cattle and want our water and our women.

I believe that the future sucks and I believe that the future rocks and I believe that one day White Buffalo Woman is going to come back and kick everyone's ass. I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating and that the decline in good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from state to state.

I believe that all politicians are unprincipled crooks and I still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the big one comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste.

I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we'll all be wiped out by the common cold like martians in War of the Worlds.

I believe that the greatest poets of last century were Edith Sitwell and Don Marquis, that jade is dried dragon sperm, and that thousands of years ago in a former life I was a one-armed Siberian shaman.

I believe that mankind's destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid, that it's aerodynamically impossible for a bumble bee to fly, that light is a wave and a particle, that there's a cat in a box somewhere who's alive and dead at the same time (although if they don't ever open the box to feed it it'll eventually just be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself.

I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn't even know that I'm alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck.

I believe that anyone who says sex is overrated just hasn't done it properly. I believe that anyone who claims to know what's going on will lie about the little things too.

I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies. I believe in a woman's right to choose, a baby's right to live, that while all human life is sacred there's nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system.

I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you're alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.

Amen Neil Gaiman.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

After the Cello

Books and songs, films, poems, roses, candy--even days have been dedicated to it. Shit, I even wanted to make a career out of it, but what do we understand of love? There are as many answers to the boundless questions about love as there are lovers to ask them. Love has ever delighted and perplexed, inspired and confounded. And here, within my own heartbreak, I want to visit love from a certain angle in an attempt to show how this celebrated and mysterious emotion has been, and ever will be, the one enduring obsession of humankind.

Love doesn't necessarily have to pertain to a lover, but it can live within your family, friendships, animal companions, work, hobbies, passions, inspirations, and even materialistic objects like your beloved guitar. So, as I trekked Eastbound, I felt it was essential to shed a few tears for those that I love back in the desert, and delve into one of the most ageless, darling words. Now, I hate discussing my own relationship footlights, so I am going to do what I do best, and opt to write about the bright side of love, but in doing so I may have to analyze bits of my wacky love life. I apologize. Whilst there may be some pessimistic underlying notions of love, note that they have all been repaired. I already have a book in mind dedicated to all of those previously broken pieces...

The most important heartbreak I am speaking of comes from leaving the aesthetic pleasures of the Arizona palm trees and the eccentric breeze they grant you on an eighty degree sun-drenched day, allowing your amigos and you to lay aimlessly by the pool sipping wine at any hour. I mean, essentially, it was those five years I spent in this season-free place that bloomed my imagination, vision, and bestowed me memories to write about. I drank a lot. I formed lifetime friendships. I laughed and smiled day after day. And it was my Hunter S. Thompson guise fashioned from my friends and the booze that ultimately sparked my inspiration to dig deep into my imagination. Love must come to you when you need it the most, because love became the creator of my many memories and the foundation for my fondest dreams. There is no reasoning with the heart-it is simply the greatest instinct. In fact, the heart has its reasons that fucking reason does not even know at all. And while reason and love may be strangers, in love it is the heart that rules the head. So, follow your heart, because when we look back on our lives, we find that those things we did in the spirit of love represent the moments we were truly alive.

Simply for the positivity that arises from my delicate situation, and to express the severity of never giving up on following your heart, I must break into the personal life safe. I did in fact pursue my heart recently, and it bit me in the ass. However, love gave me a fresh dream to chase, and despite my fears, I fucking followed my heart again. Second time's a charm, right? And I am not going to say I wasn't angry with the world, with "love", or life for a while, but I allowed love to pick me back up and show me the joys that life has to offer-with LOTS of help from my friends. Am I open to loving again even though it didn't work out for me the first time? Absolutely. However, I will definitely put the entire dating mania on hold for a while, but I do not regret a single obstacle I put my heart through. I don't regret wearing it on my sleeve, because the only way to learn about love is by loving, and you must love with all of your heart. I did that. It is a lovely and fearful thing, but great love takes great daring. I took that dare. And after it didn't work out, love let me live it up again for a while, and it was fucking fabulous. Remember, love is always on your side, and so is your heart. They come hand in hand, and they will steer you to the place you are meant to carry out your wildest dreams. Love is still, and always will be, the sweetest gift of all, whether we give it or receive it.

Now, I recognize that all of my optimism can become old and bothersome, but you have to appreciate the fine things through the unpleasant. I am certain that if I did not allow my hopefulness to luster the shitty things in life, I would have become senseless by now. So, the hell with you pessimists, I am going to try and spread some more good spirits and love, because it is the greatest transforming power. And it is love that may wind up hurting us, but at the same time, it gives us strength to endure. It makes the heart strong when the body is weak, and love sure as shit does not bear grudges. We go through life seeing things not as they are but as we are, and love is the only lens available to straighten out our vision of the world and offer some hope of understanding.

Everything DEFINITELY happens for a reason.