Spiral Bound


Me writing my blog.  You'd think that those swirling masses about me would be my critical thoughts, my muses, my spiritual sherpas.  But nope, they're dragons.  Run-of-the-mill dragons who eat the neighbours pets and spread pink eye.  Annoying.

Me composing my blog. Don’t be fooled into thinking that those swirling masses about me are my critical thoughts or spiritual sherpas. Nope, they’re dragons. Run-of-the-mill plagues who eat the neighbours’ pets, rummage through the mail, and spread pink eye. Annoying.

I love notebooks.  Fresh, clean, uncracked, shrink-wrapped and writerly looking notebooks can fill up my bookshelf any time.  And often they do.  They represent for me the muses uncertain, the unmarked critical point, a playground for the inspired, the unknown…the Great Unscripted, if you will.  And yet they sit unused. Brimming with potential, but reduced to scholarly sunken ash.  Floppy and flimsy bookends, at best.

I also love pens.  Firm, soft gripped, fully inked, tightly capped and well balanced pens can fill up my stationery holder any time.  And often they do. The represent for me the majestic sword, the finely tuned tool, the scrawler of the Great Truth, the lamp that charts the path to The Way.  And yet they sit unused, except perhaps for a quickly scribbled shopping list, to open up the battery case for a kids toy or as an impromptu back scratcher.

Put them together, these notebooks and pens, and the possibilities are endless. The problem is that I don’t put them together, so they languish away like Tower of London prisoners, unable to communicate with the outside world.  Now I do enjoy writing – I do make notes, but not in those plush and snazzy notebooks.  I find the back of gas station receipts, mysterious scraps of paper from my backpack, and old envelopes make great places to jot ideas and overheard dialogue down.  I will even type stuff into my phone.  So the writing part I do, but something in me just won’t allow myself to jump in and sully those notebooks.

See? Pretty daunting from this angle too, eh?  Like a broken trail to the tattered end of our fractured spirits.  Sort of.

See? Pretty daunting from this angle too, eh? Like a broken trail to the tattered end of our fractured spirits. Sort of.

I mention all this because there has been a shift in me these days.  A not-so-subtle thing that seems to have been percolating for some time now.  It’s not just about the avoidance of putting groovy pen to sexy paper, for a fantabulous concoction of nouns, verbs and the occasional subordinate clause. It’s for the reasons I don’t do it that has given me pause for thought.  I also (unconsciously) mentioned a piece of this puzzle in my last post, and in some of my others, now that I look back.  It’s this whole idea of having a blank slate, a clean canvas, a new package of modeling clay, and freezing.  Not knowing what to create, what to display from my inner landscape, what to pull from the creative conscious.   I am usually at a standstill amongst the maelstrom of blazing and frenzied construction around me.  The old fears haunt me recently – a white fuzz of static in my mind, wrapping around my spirit, touching up every part of me and sticking and staining like molasses.  I fear making a mistake.  I fear that what I create won’t be good.  I fear that what I show will be “wrong”.  I fear that I am not good enough to use the good pens, the good paper, the nice new Play Doh, the fresh paints, the best ingredients.  I don’t want to wreck those beautiful Moleskin books because I am waiting for the time I do real writing…when the real writer in me shows up, and not the hack that haunts the shelves today.

And that, ladies and gentleman, is a new truth for me.  And while new truths often sting, they also show me to a new path, if I choose to take it (the harsh caveat).

I was walking my dog yesterday and saw a lone boy on the corner selling lemonade.  It was hot, and I could have used the lemonade.  But I didn’t bring any money with me, as I was only taking the hound around the local park.  It broke my heart to see this young boy there, no customers in sight, just sitting there alone.  I almost started to cry, if truth be told. Now, I understand implicitly that his folks probably had a few dollars to their name, that the stand wasn’t paying for the mortgage, and it was all for fun.  Mom and dad would probably end up buying most of the ade and little Johnny would whistle away the rest of the afternoon as he plotted his path through the nearby toy emporium.  As I walked, it occurred to me was that I wasn’t upset with this boy’s financial situation or his perceived loneliness (projecting? Oh dear, fetch me a lute for comfort).  What had me churning up was the fact that I was mourning the little kid in me.  The little boy who had such a bright future, who was so good at school and was happy as a child.  The unmined mind. The untapped reservoir.

I visit the part of me that is caged.

I visit the part of me that is caged.

This all comes crumbling down to this idea that the clay, the paper, the white sheet…represent a life that fears expression.  And that is how I felt most of my life.  I didn’t feel worthy to fill those pages, to showcase my underbelly, to display the peacock feathers of my inner life.  My drinking days were riddled with the idea that I wasn’t worthy of much, that I was a fraud, that I didn’t have anything of worth to share with the world.  I didn’t feel worthy of messing up those books, those water colours, those canvases…I felt that they could best be used by “real artists”, or “better” classmates, or more “worthy” people.   Eventually, the kid with the blank slate in front of him became an adult with a blank idea of himself.  Bankrupt and bereft of what I thought I should say, do or express, I kept it all in.   I continued to blot out the sun with booze and ensured that the feelings of worthlessness continued to propagate itself over and over again.  My alcoholism kept me strapped down, creatively, allowing only the ill thoughts to swirl around me, vaporizing any of my true me, my core me.

In my recovery, I learned to see that I needn’t be strapped down any further.  That I was created as a unique soul, that the only person to compare myself to is myself.  That no one is more worthy or less worthy.  It’s not the externals that define me, but what’s inside.  It’s not the fact that I can produce a stunning piece of art, or a stunning external life or a stunning anything , for that matter of fact.  But it’s about being connected to the Creator and to others.  To help others.  To stay true to my own voice, even if it hurts.  To stand up for myself and my beliefs without trouncing upon others.  To open up my inner self and show it to others.  Share my toys, play nicely with other boys and girls and not bring head lice to school.  Take turns on the teeter totter. That sort of thing.

Isn’t that cool?  I get to be free!  I am no longer chained to this thing that wants to snuff me out, fully and completely!  The Creator has given us all creative expression to use and regardless of it’s manifestation, we are blessed to have this with us.  And creativity isn’t just art – it’s in how we manage our day, how we manage our lives.  Creativity isn’t just about being the next Margaret Atwood or Alice Munro.  It can be about problem solving, about breaking old patterns, about finding new ways of doing old things.  We aren’t all cut out for the arts (I can vouch for myself on that one), but we are all cut out to cut through the noise of our lives and tap into our core selves.  But before I start sounding like Tony Robbins here (Shamwow your life!) here, I want to say that for me, this kind of understanding has come with a price.  I am still paying this price, as I have been lured back to the old ways of thinking as of late.  The price can take a toll on me, as it has been in the past few weeks.   But it’s price to admission to something wonderful.

I was never one to toot my own horn.  So I borrowed one.  I'm the one with the odd hat.

I was never one to toot my own horn. So I borrowed one. I’m the one with the odd hat, in front of the mountain.

There is a lovely quote from Brandi Snyder which says “To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world”.  And I try to keep that in mind, even if that one person is me.  To be of help to others is important for me, even if I don’t demonstrate it as much as I need or want to.  That’s the old Paul at work.  A lot of old Paul has been infiltrating the front line, and I have to just stay with the tide, swim back to shore and keep my life preserver with me.  When I feel like this, I have to remember to look at the big picture – where I was at, where I am at now, and what I can be down the line.  The fact is I have no clue what I can be down the line.  Ideas tend to be stillborn.  I still freeze in front of the clay.  I still freeze at a blank lined paper.  I am still bound in spiral bound.  But I can’t force it.  Or can I?  Perhaps jump in and just scribble that shopping list on that 300 gsm paper.  Muck up the kids crayons and feather kits.  Glue glitter on the dog.

So while I have this freedom to play in the Field of the Lord, I am still in the penalty box.  Self-imposed. Ego has been instructing me lately of the rules of the game, in which every scenario declares me non-winner or DQ.  Oddly enough, this doesn’t put me in self-pity (ooh!  I love self-pity – we alcoholics were born for that), but it puts me in a new place – outward looking in and trying perform triage on myself.  Not easy.  Taking inventory, working hard at keeping spiritually afloat, reaching out, reading.  And staying still when I want to scream.  Screaming out when I want to stay still.  Raging against the machine at times…for my own good.  Surrender and let the Creator do what He needs to do.  Wave that white flag.  And that’s part of recovery for me.  It’s not all cutesy quotes and slogans.  It’s not Zen floating on a cloud every moment.  It’s not being the most spiritual person on the block.  Sometimes I need to sludge and trudge away.  Scrub the latrines while I hum a fugue.  Slow down the machine and take apart the gears and oil them up.  Sometimes I’m the ladder, sometimes I’m the snake.

I look forward to when I get back on the ladder.  And that’s a groovy place to be.  Achieving, stretching, aiming…it’s what is born in all of us.  I will grow.  I will continue to break out of this.  I can only learn when I get in the muck now and then.  Eat worms for breakfast.  Made mud pies.  As long as I get out when He blows the whistle to get out and then scrub down and put on some clean clothes.  And then help out the other kids who might be in the muck themselves and can’t hear the whistle and who don’t know that mud pies aren’t really for eating.  There is soulful food for all us ready on His table.

But for now, hisssssss….

Oh don't be so smug, John Taylor.  My reflex is to tell you that life isn't always a new moon on Monday. I'll save a prayer for you.

Oh don’t be so smug, John Taylor. My reflex is to tell you that life isn’t always a new moon on Monday, that it’s an ordinary world. I’ll save a prayer for you. Don’t come undone.  A union of the snake, if you will.

44 responses to “Spiral Bound

  1. Here’s a hard lesson that I had to learn.

    Just stop trying to be anything. Just be it.

    You’ll figure it out. And in the meantime, I think the bookstore has a sale running on new notebooks. I’ll meet you there.

    Sherry

  2. Very poignant, Paul. i, too, sometimes catch myself mourning the opportunities i missed and avenues i chose not to explore. At these times i try to remind myself that life forces me to make decisions and that even choosing not to decide is a decision in itself. Then i tell myself the boy i was back then made the best decision he could with what he had and that it’s not fair for me to judge him. Then i pat myself on the back for the choices i’ve made that have led me here, and when i reach a plateau in my progress i try to rest up and enjoy the peace before the next climb begins.

    Thanks for your inspiration, brother.

    • I like how you mention not judging the little boy within. And that is something I try not to do. I do know deep down I did what I could at the time, and I can’t hang on to the “what if’s” – that’s a waste of time and emotion. Can I be wistful? Not sure – what’s the point? You have made some wonderful choices in getting to your recovery and in your recovery itself, Al. I see that in your posts and in the light you produce around us all and your family.

      Thank YOU for the inspiration. Glad you’re here.

      Paul

  3. First I need to get this Groupie Thing out of the way…..I LOVED Duran Duran!! AND John Taylor…..OOO LA LA!
    Paul, I too love your writing, and this WAS DEEP!! Of course I love Pens & Paper, as they are to items that can be a window to the SOUL, to write what you feel Deep inside you, as EVERYONE’S LIFE has a Story. I know I hound you about this, but you really need to try your hand as a Writer and Author, CAN YOU SMELL THE NY TIMES BEST SELLER??? I sure do with you GIFT!! It’s NEVER to late in Life to start my Pal……MIRACLES do happen 50 and over…..I’m ONE!! And so are YOU Paul, Hugs & Blessings always, Catherine 🙂 xxoo

    • I was a Duranie too, Catherine. There – another harsh truth. Ha ha. I had every vinyl album, including all the Japanese and domestic imports, EP’s and even their first, original EP (hard to find – called “Carnival”). You are certainly an inspiration, Catherine…always have said that. You have courage in spades and love and generosity in even more. Thank you for being in my recovery circle 🙂

      Love and light,
      Paul

  4. Please don’t fix the mistake in the title. I really think that’s such a good object lesson for this whole post. And I hope you think so too.
    I will agree with everyone else and say that I love your writing. 🙂
    Triage is hard. You were very kind to me last week while I was conducting my own inner triage, so now it’s my turn to repay the favor. Take your time. Conduct your triage. Don’t forget to be kind, gentle, compassionate to yourself. This is a place to grow! 🙂
    This triage thing appears to me to be the core of recovery. I’ve found myself surrendering, breaking open, having to do triage cyclically throughout this recovery process. It’s rough, but it’s beautiful. You may be trudging and sludging now, but that’s okay. Being where we are is what keeps us from disconnecting and trying to be where we’re not. I’ve found that if I rush getting back on the ladder, I’ll fall off again having not learned the lesson the first time. Like you said to me last week, this may feel horrible or odd now, but it will become something worth treasuring later.
    Sending compassion towards you today friend. Take care of yourself well.
    Laurie

    • Forgive me, but I had to fix the title…lol. I didn’t even notice it (obviously). Tell and alcoholic what to do and we run the opposite…ha ha. But you’re right – a good lesson that ties into the post (but the copy editor inside of me just cringed when I read your response and saw that the title was flawed). Sorry.

      I was hoping that I wasn’t bashing my writing, but I guess it did. And therefore I wasn’t clear enough, which means the writing wasn’t as good as it should have been…see how this plays out? ugh…ha ha.

      Thank you for writing what you did. I like the idea of these things being cyclical. And you’re right. Surrender / action. Fall / get up. Death / Life. Casting a shadow greater than myself is an illusion. It can’t be done, can it? But we try, and that is where we often stumble. And like you are reciprocating to me, it’s about having someone else point out not where we landed, but where we tripped.

      You comments have landed well onto me, and for that, a million little thank you’s to you, Laurie.

      Blessings to you – glad you’re on your upswing now 🙂

      Paul

  5. Hi, Paul. So much in this post, I had to read it 2x, your words are so flowing… That is a complement, btw :). I can so relate to the picture at the top, so me at times, just the other day I had a stack of books on my desk, trying to find… Something, didn’t know what, but something! My head was swirling! That’s when I had to just stop and stay still. My very wise friend once said to me, all that you already are, is inside you, you don’t have to look for it, you just need to let it out! – I know that sounds simple but it takes some time and you are on your way, you may not quite see it yet, but you are! Hang in Paul! Oh and ps. I love John!! My ultimate favorite Duran! Ah he makes me smile even with that crazy 80’s mullet! Thanks Paul!

    • I love what your friend told you there…very wise and very true. I often forget that and venture out to the “externals country” where I try to fill up on stuff that doesn’t fill me and ignore the stuff inside that does. Funny how we do that.

      I am hanging on, no worries…I’ll get there…with support like this, for sure I will 🙂

      I liked John too, actually – I was a fan of the bass guitar, so I tended to drift towards bass players.

  6. I recognise a familiar dragon between your well written lines and venture to share, not to be prescriptive, for that would be presumptuous, nevertheless the spectre of shame experienced in toxic ways and doses in our formative years can express itself in myriad form later. Shame is of the Creator, of course, and as human a trait as any other feeling and just as useful when nothing else can deliver that well needed emotional uppercut. However, it is brutal upon the developing soul and care must be exercised during administration to see that it is both accurate and finite lest the heart be permanently crushed and left in a state of perpetual fear. Those of us who grew up thus carry a lifetime of memories galvanised to the spot lest we draw attention, overwhelmed into inertia lest we fail at the task before us, desperate for approval but even more desperate not to arouse that screeching, mocking, fire-breathing dragon of toxic shame…and so we hide…I dunno, mate, just a thought, I bet one of your mentors could tell you all about it, anyway. As always you encourage with your courage. Write on, I say brother! Respect REDdog

    • REDdog – man, this response is so dense and layered and damned DEEP it took me a few drive by’s to get it all. Wow. What you mention about the shame and fear really strike a chord with me. The shame of messing up, the fear of being chastised, the whole “what if I…” bobble head just comes up unconsciously and consciously with us, doesn’t it? The galvanizing of those low spots in the heart to the here and now is something that is what I try and get clarity on, to get past them, to shore up my spiritual life, to look back and draw a map for others who are on a similar path.

      You bring great wisdom and insight here. Again – wow. Thank you for this. I am sure that when I read it again, I will get something further out of it. For now, I need to rest and calm the dragons down and make a cup of coffee.

      Blessings,
      Paul

      • Yeah, darn ol’ dragons, I used to think you could kill ’em but now I’m inclined to think they’re better off managed, takes the fire out of ’em I find. Thankyou for your gracious response, I’ll be honest, I was a bit worried I’d over-stepped the mark…still second guessing the Spirit’s heart. Love your emotion stirring stuff, Sir. Respect

  7. duran duran. thanks. now i have save a prayer in my head. a good way to begin a saturday 🙂

    i had an idea while reading your post, that maybe the way *around* the problem is *through* … like, what if you write about how hard it is to write? i know that sounds weird, but … what if you were working on a fiction project, or an article, or whatever, and whenever your internal critic’s voice (all the time) spoke up, or at the end of writing session (however short), you then stopped and wrote a blog post about the process of creating. write then about what you wrote, what you saw, what you learned, the lessons and the linkages. i wonder in the end which would be the more interesting: the project or the reflections on the project? and then maybe they could be published together on facing pages … ooook. that’s a weird vision to have for you. i’ll have more coffee. it’s early. maybe i’m still a bit dreamy… have a happy saturday 🙂

    • I recall watching the doc “Heart of Darkness” which was a behind the scenes making of Apocalypse Now. And I found the doc just as fascinating as the movie. All the issues and problems behind the scenes – a very drunk Martin Sheen on screen, an indifferent and overweight Marlon Brando, a director who didn’t want to direct, etc. Awesome stuff. So this is what I thought of when I read your reply. And it has merit – I just read a blogger who wrote about her writing block and it’s already being talked about being Freshly Pressed! Fantastic stuff. So you have a great point there.

      I like your dreamy self – that is what makes Belle Belle. Hold off on that second cup there, my friend. Great idea.

      Blessings,
      Paul

  8. Good morning Paul, I want to share something. It doesn’t always happen this way, but when it does, I am so happy! Saturday mornings, when I get up earlier than the kids, see my husband off to golf, and get to sit down (with coffee) to WordPress to catch up with my friends in the blogosphere, is a stellar way to start a day. Now, add to it that I get to read NOT ONLY an entire post from you, but two different comments from you on my blog, and, well, I know today is going to be a great day!

    I know I’ve said this to you before, but it bears repeating: I believe what you are going through is a common human experience. But what is awesome about being in recovery is the bone-deep knowledge that it will pass, that it is an opportunity for something better to come into our lives, and that we know what we have to do in order for it to pass. How many “normies” can make that claim!

    In the video I watched of Dr. Brene Brown (the one I referenced in my last post), she defined shame as “the intensely painful feeling that we are unworthy of love and belonging.” I remembered this definition as I read this post. We just have to remember to identify the negative feelings when they crop up, and, just as important, talk back to them which you are clearly doing!

    Thank you for brightening my Saturday morning!

    • You are right – we don’t hold the rights to human experiences. We may have a slightly different take on them, but we are human first and foremost. And the idea of passing through things seems to be the theme of all the responses I have been getting here – an example of learning more from all of you than my own navel gazing and blah blah blah’ing. So I thank you for this, Josie. And you are also the second or third to mention shame – something I don’t recall mentioning in my post, so that gives me pause for thought here. The fact that the Dr. Brown video came up for you also alerts me to something. Hmmmm…

      Thank YOU for brightening my Sunday morning 🙂

      Blessings,
      Paul

  9. Thanks, as always, Paul – for giving us a window into your soul. As a result, we all look at our selves a little more deeply as well. It really is an incredible journey you are, and we are all privileged to be along for the ride. I can relate to seeing the boy and feeling bad (without even knowing if there IS a reason to feel bad for him) – I do this all the time…don’t know if I think this is a good thing? Sympathy on steroids? And my heart hurt reading about your lost childhood. I’ve heard that kind of thing from my husband, too. Makes me so sad.

    But I try to look at in the way that the sum total of every one of your life experiences has contributed to who and where you are today. You removed even one of them, and you might not be where you are today. And your faith in our Creator demonstrates that you know He can use it ALL for good, even the bad.

    Nothing is irredeemable.

    Thanks for making my brain work a little! Or a lot!

    • Nothing is irredeemable. I love that. Might steal it. Will give credit, though.

      I think you are right in looking at the sum total of things. I know that I cannot be here without all of *that* happening. And that is why I say that I am a grateful recovered alcoholic. I am grateful for the things boozy and not boozy that have brought me to where I am now. And it will get better from here on out. God certainly didn’t bring me here to just wallow about in the muck.

      I must say, I am glad you’ve stuck around these parts, Kate – you’ve made the blog better and make me look at things in a different way. Thank you.

      Love and light,
      Paul

      • Feel free to steal! lol It is sometimes a hard reality to embrace, because we wish life would have been perfect, or WE would have been perfect (as a perfectionist, I struggle with this a lot…the torture of ‘what-ifs). But I think that is where faith in God is so important. It’s that trust, even beyond what we FEEL like is real and true, that HE is good and brilliant and really can take any negative, either self–imposed or imposed on us by others – and make it a positive. Take a lot of faith to live like that, though! A work in progress I still am!

        Love reading your blogs. They always have me thinking. And as I have those I care about entangled on different levels with alcohol, the perspective is helpful!

        God bless on your journey! You really are helping a lot of people!

  10. Paul,

    I’m so glad you wrote this, and that you wrote it now. Your experience with self expression is so similar to mine, that you could have been writing my own story. I have consistently struggled in the past with the idea that I want to do, I want to create, but I just can’t bring myself to take the first step. There is this part of me, not so deep under the surface, that is just aching, yearning, SCREAMING to be expressed! And yet, the thought of actually expressing myself terrifies me to the extreme. I have never been able to put my finger on what precisely the fear is about–am I afraid of failure or of success? Maybe I think that if I actually express myself as I want to, I will be scared of what I find or it will alienate me from those I love. But the actual reason for the fear, as my therapist tells me, is irrelevant. What’s important for me is realizing that the fear is irrational and unfounded, and it is just the scared child in me making excuses not to start.

    I have recently found myself in a bit of a “backslide,” so to speak. I have been the snake again, to use your metaphor. This was very difficult for me to process at first, because I had been floating on cloud nine since I started my recovery. The strength of my conviction at the start was so great that the momentum carried me through for almost two months without any real rough spots, so when those old fears and doubts and anxieties started creeping back in, I latched onto them and threw my own gigantic pity party, as I am wont to do. I used this uncertainty as an excuse to drink again… and thankfully I snapped out of it pretty quickly and went back to a meeting, humbly admitting my mistake and starting over. Asking again for that white chip of surrender.

    Hearing you talk about the cyclical nature of the process brings me a modicum of peace. Things are not always sunshine in roses in life, particularly for a recovering alcoholic. I will have good times as well as bad, and the sooner I can accept that, the better off I will be, because only then will I be able to weather the storms when they come, knowing that there will be rainbows once again. This, too, shall pass.

    Thanks again,
    Simon

    • Simon – you have brought me so much in your response. What you say carries much weight for me. The irrational fears, the part yearning to scream out, the fear of failure and/or success (the latter is more of my downfall than the former).

      The backslide you talk about is normal. Fears, doubts, anxieties, etc. do come back. Character defects roam around like the old Whack-A-Mole game – when we think we have one down, another pops up. It’s how it is, for most of us, regardless of 2 months or 20 years of recovery. That’s the journey – a keen awareness of self and the actions taken to move forward and upward and deeper in to the path. Self pity never fails to allure me, but I know it brings me to a dark place. Not drinking per se, but familiar emotional settings, if you will.

      What you said about the cyclical nature of the process brings up many things for me. And has also inspired me to think of a post revolving around that. I am certainly in a certain place that isn’t where I was even a few months or weeks ago. And you bring clarity for me – this is a process and we do change and go through phases. Of course we do. We have to.

      Thank you Simon – you have helped me greatly.

      Blessings,
      Paul

  11. Have you ever shared something with a friend, and found a commonality? Me neither, but it appears you and I do share a shortcoming or twenty. The really nice journals. All empty. Virginal. Untouched. Unsoiled. Except for a few that have been vandalized by some aborted attempts at journal keeping. Bastard children that bring shame. I’m like that with blank canvas too, dude. If I do wind up painting on them, it’s almost apologetically. “I know I have no business doing this, sorry for ruining you, Mr. Perfectly Blank Canvas.”
    Perhaps in other areas as well. Point is I “get” The Freeze. Best way to power through one of those is by drinking half a case of beer. No. Scratch that. That is the worst way to power through a freeze. I get worst and best mixed up sometimes.
    I…ahem…must most humbly admit that Julia Cameron and her book The Artist’s Way made fruitful reading. Particularly interesting was her recovery and rediscovery of her natural creativity. The one she used to drink gin and tonics to get. Now doing it spiritual style. On the natch.
    Successfully.
    I am humbled because when I was drinking, there were all these women in Santa Fe that were into The Artist’s Way. I knew nothing about it other than it sounded stupid. A woman I was seeing tried to get me to go to one of the lectures and I showed up too drunk on tequila and beer to make it. “Fuck your Artist’s Way bullshit!”
    Ten years later, I overcome some unexamined prejudice and open the book, and it plays a pivotal part in me being able to write again. Sober.
    Anybody else want some of this crow. There’s plenty here. It tastes just like shit.
    I made a mistake. Once. Cameron says that any artist that wants to create really great art, must be willing to make mistakes. Must be willing to make bad art. In order to stay in the process. So that you’ll be there when the really amazing shit comes out. To catch it.
    You can imagine me reading this, Pauly. I’m like “Yes, that’s good, I’m all on-board. Except for that making mistakes part. I want none of that.”
    You have to be okay with making mistakes if you’re going to create great art.
    Good thing that doesn’t apply to life. To creating a great life. Having to make mistakes. In order to grow great. Because that would suck, dude.
    I just want to find the Magical Mistake Eraser. Clean up some journals. Return them to their pristine condition. Is that too much to ask for?
    There’s that longing for you as a kid. The beautiful clean Page of Possibility.
    Mourn his loss we must, but the best way to honor the dead is to try to incorporate their most beautiful aspects, into ourselves. So they live on. We kind of have to do that with our kid self. Keep him alive. For art’s sake. And for love’s. We need to be brave enough to make mistakes. To be innocent.
    So yeah, I guess jumping in and transcribing the scribble off the back of your electric bill onto 300 gsm paper, in even worse scribble, is what it takes.
    Okay, I’m going to pass out this construction paper and some finger paints. We are all going to be making mistakes. All of us. Sometimes even on purpose. And we’ll let everybody around us make them too. And nobody’s going to get on anyone’s case. Now let’s drop some dry ice in our juice, and turn this dull classroom into a Burning Man beat box jamboree.
    Anyway, it looks like you’ve popped out onto the other side of this latest Heroic Quest. Kudos to yos, bro. You are entitled to all kinds of weapons upgrades and skill increases. How do I know you’ve made it? I see it in your writing. Yer kicking a wilder mountain dance these days, that’s fer damn sure. Your last caption. Right? Totally getting your crazy on.
    Pauly, you have no idea how much of a kick I get out of you. Your work. The whole enchilada.
    I can’t wait to see what comes out next. It’s a joy to behold.
    You bring me great joy, dear friend. I am eternally grateful to you for that.
    Marius

    PS . Atwood and Munro. The Snyder quote. And of course, “Lute for comfort.” All gems among gems, but “I am usually at a standstill amongst the maelstrom of blazing and frenzied construction around me.” threw me off my stool. You fucker. So good.

  12. I can’t even count how many times I nodded my head when I read this masterful work of commentary. Nodded in the deep way we old booze hounds do when we hear *truth*. Cosmic, mind-blowing stuff. That stuff that removes the calcium scales and lime deposits from the old gin-making bathtubs and chimney linings. And there’s gold in them there hills, squire. The idea of making mistakes – heresy to an alcoholic!! We don’t make mistakes – YOU make mistakes and we get caught up in them, yes? Ha ha…ah the good ol’ days. Or just days, really. Nothing good. But making mistakes – the great slayers Pride and Ego come to play, the dragons of doom. And you nail it there, Bucko. I love that part about doing the art and not making errors. Sign me up for that too. Except I will do nothing *but* make boo boos and that’s a no no. Now, I speak of this mostly in the past, and yes, in the here and now. I’d like to think that I can laugh at myself a bit more, see my own folly and not get hot headed over it. Not take the golden ring of gravitas and bestow it upon my own head like a crown of thorns (of game of thrones – I get confused).

    Your masculinity is still virile and strong, even though you went The Artist’s Way. My wife has that book. And at one point she too pointed me towards it. At least you had the open mind to open the book. I haven’t gotten there yet, but since you tackled it and lived, huevos still attached, I will take a gander at it. I am starting to feel ready to move into other realms of discovery. Writing is something I am comfortable with, so might as well start there. I don’t see myself getting commissioned to paint frescoes quite yet, but who knows. The Vatican has my number.

    It’s a joy having you here, Marius. Glad that the great Imperial Poobah put us in each other’s paths. I need the muscle and you need the lute player. Works out grand. Perhaps a barter system is in order. And we all know your work deserves a greater number of eyes. You get told on a regular basis. Perhaps I will organize an intervention for you. Just like on the picture tube. Get you hammering out a rough draft of something, cleaning it up and sending it out. Poke some agent’s beehive and see what happens.

    Possibilities are endless – for all of us.

    Squeezy hugs,
    Paul

  13. Good stuff, Paul. I have a stack of fancy journals gathering dust in my closet. Most have writings in the first three pages. Then nothing. Each represents a sense of failure to me, incompletion. Wasted pages. Kind of how I looked at my life back then.

    Now I usually do stick with spirals. But I compromised and got fancy spirals. And I use them for everything.

    To do lists
    Grocery lists
    Song titles
    Poetry attempts
    Blog ideas
    Letters
    Movies or books I want to see/read
    Bucket lists
    Doodles

    I think by using them as catch-alls I take the pressure to perform away. I carry it with me in my purse, leave it out on the counter, throw it on the floor of the car, wherever I go–it goes.

    Life doesn’t have to be formal and scripted.

    We can use the good china to eat Captain Crunch and Sloppy Joes.

    I like what Marius said, you cannot be afraid to make mistakes. It is the act of doing which makes us better. Rote repetition. And make time for it. Write everyday. Carry your fancy notebook everywhere. Scribble in it versus on the back of bills. Just write…

    In fact, when I fill this fancy spiral, I’m going to get one of those fancy leather bounds from my closet, rip out those first three pages, and use it for my grocery lists and maybe some poetry too.

    Happy Sunday. – Christy

    • I thought you weren’t going to be on the computer this weekend? lol

      Anyway, I get what you’re saying. I will have to get the unused binders from the safe, unwrap the protective titanium coatings and recite “Jumanji” until they open up. I have a tiny crappy notebook I use, and is about done. Time to get the finger paints out and muck about? Y’all got me here. Ok, I will try it. Fear be damned 🙂

      Have a wonderful Sunday too 🙂

      Paul

  14. @..”But it’s about being connected to the Creator and to others. To help others. To stay true to my own voice, even if it hurts. To stand up for myself and my beliefs without trouncing upon others. To open up my inner self and show it to others. Share my toys, play nicely with other boys and girls and not bring head lice to school. Take turns on the teeter totter. That sort of thing…”>>

    Jeez, its been a minute since I’d visited your spot..And I was reminded when you popped in to comment on mine today; how very well you express yourself in written verse. I totally enjoyed this entire write..With emphasis on the part I’ve quoted you on for a reason…

    I do hope you re-read that mayhaps over and over and over again; especially whenever you feel that old tug from your old ways of thinking trying to creep its way back in..The struggle against slipping back into it, is a struggle worth fighting. But it takes alot of work; daily…Every single day. The wonderful thing is you can “see” it coming and therefore can fight to ward it off. I stay busy doing exactly what I’ve quoted you on. With all of the ugliness in the world, even our country, it is no small feat not to get sucked in down in the gunk & crap..But the glow & positive ebb & flow of the words you write, even when commenting on another;’s blog spot; like mine..leads me to believe you’re doing very well at putting up a good fight against that old way of thinking..I’ll pop back in sooner than this time to check out your thoughts. Stay UPlifted & blessed, 4ever Sincere, Berna

    • Thanks Berna for this – wonderful comments. The old tug will always try to tug. I am better at snapping back the towel some days better than other. Sometimes it’s just best to flow through it and also find ways of dealing with them. Faith in the Creator is the best way for me, even if it takes a little more work than normal. In the end, I know it will be fine.

      Blessings,
      Paul

      • I can relate…And I think the great majority of people can. One of the things I’ve learned about this Life Journey? There IS beauty in the struggle..I think it is when we just give up and don’t even attempt to overcome or “struggle” is when we miss the mark..Took me many moons to learn that. But it is my most sincere belief all of these struggles we move through as we go “through it” leads us further forward towards the person we were born to be..Or least that is what I feel. It is not for naught…And many are gaining beautiful positive insight and warmth from the message you’re carrying and spreading..I appreciate and recognize the effort. We are all far more alike than we are different and learn , learn! so much from each other..Stay encouraged! And stay blessed..4ever sincere, Bernadette(Berna)

  15. Pingback: 16 Miles With Pi, a Monkey, and EJ’s Kidney Worthy Playlist | Running On Sober·

  16. Big office supply fan here, so you had me at spiral bound. In fact, just bought a new one last week for 1 cent. I went to look for the little cent symbol on the keyboard and couldn’t even find it, that’s how unheard of that is. Okay, it was a gimmicky back to school sale, but my point is sometimes I buy the cheap stuff because then I feel I can scribble more freely. And I do, splurging a bit more on my favorite kind of pen. I journal every morning and get a bit testy when I don’t. Sometimes I write more creatively, but I love the feel of writing my joy and angst out longhand. I feel 16 again.

    • 1¢!? I love stuff like that. The cheaper, the more apt I am to scrawl the living bejesus out of it. I am paper envious now. I will feel ripped off at the dollar store now. Resentment building. Ok, now gone. Ha ha. I hear you on the pens – I am still looking for the ultimate pen. If I won the lottery, I would probably splurge on a MontBlanc, Tibaldi, or Conway Stewart. I haven’t journaled by hand in a while…I think I will start again.

      Love the comments 🙂

      Paul

      P.S to do the “¢” sign, press ALT while punching in 0162 on your number keypad. 🙂

      • My favorite drugstore (OTC?) pen is the pilot precise V7. I bought another pilot pen last time and it’s just not the same.

        Thanks for the tip on the ¢ sign! Learn something new everyday.

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