“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.”
I’ve been writing in my journal a lot lately, almost as if I’m writing a book for some reason. Some inner or unknown force is compelling me to write it all down. Everything. Everything as in everything I don’t say in interviews because I’m never asked. Or everything I don’t say in interviews because I don’t want to advocate that kind of behavior. I’m a popular re-run on Sesame Street and I’ve jammed with the Fresh Beat band after all, and I haven’t given up on Yo Gabba Gabba either, so it behooves me to keep it clean and wholesome in the spotlight.
But I digress. That’s not entirely why I’m writing a lot these days. I’m writing because it brings me back; snapping me out of downward spiraling spin outs of past failures; do-nothing daydreams and delusions of grandeur, instigated by months of interviews talking about myself which if not careful leads to megalomania and mental disorder; therefore, writing reminds me I’m not crazy and still full of ideas and savvy; full of grace and achievement.
Cursive calms the dialogue in one’s head, sentencing the voice to the page instead of asking each newborn phrase to take another lap, busying the mind and denying it its peace. Cursive is also the eloquent language and beautifully curled lips speaking on behalf of the subconscious. When writing, I live multiple lives; those of the past, those of a possible future, and all those happening now that I didn’t know were there until I literally let them go from my dominant hand.
I also write for knowing death I suppose. Knowing someday I’ll go; someday I’ll be forced leave this good life and all of its great pleasures behind. And should that happen suddenly, all the secrets I keep and situations I experience in my solitude will vanish with me, as well as all my bullshit or profound philosophies if I don’t write them down. In prose, poetry or song, I might just live a little longer. And then maybe the impact I have on the world will be just a wee bit stronger.
I started keeping a journal as a teenager for this very reason; death that is. I didn’t know if I’d live or die or run away or what – I was a teenager after all – and words sustained me. I’d write feverishly all the things I wanted to say to my parents but couldn’t; or I’d write to the assholes at school who’d call me a fag, push me into lockers or tail my car on my way home. I would imagine myself disappearing to another city, state or dimension, leaving behind my brave Jim Morrison inspired poetic rants as an F-you to all. That would show them! I thought. Yet I knew all talk and no action would be cowardly, like breaking up with someone over text rather than giving them the pleasure of calling you an asshole one more time to your face.
I was proud of the words I compiled back then, even though when I look back I read them as knock-off monologues from Pump Up the Volume. Regardless, the words gave me power and clarity to keep living. With ink, my secrets weren’t just in my head anymore, they were on the page – which meant at any point someone else could read them and challenge them into existence; it meant that at any point I could read them into existence, and quite possibly – make them mean something.
And with this understanding of thought to word – word to action – came the realization that I could manifest whatever life i wanted. So why hide? I wanted to wanna stick around to revel in the glory of my dreaming? Rather than running away or jumping off a cliff, I chose a higher path and became a public figure, drawing lots of attention, making lots of money, seeing the world, hanging out with artists and celebrities, dating beautiful women, and in plain site for all to see – purposefully forgetting the bully assholes who pushed me in that direction, for I knew my happiness would hurt those who wished me harm. It’s like looking your best when you run into an ex. You win.
And still, I didn’t start writing out of fear nor did I keep writing just to benefit the unspoken truths. I continued to write because everyday I’d make little discoveries about myself and/or my relationship to my environment, which is always changing. The older I got, the better life was getting and the better I was getting at life. And I didn’t want to forget where I came from or what I went through to get here. Better yet, I figured I’d want to re-live these high times when I’m 90 reading my notebooks to my grandchildren. Journals are time machines after all, if not fountains of youth, giving me hope – dissipating all fears of death, encouraging me to live it up now so at the very least I’ll have some interesting stories to share as a well-lived and perhaps pervy old man. And maybe, just maybe THIS is what compels me to draw a long paragraph. I’d never have come to it had I not used the pen to ask.
It’s said the giant oak compels the acorn to grow.
So too did a young success in his 30’s compel a teen to play guitar and make this so.
And now there’s an old man somewhere compelling me to live it up and write it down.
I look forward to thanking him in person when I get there.
I may as well start here.