Wednesday, March 28, 2012


  When you reach adolescence, you tend to start asking the important questions. Who am I? Who do I want to be? What you don't realize is that there's a line wrapped around the globe waiting to tell you or sell you the answer. This is especially true for those who question the answers they are given. Economies are driven by this. It is our way of life. There will always be protocol.

  Does this provoke your pride? Are you feeling indignant? Do you feel you have the answers? Are you the exception to the rule? You may have a career in marketing! At best, your role is reinforcement.

  Clearly, I have pushed this meditation on self-determination to the point of despair. My voice so far has been that of an agitator whose sole purpose has been to create opposition. Your perception naturally resists. You find that perception is all there is and it is under your control. Remove the resistance. All the answers and those who claim to have them base their existence on this resistance. All of this force built by tension simply ceases to exist. The meaning is lost but you remain.

  Most people will always push back. Life might force them to give in when the going gets rough. Rather than learn from this, they will engage their world over and over again. If you can only recognize the tension and release your grip, the so-called weight of the world will do itself in. There is no world. Only you.

  This is an exercise in aikido. Its core concept is redirecting the force of an opponent's attack rather than taking it head-on.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sparring Artist: Conclusion

            Sly Stallone had $106 dollars in the bank. He had just sold his dog. Bidding on his script for Rocky was peaking north of $300,000 based on the sole condition that someone else, someone more famous would play the title role. Sly stood his ground and ended up taking $8000 after taxes with a weekly rate of $340 for his performance. I conclude my “Sparring Artist” series of short essays with the story behind the story that has brought me deep solace and comfort since I was a scrawny little boy. It brings tears to my eyes when I am made aware of the bond I share with such stories of courage. It is a mix of inspiration and the crucial question of “Do I have what it takes?” That is the artist in me. The part of me that spars does so because it is only by making facing that which thwarts me a common daily practice that I have the strength I need precisely when I need it. Put the two together and I would say that fight and dance truly belong in the same metaphorical space. It is what makes me a sparring artist.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sparring Artist 3

  "I'm drowning and you're describing the water!"  Jack Nicholson uttered these words in the classic film As Good As It Gets. More importantly, I've uttered these words many a time to a woman who will not be derailed when she feels she must spell out what she perceives the problem to be. That woman would be my darling mother. Now, assuming the person who has the problem does not fully understand said problem is not totally unreasonable but when the dilemma is imminent death by way of asphyxiation, one might find any thoughts on avoiding this scenario or finding a solution to be a bit more of value.

  On the other hand, my mother might take a look at this series of essays and could essentially say the same about me. Drowning, as a metaphor, has direct links to the experience of depression after all and they're both "D" words! So what is there to gain from describing it? My mother is smart enough to pass this question up. Her issue is my choice to share it, to make it public. I'm drowning. I'm describing the water...and I'm inviting all to witness how deftly I choose my words as this all occurs. Do I have to do this? Is this the only way I share my writing? Of course not.

  My mother is here to protect me and to ensure I remain protected. She will always be. Being perplexed as to why her son who spends so much time staying clear of the darkness would choose to return to it on any basis, regular or otherwise, is perfectly reasonable. On the other hand, if my writing were to gain an audience and maybe even help others, there wouldn't even be an issue. For now, the word is catharsis. I face it. I engage it it. I report it here.Soon, this series will end. The sparring will not but whatever readers I do have will always know that while we all pursue our daily lives, some may be drowning but still others could be sitting right next you sparring with thoughts, sparring with ideas, sparring with themselves.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sparring Artist 2

  Every fraction of a mile bringing you closer to that job is stripping away your defenses and subjecting you to a asteroid belt of panic and fear. Yet you trudge forward as if on a holy quest with the full support of your loved ones. Beneath it all, you know they are not supporting your demise. You have crossed that insidious line where you are truly on your own. In the best of circumstances, you are the captain of your fate and all that. Today, muscles all over your body contract from quakes that follow desperate gasps for air. No matter how dire the circumstances of these moments may be, you will end up defending your choices and straining to convince those loved ones you are not a loser.

  The basis for pursuing the silly stories and flights of fancy that matter so much to you is one you invented for yourself after all. So when you go, so goes it. There is no one to mind it for you. Not only are the people and ideas you live for falling away like debris but you find yourself aiding in the evacuation, stripping yourself of all emotional weight you cannot bear in that moment. You always hope to be able to put it all back together again and you almost always seem to pull it off. The lingering guilt over all you forsook in the name of survival never fails to materialize. It cannot ever be expressed to those individuals for what was merely a thought always gathers potential for causing pain as soon as it hits the open air.

  The battle will never cease. Your options seem limited to who you may enlist as allies and on what scale you engage the enemy. The original clash, the sparring match you wake up to daily always takes precedence and sets the tone for all subsequent bravery. Say a prayer for those equally embattled souls who lack even this feeble shield of words and craft.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sparring Artist

  Lying down. Sitting up. Standing up. Has your day ever been broken down to these three steps? Have you ever given it your best shot only to go through all three steps again in reverse? Ending up back where you started? At some point, it feels like when you’re sitting on the floor and you rock yourself backward in order to propel yourself forward, only it takes a few more tries than anticipated. For some, I am merely describing feeling old or tired. For others, I am describing a typical day.

  Once you get that momentum and you’re off and running, it is near impossible to stop for anything or anyone. You grow impatient with life and others. Now imagine what happens to this frustration when you realize you’re just giving that momentum away and you’ll never get it back. That’s what daily life is right? No way, it can’t be, not when you fight so hard for it.

  Those are brave words. Those are words that apparently can be repeated endlessly. Those are words. If you’re lucky, your loved ones will listen to them. That’s all they can do. I take that back. They can listen and they can help. In order for the former to lead to the latter, something must be done. The next time you finding yourself standing up only to lie back down, take a step instead. Take a couple of steps. You have changed the steps to the dance. Most people will step on your feet, to be sure. This is not the dance they are familiar with. It is your dance. No one said it has to be pretty.