When an artist’s expression awakens a part of your soul you never forget it. The first time experiencing On the Road, or Fear and Loathing. Bang. Tropic of Cancer, The Alexandria Quartet. Voices that stay with you like companions for the rest of your creative life. Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself unlocked me as an early college student with a rapidly dying father. Cancer and alcoholism. The dying star. More of a black hole getting ready to bleep itself out of existence.
How does this connection change our experience of life? From then on, capturing moments in rambling epic free verse became part of my experience and recall process. I was recording in high-definition, as we all are. I was becoming interested in enhancing that process within myself. Beyond the Brain by Stanislav Grof blew a hole in my space-time logic. How the brain, what the brain, and releasing the brain of previous loops and ruminations.
I rest inside a good book sometimes. A meditation of the mind, body, and spirit. When reading a ‘connective text’ my snapses begin firing right along with the words as they are coming off the page. How the writer, one word at a time, pulls me into a flow, a river, and ultimately a waterfall of speed, imagery, and soul. With no soul there is no flow, for me.
It’s interesting, thinking about the brain for a minute. How my own writing can recall and retrigger some of the chemistry in my brain that becomes a similar memory, a paralell memory. My brain is actually recreating the experience with neurochemicals used for recall and reimaging. The moment, as I am writing it, is an attempt to record that formula of unlocking. First in myself. (When I get excited or emotional about my own words.) Then in others.
People used to respond online a lot more. Today, we’ve become a constellation of swipers and scrollers. We are becoming less and less interested in the human experience and more interested in our own flaggelation and stimulation. We are either pleasuring ourselves or torturing ourselves with old hurts, loops, memories, regrets. Many people experience the world in one of two modes. PLEASURE. PAIN. When you blend or crossbreed the two emotions you get things like enjoying pain. Leaning into the pain an suffering inside you and giving it a visual expression: the full sleeve.
In a moment of walking the planet, I took my partner to breakfast at a beloved French-modern restaurant. There were three young people at the host stand, looking down at an array of touchscreen monitors. One of them looked up and noticed the two of us standing before them.
“Just two?” The young lady in the middle said. She was the supervisor. A young blonde man was on her left polishing some sort of signaling device. The young woman on the right never looked up from her screens. Maybe she was the manager, just listening and assessing her trainees.
“Yes,” I said, trying to catch our host’s eyes before they returned to the screens. I missed. “How’s your morning going?”
She either didn’t hear me, ignored me, or was trapped in some virtual hell of her own making, but she turned to the young blonde and whispered something. He put down the device, and said “This way,” without looking up at us. We followed.
Passing through the entry way, a short hall filled with photos of celebrities and a series of Writer’s Nights they do each year. [Wait, they have writer’s nights here? Mental note.]
A young man in a black leather coat and black hair was playing some peaceful classics. Not jazz, not classical, but some semi-recognizable melodies if you were familiar with the song. I was not. Through the bar area, where another three or five waitstaff were milling about. On through to a table my partner and I had shared about a year earlier.
“Thank you,” I said to the quiet guide. “It’s our favorite table.”
He left with no connection. Then Peter arrived at our table. “Hi folks, my name is Peter, and I’ll be your server. Can I get you started with some coffees?”
“Good morning, Peter,” I said. I’ve been working on listening when people say their names. It is important. Naming each other. Becoming familiar. Sharing a human moment of connection. “How is your morning going?” I asked.
“It’s good. You’re my first table, so here we are.”
A lovely meal, diverse conversations between me and my partner, Peter and me, and all three of us. The croissant and strawberry butter was more than enough to justify the 40-minute drive.
“Well, good luck with the food trailer,” I said to Peter. “I’ll look for you.”
“Okay cool. And if you need anything, we’re good workers. I’ve got a friend who’s a movie maker. Has a trailer full of stuff.”
“Wow,” I said. “I have been trying to get a music video done for months, does he, do you… Is that something he would be interested in?”
“Let’s exchange info,” I said. “So I can follow up with you.”
“Oh, yeah, that works. What’s your phone number?”
Peter and Paulo the movie maker entered our lives.