It’s 4:00 AM on my birthday as I write this.
It’s been a year in which ups and downs were fast and plentiful, and change was a guaranteed constant.
It’s funny, I suppose, that so many things I expected or had at least hoped to have different now are the same, while some disappointments were inevitable, and other pleasant surprises came completely unexpectedly.
C’est la vie. That’s life.
I celebrated, or perhaps it’s better to say that I acknowledged, the anniversary of the day I arrived on Planet Earth as a stranger, by sitting in a room, talking into a microphone and playing music, as the clock clicked slowly toward and past midnight.
There were other things I could’ve been doing, other things I perhaps should’ve been doing, but that’s one of the things I’ve always enjoyed doing ever since I was about 15.
Didn’t matter how many people tuned in to listen, as long as there was one, well, that counts as an audience.
After all, it does still say “entertainer” somewhere on my curriculum vitae, although I don’t think I’ve bothered to update my resumé in years.
Earlier in the evening, I was printing out poster-sized prints of recent photo shoots I’d taken near Brandon, and before finally finding the rec room couch and a few scant hours of sleep, I’d plugged in a Gibson Les Paul Custom “Black Beauty” (Les Paul referred to that guitar as “having its tuxedo on”) and played along with the last few songs I’d programmed before leaving the WMIR Broadcast Booth.
It’s weird, though, how much solitary time is required to pursue this artistic lifestyle that I’ve chosen (or maybe it chose me, I’m not sure). People often seem to be under the impressions that photographers are constantly surrounded by models, and musicians live a 24-hour party of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll.
It’s more like frustration, light beer, and whatever genre of music might pay the bills, seeing as it’s estimated by industry sources that 90% of musicians in this country don’t make enough for it to qualify as taxable income.
And with the camera, I’m always interested in capturing something artistic or memorable, regardless of whether it’s a pretty girl, a landscape, or a baseball game.
I suppose that’s why art is subjective, open to interpretation. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Anyway, the joy of art for most is the recognition of it. A gallery showing of paintings or photographs or sculptures. A dance recital or concert performance of music practiced, and practiced, and practiced, again and again and again. The public enjoys it for mere minutes or a couple of hours, after the artists sweat for years to hone their craft, never knowing if they’ll be appreciated at all.
I’ve been blessed, in that regard, at least to some degree. I occasionally take time off from one pursuit in order to necessarily concentrate on other pursuits, and my writings don’t always get published with the frequency of those who only do one thing.
It’s probably been months now since I took the time to compose a poem, let alone a song, and I haven’t been on a stage for some time, either, although I do have an upcoming return engagement in Winnipeg in a week or two.
That lack of consistency can be a bit frustrating for those who actually do follow my careers, I’m sure. My business card has so many job descriptions on it at this point that I most likely appear to be either extremely indecisive or perhaps a team of people who all share the same name.
Whatever it is that continues to drive me to express myself in as many conceivable ways as possible, and wherever it might be from which the inspiration arrives, and whatever form in which it manifests itself, I’m not stopping. I wouldn’t know how, even if I sometimes want to.
Jackson Browne, one of my favourite songwriters, wrote “The Pretender” after his wife’s suicide. I’ve always listened to the words, about having a “normal life”, thinking that it is enviable, the regular life of those who punch a clock and take home a paycheque.
That’ll never be me.
I don’t know what the next year holds in store, but all night long, I’ve been looking back at the last one, and I’m thankful for the memories it provided. All the joy, and even all the pain.
Those two things are usually what provide inspiration, although the Greeks attributed it to the Muses, nine goddesses who were daughters of Zeus.
Huey Lewis, about whom I wrote in this column a while ago, once said, “When the muse comes, she comes. You can’t be out washing your car.”
Meaning that when she shows up, drop everything, because otherwise you might lose her.
Probably good advice for any guy, about any girl, let alone whereas it pertains to a goddess.
I guess what it all comes down to is this: love thy muse, and cherish the inspiration she provides you in whatever you do.
My wish today is that whatever it is that you’re inspired to do, you do it with an artistic flourish all your own. Everything is art. Life is art.
My own life continues to be about chasing my muse, so I’ve gotta run.