Hold the Glimmer

Hold the Metta

Posted on: July 12, 2011

One would think taking some serious time off from writing would provide an opportunity for thoughts and ideas to cultivate in the mind.  One would think…
I can’t say with any degree of accuracy where or who I’ve been since I last disgraced the interwebs with my complaint-laden gibberish.  Hazy snapshots come to mind, but much like a conversation with my parents – I can never divulge anything more than generalities and insignificant details.  I’d like to say that I’ve grown as a person, learned about myself and the world, gained culture and wisdom and understanding; but the reality is I’ve burned off too many brain cells to have possibly gained anything more than an early onset of alzheimer’s and a lifetime ban from… well, it’s not important.
Lately I’ve been wondering how much is too much?  How far is too far?  At what point do we stop pushing the limits of public intoxication and weekend warriorhood?  When do we make the jump from running-into-the-stands Ron Artest to sweet charitable goofball Metta World Peace?  What the fuck does Metta even mean, anyway?  (Editors note: I’ve decided that Metta is my new favorite word and officially a new glimmer game.  See how many times you can use that word in a day; via email, casual conversation with your boss, to the girl crying in the bathroom stall next door…you get the picture. Game on!)
Maybe I was supposed to cut the shit after college, but it has only gotten worse – or better, depending on your perspective.  These days I have money to party in ways I always wanted when I was a broke student living on spaghetti and Italian dressing.  Now, every year feels like a competition to outdo last year, and the result is always the same – I’m the big winner.  The best is yet to come, which is both exciting and frightening, because as I keep surpassing myself – I’m almost positive that my body is losing.  It has to be.  Something has to give at some point.  It’s only a matter of time…
Normal people chalk up their hazy years to youthful rebellion and move onto the long boring phase of domesticity as a result of their ensuing maturity.  They get real jobs, settle down, have kids, and everything else takes a backseat to “life.”  I’ve started a career, not a star-studded one, but a career to be proud of nonetheless.  One that requires me to be a responsible upstanding adult, which I appear to be during work hours.  I’m surrounded by nice people – friendly grown folks who work hard even on their days off, pick up their kids from school, pay their mortgages, remodel their homes, and occasionally play golf or poker if they have a couple of hours free.  Nice people – fucking squares.  Did they start off that way?  God forbid.  Was it a gradual breaking of the exuberance and spirit that once had them preaching free love and Tuesday night skinny dipping?  It seems that even the ex-hipsters and night owls eventually sold out in the name of practicality and parenthood – two concepts with which I’m entirely unfamiliar.  
The other night I tried something completely outrageous and out-of-character.  It was despicable, unforgivable; my parents would be proud.  I stayed home, and did nothing.  Actually, I stayed in my hotel room.  I’m living at the Marina Del Rey Marriott right now, not that it matters or that you care – it’s just a detail to flesh out the story.  So, on a weekend night (it was Thursday, but I had Friday off), I sat in my hotel room, ordered room service, and watched my view of the pacific ocean with its sandy beaches and docked sailboats.  It was quiet, serene; just lovely.  I remember thinking, which is already a big deal for me… “Maybe I can do this – mellow out and step back from the edge.”  I’ve always been attracted to the locomotive lifestyle of monsters and rockstars.  All my heroes had the grit to push their limits, and as a result cranked out some incredibly profound bodies of work.  But, then again, all my heroes are either dead or in rehab.  Perhaps there’s something to this simple life of sobriety.  It seems a moment can be enjoyed without slurring obscenities over loud music, or offending patrons at late night diners.  Of course by 10pm I was absolutely bored with the view, the television, the room, the book I brought, and myself.  I hit the 8th floor for some free concierge Chivas, and the rest of the weekend was a blur from that point on…
Some might call that a failure in abstinence.  Clearly I’m a little off when it comes to prioritizing my free time.  My idea of fun can range anywhere between high-fiving dancing midgets to looking into the very face of God (sometimes in the same night).  In the middle of a year when I’ve lived harder than ever before, asking to stop and smell the proverbial roses is a tall order.  In all honesty, it feels like the only time I have to reflect on this hellish existence is the thirty minutes after pouring myself into my desk chair, before the calls start coming in and the meeting notices pop up for the day.  Break up the monotony of work through play – earn the right to play through work, and sleep when necessary.  Sounds great, but every system or schedule heads toward chaos.  A wrench in the machine, or a week or two off the grid might be just the necessary break it takes to perpetuate the craziness and keep the plates spinning in the air.  Hah, a week or two… I could barely stand four hours.  Like any exercise though, one can’t just max out right off the bat.  You build up.  So my four hours can be expanded to an entire evening, and eventually a weekend, and then a whole week.  A whole week… I can feel the neurons regenerating at the thought.  It sounds like madness comparing relaxation and sobriety to working out, but I suppose some people have to try to eat more pizza, watch more television, and remind themselves what a sunset looks like through fresh clear eyes.   
So I do admit, a holiday (that’s English for vacation) from the insanity is in order, but I don’t plan on slowing down permanently anytime soon.  This year will pale in comparison to next year, and that’s just how I like it.  How far is too far?  We’re not there yet.  Taking a break gives me the chance to reflect on the good times passed, and plan bigger and better ways to conquer the night.  This has nothing to do with rebellion, or having trouble appreciating myself, or running away from any deeper issues.  I know what I’m looking for – to fulfill a dream – the American Dream, the fucking Global Dream.  The dream of participating without restraint in the human condition.  To use up the body I’ve been given tasting the fruits of life all over the world.  The operative word for the unattainable here would be balance.  Personally, I don’t believe in it.  If everything is in equilibrium and you’re feeling comfortable, you’re probably sleeping too much.  At our age, only the flounders feel any consistent level of comfort.  Monsters thirst for more – not as an indulgence in gluttonous bullshit, but as a quest for the kind of experiences mere mortals only see with their eyes closed; not to repeat the same fun and games until we grow tired and give them up, but to challenge ourselves to break out of the box we live in and truly feed our souls.  When my time is up, I won’t be looking back to say I missed out by sitting on the sidelines.  What would be the point?  To live in consistent boredom until the end of time, in hopes that heaven will make up for everything that passed you by on Earth?  Sounds a little uncertain to me.  Because when I finally do settle down – it won’t be because I was too scared to find what I really wanted.  In the meantime, I’m going to test my tolerance for discomfort by taking deep breaths and experiencing some calm.  And if you see me sitting there obnoxiously tapping my feet, it’s not because I’m fiending – it’s just to remind myself the ground is still there…

This is my life


4 Responses to "Hold the Metta"

A Metta Square’s Response
Thank you for taking the time to write and share. In reading your blog, I found myself compelled to respond, however ineloquently, to share with you my concern about your well-being and perhaps to challenge your perceptions of how life should be lived.

In reading your blog, it struck me as very “rock and roll”. In my head, I could hear snippets of innumerable bands addressing some of the same central issues you are grappling with in your own life. Roger Daltrey of the Who bellowing “hope I die before I get old…” and Neil Young singing “ it’s better to burn out than to fade away…” come immediately to mind.

“Damn the torpedoes, its full speed ahead!!” you seem to be saying.

On its surface, there is a certain romance to this—the talented artist who burns brightly and then is gone. Jim Morrison, Curt Cobain, Bradley Nowell (Sublime), Jimmy Hendrix all immensely gifted and all lost so young. Undoubtedly, part of their legacy comes from the fact they didn’t stick around long enough to screw up. No need to worry about Cobain trying to write music for some shitty Broadway show or Hendrix trying pathetically his hand at hip hop music. They were like forces of nature—powerful and fleeting, leaving behind a world in awe of their power and artistry.

By your own admission Duke, you say you have always been attracted to this “locomotive lifestyle”. While there are many in the world that feel the same as you, I cannot count myself among them. In fact, I would argue instead that this mentality is both narcissistic and destructive.

Please understand, if the damage done was purely self-destructive, I would have no problem with “live hard, die young and leave behind a good looking corpse” mentality. It is your body after all, destroy it as you see fit.

The problem is that you are not alone in the universe. What you do affects other people, sometimes in small ways, sometimes profoundly. While forces of nature might inspire awe, they also leave behind a trail of physical and emotional destruction. Undoubtedly, some “square” will be left to clean up after you.

Sometimes the damage may be minor—your drunken behavior at a bar ruins another couple’s night out, you are too hung over to help a friend move apartments the next day. You miss calling your mom on her birthday. You get fired from your number one television show.
Sometimes, however, the ‘party mentality’ can have more dire consequences. The “rock and roll” road is littered with the destruction of broken families and lost loves. Cobain guaranteed himself immortality the night he killed himself. He also left behind a young baby girl. The same can be said of Nowell whose five day heroin-fueled binge left his newlywed bride a widow and his child without a father. Call it rock and roll if you like. I call it tragic.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am a square-one of those pathetic suckers who “picks their kid up from school, pays my mortgage and remodels my home”. Do I see myself as a sell-out? Hardly. In my view, it is easy to be the party guy.

What is infinitely more challenging and honorable in my view is to be the steady guy-the guy who sleeps with only one woman, who works his ass off in some shitty job to feed his family, and lives for the proud day his kid will go off to college. What you see as “broken exuberance and spirit” I see as the hard work that makes the world run. I’d imagine your own parents made those types of sacrifices for you to be where you are today.

In your blog, you deny that you are running away from “deeper issues”. I am highly dubious. If my 45 years of life have taught me anything, it is that we ALL live lives of “quiet desperation”. You attempt to fill your emptiness with the blare of alcohol and dancing midgets. Fair enough. Some use religion to fill the void and still others materialism. We are all prisoners of our existence, looking for a measure of peace.

The solution? I think there is only one-love. I know that for me, I feel the most at peace when I am making someone’s path through life a little easier with my love and affection. A hand cannot hold a someone else’s hand and a bottle simultaneously. For your sake and the happiness of those who love you, I hope you will someday know which one to hold and which one to let go.

With Love,
Michael Denman

That’s quite a response. A bit dramatic, but definitely worth considering. While I do love the music of Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, and Jimi Hendrix – I don’t envy their lack of longevity or use of heroin and speedballs. You seem to be focusing on the crazy nature of my post and missing some of the more subtle points, though. At 25, the last thing I want to be is a stable family man. Like I said, “we’re not there yet.” I recognize that youth is temporary, and that’s why I want to enjoy it as much as possible while I can. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t plan to live past the next few years. Can you really tell me you never look back on your younger days and feel like maybe you could have gotten away with a little more? Were you always the responsible parent and husband, or did you have your wild days too? Right now I feel like I’m in this sweet spot of life where I’m old enough to know what I want, and young enough to still go out and get it. I drink, but that doesn’t mean I show up to work shitfaced or shake for a margarita right at 5pm; and forgetting my mother’s birthday wouldn’t be just minor damage – she would absolutely kill me. As a matter of fact, I pride myself on living hard and still cleaning up after myself. I think that’s a story you don’t hear often enough – the “party guy” who lives fast and loose, sees the world, feeds his passions and creativity, and still works his ass off to secure his future. My only option is to end up choking on vomit like Jimi? That’s bleak. Charles Bukowski was a stinking drunk, lived into his 70s with a loving wife, and wrote tremendous novels right up untill the end. That’s not to say that I have his talents or his alcoholism, I’m just saying there are other examples. Even Neil Young and Roger Daltry are still alive and kicking. So is Jack Nicholson for that matter. I don’t want to be any of these people – I just want to maximize this time so that when I too become a square with an oversized mortgage, I won’t look at the young people around me and say, “what if?”

By the way, for the record, I’m very blessed to be surrounded by loving supportive people for whom I would do absolutely anything. They come first. Always.

I do not have the funds nor the interest to compete as an observer of grand events. I want to be on stage and that is what I want to do – be Jimmy Hendrix playing his guitar, not the passerby who says, “This is awesome man” and then goes home at night to masturbate while all the groupies go have fun with a guy on acid. I’ve seen quite enough on the side of the amused and want to amuse now. One thing I’ve realized is that all the DJs are the same drug with a different name. There’s always someone going to be great at producing music and we’ll spend X amount of dollars for those couple of days, go home and do it again with another DJ or drug filled event (DJ filled event). Marginal return is decreasing and I’m just not interested in seeing another DJ live – the high only lasts so long and the methods to this high are limited in my book.

So I’ve got bills to pay and that’s my priority now. I’ll make due with what I’ve got and make the most out of the funds to entertain me in different ways.

Be safe brother and I will speak to you soon.

If the realm of DJs and producers is your thing, then the only option is the conquer it. Events and music are a beautiful thing, but there’s a big world beyond it just waiting to be picked apart, over analyzed, and ridiculed by yours truly. We’re all heading somewhere – you just make sure I get backstage passes when the time comes.

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