No, really. Nothing happened.
I always considered the possibility that I would write a book. It could happen, I thought. If some compelling event transpired, such as a survived catastrophe, a fantastic metamorphosis, or even a tragedy – yes, especially a tragedy. Because that’s what people want to read about – a meaningful experience that concludes with a significant result. Emotional, transcendent.
Most would consider their own existence, both inaccurately and accurately, as mundane. Of course “Lord of the Rings” is so popular – nothing like that is EVER going to happen to me. Right? Maybe it could?! Well, in the mean time, I’ll sublimate experience and growth through another protagonist. Besides, I have things to do in the morning. If we start the movie now, I can still get 8 hours of sleep. That will certainly help with all the things I need to do tomorrow.
What’s that? You wrote a story about a guy that lives a life of “relative” insignificance? No tragedy? No winning the gold, preventing mass destruction, no saving the world? Sounds like one of those shoe-gazing “Slacker” films. Sounds boring. Those always have a limited life span.
Let’s take a tangent first.
That’s the key word for me. It’s the oasis, the cloud, and the handcuffs. I want to BE significant. I want to leave something meaningful. Do something meaningful. Be remembered. Respected. Revered.
And it’s ALL external.
Even as I write these words. A blog of absolution. Fundamental, egoic absolution. This tiny, auto-transformative blog, one among billions of other voices, I fantasize of being found. Recognized. A simple typing meditation that I perceive and judge as heroic and pathetic, suddenly feels so foreign-
No responsibility to be Significant.
Hmmm… 60 seconds of freedom and it’s starting to feel empty. As if there’s no purpose, no goal, no reason – REASON! A ha! Just as I typed that dreadfully heady word, and it snapped! What’s a reason!? Blah! Where’s does that motivation coming from?! Whose reason?
All right, I think we’re getting somewhere. Let’s differentiate.
When I think of significance as an external motivator, the vision becomes cloudy. When I embody significance as an internal signifier, I become aligned. It doesn’t even matter what I “do” at that point. If I’m connected, I’m clear. The Latin word significantia is defined as “meaning, force, energy”. Working from that momentousness feels much cleaner to me.
Ok, what’s the story look like now?
I realize how much of the way we (as a generation) communicate via sarcasm. For the first half of the day, I have to be so careful to speak truthfully, I end up sounding like English is my 2nd language.
“Honey? These… eggs are… a little on the cold side for me. I prefer to eat eggs… when they are still… hot.”
“I think it’s time for me to take a shower. I do not smell good. I smell bad.”
As the day goes on, several things start to happen. First of all, the words start to flow more smoothly, style moves in, and complete conversations happen without too much self-checking. Ahhhh…
Second, another level of trust exposes itself. I’m not talking about the deep heart-felt sense of trust that hopefully is present in any committed relationship. I’m speaking of a subtle layer of trust that escorts every conversation you have during any day of the week with anyone. Sarcasm is the gentle form of protection we use in each engagement to insure that we aren’t to exposed or vulnerable during the conversation. After all, THE LAST thing we want is to look stupid. Even in a trusting relationship there can sometimes be a veil of protection up during the playful, teasing moments. Saturday is a prime candidate for those moments. In a nutshell, we’ve noticed that we trust each other a “little” more throughout the day.
Third, and this one I can only speak for myself, is that I notice how many things I say during the day that ARE truthful, but I use the tone of sarcasm. Effectively, the tone will almost always overrule the meaning. What do they say? “90% of communication is non-verbal.”
For instance, my girl was leaving for this fancy coffee shop down the street. I noticed she had a hole in her jeans and was wearing a cute little t-shirt. As she was walking out, I (almost) said in a playful voice, “YOU look HIP.” Of course, she both laughed it off and said “hey!” thinking that my sarcastic tone implied that she in fact, didn’t look hip – the last thing she wanted to hear before she walked into the trendy coffee shop. Ironically, I REALLY did think she looked “hip”. I wasn’t making fun of her at all, but I was using a playful/ironic voice to tell her I was attracted to her without exposing myself too greatly in that moment.
I’m gonna get off track here for a second, but why would I do that? I mean, I have no problem at all telling her straight to her face that I think she is fantastically gorgeous and I’m overwhelmingly attracted her. In fact, I do it all the time – and she believes me. So why the sarcasm?
Well, I’m slowly getting back to the beginning here, but I think it’s as simple as sarcasm is deeply engrained in our generations’ communication, and it takes a conscious effort to speak without it and still feel “cool”.
The other side of the coin is the obvious, simple fact that sarcasm is one of the oldest forms of HUMOR. “Why” it is such an effective kind of humor is for another conversation, but the simple answer is that it’s funny. And while we like to BE in trusting relationships (deep and subtle,) we also enjoy laughter.
So where does that leave this conversation? The short answer is that most deeply trusting relationships can endure and enjoy sarcasm as a source of humor and not feel threatened. Most surface engagements between friends and colleagues can do the same, as there’s not much at stake, and after all, humor IS a prime spark for joy. But, sarcasm is also a form of defensiveness and that barrier prevents true connection, both on the surface and at the core.
Funny how I just wanted to try the no-sarcasm game just to see if I could do it, and it led to all this. Maybe try the game for a day and see what it opens for you.
More importantly though, I’m looking forward to rebuilding the strength in my core. I’ve felt very weak in that area for almost a year, and making decisions and reacting from the base of a weak core is NOT recommended. And although I am still weak from the surgery, because the wound has been healed and secured, I already feel stronger. Soon enough, I can start to rebuild a solid foundation. Let’s see what the future holds when power is restored to the body.
Stuart is one of my favorite artists and as usual, I’m excited to start the new album. This will be the third one I’ve done with him and it seems my preparatory notes about the songs get more and more abstract as the records progress. Ironically, my focus about the direction of the albums, as a whole, gets more and more focused.
When I first met Stuart, I saw his genius and immediately wanted to document and enhance it. That was the album Bell. That was good attempt, but it didn’t quite capture “Stuart”. For the next record, I wanted to accentuate every eccentric part of Stuart. That was the album ¿What. I’m very proud of that collection of songs. It came out just as I wanted. However, I think its wildness scared off a lot of people.
Which brings us to the new one.
I’ve decided to print out a set of questions and post them around the studio.
2. Is it familiar?
3. Can I sing along to it?
We recently did a song for the new Owen Wilson movie
It’s a great place to start.
So, if I don’t check in as much, it’s not because I don’t love you. It’s because I do love you.