Plumbing the Depths

He paused for a moment, hands poised above the keyboard, wondering if he was going to write another story about talking possums, or dumb but lovable deer. “Ah, f**k it,” he muttered, and started another story about a dyslexic lemur that just couldn’t catch a break.

Or maybe not. I started this blog to chronicle my big life decision to leave my retail career after 20 years, and only do doing things that fulfill me creatively and artistically. I know: BOR-ing! No one has ever had that impulse, right?

I’ll be different! I have a plan! Well, I do. I have a dream. I have wants and desires. I have a smaller cushion to fall back on than people think, but it’s that urgency, that scrabbling, that will motivate me to get my ass in gear. More about that later.

Here it is: I want to be the Los Angeles Julie Taymor in 10 or 15 years. *Whew*, I think I’m going to throw up now. It’s scary putting it out there, for you three, maybe four people who will stumble across this post, read it, and think, “Oh, he’s new to this and probably doesn’t have very strong spam or profanity settings yet.” And you’re right, I don’t! But my point is that there is a frenetic magic, a desperate alchemy that happens when you articulate a desire that seems like it has been your personal secret for so long (smash-cut to me and my friend Jennie 15 years ago, working together at Dillard’s in Albuquerque, New Mexico’s saddest shopping mall. Me: “I have been thinking of melodies. I want to form a band.” Jennie: “Do you even write songs? Do you even know anyone who plays an instrument?” Me: “We are recording in May.” Jennie: “…”).

So: Julie Taymor. Director/designer. Theater/film, but mostly dig the theater stuff. Say what you want about “Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark”, but her career is longer than just that, and it speaks for itself. Julie-freakin’-Taymor. I love her art and her aesthetic.

image from the 2010 revival of “The Magic Flute” at the Metropolitan Opera. photo credit Sara Krulwich

My plan is to get a portfolio built quickly with gratis interior design, theatrical design, and art projects. And then start chargin’ people when I can prove I’m any good at this stuff. Which I am. The main challenge I’ve run into so far, is not treating it like some huge vacation. I’ve quickly learned to ramp up my productivity by being planful, and making deadlines for myself. I feel the most lucid, energetic, and motivated in the morning, so I protect that time for the more creative projects, or the ones I know I may get easily bored with later. I have a feeling this isn’t the last time I’ll talk about this.

I’m reading a book right now, “Imagine: How Creativity Works” by Jonah Lehrer. A lot of it is about the brain chemistry and physiology that makes up the creative impulse. In the book , Mr. Lehrer recounts a couple of cases where adults were eventually diagnosed with a fatal, incurable, irreversible disease called frontotemporal dementia. There are a few horrible symptoms, but one of the first common ones is an urgent need to create art. Now, no mom, I don’t have frontotemporal dementia! But this came as a relief; it’s hard to articulate why this, the fact that there is a physical geometry and shape to creativity, is encouraging to me. Maybe I’ve always thought that there are only so many good ideas? Maybe I always fooled myself that creativity is a finite well, and I’ve been afraid to dip into it too deep…what if it runs dry?

That right there is it, has to be the significance of “putting it out there”, starting things like blogs, and finally verbalizing what we want. To have a community of people who will support us, encourage us in dipping from that well, and ultimately knock us on our asses when we get off-track and mired in self-doubt.

So let’s go, you four loyal readers. Creativity is an infinite ocean, let’s plumb the depths together and see what crazy stuff we find down there. We’re all creators, we are all artisan warriors.We are all blacksmiths.

11 thoughts on “Plumbing the Depths”

  1. I am proud of you beyond what any words could convey, Proud, and yet not surprised,,,,,you were the kid that would reherse with the Youth Symphony until 11PM and then come home and WRITE….you told me once it was because “I just have to”….so you would write until the wee hours then get up and go to school…,no, I;m not surprised. I truely believe we create our own reality and I can’t wait to see what reality you create for yourself….you are following your heart and that, while painful at times, is never wrong. I love you so much my darling son and am so happy for you!!

  2. Wonderful! Simply A-meow-zing. Thank you, Mike, for taking this leap. So excited you’re sharing your journey with us. Congratulations!

  3. Thank you for sharing this story! I actually wrote about this subject this morning, my own restlessness to create. It motivates me beyond words to hear encouragement, especially on this frustrating day. Best of luck in your endeavors!

    1. It may sound cliche, but the frustrating days are just setting up the good ones…no, no “power of positive thinking” stuff, but learning what does NOT work or motivate us, sharpens our creative blades I think. Thanks for your kind wishes

  4. Hey, Mike.
    I have no doubt that you will be wildly successful in whatever endeavor you pursue. You, of all people, can DO whatever you put your mind to. Best of luck always! Wil

  5. What you have done takes monumental courage my friend. And what you have said about what you are doing takes even more. Thanks for taking the leap and stating your very big dreams so clearly. This inspires me to do the same! (but you’ll have to come visit my blog now to see yell my intention out to the universe. Well, not right now at this moment. Give me a few hours to go write and publish the post!)

    1. Thanks Kerry! I dug your declaration too…and it’s not only singing it up to the universe, it’s enrolling our “personal communities” of people who know and love us, to keep their eyes peeled for any opportunities. And we do the same for them. We’re all so much better together than separate.

  6. Love it Mike. I am so impressed. Go for it. Looking forward to the next submission~~!!
    Reader number five!

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