I want to make a great album, the themes teeming with life, words, and rhythms that cut through the air smooth and visceral like a winter breeze off the lake. It’d be timeless yet modern. Free yet restrained. Colleges would study it. Debates over inspiration would divide my fanbase for decades. The album cover would be perfect yet meaningless if not for its association with the music itself. Oh yes, I’ve got my great album planned, my T’s crossed, my i’s dotted; it’s all there. The only problem? I can’t make music.
In fact that the last paragraph is the closest I’ll ever get to my great album. And these days, I fear that that metaphor is the closest I’ll ever get to a great album of anything in my life. I graduated high school six years ago and every year since has been sent diving face-first into creative wormholes. Businesses to immersive listening rooms to film making and now onto comedy, a journey full of resets has left me in some sort of cycle of desperation.
It’s as if my heart picks out a destination on the map, and my brain comes over with a tour bus and says he’ll drive. My brain says, “don’t worry, heart, this time I’ll make sure we get there; I won’t get sidetracked by gypsies in Kansas this time! Or psychics in Minnesota, no no heart, this time we’re getting to, wait where are we going again?”
I know my heart knows where it wants to go, it wants to be wherever the great album is, but my brain has no clue where it’s going; it’s too caught up thinking about that one day in 2nd grade I fell off the slide and how that’s why I’ll never be a success.
But my great album is out there. It’s brewing in the melting pot of my life experience and journey.
And maybe someday, my heart will kick my brain out of the kitchen.
Let my brain go on the road for decades in cold isolation; my heart will be at home cooking up something good for the soul.
This incredible album, my brain, and my heart, It’s my way of saying someday, this will all make sense. Saying it to myself, saying it to whoever will listen, but most of all to whoever needs to hear it.
One great thing from this journey is realizing even if I make this great album; it won’t matter. If someday I conquer my brain and use it to make a comedy special, sketch series, or book that goes on to impact people like my favorite albums affected me, it wouldn’t change a god damned thing for my brain. The truth is, under all this creative pursuit is a child who longs for attention and love and a brain that refuses to give it any unless it earns it. This inner child is worthy of love, sure, but admiration and respect, now god damnit that little shit has to win an oscar or hang the moon to deserve any of that. It’s not enough to be proud of myself for me; who the fuck cares? Everyone ever has to be proud of me. Would you, reader, like to know why?
Yeah, me too. This is the first time in my life I’m considering regular therapy seriously because another six years of misery and happiness directly tied to external reactions I have no control over would take 60 years off my soul.
Something about rooms and space fascinates me deeply. I look around a room, I see the ceiling and the floor, and everything between is feeling. The people in the room, the objects, sights, and sounds are all sensations. So what exactly does it mean when someone says a person stops the room when they walk in? It means the space of the world and reality that fills most rooms is no match for the person walking in; this room, this space, right here, right now. And this room, this moment in space and time are now about this person.
Any energy in this room prior to this person walking in has been washed away by a billion small energy transfers. All the roads that person walked, the stories they’ve told and lived, the love they made and lost, all meet head-on with every other person in that room and all their lives and stories. So when that one person walks into the room, that person can now change and alter all of that rooms’ energy in the snap of a finger. It’s a lot of power to change a room; from one perspective, it takes a lot of ego. And from another, it takes a lot of humility.
From my brain’s perspective, to walk into a room and change it is a dream of fame and fortune, to walk into a coffee shop and hear people whispering your name and asking for pictures. It’s the sweetest of dreams, like a beautiful cloud in my mind’s eye; up top, it’s a soft, fluffy slice of heaven, but the stark reality below is a dark, stormy cloud-ready to rein down tears of rage and desperation from hell. To desire to walk into a room and have all eyes on me is directly tied to the fact that the child in me never once felt noticed walking into any space.
From the perspective of my heart, walking into a room and changing it harkens me back to time spent with my grandfather; for anyone that knew him, he brightened up every room he was in until his dying days. My grandfather loved strangers and the common man; he was never a man of great fame or fortune, yet everyone he strived to touch every soul in his corner of the world. To all that he came into contact with, he was a friend, a fan, and most sincerely, a source of unconditional love. But if you happen to be a woman, working at, say, a Roswell Outback steakhouse, best be ready to get smooched, and hugged an uncomfortable amount of time, for my grandfather’s love of strangers was second only to his libidos love of women.
My grandfather was not a perfect man by any stretch, but he was a damn good man. A man who taught me by exposure that the first step to positively impacting others is to step out of yourself. He was quick to make friends with the checkout clerk at Trader Joe’s and even faster if they were female. He was long in his discussion with waiters, department store workers, or any stranger. I imagine their conversations stayed surface-level and were soon forgotten until they saw my grandfather again, but I know those conversations changed the energy in those rooms.
How many of us are having awful days? How many days do we wake up to shit and spend all day living in it, somewhat sickly satisfied with our negative brooding, gaining another level of assurance every negative thought we reverberate through our consciousness. Get cut off in traffic, then watch the car get T-Boned by a semi? “Son of a bitch had it coming.” These negative thoughts strip us of our humanity, one alienating proposition at a time. So isolating and dark, they drive us to the most miserable corners of our psyches, leading to someone like me to sit up at an empty Starbucks cafe on Christmas Eve all alone, angrily writing awful jokes with no punchlines, brooding and brooding, cooking up poison for my soul.
Then someway, somehow, Dale, my favorite 60 something Starbucks barista, comes up and starts talking to me about cars, the falcons, and god knows what else. At first angry, the surface level small talk cuts through my isolation and gives me an insight I didn’t think I even needed; if you want to make a difference in any room you’re in, start with the people in it.
So my great album, maybe someday, this brain of mine will get its satisfaction and see my name up in lights, world-famous and all alone on my private island racing jet skis with Richard Branson. But for now, I only pray that my heart is fast at work on something that compassionately breaks up the negative isolation in others, like good small talk with a random stranger. For all the warfare between my heart and my brain, all of life comes down to walking into a room and how you feel in that space. Marriage, big meeting at work, or the end of a long day walking inside your house, you will spend your life walking in and out of rooms; how will your energy fill that space?