What would you do if you had nothing to do?

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”

– John Lennon (and many others before him)

We are all so busy but how much of that busy is really living? How much is just a distraction from what is really going on? How much of what we do is really necessary? We have all of these things that we feel like we have to do but what if it wasn’t true?

I’ve become fond of saying that there are only three things we have to do everyday: eat, sleep and shit. I realize that there is plenty wrong with that statement. It’s more of a mantra than a biological fact. I use this somewhat vulgar expression to shock me back into the present moment. Basically, as long as I’m not so tired I can’t stand up, as long as I’m not so hungry I can’t move, as long as my bowels aren’t ready to explode… everything else can wait.

People are so fond of schedules and making plans but is it really because we have so much to do that we would never get it done if we didn’t have a schedule or a plan? Or is it because we are so afraid of what we would do if we had nothing to do?

Don’t get me wrong, I love being busy. I miss how busy I was this past summer. I loved always having something to do. Living was easier even though the things I was doing were hard. Even though I had no time for friends, family, music or home I felt like what I was doing was life affirming. I was living.

But that’s over now. Yesterday I had no plans. There was nothing I had to do. There were still lots and lots of things I could do, but beyond eat, sleep and shit; nothing I had to do.

I spent a lot of time in quiet contemplation waiting for inspiration to strike. I had very little contact with the outside world. It was just me and my feelings. I did cry a little, I laughed a little but nothing that really moved me to action. I wasn’t bored exactly. I wasn’t lonely. I wasn’t anxious or eager or frustrated or angry or in love. I was just content.

I’m sure for many that sounds wonderful. To me it sounds like Death.

So I shook hands with Death.  I said, “Pleased to meet you.” We shared a beer and watched a movie until I was too tired to stay awake. When I woke this morning I could still smell the scent of his cologne but he was gone.

The first day of the rest of my life

Yesterday was the start of something new. There was no fanfare or ribbon-cutting ceremony but it did mark the day that I turned my focus to the future. Even so, it turned out to be not much different than any other day. Thomas Dolby being in town was not the distraction I feared it would be. I just kept doing the next thing and going to a concert never became one of them. I did still find plenty of things to distraction me.

I spent a good deal of time poking around facebook and reading various blogs. I’ve really been enjoying Kenneth Justice’s blog The Culture Monk and Lauren Cropper’s Between Fear and Love. I spent a little too much time watching TV shows on Netflix. I’ve started watching the BBC series, Sherlock. It’s a great stand-in while waiting for Doctor Who to return. Sometimes it’s hard for me to sit down and watch an hour and a half long drama so I’ve also been watching the sitcom, Don’t Trust the B—– in Apt. 23. Funny, but for some reason I can watch four episodes in a row of that show. I think it reminds me of some of my friends.

I did do some things that were a little more productive. I did some dishes, laundry and took care of some accounting work. I spent an hour playing guitar which was inspiring. I also managed to vote, the only thing I absolutely had to do yesterday.

So far my activities have been of the maintenance variety. These are the things that just allow me to keep treading water but don’t actually move me forward. That may just be the way things go for a while but eventually that won’t be enough to keep me busy. I will be forced to make progress because I won’t have anywhere else to go.

For me, this is where self-motivation comes from. Deadlines are good but boredom and passion are better. I’m a great procrastinator but eventually I run out of distractions and nothing left to do but everything I have to do. It’s in that moment that shit starts happening. The only time I ever get anything done is “right now”.

I have my goals and dreams but there is no clear path as to how to get there. I will keep documenting progress on my goals but I’m reluctant to specifically identify what they are. Maybe I will, but for now I will hesitate. I know that my goals will change over time. I know that I will change over time and I know that when I finally achieve my goals that it won’t look anything like I currently imagine.

Most people wait until after they have accomplished something great to write about it. Then they can look back and say, “that’s how it’s done”. But that’s not how its done. Goals are achieved in the moment. That’s why I’m writing about this as I go. To me, the process is more important than the goal.

It’s already not going as planned or as expected. I expected that I would be spending these first two weeks of November unable to do anything. I expected that I would find the road ahead so overwhelming that I would slip into a deep depression.  I figured that might take up to two weeks but eventually I would either give up and quit or I would decide that killing myself was not an option and that I had no choice but to move forward.

Instead I had my break-down / break-through / spiritual awakening two weeks ago. While it was nothing like I imagined it would be, it might be fair to say that I am two weeks ahead of schedule. In truth, I am still now and always will be right on time.

What happens next

The future has arrived. I am now sitting in that point in time which I have long anticipated; long feared. I woke to frost on the ground and snow is anticipated this evening. Winter is here.

For the next four months I will be focusing on divesting of almost everything I own. I will be preparing to sell my house in the spring and I will be recording my music and preparing a live solo show. I have many loose ends to tie up and much to create in preparation for my new life.

I have no time for distractions.

So why did I just learn that Thomas Dolby is in town tonight? I feel like I have been so out of touch. Whether that has been intentional or coincidental it has served to my benefit. Granted, no matter what I do, I am going to be far more unaware than aware so the key to success must be in paying attention to the right things. That sounds like a formidable challenge to say the least. While I may never know the true cost of my ignorance, I continually find myself aware of things that only seem to cause me harm.

But can I actually control my awareness to make things better, or should I be grateful for any awareness I possess considering how rare it is? Ignorance may be bliss but so is death. If I’m going to commit to life any aspiration for ignorance seems antithetical to life.

Awe, but awareness does not necessitate action. I can still make a choice or I can choose to not decide and allow time to take it’s toll. But isn’t that an action? Perhaps action is unavoidable. Perhaps it’s only intention that matters. I intend to live so I guess I’m going to do whatever happens next.

Listen to me

Well that was freaking weird!

We had a lovely drive back from the Twin Ports (Duluth/Superior), talking the whole way and enjoying fall colors. The sun was shining and the air temperature was pleasant. I was eager to get home so I could get on my bike and enjoy what may be one of the last nice days of the season. I even had a great excuse. My cat needs food and litter so at the very least I thought I would bike to the pet store.

But that’s not what happened.

Once home, my energy level dropped. I had a bowl of cereal and cracked a beer but I had no motivation to do anything else. Well, almost nothing else. I did have an erection that needed tending to but I knew if I did that I would just fall asleep; which is what I did.

That’s where it got weird.

Over the next five hours I would have some of the most vivid and terrifying dreams of my life. At times I was aware that I was dreaming but I never tried to control them. As scared as I was I felt that there was a deeper message within. The dreams were a warning and even as the details fade, the message is clear.

I can’t do it all and if I try it will kill me. As I am preparing to embark on the greatest challenge of my life I have to stay focused. I can’t let anything or anyone distract me. But at the same time I can’t do it alone. Those distractions are my guide posts and my life-lines. I need to pay attention to them.

That is my conflict. In a way it has always been my conflict. I have always struggled with how to balance my future plans with the present moment. I have always struggled to balanced my inner desires with external influences.

I realize that dreams are just a way for my subconcious to talk to my conscious. I realize that it is all me. I am every character in my dreams. I realize that it is me scaring the shit out of me. But I think I have a point. I need to listen to myself and I’m telling myself to listen to you.

Everybody loves bacon

I’m in Superior, WI after playing a show last night with Venus de Mars and All The Pretty Horses at R. T. Quinlan’s in Duluth, MN, Venus’ home town. We spent the night at her sisters house. I thought I would take a minute to try and write something while the homeowners are off checking out an estate sale and my band mates are still sleeping.

While Duluth is only a few hours from Minneapolis and even though it’s just one overnight gig, it still feels great to be on the road with the band. There is something very liberating about getting out of your element. There is also something exciting about being the foreign element injected into another community. It doesn’t much matter where we go, when the band shows up, it’s pretty obvious that we are not from around here.

RTQuinlans-by-PaulWhite

As soon as we arrived at the club we were greated by a friendly and rather drunk couple who had no problem expressing their interest and fascination with Venus.

And then comes the question, “Are you a boy or a girl?”

To which Venus replies, “I’m transgender. I’m both.”

For some reason this doesn’t seem to satisfy a lot of people. We talked with them again after we got all our gear loaded in and set up. The guy actually seemed to be quite into the whole idea but Melissa was still confused. I told her that Venus was born male but always felt female so she has been taking hormones to be her true self.

Melissa seemed to find peace in that explanation as she exclaimed, “Oh, so you’re a girl!” In Venus I sensed both reluctance and relief as she accepted this label.

We don’t all fit into the neat little boxes we are given or even the ones we have adopted for ourselves. That’s one of the reasons I love Halloween. It gives people a chance to tryout being someone else or to express their true self. I guess that’s why I decided to order bacon at the diner after the show. I just wanted to do something different.

As I said to the guy in the hunting jacket outside Perkin’s, “The one thing we all have in common is that we are all different.”

“I can’t argue with that”, he replied.

By the way, I still don’t get the big deal about bacon.

Choices

I don’t know why I decided to try writing right now. I don’t know if I have enough time but I probably do. I probably have just enough. I have two hours before leaving for Duluth but I still need to shower and get packed. I’m taking some comfort in the fact that Venus is almost always late but no matter what I’m going to be scrambling up to the last minute. Whatever I decide to do, something is going to be left by the wayside. Is this really the most important thing to do with my time?

Last night was Halloween and what was suppose to be my last pedicab shift for the season but I had a personal request from a customer to drive them after the Vikings game next Thursday so I agreed to come in one more time. It’s not so much that I have a hard time saying “no”, it’s more that I have a propensity to say “yes”. It’s how just about everything in my life has come into being, but it’s also how I wind up feeling overwhelmed.

Even working last night seemed barely worth it. It was cold and rainy and I worked my ass off. I hardly slept last night in anticipation of today but it was probably worth it if only because the alternative would have been worse. Halloween is my favorite holiday and for many years I spent it partying my ass off. I believe working my ass off is better even as I’m struck with nostalgia. Halloween last year was the best! I also remember playing a Halloween show at the old Uptown Bar… but I digress.

I’m trying to decide if I should bring my laptop to Duluth. I don’t need it. Chances are I won’t even have time to get online or write but what if something amazing happens and I really want to capture the moment? NO, I’ve never heard of pen and paper. Anyway, I probably will, just in case.

Time to hop in the shower and wash off the rest of last night’s makeup…

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