The truth hurts

“Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don’t have time for all that.” – George Carlin

At my core I want nothing more than to be happy and for those around me to find happiness as well. So why do I ask “why” knowing that it is a sure fire way to destroy happiness? To have a job, to have work to do, to find purpose in one’s occupation is a far better path to happiness.

So why do I do what I do? The simple answer is because I can’t not do it. Perhaps it is a form of insanity. All I know is that I have an insatiable thirst for the truth. I am on a quest and I refuse to give up regardless of how difficult or painful it may be. This is my path and I have chosen to accept it.

What troubles me is why I am inflicting it on you. It doesn’t seem fair or kind.  People have asked if I think that I am driven to do this out of ego. I’m sure that there is some of that but I don’t think it’s the driving force. I don’t think this blog is terrible self aggrandizing. I haven’t put that much work into promoting myself or building readership. I’m really just giving what I have to give but am I kidding myself by thinking that this is somehow a gift? I like to look at everything as a gift but that is not a philosophy everybody subscribes to. It’s a philosophy that is pretty difficult for me at times.

Last nights post did not feel like much of a gift. It was actually quite painful. After writing it I felt broken and completely alone.  I never want to read it again and am feeling guilty for having subjected you to it. It was a devastating realization, the realization that my happiest days are over. They lasted two weeks and I’m grateful for that but that may be it.

Today I am done feeling sorry for myself. Today I am just thinking about you. Knowing how painful some of my posts are for me I can’t help but wonder if they are causing harm to others as well. Ideas are dangerous and I don’t want to be so callous about sharing mine. I’m not really. I have plenty of radical ideas that I haven’t dared share but some still slip out.

The temptation is to delete the whole blog but that doesn’t seem right. Legally it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want with it but since I have put it out there I don’t consider it mine alone. This is art and art is meant to be shared. These are shared words. Taking it down would not be an act of healing but an act of destruction.

So I’m going to keep writing because I can’t not write. I’m going to keep posting because I believe it is meant to be shared. If you keep reading, that’s on you. Just know that you may very well be reading the ramblings of a madman. If you take it seriously that’s not my fault.

“If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.” ― Oscar Wilde, The Nightingale and the Rose

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5 Secrets for a Happy Life

There seems to be a lot of interest in happiness these days. Back when I was growing up no one seemed to worry about such trivial things. We were all concerned with was “how to get rich”, “how to get power” and “how to be successful” so I’m glad to see people focusing on happiness. As a generally happy person who deals with major depression and seasonal affective disorder I spend a great deal of time thinking about how to be happy. Here are a few secrets I have uncovered:

 

Secret #1: There is no such thing as a happy life. There are happy moments, happy occasions, happy feelings, but taken as a whole, life is not exactly happy. If you are paying attention at all you may have noticed that life kind of sucks. Ignorance may be bliss but I’m afraid I can’t teach you that. If you want to have a life you are just going to have to accept that it’s not always going to be happy. Life is full of ups and downs so learn to deal with it or quit.

Secret #2: Oh good, I’m glad you didn’t decide to quit just yet because this next secret is really important. If you’re not happy it’s your own damn fault. Whatever you are doing is not working. You are fucking up. I’ve seen you do it. I’ve seen you do it over and over again. You keep doing the same stupid shit thinking that it is going to make you happy and it’s never going to work. Stop doing it!

Secret #3: Wow, I really thought that I would have lost you by now. You must be a glutton for punishment. Well, let me let you in on a little secret. You deserve better. You deserve to be happy. You have gotten a raw deal and it’s not fair. You have every reason to bitch and complain. Throw yourself a pity party. Send me an invitation. I will show up with bells on. Just know that like any party, eventually it has to come to an end, and you’re probably going to have a mess to clean up.

Secret #4: The pity party is not going to make you happy. In fact, nothing is going to make much difference. No matter what you do or what happens in your life you will probably always be the same miserable or happy-go-lucky person that you have always been. Sure, if you win a cruise or fall in love you may be happier for a little while but before long the thrill will be gone and you will be back to your old self. Likewise, if you lose your job or get in a car accident you may have some pretty shitty days but you will adjust and carry on pretty much unfazed. Some people are just naturally happier than others and there is not much you can do about it.

Secret #5: Are you still reading this? That takes a lot of tenacity. After all that bad news you are still seeking happiness. We let me tell you, you already have everything you need to be happy. Whoever you are, whatever you are dealing with you can turn that into a strength. Whatever life hands you, it is part of life, view it as a gift. If you are dissatisfied with life, use that to drive you for something better. If you find yourself comparing yourself to others and it makes you miserable, find different people to compare yourself to. There are plenty of people doing worse. The point is, whatever you are doing has got you this far. It is working and with a few minor changes, it can only get better. You already know what makes you happy – do more of that. You know what makes you unhappy – do less of that. And while you’re at it, do what you can to make the people around you happier. I do believe that there is something to the theory that happy people surround themselves with happy people. We may not be able to control who is in our life but we can make choices about how we treat them. Treat them in ways that build happiness. It may not create a “happy life” but it will create more happy moments, happy occasions and happy feelings.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are in crisis, seek help. If you are experiencing prolonged depression or sporadic mood changes that put your life or the health of others at risk, seek medical attention. My advice is meant to be along the lines of, “dude, do you really need that third bacon cheeseburger?” If you are having a heart attack, call 911! We’ll deal with your diet later.

The pursuit of happiness

Tuesday evening I met up with a friend for a beer. He had been going through some tough times. He had recently lost his job and needed to get out of the house. At one point I asked him something about how he was doing or what his plans were and he responded, “I’m trying to have a good time.”

I just recall thinking to my self, “This is one of the most miserably people I know. Having a good time sounds like a pretty lofty goal.” Of course I was really thinking about myself. Of course I wanted him to be happy. I wanted him to have a good time. I just know that from my experience, pursuing happiness as a goal is bound to end in disappointment. Happiness happens, but not when I’m expecting it.

Rethinking what motivates me has been on my mind a lot over the past week. I’ve been called a hedonist before and for the longest time I took no objection to that term. Hedonism is the devotion to pleasure. How can that be a bad thing? Especial when understanding that my pleasure is dependent on the circumstances of the people around me. Devoting one’s life to bringing pleasure to the world sounds like a beautiful thing to do.

As an entertainer I hope that I bring pleasure, happiness, good times and amusement to the world. But is that what entertainment means to me?

I was discussing this subject with my son Sunday evening. He is an actor and musician. We had just seen Propeller’s production of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” at the Guthrie Theater. I felt impressed, inspired, intrigued, incompetent, moved, changed, at times aroused, but not anything that I would associate with being entertained. My son and I had shared a meaningful experience. We felt connected to one another and to the playwright and actors. To my son, this is what art is meant to do; create a shared, meaningful experience.

But for many, music, dance, theater, comedy, television, movies, literature and other arts are just entertainment. That’s fine. There is a sense of satisfaction in knowing that people are entertained by what I do, but that’s not why I do it. I don’t think that most artists would do what they do if they only viewed it as entertainment. The act of creating art is hard work, it’s frustrating, painful and wrought with failure and disappointment. We do it because we have to; because it is who we are. We do it to give our lives meaning and purpose. We do it to feel connected to the world around us.

Yet, there are those occasions where it brings us great joy. Creating something that we conciser absolutely brilliant or putting on an amazing show that connects us with the audience can put a smile on our face.

My bff was relating her favorite Venus story to me this past weekend. We had just put on an incredible performance to a packed house at First Avenue for the David Bowie tribute show, Rebel Rebel (Rock for Pussy) and Venus was on cloud nine. S/he was simple glowing and dancing and having the time of hir life.

Yes, happiness can be found in this life but as an artist, it is not my pursuit. As a person who’s life is filled with adversity, having a good time is not my goal. I am not seeking pleasure or avoiding pain. I’m just trying to keep going in the pursuit of meaning and purpose. If along the way I find happiness, joy and entertainment, I’ll take that too… as long as I can share it with you.

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