I meant to do that

I’ve mentioned a few times that I had an ulterior motive when I started this blog but I’ve been pretty coy about stating exactly what that motive was. By keeping my intentions secret I have preserved the ability to reframe my goals at anytime and turn what could have been seen as a failure into a success. Like Pee-wee Herman I could announce at anytime that, “I meant to do that!”

When I started I had no idea how things would turn out. I knew what I wanted to do but I didn’t know whether I was documenting my success or my failure. At this point I can unequivocally state that I have failed at meeting my goals, BUT there have been many unintended successes for which I am more than happy to take credit. It’s time to take credit for the failure as well.

It began with a dream… a dream of shedding most of my worldly possessions, including my house, and living a nomadic life.  I wanted and needed a simpler life which focused on what is really important to me and that is connecting with people. After taking inventory of my skills and assets I devised a plan to travel around the country, by bicycle, sharing my gifts and avoiding the harsh Minnesota winters. It seemed like a crazy plan but I’ve managed to pull off some pretty crazy things in my life and as I started talking to more people about it, people who knew me, the less crazy it seemed. I just knew I couldn’t do it alone. I was going to need more people along for the ride. A blog, if successful, would allow me to connect with people all over the country and provide a vehicle to share my adventure for survival giving it meaning and purpose.

In fact, creating a blog had been on my to-do list for years but now it no longer felt like an option. Now it was a priority. Now it was a means to an end. Now I had a plan, a vision; but I still had no idea how to achieve it or even if I could. I just knew that I had to start regardless. All I could do was take the next step and see what happened. That process is pretty well documented in this blog.

What I discovered was that writing a successful blog takes a lot of work. I guess that wasn’t really a discovery. I knew it would be a lot of work. I actually had a pretty clear idea of what it would take but I had plenty of time on my hands and figured I would muddle through it until I got it right. I figured a year was enough time to make something happen.

It probably would have been if I was focused and dedicated. I have achieved a lot in my life but it has come either through some level of deep obsession or a great deal of time. The older I get the harder it is for me to get that obsessed about anything but it has also given me more perspective when it comes to the concept of time. There are just too many things in the world which I find meaningful and purposeful that it may take a lifetime to achieve even my top five. I just can’t do everything; at least not right now, but to be honest, the distractions I’ve had over the past year or so have been well worth it.

Well… most of them.

As much as I hate to admit it, dealing with multiple chronic illnesses on a daily basis has also been a factor in my failure to meet my goals. This is not the life I had envisioned for myself but it is my reality. Denial doesn’t change anything. I refuse to use my so-called disabilities as an excuse for not achieving greatness but I may need to re-examine my definition of greatness. We’ve all been inspired by the achievements of successful people with disabilities. There is no reason why I can’t be my own inspiration.

So my blog didn’t turn out as planned. I have gotten rid of nearly nothing. I still own my home and I’m not leaving this state until my daughter graduates from high school.  For some reason none of that really feels like a failure. I still have a blog. I still have more stuff than I need. I have a home and I have a daughter that loves and needs me. Maybe failure isn’t so bad. Maybe it’s only failure if it feels like failure.

The only thing that has happened in the past year that makes me feel like a failure is the loss of my best friend. She was my one true obsession and in the end it was that obsession which killed the friendship.

But through death there comes rebirth.

In my effort to come to terms with how I could lose a friend who I honestly believed was forever I discovered this blog post by Kenneth Justice, The Culture Monk. I began reading his blog every day and quickly discovered that we had started our blogs at the same time and were writing about the same issues albeit in from different perspectives and in very different styles. In my opinion, he’s a much better writer than I am. There is a structure and flow to his writing that I may never achieve; even if I wanted to. We probably started with the same level of effort and dedication but with different skills. That, and he is far more consistent than I am. Consistency has never been my strong suit.

What I found really ironic was when he started writing about fame and celebrity. He was taking issue with our cultural obsession with fame and celebrity which I totally understand. I just found it ironic because he had achieved the level of notoriety that I was seeking in order to make my dreams come true. Let’s face it, celebrity and popularity are necessary evils in the entertainment business. Seeking celebrity seems a bit crazy to me but so is the entertainment business.

What didn’t surprise me was that after a year of writing his blog, Kenneth Justice decided to set out on a worldwide tour to connect with his readers. Basically, he was achieving my goal albeit in from a different perspective and in a very different style. He is living my dream. When he came to Minneapolis last month I was able to meet him, drive him around, show him my city and give him a place to stay. I was able to see my dream come true, even if it was being carried out by another person. I could be bitter but instead I have a new friend. I hope that you will read his blog and I hope that you will take the opportunity to meet him if he comes to your town.

I began last year with a plan; I failed but I found success. As I look back now I realize that I’m still here, I’m still me and I’m not alone. Ultimately, that is all I have ever wanted to achieve.

El Dorado

After 11 hours cramped in a sedan I was feeling like the car should be called Apollo 13 and not  the T.A.R.D.I.S. although with any luck we will make it to our final destination. So far, so good. We pulled into our first stop in El Dorado, KS last night around 10:30 pm. Achy and soar I tumbled out of the capsule where I had been riding shot-gun.

My ass, having sustained injury a couple nights before, expressed great relief to be out of the car, not just from the pain from 11 hours of sitting on a bruised tailbone but also relief from the gas that had been building up inside my colon; held back to avoid poisoning my traveling companions. There is something about road trips, cramped up in a car, eating shitty gas station food that brews up the most toxic concoction. Through much of Iowa you can sneak one out here and there without anyone really noticing against the backdrop of pig farms but I must have been held back gallons because I have been farting all morning.

My legs felt like I had walked the 621 miles to reach our current destination; that kind of pain you feel the next day after a strenuous workout. Still, I was grateful to have arrived, grateful to be out of the car and eagerly awaiting the incredible hospitality always bestowed upon us at the horse ranch of Pete and Liz. Once inside and the car unloaded, Liz prepared the dining room table with soup, cheese, veggies, bread an a variety of beers to choose from. It would have been nice to have socialized more. It would been nice to have written down my thoughts before going to bed but my ability to form sentences had left me. I couldn’t manage to get words from brain to my mouth, let alone my fingers.

It had been a long day. Unable to get any packing done the day before, I arose yesterday at 5:30 am to prepare for the trip. This is usually the way it goes and after many tours over the years it almost seems like second nature.   The only difference this time was that we weren’t taking the van so I needed to be much more concerned to pack as lightly as possible. No matter what, I always feel like I must have forgotten something. So far I haven’t discovered anything nor can I imagine fitting one more thing in my bag. Having left the blustery cold of Minnesota and needing to shed layers of clothes I’m already feeling over-packed.

You would think that traveling across country with a rock band would be one non-stop party; sitting in the back of a tour bus, doing shots of tequila and lines of coke of the bellies of strippers. This has never been my experience. We spend most of our time discussing our failures and strategizing how to keep going in hopes of making it to the next level. This time we couldn’t even do that. This time the discussions took on an even more somber tone. This time there was no talk of the future. This time we were wondering whether the band will even be able to continue.

For the past several months, Venus has been embroiled in an audit from the IRS. This is not your typical audit where they go through all of your books with a fine tooth come looking for deductions that aren’t allowed and income that wasn’t reported. In this case, there would be nothing of that sort to be found.  Venus has been meticulous in running her business and has followed all the rules. In this case the IRS is trying to claim that it’s not a legitimate business because it is not profitable. But Venus’ business is her life, the life of an artist. In essence they are saying that the life of an artist is not legitimate. Unless, I guess, it is profitable but then my question is, if it is profitable, is it still art? I see art as a challenge to conventional wisdom and social expectation. Once art becomes accepted and mainstream it loses it’s ability to expand cultural horizons, it loses it’s ability to transform. The irony is that to be a successful artist is to see your art turned into a commodity.  It reminds me of this quote:

“Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.”  – Leonardo da Vinci

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