Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Few Days in Michigan, Part One

For whatever reason, I tend to get more excited about blogging when I'm traveling. I suppose I could point to the fact that the seeing and telling of things while moving around is inherently exciting, but that seems kind of odd given the fact that what I'm usually seeing is the world through a dirty car or airplane window and what I'm telling is a grand story about wanting a number one combo with a Coke. And I'm even talking to that guy through a tiny box in what is essentially a driveway. But I'm digressing.

The point is I'm in Michigan for a few days at what I can only describe as a Fireproof Ministries "summit", and that inspires me to write.

This seems as good a time as any to discuss my feelings towards flying, which lie somewhere below my disdain for American Idol but still slightly above O.J. Simpson. I mean, seriously, how has the ground not opened up and swallowed that sad sack of crap? But there I go digressing again. Flying is to me the riskiest thing I do on a semi-regular basis. I'm essentially strapping myself to a Campbell's soup can flown by someone I may only lay eyes on once as I exit the plane as quickly as possible, thankful to be back in contact with the ground. In what other area of life do I put my mortal well-being in the hands of a complete stranger wearing such a ridiculous looking hat?

Okay, I've just been staring at my computer screen for a few minutes trying to think up some cool analogy for that, but I can't, and I keep thinking of all the times I actually do put my very life in the hands of someone I don't even know: surgery, the voting booth, ordering the number 6 combo at Taco Stand, etc. But you've got to admit that most pilot's suits look a little outdated. If Delta won't give pilots a raise while making them fly 80 hours straight, at least they could come off the hip for some Armani threads. Still digressing.

Utlimately, the uncertainty of being lead into the great blue yonder by a completely anonymous stranger is not what bothers me about flying; it's the finality. ALL flights come to an end, and we'll all end up on the ground. I've seen in myself at times an unpleasant flaw of character in that I put things off because I don't like them to be over. Final chapters of books I really like stay unread because I don't want the story to end. Artwork waiting for a finishing touch. Songs in limbo on a hard drive somewhere that are yet to be completed. I hate when things are over because I hate the transition from present to past. I can access the present, but the past exists only in memory. And though it's a bit morbid, my family has a history of Alzheimer's, so I'm hesitant to put stuff there, too.

But maybe there's a little more to it, and if I'm being honest (and by golly, I'm giving it a shot), I hate when things are over because that's when judgments are cast. Artists always joke about a piece never really being over; you could conceivably tinker with something for eternity. And that's the problem. If we never finish, we can always use that as an excuse to without making a judgment about that same something's worth. If I post a demo of a new song (coming soon, I swear!), there's an understanding as a listener that you can't make a hard decision on whether you like it or not because it's not really in its fully realized form. And I remain safe from having to decide in my own soul whether I'm a big enough boy to take some criticism. And the criticism I fear the most comes right from my own soul.

Are you willing to take a risk? That's the question I constantly ask myself. Putting your work (and in art, yourself) out there is a risk that can leave you burned. Pinkerton forever ruined my favorite band of all time because Rivers Cuomo wrote some personal songs and it bombed commercially and critically (at least at the time). And I really liked the album. I've always said I wanted to put out honest music; the new songs reflect this, though I'm a bit pained to say that in places it's not pretty. But that's a story for later. For now, I've been willing to get over my wussiness at least for the couple of hours I spent thousands of feet about the eastern United States, and the point, it seems, is that I need to be willing to embrace the many "ends" that I will see in my life. Because after all, just like every plane flight I take, the end is inevitable.

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