Joaquin Phoenix: “I remember reading [Johnny Cash] saying he reserved the right to change.”
To be able to change my basic self…can such a change occur in one’s second 50 years on this planet?
Goals change, or do they?
Giving voice to new characters with new storylines is always a challenge.
The willingness to jump into technology that rocks the world will probably eliminate the old me.
Without question, it will.
What happens to all that I love?
What happens about secondary concerns like poverty-related education results that impact longterm social trends?
I am digging deep here because I care about the future, which means I am getting rid of the “I” more and more, staying true to myself and the story/stories I write.
One grows peace in one’s backyard meditation garden with care and decades of seasonal observations.
There is a ghost called “Normal” who chases me. At once, I fear being normal and not being normal. Need there be a winner between the ghost and me?
To sit here, as writer, as comedian, as journalist, as funhouse mirror or crystal orb, I throw myself into my work.
All or nothing.
I sacrifice my privacy for the sake of the small chance I will ever consider what I reread here in the future will appear to be, to me, as art.
As I hear in my thoughts throughout the years,
…to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
[The words I chose to read aloud during my Eagle Scout ceremony at age in 1976 at age 14]
I stay true to myself — observer first, journalist second, writer third, comedian/funhouse mirror last — losing and gaining friendships based on how well my wife, family and friends accept what I write with them as stand-ins for characters playing out roles in the scifi tales I tell myself in my thoughts that may or may not parallel our/their lives.
Being slightly autistic and clueless/unaware of the reality of life, only able, in my youngest years, to quickly learn how to map out my surroundings in attempts to comprehend what others are saying to/about me, I live an internal life of great wonder, forever the child fascinated by the rain, by nature, by the technology it takes to put these words on a flat object a few feet from my face without a direct connection between my hands and the electronic paper where these words appear, one set of pixels at a time.
I read Donald Barthelme’s work, including a bio about him, when I was a young adult, remembering how he and others like him (e.g., Eugene O’Neill) noticed when the characters they wrote about interfered with their personal relationships because of very close similarities between friends and fiction.
I understand the difficulties they face because of the advice oft repeated, “Write what you know.”
If I cannot be true to myself, Rick the Writer, then who am I?
Is my writing worth the pain I feel after stories and books are published, read by the very people whose delightfully detailed and inspiring lives helped fill the pages they hold in their hands, asking me (and then me asking myself in doubt) why I chose a particular angle or storyline with them clearly described in what may or may not be a flattering view?
My father knew I would face such a dilemma. His advice was to dive wholeheartedly into my writing should I be willing to die alone, or give up writing and concentrate my analytical skills on business management, reaping monetary rewards and friends alike.
Dad, I chose both because I have only one life to figure out which path was the better in real life and realtime.
I seek forgiveness from those whom I may have modeled too closely for comfort, a way to show how much I am willing to give of myself for love of them.
The only love I truly know how to show is through my writing. Everything else is an approximation of what I observe others call love, love that I as an autistic child emotionally never have fully understood.
I write because I hope one or more will read this and gain [a new] understanding of something similar within themselves.
Being and not doing.
As a writer, I find myself living out multiple characters simultaneously in both my brief writing spurts and my life, rather than rewarding myself with the time to think through character background stories and weaving them into the narratives that I play out in my thoughts as test cases for both my life and my planet, separating the characters into distinct forms that we can read, watch and enjoy.
When they’ve been squashed together as they have lately, it’s hard for me to tell which character I’m presenting rather than representing myself.
The character who is confident about space exploration and settlement futures is separate from the one who cries out doubts about any hope for our species or our planet, separate from the character who falls in love at the drop of a hat, separate from me.
Sure, sometimes I confuse myself and fall in love with my own character but that’s part of the joy of writing the storylines which bounce from synapse to synapse in this set of states of energy connected to you in quantum entanglement.
Or I could just post a simple photograph to get a like.
It’s all good.
As a person who writes nonfiction blogs and fictional tales, I keep a slew of personalities in my thoughts that (whom?) I give a voice throughout the day.
Walking down a hallway, I may choose every step to represent a different persona — little boy bouncing along, John Wayne swagger, etc.
My thoughts are the same.
From one word to the next, I may switch personalities without hesitation.
The bumbling stutterer.
The quiet millionaire next door.
So it is when I encounter other humans.
An uncountable (or at least unremembered) number of thoughts accompany my actions.
If I delay responding to someone, I have hashed out a few dozen scenarios, regardless of likelihood to occur, giving each one equal importance when first considering a response before I finally blurt out something, usually coherent, but sometimes bizarre in the reality of the quick passage of time in social settings.
I imagine myself both under the watchful “eye” of a Supreme Being and completely alone in my thoughts.
Therefore, I can with confidence say that I am in constant communication/prayer/meditation with my Creator and at the same time at the mercy only of the interaction of temporary sets of states of energy in motion, moment by moment.
I am comfortable being everything and nothing.
In my thoughts and in my actions, I see myself completely visible to everyone I meet and a complete mystery to people who encounter me.
I am famous and I am forgotten, infamous and never known.
I pretend that everyone is talking about me and that no one remembers who I am.
I see a self with my name and personality and see no self, no name, just a set of labels for easy identification to perpetuate the idea of a continuity of self that carries forward from one moment to the next.
I am aware that most of us are like this in one form or another.
What, if anything, distinguishes my characteristics from another is almost unnecessary to catalog because I share pretty much every characteristic (subset of set of states of energy) with other people (sets of states of energy) simply because we see ourselves by only what we see which is a limited number of forms of being.
I listen and watch my social peers for clues to what my behaviour is indicating about my internal states (i.e., non-physical factors (e.g., thoughts)).
Because I have no single personality on which I build a history of self for others to observe and react to, I leave off a lot of easy living in a society that thrives on stereotypes, filling conversations and news headlines with two-dimensional characters we look up to and/or laugh at.
[Insert catchphrase here: “It’s complicated.”]
With the ever decreasing prospect of our species establishing a permanent home on Mars because of our need for highly-complex and sufficiently large ecosystem(s) to live in self-sufficiently, the home-away-from-home such as our Moon, Mars, Enceladus, etc., is still barely a dream anymore.
Of what shall I dream if I can’t have Mars, if I can’t have a new home and new sets of states of energy to interact with offworld?
If Mars is not a place to live, then how do we increase the likelihood that something of our existence lives and grows elsewhere?
If not for us, then for whom?
The smallest of possibilities that an alien lifeform will come across us in one form or another after Earth has lost its viability, the alien lifeform changing its core self because of whatever we are?
If we don’t outlive ourselves, then what is any one life, including mine?
What of the personalities I nurture from day-to-day, who take on the personalities of family, friends and acquaintances because of my desire to map the universe around me, using some of the knowledge of who we are to create fictional stories and the nonfictional story of our lives?
What if I want more than what I have and who I am?
What cost am I willing to pay to change?
What risks am I willing to take to get out of this comfort zone?
I have recently pushed friends and family away from me so I would have the time and space to examine myself as objectively as possible, avoiding the emotion-based decisionmaking that doesn’t always produce the optimal longterm results that a bit of rational thinking can provide.
Hopefully, I haven’t pushed them too far away.
Of course I haven’t.
Tomorrow is a new day, a day to step off this merry-go-round and move in a new direction.
If Mars is off the map, then I still have a whole universe of places to explore and write about!