Archive for October, 2017

Breaking Cycles

One of the most effective aspects of Rick and Morty is the way the show breaks down the wall between the viewer and the fact that they’re watching a TV show. The epilogue to the finale of Season 3 essentially mocks the audience, “This is how much I’ve done in the time that you were waiting for this show to come back.”

Because, like certain foods or patterns of thought, we’ve been quietly lulled into believing in a television show. Like, viewing the show became a priority somehow surpassing all other chores or activities. And the show is so good that it can poke fun at our dependence on its continual existence!

Then we come to the next quandary: How do we break a negative pattern or bad habit that we seem to be stuck in? As a creative, I would sometimes rather be entertained by other people’s work than producing or showcasing my own stuff. It took a lot of nudging and prodding from friends, colleagues and mentors before I was comfortable even seeking publication.

What I understand now is that it’s a minute-by-minute process of trial-and-error of brainstorming ideas, executing a handful of them and, even then, needing to discard much of what you produced. And this process of burning away the impurities through substantive editing–it’s laborious, time consuming and painful.

Which brings me back to my original point: The big consolation of doing the right thing is that it is cumulative. Instead of waiting for that next distraction, be it whipping out your phone or whatnot, we can be proactive in continuing to craft our own narrative via asking the hard questions to ourselves.

Time is going to pass no matter what. Might as well get something done.




Horses for Courses

I got a chance to go horseback riding last week. Growing up in Caledon, the opportunity to ride was everywhere–but for some reason, I never made the introduction. Perhaps because it was seen as an unnecessary expense? Or something no one ever thought would be a priority?

Well, as it turned out, the experience of driving up to Uxbridge ended up being purely magical. We learned the ropes in a safe, graduated way, got an amazing ride on picturesque trails and then truly bonded with the animals.

Petting the horse

Except for those from our group who had experience riding, none of us knew what to expect. It’s hard not to feel a little anxiety, but achieving a “first” means you’re having an adventure. The fact that the darkened skies kept spelling rain also put us in a different spot.

When it was time to step up and mount “Latte,” my aptly named/paired horse, I felt unease and a total lack of familiarity with the beast. This animal could have bucked me off with relative ease and made no bones about showing me he knew what was up.

Me and Latte

Out of everyone in our group, my horse seemed to be the lone non-conformist, refusing to line up facing the exit. I tried to turn him using the method we were shown, and he just didn’t respond.

“Let him know you’re in charge,” suggested someone.

I relaxed, and lo and behold, Latte began to respond, taking his place near the front of the line. During the last part of the trail ride, I really began to enter that quiet, contemplative head space–a place that is harder to access living in the city.


Inside the house

What we all learned was that animals are easily spooked. Especially prey animals that have learned to avoid humans for their survival.

Still, the process of bonding with a horse can be incredibly rewarding. They learned to trust us and we all learned to care about each other.

In the end, it was harder than you can imagine to watch that farm disappear in the rear-view mirror. Truth be told? We knew we were leaving a part of ourselves behind.

Scar Tissue

We get a rich tapestry illustrating this through Chili’s vocalist Anthony Keidis in his 2005 autobiography Scar Tissue. Co-written by veteran biographer Larry Sloman, the book traces Anthony’s life emerging from his parent’s fragmented marriage to success as a child actor into tumultuous years in the LA music scene.

There are never any hints that Anthony is fated for the big time with the RHCP. If you look carefully, it’s a telling more about the ephemeral nature of moments in life itself than someone charting the ever-cliched “meteoric rise to the top.”

As the Chili’s make their foothold into mass consciousness, Anthony experiences the highest of highs: an extravagant home, beautiful admirers and picturesque vacation spots. He also must contend with spiritual erosion from the toxic nature of the world itself.

Past the band’s antics, there’s something deeper at work here that resonates deeply: People (including myself) are sometimes quick to judge others. Do we look at ourselves with that same critical lens? Anthony rarely displaces blame elsewhere, although he has many sharp (accurate) observations about others.

Nowhere is this made more clear than the section telling us the story behind the classic Under the Bridge that originated from Keidis’s feeling of being distanced from his own band.

If Anthony Keidis teaches us anything, it’s that his truth is something internal. In the end, we don’t fully understand because he’s always holding that 25 percent back from the reader. The people who fully understand him are the ones who are (or were) already in his life.

In Scar Tissue, he’s given us something much more magical, a story that continues to create associations and memories long after the pages have stopped turning. He delivers essential truths.

Whether you’re reading the book or listening to the music, audiences can interpret the message for their own design.