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Against the grain, with the wind

     And avoiding free range cattle

Beee yourself

Sounds pretty easy don't it?

And it is.

Except when it isn't.

If you have thirty minutes this one's pretty good.

I'm trying to think

Of other times in life like what is happening right now but the longer it stretches on the more it is engraving itself as a very singular time. I was then trying to think of other times when I've made choices to go against the grain that have been met with similarly severe resistance as my creative efforts of the past two months but even those are getting tougher to remember.

Let me try here to compile a really short list:

  • Age 6  – Mom said don't ride in the street. Rode in the street and got hit by a car = broken leg.
  • Age 7 – Told mom I was running away from home... went to the end of the driveway, stewed five minutes, returned home.
  • Age 8 – Told a friend we should dig to China, got caught by the apt. landlord for digging too deep and hitting a sprinkler line. Returned home.
  • Age 17 – Asked a girl to senior prom with extremely protective parents and got a firm no. Then an unexpected reversal and an awkward date ensued. I think she lives in Palm Desert now with her husband and three kids.
  • Age 19 – Against mom's wishes dropped out of college to start a dream BMX bicycle company called Homestead. Bikes turned out great but recession lingered. Returned home.
  • Age 28 – Against friends' advice pursued a girl with ten year age difference and protective parents. Three year relationship resulted and huge boost in overall life confidence. No regrets.
  • Age 36 – Against co-workers' advice quit well paying but stressful sales job and moved to Hollywood to make movies. Housing crash and writer's strike coincided with the move. Became moderator of Blake Snyder's LA Writer's group and made great friends who would have an impact on the next ten years of life. Also was prepared to film when father was given six months to live.
  • Age 41 – Forced by CA gov't's short-sighted policies founded non-profit and drove around CA with buckets to collect $1 from ea. resident. Successful campaign resulted in matching grants and parks spared closure.  No regrets but returned home.
  • Age 45 – Against some well meaning friends' advice embarked on soul-searching road trip around the U.S. Compiled book and had a great four month experience, learning how to let go.
  • Age 46 – Against mother and a few well-meaning friends' wishes moved to Nashville. Lived in a lake house and drove Lyft. Lived with a recent CA transplant friend and overall had a short but very meaningful adventure.
  • Age 47 – Against well-meaning friends' concerns began a documentary movie about the bike company started in college and made my best film yet. No regrets. No home to return to.
  • Age 48 – Against well-meaning friends' advice created and released a t-shirt addressing and mocking the hysteria and panic surrounding the response to Covid-19.  Made 56 new friends, lost four old ones.  Actually three and a half.  Returned home.

Well shoot. That's not a list that's a...

Pattern.

Like the color of my skin, or the day that I grow old,

My life is made of patterns, that can scarcely be controlled.

– Simon & Garfunkel

But it doesn't make any sense

How can one launch or partake in an adventure or project that goes against the grain of friends and family, in some cases doing so without needed support, and yet still find success? In fact sometimes not just success but feel that the wind is at one's back, that the sails are full, that instead of closed doors the world and opportunity are in fact opening their doors wide, that the project in fact seems charmed, meant to be?

Wouldn't you think that friends - esp. old friends - and family, would have a monopoly on knowing what's best for a person? That going against that advice or blazing a new trail would at the very least result in an unfinished goal, at the worst an utter failure?

Hmm..

I wonder have others dealt with this.

 

Oh, that's right.. that one guy did.

 

That Tom guy.

How could I have forgotten, sheesh.

Is that why I gravitate towards a Tom Petty type? A singer/ songwriter with a chip on his shoulder?

Very possibly yes.

Tom had a long and now well-known rift with his father Earl over life goals, resulting in Tom leaving his Gainesville, FL roots and becoming a de facto Los Angeleno as if born and raised somewhere just off of Ventura Blvd. There were other reasons to leave Florida for L.A. but his father's abuse both verbally and physically trumped all and left a pretty deep scar on the young rocker, and left him with a hugely primal goal.

Prove that damn man wrong.

Here's what he had to say to Rolling Stone circa 2012:

"(My father) was scary and violent. He beat the living hell out of me, and there was constant verbal abuse. Looking back on it, he probably was disappointed that I was so drawn to the arts. He probably thought I was gay. I wasn't interested in sports. I didn't know the names of any baseball players. I liked films and books and records."

If you've read anything on Petty's upbringing you know this shaped a great deal of his attitude and demeanor, esp. in the early days when that's exactly what he needed. He needed a fighting spirit to break into the music scene - esp. in the mid 70's when the heartbreakers were pitching a jangly british sound and songs that barely tipped the three-minute mark in a time when it was not that uncommon for a band to submit a 7-10 minute opus to their record company.

And speaking of hometowns

There was another guy who ran into opposition going against the grain locally.

And He said,

"Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown." Luke 4:24

Misha Thomas, Princeton Theological Seminary comments on this:

The role and function of the prophet is to create an awakening that comes from seeing typical things within the social environment of that land in a new and shocking way. The prophetic is precisely shocking only because people have a natural tendency and defense to avoid seeing hard-to-fathom realities.

 

So both the prophet and his/her attempt to awaken others must cut through the normal and familiar routines of thinking which deny and avoid perspectives that would otherwise threaten our comforts. The prophetic is, in this sense, always exotic.

 

To be a prophet in one’s own land, therefore, is unlikely for the would-be-listeners. Who would take a native son or daughter seriously! We are the same, please!

* * *

There are some interesting words and phrases there.

Shocking.

New.

Defense.

Avoid.

Cut through the normal and familiar.

Threaten our comforts.

Whoa

Threaten our comforts? Did someone say Shelter in place?

Ahh so that's what's going on. An artist. A musician. A filmmaker. A t-shirt designer. Anyone who threatens comfort - esp. in a new or shocking way, is to be avoided, to defend against, maybe even to restrain in a violent manner.

I guess that would explain my experience the last few months.

Ya but...

Last question. Really.

If those things are all true and I believe they are, why do total strangers or recent friends many times have the polar opposite reaction to a shocking or new statement by said artist? Not only do they not avoid or seek to restrain but they joyously celebrate this new thing. This art or new thought. They gravitate towards it. They applaud and cheer.

When the old friend says "I don't know dude," and the perfect stranger says "You just made my day! I love it." What's a prophet to think?

Probably struck a nerve.

Maybe I did.

So I shall continue. And see what I find.

What's that? You did't know the first episode was up?

Well if you're an old friend you may not like it.

Just know that even small-time prophets gotta prophet.

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