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About Dreaming Dreams and Living Life

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People don’t stop dreaming; they just grow up. What a sad and sobering thought that is! But it’s mine and I’ll bet its yours, whether you had it before or are just dealing with it the same way as the rest of us. I’d like to think that it’s a choice whether to follow a dream. I’m saddened that so many of us give up on our visions before they come to fruition. Yet, it isn’t a matter of not being able to go back and start over, just the difficulty of remembering what it’s like to be as idealistic as you once were as a child.

Your dreams never leave you. You’ve just misplaced them behind all the other things that get in front of them and crowd them out, pushing them to the back of the importance queue. And when you’re battling it out in the adult world, surrounded by other grown-ups who have also set aside their dreams for the sake of practicality it’s hard to ignore what everyone else tells you is important, what needs to be your priority and what you long ago adopted as your ambition. In order to do what seems the craziest thing to everyone one else, you have to start thinking like you did when you were a kid. You need to believe everything is going to be alright – just like your father and mother used to tell you. You’ve got to believe that everything and anything is possible.

Gentte and me 1959

Reality is pretty persistent in grabbing your attention, though. That’s not your fault except that you accepted it at some point. It all started with your formal indoctrination – you know, that twelve or more years you spent in school. That’s when you’re taught how to play the game, when others groom you for success by their terms, force-feeding you the tenants of their faith in the illusion they believe. You adopt all the things they think are important. But there is always that piece of you that remains inside. It’s a part of your youthful nature that wants to do something else, the unexpected something – except that everyone around you would certainly believe you’ve gone mad.

So you continue in your daily quest for whatever it is that the money you earn affords you – seeking a comfortable life and the security of a steady paycheck to make the installments on your overly-mortgaged existence. You’re indebted to the system you’ve co-opted. But you think about it, don’t you? What could life have been like if only…

I’ve decided that the artistic temperament comes from our dreams. It’s stronger or closer to the surface in some than in others, but it’s always there. Unless you’ve allowed others to kill it – or perhaps you executed it yourself. You can find your way back, though. You see, you’ve distanced the adult you from the inner child. That’s all. Supposedly that was necessary in order for you to succeed in the adult world. Isn’t that what they say? That’s the lie, though. Being a part of the grown-up world, wearing big boy and big girl pants, is all about conformity. The system must keep the masses walking on the sidewalks and never straying off into the grass. We’re taught to worry about what others will think, what the neighbors are going to say while, all along the way, the distance continues to grow between us and other true aspiration. There’s always another thing that gets in the way, isn’t there? It distracts us from our hearts desire and our real potential.

Joyce, Genette and me in 1957

You can’t believe in possibilities when you’re beset with fires to fight and problems to solve. You’ve brought all of that on yourself, though. You decided to take on responsibility because others, well-meaning people you trust, told you that’s what you needed to do. And you forgot about being a model, an actor, a painter, sculptor, musician or a writer.

You look at artists with pity or disdain, thinking they’re a bit off and certainly not normal. Secretly you envy them, though, for their ability to escape the reality you suffer and daily endure. Still, look at all the marvelous things you have to show for you hard work. They don’t have the fancy car, the big house. That all comes from towing the line and doing what you are supposed to do. The material aspects of your life, the things you have acquired, are the evidence of your triumphs. They define the level of your success.The achievements you’ve earned through discipline and obedience have been substituted for your dreams. It’s why you don’t press the snooze button when the alarm clock goes off at 4 AM. It’s why you put in over sixty and sometimes seventy hours a week for the past twenty-five years of working for someone else, contributing to their success in business in exchange for your salary, bonuses, stock options and whatever else they used in their sales pitch to gain your cooperation.

Genette at wedding reception with Joyce, Jay, Mom, Dad and Me

Yet, you wonder about what makes those crazy artists different. How is it that some of them succeed and appear to love what they do? How can they be like that? How can they be satisfied with their lot in life without all those things that define your existence? But in the quiet of night you ask yourself if maybe you took the wrong path. You’re not really all that happy in your life despite all the trappings of success.

People aren’t supposed to be happy – that’s what you decided as you went along chasing someone else’s goals that you substitute in lieu of all the wonderful dreams you had. Each year it grows more and more difficult to find your way back to the path that, once upon a time, made sense to you when you were six or seven-years-old. The world was teeming with possibilities then, when you were naive enough to believe int he magic of the world around you. What wouldn’t you do to be that innocent again? If you’re lucky, enough of the dreamer remains within you that you might get the chance to visit your imaginary friends, reconnect with their world and experience what you lost in the process of growing up.

Me in early 1980's before job interview

That, my friends, is what Fried Windows (In a Light White Sauce) is about. Forty-six days until launch and I can’t wait to share the story and adventure with you.

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I’m An Artist: So, What Do I Know?

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What have I been doing all day – or all night for that matter? It looks like a lot of nothing to others, doesn’t it? I’m not writing so much lately. What I do is work on building a brand and fan base. It is a unpaid job for now and I do it for several hours each day, investing time and effort in the future, my dreams.

I’m building a fan base for other authors as well in my role as a publicist. Since none of my activities is paying a dividend at this point, I’m also looking for a job. I devote a good portion of each day looking for something I can do to make money. That is the same trap it has always been in my past. The lure of practical necessity, having to choose between surviving and living, is what each of us faces. It’s the way of the world.

What we do when we chase dreams is come into direct conflict with the practical side of the world. Only a few make it because its easy to become discouraged and listen to the naysayers and critics. They call us dreamers and misfits. To them we are nuts. They need to validate their own life choices urging us to give up and buy into the commonly held belief. They tell us the world is of limited resources and wealth and surviving is the constant struggle to seek your share of the wealth. Those who subscribe to that notion lack the vision necessary to overcome the struggle as well as the misery and suffering around them. And so they succumb too it. They trade in their dreams for practicality’s sake. Instead of focusing on their aspirations with greater resolve and determination, the let the weight of the world crush them into submission. The end result is that most people fail because they don’t have faith that they will intimately succeed if only they persevere.

There is a way if you want to find it and never give up.

No one says it’s easy to make it as an artist or a writer or anything else that involves using your creativity. How crazy are you to actually believe you can conjure something form nothing as if it were magic? Yet, some people do exactly that. They’re different than the norm, though, aren’t they?

Within each of us is a spark that has survived for however long we have lived. It continues until it expires. It is life. And through that we connect to the source and origin that is also our essence. Those around us who seem dull, lifeless and defeated have not lost their spark but have, instead, lost their way. The connection is concealed. It is clouded over with doubt and despair borne of defeat and the criticism of others we have accepted.

What is different about an artist is that the source is more readily accessible. It is clear to everyone of us who retain the ‘gift’ from when we were five-years-old and everything about the world was shiny and new, filled with hope and potential. Artists never learn how to become completely and totally adult-minded. We refuse to submit to the routine. At some point in each of our pasts we decided that being an adult is part of the problem that prevents us from achieving our dreams. We are expected to substitute the goals of others in lieu of our potentially greater ambitions of self-actualization.

Artists don’t deal with the adult world in the same way that others do. Although we have friends, family and others around us who constantly remind us of our responsibilities and our places in the world, we selectively filter out what does not strike us as pertinent to reaching our personal goal and vision. Yet, like everyone else we are expected to become mindless automatons. We are cajoled and sometimes coerced into playing the game the way our masters desire, according to the rules they have conceived. They are the wolves who want us to live as good sheep in the herd or are faithful dogs tending to the sheep that they exploit and harvest.

Artists are misfit to the prevalent system because we aren’t good at following arbitrary rules. Like a child, we question everything. Constantly we ask why? We may have acquired the gift of biting our tongues so that we can hold down a job, but the very reason we are artistic means we don’t fit in with the masses in larger, collectively accepted delusion that the world is an imperfect place.

So, for several hours each day I fill out job applications to serve roles that are functionally necessary for my basic survival. Yet, I don’t want to return to the shuffling madness that used to be my frustrated, self-destructive life. I’ve played that song and danced that jig but never truly benefitted from the experience save for graining some perspective on the way things work and how others endure the depression of their existences.

Something more than the mind numbing entertainment of the media is what I desire from life. What happens to the Kardashians or who won the big game last night could not interest me less. I’ll see something about those things on the Web, I suppose, provided I care to waste my time reading about it. The world does not hang in the balance of something as trivial as the scripted make-believe or surrogate reality of television. By the way, who write that nonsense? Hmmm?

A couple of years ago I set out on a journey to write of alternatives and possibilities in a world of dreams and fantasies that exist beneath the veils of grand deception and mass hysteria that we have collectively decided is real. I’ve never given up and I don’t care to do so now when I am closer to the goal than I was two years ago. I’m not convinced the practical side of the world was ever worthy of my undivided attention. But I continue to play the game as necessary. I can be a good sheep or a good dog same as anyone else. But in the background, the dream continues. It’s always the same.

Then, again, I’m an artist, so what do I know?