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March 11, 2012

Quest for Fire

It’s been so long! Maybe the column is dead. Maybe I’m all used up; didn’t have much to say in the last few anyway. Being back in back in school I feel more and more distant from the greater truths. I’m more sheltered than ever and most of my time is spent at play. I’m distracted with video games, guitars, girls and dogs (but not in any particular order). It seems my work schedule is too flexible and my personal discipline too lacking.

Societies that provide ample leisure time will inevitably produce great culture, as seen through advances in visual art, music, philosophy and science, or so I’ve read, but is it possible to have too much leisure time? I certainly don’t feel as if my personal cultural production is at an all time high or anything, but I have managed to carve out a nice living for myself. Dixie has never had it so good, although she does miss living other pups like Grendel.

In this inspiring transcript of a Richard Hamming lecture, Hamming hypothesizes that the scientist must suffer in order to create Novel Prize worthy science and I’m broadening his point to include artists, musicians, and philosophers as well. Yes there must be leisure time; the people must not be worried about their next meal, but there must also be a villain to the story, someone or something to rage against. I have a personal villain and I’m being oppressed, but I still don’t feel like I can summon up the rage.

I believe both points must further be augmented by the fire inside. Finding the source of the fire is a personal quest for each person. When I was younger, I was living for my family. My inner flame raged for my younger siblings and to change the socio-economic status of where it looked as if we were heading as a unit. Failure was not an option; I applied my gifts with vigor and sacrificed some measure of personal joy to succeed. Others and I were immensely successful in this task so that the family hardly resembles itself. We have changed and basking in my success does not fuel my fire.

Furthermore, with the death of my grandparents, I don’t have as many people to impress. I just don’t try because failure has become an option. It seems that my life won’t be much different if I try really hard or just let the chips fall where they will. I have continually have pointed myself in the direction of success, but without the fire, I’m progressing too slowly for my own satisfaction. I believe everything will look great on paper, but the personal rating of my success has suffered lately.

Here I sit, with all the tools to get busy on Nobel Prize worthy scientific exploration, but instead I think I’ll go out. I’ll eat dinner with a friend as my server and listen to the sweet sounds of Georgia and the Alchemists. I’ll hit up the Boats and Hoes party dressed in full yacht regalia and might even be the life of the party here and there. I’ll come home and play video games until my eyes involuntarily close and then awake to play my PRS through my effects pedals. How could anyone make me a better offer? And what part do I refuse to get back to work?

I think the Devil must have learned something about fire from his lake. All the Devil has to do is provide a little prosperity and the fire goes out. For some the distractions are chemical, for me they are experiential. I’m constantly doing something with someone (Dixie is a someone). I need to be locked away, deprived, sentenced to work, only then will the real success begin. People thank God for this prosperity and that may be so, but the Devil is satisfied by happiness much more than God. Think about it, people turn to Jesus when they are down, not when they are up. When everything is going great, it’s the Devil that gets his way.

And things are certainly up for me. I’ve got this warm house, cute pup, and all the bikes and guitars a guy could ask for. I’m sitting at my own table on my own Macbook Pro; nothing should stand in my way, but for reason I let the first world problems stop me. The number one lesson I learned in India is not to make excuses. I have everything to their nothing and still they outperform me because they are willing to work 10 times harder and forego all life’s pleasures. So many Indians are filled with fire as I struggle to nurse a fresh lick of flame from my cooling embers.

I believe only a removal from all of this will spark my inner flame. The Devil won’t have me long because I’m finding a new source of inspiration. As I progress through my coursework for school, I’ll be getting rid of all but my most prized possessions because I believe the next step for me should be the Peace Corps. I need to get away from my demons and do some hard work for people that will directly benefit from my efforts. I know I’ll never make any money, but since I want to work in government when I graduate anyway, this step makes sense. Obviously, outside factors could change the plan, but at the moment I’m full speed ahead for graduation and Peace Corps. This is the current update to the 5-year plan anyway, for the more immediate future, nights of house parties with beautiful ladies will have to do.

Song of the Month (or longer)

It’s been so long that many songs have come and go in my day-to-day life. For a time I was really in to LMFAO, Death Cab, Black Keys (again and still), and I finally saw Chris Knight live. Today I’m feeling sentimental (it’s now the morning after and I’m hung-over, I lost an hour, and I plan to do it all again tonight) so I’d like to call one of the songs Georgia does my song of the month, but she’s more about soul than lyrical content. I had a good time researching Gershwin’s “Summertime” as it morphs to become Sublime’s “Doin’ Time”, but that’s not the song either. I think instead I should put up an original by the Shane Roger’s Band. This is "What I'm Always Gonna Be":
     You can’t take the Texas boy out of me
     I know exactly who I am
     and what I’m always gonna be
     between the Red and Rio Grande
     is where I like to drive
     cruising 377 to
     Southbound 35