The garden of our mind

Today I looked out my window to find that the willow tree I had planted about oh, six months ago, had fallen over and was atop the grass at a deadly 90 degree angle.

My awareness of the situation was followed with a few expletives of surprise and an immediate departure outside to rescue it.

The garden in my backyard is finally taking shape and Willy the Willow is my pride and joy. He’s the first thing that I planted, lasted all winter, and I’ll be damned if the bastard quits on me now simply because he lacks the spinal resilience to go on.

Gently I pulled it upright, grabbed a rope, tied it to the bamboo stick that was bracing it, and drove off to work.

 

In life, we surround ourselves with psychological familiarities that reflect pieces of ourselves. They reflect the underpinnings of our personalities. The hoarder’s house is full of clutter, as is their mind. The preacher’s house is full of religious symbols and paintings. My garden is full of things that can either flourish or wither – things that are beautiful.

I didn’t get a hearty maple tree. I got a weeping willow, a drooping, sad, beautiful bastard of a tree that requires constant support and rescuing while it grows in my windy yard. I love it the most for those reasons.

Constantly I sip on my coffee and look out my window at my tree. When I go into the garden, I look at my tree first.

It is the potential within it in spite of the its current state of weakness that I love to reinforce.

 

Gardening is one of the most rewarding things we can do with life. Why? Because it it requires leaving the things we wish to tend to; it requires the releasing of that which we care for and the faith that they will continue to grow without our observation.

I had a pumpkin seedling that was withered so I put it in new soil, watered it and went to bed. When I got back up and returned from work the next day I found that it was completely fine. It’s stronger than I would have expected. The realization gave me a bit of joy. It surprised me. This surprise is what life is all about.

 

How does the garden of your mind look?

Do you let things go overnight in acceptance? Do you allow that which you have cared for to die so that it might flourish and surprise you?

Often, we tend to forget about the things we plant, the memories that exist, the fallen things of old expectations – but they are still growing even when we drive away from them.

 

Be vigilant in regards to what is growing in your own mind, and never restrain yourself from rescuing beautiful thoughts.

-Noah

holding a beautiful stone, I contemplate what it means to be successful at art

What is success with art?

For the past four weeks I’ve been listening back to different mixes of my upcoming album, “Seafarer” (release date TBA soon). At moments I’ve literally danced in the bathroom brimming with a kind of manic enthusiasm, at other moments I’ve stared out the window calculating the music’s chance in today’s climate with a kind of morose acceptance.

I suppose only one question actually matters – what is success when it comes to art? What is success when it comes to expression?

Society would tell us, with the popularity of attractive individuals on Instagram that success is how beautiful you are and how large your ripple spreads into the environment. How many followers do you have? What’s your reach?

I look at it differently.

Yesterday I paced by a river and threw a stick into the water. The stick floated and went downstream.

I then skipped a rock, and it sank into the depths below.

I like to imagine, and perhaps its only a consequence of my lack of enthusiasm when it comes to self-promotion on social media, that success with music is not about the size of the ripple, but rather it is about how deep below the surface the music goes. Anything can influence the surface of the water. Bugs dart to and fro atop the water all the time. Aye, but what goes below? What sinks to the bottom and rests there beside all of the other things we fail to express? What comforts the deep? And harmonizes with the unseen?

In this crazy world, where information inundates us and pummels our beliefs into ash, where love comes and goes in rapid succession, where societal norms are constantly fluctuating and talent and skill are programmed to succeed perhaps below the surface is where I’d like to stay.

I had a dream once that I was walking in a river and came across an absolutely beautiful stone.

Perhaps this is real success with art: To give what you are and not what you wish to be seen as. To be loved by those who stumble upon you. Not to force your way before them. To be held by those who wish to reach.

Aye, this is success.

Keep creating friends.

Best,

Noah

The downfall of the romantic: ourselves

A lot of people like to imagine themselves as romantic people – “I bought her flowers last Tuesday and left them for her on the table and a letter…” or, “He took me to a movie and then we walked in the park it was so romantic.”

*sets Facebook profile to himself kissing his girlfriend on the cheek*

*shakes with delight at the likes and hearts*

But what does it mean to be a romantic?

For as long as I can remember I have had a pattern of loving people. First, I would catch a glimpse of them smiling and would be struck by their beauty.

Then, I’d talk with them and would find myself lost in the conversation; able to rest in my wondering just how they could be so very lovely with every word they spoke.

Pretty soon I would find myself thinking about them, writing songs about them or poems, and being tugged steadily onward by the gravity of my desire for them in my life.

If the feeling was mutual and we entered a relationship, this idea of them would manifest itself into projections of the future.

I would live each day in the relationship with them in a kind of tragically deluded but artistically lovely codependent burst of poetry and beauty –  with the projection of perfection onto them. Sometimes this image would last months, sometimes it would only last weeks.

Eventually though, the grand vision would collapse and I’d write another song about heartbreak.

That was pretty much how relationships worked for me as a young romantic man.

The hard fall, the hand-in-hand future sight of us together forever, and finally the collapse of my inflated ideas under the weight of what was actually substantial between us.

In the summer of last year I went over to my brothers to drink a beer and vent about another failed relationship. I told him how difficult it was to carry the visions of that “perfect someone” whom had gotten away with me everyday.

He listened and told me, “That will never stop.” Which was sobering information to say the least.

But why would it not go away? What was I in love with?

“It’s your muse.”

Psychologist Carl Jung described the phenomena as the “Anima” – man’s projection of the feminine archetype within his psyche based off of all of his experiences with women and the perfection he sees in them. It is the thing that lures romantics to their grave; the siren’s call.

For some its the thrill of falling in love and not necessarily the idea of love that they chase.

All of us love that feeling, the thrill of new love – the heart racing moment when everything is on the line because everything is being built and destroyed right then and there between the two of you; the frothy chemistry of love bubbling into your heart.

We love the mystery, the sweetness and beauty of those whom we fall for. It captivates us, it imprints memories into our minds that seem absolutely perfect in nature.

I can remember clearly standing still atop the water fall and looking at my then girlfriend in July’s sunlight so many years ago. The way she smiled is impossible to erase from my mind – listen to my song, “Rest” and you can hear the image manifest itself in the chorus – but why is this?

This is what it means to be a romantic – you are so in love with the archetype of ‘perfect love’ that when it shines forth through anyone’s eyes, when anyone manifests anything beautiful that reminds you of it, it leaves a kind of imprint on your soul.

But, that is not love – it is romance.

Love is also psychological archetype and one that is higher than romance (romance is a part of love but is not love) – and in being so, love supersedes our ability to understand it wholly.

Like romance, we can catch glimpses of it, atop waterfalls, in the hills of Spain or even on the train when our eyes meet a strangers; but it is not ours to have permanently. In fact, it’s impossible to have it permanently.

I fell very hard for a girl once – I thought we shared perfect love. Kissing a new woman after we fell apart was an act of exposure therapy through the PTSD of my collapsed and very dead dreams of her.

But as I look back now at how I felt in our relationship, I can clearly remember that I allowed my own heart to be undermined for that “light” I saw in her – for that romantic pursuit.

This is when things get deadly in relationships; when the idea of what someone is to you romantically supersedes your desire to stand up for yourself. If that happens, you’re doomed to suffer life changing heartbreak or to suffer a lifetime of resentment in being ‘stuck’ in a relationship with them.

Human beings are far from perfect. To demand perfection from them is folly.

Many of us still strive to be valiant lovers despite all of this.

Plenty of myths talk about the hero who slays the beast to win the heart of the perfect woman. In that relationship, I was the hero whom slayed himself only to discover that the woman he had fought to defend was a monster and was then subsequently devoured by her.

A beautiful, soul crushing irony.

Who is to blame? What is to blame?

Ourselves.

Why?

We love romance more than we love ourselves. Or, we love romance more than we love those whom we claim to love.

I once sat by an ex girlfriend and played an instrumental song I had recorded for her on piano. She cried and I was moved by her display of emotion. I convinced myself at that moment that she was emotionally ‘deep’ and mutually artistic. Again, I projected my desires and heart’s expectations onto her at seeing her cry.

I realized after everything ended that her tears were most likely not because she was moved by the beauty of the song – but rather because she too was overwhelmed by her romantic desires all being validated in that moment. It had after all been a lovely date.

So, in an honest sense, it really didn’t matter that it was me sitting next to her playing the song – anyone reflecting her desires would have done the trick. This also, is a sobering and humbling notion.

Our desires absolutely mess with our emotions.

I am always leery when people tell me they love me; especially if I know I haven’t shown the darker parts of my psyche to them.

Love is the understanding of and acceptance of the monster within our partners and them our monster. Likewise, it is also the hand holding and snuggling on a cold winter’s night. But its not all warmth and cozy moments; Hallmark movies be damned.

At some point the poet must look at himself in the mirror and ask, what is my desire? And then, why?

Love itself?

Everlasting romance?

This will never be fulfilled by a single relationship. Not even a healthy relationship and a life lived in a community of like-minded individuals all facilitating one anthers’ success can stifle that longing in our hearts for perfect love.

Romantics then, in some lovely and yet tragic way, are witnesses of beauty itself as an archetype and, unless if we embody humility and allow the beauty of the sun to set and rise naturally, the thing we long for most will devour us.

It’s better to look for the monster in your partner and show them yours, rather than to fall in love with pretense.

 

The Psychologist

 An author’s note:
These are the untrammeled thoughts, dark and deep, of my imagination. A kind of psychological sojourn into how I think and what I think to be true. It’s not light-hearted content, but its raw and hopefully will prove to be entertaining to ingest. Best served with black coffee.
The man spoke,
“I look around at the broken glass on the floor, the blood on my hands and the body which lay there crumpled and think little.
There is no thinking loud enough to silence a thundering heart. And yet, I still hear the question within myself somehow as I look at the scene before me.
Why?
What about the moments leading up to the action resulted in such death?
And who is it lying still before me?
I can feel it, like some threaded needle pulled until it escapes the eye, I can feel it my mind starting to break down.
How?
The scene changes before me in an instant.
Now I am holding the hand of a child, she is mine to protect and to love.
We make our way up a hill in the sunlight and she runs ahead before me. Someone beautiful is atop the hill. She smiles widely and I am struck still. I stare at her while the child runs to her.
The sun is high above us.
I look down at my hands and the image reverts.
There again before me, lying on the floor is the body.
The walls, white are aged are darkened by time and the movement of life between them. Side one area of the wall which is splattered in the red signature of death.
I blink and fall to my knees in a heap before the body.
“Take me back to the sunlit hill! Far from this place!”
But there is no sunlight. Only the body before me.
My shoulders tremble and I advance upon the slain man to investigate.
“What have I done? Oh God what have I done?”
I walk toward him and stare at his face, and it is my face that I see. I shudder, scream, and wake up.”
Benjamin looked up from his notebook and glanced at his patient who, having just shared his dream let out a sigh. “Last week we spoke in great detail about your recent concerns.”
The patient nodded, “Yes.”
“Do you see any connection between those concerns and this dream?” he asked twirling his pen between his fingers.
The man brought a hand up to his face and sighed, “I don’t know. I can’t really see a connection.”
“The thing about dreams is that man likes to associate his recent memories with his dreams. He likes to interpret a dream relative to his recent experiences. It’s important though to come to an understanding of all of the potential meanings within each symbol that you see. Only then can the resolution of the dream be actualized.”
Benjamin filled a cup of coffee on the table, “Coffee?”
“Sure.” The man sat up in his seat and looked briefly at the time piece which rest on his wrist, “I don’t want to go over my limit.”
“You’re a friend Thomas. My wife will understand. Sugar?”
“No, I’ll take it black.”
Benjamin nodded and handed him the cup.
“Do you think there’s something to that – in the taking of coffee black?”
“I think you have poor taste, but I highly doubt there is some horrid shadow looming in your psyche demanding you take your coffee black.”
Benjamin smiled at him. It was the kind of smile that held him perfectly still in his being. It reinforced to him that no matter what was shared between them, Benjamin would always have faith in him.
Thomas grinned, “Yeah you’re probably right” and taking the cup of coffee from him returned to his seat; this time sitting upright.
“So, let’s start at the very beginning of this dream,” began Benjamin, “What was the first image that you remember seeing?”
“Blood.”
“What is blood? Educate me.”
“Blood is life.”
“Or the signature of death, as you had mentioned.”
Thomas nodded, “Yes. It is a symbol of humanity and sacrifice.”
“And where did you see this symbol?”
“On my hands. It was everywhere on my hands.”
“What else was there?”
“Glass.”
“And what is glass to you?”
“A window. The barrier between the outside world and the inside world.”
“And these panes were in what condition?” asked Benjamin.
“Shattered on the floor.”
“Tell it to me again…the beginning of your dream,” lead Benjamin.
“I somehow find myself in a room, familiar to me but I can’t place its exact location. On the floor is shattered glass and my hands are covered in blood. I stare at my hands for a while and then –“
“I find it interesting that the blood is on your hands. Are you guilty of some crime that you have not shared with me?”
Thomas grinned, “No. You know all of my sins.”
“Then why your hands – what do you do with your hands?”
“I feel. I play music with my hands…I create things, move things.”
“Do you feel as though you are guilty of something?” asked Benjamin clicking his pen and taking a note.
“No, I…well I know my faults.”
Benjamin smiled at him again, “Do you?”
Thomas shook his head with a grin, “Oh shove off it.”
“So you walk into a familiar room, noticing that the barrier between what is outside and in is shattered on the floor. Then you notice that on your hands, the instruments through which you feel the world, are coated in blood, coated in life and death. Sound about right?”
Thomas nodded. “Aye.”
“Carry on, what else is in that room?”
“My body.”
“Well it’s not your body yet though correct? We find that out at the end of the dream?”
“Yes, the body is on the floor.”
“What did it look like?”
“Crumpled up, balled up…like murder”
“And then what?” asked Benjamin.
“Then it suddenly changes.” Thomas let out a sigh of relief at saying this. Benjamin noted the sigh.
“How does it change?”
“It was like awakening into a different scene for a brief moment. Having that child, my child there with me.”
“And we both know you do not yet have children. So what does a child represent to you?”
“A child is the progression of the best qualities I could ever hope to give. Its new life, love.”
“And the hill, tell me about it.”
“It was a typical hill, steep.”
“And the woman atop it. Tell me about her.”
Thomas brought his hand above his head and pushed back his hair.
“She was lovely. I don’t remember her face, I just remember the feeling that came over me in the dream. Like being wrapped in an all-encompassing blanket of love just by looking at her.”
Benjamin’s lips pursed a bit in a grin and he wrote, “Romantic,” on his notepad. “And then what?”
“Then I was back it that hell hole of a room, staring at the murdered body and yeah…I approach it to find that it’s my face.”
“What do you make of it?”
“I don’t really know, that’s why I brought it up to you.”
Benjamin nodded, “I once read this book about a man lost at sea. Every morning he would pray to God for land and it didn’t come. Well, one day he stopped praying for the land and guess what happened?”
“It came?”
“No, a storm came and destroyed his ship.”
“That sounds like an awful book.”
“Well the story didn’t end there. Now the man was adrift without any resources, no sails, nothing. Just the wreckage of his vessel.”
“What kind of author would write something like that? About a man who drowns in seeking salvation…”
“One would expect him to drown. Indeed, one would expect that his prayers die out completely after the storm. But not this man. This man was different, instead his prayers changed. Instead he accepted the storm and smiled to the sky the morning after. He was grateful for having been able to live through the harrowing experience of the storm, even if it meant that he would most certainly die after it.”
“So then he drowned?”
“The author leaves that up to the reader. It was written that the man got weaker and weaker as a day or two passed.”
Thomas looked interested and Benjamin continued, “The man looked up on the last day, in the last paragraph of the book, and he smiled for he had washed ashore on paradise.”
“So he died?”
“If that’s how you interpret the narrative then yes, he died.”
“Why did you tell me that story?”
“You want to know what I make of your dream?” asked Benjamin setting his pen atop his pad of paper.
“Yes.”
“The barrier of your expectations has been shattered, and you feel guilty about it for some reason. And that reason whatever it might be robs you of your paradise. It robs you of what you actually want in life. Because what you want you know. You see it and hold it in the hand of that child. You know it to be true in her smile atop the hill. And then, for some reason, you are cast back into your fears.”
Thomas nodded, “Perhaps you’re right. But what do we do about it?”
“Perhaps I’m wrong. That is how I see it, knowing you.”
“What do we do?”
“We identify your fears.”
Thomas looked at his watch. “Same time next week?”
Benjamin nodded, “What dreams may come?”