Friday, July 23, 2010

going crazy in the land of opportunity

the poet william everson stated, "this is the land of opportunity and we're always looking for something better." all too true. we seek forever to be, do, and have something more, seldom satisfied with ourselves. this is not only the way to madness, but constantly unsettling, confusing. we play a computer game with our passions, hoping one will win.

i'm as dumb as they come, so how did i make some choices and stick to them? writing for example. at 13 i said to myself, 'you can either be a writer or an artist.' having been a bookworm since the summer after the 3rd grade, reading two books a day, i decided this the better course. alas, i couldn't draw anything realistically, though walking through the louvre as a teenager, i felt chills go up and down my spine as i watched a girl draw in pencil a picture of a greek statue.

so much for art, though it's been a passion from the day i read picture books. (alice, "what good is a book without pictures or conversations?") and i've haunted museums like a ghost of van gogh my whole life. writing it was to be and i pursued it for forty years, from high school sports editor to learning poetry from jack gilbert and josephine miles at berkeley. i decided to go to mexico at 20, taking all f's in my college classes to assemble a collection of american indian songs in the immense east bay library. (later indian lit became a big deal. not in 1960.)

damn, i toted a huge suitcase of books on the bus to mexico city - and back after 2 weeks, as i got homesick and transferred to san francisco state. there i used every assignment in class as a writing exercise, going in two years from probation to the dean's list. with one unit to graduate, i had a lookout job fall in my lap and i waited four more years before finishing.

on the lookout i read and read, wrote and wrote. after four seasons i absconded to europe for two years: a greek island, a berlin basement, an oxford rented room. forced to come back by the coast guard reserve, i resumed firetower work and haven't had a summer off since. yes, i decided this the best job for me. choice number 2, stabilizing my life. i'd already decided to not watch television at 17 (it was either be a couch potato or do something else with your life), nor would i buy a house or have kids.

decisions, decisions, decisions. when george bush got elected, i felt using words useless, nobody listening or reading. suddenly, digital cameras came on the scene. i'd always taken pictures, however this was something new. i dropped writing like a hot potato, going back to age 13 to pick up the other path of art. and i've been a lot happier the past eight years. people will look at photographs, even if they only glance at them for a moment. it's most satisfying.

it's a mystery to me how i made choices and stuck with them, especially from such an early age. those who grow weary because they can't pick a path and stick to it, how do they manage in this free-fall society?

a few new pics at i love my new phone. finally i have a communication device that will do everything.