Every school day, I have one goal in my morning commute: to be at the stoplight that marks the halfway point between my home and my son’s school when it turns green at 7:21AM. Making that light means that we will get him to his school at 7:30. There is a 7:23 light that puts me at his school between 7:32 and 7:33. I am ok with that. Anything later than that grinds my gears. His school starts at 7:45. We are not on the brink of tardiness but who needs to start their day by running into their classroom to avoid being late? I do not know how ordinary this is for other parents. I guess most parents get their kids on a bus. If the kids are late, it is the city or county’s problem. But if you take your child to school, do you notice patterns like this? Do you arrange your life with this kind of discipline? Am I losing my mind? Answering “Yes” to one of those questions does not rule out a “Yes” for the last question. Unfortunately, I am passing it along to my son. He recently mentioned that we get to a stoplight after school at 3:02. I am so sorry for passing this to the next generation.
I thrive on routine and am frustrated by a lack of it. I have had a seed of this inside of me since birth. More than anything, health has dictated that over the past few years. The doctor said, “If you do not do X and Y every day then I can guarantee that in three years Z is going to happen to you.” Z is not good. It is not the end of the world, but it is not good, and it would be difficult, a little painful and so much worse than doing X and Y every day. When that is placed before you, then you know when you wake up every morning, certain things have to be accomplished. As a result, in order to accommodate for those things, everything else has to shift. After enough time passes, you have yourself a routine. It is a like an arena-rock band whose setlist does not change from one show to the next. Laminate it. Set the lights and the soundboard to it. Your life is a series of blocks of time, some of which allow for spontaneity and others which are etched in stone in terms of predictability.
I have order. It is not sexy, but it helps me get things accomplished and to know where I am in relation to where I need to be. If I am sitting at a traffic light at 7:25, I know what that means because I have something to measure it against. The same applies to my walk. Weather permitting, I walk a little more than two miles a day. If it is raining or too cold, I am on an exercise bike for, currently, 43 minutes because that is the average length of an episode of Gotham. I listen to the same thing on my walk every time: Paul Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints. It is steady, calm and makes it easy to fall into step without being aggressive like the kind of music you hear on commercials for a gym or home exercise equipment. Rhythm of the Saints was also written by a person who was only a few years older than me at the time when he made it, so it is relatable. The steadiness encourages a predictable pace. If I were training my body to compete, it would help because I know where I am supposed to be on my walk at particular moments of the album. I am in sync with it and so is the road on which I walk.
Here is what I know about my walk and this album. I want to make the first turn off my street when Paul is singing, “We had a lot of fun/we had a lot of money” in “The Obvious Child’. I know I want to be walking by the driveway to 220 Xxxxxxx Circle when he sings the word “batá” in “The Coast”. Where I turn at the midpoint of my walk should happen when he is singing “my face, my race don’t matter anymore…” in “Proof”. I skip two songs to get to “The Cool, Cool River” because it’s my favorite song and I want to hear it. I will not get to do that if I don’t skip “She Moves On” and “Born at the Right Time”. My final turn should happen when he sings “rainwater, seawater, river water, holy water” in “Spirit Voices”. This does not sound healthy. It sounds mechanical. But some stoners figured out that you could sync up Dark Side of the Moon and the Wizard of Oz, so I am not the only one. Besides that, the album points out to me every time I walk that I might be in an unhealthy place. On “Further to Fly” he sings, “Sometimes I’ll be walking down/the street and I’ll be thinking/Am I crazy/Or is this some morbid little lie?” I hear that line and usually block it out with a memory of seeing the Rhythm of the Saints tour at Starwood Amphitheater in 1991. I recall snippets of the music but mainly remember his percussionist dancing around a lot and a guy carrying a sign that said “PS 132” or some such indication that he grew up in New York City and that Paul would no doubt see that sign from the stage, 50 yards away, and invite the guy onstage to sing a haunting rendition of “Rene and Georgette Magritte with Their Dog After the War”. I remember that and a couple making out along the back fence like an asteroid was hurtling towards Earth and my friend returning from the bathroom to announce, “I just saw Edie Brickell sitting on the lawn.”
Anyway, whatever this routine is works for me. Life has been working against my program lately. I am missing my blocks of time because issues keep popping up. That’s the “Man makes plans, God laughs” adage and that thought is irritating me ever so slightly this week. I am getting work accomplished but not on the timeline that I want? It is bizarre but success and failure are determined by a range of measurements and some are falling short for me right now. Some projects are being sacrificed. My son writes stories almost daily. “14 Ways to Become a Spy Agent” or “Lava Megazord and the Terrifying Return of Emperor Opry Mills”. He knows that I am trying to write so there is a daily inquiry, “Did you write today?” I have to sheepishly respond, “Umm, not today, bud” and then I feel disappointed in myself. My greatest satisfactions from the week come from exercise and reading the Bible. I do not want my greatest satisfaction to be sitting on an exercise bike, watching Gotham. I worked on a drawing for about 12 hours, which for this one would represent about 1/3 of the work required to finish it. More than anything, right now, I think I need to set it aside and create a simpler version. This one is not working right now but I have learned over the years to not give up on a piece until I think I am more than 2/3 of the way through it. Things snap into shape at that point and I can see if that last 1/3 is going to result in a mediocre or strong piece. I would rather figure that out about this drawing at later date.
I have two solid compositions for two crucifixion paintings ready to be executed. If you want to know what art world career implosion looks like in 2019, then I will post photos when they are finished one day. Other than that, I had a revelation for a series of drawings that would take at least a year to make so hopefully I will get to pick at that slowly in the next few months. A “return to form” of sorts but what is the point of having a few arrows in a quiver if you are only ever going to fire the same one over and over again.
Lyric for the week:
“Don't expect too much/You've nothing to prove
It's a hard old station/Hold onto the truth”
Hothouse Flowers, “Home”
Quote for the week:
“…there is good nowadays, or there could be much more than in fact there is if there were greater solidarity” – Vincent van Gogh, October 22, 1882
St. Augustine: City of God
Vincent van Gogh: Letters
Book of Matthew