Am I for real? Am I really the way I present myself on my site? (The way I intend to be presented, not the way some narrow-minded passer-by decides I present myself) Do I really feel the way I feel about things? Or is it all an act, a performance, a dancing organ grinder monkey provided for your amusement while you know it's all just a money scheme all along? Am I a mainstream junkie and no more? Do I try too hard to be different? What? What can your mind come up with, disregarding the facts?
You better bet I'm the real thing. I don't put on a mask to be an actor on a worldwide stage. And, you know, for awhile, I've questioned my beliefs and whether I was being heavily influenced by other forces or not, forces of wanting to be included or forces of wanting to be excluded so that I may be included. I made it through one of those intense, fiery periods of life everyone faces which really shape who they are. Some people are too weak to make it. They give in and rely on other to guide them. They become convinced that all power is out of their hands and that there must be a god. They lose faith in themselves.
But I found who I am. And I savored every angst-stricken, painful, flesh-stretching moment of it. I found that I am extremely opinionated, that I love the fire of debate, that I hate people, that I think everyone, assuming they are of sound body and mind, has a right to do near whatever the Hell they want, as long as they don't obstruct others from the same right. Abort a baby. Let your kids buy "In Utero". I don't care. It's your life. Those things don't change the world as a whole. Stop bothering me.
I also found that the way I live my personal life and the way I would prefer to see life are completely different. A substantial part of this self-discovery came through my interests and tastes in music.
Say whatever you want about the music I listen to. I don't really care. Call it mainstream, call it eclectic, call it loud, call it disharmonious, call it cheesy if you want. But the music I listen to is never boring.
Music is conceived in emotion. We all know it. But some peoples' emotions are flat and bland, like a carbonated drink left to sit out in the 100+ degree Death valley for a week. There's nothing there. Country music? Easy listening? Cheerful dance music? Absolutely nothing in it speaks to me.
And what is Christian death metal music, anyway? Did I misread that?
I require something that burns much like a chaparral, thriving off the frequent flames which give it life. I desire to feel the sinful and blissful emotions in my music: jealousy, love, torment, hate, wrath, loneliness, and so on.
I need it loud and I need it heavy. I need to feel the shaking of tissue vibrating against bone, blood pumping to the beat of the song. I need to get into the music and feel it close to me (even if the lyrics are mindless, I don't care -- I don't look to musicians for intelligent role models). Heavy metal and industrial do the best job for me.
Music has to have a driving force behind it, an ardent passion, or else it's meaningless to me. It needs to have a consistent rhythm of course, and has to be well-structured and produced. One can just tell when there's feelings inside the musician which come through in the song. You can trace the musician's history, through all the personal torment and happiness and doubt and indifference. If the musician hasn't had that inner conflict, I'm just not interested.
I like music that isn't comfortable. I like music that you can't sit down and relax to in the conventional sense. I like music that makes you edgy, nervous, pissed off, or tearful with missing one's lover. To me, the emotional arousal is the whole point of the exercise. The reason I listen to the music I do, which is, for the most part, anything from industrial to conventional rock and roll to techno to heavy metal, is because I seek the same cathartic experience I desire to find in other forms of art.
I feel the same way about everything else that I read or hear or see, like writing on the Web. I've commented on writing on the Web before, but I don't think I've nailed down exactly why I don't like it, until now. Writing on the Web lacks passion. It lacks the human spirit. It's full of tasteless stories about peoples' lives which only emphasize how utterly useless and wasteful some folks are with their precious souls. How can you readers out there dare to flatter those who sigh about how their pizzas didn't rise right when they cooked them with their best friend when there's people on the Web writing their hearts out, really caring about what's going on in this world, unable to do anything about it?
How can passionate music be overlooked for ridiculous bands like Green Day, No Doubt, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Yanni? How can people who aren't afraid to show their inner turmoil, who illustrate the conflicts they have between what they want to do and what they're being kept from doing, be unappreciated as much as they are?
I listen to it loud and hard so when I'm done sharing the feelings of anger and love and pain with the music I'm listening to, I've purged it from myself. I feel relaxed after it's over. I feel calm and controlled, healthy and self-confident. Any tenseness I had before is released in the course of the exercise of listening and feeling. I encounter the same results when reading a Greek tragedy, or when reading a powerful love poem, or when I read someone on the Web who's set on completely flaming and humiliating someone who did him wrong.
I need to curb all the emotion I carry inside and all the emotion out there in the world of millions of troubled people because that's the only way you can make it these days. You see, for these artists that I never know or want to know, I want them to be loud, opinionated, and arrogant. I want them to say what the more modest would never have the audacity to say in front of others. I am a firm believer in catharsis. But when it comes to my more immediate life, my personal life, I need it to be extremely calm and disciplined. I can't live a life of emotion or I'll be devoured by those who are strict and controlled. I don't want to be a fiery son of a bitch in personal situations, to Anna, to the few friends I keep, or to my family. I want to be sweet, caring, and consistent in my virtues and loyalty. I want to be gentle and comfortable.
So I express myself on this site, and in particular, the Soapbox, with a certain degree of stand-offishness, self-confidence, and finger-pointing. Yes, that's who I am. And I'm damn good at being that way. But I'm that way because I don't really care about you. I really don't. I don't care what you think of me. You're just a sponge to suck up all the shit I need to get off my mind.
I've found through Anna, in myself, something extremely important, something which is everything I am. I've found that I don't just enjoy learning and encourage thinking and all that. I've found that, yes, I can love another person more powerfully and more completely than many other people ever have.
There is an unequaled passion inside this 6'2" frame of mine. It keeps me yearning for life. It keeps me strong and driven and influential and extremely dangerous to others. It comes in various forms and incarnations, love for Anna and for my family, hate for the deceitful who have haunted my life. It keeps me thinking about how our universe and earth came into existence and what their futures will be. It keeps me at the top of my game, at the top of the game, the game everyone is fated to play. It keeps me searching for meaning in my life.
Passion, love, the human spirit: whatever you wish to call it, it is all there is in the universe and it is the single most important thing one could ever seek or possess.
Should I lose passion, I will lose everything. Should our civilization lose its passion, well, I don't even want to think about it.
To everyone who isn't afraid to describe their problems and conflicts, to admit their inadequacies, to question themselves, to yell and scream and let all that emotion out, in music or literature or whichever artistic medium you choose, I admire what you do. I think what you do is more important than what more celebrated people do. Never give up.
Or else the people who gave up will, ironically, win.
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