A few things have been happening in my life lately.
I've found the boldness to tell you because, if you're reading this, it means you actually want to hear what I have to say, which means you have given me permission to shamelessly spill my guts-- and perhaps even tell you how to live your life.
So. New things:
1) I have finally fallen in love with Deerhoof, which is so typical of 20-somethings who have spent any time in Chicago. But don't fear, I have found a way to make my situation into a totally un-typical one: I have fallen in love with them several years too late. Therefore, instead of being totally indie and listening to them when the hip kids did, I have acquired the oh-so-distinguished taste for their awesomeness at exactly the same time as everyone else has. Thus the "I was there before you were born" mentality so typical of hipsters has been thwarted by my new, relatively ingenious tactic: getting WITH the times, if not slightly behind.
I call it being "fashionably late."
2.) Up until about a month ago, at least one of my co-workers was convinced I was gay. Then he found out I wasn't. It went a little something like this:
Me: Hey [Edgar], what's up?
Ed: I'd like to punch whoever put this song on in the face.
Me (foolishly assuming Stevie Nicks' voice was Patti Smith's): Really? I have to admit, I've been enjoying this a lot.
Ed: Man, you're just reinforcing the stereotype.
(pause. I look at him curiously.)
Me: What stereotype is that, Ed?
Ed: You know... gay guys and Fleetwood Mac.
Me: Dude. I'm straight.
He felt bad about it, but he shouldn't have. It's not the first time that's happened, not by a long shot. If there was any part that offended me, it wasn't that he thought I was gay. It was that he called me "typical." Therefore, I felt the need to prove I was a straight guy who liked Fleetwood Mac.
These two things have caused me some unrest, some sort of dullness and self-disgust in my heart, a feeling that I have hurt myself somehow. It feels very unhealthy, like my soul caught the flu. Or mono.
Now that I've caught a real flu or cold or mono or something, I've been forced once again to slow down and think about what I'm doing. Mostly, I've been thinking about art, like I always do. And the struggle comes down to two things: creativity and ego. It always does.
How do I know which is which? Do I like Deerhoof because it resonates with something deep inside me, or do I like them because their music is complex and unusual? Do I listen because they speak some truth, or do I listen because they're avant-garde and entertaining?
This also applies to my own art. It makes me wonder why I should even write in the first place, makes me doubt if my creative impulses are pure and Godly.
A friend of mine from Chicago put creativity very plainly:
God is a Creator, and we were made in His image. When we create, we're saying "I want to be just like my Dad."
We're just children drawing pictures and writing stories for our Father. We color outside the lines. We misspell words. We get all the proportions wrong. But God loves what we give Him. The more I think about that, the more I wonder if I'm writing with that in mind.
Do I want to be a brilliant artist, or do I want to be a child of God? Am I writing from my God-given creativity or from my ego? Do I sing so God will hear me, or do I sing to impress myself? Don't ask me. I'm sick and half-delirious, and I won't know the answer until I get well.