It is not an overstatement to say that those who meet my girlfriend fall in love with her. They ask after her the very next time they see me without her. They ask for her number and want to be friends with her in a stand-alone relationship. The same can be said of her family — it’s just that most of my friends don’t get to meet them.
Her sister passed away unexpectedly and there is a lot to be said about why, you just won’t hear me say it.
Take a breath, blink, or rub your hands together. Do it. Do it now, as you sit and read these words.
You’re alive and information has been transmitted and received. That’s what we get to do. That’s what will no longer happen for my girlfriend and her family. Yet they will never cease communicating and loving, and missing, they will just have to do it in that space that is hard to inhabit for most of us. In the silence. In the moments before sleep or idle time alone. They will mourn for the rest of time.
To be a witness is excruciating and all that popularity and charisma that is palpable if you know Sedonna is going to be muted while she endures this loss. It is that spirit that defines families, and groups of friends, and the spirit of the one who has passed. It’s why we cry in the face of their harrowing loss.
To have light there must be darkness. Good times come with the bad and all that stuff we have to say. All the stuff we tend to avoid. We settle for dull constants, rather than feeling those deep valleys.
Days like this make me wonder if the highs even mitigate the way my family feels right now. I don’t know if it’s possible to move forward. I wouldn’t blame someone who said, “I can’t go on.” But we must. Goddamn it, we must.
People are taking it on the chin with this one. I don’t have words to bounce back in conversation. I want to be able to say nothing. I want people to understand. I wish we were telepathic in times like this, so the effort of searching for words could go away. I guess I want magic to be real and I want to remove pain. Alas, we don’t live in that world.
We live in a world of beautiful people. One of whom was taken from us. We have to remind ourselves to be more like those we lose too soon. Better. Nicer. Warmer.
I don’t know what to say anymore. Rest easy dear Shawn.
This photo of a 98 year old veteran saluting and wearing his uniform one last time, has had an impact on me. It is not so much the swirl of patriotism, although that is impossible to put aside. It is about how the heart, mind , and the soul know no boundaries, other than the ones we place on them. The story as told to reporters doesn’t do justice to the power of the image for me. It’s the old adage of a picture being worth a thousand words that I’m applying .
The statement is obvious, “I left something behind in that war. I have never forgotten.” Maybe he lost friends, or a limb, but he most certainly came home a changed man. At the hour of his passing he wanted to make a statement and perhaps feel the fight or the pride of the uniform one last time.
We do an inadequate job of honoring our servicemen and women, and we do even worse in honoring our elders. This picture reminds us of both of those short-comings. To scold about our youth obsessed culture is as futile as getting someone with an iPhone to be part of a conversation. If another adage may be applied, it is, “Age is nothing but a number.” Put 40 years on some teen-idol-infant-terrible and you have no problem imagining him screaming at the neighborhood kids to get off his proverbial lawn.
Youth is a temporary state of being, so is being old. Life is temporary. But the effort to dress and salute the camera is an ageless impulse. That’s heart. That’s the soul. That’s something you had in your youth or you didn’t. Honor, duty, those are constants.
I am grateful that I never had to go to war. Yet I know that I will never know what it means to stand side by side with my brothers and sisters in arms, or what it means to stand for something bigger than me. Those in the service know that. And they never forget. It’s nice to say thank you and to have a concert once a year, and it fires me up to see the soldiers lip-synching along with the artist on stage. But, that gratitude fades for most of the year.
Why do we send our young to war? Obviously, it’s because of strength and agility and measurable physical attributes. But, mostly it’s the mind that can be molded and in some cases warped. So, while the internet is “broken” by the image of a posterior, we bury more soldiers and aging veterans, and make stars of children.
If you look at this soldier on his death bed and can’t see the fire in his soul that is housed in the temporary form of his physical being, you miss the point. I’m as shallow as the next guy, I like pretty things, but we need to start honoring character and youthful spirit which doesn’t have to fade when the body fades. The eyes, look into the eyes. Respect your elders, but remember that a shitty old person was a shitty young person. Respect heart, loyalty, honor, effort, things that will live on when we are gone. Man, that salute is something. That was a bad dude.
My buddy Matt Knudsen has a great podcast called Grabbing Lunch. The title, and the explanation are the same and brilliantly simple. You go to lunch with Matt and he records it. This episode was with another buddy Rawle D. Lewis and me. The link is below. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
While I might prefer the kind of roll-out that came with a Charlie Rose interview, I am thrilled and relieved to live in a day and age where I can independently publish my first book. The Drama King is now available for the Kindle and the Kindle App exclusively. Here’s the book description from the Amazon purchase page:
Publication Date: October 3, 2014
Before the inevitable struggle of an acting career, there is a period of time when the soul is stirred. Before a headshot photographer suggests a scarf, and a casting director answers the phone in the middle of an audition. A time when you are infused with the spark that started your artistic fire, and success is inevitable. There was a time to study, and submit, and work, and sweat, and wonder aloud, “Why am I wearing a scarf?”
From the shadows of Giants Stadium and the New York City skyline, to the privileged halls of Carnegie Mellon University a young man pursued a dream and got even more — an education.
Told with humor, THE DRAMA KING is an inside look at the high-pressure conservatory culture, and a struggle to find an identity transitioning from college to life in New York City. From the first blush of high school success and early romance, to the rigors of intensive theater training, from early career highs, to the personal lows that befall us all. THE DRAMA KING is for anyone who’s been through it, for the drama kings and queens eyeing a career in the theater, and for the people who have supported a loved one in the pursuit of an elusive dream.
It was a labor of love, mixed with insecurity and ambition, I think it’s honest and heartfelt, and I hope it resonates as relatable and perhaps a bit inspiring.
I am at a loss for words when it comes to presenting a 96,000 word tome, thanks in advance if you buy, read, review or recommend it.
Here’s the link:
In case you didn’t get a chance, I was back with my boys Jay Larson and Ryan Sickler, on their mega-funny podcast. Here’s the link:
I have tried to explain to myself and to others over the years what it means to be an artist and more specifically a performing artist. In my moments of despair and rantings I have said, “A performing artist has to be discovered in his time.” There is no Van Gogh in acting or singing, or stand-up. A great painting can be found in an attic and the artist gets his due posthumously, but not so for the performer. Yes there are recordings and videos, but to be in the same space and time as the performer has to be present tense.
As a Springsteen fan, who awaits a new tour, like some wait for the Pope, it dawns on me that Springsteen has never known the joy of being a fan at a Springsteen concert. He knows the joy of being the instrument of that celebration of life, but not what we get form the exchange.
Robin Williams was one such talent. He didn’t know the joy of seeing himself rock a stage with Herculean ability, across genres and media. Smarter people will discuss the less smart take that the burden of delivering joy to others can leave the performer empty. And maybe that is the main reason there is sorrow for the artist.
The uniquely human experience of watching or performing for others, is about as analogue as it gets. Technology can’t do what Robin Williams did. The random, human, manic and otherworldly energy are never to be duplicated, or pixelated or regurgitated; they can only be absorbed in a molecular way.
We can be entertained by a video of a cat struggling with a ball of yarn, but that doesn’t in and of itself constitute art. Seeing a true spirit cannot be condensed into little bits and bytes. This is not a technophobe rant mixed in with eulogy. It is a life affirming rant to remind us the power the human possesses. We created the machine (unless the Matrix is real) and we need to remember how connected we are.
We don’t mourn the loss of someone’s success or power, what they were able to amass — it wasn’t enough to keep that person happy. We mourn life. Because living means dying and we mourn a true genius because they made us feel special to be human. At least that’s the way it feels to me, at this moment, mourning someone I never met, who, personal tastes aside, was unquestionably gifted and in a rare percentile.
It’s tough to be human, tough to be alive sometimes, but I don’t know what else to do about it. I think it’s to try to be a communicator, to create, to connect, to.., I don’t know. I think I’m gonna call a friend.
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