A Note From the Artist

I think about these late-in-life success stories. I think about people that have been grinding and grinding their entire lives, knocking on doors, and having them slammed shut in their face. I think about the people that lived this way for decades before they found success. I think about writers that put out manuscript after manuscript only to realize that nobody cares. Every idea you have has already been had by someone else. And somewhere is a room with boxes on shelves that contain every thought or idea, from music to scripts, to paintings and sculptures. There are patents in there which will never see sunlight. There is genius in these rooms but they will never be unearthed or read. I think about the artists and the creators. And all they can do is move on. Write another one, build something else, keep pluggin or not, but either way; life is life and this is the way it is. If life was easy, everybody would be a pro, right?

If life were easy, no one would ever be sad or depressed. No one would ever find themselves at the bad end of a raw deal. There would be no such thing as divorce. People would get along and politics would never become the new religion. People would say “Hello” to strangers more often. A thing like having a slice of pie would literally be an amazing event. If living was easy, everyone would live long, prosperously and happily together. Life would be full and complete. No stone would ever be left unturned. I get it.

I think about Bobby Moresco and his interview about writing. I swear this was brilliant. Moresco said “You can always do what you love to do. It doesn’t mean anyone is going to pay you to do it. But nobody can stop you.”
I think about this quote often.
I hold this closely to my heart because there are times I sharpen my pencil to take another crack at it. And I try to get something out there. I ask for the universe to be kind to me with this one. But hey, life is life remember?
Who knows?
Maybe the word “No” is a kind thing. Maybe it’s better to find out right away. Maybe it’s best to know right from the start. Otherwise, we only serve to invest more. We invest more than we planned; only to realize the fit wasn’t meant to be. The next thing you know is there you are. You’re stuck at the bottom of a bad trade because “Making it work” was more important than anything else. “Making it work,” means you made it. This means you’re a success, right? This means you didn’t fail. Until you realize you’re somewhere you don’t belong and you wished you held tight for something else.

The theories of rejection are incredible to me. The thought machine is all over the place. And you ask yourself, “Is it me?” You ask yourself, “Am I just crazy?
Or is there a reason behind all of this?
Is there something out there, steering me in different directions because there is something better?
And then you’re wondering if you’ll ever find your way.
I swear, I’m just waiting for my opportunity to appear on the horizon. 
(Maybe?)

Does any of this make sense to you?
I doubt I’m alone here?
Or am I?

I have a heart. You see it?
I have ideas and dreams and hopes that multiply as the day goes on. I have drive. I have passion. I have all the ingredients. I suppose my guess is the doors we knock upon will not always open. And I know this. In fact, I know this all too well. I’ve been knocking for a while now.

I often think about the playhouse over on 40th Street by 7th Avenue. I think about a show called Rent. Or, more to the point, I think about the writer that missed his opening night.
I swear, this is the definition of tragic. Jonathan Larson missed his opening night because he died before the curtain went up. The show was sold out but Larson lost his fight with The Virus. And he missed it. Or should I say whatever he saw, he saw in spirit. He never saw his creation in the flesh.
I swear this story is impactful to me.
A man who wrote about the stigmas and the basic complications of life, and living with HIV; he died from AIDS. I wish I could have met him. There are a few things I would love to say.
There is an outpour of respect, which I would like to offer and admiration for being so brave, so fearless, so capable of enduring when the pain got to be too much. I only hope to be a smidgen of Larson’s strength someday.

I think about the dreams we have and the days that literally peel off the calendar. And now, as I write to you, I’m thinking about a man I met and how a conversation started out of nowhere.
In fairness, the answer is yes. I do think about quitting.
I think about this all the time.

For some reason, I get close to ringing the bell and finding success. I find myself close to the finishing touches but the project never comes through. So yeah, I write.
I keep going. I “Keep plugging” is what was told to me. “Keep at it.”
Keep knocking on doors.
Don’t quit before the miracle happens is what people tell me.
“You never know!”

I don’t know much.
I don’t know much about signs. I don’t know much about anything. I only know me. I know where my heart is. I know there are mean people in this world. I know there are crabs in the bucket and God for bid one of them tries to climb out before getting boiled in the pot. The rest in the bucket will pull them back in. I’ve seen this up close and personally.
I know that it is hard to rise in the ranks. And there is always jealousy. There is always someone looking to cut you down as if this is their job. Some people really do suck. Sometimes life sucks and I see no reason why saying this is somehow mistaken as negative; it’s the truth.
It’s hard. Life hurts. Love hurts. So does laughter sometimes. So does success and wealth, fame and fortune because nothing is ever free in this world. We all pay a price at some point.

Back when Mom died, I was walking up 42nd and a butterfly landed on my shoulder. Can you believe this?
To be honest, I can only recall one other time when I saw butterflies in the city.
I was sitting in a vacant office at work one day. There were literally hundreds of butterflies in the sky. There was a storm about to come. The butterflies were flying high above what I would think was the normal altitude for a butterfly to fly.
I watched them in disbelief. I never thought much about them. At least not until after Mom died.
I remember the butterfly landed on my shoulder. And I jumped. And I don’t know why I jumped. I don’t know why I acted the way I did. 

I know that months later, I had not one, but five different experiences with baby birds. I had one fly into my house one night. I had one fly on my deck and let me pet it.
I found a golden finch, just standing on the sidewalk on 6th and 42nd Street. I perched the little bird on my finger for a while. Then I placed the bird on my shoulder and began walking but the bird eventually flew away.
Two days later, I found a similar bird, lifeless and laying dead on the same sidewalk as before. This hurt me but the next day as I walked closer to 5th Avenue, I found a baby sparrow. The little bird was standing on the sidewalk next to a man in a suit and tie. He was certainly unsure about me. I pointed at the bird and the man looked at me as if I was off my rocker! And maybe I am, but shhh …. don’t tell anyone okay?
I knelt down and the little bird perched on my finger. A woman approached and asked if the sparrow was my pet bird. I explained that it wasn’t.
“You have a connection,” said the woman.
I only hoped what she said was true
I took the little sparrow over to the park tables at the front gates in Bryant Park. I walked over and as I placed the bird on the table, several other sparrows flew around me an landed on the table as well.

Could this have meant something? Was there a connection?
I don’t know. I don’t know much of anything other than yes, there are pieces of my heart that have broken throughout my life. And they never mended back the same as they were before. Then again, sometimes, broken pieces never fit like they used to. And I guess this is life.

In fairness, I was about to quit yesterday. I was sure of it this time. I was at my day job and working with a contractor when somehow, the conversation opened up into something I never expected. He was a man that lived a life. He lost his infant son 30 years ago to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. He lost his fiancé to suicide a little more than a year ago. As a matter of fact, he met his new girlfriend while walking on the beach and mourning his loss. And the crazy part is his new girlfriend was there because she was mourning the loss of her son that died of an overdose.

Meanwhile, here I am, trying to figure out a way to make a go of it. Here I am, trying to build and create programs for people that are stuck in a life or stuck on dope or thinking about hanging it up and killing themselves. Here I am, knocking on every door and looking to work with different organizations, movements and programs.
And no, I haven’t found my place yet.
I don’t know if or how I fit in. I don’t know if this has anything to do with my talent. I don’t know if this is because my personality is not meant to connect with others. I am self-aware enough to understand that I don’t always mesh well with other people. I am not quiet about what I think. I am aware that I have very little patience; especially for bullshit egos that squash other ideas because they weren’t the ones to come up with the plan. 

I listened to this man tell me about his life. He kept telling me he believes in energy. He swore he believes in messages. He told me, “We meet people for a reason.”
I told him that I was going to quit.
I said I was done with all this. He asked me why.
He told me that what I do is important.
I told him, “Well, I can’t quit now. You’re in front of me.”

Hey Mom,

It’s been a while. Is there any way you can come and pay a visit again? There’s been a few things happening lately. Not all of them are good but not all of them are bad either.
But good or bad, what difference does that make? Sometimes a kid just needs his Mother. And now is one of those times.

Oh, and Dear Universe,
I don’t know if I’ve knocked on the right doors yet. I don’t know where my day will take me and I don’t know what tomorrow brings but if you wouldn’t mind too much, could you send this message to my Mom for me?
Just a little something, please.
I could really use a push in the right direction.

With all my heart,

B-

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