After last week’s blog, I’ve found myself at a crossroads. I truly don’t know what I’m doing. I am proud of the books I’ve written. They are my children, my life in so many regards. But, I have begun to wonder if they are just that – children. The optimistic ramblings of an author who still sees the youthful exuberance inherent in all things, but one who has denied a part of himself.
Let’s face it, authors wear many faces. We become that which we create. Or, on the other hand, does who we are define that which we create? If the last is the case, am I entering a new stage of who I am? I have always been good at hiding the truth of who I am. I don’t even know if I know who I am. I have inklings, spare moments where reality allows me a view of what goes on inside my mind.
That’s the thing about self-professed comedians. We get a good look at humanity and it scares us. We see all the faults we deny on a daily basis. We see the base injustices of who we are and what we do as a whole. Not the singular we, but the plural we that is humanity. Now during the process we see some pretty harsh truths about ourselves too. That’s why we laugh and have the ability to make others laugh. It’s a defense mechanism. We either laugh or the tears will swell inside us and explode. Perhaps that is the reason so many comedians seem to self-destruct. We can’t take the truths we see. Some dull the truth with drugs and alcohol. Others just seem to try their best to passively kill themselves with activities; escapes to make the pain go away.
Me, I have hope and faith. Sure, I’ve got my dark times. My book Immortally Damned is my attempt to vocalize that darkness is forever balanced by light. Evil must have goodness, otherwise how can it define itself as evil? The point I’m rambling toward is that to be a ‘comedian’ you first have to understand the human condition. You have to observe it, live it, dissect it to its core. Only then can you give voice to the comedy of existence. Dante named his three book opus, The Divine Comedy, but it takes actual living to reflect back and see the truth. It is a comedy because the book presents truth and makes it palatable so the reader can grasp the concept. This in no way suggests you should go out and read the books, but hey, if you do, enjoy.
One of the greatest comedies I’ve ever read is ‘Confederacy of Dunces’ by John Kennedy Toole. Why was it so funny to me? Because it perfectly laid bare the human condition, the sadness of existing but never truly living TRULY, true to yourself, etc. You get the picture. The secret is knowing, or at least exploring, the concept of who you are and somehow staying true to that ever evolving knowledge. Being human is an evolutionary experience. We live. We grow. Along the way, we become something totally different than who we thought we would be. This isn’t a bad thing, but it is something all of us must face. Because, how many of us really became a cowboy, fireman, or astronaut, like we wanted to be when we were nine or ten.
Personally, I wanted to be a Jedi like Luke’s father before him. Instead, I became a forty-five year old man with a beautiful wife who loves me, with a daughter who is my proudest accomplishment, and finally, a grandfather to a beautiful baby boy. Those things are the important parts of who I am, but I am also other things. I’m a geek who loves comics, an author, an artist, and sometime sculptor of nothing in particular. What else am I? I am a believer in God. A Christian who understands that Jesus taught us first to love, and second to never judge others lest we be judged. I am a man who loves completely. If you are my friend, I love you like family. If I tell you I will do something, you can bet I will do it. Well, except meet a deadline on time. Can’t seem to get the knack of doing that one.
Maybe, I’ve digressed but by stating the above, I can now see I am entering into a new stage of me. Over the last few months my inner muse has been dissatisfied with itself. It and I want something more than what I have done up until this point in my life. This in no way says the books I’ve written aren’t good or worthy of pride on my part. I am proud of each and every one. Just because they’re funny doesn’t mean they have no meaning. I am skilled enough as an author to embellish part of myself into them and express my thoughts on who I am and what humanity might be into my characters and the plots I toss them into. Again, I say, comedy is the ultimate expression of being human and understanding it enough to show you the reader a part of yourself and saying it’s off to laugh because we all do it, or have lived through it. It’s okay to laugh because you survive the little tragedies and become stronger because of the bigger ones.
As a result of all my self examination, I am no longer in denial of who I am or willing to hide behind a mask to express myself. Sure, masks will be involved because a total expression of who I am would leave me too naked to stand the scrutiny. A naked me is something neither of us really wants to see up close and personal. No, I would simply like to explore this newly discovered aspect of grownup me through my writing. I would like to see if I can be myself in another way, if that makes any sense. I am not abandoning my comedy. I could never see it happening. Comedy is part of who I am, but there is a serious side, I normally let very few people see. If you remember above, I said authors wear many faces.
If that is true and not just some concept I’m clinging to in a vain hope of not being crazy, which we all know I am, I have embarked on a new quest. A book that explores the human condition from the serious side of my brain. Something offering The Divine Comedy that is humanity. A search for who we are, both individually and as a whole. The search for the truth of good and evil. The ultimate quest for what is the purpose of being human.
I think Douglas Adams summed it up best with this. The question of Life, The Universe and Everything. That’s all any of us hope to grasp before we slip into whatever comes next. If we’re lucky we can look back, smile and chuckle. Yeah, it hurt at the time but I got over it. If we’re actually able to do that, maybe growing up wasn’t such a bad thing after all.
That isn’t to say I plan to totally leave behind my inner child. After all, it’s part of who I am and what’s the fun in being an adult, if I can’t swing a plastic lightsaber every once in awhile.