Luke Ganje - Blog
1. I feel old. I know, such a thing seems ridiculous but I can't help but feel like my youth is thoroughly embracing its ever-fleeting nature.
2. This year is a year I will devote to making crucial life decisions. First and foremost, I will decide by 25 whether or not Bismarck (and North Dakota in general) will remain my home.
3. For someone who was convinced that I would be bald by 20, I'm incredibly thrilled that I still have enough hair to make a mohawk a reality.
4. Sad music inspires saddeningly thoughtful thoughts. There's just no getting around it.
5. My blogging and my writing has suffered lately due to an overabundance of sad thoughts. That's how life works and it's frustrating as it couples with the worries of fleeting youth, but it's nothing I can't handle. I fear you all will be stuck with me for quite some time.
6. After 3 years of living alone, it really does get quiet around here.
7. It's probably about time for me to take my Christmas tree down.
8. You should all get on Youtube and watch the video for The Indelicates' "Not Alone". It's such a emotive and beautiful song that it cannot be missed.
9. I'm hungry. But there is no allure currently residing in my fridge, while only a few microwaveable turkey pot pies are successfully holding down the fort in the freezer.
10. I'm thankful for every friend who has come into my life, even the ones who have moved on and left me behind. Perhaps it's due to the memories of how things were, but I like to think that it serves to amplify the bond that remains between myself and those who remain at my side.
11. (Bonus statement) There is so much I want to do in this life. And I will do all that I can to ensure that I have the time in which to do it.
These fragmented thoughts have been brought to you courtesy of a tired and solitary mind, adrift in the thoughts of what 24 may bring. Thank you all for your continued support as I wander the roads of unpublished authorship and much more, I don't think you'll ever rightly know how much it means to me.
Every now and then these stars they scream to me,
Of broken dreams and promises and all those things that cannot be.
They pull from us the heart of hope that beats so deep within,
With pulsing fears of all these wars, these wars we cannot win.
A battle for this one true goal of happiness, true and just.
Fight the fight and go to war, shed blood because we must.
For no road is undertaken with no scars for which to show,
All paths are walked with pain in mind but onward we shall go.
Because that's not it, the point is this: Rewards are in the journey.
Life gets long with darkness strong, reject the embrace of the gurney.
For the gift is the laugh and the smile and path, it's all we are meant to see.
So fight the good fight and wake smiling bright, in happiness- believe.
It's worth it I swear, the path and gray hairs, the strength and the courage and might.
Expended in this the oft-thankless ascent, past sadness and anger and strife.
Become who we are- not "were", not "might be". "Who we are" is where the heart leads.
Beyond the tears and the losses and the tears of the lost, to a world "meant only for me".
So pray smile anew along this path just for you and take strides for the former or latter.
Just know this one truth, this solitary truth: Your happiness is all that should matter.
It's very rare that I write a story or a poem "for" someone. I always write with an audience in mind, of course, but writing for another will always be a tremendously treacherous path I only undertake on the rarest of occasions. Why? Because it's personal. It's demanding. It's putting every bit of how you feel into a crumpled piece of paper in the hope that the emotions will translate in a beautifully cohesive way. But most importantly, every word must be written while understanding that they may not strike the chord in the other that the other struck in you.
Still. That does not mean that things must not be said, nor does it mean that words must not be written. So just as it did when I sent it so many months ago, this goes out to a friend who was a very dear friend for a few short months in the best year of my life. And may it also bring a smile to all those who had the courage to ask the Silence "What am I doing here?".
Go ahead. Open your social networking site of choice. Now try to plod through the deluge of oft-imbecilic commentaries on Gay rights and the ever-unbiased professions of "what Jesus would do" without prompting the onset of a migraine.
There are several good arguments out there on the topic of gay marriage as well as countless great speakers, but I'll let you in on a little secret: These great minds are rarely found crafting a manifesto on Facebook with copy/paste rants that betray themselves to be utterly lacking in independent thought. They are out there, though, those rational minds, yet it is with heavy hearts that we must admit that far too often the most substantive arguments we read are more along the lines of "I believe it is immoral because it's what I believe". And it would be far too great a mercy if the philosophically-barren freefall had the courtesy to end there.
The road to a reasonable discussion or debate is simple: If you believe in something to the point that you'd like to speak openly on the topic, you must do the necessary research in order to speak intelligently while supporting your theory without resorting to slander, "I feel"'s, or defamation of religion. Serious topics merit serious thought. Ignorance, no matter which side is presenting it as something more, is woefully detrimental to any step towards a rational conclusion. Yet here we are, still moving sideways and backwards and sideways again as the blatantly obvious somehow remains unclear to most.
So let's talk about Gay Marriage. Let's understand that one good argument can end this debate once and for all.
We've all heard the topic broached and I think we can be completely honest in saying that, for most, either your religion or personal politics (or both) play heavily into your stance on the issue. While that may not always be detrimental, it becomes so in the cases of those who latch onto rhetoric rather than reason. For, as a great mind once said, "The essence of the independent mind is not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks" and this lesson is lost so often by those far too eager to embrace the mob-mentality of a given system.
As for me, I support Gay rights. Now for the weighty question: Why?
For one reason above all others: If one believes in the notion of freedom and the rights of the individual, then it is the individual's right to live his life independently and however he may see fit, provided he does so without harming another without just cause. This is a principle that ought to be taught to every child as they age in these United States, a nation that prides itself on being "free" yet one still failing to see past its own hypocrisy in an on-again off-again embrace of freedom.
You see, we speak so often of freedoms and rights and benefits, yet we only apply them to those that fit into the majority's skewed vision of morality. I find this to be morally and philosophically egregious.
If you'd like to identify one of the springboards of such thought, you need look no further than the biblical proclamations that wittily state "God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve." Now, I was raised Catholic so I understand that homosexuality is thought of to be a grave sin, one that is specifically named in the Bible with some rather unflattering adjectives added to drive the point home. What I do NOT understand is how this holds any weight in the political arena as this nation has never been a theocracy, nor has it ever been stated that the religion of some must dictate the morality of the many. Such a preachment would be immoral, anti-individual, and against the teachings of the Founding Fathers whom so many rightly look to as the guiding light of a free country.
What it all comes down to is this: A code of law should never be dictated by an antiquated holy book, especially not in a free society where individual rights are (or ought to be) the main focus. If you believe that homosexuality is immoral based on your religious upbringing, then that is your choice and you can voice such things. You can also worship whatever god you so choose and you can do it knowing that you needn't fear repercussions from the state. But to infringe on the rights of others with the very freedom we've all been afforded? To embrace such blatant dogmatism? I can't think of anything more contrary to the notion of being "free".
Then there is the argument generally put forth by the conservative Right, one which tends to follow the train of thought that the push for legalizing gay marriage is an attempt to undermine not only the institution of marriage but the nuclear family as well. Now, I actually do believe this to be somewhat based in reality, although I think it has long since departed from the land of credibility in which it once resided.
The simple fact of the matter is that once politicians get involved, factions begin to spring up and these factions are often made up of various brands of extremists. Such occurrences can be seen in religions, feminism, and just about every movement you bother investigating. You can even see it looking back on the Civil Rights movement where there are strains far more hostile than Dr. King, strains that still exist today from the radicalized standpoint of black supremacy. Once a repressed minority begins to gain traction it will inevitably attract those who wish to have a larger pulpit from which to preach, oftentimes to the detriment of the cause that started the movement in the first place.
But the important question to ask is this: Does that invalidate the message of the initial movement?
The answer should be a resounding "Of course not!". Radicals didn't diminish the inherent morality in the dissolving of racial boundaries and it would be foolish to continue to dictate freedoms on such a slippery slope of might-be's. In my lifetime I've known my fair share of gays and lesbians, and you know what? Just like every other human being, some are pleasant, some are not, and not once did I hear them speaking of their desires to destroy the institution of marriage. Proclamations of this nature tend to lie solely on the tongues of those possessed of political motives and hysteria, not those wishing simply for a normal life with the financial benefit of being recognized by the state as a married couple.
There will always be men and women willing to push the envelope of propaganda-based guilt long after the issue is resolved, but why must we confuse the two? Why overlook the rights of the many based on the folly of the few?
Once we recognize that human rights are human rights no matter the sexual orientation, the world will be a more civil place. The soapboxes would vanish from beneath those who would politically posture on the topic, religion would cease to dictate the legalities barring gay couples from achieving tax-based equality, and we'd be one step closer to realizing that morality is so much more than who we wake up to in the morning.
Freedom...that is a human right. As far as I'm concerned, the debate ends there.
Wherever we are in our lives at this point in time, as rational humans we should have no problem in admitting that sometimes life gets to us. Sometimes...the world becomes a darker place.
I like to think of myself as a fairly stalwart fellow on even the worst of days, but I guess we all know that there are times when the essence of who we are clashes mightily with "who we want to be" while depriving us of the knowledge that could shine a light on how to get there. It's just the way things are, proving that nothing about living is easy. Even if you think of it in purely biological terms it's mind-boggling to comprehend how easily our days could be extinguished at any moment with no light-switch with which to reignite the sunlight of living. Once it's done...it's done. And for all the hopes and dreams we may have had, the opportunity to accomplish them will die with us.
I speak quite often on the topic of mortality and one may think that that must mean I'm a terribly dour fellow, but I like to think I'm not. This is just something that must be considered every day and yet it rarely is. I've never been a fan of Bob Dylan (I may just post a music blog one of these days to explain why), but there's an overused quote of his that is often touted yet seemingly never understood: "Get busy living or get busy dying". Like the YOLO generation of 2012, this is one of those lines that is repeated fairly often yet almost exclusively by those about to make either legally or ethically deplorable decisions. After all, they protest, you only live once...so why not? Through these actions they betray a grave misunderstanding of the nature of mortality in that they use such taglines as a justification rather than a motivation, failing absolutely in their comprehension of what living really is.
So this begs the question: What is Life? What is Living?
To me it is incredibly simple. Life is a finite voyage, a road with an inevitable end that is already in sight, and once gone (so far as we know) it will never be again. And living? Living is what happens between the starting point and the finish line. It's every tragic misstep, every broken heart, every laugh, every tear, every loss and every gain. It's found in new adventures and new acquaintances who may one day be important enough to deem "friends". It's when we're left alone to cry out in sadness when doors are closed on our greatest hopes with no explanation as to "how" or "why". It's when we sit in awestruck wonder of the world around us and marvel at how remarkable it is that we are even here to experience the tumultuous storm that will eventually subside. And subside it will... far too soon and much too quickly.
I was asked once about my opinions regarding suicide shortly after I lost a good friend and I answered that I will always feel compassion for those who give in to the pressures of perceived failures and darkness. I loathe the people who mock such victims when the mentality of the lost can never be understood. All I know is that they will never again have the chance to feel joy as a smile spreads across their face, and that alone should give even the most condemning voice pause. In retaliation to my answer, I was greeted (as is often the case) with a follow-up question in the form of "What thoughts should keep you going, then?". The one unassailable truth that came to mind is this: There is so much beauty on this Earth, whether that truth is seen in a forest in its full autumnal glory or something far more personal. There are so many people to meet, so many places to see, so much music to hear and dance and sing along to.
There's an entire world waiting for us and some never give themselves the opportunity to experience all that it has to offer. Whether the reason for such a tragedy is found in a death too soon or a life never lived, far too many miss out on the joy of simply existing and doing your best to do it well. There will be happiness and despair in ready doses and at times the latter may seem more suffocating than balancing, but if it weren't for that darkness that would threaten to check our path...where would we be? With no fight for distant dreams, how would we not descend into a dismal monotony? How would we know joy if joy was all we knew?
Every breath we spend through action or speech is a toll we have just paid to the keeper of a ledger that cannot be sponged away. There are no refunds for mistakes or missteps, just the promise that as long as we have a breath to breathe we have life enough to live. Isn't that promise more than enough to keep even the tortured and weary from giving up? I'd like to think so, but I'm inevitably greeted with the truth that there are just as many who fail to see it in that way. It may be true that suicide is traditionally thought of when pertaining to the physical death of a human being, but there will always be more than one way to kill a man. This truth, so barren and cold, is never so adequately emphasized as when seen in the life of a man who wants nothing, hopes for nothing, and strives for nothing.
In the end, we are given a choice the moment we take our first breath among the living. We can either live...or we can die. That's it. There is no third option, no trap-door waiting should you to choose the former, and it will repeat itself time and time again until our bodies give in and the choice is no longer ours to make. Perhaps it is a cruel joke that we can only go so far, but I like to think that a journey with an end makes the path we've chosen to travel all the more beautiful and worthy of our awe.
So the next time you cry, know that there is always a reason to smile. The next time you lose a friend, know that there is another waiting to be made. And the next time you think there is nothing more to experience in this life, think of all that you have yet to do and know that there is still time in which to do it.
That's living. That's life. And as long as we walk this Earth we have within us the opportunity to do right by us.
What a tragedy it would be if we failed to do just that.
Another week down. It's now March 17th (as evidenced by my handy date-proclaimer above this blog) and the year is already almost a quarter of the way through. Strange, isn't it? How quickly time seems to fly by before we even begin to realize that it's leaving us in its wake. But then, that's how time has always (and will always) work so while it may be an unwelcome speed, wouldn't it be remarkably foolish to be caught off guard by such a thing? So once we come to terms with the passage of time, we have to ask ourselves if we've done well with time we've been given.
And? You know you're thinking about it, now. You may as well be honest!
As for me, well the start to the year has definitely been much rockier than I had hoped or intended. But such is life. We get up, fall down, get up, fall down a flight of stairs, get up, break a leg, and sooner or later we drag our crippled body across the finish line. It's glorious, let me tell you. These three months have greeted me with several rejection letters, some good old fashioned stress, and the comings and goings of life in general. To put things simply: I've been in a bit of a creative gridlock that has only let up momentarily from time to time. But, as I think I'd be a very motivational crippled fellow, there is light at the end of this tunnel.
"What? How?", you may be inclined to inquire. Well for the longest time I've been struggling to get my first manuscript submitted as I've been lacking a passable synopsis, something that I struggled with mightily. Don't ask me why...one would think that a person who could write a 400 page novel could condense it to a few paragraphs just as easily, but alas, such was not the case. Well I'm happy to announce that trial is over and done with. As of one week ago, I have a serviceable effort that has been included in 3 query letters to publishers and agents. Now it's become a waiting game once again, but a waiting game in which I can participate while knowing that I have done my best to get this seen by those who have the clout to make my dreams come true.
In terms of "what else": Well, I got a few new tattoos, I've been keeping my personal life from imploding, and I've been reading some great works by some great minds. My new job as a commercial painter is keeping me financially afloat, I've been considering purchasing a camera to keep my downtime productive in a creative sense, and overall...you know, life hasn't been too bad. It hasn't been nearly as productive in the writing sense as I had hoped, but that is something I can work with over the next few weeks. I guess what matters most is that I haven't fallen into a deep dark whole of darky darkness. It's not that I'm scared of the dark...I just don't own a flashlight. There's a difference, you know...safety concerns and whatnot.
I'm working on a fairly substantive post for the middle of this week, so in the meantime please allow me to apply this question to you: How has 2013 been treating you, thusfar? Are your expectations being met on the road to happiness, or is this proving to be a bit of a longer road? Feel free to answer directly through the contact form, but it's just as helpful a question if you ask and answer it on your own. Just keep in mind that the year isn't slowing down, so if you have a card up your sleeve that you're waiting to play...there's no time like the present to throw it down.
Death is inevitable, but the fulfillment of our dreams is not. Try not to lose sight of that.
In the meantime, enjoy your St. Patrick's Day! Cheers, folks. (This time, considering the day, I may well mean that literally).
Hello and greetings, friends and family. I've recently been saddled with a terrifying cold that has left me bed-ridden for...well...a day. But trust me, it's far worse than it sounds. It's been a day of sitting around watching episode after episode of CHUCK while trying not to swallow lest my throat commit suicide. Let me tell you, I live a dangerous life. Just today I decided to risk that life (my only one, so far as I'm aware) on a last-minute pizza run and almost died, not once, but twice courtesy of snow and rain ravaged roads. I kid you not, had I the vocal range to scream like a little girl then I would have in that moment. Those moments.
Had I emotions, I would be permanently scarred.
So you may have noticed the new look to the site! (And yes, I am changing the subject so as not to weaken my tough-guy reputation). Recently revamped, the greeting and bio have been updated to a more professional tone while I also uploaded my newly-written Water Cars and Broken Things short story. The latter is a project that was first born after hearing of the dream of a very dear friend and while that dream didn't give me anything in the way of a storyline, it struck a whimsical chord in me. That short tale is the result, so head over to the Writing Samples portion of the site and give it a read if you would be so kind. And as always, feel free to drop me a line and let me know what you think.
In the end, life has been intriguing. I dodged death twice today and that has left me with the impression that I had better stop slacking and finally put my nose to the grindstone. I could die tomorrow, or the day after, and so on and so forth...it's time I start applying myself so that I will leave a legacy that will last forever! And yes, that was meant to sound as overdramatic as it did. What can I say- I will always have a flair for the dramatic and unnecessary. Should I survive the workday tomorrow I promise to start cranking out new chapters of the sublime and otherworldly and as always you, my faithful readers, will be the first to hear of any new developments.
In the meantime, enjoy the new and improved lukeganje.com! Poke around, share it with your friends, and as always: Happy Reading.
I stare at a photograph and wonder where the time went,
At the stars far apart and wonder what the point's been.
At a life once was and wonder where I'm going now.
At the long road ahead and I wonder if I'll like it there.
I look to the memories of all those things that once were.
To the laughter and the good times and how they made my mind slur.
To the joy in the life and smiles it inspired in me.
To the long-lost days of dead-emotion currency.
I wonder if these things will change and life will hold a joy again.
If the life now-living will ever pass what has been.
If my mind can disassociate dead memories from the once-was.
If there's a new goal to find in this life over broken ones.
I stand repossessed of past dreams and conscious certainties.
Of life-laws lost among the mind's anomalies.
Of future-living doubts that scar with thoughts of could-have-beens.
Of this dead life living that must be put to rest.
I stare at the future open-eyed to new realities.
I look to the past with understanding it'll never change.
I wonder how I lost life's roads to beautified sublimity.
I stand tall alight with a fire of future's destiny-
That I live this life once and I won't get lost again.
As February 14th is looming largely I sat down with the intent to write a Valentinian blog with all manner of ruminations on the topics of love and longing and all those things that make up the Cupidity of the day in question. But as I only write when I'm inspired to do so, I couldn't help but acknowledge that I had absolutely no desire whatsoever to write about a holiday to which I have no personal ties. Why? Well let's just say that these ties are hard to come by and, as such, I currently possess none of them.
Never fear, though. For while I could very well go down the dark and dreary road of a contemplative single person, I think today will be a bit more focused on the positive in life. I think. Or I may well get bogged down in the ruminations of such trivial matters, but luckily I am not subjected to the whims of an editor who would undoubtedly do his best to nudge me along to brighter things and greener pastures should that happen to occur. That's a good thing, right?
The more attentive of you may have noticed that I haven't been present in the blogging world of late and that is really for one simple reason: I've been in a fair bit of emotional turmoil of late and while I've always been open with you folks when it comes to the inner-workings of my mind, I decided this was something that was better dealt with in the privacy of silence. I think we all know how treacherous the human brain can be when it comes to dwelling on unpleasant emotions and the last thing I wanted to do was spend more time than was healthy droning on about the goings-on in the life of Luke in a negative way.
So here I am. A little worn out, a little emotionally drained, but more than ready to entertain with a bit of wit and intelligence. Remember, I'm psychologically fragile at the moment so feel free to just accept that as gospel.
I don't know how the average person celebrates Valentine's Day beyond the assumption that it's similar to the "romantic dinner and night in" deal that we've all seen in movies a million times before. Can this be credited to the fact that I've only ever had one Valentinian experience? Perhaps. I don't get around to the holiday experience much, I guess, and oddly enough the times I've dated seriously rarely coincide with February 14th. It must be a timewarp thing. Potentially a quantum tunnel some-such. What I do know is this: if you have a significant other, don't pass up the opportunity to spend the day with them. I don't care if you have to take the day off from work or put a toddler in a sleeper hold, just take some time out of the everyday monotony to spend it with the person you don't want to live without.
That's about all I have to say, my words having been sped along by the rapidly decreasing battery-life on my little (yet manly) computer. But do your best to remember what I've said and plan your day accordingly. As for me, I will spend this day of unwelcome cupidity contemplating the closure I've been trying to accomplish over the past month or so. In my own way I'll have a good time (perhaps aided by eating myself into a stupor of chinese food) and I hope you all do as well, albeit with a little more human contact than I'm planning.
Cheers, folks. And Happy Early Valentine's Day to you lovestruck lovebirds of whom I'm ever-so-slightly jealous.
Growing up in a smaller city like Bismarck, one always tends to run into the same questions courtesy of those who don't come around here often. They want to know what life is like and whether or not I ever want to leave, and they ask these questions along with a few others that make a fair amount of sense on even the best of days. In short, I rarely know how to answer them. I used to like it here and in many ways I still do, but I can't say that thoughts of taking flight have never entered my mind.
There's quite a bit to like about this place despite the beliefs so many seem to form that there is little to appreciate beyond our binge-drinking and tractor combines. I would like to blame these assumptions on our local tv commercials that portray the "spirit" of North Dakota as being nothing more than a few farmers in beat up baseball caps standing in large expanses of wheat for no apparent reason. I'm not going to say this isn't accurate for a few folks, but I will willingly go on the record as saying I've never stood in a random field for no purpose other than to be a North Dakotan.
I think it'd be too dusty. My allergies would probably act up.
I like the fact that I can wander the night away, strolling through downtown without fear of getting shanked by a wayward assailant. I like that there's growth in the place I grew up in, bringing new things that I never thought I'd live to see come to my hometown. And I like that I have family here along with those few friends I'm lucky enough to have made in the past. Beyond that, well, there's just not much to hold a man in place and yet for the time being it's good enough for me.
Will I stay here forever, or at least until my last breath spills from a protesting mouth? I'm not quite sure but I don't believe so. Maybe it's because I find too much allure in the unknown of a fresh beginning even if the prospect of starting anew in my hunt for a new social circle is only slightly less than terrifying. I like the idea of experiencing a new city or state and all it has to offer on a level that's more extensive than a few day's vacation. And I don't ever want to be the person who dies knowing nothing more than the town where he was born.
Today I'm sitting on my living room floor as I type, listening to music and drinking a glass of water in a manner consistent with how I live my everyday life. There's not much excitement as far as the social aspect goes and whether or not that can be attributed to Bismarck I don't rightly know. It could well be that this is the way I would live my life no matter what town, city, or state I called "home", as that may be the extent of my aspirations. But one day almost three years ago I found myself in a tragic mindset, one that drove me to get in my car and put the pedal to the floor until I had passed through Minot on a trailblazing path north before finally turning around. I'd never before had that urge but I've had it several times since...the urge to run away, to start again, to find a new home and never look back.
I think if I were truly "home" in the traditional sense of the word, this is a feeling I wouldn't have to put down so violently on such a routine basis. And while I don't know if contentment is a feeling I'm ever going to feel, I remain contemplative when it comes to the thought that perhaps a new world is just what I need to get my feet settled comfortably beneath me. Such is the beautiful mystery of the unknown...a world in which so much possibility remains as it awaits the discovery of a searching soul. I don't know what's out there, but I won't deny that there will always be a part of me that wishes to find out.
So when people ask me about Bismarck, I reply that it has been my home for 23 years and counting and that it has done an admirable job of being just that. But every man needs a launching pad, a spot on a treasure map from which to start on his way to a spot marked X, and I'm not lying when I say that I truly believe that is the purpose of this home in relation to me. Or so the adventurer in me would like to think.
You see...I love the trees in the fall, the cold winter storms, and oh how I love some of the people here. I love that this is a place that has given me so much of a childhood while isolating me from the evils of a world so often wrapped up in its own violence. These are feelings of appreciation that will never die or be forgotten, but that must never mean that my presence is required to repay these debts to a common soil. Rather, I believe I will go forth into the unknown at some point in the future (perhaps sooner than I realize) and while I will always retain a fond memory for how things have been, I would be a fool to remain for no other reason than to remain. For there is more to life than that.
There are adventures to be had, new people to meet, and new beginnings to understand. I can only hope that at some point in the near future I will be the one to experience each and every one of those things, even though Bismarck will always hold a fond place in my heart.
Things are about to change in my life. They're about to get strange, new, and terrifyingly real. There's a part of me that feels this terror and yet I also can't help but feel this thrilling sense of excitement that settles within me now. You see, I'm finally leaving the job I've held for nearly six years...a job that has done little for me beyond ratcheting up stress levels as it left me stuck in a rut from which there often seemed to be no escape. Put simply, I stayed for far too long in a job that held no joy. Why stay? Some might ask. Why six years?
Perhaps it was because I was afraid.
I'm 23 as of this writing and I think we all know that my work has yet to reach the right eyes. During that time...well, I've done little more than write my words and try to survive in a world where I worked a job I couldn't stand. I did these things and I did them well. Beyond a few lawn-mowing services this singular job was all I'd ever known and while I loathed almost every part of it, I stayed not because I didn't want to flee...not because I didn't want something more...but because it was all I knew. And while I wished for a new beginning there was a part of me that was far too fearful of what this change might bring, for I'd become comfortable in my rut whether I realized it or not.
There is nothing more terrifying than the unknown, the myth-crafters of centuries past understood this and formed beliefs to give their people strength. In my own way I embraced this belief as I did not yet possess the fortitude to strike out anew, so I stayed where I was...comfortable yet unhappy...and I waited for the day when the future would fall unbidden into my lap. What a dreadful belief to remain shrouded in, this fool's hope that the world would suddenly bend to do a slacker's bidding. It took me several years to realize that the world doesn't work in such a way and it never has, oh alas for the foolish thoughts of a man not ready to make his own way in the world...alas for the years I lost.
It took me a fair bit of time to realize this, but as I am a youngish fellow I have time to rectify my mistakes and this picking of a new job is the first step I've chosen to take in this regard. And the purpose of this blog? Think of it as a casual reminder of a simple fact: That life will not wait for you. Time will pass and every moment you waste in a job you do not enjoy, in a relationship you aren't committed to, and in a life that you aren't living...these are moments you will never get back no matter how much you may wish otherwise.
Before this month is out I will be starting a new journey, one that will take me many places, and while I don't know where I'm headed I have found comfort in the knowledge that I am at least going somewhere. And if that's not what life is about...I just don't know what is. So I welcome any who would join me, any who would stand by my side, in taking this leap if they have a rut to escape of their own. It's an adventure worth making, the only one of such value, and no matter how difficult the road I will always welcome a fellow traveler should our paths happen to cross.
Never forget the nature of things and the way of your own mortality, for they are unchanging and they will not bow to you. We have a short amount of time on this Earth and we should spend it only sparingly in situations we are better off without. Identify your happiness, seize it, and once you grab hold...never let go. For your life truly does depend on it.
As a movie fanatic, while I at first couldn't decide what to do as a "first blog of 2013", it got to the point where I couldn't think of a better way to kick off the new blogging year than with a complete (and ranked) movie list for 2012. While there are 45 listings here (get your shock out of the way now), there will no doubt be movies I just didn't make it...movies that may well have made it deep into my top 10 had I a little more time. Silver Linings Playbook stands out as one of these, as I've heard nothing but great things. But alas! As it stands, the rules are thus: That I saw the movie in theaters during the 2012 calendar year. So! Without further adieu, I present:
2012, In the Movies: The Top 10
1. The Dark Knight Rises: There really can't be enough said for Christopher Nolan's trilogy, so unusual it is that we get an original set of three in which each film surpasses the previous in scope, vision, and characters. Tom Hardy deserves a great deal of praise for his portrayal of the villain Bane, refusing through animal ferocity to bow and step aside to his predecessor's fallen Joker. He took his villain and made him a match for Batman both physically and mentally which is no small feat. With this movie we are left with a near-perfect ending...and that is something you just don't get to say too often.
2. Les Miserables: While I remain convinced that I am hardly the target audience for films such as this, I have no problem admitting a very simple fact: This movie blew me away. The vocal performances were top-knotch with Hugh Jackman more-than-ably carrying the dramatic load as the main character Jean Valjean and even Russel Crowe managing to hold his own among countless stage veterans. I had doubts as to whether or not I could last through nearly 3 hours of music (as it is indeed a true musical), but my fears were never even close to being justified. This movie was exceptional and well worthy of accolades this awards-season.
3. Life of Pi: A boy and a tiger on a lifeboat for 70% of a movie based on a book full of allegorical takes on religion. How could this work? On paper, that has to sound like a rough journey. Instead what Ang Lee has given us with his exceptional direction is a visual marvel that is equal parts heart-wrenching and life-affirming. Not since Avatar (a remarkably stale movie) have I seen 3D utilized so beautifully, but unlike that Cameron-bust this is a movie that has the story and emotion to carry the film even if the effects were to fail. A triumph on several levels, this easily breaks the top five.
4. Django Unchained: Ah, Mr. Tarantino. How such a strange and uncomfortable fellow such as yourself is the brainchild behind so many great movies, I will never know. But you are. And with this latest film following the exploits of Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz as they deal out blood and justice to plantation owners in the slave-holding era, you continue to drive home that fact. The performances are excellent, courtesty in no small part to a tight script that allows Waltz to reclaim the mantle that earned him an Oscar just a few years ago while also giving DiCaprio a role so dripping with evil that you can't help but tip a hat to the actor. Witty, violent, and bold this isn't a movie that can be missed...providing you can handle the director's infamous levels of violence.
5. Lincoln: Throughout this movie I had to constantly remind myself of one simple fact- I was not watching Abraham Lincoln. I was merely watching Daniel-Day Lewis' portrayal of the man. Seems easy enough, right? Well, it wasn't. Such was the masterful performance by Lewis in a movie that would have fallen apart without him, despite the powerful turns by Hollywood-heavyweights such as Tommy Lee Jones. While the ending does seem to drag as it endeavors to close plot-loops in such a way that you think the movie is ending at least 3 different times, that in no way diminishes the brilliance of the movie that has come before those final minutes. I have a hard time imagining a world in which Lewis won't take home a Best Actor nod, for it is due to him that this movie soars.
6. Lawless: Going into this tale of Prohibition-era bootleggers, my only fear was that Shia Lebouf would not be up to the task of sharing the screen with the likes of Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman. I'm happy to say that he not only accomplished such a feat but also sent me home thinking ever-so-slightly better of him than I had before and were you to know the strength of my dislike for the whiny fellow, you'd see that as the high praise I intend it to be. What we're left with is a thrilling tale of family and resilience in an unforgiving age of corruption with respectable turns by all actors involved- so, all in all, a film well worth seeing.
7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower: What we have here is a demonstration of how well an adaptation of a popular novel can be done when left in the hands of the novelist (who wrote the script and directed). Aided by a gifted young cast, I have no doubt that this little film set against the backdrop of an outcast's highschool years will be thought highly of for years to come, perhaps even deserving of a place next to some of the best works of John Hughes.
8. Argo: Long gone are the days I used to spend laughing at Ben Affleck's "acting" and cursing my lack of a strong jawline, as I'm forced instead to admit that...the guy really has come into his own as a talented director (as well as an actor now possessing more than a single dimension). With this, his latest turn as both star and director, he tells a spectacular true story concerning the Iranian hostage crisis of the Carter administration and does so in such a way that inspires tension even as we know full-well how it will play out. And if that doesn't earn a tip of the hat, I just don't know what does.
9. Seven Psychopaths: Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, and Woody Harrelson in a movie by the director of In Bruges about a screenwriter, dognappers, and various psychopaths? If that didn't catch your attention and send you running for a theater, it very well should've. Such is the insanity that follows as it delves into the blackest of black humor while still eliciting chuckles of joy and groans of despair (the good kind). The third act will require a few leaps of the imagination but even those levels of absurdity should not (and will not) take anything away from the comedic brilliance of how it all unfolds.
10. The Avengers: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America...when Marvel went about setting this movie into motion I was so full of geeky joy that I hardly stopped to think of all the ways it could go spectacularly wrong. What would have happened if the director hadn't been up to the task? Would it have sunk future plans for future movies and characters? These thoughts didn't even exist in my naive youth, but as it happens they would have been laid to rest quite ably even if they had. Such is the mastery of Joss Whedon who not only took several complex characters and made them work in a 2 hour movie, but compiled one of the most exciting special-effects based battle scenes ever put down on film. If endlessly entertaining is what superhero movies should aspire to be, then The Avengers passes with flying colors.
While it had been my intent to post all 45 entries in a single blog entry, I'll admit the endeavor proved to be...ever so slightly more time consuming than I had first anticipated. 4 hours is a lot for a blog post...even for me! And so I will go about posting them in bits-and-pieces, starting with the best as I would hate to deprive you of brilliance should you still have a chance to catch a glimpse of one of the top 10 at a cinema near you. So stay tuned for future lists (to be posted until the end of the week), I will admit to being more than slightly excited at the prospect of taking to task some of the "lesser" movies that wasted both my time and money.
Oh yes. Blood will flow. In the meantime, cheers!