I was born with a terrible affliction. I care. Always have, always will. It’s in my DNA and I can’t wash it away. God knows at times I’ve tried. Looking back at my life in the rear view mirror, most of my downfalls and stumbles have been due to caring about the wrong people. But such is the cost of caring. And what do you do about it? Stop caring? It’s not a tap that you can turn on or off or leave at a steady flow. Those who get hurt and turn it off are doomed to wander the wastelands of bitterness and anger. Having stopped off momentarily at those stations I know from experience that they are soulless places in which to live. In fact you may as well be dead for all the good they will bring you. Perhaps you’re already dead if those places are your current address. It’s like those who love half-heartedly for fear of being hurt. It’s a contradiction in terms and a self-prophecy that you will endure a half-hearted hurt when your partner tires of living with half a person. Love requires a leap of faith. It’s an all in or all out situation. You get out of it what you give. Sometimes. But without that blind leap where are you? Suspended in animation for the rest of a predictable and hollow life. In the words of Sondheim, “…not going left, not going right.” And if you misjudge your leap and fall – well yes, you will endure great pain and scars that will hurt till the end of your days. But from great hurt comes great wisdom. Or should if you are brave enough to be objective and ask yourself the hard questions. You’ll know that you’ve become a grown up when you are able to take responsibility for your mistakes. And if you’ve chosen the wrong partner, wasn’t it indeed you who did the choosing? But you may respond that they fooled you by playing a role that wasn’t really them in order to woo you. Well, if that’s the case, and they took your money or your house, legally you may have a good case for fraud. But for breaking your heart, your dreams, and your faith in the goodness of people, you get zip. Monetarily. But if you’re strong enough to get to your feet and go on you will eventually obtain the ability to see into the soul of another.
Everything learnt in this life comes at a cost. I know that. I have made every mistake in the book so in the wisdom stakes I am right up there now with Merlin. It can be a lonely place but from such a vantage point springs abundant creativity. And if you write about it with honesty you will move others as they recognise the inherent truth at the heart of what you say. It’s foundation not built on phoney emotions (like most Hollywood films these days) and sensing the blood, sweat and tears people will respond, even if it’s on a subconscious level.
It’s very difficult for some of us to turn off the very thing that is our essence. How many gamblers can cash out their chips and walk away while they’re ahead? No. We were given life (whether it be from God or the universe or whatever power force you can wrap your brain around) to live. And part of living is hurt. It sometimes wakes us up and reminds us that we are alive. Other parts of living are joy, caring, kindness, hope, love, sexuality, inspiration, learning, and giving.
One must always remain open in order to receive. I remember having a conservation with Waddy Wachtel when I lived in L. A. At that time I’d known Waddy for about 4 years and had never mentioned what I’d done in Australia – the films I’d made, songs I’d written, etc. anyway, on this night, Waddy asked me why I’d never mentioned any of that stuff and why he’d had to hear it from someone else? I simply replied it’d never come up in any of out conversations. And that I was pleased our friendship was based on who I was not what I was. Then he said, “Having heard your story you should be the angriest guy in the world, but you’re not.” To which I replied, “I was for a long time. But anger squeezes out everything else in your life. Especially joy. So I had to learn to look for the upside in what had happened. And just think, if it hadn’t happened I wouldn’t be here now talking to you. In fact, we wouldn’t have met at all. So that’s how I live now. Every morning I wake up is a relief that the storm is over, and a new opportunity to get things right.”
To quote that modern day wise man in the wilderness, Bob Dylan, “…Love is all there is, it makes the world go ’round. Love and only love it can’t be denied. No matter what you think about it, you just can’t do without it, take a tip from one who’s tried.”
There are many kinds of love – Love for a lover, a brother, a sister, friend, a child, a cause, a dream, a hero, etc. Caring stems from love. So does understanding. So does compassion. Trust me, if you have a transfusion of any of those emotions your life will be enriched and more than likely lengthened. We have to have a purpose to keep getting up in the morning. How many times have we witnessed people we know give up on life? And, like another self-fulfilling prophecy, death soon follows.
So, to care about life is, in itself, it’s own reward. But no one gets rewarded without effort.
(C) Frank Howson 2018
(C) Painting by Frank Howson 2018