I just wanted to share these words by an old friend. A film critic and blogger, Matt makes an element point on why sometimes it is the little things, free of cynicism, that are of the most vital importance. Go read From the Front Row
There was an artist down on the beach today. He was drawing lines in the sand.
I’ve seen him here before. His drawings are intricate and sprawling, patterns and shapes crashing together to somehow create a seamless picture. As my knowledge of art history is entirely limited to the realm of French Impressionism, I can’t identify the style, but that doesn’t matter.
The man appears on the beach at random, staking out several dozen yards within the shadow of the overhead pier that stretches far out past the breakers. He wears faded shorts, a loose buttoned shirt, and a wide straw hat that would look at home perched on an old southern woman tending her vegetable garden.
He begins working without a pause using a piece of driftwood scavenged from the beach. He drags the driftwood through the sands, lines, then shapes, then patterns. People gather on the pier to watch him drawing below, speculations pass between them. Everybody whispers like they are in church. They throw dirty looks to people who walk by without noticing, talking loudly.
This is now a sacred space.
The man works for over an hour. He doesn’t stop, he doesn’t consult any sketch or plan. He paces back and forth within the drawing, stooping to rub out a line or draw out another. Sometimes he draws in short quick swipes at the sand, some he cuts in long smooth swoops. Whenever you think he might be done an entire new dimension to the piece blossoms.
You know he is finished when he finally steps back. It’s then that he pauses for a moment before scrawling his name at the bottom. Then, without looking, he throws his driftwood into the whitewash and goes to sit on a rock. He pulls his knees up to his chest and wraps his arms around his legs.
It’s his turn to watch the show.
The art is more than the lines in the sand, more than the picture. It’s not art, in the traditional sense, it’s a performance. You watch the sand transform into something new and wonderful, then you watch it fade away again.
It starts slowly at first. Kids wandering by kicking at the small ridges in the sand, parents barely taking notices. Couples walking hand in hand trailing footsteps right through the center. Joggers, dogs, Frisbee players, they all take a piece of the image with them. The people on the pier above shout and wave their hands, trying to stave off disaster. They are furious at how people can be so oblivious.
The man just watches.
He sits on his rock, his knees tucked up, hugging his legs. He might be smiling but it’s hard to see beneath the long brim of his hat. Finally, the tide rolls in and with each caress of sea foam it washes the sand clean. When there is nothing left but a smooth stretch of beach, the man gets up and leaves without a word.
I’ve never taken a picture of his work, that spoils it. The fragile, temporal nature of it is just as important as the drawing itself. Like watching a play, what you are witnessing here and now will only happen exactly that way once, then it is gone forever.
I’ve seen him several times before, I don’t know his name, I don’t know who he is, I don’t know what he does. I suppose I could find out if I took a little time to research or ask around, but I would rather leave him a mystery. For me, I’m happy that he remain the guy who draws lines in the sand.
All we build all we
are, lines in the sand.
We slowly build shape,
until there is naught
to add. Then we fade
piece by piece until
And we wash away
to rejoin the sea.
Fall has arrived in Southern California, bringing with it cooler temperatures, seasonal allergies, and most importantly, it’s brought the rains.
I love the rain. Not particularly in that hippie, let’s take off our shoes and go dance barefoot and naked in it, but I do love the rain. For me, there are few things as refreshing and beautiful in this world as a rainy day. Grey moody skies not only transform the world, but they also have the power to transport me.
Not necessarily to happier times, just earlier times.
I grew up in the woods and mountains of North Carolina. Most of my childhood was spent outside, exploring, climbing, tramping over every inch and square of my territory. Because of my love for the outdoors, or perhaps the genesis of that love, I was fascinated with survival stories such as Robinson Crusoe and The Hatchet.
So my excursions into the woods became adventures of survival. I made countless shelters, preparing for the day when I would be stranded and forced to rely on my wits against the untamed wilderness. Of course all this took place within a few hundred yards of my house, but you should always be prepared. Shelters meant comfort, safety, and happiness.
You are never more aware of a warm and dry place when the world around you isn’t. When a sudden rain shower would spring up I would tuck into one of my shelters, or under just the right kind of tree, and watch the rain renew the world around me.
In the rain, everything was more vivid. Colors, dull and faded under the sun, burst to life. The overpowering and familiar smells of the outdoors would sink back, allowing the subtle undertones of soil and wood to take the stage. The voice nature would slide behind a soft veil of hissing water. Each individual rain drop would paint everything with a splash of sound.
In short, the world was transformed.
Many years later, I was playing a cowboy in an outdoor wild west stunt show, the role that would earn me my moniker. We had a real, functional, steam locomotive that would take guests out through the wilderness for a nice thirty minute ride. While out there, my fellow performers and I would disembark and put on a short show. It wasn’t always easy, and it wasn’t always fun, but it was an entirely unique experience for us.
This one day in particular, I was leaning against the corner of a building, my gun in my hand, waiting to ‘rob’ the train, all in the pouring rain. I could feel the ground washing away underneath my boots, every square inch of me was soaking wet, and water was running off the brim of my hat in thick rivulets.
Then the smell reached me.
At that time my life was spinning rapidly out of my control. I was lost and everything was upside down. My work was a piece of flotsam that I clung to. I was miserable. I focused so hard on the here and now that I didn’t have to think about anything else. In short, I was blind.
It was the smell of the soil freshly turned by a falling rain. The soil you find deep beneath the tallest trees, soft and black. My wet clothes no longer mattered. My problems would work out. I was transformed. I was renewed. I was twelve again with my back to a tree, watching droplets work their way from one leaf to the next. And I understood something easily learned, and just as easily forgotten. I learned that life goes ever on.
Many years later, rain still takes me back to those places. Back to the long forgotten and yet still familiar places of my childhood. Moment’s lost, only to flow back unbidden at the first scent of rain on the air. It remains a link to where I’ve come from. A reminder that sometimes happiness is as simple as sitting under a big enough leaf and letting the world continue without you for awhile.
I love the rain. I love the smell, the sound, the feeling of gray rainy days. In times of peace it makes me aware and conscious of that peace. In times of turmoil, it reminds me that the world will continue and that peace will come again. In short, I love the rain.
So yeah, go take off your shoes and go dance barefoot and naked in it.
How quickly time flies when you are having fun. Not having fun? Too bad, it’s flying anyway.
The ever plodding forward momentum of time, the insoluble nature of it, is very much on my mind this morning as I ride the morning train into LA. I’m thinking about where I was precisely one year ago.
Exactly in the same place I am now.
Let me clarify. Physically, I am in the same place. I am riding the exact same morning train, heading to the exact destination. One year ago it’s likely that I would be sitting in this exact same seat.
But let me tell you sister, for everything else we’re miles away.
One year ago I was newly arrived in Southern California, destitute from bad choices and crippled by hubris. I had arrived firmly and most definitively at a crossroads and rather than gather the rubble of my life around me, cling to the shadows that remained as I had so many times in the past, I gave away the vast majority of my possessions and packed the few things that remained. With my backpack and single suitcase, I flew out to join my family in Southern California.
Go west young man.
Gone was the big screen HDTV, The PlayStation 3, the electronics, the furniture, the miscellaneous shit that I had been hoarding for years. I spent my last three dollars in an airport Wendy’s. Like so many before me I was heading west hoping to find gold, and I couldn’t even afford a sifting pan.
And that was then. If I were to go back and find that man, that other me, one year ago on this train, I doubt I would recognize him. If I were to speak to man, I wouldn’t know his thoughts. He would be a stranger wearing my face.
A few years ago I was on vacation with some friends and, spur of the moment, we wandered into a mirror maze. I had recently made drastic changes in my life, losing over sixty pounds being one of them. I was finding myself again, it took another three years and more than a few extremely bad decisions to actually do it, but I digress. At that time I was first beginning to feel glimmers of who I really was.
So there we were in this mirror maze. The mirrors throw all sense of direction and spatial understanding out the door. You can be standing right next to your friend and the mirrors make it seem like they are at the end of the hall and vice versa. We’re making our way through, slowly, laughing as we bumble into the mirrors, the walls, each other. I’m walking down a hall and I see a man coming my way. He’s got shorter brown hair, a hint of stubble. Just some guy, you know? We’re walking directly toward each other.
I step to my right to let him pass. He does the same. I laugh, apologize, and step to my left. He does the same.
It’s me. The man I’m trying to step around is me. I looked myself dead in the face, made eye contact, and didn’t even know it. You look at yourself in the mirror every day, but how many times do you actually see.
Today, as I sit in this familiar seat, watching the sun spill over the Southern California hills, I look back at where I’ve come from, and where I am now. One year ago I was directionless. Today, I know where I’m going.
On Monday I received word that I had passed the audition to get into The Second City’s graduating ensemble, an audition that a good many of my extremely talented class mates did not pass. I’m flabbergasted, honored, confused, elated, humbled.
I found love when and where I least expected. And it’s good, it’s pure. It has a clarity, honesty, and vastness that I never thought possible, but always dreamed for.
I get asked to write scripts. I get to perform and make people laugh almost every day. I get to be me and I am loved for it. I am doing exactly what I want to do and the universe is allowing me to make a living doing it. How cool is that.
The universe swept ever onward. It wasn’t until I just let go and let it carry me along that I found my course. You struggle and suffer and push when sometimes all you need is time. Trust it and things will have changed without you even noticing.
Time flies, you might as well have fun.
Today I received one of the best complements in recent memory. “Show him what you can do.” Doesn’t seem like much from where we are sitting right now, I know. Let’s go back a little.
One of the many jobs I currently hold is performing in a mystery dinner theater every weekend. At the dinner theater one of my fellow performers happens to be my boss/director at another of my jobs. Now, somehow, I’ve recently been hired to write scripts for this boss. Which he’s loved, by the way.
But I digress.
So at this dinner theater we are approaching the time of the year where we put a new show up. And I think it would be safe to say without a shadow of a doubt that the scripts aren’t the theater’s strong suit. So, naturally, the prospect of a new show, and new script, is somewhat terrifying to most of the cast.
So here comes the compliment. My boss at the other job, leans across the table to me and says, “For the love of God, just go write a script and give it to him (Him being the dinner theater’s director), show him what you can do.”
And there you go. One of the best compliments I’ve ever received.
Let me explain why.
It wasn’t a, “go get ‘em kid, show ‘em your moxie.” Which actually sounds like something I would totally love to have somebody tell me. No, it was a, you kick an amazing amount of ass and you should share it.
It was the power of the words and how he said them. “What you can do.” What I can do. The knowledge that I have a talent to share. Something unique the I bring to the table. It’s one thing to have that thought occasionally push through the haze of self-doubt. It’s quiet another to have those words echoed by a person whose personal and professional experience lends a particular validity to their opinion.
What I can do.
That’s a statement that everybody should allow themselves to hear, even if from their own lips. Skill, talent, experience, all subjective, and at the same time, all unique. I can do something that not many other people can do, and I can do it in a way that is unique to me. It’s a powerful thing to hear, and powerful thing to finally begin to understand.
The wild thing is, everybody has the same unique gifted potential that they alone can share.
So, get out there kid, show them what you can do.
Oh look, a blog. Why should you care? Well, you shouldn’t, go back to what you were doing.
I’m Weasel T. I write, I act, I draw. Not that I do anything of those things particularly well. Like all artists, however, I also have an endlessly hungry ego that craves endless amounts of praise and recognition. An ego that hides behind a carefully crafted facade of humble self doubt and unwillingness to self promote.
In order to feed the ravenous ego lurking just out of sight I’ve decided to create a space to share my work and thoughts, lucky you. I’ve worked in a void far too long. And as my work as been dragged out into the daylight more and more of late, I realized that sharing that work felt good, it also inspired me to create even more. With that in mind, I’ve created my own little corner of the internet where I could share with no pressure and no plan.
I’ve attempted to blog in the past. Attempted to toss my hat into the ring and compete in the grand struggle for internet fame and fortune. It didn’t last long. I was too caught up with trying to create something appealing, something that people would want to visit and read. It was hard. So screw you, it’s my space now.
Welcome to it. Pour yourself some Weasel Tea. It’s a fine cuppa.