Dedicated to my friends who love me…no matter what
Let’s face it. I’m no David Bowie. He was a true artist (and cultural icon) in every sense of the word. In contrast, my blogs, random musings, “peace pipes”and writing represent the collected “body of work” of a singular 62 year old Jewish psychologist with GERD, hair loss and bad gas. My web posts are often so self-directed as to leave uninitiated readers lost in translation. I write about obscure topics and Adderall fueled notions that result in just about everyone except my family and those I went to school with scratching their heads. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that many of them dont know what the fuck I’m talking about or where the oft promised “sardonic humor” was hiding ….in plain sight.
Here’s the thing: we all live our lives in ways that seem rather vivid, dramatic, and worthy of a “Lord of the Rings” feature film (including prequels and sequels). In reality, like every dog, donkey and department store assistant manager we manage to scratch out an existence that has some exhilarating highs and painful lows but remains legendary solely unto ourselves. Not exactly a narcissist’s dream come true but more a heaping-sized serving of humble pie ala mode. Believe it or not it wasn’t until recently that I realized that I, Cliff Mazer, aka, Captain Cliff am more of an “acquired taste” (both as a human being and writer-artist-provocateur) rather than some sought after viral sensation or cultural delicacy…. unless you happen to be a hungry grizzly bear with a yen for psychological yiddishe kopf. Regardless, like Tim Treadwell the bipolar bear enthusiast, I probably just taste like chicken (see photo above).
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not implying that realizing such a simple truth is a bad thing especially at my age when ones testicles begin to sag in the general direction of ones aching knees. It probably also says something that my favorite Hanukkah gift this year was an self-articulating electric back shaver. In fact, there is a valuable lesson learned in coming to terms with the limited frame of reference that borders ones existing self-portrait , ie., (personal identity) and self-concept (how much you like yourself). When we’re young we tend to dream big, live “large” and “act-react-do” (even if later it’s seen as crazy or reckless). Don’t ask me about the heavenly pasture of magic mushrooms in Palenque, Mexico and the jungle “Garden of Eden” I discovered at age 20 just before realizing that my entire body was covered in ginormous “African Queen” leeches and blood sucking ticks feeding on my flesh and blood. The world back then, the so called “olden days” of our youth was a blank canvas and our only “job” was to fill that space with magnificent experiences using broad strokes and a full palette of living colors. Everything was”far out”or “groovy” just like now it’s totally “awesome”. It’s only later in life that we learn to slow down, pause, reconsider, think through, reflect and consciously ponder. In my business they call it “introspection”. With time, experience, and maturity we are eventually inspired to sculpt, paint, write or act out the story of our lives with far more insight, texture and possibly even greater subtlety. We also grow to understand and appreciate different vocabulary words or phrases such as “nuance”,”perspective”as well as “ointment”, “dietary restriction”, and “bowel softener”.
I know you cant get the average teenager to believe this but the personal saga that is a single lifespan on Earth is enriched by our abject failures as well as our greatest achievements. Furthermore, times of robust physical and mental health are better appreciated if one has also experienced a chronic illness or had previous bouts of deep depression. Like the Velveteen Rabbit’s fur, the human ego is stripped away over time by arthritis, psoriasis, gastritis, and phlebitis along with painful life experiences and disappointments involving shattered dreams, bursting seams, or misplaced trust in a neighbor’s Ponzi scheme. According to Margery Williams even those things dont really matter in the end as long as one becomes “real” (authentic) as a result of having been loved. Now that I think of it I’ve been rather obsessed with the whole idea of becoming “real” ever since I first watched the Disney movie Pinocchio when I was a little kid. Pleasure Island sounded great but I was petrified by the very thought of getting turned into a braying donkey.
Bottomline: Once you realize your head is as bald as the tires on your 2001 Lexus (the “good car”) and your memoirs have a 99% chance of being self-published, there is a unique opportunity presented to all of us in regards to the time we have left. I’m not just talking about a trip to Ibiza, social security checks or the senior discount at IHOP, (altho I’ve used the latter multiple times). We can work on working less, putting our ego-driven desires aside and spending more time enjoying those whom we love and those who truly love us. We can choose to recognize all the various forms of beauty and artistry that exists that we might have missed when we were so busy climbing corporate ladders and attempting to “prove” ourselves. We can resolve to care less about the cat hair and dog poop and pee-pee on the carpet when ones son or daughter visits or “desperately” needs a pet sitter for several days (that later feels like a decade). We can ease ourselves into a more realistic looking self portrait that looks less like a slick ad for the Men’s Club circa 1985 and more like Nikita Khrushchev after taking his third or fourth vodka shot and gravity bong. In my case I don’t necessarily believe I need to completely hang up my CaptCliff pirate pen or fold up my creativity pup tent. I just need to feel grateful for what I still have to give rather than dwell on all the things that have been lost on the long perilous ocean voyage. My sometime muse and Aussie friend Deb sent me this creative/inspirational video as one example. Figure and ground. Ground and figure. Body of work indeed!