"The vast majority of the world's books, music, films, television and art, you will never see."
The author of this post that I read in, uh, April (!) posits that the world's books, music, films, television, and art do not have to be navigated like a collective black hole, but rather as a gorgeous but terrifyingly tall mountain range. (This is my metaphor. But you should read her essay anyway).
You have a choice. Cull it. Or surrender.
Culling is the choosing you do for yourself. It's the sorting of what's worth your time and what's not worth your time. It's saying, "I deem Keeping Up With The Kardashians a poor use of my time, and therefore, I choose not to watch it."
Surrender, on the other hand, is the realization that you do not have time for everything that would be worth the time you invested in it if you had the time, and that this fact doesn't have to threaten your sense that you are well-read.
And I agree with her: it's a sad and beautiful fact that you can't do it all. Sad and Beautiful, even--like a film or book or song title. Or like this, which I just found because I wanted to know if a film or book or song actually was titled "Sad and Beautiful."
But, really, I don't have time for Sparklehorse. I know ought to. But locating, downloading, and digesting this album from 2006 also means I'll have to find the old old stuff, and the recent new stuff. Or does it?
I like to claim that I surrender. I know it's the only way to true peace. It's the mindful way. It's the way you want to be when you are in line and the grocery is packed like ants swarming a dropped potato chip or when you are replaying a conversation from 7.5 months ago for the 415.5th time in your head.
But I know that what I do most of the time is cull. Because that's the easy way, while surrendering is not the easy way. Here, I'll do it now. I don't pay attention to
- Any video games that aren't in a console built before 1982
- Vampire stuff
- Contemporary country music
- That "Friday" girl
- Cake (the band)
- Kardashians, Housewives, and Jens (Aniston, Garner, -lo, etc.)
- Philip Glass
- Plays by Sarah Ruhl
- DIY crafting
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- Shoes with heels over 3" high
- Belle and Sebastian
- Charles Dickens
- Comic books
- Darren Aronofsky
- Superhero movies made from comic books
- Reality television competitions
- Cooking shows
But then...I remember when I discovered Ghost in the Machine. Was it one of those Saturday afternoon trips to Madison from Milwaukee in order to be someplace else for at least a few hours when you are too in your twenties to afford a real vacation? Skulk around State Street, go to Urban Outfitters and feel poor, go to the Plaza and drink a couple of beers and feel rich? I think it was. My friend popped in Ghost in the Machine on the way. "Spirits in the Material World," duh, "Everything She Does is Magic," yes, okay. Then..."Demolition Man"..."J'Aurais Toujour Faim de Toi"..."Too Much Information..." what the WHAT? Why didn't I have this music coursing through my cells before now?
Well, then I did. And it was good.
I think the world puts in front of your eyes/brain/ face what it is you need to see. And, often, when you need to see it--whether engineered by friends, a DJ, Facebook, or the karma of 'pod Shuffle.
But there's a third action here, consume. When you're not surrendering, or culling, you're consuming. Chomp chomp chomp. I could greedily eat up music, theatre, more music, and good television and movies all day long, but I think eventually I'd feel the mileage. I'd want to look at tree, or see something in a cloud and maybe write a sentence about that. OH! Maybe I'd see a woman in the cloud, and I'd make a character from the woman, and some dialogue from the character, and a sketch from the dialogue...
How can I hear anything amid the noise and haste, like that Desiderata poem says, of others' creative factory output? I need to put something out on my own pallet on my own loading dock.
It's all choice, a choice to leave something in, turn away, or do. Seriously, every moment is about what you choose--or, more often, what you choose to be surrender to, whether it's Requiem for a Dream, cooking bœuf bourguignon, Ghost in the Machine, opening a fresh document to allow your thoughts to repose. Choosing, actually, your thoughts themselves.