MY NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION: REMEMBER TO FLY.
What will I remember about 2016? I had no job and no prospects, I had legal problems, I went deeper into debt than I've ever been, I had to move from my house after 20 years, I needed to leave L.A. I will also remember I got to come home to Dallas and be with my family, and also that in spite of all my difficulties I completed one of my best books yet. And I will remember that so many great talents were lost and so unexpectedly. This last is a disenchantment that most people seem to agree on and care about––this last sorrow seems to unify perspectives. What upsets me far more than any of the frustrations and regrets this last year, however, is that which people can't seem to agree on at all, and which has been the hardest for me to come to terms with in 2016. Someone who has been one of my biggest supporters told me, in response to my wish for a great 2017––and for myself to accomplish amazing things and not be brought down by all the bellyaching and controversy over who has been elected president––is that they couldn't wait to see the decline of my optimism. This person's statement represents a thinking that is proving rampant everywhere I look, throughout America and the entire world. For me personally, when a fan of my work would rather be proven "right" in their political beliefs than see me reach for optimism and succeed in my endeavors, is another tragic example of the perpetual, nihilistic flaw in humanity.
They would rather see me fail and lose hope, so they can be proven "right" in their personal philosophies. They can't wait to relish my demoralization and gloat over my emotional atrophy and, therefore, what will be a decline in my art: my writing, my music, my filmmaking, who I am. They would rather be "right" so they can maintain superiority and not face their own failings to productively communicate or successfully make a difference––just like racist, religious, and propaganda zealots and extremists of any ilk force-feeding the world their agendas––guess what?––it only pisses people off and solves nothing. It's this thinking that needs to remain in the ashes of 2016. It is the Phoenix of art and science and imagination––NOT self-righteousness and complaining and passing blame and do-nothingness––that must rise and make a difference. These are not the only things that keep us alive by a long shot (I'm very aware of that untidy truth), but they are the convictions most of us live for. I believe that. It's what I, personally, have always lived for. It's what the good in me––what little is left in me (and sometimes I think there is very little)––still lives for. And those finer things are not about what I say, or how great or poorly I bluster this or that; those higher ideals are represented by what I do in my actions…which is what matters.
I also must remember: don't judge books by their cover. For my new book has (in some surprising instances) been judged by its cover, regardless of the story and message within. But what's worse is to be all talk and do nothing and have no book (or creation or action) to even judge, inside or out. If resolving civil unrest or helping the poor is my art or your art, we should go paint that picture in tangible form––don't just be angry and blame-throwing because we don`t like the canvas we`ve been handed. Blame-throwers are just like flame-throwers, they're a hot wind that is only ever destructive. We are the brush and we are the pigments––many of the greatest artists in history have painted masterpieces over works they deemed of lesser import and inspiration. So get to painting! Many will not agree with my vision, because the world is not their fault, it's always someone else's. But they'd do well to remember––I would do well to remember––that all our faults are not in our stars, they are within ourselves. Rise from the ashes and fly 2017. Rise and fly everyone who have been buried in those ashes. Do something. Make a real difference. Even if it's only helping someone across a busy street. No president, benevolent king, or brutal dictator is going to do that for us. They aren't and never will be miracle workers, saints, or gods. And even if by the grace of fate, a world leader waves a magic wand and the human race is transformed into perfection tomorrow, Mother Nature will be right there to remind us how mercilessly unjust life really is...and will always be. And if not Mother Nature it will be an alien attack from outer space.
Of course many will still blame our leaders, or others, for these problems. But in the meantime, we need to remember to do something real. Do something we can see and maybe even touch. It will make any one of us feel a whole lot better than just lying in bed, being pissed off, hating "the nebulous others who are to blame", and letting the world roll over us. Once again I state my wish: Rise from the ashes and fly 2017. Rise and fly everyone who have been buried in those ashes. Do something. Do something you can put your hands on. Get them dirty and leave your fingerprints behind for a change. You might even elevate one person's life, if only a little bit. It's the only way not to blame yourself. For all it takes for evil and injustice to prevail, is for we ourselves to do nothing but pass the buck and try to out-bark one another. Remember to rise from the ashes. Remember to fly.