I woke up at six o'clock this morning and started doing drawings of what my set will look like for the performances here for 'Under the Desert'. It will be a crude set in some ways, log poles, canvas, rocks, desert plants, and petroglyphs painted on the canvas in red paint. The last time I did this set was back in the earlier days at Metro Arts. With that set, I built out a complete rock cave dwelling, with chicken wire, and sheets, plastered on the chicken wire with joint compound. Once I had a clean rock wall all the way around the theatre space, I went in at two o'clock in the morning and painted my petroglyphs. There are moments in the theatre that nothing in life can touch. This was definitely one of those 'big art' times, infused with inspiration to paint on the clean walls of the rock faces.
Two nights ago, I watched 'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly', the story of Bauby, an editor for Elle Magazine in France, who had a massive stroke in the prime of his life and work, which gave him 'locked-in syndrome'. (paralyzed from head to toe) The only thing he could move was his left eye. Before he finally succumbed to pneumonia, he wrote a book about his experience. The film maker, Julian Schnabel, does a great job making this film. It was a mesmerizing. We've all heard it before, that there are always people who are less fortunate than we are, and lately, when I wake up and feel the tinge of despair, I think of Bauby, as he said, "All I have left is my imagination and my memory." He made the best of a brain that was fully functional, and wrote a book with just his left eye. What a crazy journey this life continues to be, rife with decisions, emotions, sometime despair, and a body and mind that continues to age.
I sit here in this beautiful paradise, and can still wake up to despair. And then I watch a film like this. In its strange way, it was inspiring to know the triumph a human being can achieve. When Bauby used his imagination, there were flashbacks of his former life. Love, money, children, and seemingly, all the time in the universe. When he had his stroke, he was breezing down the French countryside with one of his children in a new jaguar. Oh, count my blessings. Count my ten toes and my ten fingers. There is pain in my body, but I can still walk and work. I can get in my truck, and drive to the store for some coffee, or a tomato. And yet, time marches on. My dreams seem closer, but still so far away. My disappointments are small in comparison to my possibilities. The potential of youth is waning, but with experience and health, there is still potential, still possibility not yet realized. As I've learned in life, its almost impossible to depend on others to fulfill a dream. Action must be taken, and sometimes in the smallest way.
On my front porch, I can see the tall mesa where I will do my show. Like the show I did there last year, I know that there is a road to the top of that mesa. I know that there is desert landscape to cultivate into art. The best art in my opinion, is the unexpected, the process, the one step at a time journey. Like I've said before, a play finds its way, but it will take some help to give it a life once more.
The show I've spend the last two years of my life on, 'Bohemian Cowboy', a journey that left me not only broke, but owing, but with some retrospect, filled up with some new form in my character. And yet still, I'm ready to do it all over again in another form of passion. I know I'll have to dig eight post holes. If the financing for it doesn't come through, I'll have to play music until I have enough money for the canvas. I'll have to find the red paint. I'll rehearse all over the desert.
I had a revelation two nights ago. I called Tracee, an actress and once love, if she might want to come to Boulder to do 'Under the Desert', a play that she has been in love with ever since I've known her. She was ecstatic about being asked even to read for the part. I've been sitting here in Boulder waiting for a telephone call to give me the same feeling. We work when the light is on. I was able to give her the same feeling to her as I have been waiting for. It's all perspective. As we rise to work, we create our own opportunities to give to others. Sean will come from LA on the sixth of July, and I will have my cast to start rehearsals and to build my set. If all goes well, we will take the play to Los Angeles and into The Lillian Theatre for a four week run. We have booked the theatre there, even though the financing has not come through, (30,000 dollars). I have to admit, I love the risk, coupled with the rise to create another piece of art. De Kooning, Williams, Pollock, all spirits of art now on the other side, I beseech you on the behalf of this vision. Bacon, Frost, Whitman, Dickinson, rise to the task, and help make this become a reality. I promise to lead in a humble and respectful way. I will attempt to see into the soul of art and into the work. There. I feel better.
In this fragile attempt at finding my way into Hollywood with a few screenplays, I'm always cognizant that it was a play that has opened up the small window of opportunity. In my mind, in an attempt at finding what Drew Carey called 'stupid money', when it does come, there are two distinct channels I will focus on, continuing to create, and making it possible for others to create. I've lived long enough that my quest for what is important in life does not have to do with things, rather it is still the adventure and the action of purpose that I will continue to seek.
For some reason, Bukowski's poem, 'For Jane' keeps popping into my mind. It is a rather sad poem, but in all the controversy surrounding him, this one poem clearly finds his humanity and his sorrow. I'll see if I can find it before I send this prayer out into the universe. Seize the day. Find a footstep. Draw a picture. Write a poem. In doing so, you help release the tentacles of being human that attempt to strangle you. I'm going to do a play on a mountain, and I know that it will lead me to onto another path of discovery. God, give me not the willingness, (which I have) rather give me the means. I'm sending you an S.O.S. "Give ear to my words, Oh Lord, consider my meditation. Harken unto the voice of my cry, my King and my God. For unto thee will I pray, my voice shalt thou hear in the morning, Oh Lord, in the morning, do I direct my voice, unto thee and will look up…" Psalm Five.
Note on this poem: Although this poem is filled with despair and hopelessness, it is still a powerful poem of loss and love...
For Jane: With all the Love I Had, Which Was Not Enough by Charles Bukowski
I pick up the skirt,
I pick up the sparkling beads
this thing that moved once
and I call God a liar,
I say anything that moved
could never die
in the common verity of dying,
and I pick
up her lovely
all her loveliness gone,
and I speak to all the gods,
Jewish gods, Christ-gods,
chips of blinking things,
idols, pills, bread,
rats in the gravy of 2 gone quite mad
without a chance,
hummingbird knowledge, hummingbird chance,
I lean upon this,
I lean on all of this
and I know:
her dress upon my arm:
they will not
give her back to me.