JULY 2003

Taking A Step BackÖ


This was going to be an angry ReprisalÖ

I had it all planned out, I really did. I was going to spew venom at all the people who have recently made it their mission in life to break me, or at the very least, bring me down a couple of notches.

It was going to be written napalm of a response. I actually had written over 6 pages of pain and anger and hurt. I saved it all up inside me for more than a couple of weeks so that I could let loose in one spectacular blow.

I had so much that I wanted to rebut. I had so much that I wanted to scream back at all of the accusations and doubts that have been leveled at me of late.

But itís funny how life has a way of happening. Iíve talked about that before. Usually I fixate on the negativeÖ

Life brought me right to the edge. Pretty much as far as a person can go and still be able to come back with stories to tell. Happens like that now and then.

So backed into a corner, I did the one thing that has never failed me in my times of need.

I came to the ocean.

I have always done that when the going gets a little to tough and the batteries need a recharge. Whenever I have found myself at my emptiest, some part of me kicks in and says, "Boy, itís time for you to get yourself back to the sea".

I always listen.

Particularly when I find myself with roughly $600 in newly acquired and unspoken for airline credits.

So I came here.

First of all, nothing can compare with the smell of the sea.

I have a ritualÖ

The first thing that I do when I step off the plane is take the deepest breath that I can. When your lungs, so used to prairie dryness and lack of flavour, fill with the wet aromatic air of the sea, itís nothing short of a taste of heaven. If I have ever found a way to let my whole body let loose a sigh of relief, itís in those first few steps off of the plane.

Today I swam in the ocean.

It was, initially, and for the record, fucking cold.

But like anything in life, you invest enough time in something and you get used to the unpleasant nature, and begin to be able to experience the parts that you were really after the whole time. And once I did, the frigid chill turned faded and I began to experience one of the more beautiful moments that I have had in some time.

I floated on my back, completely relaxed, not sinking at all. I swam and I let the current running both warm and cool depending on where I was in the bay take me where it would.

As I write this on paper for the first time in quite a while (knowing full well that I will transcribe it to the digital medium in just a few short days), I am nursing a campfire and sitting in a wooden lawnchair that could have easily been used as a medieval torture device.

My ass has never been so flat.

But I am happier than I have been in a very long time. And it just occurred to me that I have never seen a campfire all the way through to itís natural end. Always with the throwing water on it. Well itís dark enough that you can see every star in the sky, and every ember in the fire, so tonight I think I will.

I got out of the ocean today and had me an epiphany of the largest order. It was an elephant of an epiphany. One of those things that you sorta knew all along but never really "got".

Well today I got it.

I donít need to say that I am human. I donít need to say that I am flawed. These are, to anyone that knows me, self-evident truths. The funny thing about self-evident truths is that they donít need to be explained. Either you see them as self evident, or you canít see them at all, and wasting words on the idea is a total waste of time.

I donít need to defend myself. I donít need to say that Iím not some idealized man who isnít at times a hypocrite or a liar or amazing or inspirational.

At times, we all are.

Iím just as human as the next person. I have all of my strengths and weaknesses. To dignify someone who looks at a mistake they perceive that I have made (real or not), and use perceived mistake that to try and make a lesser person of me is nothing short of ludicrous. I make my mistakes, but they donít take away from who I am.

Because, at the very least, I can say that I am someone who tried, and continues to try, in every way that I can.

If people feel the need to scrutinize my behavior, I would ask that in doing so, they donít overlook (for their benefit, not mine, because I really donít care anymore), the fact that I am someone who believes in something. I am someone who is trying to say that maybe things can be better and that maybe we shouldnít constantly be selling ourselves short, because we think we couldnít possibly deserve anything better than what we currently have.

To say that dreaming might just be a good thingÖ

Like I said, I recently came under a couple of very vicious personal attacks. In one of them, and by far the one that bothered me the most, it was suggested that my personal shortcomings might in some way detract from my dream.

My dream of better is real.

And it does not need to be defended.

For me to suggest that people deserve more, that they should seek out all they are worth, not by the standards of those around them, but by their own, and that we can all do so much better than this if we simply try is not something that needs a defence.

Because it is a truth.

Not to say that truths come easily. They usually donít.

At least not until you are floating on your back in an ocean with a piece of seaweed dancing around your toes. Not until you realize that the message you are trying to send is so much bigger than you and all of your flaws.

Simply because it is right.

This monthís Reprisal was going to be full of pain and hurt and spite. It was going to be my defense and my disclosure and my revenge. Today I realized that it doesnít need to be.

And I count myself so lucky for that.

My dream is real. We are all better than this. My flaws donít betray that, they reveal it.

I donít need anything other than that. Those that can see what I am trying to do for what it is, will. Those that live in a place called fear where anything that challenges the way that we think because it might reveal a flaw will not.

I like my flaws. I think that flaws are something to be valued. Here is whyÖ

I am what I am. My flaws do not disprove the validity of my ideals, they prove the validity, because despite my flaws, I am still here.

I am writing this last bit with a flashlight stuck between my shoulder and neck. Itís something of an awkward writing position to be honest with you. But one well worth it.

Why?

For the first time in my life, I saw a campfire through to the end. Watched the whole thing through as I wrote all of this. Pardon the heavy metaphor, but I am full of intention, and I intend to see this fire through to the end.

By the wayÖ

Happy Nationalism Month!!!

Welp, Canada day came and went, and just south of the border, our neighbors are celebrating their country.

Iíve had a couple of people ask me how I spent Canada Day. Iím enjoying a much needed vacation out on the West Coast, and I have spent most of my time either sitting on beaches (mostly rocky, and stunningly lacking in scantily clad thong wearing swimsuit modelsÖdamn) and reading. I enjoy reading a great deal. People talk about the need for formal education, and while I agree with that to some degree (no pun intended), I am a firm believer that a person should continue that process of education throughout life.

So I make it a point to read at least one intelligent book a week.

On this trip I brought out a book called "Seasons In Hell". It was written by a journalist named Ed Vulliamy who spent a great deal of time on the frontlines of the Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian conflict in the early nineties. I have never really understood the full extent of the atrocity committed there or why until I read this book. If you want to understand a seemingly complex conflict, I strongly recommend picking this book up. Not only is it very well written, but it clearly explains how far things went in regards to the incredible crimes against humanity that were committed.

So I was sitting on a large rock contemplating all of this new information, watching the tide roll in when something occurred to me.

Just a couple of blocks away, there were people shouting "Canadaís #1!" and various other patriotic exclamations. I have no doubts that as I write this, just South of me, Americans are making the same declarations about their country.

I found myself wondering why exactly there is this competitive need for countries to be the best. When push comes to shove, it doesnít really make a whole lot of sense or even matter all that much.

When I first got started playing music, one of the few places that musicians who had no reputation could play was a variety of musical competitions known as battle of the bands. The basic premise was that three bands would each play a set competing against each other to win a variety of shitty prizes.

This was always a strange concept to me. I have always thought that music, like art, is something that is completely subjective to both the artist and the audience. Who is to say that any piece of music, if played with honesty, is better than another piece? All things equal, there is at the very least a diversity that comes out of people playing in different styles and manners that is something should be treasured, not eliminated in a round robin type of event.

A couple of weeks back, I was sitting on the balcony of one of my more intelligent friends (hey Jim), and we were discussing this whole concept. Between the two of us we agreed that the idea of trying to decide who is the "best" is quite bass ackwards.

So as I was sitting on the rocks looking at the ocean, I decided that these ideas needed to be married.

I honestly donít give a damn if Canada is the best country in the world. I think anyone or anything that pronounces itself the best suffers from an insecurity that runs pretty damn deep.

I only want to see if Canada is being the best Canada that it can be. The only people we should be competing with are ourselves. We should be our own measuring stick.

The world could learn so much from it's musicians, I swear...

If you think about how many wars are fought or started in the name of nationalism, and being the best, it seems to only make sense that perhaps itís time to redefine a couple of terms hereÖ

Just an ideaÖ

Some links for youÖ


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/country_profiles/1066886.stm
http://www.friendsofbosnia.org
http://www.bosnia.org.uk/default.cfm
http://www.cbc.ca/news/features/milosevic_timeline.html

Final ThoughtsÖ

There was a third part to this Reprisal, but between the fact that the story itself seems to be arguing over with me on exactly how it should end up, and I find myself markedly lazy these days, I havenít finished it yet.

So sue meÖ

Next month it will be done. That much is for sure. But, for this month I just wanted to offer a couple of thoughts and some updatesÖ

I was just sitting out on my roof (as I do) and I watched a man jogging by wearing whiie shorts and a black bra.

Sigh

If I never understand suburbia, it will be too soon. Iím moving out of this new place. I donít know where to yet, but it will be a place where the buildings are not all prefabricated and they have a healthy degree of personality.

On another note, Dave and I are still seeking a drummer. Seriously, tell anyone you know. Weíll take a wind up monkey that can bang two cymbals together at this point.

Also, the search for a new cabana girl has begun once again. The old Cabana girl was grossly unsatisfactory, so she had to be fired. She was sent away to join the circus, and from what I hear, she is much happier there. Clowns have big feet for a variety of reasonsÖ

Same qualifications as before, you all know the drill. Nate@natepike.com for all you interested ladiesÖ

One last thing.

I was asked after a portion of this Reprisal was posted on The Firing Range what I thought the ideal political system would be. I canít say a whole lot without revealing my still in the works plans for world domination for me and my spider monkeys, but I will say thisÖ

Democracy doesnít work in practice. Dictatorships donít work in practice. No political system that has yet been invented can function because they tend to rely on a singular principle. The best idea that I have come up with as of yet is a democratic dictatorship with regular reviews of the leadership by an autonomous group. The mass population cannot be trusted to run a country (hell, if I canít get fast food at 2 am just because I donít have my car with me, that should say enoughÖ), but absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Make leadership a short term job involving three people, who are accountable to not people with a political agenda based on power, but academics. It would be an interesting cross between Democracy, a Dictatorship, and Anarchy. Put the people who can actually think past re-election in power, and do away with elections.

Think 1984 with a few more failsafes and less hardship.

Or, alternatively, just wait for me and my spider monkeys. We are still coming and when we do, everything will be better. I promise.

Seeya next months kidsÖ