PO Box 26632 / Richmond VA 23261-6632

Some Thoughts #60

    Lately I have felt like I’m on a treadmill that is being turned faster and faster.  I can’t shake this feeling that I can’t get my shit together; that I can’t catch up with myself.  It’s a case of taking on more and more -- pushing myself further and never letting go of anything.  It’s a problem that I have always had and this time around I attribute it to being in the same place for long enough to have taken on a lot. So, as this has cumulated in getting this issue out, I’ve been taking steps to figure out how to get myself back in balance.  How to actually enjoy the days, and not feeling like a worker bee pushed to unreasonable limits.  For a long time now I have really encouraged people to follow a path that gives them enjoyment -- to make sure that you are happy with where you are at and do what it takes to follow a path that is rewarding.  I’m catching myself in my own advice lately and I have been telling myself that it’s time to make some changes.  I’m still not quite sure what those changes are.  I’ve been reevaluating S&L a lot of late.  Questioning the validity of it as a “networking tool” in a time where the computer is quickly becoming THE mode of communication and networking.  There have been a number of things this summer that led me to feel that it was no longer valid as a mode of communication.  All of a sudden, the internet stuff has taken over in vast leaps.  I mean, it’s been growing and integrating more and more.  But suddenly in the past couple months I’ve noticed an even bigger difference.  Little things like the word of mouth promotion of various fests and gatherings are no longer happening.  All of a sudden I find myself hearing about these things a day before they are happening and wondering how I’ve gotten so out of the loop.  It’s because people are not sending out flyers, and writing letters on paper the way they used to.  People have become so dependent on the internet -- because for spreading the word fast it is very useful.  But in the process - traditional means of communication are being forgotten.  And I think that is really a problem because it’s not just me feeling out of the loop.  There are still a lot of people who don’t have access to computers - I still think there is a fair amount of class privilege involved in the internet dependency.  I often stop and think that if I can’t figure out what is going on; with all of the consuming time that I spend communicating with people and working within the network of the punk community -- if I can’t feel connected, informed and on top of the pulsing beat of the scene, then surely there are a lot of other people who are equally confused and in the dark. Of course, sometimes I’m convinced that it’s just me -- but that is pretty silly.
    As far as media goes -- I’ve been feeling completely overwhelmed. It seems that the growing punk community is mirroring the population as a whole.  It wasn’t that long ago that the many divergent parts of the punk community still felt connected and linked.  Suddenly it seems that it has become so vast that the strings which hold it all together are thinner and much weaker.  And at the same time the punk community itself is stronger and perhaps larger than ever.  It’s always easy to compare and contrast the now with a time past that always seems better, but that is not the kind of thinking I’m doing.  I’m just looking at how things are becoming more and more factioned and split apart; about how there is such glut and over production not just in the punk world, but in society as a whole.  It feels as though there is no way to be “on top of things”.  There is no way to know what is going on, to feel as though there is some center point of commonality which we then branch off of.  In some ways that diversity is encouraging.  The fact that there are so many different outlets in underground and mainstream media -- so many different sources for information and education.  But -- I have such a hard time with technology.  I get so overwhelmed by the drastic changes that we as a society are working into our lives.  It’s like all of a sudden some science fiction novel has infiltrated our lives.  And it is both freaky and exciting.  I feel that every time I pay attention  what is going on out there in the big world, I get so freaked out, so in disbelief that these things (whether it be assimilation of the underground into the mainstream, advertising techniques that exploit things that feel dear to me, or simply technology taking over) have changed so drastically that I say “I want to quit”; “I want to hide, I want to go and live in a tree”.  When I say I want to quit, I don’t even know what it is that I want to quit.  I certainly don’t want to quit life.  I don’t want to quit any of the various things that I do (hell, that is half the problem).  It’s more like I want to cease participation in society.  And yet I’m so damn afraid of being completely left behind that I feel the need to try and keep up with what is going on, even if I intentionally choose another path or direction.  Hence the treadmill effect.
    I’ve been in my normal reflective mode of thinking too.  Jen had a great column in the new Heartattack about volunteering at ABC NO RIO and it brought back a whole flood of emotions.  It’s another one of those things that on a continual basis I feel missing from my life -- the community aspect the collective vision. Sometimes I think it’s funny that I have these drastically opposed thoughts -- one where I long to be a part of something bigger -- to feel a part of a community and the opposite where I crave solitude and just being by myself with the forces of nature.  I think that those two things will forever be at competition inside of me.  But when I get to thinking about ABC, and isolating the things that I miss so much there, I get to thinking about how much I grew there as well as all of the connections that I have to people from the time I was involved there.  I think of certain people that I met at or through ABC like 6 or more years ago, and I read things that they write now in zines, or letters about their life, or whatever mode of expression I can share -- and I can’t help but think about how much we’ve all lived through together and on individual tracks. I think of the friendships that were forged at a time in my life when I was so open to everything and how those connections have stood the test of time.  I look back on then and think of the extensive history that we share and all of the landmarks of life that have passed with age.  I’ve got so much empathy - I can really get lost in my emotional sentimentality.  I think one of flaws in the punk scene is how easy it is to forget about relationships with people.  How when we get started in things we want so much to share and connect with others and as you come in contact with more and more people, it’s often hard to remember everyone and form the same bonds. I think it’s important to always remember that.  Not to take advantage of, or I guess it’s  more like to be able to appreciate how things develop, and not forget where you started or how things once were.  For example, I get a lot of mail these days and sometimes it’s really really hard for me to write back the long letters that I would like to -- whether it be to an old friend, someone I’ve just met or maybe just someone that I want to get to know better.  And sometimes I get overwhelmed by it -- by the lack of time and focus. I always try to write back to everyone (even if it takes time) (just like I always try to review the records and zines I get); and I occasionally try to change my methods to really savor each and every piece of mail.  When I was living in a cabin for a few months with very little outside society stimulus  - my mail was shipped to me every few weeks and I had a great time opening it slowly and savoring each and every letter.  I could then respond with all the time in the world and it was a great time for me to be able to re-group.  Recently, I was reading through some of my journals from that time, and remember just how balanced and centered I was -- how my perception was so wide open that I took notice of everything -- the night sky, the quality of light, the plant life around me, the emotions of people around me.  And as my treadmill is grinding faster and faster, I’m realizing that I need to take a step back and get myself to a place where I can take notice of all these important things and really appreciate what is around me.  I want to live out of a backpack again and travel the country.  I want to take a few months off from everything to find my center point again.
    For those that read S&L on a regular basis and for those to whom this is like a letter from a friend -- there has been a lot happening in these past few months: the most important of which was the wedding!!  I think I underestimated just how much time and effort went into planning my own wedding.  However, the rewards of having celebrated such a monumental occasion completely on our own terms and at our own hands, are almost more than mere words can express.  As was only appropriate, our wedding was the ultimate in a do-it-yourself production.  We had a small wedding outside -- and thankfully the day was perfect.  It was so awesome to have so many of our good friends gathered to share in the celebration!  And the most amazing part of it all was that so many of those friends went so far out of their way to give their all towards making the celebration really fantastic!  The food production alone was mind-blowing.  Our friends volunteered their house, which was taken over by several days of around the clock preparation.  Neil has always been a master chef -- but man oh man, he really outdid himself!  What a production!!!   I think that it is literally the best feeling in the world to be in the middle of such an amazing thing -- to have so many of your friends there at your side full of support and dedication.  I’m not used to being in the center of attention; nor of asking for much, or expecting anything.  And everything that our friends did in order to help out with our festivities -- it was absolutely sensational!  The day went off without a hitch and everyone had a blast.  Cheezy as it might be, it was literally one of the best days of my life.
    After the celebration Erik and I took a week to drive around the back roads of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  We explored an area that I’ve been obsessed with for some time now, but have not really had the chance to spend time with.  We camped and photographed and stayed off the beaten path.  We went as far as Asheville NC -- which was everything that I expected it would be.  A hippie and artists eco-topia in the mountains.  It seems like ever since then, I’ve heard about a lot of people interested in Asheville, either going there or having been there and I’m telling you - like Portland OR, Asheville NC is going to become a new hot spot.  The fact that they are having punk shows there is enough to tell me that the small town is able to sustain a decent scene.  It was so nice to be in a place where vegetarian and vegan food is the norm.  Where the eco mindset is a given.  Where recycling was obvious.  Even the many free newspapers available throughout the town were full of earth-first like actions, critical mass reports, new age stuff,  and a general sense of environmental awareness and a thoughtful and compassionate -- (PC) mindset.  For all of the backlash against PC in recent years -- I got such a huge rush out of a place that seemed so full of putting into action the things that to me are important. I was way into Asheville and look forward to going back.  I’ve been finding all of these great things here in the area of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Not only is there really sensational natural beauty in these old hills -- but there seems to be all of these amazing resources.  For just about every interest I have -- I find that there is some central headquarters, or simply a dedicated individual to these various topics.  Things like herbal studies, working with nature devas, the integral yoga headquarters to name a few.  My friend Stephane says it’s cause there is magic in the mountains, and I have no doubt that is the case.  So as my wanderlust kicks in -- I feel compelled to explore “my backyard” which has so much to offer, rather than trekking to far away places.
    My garden has had a pretty rough time this year.  Due to my focus being on wedding plans, much of my energy was diverted away from the garden during the prime time of spring.  My herbs have exploded this year -- taking over the garden and thriving even in the poor conditions we have had.  Many of my vegetables got crowded out by my expanding herbs or have simply struggled with the drought and my lacking attention.  Now as the mid-summer heat has settled, it’s really hard for me to spend as much time outside with the plants as I would like.  And it’s also hard to remember that this is the time when little is thriving in the yard and the plants are struggling with the heat just like me.  I hate that I can’t enjoy being outside.  I’m eager to get on top of it all for the fall planting and figure out the timing for the greens to thrive.  And in the meantime I think that I’m going to dedicate some time to watching the phases of the moon, studying photographers, studying and talking to the plants, reading books just for fun, and embracing life without the demands of my personal treadmill. 
    Rock on.  Chris(tine)   7/99