Wednesday, March 28, 2018

What a ride

by Dietrich Kalteis

Wish list for the next ten years of your life. 

Making it through the next ten years should be at the top of anybody’s list. But, let’s take that as a given. How I live those years is the key to it.

“Some people will tell you that slow is good – but I’m here to tell you that fast is better. I’ve always believed this, in spite of the trouble it’s caused me. Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube.” — Hunter S. Thompson

Sometimes fast, sometimes slow and sometimes a happy medium. Life’s about finding a balance, and at the end of it I want have done everything worth doing. And I want to have fun doing it. They say laughter keeps us healthy, so tell me a joke or put on The Big Lebowski, or Tracey Ullman doing Angela Merkel, or one of George Carlin’s standup rants.

It’s about being with people that light me up, like my wife and son, family and friends. And it’s about surrounding myself with what influences and inspires me. Aside from those special people, I’m influenced and inspired by art. There’s soul in a Kandinsky painting, the essence of Paris at night in a Brassa├», and magic in those unguarded moments captured on Vivian Maier’s streets. There are the songs of Tom Waits, the groove of Miles Davis, and the orchestrations of Tchaikovsky. And there are those great film performances like Gary Oldman’s in The Darkest Hour, and Frances McDormand’s in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.

Now and then I like to paint, or I take my camera for a walk, looking for something that catches my eye. It’s interesting how many artists explore other creative forms. Bob Dylan paints, Patti Smith writes and explores the visual arts, and Picasso wrote poetry. Billy Bob Thornton and Jeff Bridges have cut albums. Juliette Lewis sings punk, Clint Eastwood plays jazz piano, and Meatloaf and Tom Waits have starred in films. 

Sometimes I dust my guitar more than I play it — I admit I’m better at the listening than the playing but it’s fun anyway. And I’m inspired by all kinds of music. I’ve always got an album playing when I’m working on my stories. As I’m writing this, I’m listening to Robert Plant sing “Carry Fire.” Just awesome. 

Norman Mailer was asked what art form he thought a novelist was closest to, and he answered acting. “Because it’s the same work. A novelist and an actor have to know how to inhabit characters.”
Aside from paintings, photos and music, I find inspiration in the pages of great novels like Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead, or Margaret Atwood’s Hag-Seed, or The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. There are so many great books to keep me reading for the next ten years. 

Life’s a balance, and if I just sit around writing, reading and playing music, I become dull, so I’ve got to step away from my desk occasionally and get together with family and friends, share a meal or a bottle of wine, got to a party or partake in festive occasions, or take my wife and my two left feet dancing. And sometimes it’s good to push myself and try something I’ve never done — like zip-lining. 

Traveling and visiting places I haven’t been are on the list. They’ve got beaches in Bora Bora, architecture in Rome, restaurants in Paris, pilsner in Munich. What fun to blast a sports car down an Autobahn (although not after the beer in Munich). There are many places I want to see over the next decade, so the key is not to put it off, just plan it and go, because if not now, when?

But it doesn’t always have to be big. The best things in life are free, right? Simple pleasures like walking along the Seawall, feeding the birds, patting a dog, finding a parking spot right where I need one, making that yellow light, enjoying a good cup of coffee, and watching buds turn to blooms. 

I love what I’ve got going on, spending time in a made-up world with my imaginary friends part of the time, and living large in the real one the rest of the time. Yeah, give me ten more years of that.


Paul D. Marks said...

You make so many good points, Dieter, and I agree with pretty much everything you said. Good piece.

RJ Harlick said...

I'll toast to that. Inspriation and balance, two important recipes for living well. Great post, Dietrich.

Susan C Shea said...

Good post. Loved seeing a Kandinsky painting make it into a CM essay...