Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I gotta rock...

Cross posted from: http://puttputtproductions.com/blogetary/2011/04/26/i-gotta-rock/

When I was a kid we lived down the street from the National Guard Armory. And every year they would have a rock and gem show and one of our family outings was to trek down to the armory and ooh and ah over all the pretty shined up rocks and then spend our allowance on the grab bag of rocks and see what we had when we got home. We loved that. One year I even got a rock polisher for my birthday or Christmas, but we only used it once or twice I think. The rocks ended up being so small when they came out.

The love of rocks runs strong in my family. We had pet rocks in the 70s. And every time we went on vacation or to the beach we’d come home with rocks in our pockets. I even have an aunt who, after years as a microbiologist/micologist, decided it was time to study geology. The study of – yup – rocks.

And I have many friends out there (you know who you are) who confess to that same love of the rock.

They come in so many colors and shapes and sizes. From pink, pebbly sand in Cabo to the granite in the Cascades. There’s just such a variety. Crystals and marbles and sandstone that’s easy to carve. You name it, it’s out there.

One of my favorite rocks, though, is the geode. Not pretty on the outside, when you look inside, it’s an abundance of crystalline divineness that sparkles and shines in the light of day. I used to say, when I was younger, that I wanted to make sure I found people like that as friends, to hang with and influence me. People who sparkled within, who had that creative, imaginative light, different in each person, that shone strong when opened to the world, no matter what they looked like on the outside.

I soon realized that there also people out there who were a lot like granite. They had quartz in them, they were pretty in the right light, but they were not surprising. They were the same through and through. I used to get frustrated when I realized someone was more like granite than a geode, but now I appreciate them more. They’re dependable. They’re always there. You can count on granite. That vein of quartz is going to be running throughout it’s structure. It might be hard to fall against, but it will also support you in times of trouble. Granite is good.

Lately, though, I’ve been realizing there is a third category – shale. Shale is made up of a number of things – crystal and rock, but mostly silt – hardened silt – in other words, mud. So, it will fool you, sitting there sparkling in the sun like granite or a geode or some other rock. And you think you’ve come upon something you know, that’s dependable, until you put all your weight on it and it … crumbles, slides, slips, skips, and before you know it you’ve twisted an ankle, broken your arm and your head and back and other places have mysterious bruises from your tumble down the shale. It takes a while for me, repeatedly making the same mistake sometimes, to realize that the rock I’m looking at is not good dependable granite, but slippery shale. And by the time I figure it out, I’ve fallen down the hill.

So, I’ve decided one of my birthday goals for the coming year is to recognize shale when I see it and walk around it. Avoid it, leave it behind. Move on to a better spot along the river or on the side of the mountain where the rock is more sturdy, more dependable, and certainly prettier.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It's not pretty...

Crossposted from: http://puttputtproductions.com/blogetary/2011/04/24/its-not-pretty/

Watching Robert Plant on Artists Den. The music is compelling, intricate, sophisticated and simple at once, heart- filled and intelligent at once. It's world class music. But look at those faces. See any botox there? Any "wen" shampoo? Any skin tight spandex or costumery ephemera? No. It's all pure personality, shining through craggy faces, wrinkled hands, wild hair and quirky clothing. There aren't any pretty young darlings here. These musicians are in it, and have been in it, for the long haul. They have poured themselves - their lives, hearts, minds and souls - into the one art that brings them joy, their music. They've sold their souls to their craft and have paid the price. Their music is gorgeous, but they aren't pretty.

You'll notice that's the way it is with many musicians out there who have careers that have spanned several decades: Elton John, Paul McCartney, Bonnie Raitt and others. Or take a look at artists and writers. Even stage actors. The better they get at their craft, the "uglier" they get by the world's standards. Their eyes have the creative spark. They are quirky, see the world from a different point of view still, exploring as much as they can to pour it into their craft while they're still on this planet. They have lots of personality that just leaps off of them when they enter a room. But they aren't the pretty young things they were when they began.

I have a theory. There was a time when they were pretty. Beautiful. Handsome. On every video channel. There was a time when they were the darlings - the hot Justin Biebers, Jonas Brothers, Lady Gagas, etc. of their time. This helped them catch the eye of the public or the manager or whomever until they could prove their talent, or until they grew into their talent. But that beauty wasn't really them. That beauty was a facade meant to fool the shallow media hungry world until it understood the talent underneath the facade. As more of their talent was revealed, more of the beautiful facade fell away, because the world no longer needed superficial beauty once the beauty of the talent - be it music, art or wordsmithing - was revealed. The more the true beauty beneath was revealed, the less the false beauty was needed.

At least, that's what I hope. Or it could be that I find as I grow older and have more crags on my face and wrinkles in my hands, that I prefer the talent of the "uglies" to the beauty and youth of the "pretties", that I resonate more with the depth of the message in the art and music and writing created from experience developed over many years to the quick, hot passion of the young, beauties just starting out.

I guess, over time, it won't matter, though. Because, those young pretties who have staying talent will, over time, lose the beauty on the surface to better show off the beauty of their talent. And then, eventually, they won't be pretty, anymore.