Coffee: Organic Bolivian Blend, Trader Joe’s Brand; Oh it’s great! It’s sunny, but not in that obnoxious way, more like the best sun in Winter, where you wake up expecting to shiver out of your pajamas but then you pull the curtains and feel your skin prick for the first time since early December. Highly recommend.
July 2013 had me in Petoskey, MI. About a century before that, Hemingway had it instead, and so I took the town at first not knowing the heritage, falling in love with the quaint downtown and brick community college (dreams of teaching there that are still just dreams) and a pretty girl who was working part time in a pie-shop with white flour in her hair and then a stormy pier on Lake Michigan with cold, cold water that talked to the weakest parts in me and asked me to jump. I didn’t jump – and if I had, it wouldn’t have hurt me. It was a ten foot drop – but I’d be lying if I said the thought of dying didn’t stalk the back of my mind. Only after the pier did I read up on the town and when I saw it was still haunted by Hemingway my fatal thoughts made sense.
There’s a parasitic force in Art that tells you to suffer. Too many idols took the easy end of a double-barrel like Hemingway. I believed for a while that happiness meant bad writing and I have dear friends who’ve bought the same cheap story. I don’t know where the source is, if it’s something about the personality prone to artists or something in a culture that likes to vicariously suffer, but it’s a real phenomenon. Thankfully, I’ve been enough of a failure at committing myself to the downward spiral that I’ve aged and grown and worked and matured and now I’ve come to realize that the real ingredients to good art are consistency, composure, a little cynicism, and – yes – happiness. To any fellow artist reading this, I encourage you to spit out the line the world’s been trying to feed you and find something grittier, harder, more long-lasting to chew.
July 2013 had me in Petoskey. I was brokenhearted and desperate. From beyond a coward’s grave, Hemingway bobbed in the cold Michigan water. I don’t know why I turned around but I’m glad I did. He can have the hell that waits for him. I’m happy to live longer and find the more elusive path to health and good art.
The Pardoner’s Tale, by John Wain
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“You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.” – Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises