I have a friend who killed himself. And not long before he did the deed, he told me he "married well."
I know, I know, that seems like a non sequitur. Kind of like turning on your computer and finding out Tony Scott jumped off a bridge. What did Joni Mitchell sing, "We all live so close to that line and so far from satisfaction"?
But Joni was on a search for truth. Taylor Swift is on a search for fame.
I don't know if she called her new album "Red" because I told her in a phone call to listen to Joni's "Blue." And I really don't need to piss Ms. Swift off more than I already have, but what I find so fascinating is Taylor Swift blinked. Fearful of losing her fame, her power, her place on the hit parade, she collaborated with the hitmakers du jour. And so what we've got is a bouncy, idiotic song cowritten by Max Martin and Shellback that will go up the charts but not make a bit of difference. Yes, "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is a hit. A certified one. But it's completely meaningless.
Hell, watch this video:
Instead, we've got the mainstream media trying to figure out who she wrote the song about, as if it'll solve global warming, end the war in Afghanistan and give free health care to all. Ain't that America. Where it's only about the diversion.
I live for "Newsroom."
We all need something to live for. Something to look forward to, that keeps us going. Once life becomes meaningless, we end it. And that's unthinkable. Maybe Tony Scott had inoperable brain cancer, in retrospect my friend had undiagnosed bipolar disorder and was in the throes of a bummer of a depression, but for the rest of us, what are we living for?
Are we living to follow Snooki?
Are we living to accumulate so many toys we'll be the envy of our block?
I'm here to tell you one thing… Nobody else cares. You're so alone you've got no idea. See if they're talking about Tony Scott next week. People haven't got time for the past, only for the future.
And I thought about what my friend had to say because I was reading this book "Mr. Peanut," and the main character was married to someone from a bad background. who had no friends, and I asked myself…is this what love's about? Does life have to be this hard? Do you have to endure the mental illness of another?
We all want someone we can count on. Someone who can dot the i's and cross the t's and won't abandon us.
But on "Newsroom," Mac abandoned Will. Well, not exactly. She rushed into the arms of Brian, because Brian had rejected her and now he wanted her back.
That's an irresistible pull.
Have you been dumped?
To say it doesn't feel good is a gross understatement. You never get over it. Not if you were married, not if you stood up in front of friends and family and swore in front of clergy that it was forever. All you've got is unanswered questions. You review every detail of your behavior…did you cause it to happen?
Usually it's got nothing to do with you. It's all about the other person. But as much as you hear that, it doesn't penetrate, it doesn't sink in.
So I'm reading the Middlebury alumni magazine and they're hyping a book. Entitled "Leaving Sophie Dean." And it's my kind of tome, it's all about relationships. But when I go on Amazon, despite an almost five star average, it's only got sixteen reviews. Mmm… Were those written by the author, by friends and family?
We're all suspicious now.
When I told this story to my shrink today he asked me if I'd read that article in the "New Yorker," about the marathoning dentist who pulled a Rosie Ruiz… ( http://nyr.kr/Qn86AQ )
You see none of us want to feel left out. We all want to feel important.
Not everybody can be important.
So I started reading "Sophie Dean," the sample chapter, but I was reluctant to buy it, not because I was afraid of losing ten bucks, but because I didn't want to lose that much time, it was all about plot and there was very little meaning.
So I went through my sample list and settled on "Mr. Peanut," recommended by an author friend of mine and a subscriber.
It's two years old.
That's what people don't realize about music. New is irrelevant. It's what lasts. And today everything's available. When will it be discovered?
I could not put "Mr. Peanut" down. If I tell you anything, I'll ruin it. Then again, I've never heard environmental threats described so well. Getting caught in the undertow. Hiking a trail so narrow you're too scared to go forwards or backwards.
And I'd recommend it.
But it's not easy.
Everybody wants everything easy and dumb. They want the trophy without any work. And if you don't give it to them, they cry like a baby. They want to be rich and famous, they want all the accoutrements, when the real story is they wouldn't make them happy anyway.
Happiness is about experiences. Reading "Mr. Peanut." Watching "Newsroom."
And "Newsroom" has been trashed by the critics. Because it's not what they want it to be. Fair and balanced, safe, pabulum. "Newsroom" is about truth. Can you handle the truth?
The truth is this is your one and only life. Don't screw it up.
If you're feeling safe in your twenties, the ditch is right around the corner.
If you've got no answers at that age, don't worry, things will become clear.
Health is everything. You live long enough and you know this.
As are relationships, both love and friendship. Without others, you've got nothing.
And we live for art, for story and feeling. And when we find something great, something exquisite, we tell everybody about it.
I'm telling you about "Newsroom" because there are some truths in politics. There aren't two sides to every story.
And I'm telling you about "Mr. Peanut" because a book should be more than the story, it should be about life, and "Mr. Peanut" is.
And life is complicated. Full of choices.
Don't be afraid to admit you were wrong. Don't be afraid to retrace your steps and chart a new course. Don't be afraid to change direction, just because you've invested in the path you're on.
We're human beings. We're complicated. One day we're up, the next we're down, and we don't always know why. If your life is smooth, you're doing it wrong, if you never feel uncomfortable, you're not taking any risk.
I'm trying to figure it all out. And it gets harder as you get older. Because you lose your optimism and you see how hard it is to accomplish anything. When you're sixteen you want to be a professional athlete, a movie director and an author. Get old enough and you find it's almost impossible to do one thing.
Sweat the small stuff. Don't let the little things slide. Life is only about the little things. Whether it be the design of the iPhone or the way that girl in Biology catches your eye and lets it linger, doesn't turn away immediately. Pay attention to the details. They'll help you crack the code.
Not everything is good. Not everything is worthwhile. Not everyone makes it.
And if you want none of the above, that's cool.
But if you want to accomplish something, anything, know that it's damn difficult and you're on a solo trip and even though you're going for the grand prize the reward is the journey. Because it can end any minute. And although the solution is satisfying, it's the puzzle that's thrilling.
"Mr. Peanut": http://amzn.to/NgA4qW
Joni Mitchell "Song For Sharon": http://bit.ly/49NYfg
Taylor Swift "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together": http://vevo.ly/ND3wc9