Sex, Writing and Rock & Roll
You know when it’s good.
The hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Your skin tingles with excitement. Your head is buzzing, humming with anticipation. You feel everything with increased intensity. You feel alive. Electric. You don’t want it to end. The intensity of the moment washes over you, leaving you exhilarated. You savor the moment… sweet relief.
Yes, it was good. You found it, that sweet spot. Everything just flowed. It was effortless. It was just… right.
With a deep sigh you close your laptop and tell yourself you’ll edit another day. When you’ve come down from your high.
These are the moments a writer lives for. It’s the moments when passion and feeling take over. You’re not writing with your mind. Your soul has opened up and laid itself bare. Sacrificial bits scattered on the floor.
There’s a piece of you pulsing in the words that are strewn across the page. Sometimes it’s something you didn’t even realize was there, buried deep inside of you. But it found it’s way to the surface.
And it feels amazing. Today, you made something.
Great writing. Mind blowing sex. Amazing art. Soul shaking music. They are all generated by the same thing…
Passion. Unhinged, fire-breathing, life-affirming passion.
These are the things we live for. The things that only see the light of day when we let our guard down. The things that we replay in our mind. The things we relish and savor and hold close.
It’s these things that we’re constantly seeking. Whether we’re aware of it or not. We want to feel, to be inspired, to be moved. It’s an unconscious quest as we trudge through life. In the midst of the obligations and the day to day, we’re all looking for that spark. We’re all looking for something more, something to give us hope or joy or purpose.
But sometimes… sometimes it gets stifled. Sometimes we worry about the outcome. We get mired down in the what if’s and the what will they think’s. We try to fit into a formula or something akin to “acceptable.” And that’s where we lose it. That’s where we fold submissively and passively into the faceless crowd. Another voice muffled in the din.
Fuck that noise.
If you’re looking to fit in or repeat something that’s been done time and time again, don’t even bother. There are plenty of you to be had. But know this, the world is borne of rebels and misfits. Avant gard and anarchy. These are the planters of the seeds of change and progress and the acquiescing is better left to the followers. These are the things people yearn for. Why give them stale when you can give them fresh? Why give them predictable when you can surprise them? Why give them bland when you can give them something that curls their toes? Why give them Top 40 when you can give them a whole new sound?
Cause here’s the thing… they can be amazing. These things that we seek. They are the things that can turn your world upside down. Or they can be just… there. Stagnant and stale and… yaaaaawwwwn.
We’ve all been there. We’ve witnessed or been exposed to things that inspire us. Or we’ve been eagerly anticipating, only to be left wanting. Let down with a dull thud.
Last year I witnessed it on a grand scale. A stark contrast of lethargic apathy and engulfing intensity. Lana Del Rey was due to take the stage on day two of a weekend music festival. As the sun was setting, people were anxiously crammed up against the concert barriers. Anticipation was thick in the air. As we were waiting for the show to start we watched fans being carried out by security. Victims of the late summer heat and too much excitement. I’m not a big Lana fan, but I was looking forward to the show. The energy of the crowd infected me and had me buzzing.
Lana took the stage and humbly took in the adulation as the crowd erupted into screams and excitement. She took a minute to thank the crowd and blow kisses and mouth sweet sentiments to her fans. And that was the last real moment of her performance. The rest was just… there. It was scripted, every movement, every word. Right down to her lighting a cigarette in the middle of a song. The crowd became more quiet with each song. You could feel the audience deflating and almost hear the whoosh of energy evaporating like a puddle on a summer sidewalk. We left mid way through her set in search of a cold beer and another band.
But the night before? The night before had been one of the most electrifying performances I’d ever seen. Jack White took the stage and immediately ripped a song to shreds. The large crowd grew as the night raged on, the energy had the crowd jumping and singing in unison. It was raw. Real. Gritty. Everything you want a live rock performance to be. Jack White lost a little of his mind on that stage that night. And whatever demons he was exorcising were played out in fierce and glorious fury. By the end of the show I was euphoric. My feet and legs ached from moving to the music. My voice raw from singing and screaming. I was intoxicated by the show. I didn’t even have my typical post-concert blues. I was riding high on witnessing and feeling something rare and beautiful.
Sweet jesus, when it’s good, it’s so good. It’s transports you. It invigorates you. Leaves you breathless. It leaves you wanting more. Needing just a little more.
But when it’s bad? It’s excruciating. Tedious. Boring. Anticlimactic. You stare at the ceiling waiting for it to be over or you check your watch or you skim a page without even reading. It’s not worth the time or the effort. I can’t dance if I’m not into a song. I refuse to finish a book or an article or a blog post if it doesn’t grip me. I can’t stay in a relationship once I know it’s done. The idea of putting time into something that doesn’t excite and entice is almost repulsive to me.
I’ve never been good at faking it.
Because there’s nothing worse than something that should be earth-shaking being ho-hum. The let down drops you hard and fast, startling you into frustration and agitation. The lack of stimulation singes your senses. You’re left with the mundane. A Lana Del Ray on quaaludes shuffling lifelessly through lackluster songs. Yet another Katy Perry song on the radio. A detached lover who goes through the motions. Disappointment and dissatisfaction step in where thrill and excitement should have been.
Sex and writing, art and music… when driven by passion they reach down into the deepest parts of us and awaken feelings we forgot we had. They make us feel completely, blissfully alive. They leave our mouth open in slack-jawed wonder. And it’s glorious and beautiful. Otherwise, why do it?
Why do something worthwhile if it’s going to be flat. Formulaic. Boring. Who has time for that? I’ve no time for flat sex, boring art or tired music. I want to scream out, to be challenged, to feel music and words and touch coursing through me and firing up the parts of my brain and heart that hunger for something real. I want to be challenged and to think. I don’t want to be humored or placated. Don’t tell me what I already know.
I want to see people alive. Diving head first into the unknown. Exploring new waters. Fearless and free.
So don’t hold back. Find your passion. Dig for it, search for it and let it loose. Unleash it and throw away all doubts of failure or condemnation. Write free. Make art that no one has ever made before. Compose a song that will save the souls of the hurting. Whatever it is that you do, do it fully and wholeheartedly. Speak your truth. Say the words others don’t dare say. Let go of inhibitions and fear. Allow yourself to be and do what it is you were put here to do. Wreck yourself with abandon. Let your skin ripple into a million bumps of pleasure. Whip your hair around and let them all think you’re crazy. Let them think it. Who cares? Because you are alive right now.
Whether you are making art or making music or making love, do it so that you feel alive. Skeptics and critics and naysayers be damned. Don’t water it down. Don’t temper it. Don’t try to dump ashes on your fire. Some may balk. They may judge or scorn. Who cares? They’re just scared of the heat. Not everyone can handle the real and the unrestrained. That’s ok. You’re not doing this for them. You’re doing it because you need it. It satisfies your need for something more than a mundane and predictable life.
Let them have their simple and safe.
You weren’t built for that.
You were built for passion.
“Can’t stop the spirits when they need you,
This life is more than just a read through.”
-Red Hot Chili Peppers, Can’t Stop