A few weeks ago, I was at Café Racer to celebrate the birthday of a good friend. I was not one you could call a “regular”, but I have played shows there, and been present for other shows my fair share of times. This would mark the first time I spent longer than a few minutes at Café Racer since Drew and Joe were killed there. From an emotional perspective, I was working through some heavy shit that day, and for about half hour there it was intense. The change in intenseness came from being upstairs looking through what has become a small memorial to those who were lost. Add to that some other stuff and it became a bit much. I spent a fair amount of time concealing my tears after this short visit, and it was tough. Public emotion is not a core competency of mine. I was raised, or rather picked up, the idea that it is a sign of “weakness”, which is fucking ridiculous if you think about it. Nevertheless, it is a source of embarrassment for me to let my emotions show publically – and largely privately as well – but I am slowly getting over that.
One of the big lessons I learned from Joe and Drew is that you need to be you, whoever and whatever you are. This could mean something different for everyone – but it is still a very powerful thing. I hate that I can never tell Joe and Drew in person how much they meant to me personally, musically, and creatively. Because of this, I have made some very tough decisions in my personal life around getting to the point of being ok with me. I have spent a huge amount of time analyzing many things about me, and have decided that I must deal with a ton of baggage no matter what the outcome. I have to be me, I have to be comfortable with me, and I have to be free to be me. Some of this is internal acceptance and some of this is external acceptance. I do not necessarily have to have others accept me, but I need to get over the idea that acceptance from others really matters, because it does not.
This push to deal with shit is a result of losing Joe and Drew, and realizing we just do not have time to deal with shit tomorrow. We just do not. None of us have the luxury of knowing we will be here tomorrow. If we think we will be around for the next 20 years, we are just being dishonest; the timeframe in which we are here is not set in stone, and not necessarily controlled by us.
By standing and crying in front of their memorial, I gained some clarity on a physical tribute, which I plan to make reality within the next few months. The tribute will center on their lyric, “…isn’t life a beautiful train wreck…”. I have spent a lot of time analyzing those few words since I first heard them several years ago. I also felt that what I was going through that day – outside of my grieving the loss of my friends – was the right thing to do. Hard, but right. Therefore, in that way, they were giving me strength, too. So I will continue down that path – scary as it is.
This morning, as I was getting ready for work, I was thinking about Joe. Shortly after his death I was reading some interviews that he did that were related to previous creative projects he had participated in. One particular part caught me, really held my attention, and made me think.
“You know one thing I have noticed about bands consisting of totally unique performers who possess a high caliber of musicianship and intensely original creativity also possesses an abundance of flakiness and unreliability, and regrettably an enormously unfailing desire to fail.”
I have always told myself that what Joe described was not who I am. However, I have also come to realize that I have worked with that person; I have also been that person more times than I would like to admit. However, it is also a person I do not want to be, not ever. What he said also reminds me of one of the Four Agreements:
BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
Joe and Drew gave me many gifts while they were with us. Now they are no longer physically here, I have realized there are more. These gifts have helped get me to the point of my new goal:
To die knowing that I have no regrets, I was true to myself, and that those who I love will know it. That is it. Nothing else matters. Love, family (blood or not), and honesty are what matter to me now.
This is another way I can thank Joe and Drew for being great examples of living with love, appreciating their chosen family, and living honestly and free. In doing so, they showed me that it is ok to be that too.
Joe and Drew – thank you!!!!!! Thank you for everything you have given to me that you were not aware of. I love you both. I miss you. Every. Fucking. Day.