First of all, I would like to thank everyone for all of the kind words and messages in regards to last week's blog. I wasn't expecting the avalanche of well wishes and am glad Lucy could reach out and touch all of you as well. So, from everyone in the Olson/Wheat/Miller/Stoner clan, I thank you.
I do have a little bit of business to get out of the way here too. Congrats to Simone Everly, our giveaway winner from two weeks ago. Your book is in the mail! Also, the .pdf version of Ma'iitso Rises is now available in the SHOP section of the website. This week only it will be on sale for $2.99! That's an entire, full length novel for wayyyyyyy less than three dollars!
ONTO THE BLOG!!!!!!!!!!!
I love music, but I don't watch the grammy's. I very much like movies, but I don't watch the Oscars. It seems that a large percentage of the time my own personal tastes have absolutely nothing to do with who wins or loses at that sort of thing. Probably because they all take into account a bunch of stupid politics whereas I mostly just like stuff that is awesome. I mean, EVERYONE in the music industry thought that Nirvana's In Utero sucked when they first heard it, and that album RIPS. So, when I woke up the other day and read that Matthew Mcconaughey (I did have to look up how to spell his name) won the Oscar for best actor I was strangely proud, like my big brother had just done something really super sweet.
You see, I kind of feel like old Matthew and I have done a little bit of growing up together. Even today if someone asks me how I'm doing there is a pretty decent chance I'll answer, l-i-v-i-n. (There's also a chance I'll say "You know, strikes and gutters", but that has nothing to do with Matty Mc C and a lot to do with The Duder. Maybe another blog...) Anyway, I remember seeing Dazed and Confused for the first time at a friend's house when I was a senior in high school on VHS. After that, another friend of mine got a copy and we used to watch that movie incessantly. I'm pretty sure he put it in every night before he went to bed. Set in 1976, it was a story about the last day of school before summer vacation and the trials and tribulations of growing up. Wooderson (Matty Mc C, I feel like we're close enough for me to call him that) was an iconic character in that film and I've probably seen it no less than a hundred times since. The post high school David Wooderson with the thick Texas drawl is a grownup trapped in the past with a bunch of great one liners. "It'd be a lot cooler if you did." "That's what I love about these high school girls, man. They get older. I stay the same age." "Love those redheads." "Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey. Watch the leather, man." "You just gotta keep livin man. L-I-V-I-N", and of course "Alright. Alright. Alright."
It always seems like my good buddy Matty is at his best when using that Texas drawl, and it also seems like any time I see him winning something or just being himself he kind of reverts into David Wooderson. Although he's moved on and played a lot of different characters over the years, it just kind of feels like that's who he actually is. A hard workin, hard playin, young man from the south who drives a seriously fine American muscle car. I actually took the time to listen to his Oscar acceptance speech the other night, and although I've never met the man I could relate well to his speech, especially the part about who his hero is. Its something I've kind of thought about myself over the years when people say their hero is God, or their Dad, or their Mom etc. etc., and those answers aren't bad. They are in fact great answers and if that is who, in your heart, you really strive to be, then so be it.
I myself, though, lean more toward the mindset of Matty McC. Every day I'm trying to be a better version of myself. Every day I'm pushing myself to do something new, or learn something difficult. I use the fantastic examples of my mother and father and others, but it would be hard to pinpoint one actual hero. It's more like a conglomerate of heroes. In ten years, I just want to be better than I am today, and I realize that over the years my goals as a person have changed drastically, and that is kind of awesome. If we all set a goal or measure of success, and then reach it, then we just kind of stagnate. It's not about money. It's not about fame. It's not about others perceived vision of your own successes. It's about becoming better every day, staying true to yourself, and striving for what drives you from deep within. For me, it's a lot of things. I, quite literally, would like to know how to do just about everything.
When I say everything, that's what I mean. If the power steering pump goes out on the Durango and I've never fixed one of those before, well, then it's high time I learned. If I need electricity at a remote location, well, then it's time I sit down and read up on alternative energy solutions. If the drain in the kitchen is screwed up, well, then it's time to take an entire wall apart, rip up half the kitchen, replace the broken piece, and then be glad that I already know how to redo all of the drywall, tiles, and re-install the cabinets, sinks, outlets, plumbing etc. If I would like to run a remote server from a backup laptop at my house that I can remotely access via the web from any location, well, then I guess it's a good thing I know how to use Google. If someone wants to know how they can record their full band live in their basement for less than $1000 and have it actually sound decent. I could probably help with that. If I decide that I want to write a book, and then another, and then another at the same time, all while starting a publishing company, that kind of turns into a media company, then I'm going to try my hardest to do just that, and do it well. The list could go on forever and it always seems to evolve.
A while back I jammed with a couple of young men. During this session, at different times, I played the drums, bass, guitar, and sang. When we finished one of them asked me this. "Man! How did you learn to play everything so well like that!" The answer was pretty simple and it is the same thing I tell my kids when they are learning to read, or do math flash cards or whatever. Practice. Hours upon hours of practice. Am I a big rich rockstar? Nope. Do I even make a living off of music? Nope. That's not really the point, though. The point is that it's a set of skills on which I've spent thousands of hours and countless sums of energy to be competent, and it feels good. What drives me and keeps me going is that I haven't learned it all yet. I'm not even close, and for that, I'm grateful. When I'm an old man I want to be able to look back on my life and say "I did everything I did to the best of my ability and fought every day to do it better the next." Until then, I'll defer to my good friend Matty McC "You just gotta keep livin man. L-I-V-I-N. Alright. Alright. Alright."
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