When I graduated from college I was a mess. I left UC San Diego with a degree in visual arts and moved in with mom. She lived in Los Angeles. Slowly but surely I stopped rolling cigarettes and the craving for hallucinogens and speed eventually faded. I found work as a security guard but I spent the graveyard shift smoking reefer and sipping pints. Long cold nights in the VW Rabbit, writing big ideas on a tiny notepad, patrolling the scene with only a Maglite 5D for protection. Mom almost bought a Dobermann to keep me company. She was worried. Got a battery powered black and white TV instead. Crap reception mostly. So I would reread what I wrote. Here's an actual note-to-self from 1986:
Character 1 - "Yes, I made dinner. It's chicken. I hope you like chicken."
Character 2 - "Chicken. I like chicken. Chicken is good.”
(Montage of chicken bones with small amounts of moist meat still hanging on. As you see the image of the chicken bones we hear...)
Character 1 - "You like chicken? Shit, you'd kill for chicken."
So yeah. Thankfully mom's landlord knew a guy that worked in Hollywood. I got the job as a set PA on "Kids Incorporated" and writing copy for the music video show, "Night Tracks." Mom was less worried now and she moved out of Los Angeles and settled in a small town called Springville. By this time I was living in Silverlake with my good friend James. I kept up the PA work for awhile until I landed a job as an assistant production accountant on the "Father Dowling Mysteries" in 1990. I didn't see that coming. But then I worked on another show as an assistant and then another and then another and by 1995 I had moved to NYC to be the production accountant on "New York Undercover." Oh my god, is this happening to me, will I ever be an artist? I was afraid of my fate. But then I worked on another show as the accountant and then another and then another and then it was 2016.
But let's back up for a second. I was lying in bed with my friend Kat staring at the ceiling. It was my last year in San Diego and we passed our time doing acid, smoking bowls and drinking beers. Kat asked me if I ever meditated. I gave her a long-winded no. But she got me curious. I consider that day lying in that bed with that woman in that city the beginning of my meditation training. When I eventually left San Diego I had a misty vision for myself. I was going to be a visual artist and meditation was destined to show me the way.
I imagined my future every day I drove around LA delivering scripts and picking up lunch at Le Dome. I kept writing. A friend turned me on to the Siddha Yoga Meditation Center in Santa Monica. I participated in a huge group meditation session with Gurumayi at the Shrine Auditorium. I kept dreaming. I discovered Lilias, Yoga and You on PBS. She taught me yoga as I prepared for another day at the office processing accounts payable and auditing petty cash. I took photos. I bought a piano. I created soundtracks. I kept writing. I bought an HD video camera. I made simple movies. I learned how to process payroll, prepare a budget, apply for a tax credit. I kept writing. I was meditating 12 hours a day now. I slept the rest. When someone didn't get their check on time I was meditating. When I grossly miscalculated a production overage I was meditating. And when I say meditating I don't mean smoking weed. I was really meditating. Definitely jacked up on coffee but breathing deeply and moving forward, solving problems, being mindful. I got frustrated. I hated everybody. But I loved everyone. I learned how to paint with oils. I shared my art on social medias. I'd work until 2am perfecting cost reports. I sexted. I stopped eating chicken. I kept making art. And then it was 2016.
When I moved to Lynchburg with my partner Dee I relied on meditation to say goodbye to a city I cherished for two decades, to acknowledge a profession I depended on for 25 years, to rent a truck, to pack a hundred boxes, to throw away a heap of useless and to drive to a town I basically knew nothing about. But our apartment on Main Street. What a dream. It was all the inspiration I needed (besides a thousand tiny kisses every day) to take another photo, to do another downward dog, to just be at the piano, to write, to believe.
When the Bower Center for the Arts offered me a blank wall to express myself I turned to a trusted friend. A companion that allowed me to appreciate the past. An awareness that gave me the courage to acknowledge my fears yet move forward. Meditation showed me the way.
This is Perpetual Tea, or, Preparing Our Minds for Anything.