Twelve Foot Ninja is a small collection of vastly creative musicians. They hold a highly electric and inspirational place in my heart. Their new and highly anticipated album, Outlier, was released late last month and I have been in a state of vivid mental cataclysm ever since.
DISCLAIMER: Oh my golly goodness, disclaimer! I get very passionate in this one. So, please, I beg you, be mindful of adult language. If you are not at a stage where you can receive this, I implore you to skip this one.
And we're away!
Musically, this album grabs me by the ears, looks me in the eyes and sends forth wave after wave of unadulterated intensity. However, I am not a musician and I do not claim to know anything about time signatures or any other music terminology (seriously, "time signatures" seems to be the only lingo that comes to mind at present) to be able to give the sound any justice. But, honestly... empowering, engaging, breathtaking.
Lyrically, however! Damn, man! This is something I have to relinquish my hold on and share with you.
I have discovered, over the last week, that it is the words that are resonating at such a high frequency within me. Please, do your best to navigate through my tangled concepts that are to follow. I fear I am not going to clearly explain my interpretation and thoughts of the tale being told. And, in true Nicky Tuesday fashion, this post is my interpretation of what I'm experiencing. The images and feelings that are being conjured are my own. I do not claim to know the thought process of the lyricist, Mr. Kin Etik.
Right, a wee bit of background on what I drew from TFN's previous album, Silent Machine. This story (music and lyrics entwined) made me feel like I was preparing for a war that I had to face alone. The outcome of winning or losing was irrelevant. My journey from the wounded fledgling to the ultimate warrior was all that mattered. I was fixated on becoming, not only stronger than my enemy, but truly invincible. The track "Mother Sky" roused me from my sleeping-state and I completely surrendered everything I was, am and will be, over to a higher power.
This being said, I found Silent Machine, for me, to be more of an internal discovery. It was the catalyst for my awakening. Being mindful and aware of my potential, but not truly connected with the greater force of the Universe. I felt very much within my own head, getting to grips with my past, present and all emotion that felt so raw within me.
Outlier is the next stage in my evolution. I am being released from the ties that bind me to the physical plane of existence, and I'm allowing myself to be open to the infinity of the Universe.
I won't go over each track on the album, otherwise I will be sure to outstay my welcome. So, allow me to expand on a few songs, snippets and succulent morsels of awesomeness that held great power, in order to give you an idea of what it all means for me.
Invincible - This song had me at hello. And, at first, I had no idea why.
It describes the tale of my ascent to the top of a mountain I have been fighting my way up for as long as I can remember. Through trials with people I've encountered, battles with the self, and the dire need to become something more than what I am, I finally reach my goal only to find I haven't even left home.
"I fought a mountain,
And believed that I had won.
When I reached the top,
There was another mountain,
Blocking the sun."
When listening to this song initially, I must confess, I felt quietly superior about what was being conveyed to me. There is a line that very genuinely and modestly shares "I did not expect to lose. I never thought I'd find wisdom in being the fool." I have always told myself that I am the fool. Therefore, I am open to every lesson that the Universe affords me. How fucking self-righteous I was.
This song now serves as a reminder: I am currently in this state of feeling invincible. In my arrogance, I have convinced myself that I can never be knocked down because I am already on my knees. Acknowledging this, I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. Yes, I have developed a skill of finding blessings in the resistance I feel towards any given situation or person that causes me discomfort, but I also recognise that I have lead myself into a place of being vulnerable to the elements. Which, in itself, perpetuates the cycle of self-realisation, enlightenment and fear all over again.
Post Mortem - This ties in perfectly with what I have just (hopefully) expressed to you.
Every time you fall,
Better to give everything,
Or nothing at all."
This is even at the risk of being overcome. Because, honestly, what is the God damn point of anything if we don't give it our all? If we want something, let's put our whole heart and soul into it. Commit to it. Be truly present and honest with what we feel and think. For each of us to own our existence. We can then be clear and direct with others, being humble in our vulnerability, as we open ourselves to interact sincerely with those around us.
This life isn't about half-asked questions, manipulating answers, or even about what we can gain. Life does not start and end with us. Energy is in a constant state of change. The mind may wander, the body may die, but we are just pieces of a great and intricate picture. One that will never, and I mean ever, come to its completion.
"Nobody's here for too long,
It's just a breath,
It's just a song,
And in the end,
No right from wrong,
You'll find it didn't matter."
So, what's the point of it all? Does my life mean anything? What's the purpose for my being, if nothing I do matters?
Which leads me to...
Point Of You
I will never have the ability to fully transmit the magnitude of this song. Every word holds such a fierce resonance in me that it physically causes me to cease breathing.
In a nutshell, and I mean a nutshell so grotesque in appearance that one can only fathom what the hell is at its core, this chapter reminds me of the connection I have with all things. How each of us is interwoven with one another, that the Universe isn't something "out there" but within us. Although it is hidden from sight, it is something colossal, infinite and, at times, quite tangible. It is a force each of us can tap into. If we are awakened to our collective consciousness, we can speak our truth. We are only on this earth, in this form, for a fleeting moment. But we are still, and each, integral parts of all existence.
"Point Of You" is my "Mother Sky" of Outlier. I am fully present in this stage of my awakening. I no longer wish or need to conform to my own limiting thoughts of "me." The point of me is that I am all of us. What I see in you is in direct correlation with my own being. Where I've been, what I've done, what I will do. If I find something beautiful in you, guaranteed, I have it within myself. If there is something in you that causes me displeasure, resistance, or if I just think you're a right cunt, there is obviously something in me that requires my attention.
And the stars,
They could never be bigger,
Any bigger than you are."
Like I said: nutshell.
The last track I'd like to touch on is Adiós.
This one is... actually. This one genuinely breaks my heart.
The story is one wrought with something that I can only describe as frustration, mutilated acceptance and the last dregs of cold fury. I feel so much hatred from these words that, when I focus on them, I am brought to tears.
Centre of the universe,
This is my last song for you.
I know I have, and am, experiencing very similar feelings. To want to wash one's hands of someone because they are an energetic blackhole of despair and self-pity. The damage they've caused seems irreparable and the fact that they are completely oblivious to it conjures such a filthy anger within me that I want to vomit.
I feel such sadness from this because of the very reasons I mentioned in "Point Of You." The interconnected nature that is our existence only goes to show me that I am still at the base of the mountain. I am not ready to let go of this anger. And, until I am, I will never be free to see the sun.
The casual sign-off of "adiós" only confirms to me that I'm not ready.
But I will be. Given time.
Thank you so much for staying with me through this. If you have any questions, comments or would just genuinely like a chat about all things, I welcome you. Whatever the nature of conversation. We are each on our journey of self-discovery and, I for one, would like to be active in the adventure. Regardless of how challenging the road becomes, I will never stop.
"When I could abandon hope,
I still search for you.
I still look for you."
Keep it real, kids.
Straight up; this isn't like my usual posts. Although, this is something I feel particularly passionate about. All I ask is that you, please, take the time to read these words with an open mind and an open heart.
So here it goes...
Big words, I know. And I completely appreciate their weight. However, I am not about to discuss the gravity of everything that these two words mean to me. I won't talk about my dreams of seeing the battle of the sexes abolished, in favour for a balance of the sexes on a global scale. I would simply like to tell you of a local barber shop, just trying to do their bit for the lads of Adelaide.
Robbie's Chop Shop, quoted to be "The Last Male Sanctuary," resides on King William Road in Hyde Park. On the surface, it is a place where guys can go to get there hair cut and their face shaved. Easy, yeah? No. This establishment is limited to the more masculine sex. No women allowed.
I know, right? Dun-dun-duuuuuuun!! How can I possibly sleep at night knowing that there is a place where I am not welcome? That I cannot freely walk in, with my hard earned money, and pay for a service. All because I have a vagina?! What is this world coming to?
If you just had a "you tell 'em, girl!" moment, I will ask you to refrain. Robbie, and his faithful crew of amazing young men, have worked hard to provide a space that is purely for the boys. It is a place where men can go, hang out and take some time for themselves. Where they can feel safe to be who they are, free from judgement.
Look, let's face it (and I may just be speaking from my heterosexual view point, here) the dynamic between men changes when in the presence of women. Their behaviour becomes more subdued. Stifled, if I may say. I see a change in the behaviour of women when the situation is reversed. Whether it is girls trying to get noticed by some dude, or on the flip-side, feeling the need to completely emasculate their partners in front of their friends.
Think on this: Girls love to have their Girls Nights! Taking time to laugh, eat naughty food, share thoughts and, generally, just feel like they don't need to work as hard to be seen. Please note that this is a very generalised statement. I am not saying that all women are like this. But do we not enjoy being just with the girls on occasion? Do we not have all-women gyms? Places we can go to sweat, work hard and leave looking absolutely mangled without the fear of being seen by, dare I say it, a man?! Why even have these establishments if this is not the case?
You may not like to admit it, but the fact of the matter is that something in the air changes when men and women are in close proximity. Perhaps we feel we are to behave in a certain manner. Girls are (well, they were in my time) taught to be courteous, lady-like and assertive. Boys are told to behave, don't cry and "be a man." When we are around our own genders, these rules no longer apply. We are completely free to say, do and be what we feel is natural to us.
Now, this idea may not resonate with you. But think more broadly. For example: I am a woman, and I know how society, my upbringing and those around me make me feel. Therefore, I am not alone. Men and women, alike, are being controlled by the idea of what it is to be in their own body. Their gender becomes part of their identity.
I know it seems like I have strayed off the path and into the valley of where-the-hell-is-she-going-with-this? Please allow me to bring it on back for you. Robbie's Chop Shop is one little place where boys, potentially your boys, can go and feel comfortable being themselves. There is no premise of being anything more than one of the guys. Having a laugh, and leaving relaxed and looking dead-freaking-sexy.
I understand that there are women out there who would like to take their son's to Robbie's and get them all schmickafied. But I ask you this: Do you really need to be there, holding your son's hand while he gets his hair cut? What is it about this situation that frightens you? They are completely safe and will be taken care of. Chances are, they are going to have the best time ever! It also affords your little boy an opportunity to become the independent man you want him to be. It seems simple, but by allowing him to take responsibility for this tiny portion of his own life, you could be granting him the freedom to explore the person he was born to become. What a gift! Imagine that this small act of selflessness, on your behalf, is actually setting your child up for greatness!
Look, Ladies... We want equality. True equality. This doesn't need to continue as demands of what we want to take. I would love for us to start thinking about what we can offer. We don't need to be there. We don't need to invade every single space that men have previously sanctioned for themselves. Let our sons, boyfriends, husbands, brothers, cousins, fathers and grandfathers have one fucking space to call their own.
Ultimately... Haters gonna hate. If you feel any resistance to my words, I welcome free discussion. However, I implore you to take a few minutes to check in with that negativity you may be experiencing before making contact. Where does this fear come from?
Allow me to leave you with these final tasty nuggets of truth. I have a nephew, he has just celebrated his ninth birthday. It brings such unfettered joy to my heart that there is somewhere he can go to be supported by other men. Smart, funny, courageous and loving men, who can show him what it is to be a man today; creative, strong, masculine, beautiful, giving, kind, generous, loyal.
I, for one, want more men like this in the world.
Just a heads up: I've realised I use the word "shit" a fair amount in this post. You've been warned.
The idea of "you are what you eat" popped into my head this week. I sat with that thought for a little while and digested all that it meant to me. I realised that it goes so much further than just eating and drinking.
Digestion starts in the mouth. We place food in, chew (this is a good idea for those who don't do it, by the way), then swallow. The enzymes in the mouth start to break down the food being eaten, so the stomach doesn't have to work as hard (hence why chewing is so important). As this liquidy feast sloshes its way through the digestive tract, our cells and microflora absorb all the goodies (and the notso-goodies) that pass. I won't go through the entire digestive process for you here, but I'm sure you get the idea. At the end of the day, or the beginning for a lot of us, we excrete a product of our own making.
Such is the same with everything else we consume.
Our eyes take in the scene around us, the TV shows or movies we watch, and the actions of others. Our ears take in the music we listen to, the people who talk to us, and all audible signals around. We are consuming so much more than just what we put into our bodies physically.
If I surround myself with, let's say this outright, bitches, spinning their Bitchy McNegative-Bitchness, then this is exactly the thing I will become. I am absorbing all the hate that these people are producing. If I eat that shit up, my breath is going to stink. What else can I expect?
This doesn't necessarily have to be a meal I am willing to sit down to, napkin tucked into the front of my shirt and cutlery poised and ready in each clutching fist, there is such a thing as passive consumption. Negativity can latch on and seep its way into the bloodstream just by being surround by it. If one is immersed in shit... Well... If it looks like a duck and smells like a duck... Quack.
Everything we take into our bodies, in any shape or form, becomes part of us. One with us. And, if we are one, then we are it.
By purifying our thoughts and intentions, we are altering our internal environment. But this can only go so far. A person needs to cleanse their external environment as well. Otherwise, what is the point of trying to think cleanly, when everything that filters in is tainted with scum.
If there are people who make you unhappy, remove them from your life. (DISCLAIMER: I do NOT mean "from the face of the Earth. I mean, just stop allowing them to have a presence in your existence. I don't recommend nor condone murder.) If you live for the weekend because you hate your job, look for something else. And, yes, it is that easy. It just takes courage.
Find all the things that bring you joy and delight. Welcome them into your home, body, mind and soul, and become them. Become all that you love in this world. You, and all those around you, will thank you for it.
I'm here! Back and ready for procrastinating action!
Actually, this post is a vehicle to get me through, what seems to be, an endless voyage of self-doubt, -hate and stagnation. So, strap yourself in and feel the G's!!
(Somehow, I think it is going to be more of a playful "chitty-chitty" sound like Professor Potts' car. But hey, seat belts are always advised for safety.)
I haven't been so active on the Blog Scene (have you noticed?) and this is basically because life happens. So much life! And brain clutter! All these things that have to be done, and to be true, some of them do. I have noticed that, with all this life happening, my mental space has been filled with creative-fatigue.
Hearing the call to arms recently, with a commissioned chibi portrait of a sweet couple in the U.S. of A, forcibly broke that drought. But the artistic juices were quickly cut off at the source once complete. Here's a picture of that one, in case you didn't see it on Instagram:
Well, I'm getting that call yet again. But this for something I have never encountered, or even fathomed, before. I have been asked to make another portrait of not just one or two people, which is the most I've ever drawn, but twelve people. Yep. Epic. Not only this, but it has been discussed and requested that I make it in a style that is completely foreign to me.
Rather than my faithful, and very comfortable, chibi-style artwork, this client has asked if I could learn to draw more of a manga-style. I immediately felt resistance because it is so unfamiliar to me and, I believe, a more precise art form. Chibi is cute, it's fun and playful. There is something very serious about manga. However, after much back and forth discussion, I have taken this client's request on board.
I would like to add that the client isn't in the wrong for asking something of me that I don't typically do. He enjoys my work and wants to make a gift for his friends. He has merely put the question out there, it was completely within my power to answer "yes" or "no." And, as nervous as I am (that's an understatement, by the way. It is causing me to literally (and I mean that in the true sense of the word, not in the way the kids are using it nowadays) question my own existence) I know I can do this. It is going to take time and patience, but it will come to pass.
My struggle with this single, yet major, piece is sending a cascade of self-destructive thoughts through my entire being. Ridiculous, no? Just draw the bloody picture, Art Monkey, and be done with it! Oh! How I wish it was as easy as that for me. Alas, this is my process. So, how do I overcome these feelings of inadequacy and doubt? I'll tell ya! I've broken my week up and designated time to all the things I (think I) need to get done. I currently have a few things on my plate, so I have set aside a minimum of two hours on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays to get this portrait moving. I will allow for more time, of course. The two hours is just to make sure I sit there for long enough to get something on paper. Once I get my groove on, it will snowball and the wondiferous magic that is Creativity will naturally occur.
Now, even I am thinking that six hours a week isn't much. But I need to remember that this isn't the only demand I have on my time AND it is only a starting point. So, by prioritising it on these three days, I know that there will definitely be times when I will sit at my desk with this task at hand. I will no longer be all over the place like a mad woman's hair. I have structure. And heaven knows I love structure. Truly. I'm not being sarcastic about that. Structure is da bomb!
Anyway, back on track. Now that I feel I have lots of little milestones to achieve, and not just one massive MUST FINISH ALL THE THINGS!, I know I have this in the bag. I figure, with the time I have set aside this week, I can get a rough outline of the piece... hopefully. The positioning of the people, at least. This gives me such relief. You know, like when you're busting for the loo so bad that you start doing the Anxious Dance, only to sit down and finally let go of everything you've been holding on to? Yeah. Good times.
So, yeah! I'll check in with y'all in the near future with some good news!
May the force be with you.
I've come to realise something; I can only be killed by the mundane.
I say "only." Clearly, I can die by the hand of many a mortal affliction. I'm merely making a point.
To give you a better picture, allow me to describe myself to you (or at least the version of me I see myself to be at present - but let's not open that can of esoteric worms): I am incredibly driven. When I have a set goal in mind, nothing will stand in my way of achieving it. During this time of clarity and focus, I feel strong, healthy, confident and I am all but bursting with fruit flavour. My positivity and unwillingness to give up or give in urges me to continue. It's my upward spiral of success. Feel good. Do good. Inspire greatness.
However, I've currently been lolling about on the the flip-side, and I don't mean that in the outward expression of happiness kind of way. I've been lazy. I found my nice, warm corner of comfort and became distracted by it. Hiding under the covers, safe and sound, I had plenty of time to get lost inside my head. Thinking of all that could be, if only The Universe provided me with the opportunity to do so, I started to fester in negativity. I became stagnant. Every thought was in a state of hesitation, static and stunted growth. I felt the friction of anxiety wearing a hole within me, but I still did nothing about it.
I lost touch with the woman I have been growing into over the last twelve months. I started to see that I was gaining weight, felt sluggish, willing to eat food I would never usually eat, slacked off on the exercise, and I was no longer able to tap into my creativity as readily as I once could. I had lost my motivation for life. This had to change... fast.
This comfort zone needs to be destroyed. I accomplish nothing while I am here, and how am I meant to fulfil my life's purpose if I can't even get off the couch? I decided to take this year off from my studies, so I could heal, grow and take stock of what I have done and how far I have come. Well, after six months, I am finally doing that. I have spent the first half of the year doing all the things I felt I needed to do in order to become the person I am meant to be emotionally, physically, psychologically and spiritually, not realising how far from Earth I have travelled. Although I don't believe this time to be wasted, on the contrary, but I now know I have been delaying the inevitable.
I am, once again, putting myself in situations that will promote growth and activity. Forcing myself out of this place of softness, beige and boring. Bring on the hard lines, clear shapes and vivid colour! Let's invigorate this life with a bit of excitement! Give me a pair of scissors to run with! (Please don't. Safety first and all.) Grounding myself in the present is vital for my future. What do I want? What can I give? What do I have? I have accumulated so many skills that can be utilised right now. So, I'm going to get off my arse and start being the person I want to be. By putting these cogs in motion now, I am giving my future-self an opportunity to look back on this moment and be proud of me. What a notion! To look back on one's past and be proud of the person who created your current state of living.
I like that.