Desert of the Mind

June 30, 2014 § Leave a comment

One form of writing I’ve always struggled with is poetry. Despite the fact that I’ve written song lyrics for years, poetry has never come very easy to me, either the reading or writing of it. Whereas song lyrics are often more direct, poetry is typically more metaphorical, painting word images for the reader to follow rather than spelling it all out for him or her.

I do, from time to time, try my hand at writing poetry. Because of my difficulty with the form, most of the poems I do eventually complete are shorter efforts. This one was inspired in part by the almost six years I spent living in the Mojave Desert of California and, perhaps, in part by the desert my imagination sometimes becomes whenever I try my hand at composing a poem.

The Desert

Rock-strewn
Lunar-like, the landscape
Devoid and barren, saying,
No, screaming –
YOU ARE NOT WELCOME HERE!
Dry and dusty,
The weathered land,
Deeply scarred, displays the marks
Of a gentler time
All too brief.

A hardy few
Call this place home. Saving
Energy and strength, waiting
Patiently, Job-like, for
All-encompassing shadows
And momentary, blessed relief
From that brutal orb
That sucks life’s blood
From desperate soil
Too tired to fight.

Solitary flower –
Sisyphusian, the struggle
To find sweet nectar of life
Within the stingy,
Stubborn landscape.
Brief shining moment –
The color all too quickly
Fades against the brute force.
The arid desert gods
Enforce their will.

© 2014 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Two Sides of a Coin

June 24, 2014 § Leave a comment

Two songs, two sides of love.

A-Side

Because of You (for Teresa)

Time was my life had no color
Each day lived in black and white
Simply going through the motions
‘Till you brought my heart into the light

You helped me to see the promise
In the dawning of the day
I now see life much more clearly
No longer live in shades of gray

Because of you –
The days seem so much brighter
Because of you –
The nights are not so cold
Because of you –
My heart is so much lighter
I guess if the truth be told
There is joy in all I do
    – Because of you

I lived a life without direction
I couldn’t seem to find my way
When I found you –
My heart just knew –
Here is where I was meant to stay

Because of you –
The days seem so much brighter
Because of you –
The nights are not so cold
Because of you –
My heart is so much lighter
I guess if the truth be told
There is joy in all I do

Because of you –
The days seem so much brighter
Because of you –
The nights are not so cold
Because of you –
My heart is so much lighter
I guess if the truth be told
There is joy in all I do
    – Because of you

© 2014 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

B-Side

Love Was Not Enough

She turned to him to say goodbye, then realized
That there was nothing more to say
She knew it didn’t matter words were left unsaid
He wouldn’t hear them anyway
She left him standing there amidst the ruins
Of his dreams and all that might have been
Then she turned and walked away, not looking back
The silence all she left to him

They were once the couple voted likeliest
To grab and hold the golden ring
She had been Homecoming Queen, he’d been a football star
Seemed they had everything
Things were fine in the beginning, love was new
Their future seemed to shine so bright
But in time, the shadows grew, and shades of gray
Replaced their world of black and white

They started out with nothing and made do
And didn’t think their life was all that bad
Until one day, she looked at him and realized
That nothing was just what they had
Decided that she couldn’t stay chained
To someone she knew she didn’t love
And so, she had to make the break to seek the life
She thought they’d both been dreaming of

Got herself a small apartment, then set out
To make a simpler way of life
Freed from the domestic drama and the need
To be the perfect trophy wife
He spends his nights in some old rundown bar
And tries to figure where it all went wrong
Love was not enough when times got hard
And they just simply weren’t that strong

Love was not enough when times got hard
And they just simply weren’t that strong

© 2014 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Something for a Monday

June 23, 2014 § Leave a comment

Monday Morning

The morning clock sounds the alarm
Get up! Get up! Get up! Get up!
I pat it dutifully, then silenced,
I roll over to reclaim the quiet solitude of sleep.

Outside, shotgun blasts pierce the silence –
A neighbor, sputtering away to run the morning gauntlet.
I hear the busy signal beep of the garbage truck;
The rats will feast tonight.

Bruised and battered, I admit defeat
And rise, surrendering to consciousness
To take my place upon the treadmill,
Another cog in the great machine.

A shower, a shave, one last plea
For divine intervention, greeted
By wearied reflection, then dressed –
Mismatched socks, cold coffee, and off.

The morning trains brooks no escape
Rushing by blurred landscape,
Yesterday’s news on the next seat.
Would that it were so!

Clock watchers, back-biters, rumormongers
Around the water cooler
Did you know . . . ? Have you heard . . . ?
The 24-hour office news cycle churns.

The corporate desk, unchanging,
More coming in than going out
Slipping further behind the curve,
Another day in free fall.

Through the veneer, the broken dreams
The once upon a times and hoped for
Happy endings on display –
Etched in the faces of the nine-to-fivers.

Overhead, echoes of a ticking clock
Out of rhythm, a snail’s pace
Unmatched by the workaday beat
Hurry up! Hurry up! Hurry up!

Minds race while feet drag
An internal tortoise and hare race
With slow and steady destined to lose.
Welcome to Monday.

©2014 Walt Huntsman. All Rights Reserved.

Lack of Drive, Fear of Failure, or Fear of Success?

June 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

For years, I’ve told anyone who would listen that I would like to be a writer, to write a novel. I would explain that the only things stopping me were a lack of discipline and a lack of drive. I am now thinking there might be a different barrier at work – a fear of failure. Or perhaps a fear of success?

I’ve been someone easily distracted for as long as I can remember. At the same time, the most mundane or ridiculous thing can hold my attention for hours. (Facebook, anyone?) Procrastination is my middle name or should be.

Lately, however, I’ve been rethinking the reasons why I don’t write or at least don’t write more. I still think attention span is a factor, supported by the fact that I have written prodigiously over the years – blog posts, song lyrics, the occasional poem – all very short forms and in very short spurts.

Now, though, I am coming to the conclusion that there may be an equally important factor at work behind my “lack of discipline.” That factor is the fear of failure, something I have experienced in other areas of my life through the years, so it is something I know is in my psychological DNA. Because of that fear, there are any number of things I have considered but not pursued because I did not want to fail or be rejected.

Often, that fear is coupled with a lack of self-confidence. Yet, when it comes to writing, I believe I have writing ability. In this instance, the desire to hold on to that belief manifests a fear that others will not feel the same and will conclude I am not a writer. So I hold onto the writer-wannabe status. I don’t write consistently, and aside from these blog posts and the occasional lyric, I do not share what I have written with others.

But is that fear caused by a fear of failure or rejection. Therapist Barbara Sher argues the answer is no in her book, I Could Be Anything I Wanted If I Only Knew What It Was. While reading her chapter on fear of failure, Sher argues that what some of us really fear is just the opposite:

As far as I’m concerned, people who think they fear failure have got it wrong. They really fear success. If you truly feared failure, you’d be very successful. People who truly fear anything stay as far away from it as possible. So, if you’re operating below your potential, and you think the reason you don’t try for what you really want is that you’re scared of failure, forget it. In your eyes, you’re a failure right now, so how afraid of failure can you be?

But what if you feel you’re not afraid of failure itself, you’re afraid of failing at something specific? “What if I try my hardest to be a writer, give it my best, and fail at that? Then my worst fears will be realized. I’ll know I don’t have what it takes,” you might say.

You won’t know any such thing. If you try to go to law school or be an artist or find a mate, and you fail, it doesn’t prove a damn thing except that it’s hard to succeed.

Powerful words and a bit hard to accept, but I’m sure going to try to do so. In some sense, I have already succeeded as a writer. I spent ten years in radio and television, much of it writing for public consumption. I’ve also written a couple of hundred blog posts and even a few songs that were publicly performed. In that sense, at least, I have not failed at being a writer.

The chapter immediately following the subject of fear of success focused on wanting too many things and being all over the map. That chapter could have been written just for me. Over the course of my life, I have expressed a desire to: be a doctor, be an architect, be a lawyer, be in politics, be a singer, be a writer. You get the picture.

What I’m not sure of yet is whether I am what Sher calls a “scanner,” someone who “delights in the astonishing, unending variety around us – but you don’t realize that being a scanner is a very respectable profession or a “born diver,” who wants to go deeper into a subject until I dedicate my life to it but “appear to be a scanner at this moment because something’s blocking you from diving” in which case I need to figure out what is stopping me from diving.

I have yet to finish reading the book, but Sher has me thinking about my lack of discipline and drive with regard to writing in a whole new light. I have taken the initial baby steps toward reversing that. Starting this blog was one of those. Consistency with regard to posting regular entries will help me develop a greater writing discipline, devoted as it is to my writing. Now, if I can only do something about my lack of organization.

Passages from I Could Be Anything I Wanted If I Only Knew What It Was by Barbara Sher, © 1994, Delacorte Press.

In a Blue(s) Kind of Mood

June 5, 2014 § Leave a comment

Lately, I’ve been doing more lyric writing, much of it in a blues theme. Here’s a couple of samples:

Put Her in Her Place

Got me a woman –
Who’s mean and cruel –
She always treats me –
Like I’m a fool

She spends my money –
Like it’s not mine –
Trying to age –
Like some fine wine

But I know she’s not doing
This maintenance for me
She is running ‘round and playing ‘round
Like somebody breaking free
And I can tell from the look upon her face
I’m gonna have to put her in her place

The time has come
Gonna have to draw the line
Got to protect
What little is left of mine
She thinks the grass is greener
One day she’ll have to learn
You got to be careful
Which bridges you choose to burn

Got me a feeling –
One day real soon –
That she’ll be singing –
A different tune

She’ll run back crying –
Back home tom me –
But I’m not blind –
This fool can see

That she only wants to get
Her hooks back into me
But she made the break, her big mistake
Was in setting this boy free
Then I will see from the look upon her face
Somebody finally put her in her place

Slow It Down

Baby, what’s your hurry?
Girl, you’re moving much too fast
Baby, what’s your hurry?
Let’s take our time and make it last
Just slow down, enjoy the journey
‘Cause it’s too late once it’s past

Baby, take your time now
It will run out soon enough
Baby, take your time now
Don’t waste it on the little stuff
Girl, I’m walking right beside you
Hold on to me when things get rough

I’ll be there every morning –
I’ll be there every night –
And when things turn against you –
I’ll be there to make them right –
You know I will –

Baby, take it easy
There’s no need for all this speed
Baby, take it easy
Just sit back, I’ll take the lead
Let’s take it nice and slow
I’ve got everything you need

Let’s just slow it down now baby
Love is everything we need

© 2014 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

In a Lyrical Mood

June 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

In part to get in the habit of writing on a consistent basis, and in part to share some of the lyrics I’ve written recently, here is another set of lyrics written last month. Please do let me know what you think.

The Road

They told him he was crazy
When he told them what he planned
Following his heart was something
They could not understand
But the city life held no appeal
So he packed up everything
To hit the road
Where his heart could finally sing

They asked him about money
And how he would make his way
He said he wasn’t worried
He’d just take it day by day
Tired of living for the weekend
Working 9 to 5
Out on the road
He could finally feel alive

He found a van for sale
He knew had seen much better days
Though the engine smoked
He saw a new dream through the haze
To live a life without regret
His new philosophy
No things to tie him down
On his journey to break free

The van broke down in Memphis
On his way to NYC
He hitched a ride to Charlotte
And soaked up some history
Ended in the north of Maine
Middle of nowhere
And from the road
He could smell the ocean air

Stopped just south of Presque Isle
Outside a run-down farm
Called out from the road
So as not to cause alarm
He saw a young girl playing
She cried, “Mommy, see the man!”
“Why not see if he can stay
And lend a helping hand”

Several years have come and gone
That farm is still his home
Found what he was looking for
And lost the urge to roam
The girl soon had a brother
The man soon had a bride
Now off the road
He was finally free inside

© 2014 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

Another Day, Another Song

June 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

In the spirit of Jimmy Buffett (written last month):

I’ll Follow The Sun

Heading out where the weather’s warm
And the sky is clear and blue
Maybe find me a sunny beach
Where I’ll have a beer or two
Happy to go where the spirit takes me
Wherever that may be
You know the journey’s half the fun
So I’ll follow the sun

I’ll follow the sun
Looking for fun
Finding it wherever I can
Hitting the highway
Living life my way
An emancipated man

Before I head off to the Great Beyond
I’m gonna live it up here and now
Gonna grab at life with both hands
Before that final bow
Gonna do what I have to do
To my own self I’ll be true
I’m looking out for Number One
So I’ll follow the sun

I’ll follow the sun
Looking for fun
Finding it wherever I can
Hitting the highway
Living life my way
An emancipated man

Taking everything day by
Living it up along the way
You know this boy was born to run
So I’ll follow the sun

‘Cause when it all gets said and done
I’ve got to follow the sun

© 2014 Walt Huntsman. All rights reserved.

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