Friday, February 18, 2005

Why I'll Never Be The Next Tolstoy

One reason I'll never be a great novelist or artist is because my life has been way too easy.

I remember volunteering at an old-folks home with my church when I was a teenager. I sat in a room with an old man who talked endlessly about how horrible every moment of his life had been since the day he was born. He had polio when he was a kid which made one leg something like two feet shorter than the other. I daydreamed a lot while he was talking, but I think I remember him saying something about having to walk to school with his short leg on the shoulder of a local midget, or some such thing. He lived on a farm during the depression and his family went without food for days on end.

The thing is, the story just never got better. He got divorced, his career was one disaster after another. I think he was actually a string salesman! I’m not kidding. Is that a career? Selling string?

All of his friends and family died before he did, and he finally ended up penniless and unloved in an old folks home trying to make conversation with a guy like me.

I sat there in my Psychedelic Furs concert T-Shirt trying to relate to him in any way I possibly could. I was like, “Right dude… I remember when they canceled Mork & Mindy. It was just sooo… permanent."

The truth is, I can only remember three lame things ever happening to me in my whole life:

1 – My ear got plugged up with ear-wax.
2 – My VCR broke.
3 – I felt really awkward while an old guy told me about walking to school with one foot on the shoulder of a village helper-midget.

That’s all I’ve got! I can't imagine the next War & Peace coming out of those experiences.

I’m not complaining about having a good life, mind you. The only point I'm trying to make is that, not having had any contact with genuine human suffering, I’ll probably never be a great artist.

However, if you don’t care about great art, tune in next week and I’ll continue to talk about robots, aliens, kung fu, and… oh, I don’t know… maybe cyborgs or something. You never know.

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