Top 5 Lives To See Before I Die

I’m going through serious live-withdrawals at the moment– a fact that isn’t helped by knowing that I’m missing Matenrou Opera, MIYAVI, and Dir En Grey this fall/winter. I pray there is a show in my near future, lest I go stark raving mad.

I started this list when I began going to lives in 2009. A while ago I shared the list with one of my brothers and he suggested I keep adding bands so that I never die. Seems legit.

The List – 2009

  1. GACKT
  2. abingdon boys school
  3. 雅ーMIYAVI
  4. D’espairsRay
  5. B’z

The List – 2011

  1. GACKT
  2. ONE OK ROCK
  3. B’z
  4. girugamesh
  5. exist trace

 

Resolution.

It’s officially the last day of 2010. The last hour of 2010. The last post of 2010. After spending a rigorous day of cleaning (Yes…I know you can’t imagine it, and I really don’t require that you try) so that the house is ready to welcome the good fortune of the new year, I’m settling in to spend the next 50 minutes preparing myself for the turnover of the old year into the new.

I take the whole New Year’s and New Year’s Resolutions thing pretty seriously (self-improvement fixation, afterall), so I never got into the  partying till I drop gig. I prefer my New Year’s to be cognizant so that I can reflect clearly on the year behind me, and approach the oncoming year’s first light with striking and definitive poise. With determined resolve.

Because I adapted certain Japanese traditions into my New Year’s celebrations, the welcoming of the year happens in 2 stages. At midnight, I’ll open a bottle of champagne with the people I care about and make toasts and reflect on my resolutions. And then I’ll stay up until about 6:30, 7:00 AM when the sun starts to rise, and at that point, when the first light of dawn touches the sky, I will make my New Year’s wish.

Resolutions and wishes.

Today I’ve thought more about the difference between them than the actual content of the things I’ll state.

Resolution

1. The state or quality of being resolute; firm determination.
2. A resolving to do something.
3. A course of action determined or decided on.
Wish
An expression of a desire, longing, or strong inclination; a petition.

When it comes to horoscopes and  fortune telling and resolution stating and wish-making I am a firm believer in the idea that our experience is what we make it, and therefore “luck” and “fate” and “wishes coming true” are, by that school, the expression of an intention followed through with inspired and/or focused action, that results in desired, and/or usually unforeseen, results. I don’t believe in blowing out the candles and expecting your desire to be fulfilled (passive tense). I believe in stating your wish, blowing out your candles, watching the first rays of dawn light hit the horizon on the first day of the year, and knowing implicitly that you, and only you, hold the power to make that wish come true. It’s midnight, Visualists. Go write your resolutions, clink your glasses, blast GACKT, watch fireworks, do whatever you do at midnight on January 1st, 2011. And at dawn, when the first light touches the horizon, make your wish. Make your wish, but make your first resolution be that you will see it through.

Happy New Year.

あけましておめでとうございます。

 

 

Tadaima

It is with an intense sense of relief that I am sitting here typing this. The past three or four months have been, easily, the most hectic time of my life so far. I realize this is merely the problem of having a productive life on earth, and fully expect it to get busier as the days, months, years go by. I will accept that challenge when it arises, but for now, this time was intense enough to satisfy the morbid cravings of the last shredded remains of any over-achiever in me.

The reason that I’ve been away from blogging for so long is primarily thanks to my being committed pretty heavily to my job. Working 10+ hour days, 6 days a week while scavenging a life outside of work can start to add up fast, and during the past 5 or 6 weeks, I felt distinctly as though I was running on the final scrapings of the last reserves of my energy, and physically, all I wanted was sleep, all the time. The only thing that kept me going was the thought, I cannot lose to this.

I have a general interest in personal growth and, since my introduction to Japanese social philosophies, an avid obsession with “becoming stronger”. I feel as though this almost-academically-observational sense of perspective of my own experience, as well as that of others’, affords me a certain unsympathetic awareness of my innate human weaknesses and an ability to overcome them.

As most of my more melodramatically tragic habits are, I believe I picked this tendency up from GACKT. I thought often of the stories of him literally working until he collapsed, fell ill, etc. While these instances are examples of pushing extremes unhealthily far, the core value demonstrated within them has inspired me greatly, and I’ve carried the base sentiment in the not-so-back of my mind through this intense and hectic period.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
-T.S. Elliot

When natural energy became replaced by caffeine, pain-killers and pure willpower, I got to the point where every day my body was telling me no, while my mind continued to say yes. In the beginning, it was a struggle to make it through the craziness of each day, and in many ways, it only got harder as the weeks went by. But also, like moving through physical pain barriers and the struggles of physical improvement, after a while I could really begin to gauge the progress of my spirit, and how much my capacity to deal with the crazy experience had increased from Day One. Of course, it’s not enough to acknowledge that you’ve grown – from the place of flexing new muscles you didn’t really believe you were building, the desire to become stronger only increases.

I think there’s something really interesting in physically, knowing that you need to stop, and yet mentally, wanting to know how much farther you can take it. In my life, at least, that’s at the root of self-improvement.

Since we’re in the last week of the year, I’ve been considering the hurdles I’ve faced in 2010, and appraising the resolutions I made, and whether or not I was able to achieve them. At the beginning of the year, I wanted to change a lot of things, and part of that was a resounding desire to overcome the things I was afraid of, to be able to overcome the things within my mind that held me back. I wanted to live my life to the fullest that I possibly could — and not in that wishy-washy greeting-card canned response way; I wanted that sincerely. This is very un-zen, and I’ll own that, but I believe at least part of figuring out how to live life fully, is to increase the velocity of your experience as much as you can. Although this isn’t really “living life to the fullest” at all, filling each moment with something and never letting yourself stop, but constantly continuing to add more to your experience is one way of feeling like you’re living life fully, and as a result, discovering, hopefully, what that desire really means.

But as you’re racing along, charging through life, trying to make the most of it, live it to the fullest that you possibly can, at a certain point it seems like it’s entirely too possible to get too lost in the moment, to forget where you’re going, who you are, what you’re working toward and why. The velocity and intensity of experience, any experience, can just completely overwhelm a person’s being, their sense of self.

When you run out of energy, and you feel like you have no strength left to muster, I think everyone has to reach a place where they can acknowledge that there is something feeding their determination. That their “sense of self” is, in fact, rooted firmly somewhere. And the more you get stretched out, the more you drag yourself along independent of that origin, that source, the more you end up on the waning tide.

Drained, exhausted, those last fragments of energy completely sucked dry, feeling sorry for ourselves, the animal need for rest, sleep, rest sleep, overpowering our vision, making us forget who we are and why we do any of it. We forget how we were even able to do any of it.

This is when you realize what your source is. You find that thing that rejuvenates you, restores your strength, reminds you what you’re fighting for. None of it is empty challenge and reaction. For some people, I’m sure that thing that gives you back the will to continue is other people, material pleasures, whatever. For everyone, it’s different. The only thing that is the same is that we all have it, and inevitably, when we’re running on that last store of energy, we return to it. Sometimes we don’t even really know what it is until we’re at the point of total breakdown and suddenly it shows itself to us.

But I believe that whether you know it or not, when you’re there at the point of collapse, some instinct or inspirational nudge leads us back to that source place. Without interrupting the flow of what we’re doing, without taking any steps back, without requiring anything other than a sudden burst of awareness, we tune into that one thing that reminds us, blindingly, of who we are and what defines us, what gives us strength and the will to fight.

Finally, yesterday I had a detestable moment of weakness. Woke up with a pretty lousy cold, and although my now well-trained mind kept telling me to get up and go to work, to push through it, my body was screaming a pretty strong no. My ravaged immune system needs a break, so I’m giving in. Drained, exhausted, feeling sorry for myself, I instinctively turned to something that my being craved more than sleep: music.

Sitting around in the dark, WHAT’S MY NAME playing through at full volume, it was like I was hearing Jrock for the first time all over again. It was like I was hearing music for the first time all over again. All the wiring in my blasted zombie brain seemed to fuse back together again. I was able to remember something I knew all along, but somehow had completely lost track of: Visual Kei and Jrock are that source place I return to when I’m at the point of collapse. Visual Kei and Jrock are what define me, what give me strength and the will to fight. They are what give me the obsession with accepting challenges, and they are what lend me the strength needed to overcome the weaknesses that arise when I am teetering on the point of collapse. It’s this sense of unwavering courage that happens when I’m led to GACKT or MIYAVI‘s music at the right moment that is something I wish I could express in words when I am asked why I am a Visualist.

++

I find that when I don’t write on Secret Garden for an extended time, when I log into my Dashboard, I always experience this strange paradox of both feeling like a complete stranger, and at the same time, like I’ve finally made it back home.

Tadaima.

Thanx Givin’ Day

In an ideal world, we’re always aware of what we have, and hopefully expressing gratitude for it. However, I think most of the time we forget what we have, we take it for granted. We get caught up in our daily lives and the petty troubles and moderate dramas that cause strife and concern in our experience and we lose sight of the fact that, in the grand scheme of things, these issues are nothing more than mosquitos compared to the majesty of what we really have.

This world is far from ideal, and few of us are saints, so days like today are perfect moments to brush off The Swarm and reflect elegantly on the things we’ve been honored with. Although we often don’t remember this, every moment that we have is a gift, something to respect. I hope everyone is living their lives to the fullest, milking each moment for all it’s worth, and listening to as much Visual Kei as they can possible pipe through their headphones.

Typing this out, sometimes thinking selfishly that I need to be honored with more unscheduled moments to spend working on Secret Garden, I feel an incredible sense of gratitude for the past year and a half of blogging, reading, twitting, talking, and rockin’ out with everyone who reads my blog, and whose blogs I read. I would also like to take this moment to thank Reitsu, and Alisa at Sakurayume for being inspiring fellow Visualists, and inform them publicly that every post they don’t write makes for a less interesting blogsphere.

Whoever said there’s not a Visual Kei song for every occasion is obviously navigating their life sideways. As usual, MIYAVI never lets us down. Enjoy, and happy Thanx Givin’ Day.

Thank you Mama,
For there always being a hot meal,
Truly, truly, I’m grateful for that
But hey, Mama,
If occasionally I can’t eat everything and clean my plate,
Don’t be mad, ok?

Hey, I’m sorry, Papa,
For always just doing whatever I please,
For making you worry and causing you trouble
But hey, Papa,
When I also grow up I’ll become like you, you’ll see

Today, also, “thanks for your hard work,”
We know you’re both up doing your best, working hard, until the night grows late
But hey, Papa and Mama, it’s okay for you to take a break once in a while
Always be well,
But above all, always be kind to each other

Thanx Givin’ Day

ありがとうママ
いつも温かいごはん
本当に本当に感謝してるよ
でもねママ
たまにもし食べきれなくて残しても怒らないでね

ごめんねパパ
いつも勝手なことして
心配や迷惑かけてばかりで

でもねパパ
仆も大きくなったらパパみたいになるから見ててね

今日も”お疲れ様”
いつも夜遅くまで頑張っているの仆らは知ってるよ

でもね、パパもママもたまには休んで良いんだよ
ずっと元気でいてね

何よりも二人仲良しでね

Thanx Givin’ Day

Translation: gacktpause

The Announcement You’ve All Been Waiting For

Di$tress + C0mA: Infected by Japanese Visual Kei

 

 

I know a few of you have been around for a while now (and I’m still happy to have you, rest assured), and some of the really good ‘uns will probably remember my mentioning a particular anime con that has been honored by my attendance several years in a row. Although I keep saying I won’t go back, and have little to no active interest in anime, I keep going back, utterly unable to resist the gravitational pull of the organized culmination of Japanese pop culture and its cult following.

This year will also mark my first step outside the blogsphere representing Secret Garden. You guessed it (or, I don’t know, maybe you haven’t), I have been granted the honor of appearing at the con as the first Visual Kei/Jrock panelist since circa ’07.

I’m pretty psyched to have this opportunity, and I’m looking forward to working with the con as a presenter, thus being able to expand the world’s awareness of Visual Kei, one step at a time.

Di$tress + C0mA: Infected by Japanese Visual Kei
Presented by gacktpause

Friday, Oct. 22, 5:00 PM EST
Panel Room 2

BakuretsuCon 2010 Oct. 21-24
Colchester, VT

Say you saw it on Secret Garden.