Who am I? In this experience of consecutive moments strung together in a seemingly random collection of chaos and connection that we call life, and moreover, reality, we have with great intent and purpose, posed the question and with all that we are as living beings, consciously and subconsciously explored the definition and answer to that question.
Who am I? In the eyes of strangers to myself I have been known to be an intriguing, eccentric, profound mystery of a persona, an artist of many expressions, painting, writing, cinema, philosophy, and at the core, perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the character I am to them is my ability to be all of these things so effortlessly.
In the eyes of my friends and acquaintances, I am all of those things, yet they have a more clear and concise view of what drives me. They know me as a man who is careful, yet in love with chaos, a man who has a deep passion and respect for possibility, to such an extent that I invest in the potential in others so that they too might see the potential in themselves.
In the eyes of my lovers, I am thoughtful, generous, kind, compassionate, and exponentially patient.
To me, my greatest work of art has been, is at this moment and will be, god willing, for quite some time to come, my life as a human being. I did not always have ambitions to be an artist. When I was a boy, I wanted to be a geneticist. My Grandfather, a prominent doctor in Atlanta and graduated atomic physicist would share with me in my childhood, knowledge of quantum-electro dynamics and genetic coding, among many other fascinating subjects.
As I grew older I found an overwhelming need to connect with others, to be social. I found it difficult to relate to others as most of my peers were into sports and school agenda, while I was contemplating riddles of the universe and how everything interacts with everything else. I have painted hundreds of paintings, sold them all over the world, written countless poems, produced a handful of short films, authored a children’s book and novel, and hosted events to showcase all of my works throughout my time. Knowing all of this I feel what is important is not specifically what I’ve done or why I do what I do, but what it is that I find enjoyable in what it is about art and creating that I find beautiful.
Painting is to me as breathing is to you. I see everything as a painting; it is my way of expressing my perception of the world. I am married to it. There are times I am in love with it and when I am painting, it is as if my soul were making love to the art form itself. There are times I hate it because there is only so much it can offer me. As we all know, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
When I step out of my studio, put down the paintbrush and pick up a pen, I find my mistress. I cheat on my true love with the written word. While I feel guilt and shame in betraying what I love and respect so much, I do find in writing, a certain vulnerability, an emotional understanding, and most of all a way to create what colors cannot.
Much as a man would have a wife and perhaps a mistress, yet his passion were working on a hot rod or his sailboat in his spare time, this is how I feel about producing cinema. It is my secret passion. It is something I feel inferior in and yet love to do. When I have the time, I run with it the only way I know how. The beauty in my film work is hardly in its content, clever as it may be, but it’s the process in which I go about producing them that I love the most.
Who am I? People spend their entire lives searching for that answer and the truth is that there is no answer. All that is, is all we have, it’s what we make of it that counts. We are all artists in our own right, expressing how we feel about what we are perceiving and our place in the universe.
Constantly trying to identify and label everything. At the end of the day, at the end of this article, even at the end of this sentence, I really don’t care who I am, because I am anything I allow myself to be, which, for every aspect of the concept, is creation itself.
Love for all of you,
There aren't many people like me in the world. There aren't many people like you, either. You've got every reason to find yourself to be your favorite thing, same as any one would find a treasure and value it above the rest. I'm my favorite thing. I know how that must sound, but I haven't always felt that way. One day, last year, I realized how important it is to feel this way though. It makes you value everything about everything so much more. If you value yourself, you understand how to value everything else.
Most of my life, I've been prone to giving myself away to others, sacrificing my time, effort, energy, money to, what I thought, would be helping them. Often, what seems to be helping someone, is actually just enabling them. I'm not sure how I've been fortunate enough to, throughout my life, be loved by so many people. I cherish that to no end. I love everyone, even if we don't seem to meet eye to eye. I try to be patient and kind with everyone i meet. I, also, enjoy seeking what people are most passionate about and encouraging them to fulfill that. That's something I wish I had more of my whole life. Not from just a few people, but everyone. it's appalling to me how many people will discourage you from going after what you're passionate about based on their own insecurities and failures that they let slow them or halt them from pursuing their passions any further.
Have you ever met someone really after what they're passionate about? You can't help but be in awe of them. They're seriously bad ass. They're on a whole other level and they encourage anyone and everyone to do the same. They live without limits because everything and everyone is an opportunity to progress their passion moreover.
I've been told for most of my life that i'm an artist. It wasn't something I initially sought out to be. I vaguely recall, prior to my aspirations of being a geneticist at the age of ten, that i was reasonably content and excited just to be alive. I thought life was just a curious thing in general. Remember being a little one and exploring the world? It's so new. Everything is something YOU HAVE NEVER EVER SEEN BEFORE. Is it any different now? You might lie to yourself and others that everyday is the same ol' thang, but it's actually changing all the time. What you experienced yesterday isn't even here today, everything on the tiniest level has changed, even if ever so slightly.
Take a moment to find a leaf or a nature scene, or anything for that matter and stare at it. Your mind will begin to wander, thoughts will race and you, for a time, wont even see what you saw any longer, lost in thoughts about this, that, and whatever, until some random inhale/exhale, or heartbeats beat makes you come out of it and you're still staring at that same subject. It's already different. You might not be able to see it or maybe you can, but the fact that your mind wandered is proof that nothing ever stays still. There is only one thing you can depend on, feel certain about in this life, and that is change itself.
Often, these days, I like to relax in the Great Room of Castle Robinson. I work on my various business or art endeavors. I spend less time with my many social circles and spend more time with just a few people who I feel are living life with as my heart or more than than I am. Birds of a feather, flock together. Is the elephant envious of the lion? Is the shark envious of the whale? We are all different, running at our own pace. That's beautiful.
I realized over time of being titled, an Artist, basically being handed this professional title, that just because others perceive you as something, doesn't make that who or what you are. You are who you choose to be. I always felt I was just alive. Experiencing life. It was only when I allowed the fears of others to guide me did i limit myself to only the status of Artist. Being alive is all the status you or anyone needs. That's bad ass in its own. Simmer on that. Soak that in. Feel what it means to be alive. Walk around and see what mankind has made. Even the stuff everyone says is bad for the Earth, it's still amazing that we made it. That's evidence that the imagination is more powerful than anything anyone else can tell you.
"The best way to help others, is to help yourself."
-Justin James Hanrahan
This is your life. Go live it.
It was early November last year, Justin and I were 2 days into an adventure that we had no plans or expectations for, armed with a 4Runner packed with a tent, sleeping bags and an excitement for the unknown. It was absolutely freezing outside and we had no where to sleep that night. Our mission was to meet someone, preferably some cute and fun ladies, who wanted us to stay the night, in their nice warm house. That city makes Las Vegas look quaint. You've got to fight just to get across the street. Sometimes you have to fight fights just to get around fights splashed in throw-up. You'll pass degenerates, high-rollers, artisans, elderly folks, people that look questionably young for such a place, die-hard Christians attempting to inform the masses of their sinful ways, you'll find all of this and more tucked between strip clubs and alcohol slushy machines. You'll have no idea what is going on and no way to make it stop. You have your mission and that's the only thing to hang on to.
It was about 1am and we were about half a bottle of Jameson and a few Vodka tonics deep when it started to dawn on me that we weren't having much luck. The chaos was all around us and time was running out. I looked at Justin and said, "We're fucked. We're not gonna make it." He looked me in the eyes with total bewilderment, "What the fuck are you talking about!?" I just shook my head and took another sip.
That trip was at the end of an 8 month long vacation. I had run out of money. We were floating almost entirely on Justin's savings. I brought a few paintings with me hoping I would make a few sales along the way.
Justin doesn't even put his glass down, staring at me. It's a fierce, intense look, as if you robbed someone of their purse and then just stood there to see the look on their face. I take another sip of Jameson. His eyes dart towards the bartender girl for a brief second then back to me," We're gonna die tonight bro. We're gonna fucking die tonight. You know what I mean? That's how we have to see it. Like there is no other option but succeed or we die. We're gonna die when the bars close. Then it's over. You got that!?"
It was the most profound concept I had heard ever. Or at least as far back as i could remember, having drunk so much that night. It filled my whole everything with a new kind of excitement. A zest for life unparalleled by anything before. What would you do if you knew you were going to die in a few hours?
We ended up unsuccessful in finding a place to stay that night, I think we ended up sleeping in the 4Runner in some alley for an hour before taking off towards Georgia. In those few hours, though, we really LIVED. Everyday after that we lived like we were going to die that night. Some nights we found places to stay, some nights we stayed out in the cold. Every day and every night was a moment worth being here and now and loving every minute.
You never know when it's all going to be over. Are you doing what you want to do with your life? Sometimes it means sacrificing everything to experience what it means to really be alive. We did it. You can too.
(Justin took the photo above in Pensacola, FL of me flagpoling on a flagpole that was fifty feet above the ground. I'm sure it's evident that I was feeling good that night too.)
Love, Jonny feelgood
PS. All that is, is all we have, it's what we make of it that counts.
No one really knows what's going on here. Why we are here, what any of us are doing, the future of things, was there life before, will there be life after, or does any of it matter? When most of us feel the weight of these questions we turn to books written hundreds upon thousands of years ago or new age books that are spin off's of ancient texts and use those words as a means of grounding the self reality into something more comprehensible.
When I was a very young boy, less than 5 years old I would say, one of my first real friends was my Great Grandmother. We spent endless hours together, while I don't recall what things we did or what was said, I remember her energy, the warmth of her friendship. I remember her treating me with kindness and respect as any adult should give a fellow adult. There came a day when her youth caught up with her and I had to learn what it meant to get a little older. I remember she was laying on her bed and I was holding her hand, by her side. She seemed to have slipped into a strange kind of slumber, then a sudden stillness. I remember what it was to hold her hand at that moment. It was the first time I lost a friend.
I've lost a few friends over the years, which a few too many. It's a natural thing and that is what is my salvation from despairing feelings. What makes my heart hurt to unimaginable extents are when close friends are going through things in their life that bring them down to such lows that they want to remove themselves from their life experience. It's a hard thing to hear and feel because it takes me back to times close friends actually did it. It's surreal to lose a friend that way. It's confusing and leaves a mark on your heart that never goes away.
When a friend feels that low, my heart is soft for them, tender, kind, because all i want to do is take their pain away for them. There is little to nothing I can do, as it is all a choice their own, the way they feel. If that ends up being their choice, I really have no choice but to accept that it happened and respect their choice. I sure do my best to share with them the multitude of reasons why life is amazing, in hopes to convince them otherwise.
My ultimate resolve is that we all end at some point anyway, so why cut yourself short? Let the universe have that honor. It gave you life to begin with. You only have this body once. Every moment only happens once.
I try to imagine what it would be like to have to live without my friends and I know life goes on. I also know that's not the life I'm wanting to live, that's why I have my close friends as my close friends in the first place, I fucking like having them around.
Life is hard. Life is beautiful. Life is therapy if you let it be.
I love you.
Today ran into a few interesting people that were almost exactly the same paradigms, fashion tastes, completely unrelated to one another and interested in different fields altogether, both of them, I personally find to be, unlikely candidates for true success. While success is measured only by whomever holds the ruler, I must be specific in mentioning that they are unlikely candidates for my measure of success.
At risk of locking myself into any kind of labels any one could place me into, I going to take a jab in the dark and express my definition of success.
Success to me, is a state of mind which perpetuates in a triforce of mental, physical, and spiritual awareness, manifesting through appreciation of the life experience in its entirety, personal desires and intents side of fact, and enabling the growth of every one, thing and entity around said self to achieve the same.
What I found about these few folks I ran into that lacked these qualities of what I consider to be successful or on the road thereof, is their need for validation in almost every statement, mask of style to disguise there uncertainty of their identity, their bold false confidence in new environments, and their approach to others which comes across as quite vitriol ( a word I learned of the other day, I have been eager for an excuse to use it, you should look up its definition if you don't know it).
I don't enjoy that I judge others, although I recognize that it is an extension of an inherent instinct ingrained into the DNA of each and every one of. I'd rather just let it flow as it must than attempt to reprogram what millions of years of ancestry has worked so hard to provide for me. Ultimately, my point is, and I suppose in many ways, I'm writing this more for me than you, this particular ensemble of individual is one I would like to avoid for every reason with the exception of perhaps passing by or a cordial greeting at a social of some sort.
All of that aside, I've been thinking of the direction I would like to take this blog, so it may look different in the coming weeks.
"Talkin bout dem changes ya'll."
It's been almost two months since my last entry in here. I've been through so much that everyday feels like a year that passed. To write again, to write here, right here, feels like being held in my mother's arms after not seeing her for so very long.
Speaking of my mother, today is her birthday. Let's talk about my mother some.
She is a fascinating woman. When we first met, a doctor was pulling me out of her with a plunger (seriously ), where upon greeting the world, the doctor, and my mother, I took my first breath. Sometimes I wonder what her first thoughts when seeing me were. I might ask her that when i talk to her later today.
My mother did her best raising me, she loved and treasured me despite having an excruciating time trying to understand me. I recall one day returning from high school to hear her listening to one of my Led Zeppelin albums, which on this curiously unusual taste in her music selection prompted the question, "What made you want to listen to Led Zeppelin, mom?" She then responded, "I wanted to try to understand you better. i thought maybe if i listened to the music you like, it might give me some idea." I wished her luck with that and headed to my room. It is obviously impossible to truly understand anyone since we are all so ridiculously complex, not to mention constantly changing, yet over time I grew fond of that memory, for it is quite a treasure to have a mother who desired to attempt to do so.
My mother has not really had a great deal of money in her life but she's worked hard for the money she earned. She worked 2 jobs when i was in school and even though she couldn't afford to, she would and still does send me money on my birthdays and holidays that are gift oriented. I treasure that she does that more than the check she sends which feels like a dull rusty knife of guilt slowly tearing the flesh of my body as i cash it, because its just the thoughtfulness of a wonderful mother who would give like that.
Sometimes when i think of my mother, I want to give her the whole world. Every year, the older I get the more I love her and value that i have such a great mother. She doesn't live so close to me anymore. We used to live close by and have breakfast in the mornings and have long talks over coffee. There also times i feel like shit because i wish I spent more time with her while she lived close. There are times i feel like shit because now that she lives in Michigan, i don't call her as often as i feel like i should. That doesn't mean i don't think about her everyday or love her any less. Sometimes i daydream that i'll sell a couple paintings, enough to get ahead on bills, and fly up to her and surprise her with a big hug and we can have long talks and coffee like old times.
I miss my mother's face and the artful way she would listen to me when i would tell her what i had going on in my life or what kind of reckless, wild things any mother would not approve of. I've never been the type of person who could be told what to do, i'm more of a make a lot of mistakes but at least they were mine to make sort of person. i think she knew that because after i'd tell her something i did that i knew was hardly community oriented, she would say," and what do you think about that?" or "How do you feel about that?" which would then force me to take another look at myself, analyze and in so many ways, make me a better person.
More reasons why my mother is an incredible person: She holds to her conviction. When she says she is going do something, she fucking means it. She doesn't play games. At all. I'd say she was less stubborn and it's more that she just has a lot of backbone.
Also, while she has very strong opinions about things, she won't mention them unless asked and she is totally okay with other people having their own opinions. I don't know too many people like that.
My mother is incredible because she took a job that I honestly feel is beneath her but offered her the opportunity for transfer-ability so she could move up-country on a moments notice to take care of her mother ( my grandmother). I feel like this is an outstanding show of character. Most people put their folks in nursing homes and stop caring. My mother took this as an opportunity to get to know her mother and by doing so, learn more about her own self. She is like that, always learning and growing in each new experience.
It's valentine's day and every time I've had a lady-friend to celebrate the occasion with in my heart, i was always honoring my mother. The few times in my life I found someone I felt was of enough stature to be my girlfriend, she would advise me to live for that special someone and really appreciate that person. That's something I've gotten better at over the years, but life is a learning process, trial and error. I sometimes look back and wish I had been more kind in many conversations I've had with many people but all i can do is choose to be kind in all of my future ones. Time is cool like that.
I don't know if anyone could say if i'm a good or bad person, ( depends on who you ask, i'm sure. ) but i appreciate her eternally for, no matter what, always taking time out of her life to love me and think of me. I am her son and that means a lot to her. That may sound obvious, but sometimes saying that out loud or writing it down, there's a lot of weight to it. It's important to feel the magnitude of that.
Mom, if you happen to read this, i'm sorry i won't get to see you on your birthday. I hope by pouring my heart out about how much you mean to me, can in some way, compensate for my absence. I love you. You'll always be my valentine :)
PS. Feelgood Fans, if you're alive and able, tell your mother you love her, whether on good terms or not. At the end of the day, they're people too, just like me or you. It's good to be recognized for being who you are. Especially, I'd imagine, for being someone as important in life, as being a mother.