“No news is good news,” it is said. Well, maybe not if you’re in the business of providing news or views people can use. Like, say, in a blog. What may be my favorite TV show Seinfeld was reputed to be “a show about nothing.” But that was just bullcrud made up by the press because of a line said by George in the “show within a show.” The real one was about how comedians get their material. How do bloggers get their material? Well, as this blog is (mostly) about bicycling, there’s usually no shortage of people, places or things to talk about. Except like now, when nothing comes to mind. Please indulge me as I write a blog… about something. I know, how about Rocketman?
Write What You Know, You Know?
I had hoped to bring you a report if a meeting about the City’s plans to improve trails and roads in Southeast Austin. But when it came time to trek south, even though it was a pleasant day in the low 80’s, I just wasn’t feeling it. I was out doing errands, and after a 15-mile ride I needed a nap. It was the second of the day because I again was up too late and got too little sleep. And a piece about bike lanes can be a little too wonky and snoozevilles, even if you are into bicycling.
The culprit for needing a nap was as usual due to my routine. I usually go for a ride on errands late in the day to beat the heat. Then I come home, do yoga, write, eat, watch some telly to relax, and sleep. In this case, I didn’t bike, and storms were threatening, so a friend and I did see the new film Rocketman, the excellent biopic of famous musician Sir Elton John. He drove us to a theater where I had free passes. Who doesn’t like free?
For me, the movie spoke directly to the quintessential question of art v. commerce, struggling to find one’s voice, having it be heard, and making a living while staying true to that voice. And oh yes, part of my voice is linking absolutely anyone to a bike. He’s more known for being a fan of football (and a club chairman), but the photos of his costumes compared to bike kits in the Twitter link below is pretty funny.
I wrote about this struggle in my book review of Real Artists Don’t Starve and have done so on a number of other occasions. Most bloggers face this issue at some level; even the true hobbyist has to choose to spend time, even if making money isn’t a goal. The film shows the young Reginald Dwight facing this subject as a young pianist As a musical fantasy, not a straight biopic, it still has his humble roots, without having money, struggling to make it, he meets so songwriter Bernie Taupin, an agent and others, and his career takes off.
Captain Fantastic strayed in his well-known drug and booze phase. Substance use and abuse is common to rock stars, writers, comedians, artists, dancers — okay, maybe most creative people, who often have money or access and can easily fall prey to addictions. Ultimately John stayed true to himself and his artistic vision and happened to find enormous success. Personally, he also found meaning in artistic expression and collaborations, especially with his main lyric writer, Taupin, and his charity work (raising an incredible $450 million for HIV and AIDS causes).
Most importantly, John got himself sober and found love and happiness with his husband and family. The film shows the creative process of writing and performing the songs, the outlandish costumes, the people in his rock star orbit, and the times (late 60’s to the 80’s). But ultimately he was a shy young man, not understood his parents, who was just searching for love. All these elements came alive in the film in wonderful, painful, and sometimes unexpected ways. Hey, I’m straight, but I can say it was fabulous, in every sense of the word. He’s still standing. That’s the goal.
Here’s a funny thread by @JoePRobinson on Twitter comparing Sir Elton’s costumes to pro cycling team kits.
I Don’t Know Much, Just Stay True to You
One lesson I take from Rocketman is just to keep grinding away at creating every day. (We’ll never be Sir Elton – no one else can be him, or you or me, for that matter, so don’t even try.) You do you! As mentioned, I usually do my creating, such as it is, and write this blog or in my book after it’s quiet. The neighbors’ cantina has stopped blaring drunken voices and norteno music, the roar of traffic has abated, and I can finally hear myself think.
It’s the unwinding that is difficult. The legs are done spinning, but the mind is not, and sometimes the writing takes a while. Plus habit makes it very late. It would be more skillful to shift my routine so that I’m getting more sleep all at once at night, instead of absolutely having to crash by taking a nap. And without good sleep, good biking is not going to happen. But I’m just sleepy. So I am leaning into it and hopefully am getting a job that doesn’t start at the asscrack of dawn. We all have to fight our demons, like John. Insomnia, a sweet tooth, booze, drugs, doubt, fear, ego — whatever form it may take, it is there to teach you something. Learning and changing are the challenges that comes with being human.
The pressure to succeed is felt by all creators at some level. People want you to be remarkable, to have new, fresh, exciting “content” that people want, need, and are eager to consume. Clearly, I’m not breaking off even a minuscule, tiny, crumby piece of the fame of John. I’m just a regular dude who rides his bike in Austin, Texas, and writes about it. Looking at my statistics can be depressing if I let them get to me. Don’t compare yourself to anyone except your younger self, if even that. Most blogs don’t ever make any money — there are millions of them, after all! So what is my true fantasy? Well, nothing as fantastic as John’s. I’m not sure, but I suppose part of it has to do with reaching others who can relate, finishing my book, hopefully helping and inspiring people, and enjoying the journey — on and off the bike.
If I were just writing into the ether, I could and maybe should be doing other things instead. I hope this blog is somehow relevant, but in case not, I have to do it for me. If you’re read this blog regularly, or are at least reading this post, I hope there’s something in it that you can use, a part that applies and you can see yourself in it. Maybe I inspire you to take a walk, try yoga, go on a bike ride, even if you’re overweight, older, and have other health challenges like I do. I don’t have delusions that I’m inspiring anyone to start their own book. That would be great if I did. Certainly plenty of bloggers have inspired me.
But of course I do do it for you, too, dear reader. I dedicate this call to be fantastic to you. Make your life about something! Shoot for the stars! Thank you for reading. And thank you Bernie and Sir Elton for all the great music.
I hope you don’t mind, I hope you don’t mindCopyright lyrics by Bernie Taupin, music by Elton John
That I put down in words
How wonderful life is while you’re in the world
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One thought on “A Blog About Something… and Inspiration from Rocketman”
Hoping to see the film on my next long-haul flight. Love Elton’s songs but not his voice. My favourite album is one where others sing his songs. Just keep plugging away, if you don’t believe, no one else will.
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