Freddie On Finding One’s Inner Goose

unnamed (34)If anyone knows how to carry on, it’s Freddie. No matter that he’s a gander, he’s on the Internet with a “message of love, far and near” and has a lot of thoughts, bottled up for years, ready to burst their cap.

“I didn’t write the song, ‘If You Can’t Beat Them,’ darlings. That was John. It was a good song and fun to play live. There was that long guitar solo where Brian had the audience. But those are not my lyrics.”

Freddie says this to me in the living room one day as he places his bill against my cup of tea.

“Your tea is the right temperature, darling. Any colder and you’ll have to heat another pot,” he says.

“And if the tea gets cold, I’ll drink it anyway–or I’ll get up and pour another cup.”

“Why do that,” Freddie says, “when you can stop a minute and breathe, let yourself enjoy it while it’s hot. You put the muscle into making the tea, you’ve worked hard all day, now indulge.”

Freddie has seen a lot in his two years reincarnation as a gander. The humble home he lives in has changed in a myriad of ways. Last summer he witnessed the great purging of mice after I tore down the black plastic my ex put on the Duck House walls several years ago, and mice scattered like cockroaches. But we took care of most of them.

“I can’t ever do that again,” Freddie says, when I remind him of this fiasco.

“Me, neither,” I say. “I worked so hard. I was afraid the problem would get out of control and I had to do something. The situation was my responsibility.”

I haven’t told him that I found a couple of mouse turds in the pantry. The turds were old and hard, but they had to have been deposited since November as that is when I attempted to bake a strudel and last used the cinnamon. Fortunately, that mouse found nothing in the cupboard. But, late at night sometimes I swear I hear a tiny clicking sound, almost like minute lungs inhaling and exhaling or the smacking of a mouse tongue on mouse teeth. And I’ve seen them run from the duck feeding station outside to the gap between the siding and the addition.

What if they’ve found nourishment somewhere inside the house?

“And that’s why I didn’t write that song,” Freddie says. “My philosophy is different. I won’t join anything, darling, and you shouldn’t either.”

Life is a constant battle of some sort, but the fulfillment in the journey depends on how we look at daily challenges. I’ve noticed that when I go along in the moment, doing all that I can, being what I’ve mistook for being kind, I’m really not kind to myself–or kind to others, for that matter.

“If you join in and let life, the people that surround you, take you for a ride, you’re not living. You will have regrets,” Freddie says. “That’s something I could never do. Because you say NO to something, doesn’t make you a bitch, dear.”

He is right. Being yourself in a world that does everything to drag you down, whether deliberately or not–that’s an immense challenge.

“People may not be out to get you, but they can get you, subtly, if you go along and pick up everyone else’s pieces. Let them do their own legwork. You have even taught yourself to cook, albeit for a honey who deserves it. That goes to show anything’s possible, because we know you couldn’t cook.”

Freddie laughs.

“Yes, Freddie, for once in my life I wanted to cook. Once I made the decision, cooking opened up to me as an art form and I wondered, then, how I’d not seen that before.”

And so it goes. I took responsibility for something that I could do. I have a partner who does what he can for me, so why not do something in return for him, something to make his life easier? That is a form of love. Perhaps I may do this, perhaps I am odd in doing this?

Some people have a way of rebelling against the most fundamental responsibilities, things a fastidious person may think are obvious. Yet simple tasks present endless conflict. Why?

Thoughts.

People have naughty little minds. They have not found, as Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig puts it, their “inner duck”.

From the first reluctant fluttering of eyelids upon waking, there is this evil voice saying, “Eh, go back to sleep. Indulge. The blankets feel so warm. Do it tomorrow. Who cares?”

“If I had listened to that, honey, I’d have been shit,” Freddie says. “Yes, I overindulged in luxuries, but there had to come a time when I’d get up and work. If I didn’t work until four a.m., I wouldn’t have slept until noon. If I didn’t go on tour, which is exhausting beyond belief, I wouldn’t have had a gay old time in Munich come vacation. I wouldn’t have had a vacation at all. I’d have been selling mirrors on Addy Way the rest of my life.”

That voice he mentions, I know that voice well. Negative. Cunning. Downright depressing. A naysayer that keeps a person from reaching his or her potential. A bastard, really selfish and defiant, always looking outside for someone to blame, instead of facing the truth and waddling up.

There’s not much good to say about that voice, a conductor of laziness, always on the sidelines barking into the mind that one should do the opposite of what is actually right–and fair.

I’ve thought about it in this way while observing animals:

A dog gets up and stretches. The stretching seems so natural–first the front legs go down on the floor and then the hind legs stretch back. Sometimes the dog yawns. Stretching upon rising is the thing to do for one’s body. Moving about stimulates muscles and prepares them for the day.

My God, how many people do I know, including myself, stretch naturally upon waking?

About the same number of people I know whose actions extend to cleaning up the aftermath of the party.

Almost everyone goes home. Every time.

Every waking moment becomes a chore to people who listen to the voice of laziness, instead of taking that extra effort to cultivate the “inner duck”, and it’s easy for people when they tune themselves out, become so engrossed in indulgences that time marches forward, unbound by responsibilities, and….ooops…it’s tomorrow. Too late. O well. Who cares?

“Well, darlings, someone does notice…and someone does care,” Freddie says. “In the end, was it all worth it? That’s the question a person has to face in the end. When the bills aren’t paid. When life winds down. Regrets are a real ulcer. Believe me. I couldn’t ask anyone but myself had I not kept at it–why this person had this and why I had that. I worked hard. I got what I had coming. Never could I question why I was in this situation, instead of that situation. I knew why.”

Life need not be a chore. Taking responsibility, even for the very mundane tasks required of existence, need not be difficult. There is a surrendering that takes place in the mind when a person “does” for himself. Instead of listening to that inner voice ass, a person can carry on one step at a time. Why make everything difficult?

  1. Pick up the broom.
  2. Move arms back and forth.
  3. Touch the broom to the floor.
  4. Move mounds of dirt toward dust pan.
  5. Throw that dirt away.

Listening to the inner blamer sucks. I’ve been there, and I must say, I was a selfish twat back then.

How great it would be if people could just…

And that’s where I come full circle, back to being unkind to myself, back to settling for less. Perhaps I am to blame for not laying ground rules much sooner, for thinking I was doing right by doing more.

But with this new year comes a new level–in my life, anyway. The least I can do is give myself a break by not doing all of the tasks that should be shared between several people who are all taking part in making those tasks necessary.

I have a lot of work to do. So easy to welcome the ass-voice and surrender to the ass-voice all day, every day while ignoring that “inner duck”. Easy to join them, yes, to tell yourself you’re keeping the peace, or that by doing this or that life is much better than it was before.

In reality, though, to “join them” is to surrender the soul to a monster I am on the cusp of defeating in myself. This is this way for a reason. This tree trunk does not bend for branches. Freddie Mercury was not a guitar player–for a reason. I’m not interested in hanging out in bars with alcoholics or letting myself be bullshitted into thinking I’m doing right by doing it all.

Imagine if Freddie had really been a maid or a house wife like he was in the video for “I Want to Break Free”…

“No way, darlings.”

6cd99025b9bc39218d8551e765bf12b6Everyone must find their “inner duck”, or whatever they choose to call it, without excuses or remorse, or be slave to the inner ass-voice until the end. The way is simple, yet the most difficult challenge most people will encounter–because people can’t resist their inner ass-voice. Waking up in the morning and carrying on is like breaking through a cozy, yet thin membrane. Going out into the day, facing all life’s discomforts with honest effort–yes, it’s unpleasant at first, but with practice new habits form–is too painful for a lot of people. Surrendering to the ass-voice is like being overgrown by a fungus that holds the body and mind in a swamp.

People don’t really like it there, though they tell themselves they do. The short-lived comforts trump reality, for a while, but with the march of time people find they’ve wasted precious energy, castrated their minds and bodies, and disappointed everyone around them, whether they realize it or not.

Or, people exist in denial, imparting their inner ass-voice onto those around them, their personal suffering bled out in passive-aggressive ways into the many dysfunctional relationships they have with people willing to play their games.

“Remember,” Freddie says. “Most people don’t give a shit. They’re protecting themselves, quivering beneath the wings of their inner asshole because they are too weak to…”

“…do the right thing.”

“Yes.”

“Thank you, Freddie.”

“Don’t have no time for no monkey business.”

Freddie Mercury: Obsession Or Inspiration?

The light at the end of the tunnel, the entrance to Ape Cave at Mt. St. Helens, a lava flow extending in both directions opposite the entrance.
The light at the end of the tunnel, the entrance to Ape Cave at Mt. St. Helens, a lava flow extending in both directions opposite the entrance.

Well, I’m writing, aren’t I?

Some may know how difficult I’ve been about getting myself to write over the years. I’ve mentioned not being able to “find myself again” or that “something inside me had died” at about the age of thirteen when shit went really awry. I definitely lost something way back then. I’d been writing full-length kids’ stories in spiral bound notebooks, attending the Young Writers’ Conferences every year, being the chosen author in my class whose work was bound for the school library check-out. Then, I flat-lined, began writing silly rhyming poems about jellybeans and unrequited love. It’s like I lost it–whatever it was–that caused me to have any imagination whatsoever.

And then I went off and studied things like accounting, E-commerce, business management. Now, if that didn’t kill the last creative spark, I don’t know what could have. More death? More bills? The worst breakup, even more death, blaming myself for it all? Maybe I was trying to prove myself. Maybe I was bitter. I was definitely angry and driven throughout my twenties, then depressed, apathetic and hopeless during my thirties. Now, here I am. I have a muse and I am going deep inside. I’m like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon. There’s no other way to put it. Freddie Mercury’s life, what I am allowed to know of his personal life and what I think I am intuiting from even the unspoken, is part of my journey.

Take a look at artists everywhere and you will find that so-and-so was influenced by so-and-so.

For once, it seems, I am alone again (not in the lonely sense) much like I was at pre-thirteen. I have my own space. My animals. It’s up to me how I keep my space. I don’t have to give-in to the demands of someone who is not willing to put out the effort, but willing to wine & dine, then take and take.

Each day goes by and I see more evidence that I’m back. That me person who had dreams, fantasies, inspiration. A person who could play and imagine and put it all down on paper.

Did I get so lost in what I thought I had to prove to others?

Perhaps. I definitely set out to prove myself when I reached adulthood. I felt I’d lived in the shadow of condemnation where I could do not right no matter how by-the-book I tried to be. All the while there was a part of me that strictly denied any affiliation with the Joneses. I need the right reason. My reason. Not situation, or ease of agreement. I won’t keep in a situation where my future will spoil. I don’t think anyone should. Not for longevity in relationship. Not to prove themselves to no one. Not for addiction. People have to climb mountains and face all types of weather in order to find Truth. This means a person must encounter all forms of disappointment, even the most trying, and bounce back somehow. Once depression or drugs or apathy takes hold, life seems insurmountable, but this can be reversed by some means. Each must find his or her door and this is personal, does not depend solely on any one interpersonal relationship or the dependence upon another person.

Tell me I’m obsessed with Freddie Mercury like it’s a bad thing.

Go on.

It’s okay if you don’t get it. All that matters is that I do. And I’m not afraid.

As Freddie himself would say, “I don’t give a shit, darling.”

And that’s true. I don’t.

This is wonderful for me, this sudden appearance of Freddie Mercury in my life in February of 2013. While he’d been out there all the while, on the radio, videos, his memory living on, I’d never noticed. Sure, I’d watched Wayne’s World before and I knew of “Bohemian Rhapsody”, the song, but only in passing had I heard it. The song meant nothing and I knew not of Queen, except that a band called Queen existed.

(O, there are so many layers to my journey of recent times, of Freddie, both goose and frontman, of mice and gardening and cooking and books and life-changing lessons.)

I will tell the story of how I found Freddie Mercury (and Freddie the goose) in another entry. For now, let me share more about obsession vs. muse/inspiration.

Inspiration: Merriam-Webster’s definition of inspiration is:

: something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone

: a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something

: a good idea

         and

Muse:

: to think about something carefully or thoroughly

: to think or say (something) in a thoughtful way

Obsession: Let’s say I feel a compulsion to wash my hands. So I wash my hands. Then I walk to the door to leave and I feel compelled to wash my hands again, because I don’t feel my hands are clean enough. I just don’t. So I go back and wash my hands again. Then I touch the door handle. The compulsion is so strong, I must wash my hands again. So I do, even though my skin is raw from scrubbing, because I cannot get my hands clean enough. Water isn’t enough. Regular soap isn’t enough. I have to get my hands clean. And what now that I’ve rubbed the skin off in places? Bacteria will get inside and I will get sick. So I disinfect my hands. I’d better wear gloves for a while to protect my hands from germs, since I’ve rubbed them raw.

And this goes on and on, let’s say. And I struggle. It’s disabling. Nothing good comes of it. Each time I wash my hands, they do not become cleaner, but raw and, eventually, bloody. It is a compulsion and my fear of germs, an obsession that drives me to wash until I need medical treatment, both psychological and physical.

Some people enjoy watching baseball. They work five days per week and then they sit on the couch nearly the entire weekend and watch baseball. Some people play golf. All they want to do, weather permitting, is play golf. Some people have to watch the next episode of a sitcom the minute it airs. They cannot miss it. People read People Magazine, religiously, and they talk about what all the celebrities are wearing and what they are doing. Heck, there’s even some section in there about “Celebrities do it, too” or something like that. As if the regular folks cannot believe stars take shits. But, people want to know and have a hunger for what is going to happen next in the world around them, or what Dick or Jane says on a TV program, how far they can hit a ball at golfing, whether or not the Boston Red Sox will win a playoff.

We all have something we are doing. Well, mostly. I admit to being depressed enough before that I wasn’t doing what I really wanted to do. Strangely, during these blue times I found myself sitting in front of a television and eating unhealthily. For a lot of people that may be the norm, it seems. But that’s not good enough for me. It just isn’t. I had to recognize and take responsibility for that.

I cannot accept a mediocre life. I cannot repeat the life I’ve lived for the past decade. I had nothing to hold onto. All my efforts (eggs) were put in the flimsy baskets and these baskets tipped over. I gathered what I could, what was not fully broken, and I now see I can repair all the cracks in the eggs with solid gold. Perhaps no one else cared about the eggs like I did. To see my eggs tossed away and stomped, crushed my spirit, but I let it happen. Shit happens. I forgive myself and it’s easier to see a learning experience instead of disappointment.

Sometimes I get so low, I just don’t know, everything seems hopeless. That’s where I have been. I couldn’t get out of a situation I was in, or so evidence suggested at the time. I felt like I’d tried too hard, waited far too long, and….nothing mattered. I told myself I was going to do this or that, but I wasn’t doing anything…and then I got physically sick.

In the end what is it that I hold onto most?

Freddie Mercury. Why?

Why do you read scriptures or pray?

I can have it all, except I don’t worry about going to hell, darlings.

I, for once, see the appeal of turning to an outside source to find strength within. But, I still think the strength itself must come from within, except I needed inspiration, something, someone dependable, malleable and someone to whom I could relate? I hadn’t found this in relationships or any ideas or beliefs. Those had all fallen flat.

So when I was at my mother’s one afternoon, chatting, her television broadcast a man dressed in white at a piano, several plastic, half-full cups and Heineken bottles on top, I wondered why this man demanded my attention. Mostly, I dismiss whatever is on television and as far as music is concerned, I am pretty boring and tend to listen to the same artists over and over–one for a six month stint, then switch to another, then switch back to the previous artist. And I don’t listen to any Top 40 or radio.

Why this man? Why now?

I was curious. I wanted to know who he was, inexplicably, and badly. My first thought was that he resembled a cousin of mine who had committed suicide at age 19. I thought he looked like someone I could be related to and, since I am interested in genealogy, I naturally wondered where he was from, what was his name, and so on.

“You don’t know who that is?” my mother said. “That’s Freddie Mercury. He is a God!

Maybe I am still seeking my mother’s approval. But I don’t think that’s it. To me the moment stands out like many other important moments, so vivid and meaningful I doubt, barring dementia, I will ever forget. There was a feeling in that moment, a compelling, strange feeling of elation that penetrated my mind.

I had to know more.

“Mercury,” I said. “Is he Greek?” (Some of us change our names, I am comfortably aware, to fit who we think we really are, our true persona, or to escape something. Of this I am clear.)

“No, he’s not Greek. I can’t remember where he’s from,” my mother said.

I later learned many people assumed he was a “British-born” rock star. That’s not what I saw at all. My intuition lent itself to the immediate recognition of someone spectacular who had a story, had moved a great distance from somewhere exotic. He was an enigma, I knew, before I even knew his name.

“Queen,” my mother said. “You’ve heard of Queen?”

“O, wow. Really? I’ve heard of Queen, and Bohemian Rhapsody, but I know nothing of them.”

So, I sat down and began searching my gadget for Google hits as we do these days. It’s a Machine’s World, after all.

And that searching of facts and photos and stories carried on for quite some time, leading to the purchase of several biographies, and strange coincidences began to occur for which I had no explanation other than that I was noticing things I hadn’t noticed before. As if I’d learned a new word and then that word was everywhere, as if I’d summoned it. But, as always, I remained skeptical.

I became “insatiable in appetite” for anything about Freddie and the results were fascinating enough to produce those pungent adrenalin rushes some of us information- or book-lover types experience when we learn or read the right passage.

The right passage.

The right to pass. The right to carry on.

“Mamaaaaaaa…..Oooo-oo-ooooo-ooo…I don’t wanna die…”

And how many times had I wanted to die? Hopeless, bottomless, nobody-loves-me pit of utter despair. Rock bottom. Living in a mind of shit. Hating where I was at, being swallowed by who I was with, allowing myself to slither beneath the carpet and get walked on like a piece of fish dropped at a Sunday market in Sicily.

I needed a wake-up call, a lens, mine so dirty I had become blind in much the same way a frog boiled slowly doesn’t know he’s being cooked alive.

So, I say, whatever it is–I HAD TO FIND IT!

If someone refers to my interest in Freddie Mercury as an obsession, well, it is more than that, way more. This is something diabolical that I am acting on.

Freddie Mercury is my inspiration. This blog is evidence. And it all started so long ago, in my ancestors’ bones, in their travels and in their brains, wants, loves and tragedies. I take what lies within seriously, and, yes, there is a destiny waiting to be fulfilled. I can get on with it, or I can stagnate. The choice is mine.

There is much more waiting. Not just for this blog. Ideas much bigger.

And, darlings, I’m no Lady GaGa or Katy Perry.