Fear and the Devil


Posted on June 12th, by James McAllen in Uncategorized. 7 comments

The first in an ongoing series about fear…

I’ve been trying to write this blog for about 4 days. And each time I start, I am forced to stop and delete it. The reason, quite simply, is fear. No pun intended. I was afraid to put this blog out into the world.

Today started out bad. From the minute I opened my eyes, I knew it was gonna be a long, arduous day. I could taste the apprehension in the back of my throat. I’ll tell you why.

For the longest time, I have been miserable at work. The job is ok. The hours are ok. But I am completely unfulfilled. After complaining about it for the better part of two years, I started looking for alternatives. I had an interview last week. I won’t reveal the company yet, but they offered me the job an hour after I left the room. Most people would be ecstatic. I broke into a cold sweat. The committee of voices in my head started screaming right away. “You can’t do this. You’re a fraud. You’re not gonna last 3 months.

In the world that I come from, there is a line in the literature that says, “Fear of economic insecurity will leave us…” In 25 years, that’s never happened. There is a part of me that thinks that if I take this job and it doesn’t work out, I’ll be out of work and homeless in 6 months. Mind you, I have a family the size of a small Indonesian nation. I have a better chance of hitting Lotto TWICE than I do of being homeless, and yet… the fear is there. I was also afraid that if anyone from my job saw this post, I’d be let go. If that’s the case, so be it.

Truthfully, I only really have two fears… the fear of failure… and the fear of success. When you have  those two, the others don’t really matter.

Wednesday is usually a city day. I head over the bridge to get my allergy shots, and then I usually wander around taking pictures and looking for inspiration. Today I decided to walk up to Central Park. On my way up 5th Ave, I decided to duck into St. Pats. I’ve been visiting different churches on my treks around the city lately, but today I decided to skip the 2nd tier churches and go right to the head of the line.

There is a line in Webber and Rice’s Jesus Christ Superstar where Christ appears before Pilate for the 2nd time and Pilate mocks him and  says, “And so the King is once again my guest.” As I walked into the cathedral, I heard a voice saying, “And so the heathen is once again my guest. What is it this time? Redemption? Forgiveness? Sheer Mockery? No, my Lord. Just want to light a candle for some guidance.” Of course, I lit a candle at the shrine to St Teresa, exactly as she showed me.

Whenever I go to Central Park, I look up and see the Dakota and I think of Lennon. There was a period of time when he was arguably the most recognizable person in the world. Certainly in the top 10, and yet all he felt was alone. Misunderstood and alone. Until he met Yoko. The world hated Yoko. She was a repulsive creature for sure, but from the White Album on… thru Imagine and Double Fantasy, right up until his death, she was his muse. You can say what you want, but that’s a pretty impressive body of work to have inspired.

The Muse is a funny creature. Sometimes it comes as a child. Sometimes it comes as an Old Lady struggling with a shopping cart. (Always help the old lady with the shopping cart.) Sometimes the Muse has tattoos and snarls like a pitbull on a short chain. The Muse is almost always a woman. Even gay designers have a female muse. The Muse tells you that you are great and talented and one day the world will recognize your greatness. But sadly, without warning, the muse can leave in a flash. When that happens, the Devil comes. The Devil comes in the middle of the dark night and whispers, “You’re a loser. You’re fat. You’re a zero. No one cares about you and your silly attempts at artistic greatness. Now go and work in the mines and be grateful.”   It’s easier to listen to the Devil than the Muse. The Devil sounds genuine.

Along with my book, I got a bunch of bookmarks and business cards for marketing. Today I decided that I was going to give every person that I saw reading, a bookmark. Sounds reasonable, right? Except, no one reads books. Everyone on the train listens to their Ipod. Everyone is listening to Bruno Mars and Justin Bieber. No one is listening to Lennon. I decided that Literary Row would be a good place to go. There was no one reading books there either. I laughed at the irony. Finally I saw a young man reading a book near the band-shell. He looked like he stepped out of an Aryan recruitment poster. I offered him a bookmark and he politely declined. I wanted to scream “Go back to Austria, you Nazi Twat!“, but I just tucked my tail and kept moving. He simply confirmed what the Devil had already told me. I abandoned the bookmark plan.

As I made my way around the park, I was exposed to the various fragrances of the pungent odor of God’s favorite wildflower.  In 25 years, I have never really had the desire to go back to drinking and partying like a over-indulgent teenager, but the winsome longing to partake in the burning of the psychedelic gateway drug has never really waned. I have resisted the urge, not because I worry about a job or the law, or the approval of society at-large, I simply have a fear that if I start smoking pot, I’ll be drunk in no time. It’s that simple. This is a healthy fear. I’m hoping that fear never goes away. Be that as it may, it smelled damn good.

I exited the park and headed back to Kings County. At the 14th street platform, I heard the sounds of an acoustic guitar and young man singing Redemption Song The guitar case lay open in front of him. There wasn’t a whole lot in it. When I checked my pockets, I only had 3 bucks left. I gave him 2. Not because he was a great singer, or a good guitar player, but he had courage. He stood there in the world, and he sang his song without a care. Kudos to him.

He started playing All Along the Watchtower as the N train rolled into the station. Before I boarded the train, I went over and dropped a bookmark for Split Rock Road in his case. He smiled. I now had my blog, and the courage to print it. Turned out to be a pretty good day after all.

 





7 thoughts on “Fear and the Devil

  1. One of your best yet… Felt like I was there with you … The day before I was to leave on a cruise
    a guy on the N train platform playing the Titanic theme song…Fear or fate…that was MY dilemma

  2. very profound my friend,you do have the courage it takes to put this out there!”DON’T EVER FORGET THAT” your friend walter

  3. As I read about your fear, I thought of my own. I wonder why is it that creative people harbor so many fears? Why do we care if people like our painting, our writing, our silly radio bit ? But by God we do care…and it can drive you fucking mad….or so I’ve been told

  4. I like this picture ..one dog goes this way the other one goes that way ..and the guy in the middle is saying “Whatt”ya want from me “

  5. Back in the 70’s when I owned a bookstore on W.72 Street, John and Yoko were infrequent but very good customers. She found the store first, and like a good muse brought him in too one fine day.

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