I want to start this off by telling you that I am sorry.
Sorry might not even cut it, though, but I don’t know what else to say about it other than to plainly say: I am sorry. Like really fucking sorry.
I am sorry because I have not been holding up my part of the bargain, not really been sharing the load as diligently as I can. I’ve been sleeping on the job of my life’s purpose, but no one can fire me, so I’m left with two choices:
Wallow in the missed opportunities and squandered moments wherein I could have been practicing. There are tangible consequences to my truancy. Those fallouts are ever-present in my waking reality.
Recognize the path I’m on isn’t going to lead me where I must go, and change courses entirely.
There are certain patterns of living that I have found my way out of (let’s not just yet get into other patterns I’ve slipped into, though) that through expressing my experience even on a small scale has had a broad impact on a few people in my general community in ways that have surprised me.
For some, this had led to distinct changes, others just an ongoing awareness that they bring up to me whenever we happen to be in physical proximity. Then there are those in between. People have reached out to me digitally or in person to let me know that a piece of writing or a show I played had some sort of impact on them. Some people have even thanked me. Some people have been low-key pissed that I’ve not been sharing all along. It’s not a common occurrence (mainly because of how infrequently I’ve shared my writing or music of late), but it hits me deeply and truly when it does.
Far more common in my life has been praise for photographs I have taken. That feels good too, but it’s not the same, and (sorry to those I collaborate with on camera projects) I have a lingering suspicion that while I have learned a great deal about myself and have had some irreplaceable experiences through its practice, that it’s really serving me as a placeholder creative outlet, one with more immediate gratification, and ultimately a deviation from the practices that matter more to me.
From another vantage point, though, I believe that my photography and video work will be much more lighthearted and creative again once I am not neglecting my more pressing creative practice of writing — fiction, essays, poetry, journalism, scripts, and music.
It’s a perverted form of selfishness, really. Much like the selfishness of smoking the better part of a quarter of weed by myself in less than a couple days (edit: I’m mainly abstaining these days). I have an abundance of strange magic in me that has been kept under a seal of repression for as long as I can recall. I cannot truly blame that repression on anyone else but me, in the end, but the years of religious and socially conservative indoctrination, peer ridicule, and being a queer who’s not-exactly-white/not-exactly-POC did not help.
But fuck blame, the nature of it and its affects are far more relevant to this diatribe. Repression, in my experience, is not living the life you are here to live, your life’s purpose.
I’ve repressed myself in so many ways over the years — my spirituality, my sexuality, my gender identity, my cultural heritage, more fully engaging with my romantic partner. I have also repressed myself by not engaging with the things that matter to me most, the things that are true about me regardless of other people or my stage in life. Reading. Writing. Being in my body and not just my mind. Plying guitar. Singing. Being in the water (Cancer sun/Pisces moon, here). Spending time alone. Engaging with people. Letting people know how amazing I think they are (and the freedom NOT to engage with them sexually). Sitting in stillness. Being out in nature. Camping. Exploring the infinite, basically.
Much of the last few years has been hijinks and navel gazing. Not that there is anything wrong with doing those things, just as long as they are illuminating in some way. But even then, illumination when kept to yourself is somehow darker than blindness.
A good friend of mine once told me that a writer who does not write flirts with insanity. That may be true — although I am no flirt. I usually prefer others to make the first move. But in this scenario I’ve been throwing some major shapes, and so me and my own personal brand of insanity have been seeing one another for a good while now. I presume that we always will (even if from a faraway vantage point), but goddamnit if I could just get some balance going I suspect I could do things. New things. Meaningful things. And perhaps (PERHAPS!) it will run concurrently with me not feeling so financially jeopardized that the vegan ice cream goes on the credit card.
At the yoga studio where I practice, a group of regular attendees and some of the teachers went down to Tulum, Mexico, for a retreat. I heard them talking about it after class for weeks and weeks before it happened. The usual response of those hearing about the trip for the first time (and it’s >$3,000 + travel price tag) was more casual than me deciding if I can afford to grab a meal at a restaurant after class.
The unfazed nature with which they regarded such an expenditure of time and funds alarmed me, not in any negative way, more so just realizing how wide a gap there is between my economic reality and theirs (I can’t really afford the monthly membership to the studio, but can far less afford further mental unravelling), putting me in a state of nonplussed bewilderment about how I could be so far behind those who are essentially my peers.
Instantly, I remembered what one of the teachers there said during a late night open studio session, that his view of finances changed when he recognized money as simply a tangible placeholder for an authentic energy exchange. You put your energy out there and those that receive it will reciprocate appropriately.
It struck me that the reason why my finances are so screwy and my clientele has been so inconsistent isn’t really something I can entirely blame on an advertising industry that seems to mainly have budgets for projects that promote businesses or products that harm people and/or the planet. Really, it comes down to my own miserly output. I’m not doing my fucking thing, and I suspect that I will never be in a place of pecuniary stasis until I am (#everydamnday). And I’ll not be able to do that until I make the decision to not repress myself, to not deny who I am by not loving and practicing who I am without compromise.
Aside from self-doubt, then, what’s my excuse? I only recently realized that my means of motivation has been out of focus. What I’m told is that I should seek to write for money and personal glory. Neither of those things are all that appealing unto themselves. Much more recently, I’ve found that what motivates me most about writing is healing, love, discovery, truth, and beauty. To me, those are far more galvanizing (and reciprocating) than invented coin and the pursuit of public praise.
So, again, I am really sorry for not doing my part. We are all crucial, inextricable elements of this Greater Thing together, and like Ralph Waldo Emerson opined in “Self Reliance,” if I’m not actively doing the “work” of what it is to be me, then no one else is either. And to repress who and what I am is to depress who and what I am.
In order for this grand puzzle to work, we must all do our unique part, like the salmon that sims upstream, like the bear that eats part of the salmon and tosses it into the brush. Like the fungi that bore through the salmon and absorb its nutrients. Like the tree whose roots exchange sugar with the fungi for the nutrients from the salmon, grow tall as a result, and breathe oxygen into our lungs so that we may live out our life’s purpose.
We are the one’s driving out own flesh vehicles, and if we are stuck daydreaming and distracted to no avail, we are sleeping at the wheel. There is no autopilot. There is no cruise control — only active exploration or careening into a co-created void.
My name is Marcelo Asher Quarantotto.I WRITE WITH WORDS, PHOTOS, VIDEOS, WEBSITES AND MUSIC.
I am a father of three beautiful daughters and husband to the most gracious, saintly creature I've ever met. (You'll find pictures of them here from time to time.) I am also a multidisciplinary storyteller.