Giving, Receiving, Understanding, Empathy
Suggested Audio Jukebox
 The Rolling Stones “Let It Bleed”
 Bruce Springsteen “What Love Can Do”
In March 2013 I opened a can of worms. Back then I was Joe Nobody; just another hopeful blogger with tiny dreams and a few words backed up in my quill. I never, in my wildest imaginings, expected that anyone would give a damn about what I had to say as there would undoubtedly be someone else out there saying the exact same thing far more eloquently. I was a little minnow in a gargantuan pond, feeding on algae and swimming in my own self-loathing. Almost two years have passed now and I hold great belief in my ability rather than contempt towards my lack of unique potential. In a relatively short amount of time my outlook has changed considerably and I owe it all to one tiny, formerly insignificant, word. Grue.
When I came up with the concept for Rivers of Grue I had no idea that it would end up meaning so much to so many. I knew my way around a dictionary and had a lifetime of experience watching horror movies to draw from but I hardly expected to make a splash. Suddenly, through my work resonating with some truly wonderful people who encouraged me to dream big, I began to see opportunity. I’m not speaking of the ability to make a pretty dollar and be chauffeured around like Miss Daisy while some high-rent hooker blows me in the back seat. Nothing that unscrupulous. I’m speaking of the chance to resonate with others; take every bit of belief I gained and use it to empower others to do likewise. To grow something organically rather than emptying ingredients into a pan and following instruction. Most critically, I had the opportunity to share emotion rather than bottle it inside as had been customary.
Initially, much of said emotion was negative and I felt practically worthless. My personal life was on a downward spiral and my body faltering under the abuse being dished out by myself as I slowly self-destructed. However, even when I felt like the bottom of my world was falling away, I was determined not to leave others feeling so helpless. I fast assumed responsibility for showing the benefits of positivity, even when I could see no way out of my own personal mire. I love Slipknot but that doesn’t mean I believe that people=shit. I just think their music kicks assholes and elbows. I had no interest in peddling misery; there’s enough of that already circulating in the world without another gormless advocate coming along and announcing “it’s all a massive waste of time and energy”. Fuck that and fuck it twice; I still believe the world is full of lollipops and candy cane, you just have to know where your nearest stockist resides.
There were days when I would sit down to scribe a piece feeling as though my guts had been stirred thoroughly with a septic ladle. However, instead of whining on about woe being me, I decided to channel my misery via the quill and mould it into something hopeful and inspiring. It turns out that whatever you put out into the universe informs what you receive in return. If I had spent my time farting halfway up escalators and waiting for the family behind me to ascend into my stench cloud then I have no doubt that I would have died of renal failure at a later juncture in some cruel twist of irony. Instead, by giving, I learned how to receive. By understanding rather than judging I worked out the importance of empathy. None of us are perfect; as much as we all like to believe that our shit is scent-free, we know such not to be accurate. I’m no saint and neither do I claim to be. But my life’s indiscretions have all been committed to paper and I haven’t held back on revealing my numerous faults. In that time, very few have cast judgement.
Fast forward to January 2015 and my entire world has turned on its head in a good way. You see, I hadn’t realized that it had been upside down for the last twenty years so, once the revolution was completed, I was facing the right way again. Confused? How do you think Einstein felt when that apple dropped back on his barnet? Where before I was hunted consistently by baying mind jackals, now the fluffy bunnies are bounding once more. I believe wholeheartedly in the power of love and not because I own a compilation of power ballads. I believe because its right there, everywhere I look, being shared freely by the most irrepressible group of exclusive souls I have ever had the privilege of sharing inspiration with. I’m speaking of the Grueheads of course; a ragtag band of sisters and brothers who have been dealt their fair share of blows but not let themselves become embittered.
Recently I have been bowled over by the amount of amazing work being produced by those who wear the Grueheads mantle with pride and purpose. Many of these scribes have their own horror stories, have endured their own personal trauma. Yet none of them harp on about how fucked everything is. Instead, they use any anguish to create something of beauty. I have been left utterly humbled by this reaction. When I wrote 2015: Rise of The Grueheads I had every intention of stepping things up; but I didn’t expect anything resembling the response that followed. Over everything else it has proved one simple fact to me; I am no longer alone. A year ago, you could have dropped me into a crowded stadium, and I would have felt like the only person present. Now you could strap me into a straitjacket and I’ll still have somebody to play patticakes with.
I’m both Jekyll and Hyde. My Hyde side will always be there, tying my own shoelaces together for shits and grins or placing a thin veil of cellophane over the toilet before I take a piss. However, I know how to take my potion. A swig at a time; just enough for hairy palms but not sufficient to facilitate the need for world domination. Turns out Jekyll is a stand up guy; not that I’m plucking my own harpsichord. I have learned to love myself and that was never a concept I had learned to master before now. Through perfecting my baking skills and handing out love brownies like a girl scout, others began to produce their own culinary delights and I stuffed my face like Augustus Gloop in Wonka’s estuary. How does the expression go? Moment on the lips, lifetime on the hips. I have my own take on that. By allowing others to touch your heart, your soul learns how to feed. My soul used to resemble a punctured colostomy bag whereas now it’s more like an expertly-crafted balloon animal. I even walk with a spring in my stride now as opposed to believing wholeheartedly that I had contracted the first ever reported case of human wet-tail.
We have the ability to do so much but society constantly attempts to teach us how not to punch above our weight. It’s all bullshit in a flask to me; every own of us is unique goddammit, there ain’t a damn thing we can’t achieve so long as we put our minds, and more critically souls, to it. The Grueheads have formed our own community, our own society. If we are feeling like death warmed up and need a reassuring hand then there are plentiful at our disposal. That’s what it means to embrace our grue heritage. We give but never to receive. We receive but never because we have given. We understand one another; accept each quirk and embrace the hell out of it. We empathize as it is in our nature to do so. Suddenly there is a family where before it was a collection of lost souls nursing injury. Einstein was right; what goes up must come down. However, remember what I said a couple of paragraphs back about my world being topsy-turvey? Well, in my own twisted logic, that means that what falls down eventually learns how to get back up again.
I’m not sure if anything I’m saying makes a blind bit of sense but therein lays the beauty. Take what you want from my prose, mould it into your very own balloon animal and take it for an imaginary walk down the boulevard. Sometimes nonsense just makes more sense. Believe in yourselves and I pledge to do the same, encourage each other and I shall purchase a lute and learn how to play it at social gatherings and bar mitzvahs, love one another and I will always give my blessing. It matters not a jot whether you scribe, fashion art or cheer from the stands; what is important is that you have somewhere to do that without fear of being judged or cast aside. We are in this together Grueheads and I, for one, take great comfort from that.
Truly, Clearly, Really, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2014