Friday, June 16, 2017

June 16: Friendless and Despised, Charles Dickens, Imperfections

With  regard to the whereabouts of Kilgore Trout:  he actually lived in Ilium, Billy's hometown, friendless and despised.  Billy would meet him by and by.

Kilgore Trout lives in Billy's home town.  He's not quite a celebrity, despite that fact that he has written a lot of books.  A lot.  And Vonnegut promises that Trout will show up later in Billy's story.

There have been a lot of people I would like to meet in my life.  Stephen King and John Irving, for instance.  Billy Collins.  I've met a few of my idols, as well.  I was twice in the same room as Maya Angelou.  I actually shook Kurt Vonnegut's hand once.  I've talked about poetry with Sharon Olds.  I had a picture taken with Alec Baldwin.

There are also people that I would have liked to meet, but never had the opportunity.  Katherine Hepburn.  Robin Williams.  As a teenager, I always thought that I was going to be friends eventually with River Phoenix.  He was going to read something that I wrote, and he would just call me up or show up at my front door.

There is something about certain public figures that just draw me in.  I have read a thousand-page biography of Charles Dickens not once, not twice, not three times.  I've read it five or six times.  Most of the time, the people who I find the most fascinating--the ones with whom I want to be friends--are really flawed.  People who have a lot of light and dark in them.  I feel a kinship with individuals like this.

I like the idea that people, despite their incredible limitations, can do really great things.  Robin Williams had mental health and addiction issues.  Charles Dickens was most certainly bipolar.  River Phoenix was a heroin addict and alcoholic.  Yet, look at the great things these artists did in their respective fields.

All this gives me hope.  I am not perfect.  I gravitate toward darkness.  Some of my acquaintances may be surprised by this admission.  For the most part, I'm fairly gregarious in public.  I like making people smile and laugh.  Just today, a coworker told me, "You're the most positive person I know."  I appreciate that observation.

Charles Dickens loved throwing lavish parties for his friends, but his temperament was quicksilver.  After he was done writing at night, he would sometimes go for a 20-mile walk.  River Phoenix would sneak up on his friends from behind and engulf them in bear hugs, but he would go on drug-binges for weeks at a time.

Nobody is perfect.  I think that my greatest creative achievements come from my greatest faults.  And, in a way, that's a gift.

Tonight, Saint Marty is thankful for his imperfections.

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