Full Moon Fever by Tom Petty is a classic rock album that came out in 1989. It opens with the monster hit "Free Fallin'" and gets your heart pumping with "Won't Back Down" and on and on. One of the most influential rock albums of all time, no doubt. Why? Because it's a guy with shaggy hair singing his heart out and leaving nothing behind.
As I write this, in a couple of hours, I'll be singing my heart out in own version of "Free-Fallin'" called "Free Ballin.'" I know what you're thinking, it's actually about dogs playing fetch in the park, but I don't mind the allusion. Quite honestly some of the lyrics are a bit risque.
Either way, Camille and I are shooting a commercial for our short series Ruff and Tug Dogwalking. It's a culminating moment too. My six month old beard is going to be the star that disappears. Starting with the full beard and working towards totally clean cheeks, I'm excited and nervous. I haven't seen my full face since May. In that time, I've used beard oil, I've curled my mustache, and I've kissed my girlfriend, Julie, through the curtains of my face. Couple a four inch beard with long hair and I look like the thing from Adamm's Family. I don't mind. It was good thought experiment.
What did I learn with a beard?
No one cares what you look like. They are much more interested in themselves. Sure, I've shocked my friends and family with it and that's fun. After awhile though, they accept it and move on. It is what it is. I've been to virtual conferences and business meetings with this grotesque beard. Guess what? These business strangers I meet accept me as I am today. No one else. They have no history. They have no foresight. They have the present moment and this is who this Eric Maus character is, so be it. They accept it and move on. Whether they want to do business with me is another thing. Though that would owe to my value add rather than the length of my beard.
At times, the beard stands out. I've enjoyed that. People's comments on its size and length is fun, no doubt. I look like a whaler in the 1850's. I'll miss it for sure, but at the same time, I won't.
What I'm looking forward to post-beard? Quite simply, clean cheeks, clean kisses, and cleaner appearance. I don't recognize myself right now, which is trippy and the exact mental space I wish to be in. With the Covid-fear real and out there, it was nice donning this natural mask not only to showcase the timeline of this time in my history, but also, to try something new. I've set out on this journey when the pandemic to be the writer I wasn't prior to the quarantine.
Did I do my job? Yes. I made 10 short videos, wrote a number of blog posts, rewrote two feature-length screenplays, got a better understanding of internet marketing, and set my sights on expanding my writing practice. Sure, it didn't all happen over night and there was a lot of time spent staring a blank page and also, a lot of worrying if anything would happen with the stuff I'm making.
Now I realize, that yes, what I've done is a form of success. Did it give me the likes and followers I was aiming for? Somewhat. I expanded my social media influence. However, on a grander scale, it gave me a foundation to build from. I believe this Ruff and Tug short series will pay me real money some day. I believe these blog posts are not just cathartic, but someone will read them some day and know me a little better and maybe they'll feel better about trying out something new. It's my job to get paid to write the stuff I love. With the quarantine and everything that's happened since, I'm getting closer and closer to my goals every time I sit down to write and share my experience. Right now, it's not perfect, but I have time to grow. To look ugly, to make mistakes, and to build up the Eric Maus character that so many of my friends admire, but who online strangers don't know very well. If you didn't know, I'm a pretty great guy.
The beard represents an opportunity to explore sides of myself I never experienced before and look like a person I'd never thought I'd be. In spite of all the hair and all the time, one thing hasn't changed. This is my life and I can do whatever I wish with it. No matter what my external looks like, I am still the same man contending for the prize. That's important. Take me as I am. I say and let the world deal with the repercussions of my decisions.
Today, I clean my face and I'll feel the wind caressing my cheeks. It'll be a pure moment in the sun. That's what I look forward to the most.
Take me as I am.
“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”
Yesterday I mentioned the song my friends and I wrote together back in 2017 and how that was a profound moment. Above you can see it.
As I write this today, I'm listening to "Tea for the Tillerman" by Cat Stevens. I always listen to music when I write and this is one of those albums that easily feeds the air with inspiration and rhythm. I haven't listened to much else by Cat Stevens. However, the "Father and Son" song is one you probably know. I remember back in 2009 on the vinyl player I still have, (a sticker riddled briefcase that is actually a record player). At the time, I was prepping for a trip to Montana for the summer. I was going to be working and living out in Yellowstone. The first time I'd ever done anything like that in my life -- Travel without bounds by my parents. Of course, they disapproved and didn't understand it. In this song in particular, Cat breaks into two separate voices: the father and the son. I love the desperation in the son's voice and the wisdom in the father's. No one is ever right either. I was the son and I went my own way. I haven't been the same since.
Much in the same today, I am not the man I was yesterday or yesteryear. It so often compels me to think of the quote by Whitman, "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; (I am large. I contain multitudes)." Every day can be a contradiction and so often in my life it is. I'm noticing the patterns now.
Mainly to say, this music video is a relic much like Tea for the Tillerman is a relic. A memory of an idea. A thought born. Now it's regaining its day in the sun. Why? Because in this fossil, truth that I did not know at the time. I wrote part of this song and I shot the video. Since then, I now play guitar and sing. Everything I am now was here, but only a microcosm. I write videos, I shoot videos, and I make songs. Much like ten years prior, I was first setting out on my own.
Here I am, having spent a better part of the decade away from the place I was born. It's further than most get. It takes courage and dedication. There's many times I've wanted to give up and return to those safe shores of my youth and innocence. Much in the same, they've grown old and lost their luster. To say then, I'd rather be here in the muck mired by the freedom of movement than stuck in the ways of the past that kept me guarded.
I've given up many great places people hold dear in their hearts-- in love, in family, in friendships, in homes. Often, I recall them. Yet, they only suited me then to make way for now.
Today, I enter into the vast unknown that is this writing career. I write in hopes that I'll be able to touch a chord with you through my creations and our shared experiences. I am armed with tools, knowledge, wisdom, and stories, but it is only I that can take the steps forward. Fear is all around me. But to refuse change means a certain death. Maybe not physical, but absolute in its defeat.