Priorities, Mantras and Habit Forming

No so long ago I was thinking about finally getting a tattoo, something more functional and personal than a skull or some tribal shit winding up my arm. That stuff is aesthetically pleasing, at least until the next tattoo fad hits. I think it was a vague echo of the film Memento that finally clicked for me. A kind of reverberating in the inner ear from years and miles away.

The main character in Memento suffers from short term memory loss – he can’t form new memories. So, in order to pursue his mission – to find the men who killed his wife, he tattoos his body with reminders as to what’s happened and what clues he’s uncovered. The tattoos then become a kind of personal historical snapshot, constantly evolving and referencing each other in new ways. I thought maybe my tattoo should be something like that. Indeed what better reminder or reinforcement than a tattoo? Its always, always, always there, and, put in the right place can speak to the wearer, observers or both.

So I was going to get “Carpe Diem” on my inner arm. So that in all of those moments of hesitation, second guessing and contemplation I would remember the value of “seizing the day.” That was one option. Its briefer than my favourite mantras of “Say yes more often than no.” and “Never do tomorrow what could be done today.” But it seemed somehow not personal enough, not metaphorical enough. Body art should be artistic, not just a statement of value. At least that’s what I was thinking.

Then I thought of using the words, “Its just a ride” in reference to the Bill Hicks soliloquy on life which I’m sure I’ve quoted in this blog many times before. Then I thought maybe just a kind of Big Daddy Roth rollercoaster with Bill Hicks in the front car, or something more Steadmanesque.

In the end though I’m not sure that I really need a tattoo, I just need to set priorities, form some good habits and keep those mantras in my head where they belong. So…

The mantras you already know – “Carpe Diem” “Say yes more often than no.” “Never do tomorrow what could be done today.” and “Its just a ride.” Plus a couple of secret ones (secret because they’re sacred, not because they’re dirty).

So, Priorities and Habits.

A top, top, top priority is Discipline. In order to be self-supporting with my artistic and community building activities I need to be highly disciplined, otherwise things won’t get done. This needs to be deconstructed more into its componant parts. Its all there, the details just need to be teased out.

People is another one. I like people. I am working to improve ALL of my relationships with honesty, with time, with listening (both passive and active) and with good old fashionned fun. Friends, family and lovers are what makes it all possible and worthwhile. Plus a lot of my ideas and projects are impossible to bring to fruition by myself, and I enjoy creating in groups (more on this later, ask me about the Jazzfest cameraman).

Self-sufficiency. I want to be rid of my debts and obligations, at least my institutional ones. Debts and obligations to people are fine so long as they’re properly managed. Debts and obligations to institutions are a waste of my time, energy and resources. So pay off debt. Disentangle myself as much as possible from the machine without forcing myself to endure unnecessary hardship. Not quite a drop-out hippie, but getting rid of the dirtiest connections and dependencies.

Experiment, play and explore. Big. BIG. BIIIIG!!! I love to learn, to play, experiment and grow. I haven’t been doing very much of that lately. Here and there sure but I could do much better. I was so much more voracious for knowledge and experiences back when I was in school or travelling. Time to allow my wonder to blossom instead of just allowing brief breaths of air before forcing it to dive again under the icy sheet of practicality. This also means accepting whatever comes out of it. I shouldn’t be afraid of failing or of succeeding. I shouldn’t have expectations, just the experience in the moment. Who knows where it will lead, perhaps to…

Art. Very much related to exploring and playing, in fact there’s a lot of overlap. Art is taking the experiments and experiences above and turning them into tangile artifacts or experiences for others to share. With any luck they’ll be moved, or at least mildly impressed or entertained.

More to come…


There couldn’t be a better time to work on forging new helpful habits and squelching old bad ones. Moving into a new space means new routines, environment, everything. This is a time to be very conscious, open and careful to the ways that I spend my time and interact with my environment.

For instance, my apartment doesn’t have a washer and dryer, so I’ll have to go to the laundromat once a week. Where some might see this as an inconvenience, I see it as a great opportunity. I could read a book or a magazine. I could edit photos or video. But I’m thinking of doing something that otherwise I don’t do nearly enough of these days. Write. A screenplay, a novel, poetry – who knows. But I think I’ll write.

Daily meditations/thoughts of the day are requisite I think, along with daily walks perhaps along the canal, the railroad tracks or up into Westmount to gawk at the (glorious yet terrible) excess.

Pack a lunch.

Actually eat it.

A game plan for the day.

Including breaks.

Podcasts during the commute to/from work.

Exercise – capoeira, fire spinning, yoga, climbing, parkour…

Okay, that’s enough goofing off at work. Time to pretend I’m working a bit more…


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