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Diary of a Burn-Out

by Mike Altrin

It’s been one year since i’ve stopped making music. Stepped off the stage, disbanded, bid farewell to the recording studio, locked my guitars and gear in the rehearsal room and threw away the key. I didn’t know why it happened, but i was about to find out that explaining it in any way would have required a regrettable sin, a further vexation of my rattled spirit. For nothing bad have happened. It was rather something from the future that stopped me in my tracks and stared right into my soul. Hidden, unmanifested and overwhelming, this great sovereign uncertainty left me no choice but to submit. For quite a while I felt lost, devoid of voice and inspiration, painfully silent, set reeling in endless & tormenting enquiry about art and the movement of consciousness, about burdens and masks too heavy to carry, the hollow conventions of rebellion, and all those little truths that one confortably tells himself along the way and that eventually add up to one big lie.

Opposing this perplexity did stir a bitter wind that ripped apart the proud dreams in which the artist had laid anchor. But then, this very wind began to also disperse the myriad deaf screaming oppositins, disappointments and numbness i was dealing with. And as they rolled away as black clouds in the sky, there came a deep, peaceful solitude, deeply balming and warm, like the under-wing of a mother bird. Within it, there was a light, circled by beautiful new questions flying, hiding, swirling like butterflies, trying for no answer, but only there for a loving eye.

How i now love this precious solitude, this fertile earth and its question-mark flowers, at which i can wonder like a kid, free from the artist’s cunning ego and the ridiculous dignity of the rock n roll hero. How beautiful the poverty in which our core resides, open to endless and -above all- unimaginable possibilities! This rilkean questioning state, demanding no guessing, no conclusions, but only our heartfelt awe towards the great Mystery accomplishing itself through, beyond and above our lives...

After a few months, my wife became pregnant and I found myself contemplating fatherhood. Now, whoever thinks parenthood is all about life and confidence, future and security, does not know that in equal measure it’s also about death, one’s demise to another’s rise, about courage and fear, and the holy burden of love. So in their deep reverberance i laid my questions, and watched them become what every true question about Art is supposed to be: an interrogation about the mystery of life and death and love. Acutely aware of this everpresent & transcendent mystery, the artist bears it for as long as the journey goes, carrying his precious questions on his shoulder, hungry under the stars. If fate allows, he might catch a song in the morning.

Photo Mike ALTRIN

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