In High School, I was what some scholars would call a Japanophile, that is, I loved all things Japanese. More specifically, I loved everything about ancient Japanese culture. My interest for this history died, however, by point of the timeline marked at about 1853, when, in my opinion at the time, the Japanese story went to pot.
To be even more specific, I loved all things samurai. I loved the attitude; the ethos; the weaponry (of course, what teenage boy could resist swords?); hell, even the clothing. I lived my life by these things, especially the attitude. It shaped who I became. But I don't worship it anymore; at least, not with the same fervor that I attacked it with before. Instead, I transfered my obsessive tendencies to other things. In other words, I started playing guitar.
I fell in love with the blues. And eventually, I became obsessed with them. Not your standard electric, fat, old-guy blues that you only find bald white guys playing, I mean real blues. Old, friggin' scary blues. Not, "My baby left me" blues, but "I'm running because I've kinda made a deal with the devil" blues. It connected with me; it made sense to me. It scared me, in a way. But I stopped trying to make that kind of music for many reasons. The main few being that I will never suffer they way they've had to throughout their lives, simply because of the fact that I'm white. Because of that and the way American society has shaped itself throughout its history, I will never know the type of discrimination that those musicians have had to endure. So, I gave it up and tried to find other music to make while still truly loving and appreciating the blues that taught me how to play.
I find it funny that I focused on these two subjects during my lifetime, because they are both things that I could never comfortably become. I could not become a samurai because I am not a) japanese, and b) living in 1600 Japan. Plus, I'd look pretty lame if I dressed up as one as is. I would not be comfortable as a blues musician because I would always be an imitator, unsettled by the same discomfort in the back of my mind if I gone through with trying to be a samurai. Always in imitation and deference to the "real" ones.
So, having realized this, I felt like I was falling into a personal trap: trying to be something that I could never be. And as the years passed, my interests have shifted, much to the confusion of some of my friends and relatives. Nothing earth-shattering, but something I could actually reach out to and touch, something that isn't completely possible in today's America, but more possible than my other dreams.
I will continue this in a second installment because I write too much as it is...