From deep in the forest

In Japan, there is a place called the Suicide Forest. It is well-known. Many people go there to… well, there’s no need to describe what they do there. But there are photographs of tattered necktie remnants hanging from tree branches. Bones below them half-covered with earth and vines. For example.

In the 1990s, a style of rock music called ‘grunge’ was popular. It was born under wet, grey skies in Seattle, USA. In the damp air of the Pacific Northwest by young people who were unhappy and liked flannel. Who found the leather and spandex costumes of the big-hair party rockers from California who preceded them to be contrived and false. Who were angry for reasons they couldn’t quite articulate.

My father once looked me square in the eye and said he would have blown his head off if he had the guts to do it. He retired from a life of misery making good money writing advertising, then sat miserably in his living room recliner gazing out the window at the ‘crazy’ lady in the house across the street. Over time he rubbed a bald spot in the armrest with his fingers.

Here in the still early part of the 21st century, many grunge artists have gone to the Suicide Forest in one way or another. Andrew Wood. Layne Staley. Scott Weiland. Kurt Cobain. Chris Cornell.

One wonders what it was that drove them. Was it the gloom? Was it the times? The era? Was it the shallowness of American Culture and the recognition that a life of being pressured to consume eventually consumes the consumer? Was it that they had ‘the guts’?

I wonder about the reason this music resonated with many of my generation. Why so many of this music’s makers went the way they did. Why so many of my generation find themselves restless and dispirited, despite what they post on Facebook.

My father was not of that generation, but the one before it. The generation that boomed it.  I live in his shadow, and in the world he made, from the one that made his. It’s not his fault. It’s not our fault. It just is.

‘What is’ is malleable. Beyond the clouds, otherside of a damp gray sky, there is something blue. And the sun is shining.

15 thoughts on “From deep in the forest

  1. Amazing work as ever! ..Beyond the materialism, the mind and the body, there is something..! What is that? What is that! Whatever is that – is actually our nature – joyful, blissful and so alive! The way you write is always great!

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  2. The guts, that’s interesting. Could easily see it the other way too, as having the guts to live. I’m sure you’ve considered that reversal too.
    I played Sunny Day Real Estate in the car last night for Lily, tried to pinpoint what it was about that sound…maybe just a point in time, to hear some overtly genuine sounds. Still sounds good, though. So good to hear from you here again, too old Hoss!

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  3. And for some us, that grungy music brought us out of the darkness, because we realized that the darkness is out there, and possibly in us all. When I see a forest, I still see light through the trees.

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  4. It shows that fame and money are no good for you unless you’re happy with you. That no amount of material possessions will do you any good if there’s a hole inside that can’t be filled. It’s tragic that so many can’t find any joy in the life they have, but there’s no blame to be laid, just sadness. Moving piece, Walt

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    • Thanks, Lynn. I agree, no amount of stuff will fill the hole, it has to be plugged from inside. Thank you for reading and for the comments. Very sorry I fell through on my end to help with your book — I did end up getting swamped, as you sort of anticipated might happen. Looking forward to hearing what comes of it.

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      • I’ve met a few people who have been bottomless, always seeking something outside themselves they believe will make them happy, when it’s a void inside they need to fix. No problem with the book, Walt. I guessed as much. Just not enough hours in the day, are there – ever! 🙂 Working through the feedback now and hoping to send to an editor when I’m done. Then I’ll jump on the agent carousel. Wish me luck! Will let you know if anything comes of it all. How are your own bigger writing projects progressing?

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