After a number of rough years thanks to Lyme and bartonella working together to make life…a challenge, let’s say, something great just happened: I had the opportunity to interview my favorite artist of any medium, Tori Amos, for a second time.
This time it was Huffington Post Gay Voices, and I want to think its editor sincerely for the opportunity, and of course Amos for her time and forthrightness with every question.
Life is so unusual–always full of surprises. As a child, I thought life was clearly outlined: get married, have kids, work a stable job (hahaha), and then life as it does throws obstacles in the way. BAM! You’re gay. BAM! You’re bored. BAM! You’re a writer. BAM! Good luck getting published, sucker. BAM! You’re a painter…remember? BAM! You’re sick…no, you just have to learn to manage stress better…no, you’re actually really, really ill with a chronic illness that is treatable if you can find a doctor who will treat Lyme disease.
All these BAM! moments were life’s forces beyond my control. The lesson I’ve learned from them is that my decisions and actions can affect the direction my life takes. I could have succumbed to the humiliations I suffered during youth because of my sexuality, but I withdrew and waited it out. The world changed and became more accepting. I could have given up my writing totally (could I?) despite rejections, but I didn’t, and now my mind is working again in that capacity. I did give up painting for years–and my nature and the influence of a great friend forced me to acknowledge that I am a creative person by nature. And I’ve got my ups and downs with Lyme disease–but I will not give up.
So let’s get to the headline; I’ve buried the lede. I had the incredible opportunity to interview Tori Amos, whose music has been all the things I’ve really needed in life–that’s no exaggeration: it has forced me to look at the dark side of life and then say, oh, that’s just part of life–and not give up as a result; it’s moved me in every possible emotional capacity; her music more than anyone else’s conjures visuals that end up being expressed on canvases; and her spirit gives me strength. That sounds like hyperbole, but it isn’t: I talk a lot about the corruptive forces–I’m talking about human beings–here in Washington, D.C. The majority of people I encounter here have ulterior motives, always in self-interest despite what they purport to represent. I have listened carefully to Tori Amos for 15 years, I’ve met her a couple of times, and I’ve had the opportunity to converse with her a couple of times. Her spirit is the embodiment of what Christians claim their scripture teaches them: empathy without judgment, accountability in favor of hypocrisy, and in that perverse way that always seems to happen in life, she’s been called “anti-Christian” because she speaks out about abuses by the organized church and its dogma–specifically sexual abuses, subjugation of women, and uncompassionate and condemning judgments by church officials–the very people who preach that none of us has the power or right to judge others.
Tori Amos’s influence has unbridle my imagination, and broken down false barriers between all of my real interests: it turns out that science and imagination are not in opposition as we are taught to assume, but rather that science is fueled by open-minded exploration even if today’s approach to scientific discovery bears more resemblance to orthodox religious dogma than to the actual scientific method of imagining and then applying trials and accepting (gladly) errors as part of progress. No: the media tells us every day “kale is a superfood” or, two days later, “kale will kill you,” distilling everything in life to good vs. bad, and the good and bad change position arbitrarily and constantly.
To quote Tori Amos:
You can laugh
it’s kind of funny
the things you think
at times like these
like I haven’t seen Barbados
so I must get out of this…
So without any further blabbering on, here’s a conversation with one of three inspiring forces in my life.
(In case anyone is wondering, the other two are my parents, who have no equal in this world insofar as respectability.)