Many have written about the clichéd “tormented soul of the artist,” but the great dichotomy of my soul is I feel equal parts contentment and torment. While my contentment with life is a constant reminder of how blessed I am, I do have my share of both physical and emotional struggles. But more on that in the book's Introduction.
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While I feel it is not imperative for an artist—defining “artist” in the liberal sense, meaning “creator”—to have a tormented soul, it does seem tragically characteristic. This is evidenced by great poets such as Ernest Hemmingway, Sylvia Plath and Charles Baudelaire. Despite my struggles of the flesh and spirit, though, I thank God for the happiness I feel. It seems to be progressively intensifying with age, and I pray one day will overtake my whole being completely.
As is obvious by the authors listed, my (as of this writing) 13-year-old son, Trey, also wrote some of the poems in the book. Upon what I perceived to be the original completion date of this book, when it only contained three poems by Trey, I told him if he wanted to write a couple more, he could feel free to do so.
“No pressure,” I assured him, putting my arm around his shoulder, “Only if you want to. You are listed as co-author whether you write any more poems or not.”
He just muttered, “Ok,” and went back to his video game. A few days later, Trey drudged up a half-chewed pencil with no eraser and a gnarled-up notebook with a crooked spiral binder. With this he was all set, and sat about writing a poem immediately.
Scribble, scribble, scribble he went on the old tablet, and then ripped out the piece of paper, smiling, and asked, “What do you think?”
“Wow!” I replied after reading the poem he had written in less than five minutes.
Ten minutes later: scribble, scribble, scribble, and then, “How’s this one?”
“Cool!” I answered in shock.
This was repeated three more times, until, creatively, he felt drained. Meanwhile, I was absolutely floored, and even more so when I read them and realized they were great, just as they were. They are in the book untouched, word-for-word as Trey penned them.
Regarding my aforementioned struggles, it is vital for you to understand that, while my spirit struggles with depression, my body also dwells in a prison of pain. I suffer from four different spinal conditions, and have had two major back surgeries in the last decade and a half. I also suffer from tendonitis in my right shoulder, which some days feels like an angry, little chimp sitting on my shoulder, clawing away at my tendons.
But nevertheless, I press on, for God, country, family and heavy metal, the obnoxious and arrogant music which has carried me through much distress and physical agony. For me it is the loud-mouthed, crazy relative at family reunions, who I am equally amused and bewildered by. Metal’s loud and ambitious nature calls to me, and the escapist quality it so beautifully exudes helped me vanquish a grueling adolescence. It remains a vital emotional escape for me, and its drive feeds what I refer to as my “16-year-old soul.” A person has to be driven to choose hope amidst winding tunnels of despair; driven to succeed amidst a life of so-called “failure.”
Heavy metal and I are kindred spirits, and one of life’s grandest kicks is writing about it. But this is a minor portion of the book; should you not share my fondness for the genre, there are still plenty of other topics herein.
So, it is with great pride that Trey and I bring you, “i bLEed DaRk.” It’s a book he simply stumbled into, but which, through multiple hardships and happiness, I have spent 45 years preparing for. I pray your heart and spirit are deeply touched as you brave the path my son and I have paved for you.