Every Year About This Time

I am so exhausted right now. But I gotta write about this stuff. It's significant.

The first third of this month has been a real trip. All of a sudden, I find myself more motivated. More confident. Less prone to overthinking, more prone to taking action. Who is this guy?

I've been exercising. Meditating. Focusing. Taking that stuff more seriously again. All of a sudden. Huh?

Out of nowhere, I've decided to take some time away from cannabis. Experience a reset with regard to my relationship with Mama Marijuana. Where did that come from?

I have some willpower now that I didn't have access to even just a couple weeks ago. For example, Ice cream exists inside my home right now. I'm not touching it. What the fuck?

I find myself willing to say the things; to express the feelings and the true emotions to people who, in the past, have been too intimidating to me to address with honesty and authenticity. What's the deal with that?

I have discovered previously hidden tools in my toolbox to help me process anger and fear more effectively. So I've been busy processing the fuck out of those things.

These are the reasons why I'm so exhausted right now. It's the mental and emotional equivalent of the feeling that comes from working out for the first time after a long period of inaction. It's invigorating, yes. Transformative and accelerative (I had to look that word up. It's a real word.). But it also puts my current lack of conditioning in sharp relief.

The speaking-the-truth one is especially draining, but in the way that makes it obvious it's really, really good for me. The good kind of tired. The good kind of sore. Hurts so good.

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RIP Quarantine Lifestyle

In one sense, this is all an indication that a new set of life circumstances is emerging. It's the end of one era and the beginning of another. Really, what I feel like I'm noticing is the conclusion of quarantine life. RIP.

It wasn't all good or all bad. Lots of hardship. Also lots of growth and self discovery. Also lots of loafing and indulging. I'm lucky. Privileged. It was my way of life for three years. And I didn't wanna let go.

But I have aspirations. I'm trying to be a person I've previously been afraid of being. Which requires discipline, courage, flexibility, passion and openness to the unknown. It's about moving out of the happy fantasy of pure potential and into the bittersweetness of reality.

During quarantine life, it felt like I could rest in the absence of expectations. Let myself off the hook. It was its own reset. I needed perspective. I received it. I am grateful. Anything I accomplished during that time seemed like gravy. Like a bonus. No one expected anything from me. I didn't need to think so hard about how I could make myself useful to people with money. I was able to figure out what I really, really wanted out of life.

And then the quarantine lifestyle continued. The loafing and cake eating. The doubling of my cannabis consumption. The easy, breezy casual relationship with my calendar and to-do list.

I knew what I wanted. I was eager to go after it. But there was this lifestyle I didn't want to leave. Maybe even couldn't leave until now. I was afraid I might have gotten stuck there, honestly.

And Then There's April

All I had to do was wait for April, 2023.

April is never just another month for me. it's my half-birthday month. The month during which my spiritual awakening happened eight years ago. It's got 4/20 in it. It's got Bicycle Day.

It's the month when I had my first sexual experience (with another human being) back when I was still in high school. I took mushrooms for the first time during April. My brother had his incident in April (the same exact day I had my first “bad” mushroom trip, as it turns out). Annie's magic mom, Theresa, was born in April.

I was looking at my journals from years past. Checking out previous Aprils. And yeah, it all tracks. April is a big month, never not full of significance. Something almost always happens in this month. Year after year.

Most of the time, April is good for me. Transformative in a positive way.

Seven years ago in April I began the round of online dating that eventually matched me with Annie. Four years ago in April I had my busiest-ever month of gigs as a singer-songwriter. I hosted a little local music festival. I entered the NPR Music TIny Desk Contest for the first time, which led to me meeting my dear friends and sometime collaborators Jason and Melissa of Meri Dean later in the month. I bought the Mattitocaster guitar. And I started seeing a therapist for the first time in several years. Not my current therapist, but the one who got me back in the game.

Three years ago in April, the shift into the quarantine lifestyle had just occurred. And, obviously, it was a significant time for all of us. But, again, it seemed extra significant for me. I recorded many of the basic tracks for microorganism in April, 2020. I experienced a burst of energy and inspiration that fueled the creation of The Matt Kollock Show, which debuted later in the month. I also began working on my most lucrative project as a ghostwriter, which I can't wait to tell you about once I feel comfortable revealing I am the actual author of the book that bears another writer's name. A few more years.

Two years ago in April, I received my first two Moderna vaccine shots. I resurrected and rounded the final corner on making microorganism after finally being able to purchase a laptop powerful enough to handle it. That month, Annie and I made the decision to move out, upgrade our vehicle and purchase a travel trailer so we could live life on the road.

Last April, I was deep into the final stages of tracking my album Family Plot, which will be released later this year. During this time, I experienced a big level-up with my abilities as a vocalist. Some crucial things really started to click. I started to feel, for the first time, that my singing was finally on par with my guitar playing.

We were living on the coast of Maine and things were beginning to warm up. To bloom. The cruise ships started visiting the harbor.

A couple years are missing up there. Big things were happening, yes. But not positive. Those Aprils were marked by depression and inauthenticity. Trying to be who I'm not. Trying to force the transformation. That doesn't work. It backfires.

It can go either way, I guess. So I'm happy my batting average is so high in terms of being able to rise to the occasion April presents most years.

Now What?

A third of the way through April, 2023, I am feeling exhausted, yes, but also like I am in the midst of one of my life's biggest timeline jumps. Existence is humming along nicely and it appears to only be improving. I've got the blog and podcast going on a regular schedule. I've got a couple records out there that I'm super proud of, with one more big one on deck. I'm putting together the nicest, most professional studio space I've ever worked in as a musician or producer. I'm learning, growing and achieving big gains.

A month ago, things were good. But it would have been impossible back then to imagine the transformation that's been occuring since the first of this magic month. I was still attached to quarantine life. I was not feeling ready for change, though it's all I wanted. I wasn't sure how I was going to do what I needed to do. Wasn't sure how I would find the energy, inspiration and time.

But now here we are.

Bear With Me

I don't know how to wrap this up, exactly, so I'll leave you with this:

My wonderful therapist, who is Diné (Navajo), shared some wisdom from her culture about “Bear Medicine” with me recently. The bear has so much to teach us. So much wisdom in its way of living, hibernating, regulating its physiological functions, caring for its young and aligning itself with the world harmoniously. The bear doesn't fuck around when it comes to protecting itself and its family. The bear helps us reckon with difficult emotions like anger and fear when we consider its way of being.

The bear hibernates in the winter. A critical long pause from which it emerges rested and energized, but also hungry. During hibernation, the bear goes to that place beings go in their dreams. And then, right around this time of year, it emerges back into the world, eager and ready to satisfy its aspirations and reconvene with nature, having gained crucial wisdom from the spirit world.

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