It is now 2PM on Wednesday. I have not gone to sleep yet. meaning that I have worked right through Tuesday, Tuesday night, and here it is the middle of the day on Wednesday and I have still not slept. There is way too much work with all the different projects that I have taken on and simply not enough time. The irony is that it isn’t just me working. I am involved in many, many projects and each has its own little group of partners, employees, mentors, investors, and patrons attached to it and we are all working on them full-tilt.
Infinito refers to it as the “rebuilding the Ambassador’s Empire” project. Everything from negotiating the various record deals the band is currently involved in, to the constant post-Iran-Trip press activities, to all of the different cyber-pr and viral marketing we are doing to build a stronger brand and product – i.e. the Fishy/Transcendence product, to the new book we are writing, to the new Optum Consulting company – that now features three completely different divisions, to the two new non-profit companies and websites that I started this year, to the daily blogging in the Transcendence Diaries that keeps me sane and keeps fans and friends updated as to what I’m up to and thinking, to the three new albums we are releasing this year, to the entirely overhauled and new official Transcendence website that is still being brainstormed and built 24/7 around the clock, to giving guitar lessons, business coaching, and nutritional consulting as a way to make ends meet, to this strange new miraculous and magical songwriting collaboration with Little T where we have literally written an entire album’s worth of material in less than a month and now are desperate to find a studio and the time for me to record it as a new solo album (how are we to find the $ or the time for this when it doesn’t fit in anywhere in my schedule?), to the more than full-time job of trying to respond to the onslaught of emails, fan mail, hate mail, and ridiculous amount of various YouTube and website(s) comments that warrant replies of some kind – which is at least two full time jobs in and of itself… not to mention the two or three weekly or monthly volunteer activities that I am officially assigned and committed to, and an almost full time job of mentoring two young boys that I have adopted as little brothers over the last four years who have been going through rough times at home.
Yes we are busy. So busy in fact that I find myself on the phone literally all day in conference calls with one group or another till my voice gets hoarse, switching from one call to another, conferencing different people in throughout or calling them right back, and then at night I find myself on a different set of conference calls with a different group of partners… and somewhere in between it all I still have to actually work at all this stuff – do the work — by just sitting in front of the computer all night – and still find time to eat, exercise, and sleep. Which as of late have been the things that I have just let go of completely to the point where I feel like death most of the time – as if I am walking around in a confused daze. Every week or so I reach a point where my eyes start to cross and I cannot see straight, I get dizzy, and then I start throwing up a few times from just total exhaustion, then find myself clogged up and congested as if I have a cold, near death fall down pass out and sleep for twelve to fourteen hours straight – dead asleep even while a very loud alarm clock is going off for hours right on top of me. The thing that strikes me the most peculiar is that when I reach this point of exhaustion I don’t even hear the alarm clock. My roommate actually comes in and turns it off because she can hear it all over the house and it is driving her crazy and she says I don’t even move a muscle when she comes in. it is almost as if I just go dead. Just BAM. Out for the count.
And that my friends is what I mean when I talk about “If you want it, you CAN get it. But you WILL have to work at it.” The question is “how badly do you want IT?” Whatever “IT” happens to be for you.
There is such a thing as balance of course… there is not necessarily wisdom in being involved in so many projects all at once… how we got here I don’t know. But I know it started sometime last summer when I was so completely overwhelmed that more than one person – and I am lucky to have all of these people in my life helping me to rebuild – suggested that I make a list of every “current active project” that I was involved in. We assumed the list would come to about 15 based on our conversations. We were surprised to say the least that we discovered instead that when we really looked at the list it came to 49 “current active projects.” 49. No wonder. Well there it is… that was the problem. Princess Little Tree asked me if I could try to really focus my intuition on what were the 10 most important and try to stick with those. Catherine suggested I focus on only the ones that would yield actual cash flow and leave all else behind for a time… both suggested that I promise to stop YouTubing as a “current active project” and hence that is why I haven’t posted anything to YouTube in a few months. Every now and then I manage to squeeze one in because I just really enjoy the process…. but to be fair to them and the amount of time and energy they are focusing on helping me, I have almost completely stopped. I miss it. But in time I will come back to it.
What we did is we created these spreadsheets that I update at the beginning of each new week that outline exactly what the top level priorities are each day or week so I can stay focused on just those tasks… but with life not necessarily fitting into a spreadsheet as neatly as we want it to, there is always something – many things – that appear out of nowhere and jump in to throw everything off…. it is quite challenging because of course with so many projects open at once and so many people involved and having to work around everyone’s schedules…. to me it all just seems like a mad whirlwind of activity that leaves me breathless and exhausted… and yet, it is I who is creating it… I am at least clear on that. No one forced me to do any of it. And as Ms. Darlington or Little Tree remind me weekly, it is after all my choice. it’s my life. I could always choose to slow down if I wanted to, or even go the route of “getting a regular job” and just foregoing all of the projects entirely and live a normal life and forget the whole rebuilding the empire concept…
But alas, after my fist official New York presentation this past Sunday regarding my peace delegation trip to Iran, I realized that I had finally come full circle and landed smack-dab where I always knew I wanted to be and dreamt of being in my life – I believe that I have finally and fully rid myself of any of the remnants of the old “ambassador” – selfish, materialistic, feeling that my glory lay in glitz, money, power, or glamor, and instead discovered a new me underneath it all that is finally ready to show up, be real, sincere, authentic, and completely selflessly dedicated to serving humanity in the best and most authentic way that I am able to by simply being me.
It was a very moving and revelatory experience. This subtle but magical day… It was something that I had always envisioned but never knew exactly how I was going to get to, nor believed that I had it in me to really get rid of my selfish materialism enough to ever get to…. but since I was forced into that by unforeseen trickery at the hands of another – Naomi and her merry gang of thieving attorneys, and at the exact same time the music business imploding the way it has and our distributor going bankrupt – thus leaving us from being accustomed to regular monthly royalty checks to now not having received a check in 25 straight months, I have had no choice in the matter. In three years I watched a small fortune shrink into a large debt.
I cannot help but feel that there is a bit of Divine Guidance in all of it. That had I not gone through this “cleansing by fire” if you will, that I may never have been able to release myself from the shackles of riches and excess because I had just settled so damn comfortably into it, that I never would have discovered this new more authentic me underneath that realized that there was so much more to life, so much more to me, than my car, my hair, my money, my belongings, or the looks of the girl on my arm. I was literally trapped, partly knew it, didn’t wholly know it. Had an idea of it. Didn’t think I could get out of it though. Always thought that the likes of persons such as MLK or Nelson Mandela or Gandhi were beyond me, not because I wasn’t a smart or dedicated man, but because I was too much a selfish and materialistic man. I had no idea that something divine and miraculous would enter my life to change all that – poverty.
I have been both ridiculously wealthy and miserably poor several times in my short life and I can freely, confidently, and readily submit that being wealthy is by far easier and more enjoyable. But I have become sharpened, emboldened, and inflamed by the events of the last two years. And I dare say that despite the fact that we are indeed quickly rebuilding “the ambassador’s empire” that the ambassador himself will never be the same. Money or no money. For all the struggling, suffering, nervousness, worrying, and insanity that accompanies a life of poverty, it has added a touch of grace to my life that I always knew existed but never really experienced firsthand. When you are living in a life of perceived poverty, you have absolutely no choice but to depend solely on WHO YOU ARE to stand you up rather than WHAT YOU HAVE. I didn’t know this before. I had no firsthand experience of it.
That’s because I was born rich, then became poor as a young struggling musician who bucked the family’s expected tradition of becoming a college grad-school attorney and ventured out on my own to become a professional musician. As a hungry young man – months at a time without electricity, years without a phone or car, homeless for almost a year in the worst years, all I wanted to be was rich again. I have to say that I was lucky in that I did it pretty fast. I struggled through my twenties and before I reached thirty years I had already made my first “million” – meaning simply that I had companies grossing over a million dollars a year who’s revenues I could then use to start other companies with.
It wasn’t all luck. It came pretty much from what I’m doing again now. I literally didn’t do anything else in life but work. If I wasn’t working, I was thinking of working. And when I say work I don’t mean “working a job for someone to earn an hourly wage” because you just aren’t ever going to become wealthy that way. No, when I say working I mean “working at becoming rich.” Which means trying one or a few different projects on your own till you make it rich. Until that, you’re poorer than all the middle class people who are working for an hourly, and then one day they turn around and ask “How the hell did you get so rich so fast?” And of course you’re response is “Uh, well it wasn’t so fast, it took me freaking ten years, and I did it by working my ass off.”
Now once I achieved wealth, I grew a lot in every direction. Money was good for me. In a lot of ways. It gave me a sense of self and purpose that I needed as a hard working ambitious young man. I certainly didn’t become a bad person from it. I was lucky there too. Money didn’t ruin me like it does a lot of people. it didn’t taint me. It didn’t make me evil or selfish or greedy. But I did become someone addicted to money, and also someone who saw money as sort of the ticket to everything… including one’s self worth. A measure of one’s value.
So as a wealthy man I longed for sincerity and authenticity. Very much so. I felt that I had already achieved earthly enlightenment. Having worked on it for years and years. I was not lacking in that department. My connection with the Divine and with my Higher Self was strong and I was aware that I had a very positive influence on those around me. But inside I knew that I was being something on the outside that was only about half of who I was meant to be. Only I just couldn’t figure out what it was… or what I was meant to do about it.
You know it isn’t until you are forced to stand up like a man and represent yourself and who you are based on nothing but who you are that you really come to realize that you have indeed achieved that state of realness and sincerity and authenticity that some of our finest fellow human examples have shown can be achieved. It didn’t happen to me overnight. And it is still not complete. I take refuge in the fact that I am at least wise enough to understand that it will never be complete. I will always be working on becoming more real, more sincere, more authentic, more caring of others, more selfless. I am a work in progress at best. A messy one at that.
So yes, where were we. Well now it is two hours later in the middle of a hot New York spring day and I haven’t slept in over 48 hours. I just continue to work till I drop. Then I pick myself back up and do it again. The point of this little entry was really meant to be more of a record of this moment in time – for a I feel that we just crossed that really bad “down in the dumps slow music” part of the movie and we are about to reach that glorious “cue the music Hollywood happy ending” any week now – I can just feel it… so I just wanted to record what we’re all going through right now in order to make it happen.
Remembering this is going to be important for me. It has been a rough ride. But it has also been a strengthening one. And a graceful one. More than anything it has taught me the value of true friendship. Without friends, I don’t know where I’d be. Like the guys in my band, Bloopy and Rockaway and Vancouver and Infinito and The Poet. Guys like G2 who’s worked for me for ten years straight now and let me rack up a bill for the last six months the size of a small fortune and still calls me at midnight to brainstorm or conference on the progress we are all making in “rebuilding the ambassador’s empire.” He emails me one day about two months ago and explains his quandary: “Dude on the one hand I have a wife and baby due in august and I’m putting off paying clients to spend days and night on your work and you can’t afford to pay me. But then I’m laying there at night when I’m trying to fall asleep and I’m saying to myself “I can’t leave my brother just hanging like that… I have to help him, money or not.” Now that’s a friend.
Mohdie and Madelynne O’Ryan are still there, as they’ve always been. Mohdie loaned me eight grand three years back for a court case and said “Brother, you better be right on this one cause this is my boat money and I’ve been saving it for twenty years…” Well luckily I was right and was able to give it right back to him a month later. Brother Beav paypaling me when I need it. Mom God bless her. Western fucking Unioning me in the worst of times with a little memo at the bottom that says “only to be spent on groceries.” Anyone who is lucky enough to have a mother…
And then there is the story of Catherine Darlington and Princess Little Tree who literally believed in me when for a while there I didn’t even believe in myself. Wrapped up in a little ball on a bed for weeks afraid to move, immobilized by fear, they just swooped in and caressed me, propped me back up, and said “back out into the world you go young man. You’re still the ambassador. You’ve got work to do. Now go get ‘em!” I will never forget that. I would kill for either of them. They’ve shown me love that I never knew existed in the world among ‘not blood family.’
Even Weather Girl and Bunny, who in a very short period of time have both just gotten to know me so well, better than I know myself, that they’ve been able to take my chunks of coal and see diamonds in them long before I did. Weather Girl with her cold and calculating, disciplined and organized way of thinking, can literally pinpoint the exact problem I have with working through certain things can shift me into overdrive with one call just by pointing certain things out in such an uncannily robotic almost computer-like fashion – she just thinks in a way that I don’t have the capacity to think like. Without her there’d be no “new book.” Oh there’d be thousands of pages of writing as there always has been, but there’d be no actual book.
Shooting me over text after midnight text “you’ve got to write this book now! You are so much more than a rocker. You are a visionary. Why are you limiting yourself to just a rocker? Why don’t you actually write the book? Why don’t you take notes and then dictate them to me and I will organize them into chapters? Why don’t you send me all your theses and I will do the statistical research to see if you are actually right with all your ideas and predictions? And two weeks later, “Guess what Fishy?! Every single thing you say is happening is actually happening! Lets write this book now!” She’s taught me a lot about who I am. Pointing out certain character traits and suggesting ways to improve them using these strange methodical practices of discipline… funny things like that.
And Bunny. She came out of nowhere. Listens to me when I’m down. Listens to me when I’m up. Corrects me when I’m wrong. Commends me when I inspire. What with her “Goddamn you Fishy. You lucky bastard. You just luck into it all don’t you? All you do is just walk around enjoying life, exploring shit, having adventures, doing your thing and you live this life that is so fucking interesting that it’s like your whole life is one giant TV show or book and you don’t even know it. Let me edit your shit man.”
She took that proposal and worked for a solid month on it endlessly day after day for a promise of ten percent on a giant leap of faith and not even a dollar. Now before we’re even done with the first book she’s taking the Transcendence Diaries and turning them into a book. “You have how many pages of memoir typed already?!!!” “About four thousand pages now…” I casually mention. “Fishy do you realize memoir is the hottest genre in literature right now? Fuck man, just send me a few hundred pages and I’ll start editing it and get all your rambling out and we’ll put out the first of the series. Who the hell writes four thousand pages of memoir and doesn’t do anything with it?!!!” “Well what am I supposed to do with it???” “You’re supposed to publish it you idiot.” “oh. Yeah well i figured I’d get around to that eventually.” She says I’m retarded, but like in a good way, and that’s why she loves me. So I guess that’s a good thing. We shall soon see. That’s for sure.
In any case, I’m about three words away from throwing up and passing out. But let it be said here in case I don’t ever get a chance to mention it again — that I’m not doing it alone. None of it. Naomi Balcombe did her best to bring me down – [I don’t think that was her intention – it was just the side effect of her doing her best to prop herself up at the expense of anything or anyone that got in her way, and that included me unfortunately.] But I will relate this story in case I never have in print before. If I have, surely Bunny will notice and edit it out.
I was walking to see that movie Amazing Grace a few years ago and I was right on the brink of realizing that I had just about lost everything. I was still eating $60 plates of truffle pasta for dinner at Brio on the Upper East Side but I was going broke fast and still kind of in denial…. I was walking along in the cold New York winter on my way to this movie and I was sort of cursing God. Like “Why is this happening to me? What the hell did I do to deserve this? Why are you doing this to me God? What IS the lesson?”
And I hear this voice as clear as day in my head, just as I always do when it sounds like an angel or my higher self is speaking to me and it said “God isn’t doing this to you Fishy. Naomi did this to you. And some decisions you yourself made did this to you. Human beings do these things to each other. But God is grace. God only does good things for you. God is going to pull you through this. God has brought Catherine Darlington and Princess Little Tree into your life, and so many others. God is what’s going to help you through this. Do you understand?”
And then right in that moment as I was listening to this voice in my head I look down at my feet and just like always there is this perfectly beautiful and beautifully perfect white feather on the ground right in front of me. I bent down and picked it up and twirled it between my fingers. “God is grace,” I whispered to myself. “I get it.” It is truly an amazing grace if you open up to it.