A couple of days ago I posted a quote from Henry David Thoreau, “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”
It seemed pretty apt. See last week I went to see another Henry; former Black Flag singer turned all around legend Henry Rollins, in Australia on his latest speaking tour.
This was the second time I’ve had the pleasure of hearing him talk, or more accurately, the pleasure of being on the receiving end of a relentless hail of words spat a hundred miles a second for close to three hours.
Relentless, yes. But my, what words they were.
You see, Henry Rollins has been around. Literally. Last time I saw him he’d just been to Afghanistan. This time he’d just returned from a trip to North Korea. Before that, China. Before that Iran.
If there’s a place you’re told not to go, Uncle Henry books a ticket. Travel advisory warnings, war zones, places that are impossible to visit. Nothing stops him.
And why? Because fuck you. Henry Rollins does what he wants. Also, he’s fed up with being told what, where and who to fear. He wants to find out for himself.
This is a man who more life experience in his spittle than most people have in their… you know, lives.
This is a man who literally sweats stories. He’s been everywhere. Done everything.
As a kid he was on the road with one of the most hardcore punk bands of all time. As an adult he turned his years on the road into gripping, literate, non-fiction.
He’s been a writer, an actor (Heat), a broadcaster, a tv presenter. And all that is just to pass the time between speaking tours, which he’s been doing for the past 25 years.
Have you tried telling a story to a friend, out loud, for a few minutes? Can you get through it, or do you run out of steam? How about 10 minutes? 20? How about an hour?
Henry Rollins shouts stories at crowds of strangers a hundred nights a year, and he does it for close to three hours every time.
He is a storyteller. So are you. Take a page out of Henry’s book and go and find some stories to tell.
And by ‘go find’ I don’t mean Google it. Stop fucking Googling things. If you want to learn something, at least go to a library. Lord knows they need the patronage, and lord knows you need the fresh air.
Take a drive, book a plane ticket. Start a conversation with a stranger. Punch an asshole. Stand up and live, and the stories will come to you.
And the next time Henry Rollins is in town, get off your fucking couch and go see him speak. It’s an experience your story needs.
Leave a comment and let me know how much you hate leaving the house.