The Secret Lair Episode 1: The Nectar by Tyler Lyle // Finding My Wall and Learning how To Break it.
It’s no secret that “The Secret Lair” by Tyler Lyle is something very, very special. It is a unique experience; a marriage of intellectual exploration and music from the heart. Tyler Lyle started The Secret Lair in 2016 and created two years worth of monthly Podcasts (if you want to call them that; perhaps they are something more) and invited his audience to journey with him into the dark and fascinating corners of what it means to be a creative person. Fast forward to 2020 and The Secret Liar is back in a major way but this time we have a call to action; a question asked and an answer expected: ‘what is the nectar and how do we get to it?’ This is my answer.
I have no fucking clue what my own personal nectar is right now in this moment, sitting here at my computer on a Sunday morning at the tail end of November in the year 2020. I can remember some times in my life when I had some clear nectars in my sights. Career: I wanted to be a college professor since I was in high school reading Shakespeare and Dunbar for the first time in my life; I dreamed of a stuffy office adorned with deep, wooden furniture surrounded by books and an old, a comfy, leather chair and ample opportunity for engaging in intellectual discourse. The wall between me and this nectar was a translucent one; I could see the path (college, grad school, adjunct teaching, gain experience, full-time professor) and so it was easier to chip away at that wall because I could see the flower on the other side. Family: I found my partner when I was in high school. We went to the junior prom together and the rest is history. We fit really well. She is smart, a total alpha personality (which work well with my Beta personality; most of the time) and our relationship has only deepened and become more complex through the years as we both achieved our career goals, had a daughter, bought a house, moved to the city we wanted to live in and (after a few rough years) got to a place where we feel comfortable financially. So we found that nectar. So what else? What now?
In Episode 1: The Nectar Tyler uses an audio quote from Bruce Springsteen in which Bruce describes a wall that represents what you think life is. Beyond that wall is something else, something you can’t see or even imagine. He describes a moment when was able to knock a brick loose from that wall and, peering through the gap, saw something new. Something beyond that confined existence he had experienced before. That is what I want, too. I have no idea what that means for me. One nectar I am still chasing is writing about video games professionally. This was my ‘other life’ career path, as I often describe it to people who ask: in another life, I would have been a games journalist. This wall is much less opaque. I have no idea how to pursue this nectar other than an unpaid internship somewhere in California. Maybe I need to forge the path myself.
How do we know what our own personal wall looks like? What are the confines of my life right now? My job? My family? These are things I wanted and things I have worked to have my whole life. Money? Money always helps but I am very lucky and privileged to have what I need to (mostly) get the things I want. Take away all of these things and what is left is what The Secret Lair is helping me to figure out; the confines of my own life are me. The wall isn’t a job or a bank account or a suitcase. The wall is me. My own sense, as Tyler puts it, of Individuation. The walls I have built over my life inside myself to protect something or to keep something in or to keep something out. These are the bricks I need to start chipping away at. Well that’s all well and good but what the fuck does that actually mean?
“The Glimmer of Infinity” as Tyler Lyle puts in in Part 2 of Episode 1; tapping into the pools of nectar that exist within; the things in your life that connect you back to something important, something that makes you feel…something. Video games. The simple joy of drinking coffee and just being in the moment. Driving with the windows down. Halloween time. Enjoying a meal as a family. Washing my car by hand and then driving to Starbucks, windows down, listening to The Midnight. Laughing with my daughter. Going out to dinner with my wife. The physical sensation of holding a book. The aroma of moldy comic book pages. These things are my own personal nectars. As I’ve gotten older, I have found it much more difficult to tap into them, to let myself enjoy them but I think there is something important here; are these things the tools I need to start breaking the wall? Or have these tools become rusted and worn, no longer able to chip away at the confines of my world? Do I need a new tool?
Zoom Back Camera. Sometimes I need to zoom out from my own life and try to really see myself and who I really am. To me, this is part of a mindfulness practice that I am trying to incorporate more into my daily life. I struggle with mindfulness. My brain tends to leapfrog; as I am doing something now, I find myself thinking about what I am going to be doing next. “This food is really good; when will I be able to get it again?” “This video game is awesome; which one should I play next?” This is something I have always struggled with. The new tool I need to reconnect to my own personal nectar is to be in the moment more. I need to train myself to do this the same way I train myself to get good at Destiny or Final Fantasy; by spending time doing it and learning from others who do it better. The Secret Lair is part of this toolbox for me; I find myself enraptured by it and when I am listening to the music and the ideas, my brain stays put.
To answer the call: how can I see my wall, how can I start to dismantle it and what is the nectar on the other side? I don’t think I have the answers, fully, yet to these questions. But I do hope that over the next few months, and with the help of The Secret Lair and its beautiful community, we can work together to help each other find these answers. I believe David Grohl when he says “fuck guilty pleasure”; I have always believed this. This is part of the reason why I still, at 38 years old, spend as much time as I possibly can playing video games. I have never viewed this practice as guilty pleasure but instead necessary life energy creation. I need to draw, paint, play, write and listen. These are the nectars that fuel my search for the nectar.
I think writing this has started to make one brick loosen; now on to the rest.