People Profile: Michael Oesch
Meet Michael Oesch:
Musician, digital media artist,
grant writer, walker and more!
Michael Oesch is a musician, digital media artist, grant writer and walker, among other things! Michael is BEACH DIGITAL MEDIA, working with musicians and spoken word artists to help them attain funding to record spoken word or musical projects. This year’s successes include Cathy Petch for “Mel Malarky Gets the Bums Rush”, Richard Lett’s one-man show about men’s health “One Nut Only” and Valentino Assenza “Postcards From Sicily”.
One of Michael’s current big projects is his documentary Walking: The Wisdom of The Road in which he explores more than just our great nation during his trails. This guy doesn’t sit still for long, eh! Look at him go! I asked Michael some questions about himself and his walking mission.
What is your passion? I am passionate about creating and helping people use the creative process to find out more about themselves and more about their place in the world.
What are the greatest challenges and greatest rewards of your passion/career?
In life there are always challenges and in the past I sometimes let fear stand in the way of me accomplishing my goals. I have come to learn that fear is mostly an illusion and the greatest reward is working past the fear with love, kindness and tolerance until I no longer am motivated by my negative thoughts and instead come at the projects in my life with love as the underlying principle to success.
What does it mean to be an artist? I used to think being an artist was staying up late at night and contemplating the unknowing questions and answers. By this method I almost killed myself. I used to suffer for my art, and suffer I did. I have come to learn that being an artist today for me is more therapeutic. As artists we use our own experience to reflect the world around us. I have come to accept that pain in life is unavoidable, but suffering is an option. Through my art I have come to learn to let go of those things that would keep me up until the dawn. With my art I have learned that by working through the pain there is a sort of redemption that lightens my load and allows me to live in the moment.
What would people be surprised to know about you? In 2002 in the state of suffering I decided I needed to get out of my life and find new stimuli. So I sold everything I owned and left my home here in Toronto and walked for eight months out to Labrador and back, covering 6800 km. It was an amazing experience but it didn’t settle this restless soul of mine and in 2005 I set off once again on foot and walked from Toronto to Vancouver. In my spare time I was a slow-pitch baseball umpire for 20 years.
What makes you laugh? Children and animals make me laugh. Their honesty is so refreshing. Also, people who don’t take themselves so seriously are just a joy to be around.
What is fun for you? Playing music is fun.
What makes you question humanity? I used to be revolted by society and all the things in it. That’s why I went for my walk. But I’ve come to learn that we are all troubled souls and that we are all on our own journey of discovery. And the most we can do is to help those around us, and by doing so we make a little contribution to making this world a better place.
How lucky are you and why? I think I’m lucky because I have walked to the edge of the world and faced myself at the precipice and come back a stronger person through that experience. I’ve learnt not to sweat the small stuff and that in reality it’s all small stuff.
What would you say to your 8-year-old self? Live Learn and Love.
What would you say to your 80-year-old self? Lay off the cheeseburgers.
What is your favourite quote? “I expect to pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.” – Stephen Grellet
What do you hope to achieve through your documentary Walking: The Wisdom of The Road? Currently I have decided to share the experiences I had while walking. I have talked with others who have decided to go on long walks, and we have shared our collective wisdom. I am directing this documentary, and we propose exploring the spiritual, emotional, and physical benefits of walking. We intend to examine the motivation and collective consciousness these people have gathered on their journeys.
What is the most-challenging aspect of this project? The most-rewarding? In 2014 I started filming the documentary by following the Bhaktimagra Swami as he finished his fourth walk across Canada. The Walking Monk, as he is affectionately called, is a spiritual leader of the Hari Krishna’s here in Toronto. We also gathered some footage of Dana Meise, the first person to walk to all four oceans on the Trans Canada Trail. And of course I include myself in this project, but the challenge is how we can show the benefits to the ordinary person. This summer in 2016 we are following four participants on a pilgrimage in Quebec. The Chemin des Santuaires is an 18-day 375 km walking pilgrimage from St. Joseph Oratory in Montreal to Ste. Anne-de-Beaupré. We need to get an honest perspective by regular people to show that walking can benefit anyone. You don’t have to walk to the edge of the world like I did.
What are you most proud of with this project? The narrative of this documentary is taken from the journaling of walkers as they are on their travels. It allows the viewer to get an in-depth perspective of the thoughts of people when engaged in a pedestrian lifestyle. Because this documentary is all narrative and no one speaks to camera we plan on doing it in several languages, English and French to start and possibly several others.
What did you learn from doing your walk in the past? I learnt that you can walk almost anywhere if you are willing to take the time– and that only Jesus can walk on water… LOL
What would people be surprised to know about your creative process? This documentary is unscripted – We aren’t trying to sell this to a major corporate television audience. We have some concepts that we want to explore and will work hard in the process, but we are willing to let go of expectations and outcomes and let the experiences of those involved create an authentic testament to the benefits of walking.
What words of advice would you give to anyone about creating art? About embarking on such an adventure? Coming up with the idea is usually easy. And the first steps on any journey are usually easy. It is only through good planning and perseverance do we really achieve our goals. Sometimes by working hard and letting go of controlling the process we end up with something better than we could have ever envisioned.
Some wise words there! If you would like to follow and/or contribute to Michael’s walking journey, please visit the Walking: The Wisdom of the Road crowd-funding site here. Good luck, Michael! Bon Voyage!