Friday, October 18, 2019

Who Are You Going To Be?

Just have fun in here--what other choice do you have?

I’ve always suffered from delusions of grandeur. Probably most people who suffer from this end up transforming themselves into rockstars. I, on the other hand, am a very low performing delusionist, so I have moldered in ignominy while others have striven and grasped the brass ring.

Since childhood I assumed I was going to be famous. It was just a matter of reverse engineering the process to find out how I was going to get there. Engaging the birthright of becoming famous was difficult because it was like this--if it’s a forgone conclusion that I will be discovered, every step is treacherous because there is only one path that leads to your discovery and fortune. Your job is as much, if not more so, to find that buried line you are destined to walk along, than to develop yourself into the person that earns it in the first place.

My 20s were one big creative block. So terrified was I to put anything down on a page that wasn’t worthy of a Pulitzer or an Oscar or a fat advance and a five book contract.

My 30s are almost done, and those were consumed by kid duties and that little business known as SURVIVAL. (Yes, yes, and Breaking Bad, and Game of Thrones, and lawn maintenance.)

I suspect I am not that unique in my experience as an American child. Our great sin is Vanity, as it profits incredibly well. And that’s what we’re about. Dollars. A dollar is the American coat of arms. It’s vain and empty, but also sexy, haunting and, well, tough to shake. I shouldn’t be ignorant enough to think that I can rise above it, but it would be nice to wake up enough to laugh at it.

I have a new tack I’m thinking of taking. It’s called Relax. Just chill. The bills are (mostly) paid. People don’t tend to “get discovered” if they haven’t already been discovered by their 40s, so you can relax. Just have fun with the thing. And I can also now face the monster--there’s not anything I’ve done, so far, that’s worth discovering. But even if I were to be--that discovery is not all it’s been made out to be. It’s mostly empty, like just about everything we are sold in this god-blessed, god-forsaken but occasionally beautiful social experiment of a nation.

The person who doesn’t need to win is more dangerous than the person who does.

Maybe it messes us up to think of “what we’re going to be” when we grow up. Because no one says the garbage man, the accountant, the middle manager, the buyer for the local hospital. Maybe we should think of Who we’re going to be. Who are you going to be when you grow up? Are you going to be someone kind, interesting, creative, helpful, adventurous? The “career” model has been mostly disrupted--it’s no longer a comprehensible thing. We grow up to have 10 careers, now. We are parents, influencers, cubicle crusaders, geeks slave to this scene or that, gig aficionados, and photographers (47% of the Millennial population are now confirmed aspiring, professional, or semi-professional photographers). We are entrepreneurs who pay too much for healthcare and have to constantly innovate because the machines are coming for our jobs.

Lately I’ve taken to drawing graphs and diagrams to give myself some sanity. I drew one that shows the amount of work one can accomplish, and it starts at quality, and goes all the way to an extreme amount of quantity. Quality drops off along the continuum as it stretches to the right. So just pick where you want to be. Pick what works for you.

The other one that is giving me strength is this--

I draw a vertical line, which represents the human population. The top 2% are the geniuses--your Einsteins, Disneys, Michaelangelos and Shakespeares. They are untouchable. You’re never going to get there. Kiss it goodbye. But there’s this middle third on the vertical line, and that’s us. It’s your middle managers, your garbagemen, custodians, comedians, Hollywood directors, authors and entrepreneurs. It might come easier to some, but the thing that defines them all is that they had to put in the work. Some are at the lower end of the spectrum, so they had to work harder. Of course luck is always in play, and don’t you ever forget it. But there’s nothing you can do about that, so all I can really do is focus on the work. It might be a little, it might be a lot, but what does that matter; it’s my story, and it will be whatever it’s going to be. Amen.