Monday, October 9, 2017

Sailing My Failboat Beautifully Onward

I woke up today and was 35. (You're not supposed to put that kind of info out on the Internet, but Equifax has already scrawled my data on every virtual truck-stop toilet wall from here to China, so whatever.) I would like to celebrate by taking off the professional enthusiast's hat for a minute and indulging in some reflective realness.

Lately, my entertainment indulgence has been watching the infuriating greatness that is Silicon Valley. And despite my aversion to cringe comedy in all its forms, MAN do I empathize with Richard. Working 80-hour weeks for months on end with a ragtag bunch of iconoclasts who have somehow bought into your mapcap vision? Constantly circling the drain, curling up in a fully-clothed fetal position in the bathtub, convinced that THIS time you really are fucked? Absolutely SURE that you could knock the world on its ass, if only you could stop being your own worst enemy long enough to make it happen? Oh yes.

We occupy the best and worst of all worlds, simultaneously.
Granted, I haven't invented a revolutionary compression algorithm, and my little proto-company isn't getting multimillion-dollar funding offers. Nor can I pretend that any of what I'm killing myself trying to do will ever put a roof over anyone's head. Honestly, it's a great day for the WORD crew if we can throw a good party and still break even. And sometimes it's hard to justify the effort, if it's never going to make you rich OR save the world.

But I gotta have something to hang my hat on in order to keep moving forward, and lately - in the year of our lord 2017, in which we're all stumbling through a neverending shit-blizzard of murder-suicide madness - it's this:

You know who doesn't tend to end up as a mug shot on the evening news? People who can take pride and pleasure in what they do - whether it's writing or gardening or fixing houses or dressing their dog up as Batman.

Or folding tiny little rainbow origami books, like my friend Frank.

And I worry that we're losing emphasis on doing in favor of *being* - in favor of swearing allegiance to a group, a tribe, a label, and then walling ourselves up behind like-minded individuals and the institutions who cater to them. You'll never hear me say that being and belonging isn't important - shit, I spent three books exploring just that - but my notoriously unbalanced self is at least Libra enough to commit to tipping the scales back toward the joy of doing.

Because people who feel like they're accomplishing something, be it ever so small or silly, are so much less likely to hurt themselves or others. The demons that haunt creative people are real and dangerous, but not as dangerous as those who whisper to people bereft of purpose.

So that's why we're doing WORD, concocting all these madcap schemes to get writers fired up and connected. That's probably why you and I are friends. And that's why I'm so glad that you are still out there fighting to do the things you care about, even when it feels like you're killing yourself just to tread water.

Hang in there, y'all. Do your small things with great love, and try to make sure that at least some of them are projects of your own devising. It's the only way I've found to make all the tired worthwhile.

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