Risk

I’ve been thinking. For me, one of the most difficult things to do is to act without the fear of being misunderstood; and so I rarely act. Relative to the amount and variety of things I could do and accomplish, I perform them very infrequently; and often the reason is an inescapable awareness of how something I do or say will be received by people around me—particularly on the internet. I feel like I need to make a distinction that I don’t mean that I’m afraid people won’t like what I have to say. In the realm of anything artistic, total disapproval can be just as energizing as being celebrated as a genius. The devastating type of reaction I’m talking about is actually, on the surface, a positive one; but one which totally trivializes the effort. It’s the sort of mild congratulations that I’ve been guilty of myself when someone composes their masterpiece, the sum of their life’s work and uploads it to SoundCloud, and my comment is “very cool bro”.

I’m not sure exactly what I’m suggesting here, but it’s probably along the lines of the old conversation of the Internet removing an element of humanity from the human experience. But I think, more importantly, it also has a lot to do with risk. My “fear of being misunderstood” is a phrase I chose since it’s easy to relate to, but I think I’m suggesting that it’s not really a fear at all. It’s an unwillingness to raise my sails out of a certainty that someone will inadvertently let the wind out of them. I could describe at obnoxious length my storied past of people doing this to me with the best of intentions; but I think the lesson for today is the following, and it’s important for all of us to remember: Even if I was able to convince you that I was legitimately exhausted from trying to create art by years of intentional and malicious discouragement (which, honestly, is rare), a fact of the Universe is that no amount of good will, pity, or empathy from others can take away the necessity of that risk in creating art. No one at any time or any level of fame and success has been or will be excused from the risk involved in putting some of yourself into your work, and putting it out into the world.

Maybe the unfortunate part about that statement is that it’s not good news for me and others who feel this exhaustion from throwing our masterpieces at the massive monolith of the world and watching them bounce off and crumble. But at least, I hope it’s a reminder that it’s not going to happen any other way. We can keep improving the quality of our work; we can change where and how we present it, and keep getting smarter about all these things; but we can’t forget that one certain way to fail is to begin thinking we should be exempted from the risk of failure. To become unwilling to take risks is the same as quitting.

Guitar

I actually played guitar today which is the first non-performance playing session in quite a long time.  On top of that, I actually plugged the electric guitar into the amp and played.  I sincerely can’t remember the last time I did that, but you know that feeling when you start to take a nap and you start to re-enter the dream you left when you woke up that morning as though time hasn’t stopped in that dream world?  Well that sort of effect happened, and the trace feelings took me back to a decade ago.  This tells me—among other things—that I need to make an effort to do this more often.

These days are sort of like self-rebuilding.  It’s part of a larger process that I have in mind of which school is another significant part.  I’m trying to re-establish a new identity between each school semester after being completely broken down by the school schedule.  At a certain point I began to find that I need more things in my life to break me down.  We all seek comfort, but comfort tends to make us stagnant.  Well it does for me anyway.

Summer

Well, school is over (for now) and I’m entering the conflicted stage of pre-Summer where I decide whether I’ll do everything that I wanted to do during the frantic *** of the Spring semester or if I’ll just sit and stare at a blank wall, breathing deeply until the Fall semester.  It’s very tempting to do nothing, but truly I don’t think I could if I tried.  I can’t do everything of course.  If I had my way, I’d write an entire album and a novel by the end of Summer, ride my bike and practice guitar every day, and find a cure for some exotic disease while I was at it.  It’s going to take some judicious time management to get as much done as possible.  Meanwhile, my new state of existence is pictured below:

Image

English is a Major (pain)

I’ve been wondering what my problem is with just telling people that I’m going for an English major. I always just say that I’m “doing English for now,” or that “well I put English down on the form”. Sure, part of it is that I’m leaving it open for myself to have an unexpected change of heart and to suddenly decide at some point to major in Seinfeld Studies or something.  But mainly it’s sort of a self-hating aversion to the idea of being an English Major.

I could never stand the type of writing which is by and for English majors.  Or maybe I’ll go further and say that I could never stand the type of personality that desperately needs approval and acceptance by some faceless mass of “Educated people”.  When I’m reading an article and see words like “despondent” when “sad” was more appropriate, or the writer uses a phrase like “my quotidian newspaper”, I want to projectile vomit the words right off the page.  Whether they’re trying to impress themselves, or some English professor they had, or possibly Dickens’ ghost, I really don’t care and wish some writers would take their insecurities and inferiority complexes and stick them in a diary where they belong.

Anyway enough of my diatribe of vitriol right guys?  My point is just that this is the kind of friends I imagine myself having when I think of advancing too much further in the world of an English major; and I grow cautious.  Sometimes it makes me want to plunge into the heart of this world, and maybe spread the gospel of “Communication over Language”; but other times I just want to major in design and be friends with awesome, mellow, confident folks who just want to draw and play with Photoshop all day.  Which is more honest?  I put it to you.

New Theme

So I went with a new theme on the blog.  I had the other one for probably almost two years!  It was definitely time.  Hey, have you guys ever noticed that Apple saves money by using an upside-down “W” for the “M” button?  I mean it’s not a normal “M”; the legs are splayed out a bit so you can see that it’s clearly an upside-down “W”.  Just one of the many aspects of Apple culture that I’ll just have to get used to.  So far I’m loving it.  I’m still getting used to using “command” instead of “control” for cut, copy, save commands; and “command” and arrow keys for “home” and “end”, but soon that’ll be over.  Anyway, lots to get used to, but I’ll have a lot of fun doing it.

Honesty Continued

All that being said, I think it’s pretty clear that the only thing I lack is energy.  If I had energy to finish things, the issue of whether they’d bring me any sort of satisfaction should have no effect on whether I begin them.

So who knows why I lack energy.  It’s probably psychological; with me, it seems most things are.  What does that mean?  I suppose it means that I’m aware that I have no real obstacles to contend with.  In a purely physical sense, I have everything I need to begin any number of careers, but nothing appeals to me anymore.  And so I sit at the top of a towering mountain of opportunity saying “I don’t feel like it.”  And the frightening part is: I sincerely don’t.  Anyway, that’s what I mean by psychological.  I know better than anyone that all of my actions (as well as my decisions to not act) are self-destructively  benign.  But fighting against myself in this can be illustrated thus: It’s easier to convince a stubborn man to follow you than it is to drag a corpse behind you.

And for all you fans of platitudinous metaphors, I’m aware that the solution is to leave the “corpse” behind and strengthen whatever part of me remains to struggle with said corpse.  But seriously that answer is no help.

Anyway, there’s a kind of pathetic vulnerability that can be construed from this kind of conversation.  I’m not looking for any advice or anything.  Just mulling things over so I have an excuse to play on my new MacBook.

Goodnight

Honesty

I suppose if I’m honest with myself, I’ll admit that the real reason I don’t post much here anymore, and I rarely write songs, or do anything creative at all has more to do with a growing cynicism I have about the act of artistic expression.  Consciously, I don’t believe that it’s futile; but somewhere deeper inside where all my energy is stored, I’m burdened with the thought of how useless it is to make the attempt when I’m not satisfied anymore by the completed work, nor am I energized by the thought of any possible encouraging or contrary reaction.  I begin to wonder “Why bother”, but not in a defeated vain.  It’s just that I can think of hundreds of reasons why someone might “bother” and none of them feel quite like they apply to me anymore.  And thinking of myself as a creative person begins to feel more like an excuse for not being an accountant.

Well, as I said, if I’m honest with myself I will admit all of that.  But I’m rarely honest with myself.

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