Yesterday morning I woke up tired of myself. This morning I woke up tired of the computer. Well, I should not blame my computer. I woke up tired of my habits on the computer. The endless loop on the computer of checking email over and over again; checking the same few blogs that no longer update; and getting lost in Twitter political feeds, celebrity news, and snarky fashion sites. Finding myself so enraged over things like Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck’s whole marriage, as if I really know what happened in their marriage.
I will wonder forever why Amy Poehler and Will Arnett got divorced.
Most of all, I am tired of the thing inside me that preens, that wants attention, that wants to be recognized, that wants all the glory. You would think with the way that I have shaped my life that this would not continue to reside in me, but it does. When I woke up yesterday tired of myself, it was because in my dream I was trying to get all the attention. And while this is not how I behave generally in my day-to-day life, it is probably accurate to how I feel inside.
But I am tired of our (my?) obsession with narratives of making it, of becoming a success, of clawing oneself up to the top. Of needing to be successful in order to be something, that I will only be something if I achieve something, if I receive that glory.
If there is anything that makes me more miserable, it is that.
I was listening to a podcast where two comedians crowed and congratulated each other on how they had made it. They asked each other when they knew they were going to make it, and it was very masturbatory, to hear the glee in their voices as they regaled each other with their “creation” myths, stories that I am sure they have been building in their heads since they started out. More interesting to me nowadays are those who did not make it. What happened to them? What do their lives look like now? And are they perhaps in a better place by not being rich and famous? Maybe sometimes one is rightfully thwarted because receiving something before one is ready can twist someone inside.
I do not believe that art is only valuable if it is consumed by many people. I do not believe that someone’s value is based on how many people recognize them. I am not even sure that is a validation of someone’s art. But what matters to me is to have the creative space to do the work that I want to do. The outcome I cannot control. The narrative in American society is that it is something you can control. If you work hard enough, you can achieve anything. Maybe. But is that what is necessarily right for a person at any point in their lives?
Let us live our days and just be. Let us walk in our small lives with those around us, not needing to be recognized or wondering what others are thinking about us and our influence and importance. So many self-help books are about how to make it, how to be great. Achieve wealth and power like Warren Buffet, Peter Thiel, Marc Andreeson, Elon Musk etc. Maybe I don’t want to achieve greatness like these guys. Maybe our focus on superlatives (the best, the greatest) leads to our dysfunction. Why are we emulating these people? They are probably the most dysfunctional people around.
I am all for ambition and for going after one’s dreams and so on, but it also does have to be coupled with a strong responsibility to those around us, our community, our peers, our family, and our friends. We are not meant to drift off into the sky and leave everyone else behind.
I made a promise to a few of my writer friends that I would write this summer. I have no excuses. I am out of school and I am not helping out in the classroom. So in the few weeks that I do have left, as a promise to myself and as a way of taking care of myself and my creativity, I will write here in this space. That’s it. It doesn’t have to be anything more than that. It can be a simple practice because a simple practice is better than nothing.