The feeling comes over me every so often, like a wave. It can happen several times in a week, or once every several weeks. I can even go weeks and months without thinking about it at all. But eventually, it will find me, at the strangest, most inopportune time, unexpectedly and suddenly. An intense moment of sheer panic there is no meaning to life, no lasting point to any of it, and yet somehow I’ve managed to waste most of it so far and am certainly frittering away whatever I have left.
It’s disconcerting at best.
I don’t feel like there are any answers that I will be happy with. No delusions that will suffice. No religion or mysticism, theology, or philosophy likely to enlighten me or give me peace. Only distractions from our inevitable demise. Shiny objects to stare at while the light fades.
I sit at my desk, high on caffeine and morning sun, and punch these keys as if I might actually be accomplishing something. At best I am working towards a paycheck of some sort, but to what end, other than mere survival, I cannot say. It’s something to do now that I am no longer drinking.
I’m not actually depressed by this, as much as I imagine I should be, so much as confused and frustrated by the realization. Like a child learning that his father is in fact, Santa Claus. That there never was any magic, and even dear old Dad is delightfully full of shit, who never knew what he was doing either.
It’s a big circus tent and we’re nothing more than the barrel full of monkeys, hanging onto all the other monkeys by a thread, chattering away at the clowns.
The Circuit Broke
They say that everyone has a breaking point. I think it’s possible that I reached mine. The past four years were too much of a strain on my empathy circuits and I think it’s possible that I burned them out. The popular expression of this, I believe, is that I have no fucks left to give. Not about anything and everything, mind you. I’m not suicidal or desperate. I’m just coming to the conclusion that there is little I can do about much of anything, and whatever help I can provide is rarely appreciated or even welcomed. So what’s the point?
I tried. I did. I spoke out when it wasn’t beneficial to me at all because I felt it was the right thing to do. More often than not, it was met with resistance from the very side I was attempting to help. I have decided to become more withdrawn and continue to look for ways to amuse myself and others that don’t have to do with anyone’s cause but my own. It’s not a new path really. Just getting further down the same path I was already on.
The irony, to me, is that so much of what I do creatively, I initially pursued as a way to not have to rely on others. When it became too much trouble to shoot fashion, I shot nudes. When models became too troublesome, I began shooting food. Pears don’t care what their ass looks like. They’re pears, they’re meant to look like that and they know it.
I wrote screenplays but you need too much money and too many people in order to make even a low-budget, short film. So I write short stories. I can build any world I want and never leave my mind, let alone my house.
I can still create for myself. I can make things that others will enjoy. I still like that. But my fight is solely my own. There are many issues that will affect others as well, and they’re welcome to come along, but I’m not going to be a spokesperson or whisperer for anyone. As I’ve mentioned before, y’all are on your own.
I’ve seen what they do to people and it’s not good.
The Pointless Pursuit Of Perfection
I am learning something about myself that does much to explain my lack of concentration on any one thing for any length of time. I have no interest in the endless pursuit of perfection. Zero. I like to see if I can do things, then I move on.
In my work in branding, I spend a lot of time talking about the difference between Very Good and Great. Most people never achieve greatness because they stop at very good. Who is going to argue with very good? Very few people. At work, I argue for greatness. These brands I work, with who want to change the world. They aspire to greatness.
Most do not if we’re being honest. Most people do not even come close.
Your average schmuck is content to hide in the middle of the pack, forgoing adventure, or leadership for the safety of the herd. Predators pick off the vanguards and the stragglers. The safest place is right in the middle and that’s where most people feel the most comfortable.
This is not to say I am comfortable in the middle. I aspire to excellence, not perfection. I am not one to spend my life in the mindless pursuit of perfecting a single task. I don’t have it in me, though many do. We call them artists and geniuses and we admire their consistency, passion, and perseverance. It’s not for me.
Excellence is achieving a high degree of proficiency, an expert level even. I am looking for excellence, not perfection. Once I have reached the summit, I don’t see the point of climbing the mountain again, just to see if I can do it better or faster. I’ve seen the top. I know what it looks like and how it feels. There are other peaks, but there are also valleys to explore, recipes to conquer, books to read, cities to visit, curiosities to uncover.
Me, I just want to do something else. I want to learn to do it well—well enough. Then I want to do something else.
The recording artist Randy Newman once wrote, “I’ve written a song for Prince. I never showed it to Prince, but just to see if I could do it. At the time, when I sort of knew him, he was recording a song a day. I wondered if I could do that. So I wrote it.”
I don’t think I would enjoy being a celebrity but I can see the benefits of being famous. The difference to me would be the difference between being recognizable on the street versus known by your peers for your accomplishments.
It’s not ego—well, of course, it’s ego, but that’s not why I think it would seem more important. We all want to go be recognized as special, to differing degrees. For me, there is a desire to make a lasting impression, but even that seems dubious at best.
Does Hunter S. Thompson care that I found him to be influential? Maybe there was a time when the idea might have given him a certain amount of pleasure. But probably not since he blew his head off. Who cares if like his gonzo antics or not? If I read his life’s work, or not? No one really. It’s all an illusion.
But I think it would be nice to know that someone was bothering to pay attention to what you spend your time doing. Does everyone think this way? Probably not. There are millions of people who just do the work. Pick up the garbage. Make bricks. Sew clothes. Build iPhones. Do your taxes. Why do they do it?
I have no fucking idea.