First of all, to all of you past Listserve writers, thank you for sharing. I’ve read each one from top to bottom. Whether strictly informational or a vent of something that’s been bottled up too long or something else entirely, each Listserve email is, in itself, an insight into how various people choose to use a loudspeaker moment. I didn’t join in the hopes of having that moment; I joined to see what others would do with theirs. Yet now I’ve been caught in the spotlight, and who am I to chicken out?
Many Listservers have shared their own rules, mottos, inspirational messages, etc. on how to get going with life: Carpe Diem, one foot in front of the other, don’t fear failure, put yourself out there, learn something new, etc. I don’t want to pooh-pooh any of that, but much of it is easier said than done. Fear of failure can be pretty darned ingrained in people. And how does one seize a day? Does it have horns or a septum ring one can latch on to?
Motivational speeches, slogans, and pep talks are great if they happen to apply to you and your unique situation at that particular point in your life. They can get us jacked up and excited, which is usually good. But without anything tangible to put that jacked-up excitement into, the Jack who’s popped from the box goes limp and the music stops. (Yes, I know there’s a that’s-what-she-said joke in there somewhere.)
So what should come next? Well, I hate to present a problem without a possible solution, so I’ll share what I think. First, slow down, hot shot. Don’t go sprinting off whatever couch you’ve been sitting on and seize the first septum ring you see, thinking it’s attached to a diem. What you’re looking to do is apprentice from someone else who is more advanced than you. I’m not talking about any Donald Trump crap; think Ben Franklin. This works for virtually everything and can give you tangible tasks toward reasonable goals. To be a good apprentice, you need three things: someone who is a good teacher of beginner-level and novice work, a master-level practitioner whose techniques you can dissect and model, and someone who will watch you closely and keep you accountable. If you’re lucky, you’ll find all three in one person. If not, make due; you’ll be fine.
But it does mean asking for help, which is often the hardest part.
Want to be a writer? Read your favorite author over and over and over, dissecting what he or she is doing, take some classes, and join/create a writer’s group. Want to be happier? Search out someone truly, consistently happy (not just delusional), and tell someone who cares about you that you’re not happy. They’ll help. Get the idea? I want to be a great father for my kids, but, as much as I love my own, I apprentice from my childless uncle who actually got down on the floor and played silly games with us when we were kids.
And, for the love of whatever God/gods you believe in, if you ever see someone struggling, help. Whether it’s a hug or teaching the ways of the printing press, the human race advances only through the sharing of kindness and experience.
But before I reach my word limit, watch Bill Murray’s “Razor’s Edge.” Listen to Buckethead’s “Monsters and Robots” and R.L. Burnside’s “A Ass Pocket of Whiskey.”
That’s it for me. Thanks.