just a dude

“Quantity over quality man, quantity over quality…” my friend Jonathan said, distracting me from my writing. It’s a bad idea to invite your friends to the coffee shop with you when you plan on trying to finish a blog post. It’s a bad idea for the same reason that “study groups” in high school were a bad idea. You don’t make a “study group” because you really think it will help you pass the test, you do it because you want to hang out with your friends and still convince yourself that you’re being productive. Sometimes you really did convince yourself— you get your World History test back with a fat D+ on top and say “what!? but we studied for like five hours last night!” Maaaaaaaan, you didn’t study for five hours— you ate Doritos and quoted the movie Half Baked for five hours.

But Jonathan is right. He was reminding me of a creative strategy that I hold dear to my heart. My goal for this blog isn’t necessarily to knock it out of the park every week with a transcendent essay. It’s simply to be consistent in writing. For one of my major motivations for having a blog (aside from being able to exercise my narcissism) is that I just want to become a better writer. And If I write something every week, then I’ll become a better writer. Right?

Well, let’s hope so. I can say that I was really trying to knock it out of the park with my blog post last week, and that it proved to be crippling. I wanted to articulate everything that feels wrong, or dark, or scary to me about the world right now— i.e. Trump, climate change, the threat of nuclear war, diminishing natural resources, prejudice, rampant misinformation, and people’s complacency in the face of all these things. I wanted to offer some small silver linings, and some advice in the face of all of this darkness (oddly my advice was essentially the moral of the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: “be excellent to each other”). However, I didn’t post it last week because it felt incomplete and somehow untrue. I returned to it this week, but I found it felt even more false.

In that unpublished post I was trying to preach some high-minded and somewhat self-righteous stuff. All of the things I was going to say were good, but until I start actually living up to those standards, I don’t think I have any right to prescribe anything to anyone else. The truth of the matter is, I am, like most people, majorly self-interested. I’m not anywhere near Trumpian levels of psychopathic egotism, however, when I’m laying in bed at night, typically I’m not dreaming about working to end climate change or lifting up my fellow human; I’m dreaming about becoming a successful film composer and meeting Penelope Cruz. I’m not proud, but it is true.

I do sincerely want the world to be a friendlier, more equitable place. I want us all to work to mitigate climate change. I want everyone to do the inner work of transforming our prejudices into openness, and I want everybody to be excellent to each other. I know that I can do much more in my life to work towards these goals. However, I do not think that we can all make some magical leap towards altruism. We’ve got to acknowledge where we are and what we are before we can hope to progress in any way.

Personally, I’m just a dude trying to come up with enough words to fill out a Sunday blog post. And on the weekdays, I’m just a dude trying to come up with enough notes to fill out a three minute song. I do want the world to turn towards the light, but until I elevate my own activism, I’ll refrain from telling you how to live your life. In the meantime, here are two songs I wrote and recorded last week. Y’all listen in for the sound of the electric saw. See you next week.