Sometime in the past several years, I had most of both my romantic and artistic afflatus sucked out of me by not so much the soundtrack of rejections the life of a concurrent actor and undersized male post-collegiate dater expectedly, perhaps necessarily, entails, but rather by the cumulative power of just a few harsh ones. Oh sure, they don’t help, but your opponent’s hundreds of little jabs only make you tired, it’s the big punches that put you on the floor.
And yes of course I wear and relate all these war stories with my non-disguised bullshit pride. In my defense, it’s nice to have my-own-damn-fault foibles be good for something even if it’s just as fish tackle baiting admiration for the aplomb that, if I actually had, these stories wouldn’t exist and I couldn’t self aggrandize. I don’t want to get into the specifics or the whys or who did whats because who gives a shit.
So now existence is more or less marginal. Spirit cracked but not broken. Low prestige. But okay. Slouching almost comfortably between embittered and accepting. One of my jobs involves working with elementary aged kids. I'm good at it. They like me. And I consider it among my most important roles in that capacity to exist as a visible but silent bulwark against their budding and oh-so-encouraged naïveté that they are special and can be anything and life is an adventure they will someday embark upon. They need only look slightly upward to my slack expression to see the life long purgatorial and for the most part, respectless fate that could also await them.
You see, even though this isn’t the story we’re told or tell ourselves, for some of us, life is just a thing we’re doing and enjoying in the very few times that’s even possible when adjusting for sleep, work and circumstance.
Some people are born into lack of food or clean water and with sectarian violence. Some into comfort and love never wanting for anything. Still others as grasshoppers. That we have control over so little and most of this is a crapshoot is just a fact of existence. And while another universe would be preferable, it simply isn’t the one we live in. Some of us aren’t going to have soul mates. Most of us aren’t going to live our dreams. And that’s okay. Accepting that is part of maturity, taking note of the blessings you really can count and eliminating ineffectual disappointment from retrospect. But most of all that just being okay is a really good thing.
Most people, reasonably given the stories we're sold, hear all that and think I'm cynically advocating some sort of prosaic and joyless life but boy let me tell you most things not only couldn't but just aren't further from the truth. These things above, these truths I see, they aren't painful to me. They don't bother me. It's okay. I'm very happy most of the time.
See, it's not cynicism. It's letting go of the things that answer the most pertinent question of my life, 'God damn, what's your damage?'
Expectation is our damage, I think. It's a lack of letting go. It's it's the constant grasping at this imaginary notion of what life should be instead of what it is. All this stuff that exists under the umbrella of trying to control the things we fundamentally can't. That's what my damage has been anyway. Especially when it comes to art.
I mean think about it. You ever notice after you have, say, an amazing performance, or game of tennis, or you write a great poem, any of those times you've been just totally in the zone, that the next time you do it it kinda sucks? I find this especially true in improv.
I think that's the time when you just let things be and didn't analyze them, just allowed yourself some freedom, some abandonment. Somehow the brain turned off. And because of that the work was good. And it felt good. And then all of the sudden your brain went "Oh, that's how you do it. I got this. I can control this. I mean, I just did it. I get it now. Easy."
But it can't be controlled, so you don't, and it doesn't work. It can't be quantified or controlled. It just is, and life is kinda like that. I think so anyway.
Sweet Jesus stop looking for an answer because there isn't one. And even if there is all it's doing is making you look for it. There isn't a formula to all this. Looking or fighting for what you want, no matter how sedulously, no matter how mundane or profound it is, just ain't gonna make it happen. There's too much you have no control over. And besides you're ignoring what's already here, dude. You're enough. This is enough. It's fine. If more comes along, great. If not, calm down. Christ.
Things could end up a lot of different ways and there's nothing you can do about it. The analytical human brain is a remarkable (albeit unintentional, other topic) achievement of evolution capable of moon travel, quantum computation, and wow even periodontists. But that doesn't mean it's fucking apotropaic. The answer to all your problems isn't going to come with the next thought. Ever.
If this sounds facile it's only because you're the one who's been complicating everything for so long. We’re all just passing through here, hopefully making the most out of the hand we were dealt. And at the end of the day, it’s just life, and just one of them. Try not to expect too much out of it.