Considering I spend a lot of time berating words and crying out their woeful inadequacy in expressing our true intentions and feelings, I’m not entirely sure what it is about writing that seems to captivate my attention. I mock labels and definitions to no end, but these are the very devices that facilitate something I’ve grown to love. Perhaps the fun is simply in playing around with them, and the endless opportunity to create either brilliance or stupidity. I dunno.
I began thinking about this earlier in the day when considering what exactly brings any degree of happiness into my life. Reflecting on what eventually became a successful mural painting business that I maintained for 15 plus years, I wondered why I hadn’t actually even bothered to complete at least one new painting in the last 2 years. And it dawned on me that because I turned something I was passionate about into a business, always focusing on getting a job finished as efficiently as possible in order to move on to the next gig, somewhere along the way I lost my joy for being immersed in the process.
It also made me think back to all the years I spent playing hockey. Being a goalie on some of the shittiest teams that have ever banded together, winning and losing never really became the reason to play. It was more an obsession with how much my game could improve by pushing my limits, analyzing mistakes, and learning to eventually just have fun with it all. I liked all the free beer too. If all that mattered was holding up a stupid tin cup and the end of season, I never would have played to begin with.
Immersing yourself in the process is at the heart of any dream. This is very much the reason we end up discarding so many of them. We start with a vision of standing on a mountain top, living in a mansion, or rocking out on stage. But if the reality of shitty nightclubs, broken guitar strings, strung-out band members, and endless repetition of the same songs don’t give you a hard-on, being a musician probably just isn’t something you’re cut out for. The fantasy of playing the sold out stadium is only fulfilled because the fantasy actually entails living the erratic lifestyle, fully embracing all its ups, downs, junkies, knocked up skanks and lawsuits. Same deal with the mansion, car, or job. You’ll probably never become CEO if you’re only interested in working 20-hours a week, with every other weekend off to lovingly groom your pet hamsters. The guy at the top thrives on the 80-hour work weeks, never for one second missing an opportunity to further the business, even at the cost of blowing off every single one of his kid’s birthday parties he rented the stupid pony for, or sacrificing his marriage to the fabulous woman who enthusiastically encouraged being the recipient for the largest sex toys in recorded history.
So when we get down on ourselves because we haven’t followed through learning the piano, hitting the gym 3 times a week, or procuring nude photos of an elderly Clint Eastwood, perhaps this is the time to realize that, although the end result seemed to be a worthy goal, the fact of the matter was we really weren’t all that interested in the actual journey to reach that goal.
And that’s nothing to be guilty or ashamed of. Try out as many things as you like, but if they’re not for you, so be it. That doesn’t make you a failure or a loser, all it does is direct you to the things that matter more – like abolishing every known nude image of an elderly Clint Eastwood from the records of humanity.
The hour grows late again, my eyes are becoming weary, yet I find myself still typing away. Where does this game go for me? I have no fucking clue. I don’t really have visions of best-seller lists or Pulitzer Prizes. I have no sensible game plan of how to turn writing into an extra couple bucks on the side. Opportunities will arise, I’m sure. Someone at some point had to have written the screenplay for the pizza guy fucking the nurse. Time will tell. There’s only one thing I know for certain – I’m enjoying the moments I play with every nonsensical piece of crap I put out there. And I’ll keep doing it for as long as it keeps putting the occasional twisted smile on my face.
It sucks to end on a cliche that’s been ass-flogged to death, but it’s the most appropriate thing I can think of: the journey really is its own reward. When you find yourself disappointed after reaching your summit, you’ll recognize that the climbing was all you ever really cared about.
That, and nude pictures of Clint Eastwood.