Monday, July 15, 2013

Without An Audience, You’re The Tree That Falls

"There was a euphoric amount of optimism." From a physical standpoint, I'm not interested in risk. I have zero need for speed. I don't play extreme sports. I've never been in a fight. And I walk away from even the slightest hint of violence. People have called me a pussy more times than I care to remember, and I'm totally okay with that. Here's why. When it comes to emotional, psychological risk, I'm quite the daredevil. Relocating to a city with no job and no friends? Starting a business with no money and experience? Delivering a speech in front of four thousand foreigners? Sign me up. That's the kind of risk I can get behind. If gambling on yourself is wrong, I don't want to be right. Inspired by Alex Winter's killer documentary.

"Without an audience, you’re the tree that falls in the forest." It's one thing to sing songs in the comfort of your own bedroom, it's another to stand on a corner and perform for complete strangers. Big lesson for me this year. Turns out, having an audience changes the way you experience your art. You learn to see it through other people's eyes. Take kids, for example. They're too young to bullshit you. If they like your song, they vote with their feet. If they don't, they start crying. You can't get that kind of feedback from singing into a hairbrush. If it's true that nothing happens until a sale is made, maybe it's also true that nothing happens until a seat is filled. Thanks for the heads up, Henry.

"A relationship is like taking a four credit class." Yet another article about the death of courtship. Really pisses me off. Not that I'm against hooking up. That's what college is for. But the process of dating, pursuing, courting, chasing––even breaking up––is a invaluable experience that every young person should have. It teaches us how the heart works. It allows us to practice commitment and communication  It gives us a holistic view of our most human tendencies. And it offers us an opportunity to develop our relational and romantic muscles, two strengths that are infinitely useful later in life. What good is being a great sprinter when most of life is a marathon?

"If there's schlepping involved, it's more likely to be real work." Possibly the most brilliant blog post I've read in years. Venkat breaks down conspicuous productionProving that our most important work involves grit, delayed gratification and the willingness to burn some serious calories when nobody's watching. Growing up, that was always hard for me. Impatience was a furious itch that needed scratching at any cost. You couldn't slow me down with the back of an axe. But, life has a funny way of teaching you exactly what you need to learn. Somehow I discovered the value of the schlep. Somehow I learned to prioritize sweaty work over sexy work.