I’ve been timid, and for that I apologize. Change is the scariest thing in the world; sometime around the turn of the new year, I felt myself changing, and I got scared. So I stopped writing, talking to new people, and confronting the things which frighten me. I ceased growing.
The process of taking up new hobbies–things which scared me, shook me, and brought me face-to-face with failure–was enough to break the daily melancholy, but only temporarily. Soon enough, everything got stale again. My newfound outdoor hobbies–rock climbing, slacklining, camping–weren’t doing the trick anymore. Due to the simple fact of momentum, I continued to improve in what were now my areas of comfort, but it wasn’t enough. I came to them the same way as I do with computer, with videogames; needily, anxiously, routinely. Compulsively. They took me over, and I subjugated myself to their pursuit.
I was dismayed to find out that I couldn’t land on the right feeling simply by doing a correct set of things. The human being is too complex; we can’t follow a set of other people’s rules and expect satisfaction. There’s no proverb big enough to fit the whole of you. No advice column stands a chance.
During a bout of crippling indifference, I found myself wondering: “What’s left?” What was there to cling on to, what could I do that would make me feel… alive? I knew what had worked in the past, or things I could have started on, yet I kept asking, like a petulant child, “But why?” Would I, in fact, be better off having these things done? If my previous efforts failed, why should anything else work? What’s the point? It wasn’t until I spent a weekend at a smash tournament–a scene which I’ve been following for roughly four years, and which is the absolute epitome of my comfort zone–wandering around dazed, stoned, or tired the whole time, that I realized the worst thing of all would be the dominance of this melancholy for the whole of my life. Where was I, underneath all those appearances? Under all those half-thoughts, “whatever”s, “oh well”s, yawns, and grumbles? In my worst lulls, the spark of my existence goes from dim to sputtering out. The worst fate of all isn’t death, it’s perpetual dormancy.
What’s there to get excited about? Where’s my life force at? What’s worth living for?! I can’t say I know for certain. What gets me going–what turns me on? I know it once I have it, once I’m in it, but there are no commandments. Nothing’s written in stone; it changes too fast. By the very nature of the thing, it’s whatever presently lies right out of grasp–that which is tantalizingly close, but incredibly far away, for its achievement (or even an attempt at it) lies over the hurdle of the hardest thing you’ve ever done before.
I’m chasing myself down. The process of acting out my impulses, and instantiating them in my reality, is terrifying to me, but its necessary. I’m trying to be goofier, more emotional, more aligned–more palpably Joe. Over all these years, I’ve hid myself away for fear of rejection, failure, change, success, or I don’t know what. Maybe it’s just what I’m used to doing. I have to tease me out of myself; I want to feel the risk of failure in my chest and stomach, because that’s the feeling of progress. True motivation lies deep inside, I think, and sometimes you have to jackhammer it out.
If I know anything right now, it’s that doing the right things, repeatedly, will bring the new, the frightening, the glorious, the triumphant into my life. If I target the things that are important to me, and give them my best effort, I have faith that I will become a better person–I will become more “me.”
With the help of a friend, I shaved my head into a mohawk yesterday, which I have never done. It’s pretty uncharacteristic of me, but I wanted to do it, so I did. Sticking to your guns is the hardest thing in the world. The hardest part of writing anything, especially online, is not thinking: “Fuck it, this sucks,” deleting the whole thing, and resigning yourself to the hopeful belief that your half-articulation, half-cowardice, half-effort has somehow made you better. That’s a cop-out, though. You’ve looked failure in the face for a split second and gone running off with your tail between your legs. So, here’s this post–chock full of self-doubt, setting forth a shaky, insecure mission statement, miles from my ideal expectations. It’s progress.
Since I know y’all are curious: