20 September 2013

0 t-minus 0


do you remember the story? k.clen did, which is fortunate because otherwise- thanks to an inability to keep track of dates this month- i might've let it pass. which is a horrid way to celebrate a day one's been counting down to for three years!

so yeah. the story: early early in the morning of 20 september 2010, in a cab on my way back from midway, i followed the example of jim carey in this possibly apocryphal story and wrote on a post-it a date three years distant.

the point of that date, even as it passes, remains somewhat nebulous. the original intent was that, by 20 september 2013, my work should no longer be connected to living in a particular place. the key to doing that was, to my mind, biography. and all of this, collectively, was meant to do wonders for my love life.

it has, so far, done bunk for my love life.

which is why somewhere around the end of year one the point of the post-it was revised to being that i would be able to support myself on my writing by the end of those three years.

the post-it has, so far, also done bunk on this front. my writing has netted a grand total of $25.

so what has the post-it accomplished?

two things.

ambition and expectation.

having a deadline, even if it's a deadline centered around a terribly nebulous accomplishment, spurns accomplishment nonetheless. it gives you something towards which you're aiming and it makes you do things- random things, silly things, things for which the connection to your nebulous goals may be even more nebulous. but you do them because it's a step in a direction leading to something.

i think our culture puts entirely too much emphasis on highly specific, clearly defined end-goals. in contrast, i see ambition as steps in directions leading to something. your job is to keep moving forward. which direction and what step will fill itself in.

that's a pretty good working summary of what life is.

and maybe you're headed towards something you don't have the creativity to yet imagine. like how i've been writing a book about jackie onassis for ten years and yet which i'm only just now- now that i'm living in london writing about america- gaining the skill with prose to produce as it's been in my head all this time.

this is all linked to expectations. sometimes you need to suspend them. if you have the ambition that you will be an astronaut, you likely have the expectation that you will go to the moon. but who's to say you're not also meant to run a marathon and learn mandarin and memorize select scenes from mad men and that that's not all tied together with your becoming an astronaut?

i have the ambition to be a biographer and assume that, one day (please god!), that will result in a book that- at the very least- i will expensively print on my own. which is all well and good. but the difficulty i have here is that there's a general expectation for how to get those things done. if i'm going to be a biographer then i need to write a book, but maybe i also need to take a trapeze lesson and fly a plane and go to greece and get a PhD i'm not entirely sure what i want to do with.

how terribly limiting to think there's only one way to get somewhere, particularly in your career or, even worse, your whole life.

when i wrote 9/20/13- and i cannot stress to you enough how distant a date that seemed in 2010- on a post-it note, it was a primitive stab at stating an ambition. what ambition? really, i think it was as simple as wanting to write. for a living, maybe. on a regular basis, definitely. to be read by a larger audience, absolutely.

has it done wonders for my love life? no. am i rolling in gobs of money? no. have i published a book? not yet.

but everything, all of it- even the smallest most random bits- has been a step in a direction. and it's all leading to something started three years ago today. in the end, the post-it probably had nothing to do with my love life. it was about being present, about trying to live.

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