As I type these words into the brand-new version of Ulysses which allows me to save articles directly into my website repository (thank you thank you thank you!), I reflect upon the sharp turn my life took a couple of months ago—a constellation of events which completely and utterly knocked me off my writing course. I wish I could say it was all due to, y’know, the global pandemic…it would make for a simpler explanation. And of course that’s a thing everyone is going through right now. A shared trauma of the entire human race at a singular moment in space and time.
But that’s not really it. It’s a factor, certainly, but it’s not the sole reason. And what’s been most frustrating (as a writer no less!) is that I don’t feel at liberty to say much about what’s been going on. Not yet at least. I teased out some of the broad strokes in my latest podcast episode—listen to that if your curiosity is piqued. Let’s just say lawyers are involved, and it’s a nightmare no father should ever, ever have to go through. Ever.
Nonetheless, the purpose of this article isn’t just to blow off steam, but to recognize that I’m simply not the same person today that I was even a couple of months ago. Again, global pandemic, rapid cultural change…blah blah blah…truth is, nobody is the same person they were a couple of months ago! But I think if my personal life had been in a emotionally stable, predicable place when the coronavirus hit, I’d likely have leaned into writing and making videos about #QuarantineLife and all that jazz—like so many of my favorite content creators have done.
But instead I retreated into myself and just stopped. Stopped sending out email newsletters. Stopping recording podcasts. Stopping posting on Instagram for the most part. Stopping shooting videos for YouTube. Stopped updating my website. Everything simply ground to a screeching halt. I just couldn’t muster the enthusiasm…couldn’t bring myself to jump back on the hamster wheel of making an effort of creating content, putting myself out there, waiting for the tap of a like button or the posting of an emoji comment. It all seemed so…pointless.
Yes, I was in a dark place for a while. Not sure I’m fully out of it quite yet. But what I find most interesting is what I’ve learned during this strange and unexpected time.
I’ve learned that I am a stronger, more capable, more self-reliant, and more intuitive person than I ever realized I could be.
I’ve learned that I really don’t need the accolades of others to be happy.
I’ve learned that just because I’ve gone through some really shitty times in my life doesn’t mean I have to stay stuck in the mud.
I’ve learned anew the value of friendship from key people who are truly safe, empathetic, and care unconditionally about others. My gratitude to them is profound.
And finally, I’ve learned more about what really matters to me in life. The kind of work I want to do. The kind of person I want to become.
That last bit is important, because it means I’m going to be making a lot of changes to my habits, routines, schedules, and pursuits in the coming months. I’m not yet sure how much that will impact my blog, my podcast, my video channel, and the like. But I do know that I’m no longer satisfied merely dabbling in a variety of different media and approaches, hoping something eventually sticks. I want to expand my horizons in a big way. What do I mean by that?
Maybe I’ll write a screenplay.
Maybe I’ll publish a coffee-table book of fine art photography.
Maybe I’ll join a podcast network as a guest host.
Maybe I’ll—once travel is permitted again!—rent or buy a van and travel across North America for an extended length of time.
Maybe I’ll join a mountain climbing expedition and scale the many majestic summits of the Cascades and then write about such a wild experience as somebody who came from throughly un-athletic, gym-deprived stock.
Maybe I’ll practice standup at a local open mic. (Once that’s a thing again!)
I know, I know, that’s a lot of lofty (read: empty) thoughts to be swirling around up there. All hat, no cattle, as they say in Texas. Honestly, who knows? I’m not terribly invested in any of those ideas. The point isn’t so much in the what I wish to accomplish, but in the why. And the fact is I’m so much more interested now in focusing on extended “deep work”—away from the spotlight, as it were—and much less keen on keeping up with the latest outrage-of-the-day on Twitter. I could spend hours tweaking cameraphone images to post on Instagram…and get excited about receiving 8 likes…or I could spend hours crafting art that might actually mean something—even if nobody likes it but me!
Thus in the abysmal depths of heartache and loss, I chanced upon a new voice. And such a movement excites me, terrifies me, and motivates me to bear witness to where this new journey might take me.
Check back in a few months, or years, or never. Remember, I’m not in this for the accolades. You shouldn’t be either.
P. S. This is a difficult time for everyone, so I sincerely hope you and your loved ones are safe and doing well. If you ever need a sympathetic ear, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact me. I’m surviving this crisis because I know my closest friends have got my back, and if you need a friend too, I’ll try my best.