Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Brutal

No matter how painful your day was – either metaphorically or literally – ask yourself one question:

Am I still alive?

“Cuz if the answer is yes, you should rest easy.

It could have been worse.

Feedback Loops (Part 2)

When you become aware of something new in the world, you are tapping into a feedback loop. Mark Andreeson talks about this idea on Brian Koppelman’s podcast “The Moment.” Feedback loops are what happens when something begins to take on a life of its own. It could be new music, or new technology, or a new idea – anything, really.

So what creates feedback loops in culture?

Word-of-mouth or critical consensus.

That’s basically it. Advertising is a weak way to try and jump-start word-of-mouth. But this phenomenon is really about the power of an idea resonating with people in such a way that they are compelled to talk about it.

Critical consensus is a powerful kick-starter for word-of-mouth – there’s nothing quite like respected voices to put something on the cultural radar.

Question: How can you make this information useful to you?

Things You Shouldn’t Take For Granted

Your health is a fragile thing. It might not seem that way, but that’s because you don’t work in an ER. I don’t know if this knowledge is a good or bad thing, and in the end I’m not sure if it really matters.

The unfortunate news is there are a million ways to suffer and die. If you’re healthy and feeling good, be grateful for what you’ve got.

This carnival ain’t going to last forever.

Focus and Discipline (Part 1)

The thing is, if you love what you do, you can accomplish some things by just working whenever you feel like it. The advantage to this is life is much more relaxed. The downside is that things are going to move at a much slower pace.

But bring focus and discipline to what you are working on and the timeline speeds up considerably. Improvements come at a faster rate – mastery takes time. There aren’t any shortcuts in life.

Grinding it out is the best approach. Focus on what you want to do, and don’t be afraid to suck.

Just keep making cool shit.

At the end of the day that’s reward enough.

The World Has Changed

2020 was the year the world abruptly changed. One might even describe it as violently changed and not be accused of hyperbole.

To realize this is to grapple with the uncertainty and fragility of life. Things we always assumed would be part of reality we now realize are fluid.

Whether you choose to admit it or not, we have irrevocably altered our climate on earth and will have to deal with the consequences. Life will not go on as we so naively assumed it would.

We now understand how vulnerable our species is to viral pathogens.

America came dangerously close to fascism – close enough to make it clear that what happened in Germany in 1933 could absolutely happen here.

We learned how dark the heart of humanity really is.

Should I go on? 

Painful But True

Your worst moments of total failure are a gift.

Learning from these failures is how you get better.

It’s part of the journey toward mastery.

We All Live in Two Realities

There is the external reality of the world with its laws of physics and messy human psychodynamics.

And then there is the reality in your mind, which is essentially whatever you want it to be.

Note: It’s important to understand that there may be very little, or quite possibly no overlap between the two. That’s alright — it doesn’t diminish the pleasure one derives from either perspective.

The degree to which any given person’s inner reality matches, or even exeeds the world’s external reality, may be the single factor that distinguishes artists from the general population.

Just a thought.

It’s All a Dream

“To admit that we are afraid is a wonderful freedom. Everything is important, but, finally, nothing is important. It’s all smoke. I look back on my life and think, Was it all a dream? Everyone I know is dead now. My parents are gone, and I think, Did they really exist? I’m going into metaphysics, in a way—the solipsistic universe we live in. But I look back over my life and think, The past is incomprehensible. I don’t grasp it at all.”

–  Anthony Hopkins

What Comes After Burnout?

Research indicates that many Covid nurses have most likely advanced beyond burnout and are now suffering from “moral injury,” a term typically applied to combat soldiers that the Department of Veterans Affairs defines as a response to “acting or witnessing behaviors that go against an individual’s values and moral beliefs.

Searching For a Genre (Part 1)

In an interview discussing his film “Eastern Promises,” David Cronenberg states, “I realized I’m not interested in the mechanics of the mob, but criminality and people who live in a state of perpetual transgression — that is interesting to me.”

Everything I’ve written up to this point has been based on ideas I thought would be interesting to explore. In the process of doing this, certain themes seem to emerge in many of my stories. Transgression is one of them, although it was never my intention. I simply thought the stories and characters were provacative.

Murder and death seem to make regular appearances, often involving people who exist on society’s fringes.

I’m interested in morally ambiguous characters — asking whether they are good or bad isn’t even the right question. They simply do the best they can with what they’ve got.

Isn’t that how life works?

This (Part 3)

“The job of the creative person is to recognize and express things for others. Some haven’t fully grasped their own feelings. Others lack the skill to communicate the feeling or idea. Still others lack the courage to express it. Whatever the case, we recognize the truth when we read it. The best writers seem to read our minds, and they nail exactly what we’ve never been able to put into words.”

– Chuck Paluhnik

I Love My Job, But…

Just finished a three-day stretch in the ER. I work 12.5 hours each shift, so that’s 37.5 hours in 3 days. And it’s not a normal job, that’s for sure.

It’s a job filled with sadness, tragedy, and death. Oh, did I mention the frustration of trying to stabilize patients who’ve spent a lifetime of neglect to arrive at a such a state of disarray that you’re not quite sure what calamity to treat first. Hint: it’s the one most likely to kill you before you get out of the ER.

Yet I’m still fascinated and turned on by the whole process. And the best part of all?

I get paid to help people in their most vulnerable moment of need. What a privilege to be entrusted with.

I’ve often said – there’s only three ways you’re leaving the ER: you’re either discharged back to wherever you came from, admitted and transferred to floor, or you’re packed up in a body bag and sent to the morgue.

Explaining the latter to the spouse and loved ones is one of the most difficult aspects of practicing as an ER nurse. You’re constantly reminded of the fact that we’re all, give or take, going to end up in the same place.

But still – at least for now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Who’s Running This Ship?

As I understand it, humans gather together in large groups bound by geography and form societies. Over millenia, new languages are born and cultural customs and religions coalesce.

In order to control what would otherwise become a coalition of violent tribes constantly at war with one another, humans created something called government. The idea was that this would bring order to a lawless world and protect those who might otherwise be exploited.

In the process of establishing this government, safeguards to protect the population would be implemented, and various branches would ensure that the infrastructure needed to provide essential services to the people was always functioning.

So why does America seem to be reverting to “a coalition of violent tribes constantly at war with one another.”

Are we going forwards or backwards here, folks? “

‘Cuz I don’t know what you see from where you’re sitting, but I see a shitstorm up ahead.

We Have Prepared For Nothing

Question: What does the Coronavirus and the current power outages in Texas have in common?

Answer: Our complete failure in anticipating and preparing for disasters. It might as well be our American motto: What? Me Worry?

Seriously – if there is one overarching epiphany I’ve taken away from 2020 it’s this: We are doomed by our own incompetence. We are not prepared for anything, indeed, what we call society is a flimsy construct in constant danger of falling away and revealing the nihilistic impulses of a species hell-bent on seeing its own destruction.

Is this really who we are?

The evidence points to a grim response – I’m afraid so.

An Alternative Viewpoint

“In Barry Malzberg’s fine novel, Herovit’s World, the protagonist argues that rewriting his work would rob it of the spontaneity that is its only virtue. And I believe it was William Goldman who defined revision as “washing garbage.”

– Lawrence Bloch