On Being Inspired

I just got to watch an unreleased video by a guy who I might get to work with in the near future. Excitement about the new gig aside, I found myself very inspired by the guy’s story, and sharing. I got pumped. He has something of a Gary Vaynerchuk vibe (in a very different industry) and as I happen to be a big GaryVee fan, it really hit my chords.

I noticed something interesting in the process of being inspired, beyond the content. I think it’s a good idea when being inspired to not be inspired by what someone is doing. I don’t feel a particular pull towards the industry this guy is in (though he nearly got me there) as a career. It’s not something I can be passionate about. Excited yes, but passionate, not so much. If I tried to follow that excitement all in, I would burn out, and I’d be back to looking for the thing I really want to do.

I also don’t think it’s wise to be inspired by how someone is doing something, when being inspired. I loved the style in the video, and the energy, but they are not me. Again, if I tried to go with copying his style as a way to put my passion out there, it would fall flat sooner or later.

What sticks for me, and what I think is good to emulate when being inspired by something is the simple fact that they are doing. Period. The inspiration that can last, and serve, is the oomph to get up and move forward with my passion. Not how they do, or what they do, but that they do.

In other words; when inspired, try to remember, “You do you.

My Default Interface

Gnothi seauton.” That’s Latin for, “know thyself.” It’s a pearl of wisdom from antiquity that admonishes one to be honest with oneself so that one may know humility, but also to ignore the opinion of the multitude in charting one’s course. I’ve muddled my way through life following this pearl as much as I can.

It is in that quest to know myself that I recently sorted out a funny little issue that has been itching at my mind for quite sometime. What’s been itching my mind is something that happens to others which I have realized also happens to me, in an odd way. Of course it should be obvious what I am on about at this point, but I will just go ahead and say it. The thing that happens to others, that is similar to the thing that happens to me, is none other than: resting bitch face.

In case you have not been on Internet for the past couple of years, “resting bitch face” is a thing that has been called out on social media, and seems to have a wide range of acceptance. Essentially it’s where a person’s default expression, their face before they have reacted to anything, is set in a way that is commonly taken for distraught, grumpy, angry, or bitchy. People who have this “condition” often have to endure endless inquires into what is wrong when nothing is, and assumptions that they are upset with whomever they are dealing with when they aren’t. They often become the unwitting recipients of advice such as, “smile more”, and “if you don’t frown so much people will like you more.”

I had a long and uncertain relationship with the idea of “resting bitch face.” Being a Libra, I tend to see both sides of an argument to a fault. I would wonder, if this situation was a burden for the person who had it, why they didn’t train their expressions to something different. Then I wondered why they should need to. I hopped back and forth, never giving much voice to my opinion, chiefly because it never gelled together. Finally things went click for me; I have been struggling with a version of this for all of my life.

What I realized was that while I do not have “resting bitch face”, I have something similar that has been just as much of a burden. For, you see, I am a “steady-state asshole.” Let me explain what that means. If there is an opportunity for a pointed comment, a jab at an exposed trigger, a correction of flawed reasoning, I’ll take it. I don’t do this out of malice, or fear. Rather, I do sometimes, but those aren’t the times I am referring to here. I do this because it’s in my nature. The off-color remark, the racial slur, the non-PC comment. These all come very naturally to me. I manage to keep the worst of it in, but not all. Again, I am not trying to be crass or cruel, it’s just how expression happens with me.

[SIDEBAR: I am aware there are other terms I could be using here, such as “curmudgeon”, “grump”, or “jerk”. The issue I have with these terms is they have too long been in the lexicon of common usage. That means there original meaning has become watered down by use slightly (and sometimes extremely) outside of what I think was there original intended use. Such is the nature of an actively evolving language. Plus, “steady-state asshole” has more punch than those other terms and I think this distinction requires that to get the point across. The term “resting bitch face” also has a perfectly accurate older phrase. Namely, “sour puss.” I think that “resting bitch face” is a much better phrase for modern usage for the same reason that “steady-state asshole” conveys it’s meaning in a more current fashion.]

Life as a “steady-state asshole” has many interesting and entertaining implications. Frequently saying things that cause other people to be confused about whether you mean to be insulting (intentionally, or unintentionally) can lead to some pretty pickles, some grave misunderstandings, and some lost opportunities. On the bright side, knowing that one is a “steady-state asshole” at lease keeps one aware that perhaps a kind word, or an apology are good things to keep handy.

I am a “steady-state asshole”, and I don’t mean anything by it. It’s just how I groove. It’s not you, it’s me (quite often.)

Is Every Book Endless?

“What’s your favorite, X?”

This question usually boggles me. I am a creature of wide tastes, so I am often not able to answer these questions. There are three areas where I know what my favorite thing is. People, movies, and books. The people and movies are stories for another time. Books is what occupies our concern for the moment. My favorite book of all is easy to determine, because this particular book is one I have read far more often than any other. Most books that I read get one reading. A handful get two, or three readings. But, with Robert Anton Wilson’s “Cosmic Trigger volume 1“, the number is at least three times as high. Honestly, I have lost track of how many times I have read this book. I know it’s been at least eight times, but it could be as many as twelve, maybe more.

Each time I re-read Cosmic Trigger 1 I not only find something new, I usually find something absolutely mind blowing. What’s more, I often find something that I have no recollection of from my previous readings. It never fails.

I can’t remember who said it (part of my brain thinks it was Umberto Eco, but I am not very sure), but a renowned author was once asked if he thought people should re-read books. His answer, as far as I can recall was, “Yes, I very much do. You can’t learn everything from a book in one reading. Also, and I know this will sound self serving, when you read a book again you should buy a new copy. You don’t want to have all your attention going to the pieces you might have underlined, or the pages you might have dog-eared. You want to come to the book fresh.”

I had already read Cosmic Trigger 1 about four, or maybe six times when I came across the above advice. I decided to give it a whirl. I bought a new copy. In fact I bought two because I currently have two places I live. I have a copy in each, and I have read both at least twice.

I started reading this old friend of a tome again the other day. I was going through the preface (which preceded the “Forewords” and “Introduction” of this particular edition). There was a paragraph that was very familiar to me. The paragraph consisted of three metaphors used to communicate a basic point. The first, and third are metaphors that I grokked a while back. The middle one simply served as a connector. Until the other day. As I sat in my bed reading the familiar words, my brain did a double take, got caught in a loopty-loop, and then exploded. A whole new level of comprehension was added to the whole of the book. Like most deep realizations it’s bound to be banal to others, so I won’t go into it here. The content of the realization is beside the point. The salient fact that hit me came when I got up stunned, and walked slowly across the room to stare at one of the overflowing book shelves in my studio apartment.

If I can find mind-blowing distinctions in a book I have already read 8, or more, times what’s the limit? Will there come a day when I stop finding them? Will it take twenty readings? Thirty? More? What’s the limit of a book? These questions flashed through my mind as I stood staring at my overflowing shelf. If that was true of one book, could it be true of the others? The idea that every book on my shelf might be nearly endless filled me with horror. I’ve already faced the fact that one lifetime is not enough to read all the books I want to read, but what if the truth is that there is not even enough time in one life to really read one book…