Instagram Experiment: Hereafter, I’ll share all glorious personal and professional triumphs on Facebook and the unimpressive, non-photogenic ruins of process on Instagram. That way, you can quickly toggle between two windows and get a flip-book style impression of what it actually feels like to be an artist. If your own dreams thrive on seeing glossy, unmitigated success, you can look at Facebook. And if, like me, you enjoy watching poor bastards struggling to make sense of it all – grasping for meaning beyond the borders of their selfies – then you can come to Instagram.
This is my dryer.
This picture was taken about two hours after I gave a keynote speech. I’ve always contended it’s impossible to use the word “keynote” as a verb without sounding like an asshole. I just keynoted. I’m keynoting tonight. Watch me keynote. I still feel this way, about “keynote.”
After I keynoted –
Ah, damn it.
After I spoke about the power of hope and importance of wonder, I came home to a dishes disaster in the kitchen. Papers, everywhere. Open dryer I’d maniacally rifled through for my Keynote Uniform.
This dryer light. The scattered mess of life around the border of the speech. Like working in a professional kitchen. Only the plate matters. The whole world can burn around the rim of pink Himalayan salt and parsley garnish. You focus on the plate. You focus on the speech. You make it perfect.
But the speech lasts 10 minutes. All the while, life lurks outside that torchlit circle. The plate goes out, the food is eaten. The speech is consumed.
The dryer awaits. The grind. It doesn’t go anywhere.
David Foster Wallace said:
“The fact is that, in the day-to-day trenches of adult existence, obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about . . . That may just be a banal platitude, but the fact is that, in the day-to-day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have life-or-death importance. ”
David Foster Wallace goes on to discuss how our perspective on the daily grind might keep us hungry for life. Keep us from wanting to die. About how, like a fish, we might slowly gain awareness of the water around us. We learn to acknowledge: “This is water.”
And Rachel Carson wrote:
“It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence . . . I should ask the gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life, as an unfailing antidote against the boredom and disenchantment of later years.”
Then she dropped the microphone, grabbed the audience by the ears, double-fisted and said:
“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”
I mentioned this during the keynote.
During that 10 minutes, there were a few hundred sparkling people in a room bathed in yellow light.
The light was not unlike the glow coming from this open dryer. That’s where the similarities end.
It haunts me, what Rachel Carson said about kids, and wonder. It haunts me that David Foster Wallace killed himself. I believe he’s right about the life-or-death importance of the banal.
It’s about staying whole and true, isn’t it? Connecting on successes and failures. Being more alive, somehow, by transmitting our existence, finding receivers, feeling heard, hearing others. If that’s not the point, what is? Joy is all around: on pedestals, in gutters. I want both.
So I gave a keynote speech. And this is the life all around it. I laughed, seeing the laundry. That lonely yellow light in the garage after all that clapping and wine. The laugh was real. There’s joy in that.
“This is water. This is water.”