I’ve started a lot of projects recently. That’s something I almost can’t help myself with; I need to keep myself busy or else I’ll catch sight of that void that lingers inside of me. At the beginning of the year I made a goal to write two articles for this site every month; every other project was fine to start and/or fizzle and fade, just so long as I managed to crank out somewhere in the ball park of 3500 words a month. Which, at the beginning of the year, didn’t seem difficult. Why not? Because I’d been thinking about things to write about, and never had the pressure to flesh out the ideas entirely. I had a whole reservoir of topics that I was certain would send me through 12 months of writing, easy.
Unfortunately, Just like my ideas about most things, this one was also ill-thought out.
I’m not sure if motivation is the problem. One thing I am grateful if not downright proud of being is driven. If I want something done, it will happen. It may be amateurish, half-baked and poorly edited, but it will get done. I’m one of those “well, at least I tried,” folks. Maybe that’s a bad idea. Maybe that just leaves a giant trail of things I haven’t done well. For whatever reason, that isn’t enough incentive for me to stop trying, or, perhaps more vexingly, to stick with things and try and make a messy and amateur thing into something a bit more refined and mature. What I will tell you, my friend, is that after committing to writing every month and so far being successful in terms of producing something, good or not, I have learned a lot. The discipline has been a little tricky, even today I’m forcing myself to sit down and write just because I know I haven’t, and if I don’t today I’ll probably wind up failing.
I have been thinking a lot about setbacks. Comedy is chock full of them. For every week I have a few shows and some self confidence in my choice to do this, there’s another four days of absolute dread that I’m awful and deluding myself and that my limelight is running out. I worry that I can’t write anything else as good as what I have written. I wonder if by forcing myself to write so much I’m actually draining my funny jar more than is necessary, like comedy isn’t a muscle so much as a rainy day fund you should only tap into when necessary. I worry I mix metaphors way too much.
Every time I do a show and it doesn’t feel right, or I post an article that I don’t think is well thought out, researched and entertaining, I feel like I’ve gone backwards, or maybe worse, downward somehow. There is so much struggle involved in what we do as humans, that’s the beauty of it. As much as I would like to say that comparing oneself to others isn’t healthy and a dumb gauge of where you are in life, it’s difficult not to do. I feel like I repeat myself a lot here. I like to think we all do, that our brains only have a limited number of things that are deemed important and we tend to marinate in them.
For a lot of us, this typically entails relationships, romantic or otherwise, our future, having kids or not, self image, success, global impact, religion...
What I’m trying to do right now is take a step back and separate my ideas about how well I’m doing and focus on what I’m doing. What I’m doing is writing, that’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Comedy is just a continuation of that. I have no idea if all this documentation is necessary or interesting, but it feels very natural. I’m about to take my first trip out of state for comedy in November, which is pretty exciting. I started a show and I’m working on several different projects, both on this site and around Denver. These all feel pretty big to me, but on a day-to-day basis, they’re just background noise. I promised myself to start small, just to keep writing and not worry about or focus on anything else, and if I could handle that for a year, I could take another step, add more fuel to the fire.
Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s how life works. I’m still going to write this out for the year, but as much as I like the idea of self-discipline and being able to build up a repertoire of things I’m capable of doing, I don’t think it’s plausible, and it’s a dangerous trap for many of us.
Lately I’ve become almost offended by the word “balance”, at least in the way people use it. Balance implies that you’re able to handle your shit, that you find time for work, school, friends, sex, relationships, pets, hobbies, food, fitness, everything, and you do it without working yourself to death or sacrificing sleep because, well, that would be imbalanced.
Time is fluid, and as boxed in and symmetrically as we measure it and portray it on calendars, not every day holds the same possibilities, and I wish we’d stop deluding ourselves. Some days I sleep. Almost exclusively sleep. Other days, like today, I get a lot of shit together, make myself finish projects albeit shakily, because I know that the next time a day of this much energy and time is unpredictable. Sometimes I’m a terrible girlfriend, detached if I’m present but more than likely just not at home, fully aware of what kind of strain that might do to my relationship. Often I’m a flighty friend, I’m difficult to get a hold of for more than a few minutes a day. Sometimes I’m a bad employee, too tired from bad decisions to really put effort into a job that I actually like (comedy or the bakery. I’ve gone on stage and simply felt like I had ED of the humors).
Then there are times when I’m on fire. I write music, new jokes, clean my house, touch base with everyone I know, cook dinner, work out. I go to an open mic and bring down the room. I like those days, but they’re admittedly infrequent.
Maybe this is what bipolar disorder looks like, but honestly I think I just recognize something about being human. Not to mention, both of these are extremes to illustrate my point; for most of us, on most days, we’re somewhere in the middle of impossible and unstoppable.
My point is that coming up with this idea that everything is possible if you just learn to balance it is strange and upsetting. You’re not capable of doing everything, not all at once and certainly not every day. This isn’t laziness or procrastination talking, I think those attributes may be some kind of backlash for the kind of hectic, over stimulated world we live in, or maybe I give us all too much credit. I think people get lazy if left to their own devices (now more literally than ever), without a sense of direction or purpose. If you don’t have that sense of direction, unfortunately I have no advice for you except to look for it. I didn’t know what I wanted from life until I was 24 and a soon-to-be triple dropout. Now that I have a direction, there’s nothing that’s made me feel more alive and ambitious. I don’t fear having a couple days of down time because I’m practically addicted to doing what I love. I don’t feel the need to “balance” my comedy and writing with the rest of my life; the scale is tipped so far it’s basically useless. We aren’t machines, we’re creatures of novelty and understanding each day is, by and large, independent from all the others in terms of our well being and capability, is important in order to crawl out from underneath a heap of illogically held expectation.
About A Blog
I'm a Denver Comedian, occasional cartoonist and person of interest to someone, probably. These articles are really too long.