Saturday, April 5, 2008

For Service, Press Here

I am frequently astounded by my capacity for inaction. If I had a dime for every good idea/ invention/story/ song/drawing/ etc that ever came into my mind and never received fuller realization, I'd have a lot of dimes. Of course, this is why all creative endeavors benefit from a measure of discipline. In fact, the very act of being creative is fostered by disciplined opportunities for creation. I have recently been reminded of this truth.

I have two friends who are not quite right (actually to the extent that they are bent, they are bent like me - which is why I enjoy their company). One of them, for reasons known only to him, emailed a few haiku touching on the joy of his work life. By the time I read his email, our other friend had already responded with a few of his own. I wanted to and did respond in kind. Had it not been for the prompting and the challenge, I would have written no haiku that week. But pressed a bit, that part of me which needs creative outlet took what it could get and went to the task of composing seventeen syllable poems.

Such opportunities and the sort of companions who foster them are not to be passed up. The haiku are here.

p.s. I feel obligated to clarify that I actually have a good number more than two of friends who are not quite right. But only these particular two are relevant to this observation.

1 comment:

spooork said...

I really didn't mean for this to become an essay. I just meant to make a Three Stooges-style "I resemble that remark" remark and move on, but the more I thought about the “bent” part of your blog entry, the more it resounded.

I used to think I was broken. I looked at other people and thought, "Wow. He likes football, baseball, fishing and hunting. I wish I liked stuff like that." I thought I was broken because I couldn’t muster enough interest to enjoy those things. I wanted to like them. I wanted to be like the other people my age. I wanted to conform.

I considered conformity to be an honorable goal, a subjugation of self that was to be sought and strived for. I considered myself defective in some crucial and fundamental way because my interests ran in different directions (often radically so) from those of the people around me. My yearning for conformity made me take on other people’s goals and to try to be like them, often without considering consequences.

Conformity was, for me, a losing battle. It wasn’t my strong suit. In the end the bland essence of other people’s goals left me mentally, spiritually and emotionally starving. I couldn’t be true to their goals (mostly because they were stultifyingly dull).

So why couldn’t I--can’t I--conform? I’ve thought about it a long time and I think it revolves around a few things: self-doubt, eclecticism, mental flexibility, distractibility, focus, voracious curiosity and urge to solve problems. Together they form a powerful system that keeps me moving forward to see what’s around the next corner. It’s about ideas, knowledge and variety.

So I am bent. I admit it. I still don’t like football baseball, fishing and hunting. I don’t like the things that most people like. I like haiku. I like modern contemporary (don’t tell my Mother!). I like compiling my own software. I like computer games. I like programming. I like Sumo. I like science fiction. I like most all music (excepting country and rap). I like words. I like target shooting. I like the space shuttle. I like the church calendar. I like drawing. I like puns. I like humor. (continue ad nauseam)

Sometimes I still get upset when I’m not invited out drinking or to play golf with my typical friends. But then I think about the things I rather be doing and the people I’d rather be with and I know that they are the “bent” things and people. Golf with typical people is about playing, drinking and talking trash. Golf with “bent” people is about describing your shots in rhymed couplets or trying to make your score a Fibonacci Sequence(*) or swearing at bad shots in Arabic.

Hey, some of my best friends are typical. I’m fortunate that y’all aren’t.

"Enjoy every sandwich."
-- Warren Zevon, from his final interview on Letterman prior to his death in Sept. 2003

(*) Start early and only play 9 holes. Every hole above 10 will suck. Hole 18 will take you 266 minutes if you take a shot every ten seconds.