Competition usually helps. It focuses evolution, buffering unoriginality and imitation, allowing us to create at a level worthy of the world’s attention. Open, honest criticism forces us out of mediocrity and into a global, magnetic web of collaborative art and vision and invention.
But competition can also nuke your soul. Since arriving at Fuller, I’ve noticed a quiet selfishness growing the in cracks, lacing words and smiles with hints of ego. Not a Princeton level of cutthroat, but subtle and selfish, thousands of micro-comparisons every moment. Envy. Factoring “personal success” into “changing the world.”
Which, unfortunately, keeps it unchanged, and eventually becomes intellectual rape and pillage, night-sticking friends and family the back of the knees just to jump past them on the social success ladder.
Because we aren’t really a materialistic society, are we? We don’t really want “things” as much as we want the social rewards that those things offer. We want “this” because we think it will change how others see us. And if I have “that,” then “they” will include me, or “he” will respect me, or “she” will love me. But eventually, we begin to realize that it doesn’t work, and that it isn’t really a ladder at all. It’s a flow. A shifting swarm of collisions and interactions every moment. And that we’re all in this together. Your successes are my successes. And my successes are your successes. Almost like we’re one body. And that low self-esteem isn’t linked to failure, but rejection.
There is always a gap between how we want our lives to be and how they are.
“Life balance” is bollux, no one can be a rockstar at everything. Pouring into certain things causes other things to suffer. And it takes a while to stop wishing we were someone else.
It’s interesting that jealousy doesn’t explode at distant superstars. We envy our closest friends. The more like us they are, the deeper the resentment.
Until we understand that creativity is far too big to define as “better” or “worse.” ”Higher” or “lower.” And that success and failure are two sides of the same LP. What if we embraced both?
What if we fueled each other like a well-oiled machine, letting the “better” in others fill our own shallows? What if working with someone “farther on the journey” wasn’t a slam to identity, but seen as a gift? An opportunity to leap forward. The married friend. The published roommate. The celebrity sister. A new, radioactive fabric of innovation that creates it’s own feedback loop, building on itself through a churning torrent of creative collusion.
Identity and individuality are important, of course, but personal work could be better, farther, original. Competition redirected from undercutting and outshining, channeled into cooperative collaboration. Something that amps us. And explores us. Something like a headrush.
Recent families serving petrol and toothpaste,
years of dating, midnight laughter, tears and case-by-case trust,
childhood friendships turned creative collusion,
are still not enough to discover the end of a human.
Even marriage. Trust essential because our heads and hearts need expression, an always separation requiring explanation and interpretation, usually clarification. “Misunderstandings,” “misconceptions,” “mistakes.”
It’s hard enough to manage face-to-face on quiet porch steps, nearly impossible with electronics and the buzz of mushrooming responsibility. Divorce because “I don’t know her anymore,” when really “I never knew her.”
Judge and dismiss. Roll “biggest fears,” “repressed desires,” and “current attempts to change” into irrelevant cover-speech and clever tangents.
Another way to move. Under the static or above it. Rare and soundless,
with a poet’s nod,
discovering what another person finds beautiful,
or the unbearable ache,
we never acknowledge.
Another time/place/life if only he/she/we had/hadn’t/would’ve
Add layers of glass until “nothing new” becomes a starfield,
and cereal boxes become a muted city skyline.
the mathematician was choked by a family of musicians
to her soul
lyric memorizers, the lot of them
rationalizing anything convenient
like proper breakfast blends
or rubbish bins
or root things
tenderly unwinding DNA
beating them to clefs
she never married or proved a thing
the Stradivarius beside her casket
as her niece scribbled proofs
on wrinkled yellow music
I’m not a fan of shops that can begin with an “a”. Like, there’s “a” Starbucks or there’s “a” Cheesecake Factory. I prefer shops that begin with an “I found this little place on Arroyo that is absolutely brilliant, I spend most of my nights there. Animal cracker?”
Settled and sorted in Pasadena. Roomies are fit, all three singer/songwriters, very cool. Matching red guitars all around. Rock shows a-plenty. The Flaming Lips and Emiliana Torrini, Nickel Creek and the Watkins Family Hour at Largo, nonames in the DIY neighborhood on Sunset Blvd.
We follow the list of culturally approved upcomings at goldenvoice.com. Catch subversives when we can.
Meeting, moving, mishchiefing. Yard saling, Craig and his list. Exploring and discovering like Calvin + Hobbes on a lazy Sunday.
To theWELL and Manhattan community, dance party?
silence chatters in the bay
guarded by the mountain and the white spray of the sea
there, electric lights scream, and claw into the night
staining walls in stripes
charring eyelids and nighttime clouds
here, the stars drizzle a haze of milky light
Fish Hoek is a quiet galaxy too
the moon shrugging at the reflection of heaven and earth
alone in one
a starfield in the other
skittering on the sleeping waves like snow
the pages of my book whisper
warm Roibose matching the roar of the sea
woodfire embers blaze in the east
matched by the ashes glowing in our white brick hearth
A soaring gull changes direction
I step inside and change direction
wrapped in silent chatter
shifting so slowly I never notice
but shifting nonetheless
The baboons perch, fuzzy gargoyles lining the monastery archways that rise above our Kommetjie home. They coordinate break-ins using their young, who understand how to slip between security bars and open doors for the rest of the troupe. They wait near grocery store doorways to snatch bags from customers’ hands, and swing from rooftop to rooftop, their young clinging to their backs.
Masi itself is both beautiful and tragic. I see resourcefulness and laughter. I see a boy jumping on a mattress atop a rubbish heap, barefoot and dirty, a huge white smile splitting his sable face.
We are busy constructing training sessions for our new employees, troubleshooting equipment, and launching our production line to fill a quickly growing t-shirt demand.
This morning we watched our wetsuit-clad neighborhood surge into the ocean as they attempted to un-beach 20 whales. Whale skin is warm.