2.23.18 - Bookbar ~ 3:21 PM
Lately I’ve been having a conversation with myself about my own potential. Perhaps its listening to Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art, perhaps its serendipitous timing given my current “occupational struggles.” Why don’t I just say “I can’t get a fucking job,” rather than dress it up like some piece of watered down reality? I guess using phrases like these is a way for our brains to navigate the pain we feel when we have to accept a harsh truth of our reality.
My current reality is that I am afraid of my own potential. I’m afraid of putting myself out there, of putting a price tag on my work. By remaining judgment free of others, I have carved out a place for myself to be safe from judgment as well, because I guess I’d rather live in comfortable anonymity than recognized splendor—or worse—recognized failure. I’ve rationalized to myself for years that the reason I haven’t committed to a certain work is that I have always found a reason not to do it, a caveat that renders the effort futile. But I’m just coming to grips with the fact that if I want to be a successful writer I need to:
a) write (duh) and;
b) Not be afraid to approach my own potential.
Even as I sit at Bookbar on Tennyson, surrounded by the clinks and clanks of glassware, I question my happiness with getting the job at Oasis Brewery. It's another job that doesn’t push my limits, it's an atmosphere where I'm already comfortable-- it's safe. By my failure to dedicate myself to my work, my tendency to take what's safe, and my contentedness with what I have: I have paved myself a history of mediocrity. Growing pains are part of the deal when you enter a new industry or part of your life and I have spent my entire adulthood avoiding difficulty. The only time I really reached for something was bartending at Henry’s Restaurant in NYC and I achieved it and quickly became complacent. Even there, I wasn’t really pushing myself to master a craft.
The only thing I’ve exercised a great deal of self-control and awareness is in understanding social interactions. As a friendly face, I have honed the ability to make people feel comfortable and welcome to say that which makes them vulnerable. I’ve done this with a combination of eye contact and knowledge that we’re all insecure and unsure of ourselves, and I’m just willing to be the first one to admit it in a group. When someone is overly sure of themselves it strikes me as arrogant, and I’d rather be vulnerable than overconfident. That’s why I’m excited to open Apollo Fields with Heather. I know I have the ability to make all of our guests comfortable and I know Heather will execute the production side of things or die trying. I am so lucky to have found a partner so rational and understanding.
Back to the conversation on my potential -- I have learned that my biggest asset in writing is my power of description. That I can transport the reader to a place of my creation and I can have fun doing it.
All around me BookBar is buzzing with the comfortable speed of a café on a Saturday afternoon. The patrons around me pluck away at their computers, while people seated on leather couches laugh in the background. Money is exchanged over the counter and “have-a-nice-days” are cheerily spoke through the barista's lips. There’s a comfort to cafés that I wish could plop in my living room, where people talk and jest in casual business. I didn’t think about it, but you rarely find tie-wearing businessmen conducting conversations in cafés, probably because they mean business and its too important to be said over a coffee table. Keep an eye out for them - they tend to seem out of place.
But here I sit, happily plucking away, a letter at a time from my worried consciousness, conjuring up sentences from seemingly nowhere. They say that energy is neither created nor destroyed but where does creative energy come from? Logic says that if it isn’t created, then it must live dormant in each of us until we call it forth to our mouths or fingertips. A reassuring thought except for the creative individual during writer’s block-- “I have it in me somewhere, it has to be here!” like they're looking for a pair of lost keys stuck between couch cushions. What am I writing anyway? Or more accurately, why?
I like to investigate the human condition, getting at why we behave the way we do in social settings and how we can better understand one another. I like (not always) to be honest with myself, engaging in these wacky conversations because running away from them makes me feel like shit. It makes me feel like the way I used to when I would lie to avoid my harsh truths of reality. The way of life that really came to a head in my first semester at SUNY Cortland where I avoided my problems altogether. Everyday I woke in dread of the problems I’ve swept under the carpet the night before; and every night I went to sleep in a cannabis-induced shame. It takes courage to have these conversations but the alternative is a tepid reality laced with indifference, envy, and personal stagnation.
It is human to feel—to ignore this is to ignore human life itself.