Being a better person, lobster love, and connecting more dots

Lobster-love-print-newdayprints

Nifty image from newdayprints on Etsy. Check them out. They’ve got hundreds of cool, affordable, unique prints. This lobster, however, is sold out.  I was sad, too.

Cracked.com is known for its incisive, edgy, and trademark snarkiness. Right now, this particular article detailing “6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person” has knocked me for a loop.

Because they are kinda harsh.  And they are true.  (And really funny once your ego understands that it’s about to get a kick in the ass.)  Here are the aforementioned 6 Harsh Truths, though you really need to read the article to fully understand the awesome that is Cracked.com.

  • #6. The World Only Cares About What It Can Get from You
  • #5. The Hippies Were Wrong
  • #4. What You Produce Does Not Have to Make Money, But It Does Have to Benefit People
  • #3. You Hate Yourself Because You Don’t Do Anything
  • #2. What You Are Inside Only Matters Because of What It Makes You Do
  • #1. Everything Inside You Will Fight Improvement

It’s about action.  Connecting dots in life.  And what impedes action.  And how you need to find a way to connect the damn dots anyway.

A few days ago, I reviewed the book Wonder by R.J. Palacio.  In it, there’s a precept/theme that one should always be a little kinder than is necessary.

Because kindness is something you do.  Sitting down and eating lunch with someone who’s eating alone.  Calling a friend when you know they’re going through a rough spot. Giving leftovers to a homeless person. Contributing to a food bank.

Love is also something you do.  And I’m not talking about sex.  I’m talking about the activities, day in and day out, that make a relationship work.  While it’s nice and necessary to have dreams and ideals in a relationship, they only happen if you work towards them every day.  As a friend astutely observed, “we march towards dreams in the day to day. ”

Or, to put it in a less poetic way, I was chatting with another friend recently about how much my impending divorce hurt, because I love my husband.  My friend replied with, “I love lobster.  It doesn’t put a lobster dinner on the table.”

That packed a punch.  I had been shelling out the old adage “sometimes love isn’t enough” but not fully comprehending why.  Because of lobster, that’s why.  Because you can love something, but love alone doesn’t make a relationship.

Or, if you prefer more a more poetic, musical rendition, check out Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra’s music video to “The Bed Song”:

The same goes for friendships…minus the bed.  (sometimes.) Lately I’ve been ruminating about friends I’ve drifted away from.  There are various reasons I could attribute it to: geography, differing interests, some are exes and that can get awkward, unresolved fights, trust issues, growing apart.  But really, it boils down to the fact that we’re not doing.  The friends I’ve drifted away from, when looked at it one on one between each friend and I…neither of us are actively being a friend.  Facebook likes don’t count as much as I thought they did.  Hell, Facebook comments don’t count as much as I thought they did.  They’re all just little offshoots of a bigger part of trying.  Actual contact.  Directly writing to, talking to, spending time with another person.  I’m going to try and change what I can and see if any of those friendships can be salvaged. Because these people I’ve lost touch with…they’ve connected many dots in my life.  We’ve shared incredible things that I still remember and cherish the memories of.  And perhaps all I’ll have left of those friendships is the memories, but I won’t know if new experiences and memories can be had if I don’t try.

In her amazing keynote address given at Grub Street’s 2013 “The Muse and the Marketplace” conference (transcript and video can be found here on her blog), Amanda Palmer talks both about connecting dots and what makes someone a writer.

i asked my twitter feed last night if there were any writers out there, and, it being a friday night, there were thousands ready and waiting.

and i asked: WHAT makes you feel like an actual writer? was there a moment. answer however you want. and hundreds of responses flooded in, and i looked for themes. some people said”

“when i first got paid”
“when i first got published”
“when i got my first real review”

…but a LOT of people said:

“when somebody told me that my writing moved them. that was the moment.”

some of these people wrote blogs, some wrote books, all different styles…the format didn’t matter.

what mattered is that they’d moved another human being. nobody said they felt authenticated when they got their first negative blog comment, or bad review. (well there was one girl who said that her boyfriend insulted her for calling herself a writer because she never spent any time writing. so she quit her job and started writing. that was a happy ending, more or less….)

but mostly: we’re strengthened by those who nod at the dots that we connect.

And she sums it up nicely when she says, “if you’re putting down words to connect the dots, you’re a writer.”

So here I am trying to connect my own dots.  Trying to be a better person, writer, lover, friend.  I know the first time I wrote something where I had unsolicited, unknown to me people comment and say that I touched them with my writing, I felt amazing.  When a random audience member I’d never met before told me they were moved by my singing or dancing or acting or directing, I was on top of the world.  Not necessarily because of the praise, because a fire gets lit under me when someone criticizes me, too.  No, it’s the fact that when I created something and someone reacted, we connected.  Dots were connected, people were connected.  It was like a hug, but without the physical proximity.  It transcended miles, time, race.

Yes, there are times, like the Cracked articles says, everything inside me fights improvement.  And there are times I succumb to that vortex of sucktastic self pity.  And then there are other times, like today after reading the article, I went upstairs, did some dishes, threw in a load of laundry, ate a good meal, and then came back down here and started writing.

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