Stop Thinking About It (39 of 90)

I’ve stopped and started this post several times today, which is ironic considering the idea behind it. These things happen, though, and I’ve made my peace with such contradictions in my life.

Enough with the trying to say it perfectly. I’m just going to let it rip:

I do not understand people who refuse to have a good time with life.


“If you think you can’t, you’re right.”

I love that saying because it encapsulates everything that you need to know about how the world operates, how people will respond to you and how you should go about living your life.

I repeat it to my students oftentimes throughout the semester. I impart it any time someone comes to me for advice on a problem in their life. I share it in casual conversation each day more times than I know what to do with.


“Yes, and”

Mike Myers, on The Actor’s Studio, explained that his philosophy of life was the same as the philosophy of improvisation. That shift, he said, changed the way he viewed the world.

He sought to live life by accepting and continuing (yes, and) instead of rejecting and stopping (no, but). He couldn’t explain exactly what had changed any more specifically than everything.


“Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people.”

The Last Lecture, a talk given by Randy Pausch just before he passed away, changed my life. I sat in my office late one night, just months before my world would crash around me, crying uncontrollably while I watched the two-hour presentation.

I didn’t realize how much his words would resonate with me, bonding with my DNA to the point where I wonder sometimes where my thoughts on life are mine and where they are his. It’s not uncommon for me to run off copies of sections of the speech (or the companion book) to give to people.


There’s no particular reason for this post today. Nothing has happened, consciously.

And maybe that’s the problem. Traveling is alone-ness for me even when I’m surrounded by friends and family and love. As my life slowly comes back into focus, or maybe into focus for the first time, I look around and I see some of the emptiness that comes with living today with the lost years of my life.

This thought, though, isn’t depressing for me. It is simply part of the recovery process.

What’s so hard, and it’s spoken about in The Program, is the difficulties that you will see around you. Because the world doesn’t care that you’re recovering. That you are happy. That you see the world for what it can be instead of what it can’t be.

Because everyone has damage, whatever it may be. Damage that I can’t fix or help or change.


Then again, maybe there is a reason for the post today. Maybe it’s disingenuous to believe that this bubbled up out of nowhere. There’s just been too much angst from the world around me. Too much thinking about monsters and disasters and mistakes.

Too many people trying to make sure that everything they do is perfect and without pain.

They fear failure. They fear hurt. They fear.

The believe there is a perfection, a rightness, a “thing” that can be achieved. They believe in plans and their ability to control and shape the future. They think they can make a path that is happy.

They have missed the point, I think.


Penn Jillette, in a piece for CNN about atheism, wrote that he doesn’t travel in circles of believers because (and I’m paraphrasing here) there’s no chance of ever making any headway.

It took me awhile to wrap my head around that idea. But then I started contemplating negative thinking (monsters), no buts and brick walls. And it made sense.

Life is too short to miss out on the fun, and the pain, and the sorrow, and the laughter, and the tears, and the mistakes, and the successes. I want to be a dismal failure and a raging success.

I want all of that because that is life.

And thinking about it just gets you nowhere.

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This newsletter is the outgrowth of The Downtown Writers Jam podcast. What that means is I will collect information about the authors I interview, book happenings around the Web, and other literary events that I find interesting. Without you, I'm just a crazy guy sitting in his office furiously screaming on the page for no reason.
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