*actual body of blog post begins here...* :)
And when I start believing these old voices, well let’s just say there are problems.
Speaking of problems, that idea—that I would never amount to much, if anything at all—seems to have been a cornerstone of my family’s belief paradigm about me, that I offered (I use the past tense generously) little other than what might make them look good, improve their status, or validate them, usually with a strange combination of academics and appearances at the country club. I was never very good at the latter, and I was ok at the former but my heart lay in other, more fanciful areas: to me life wasn’t life if I was too far from either pen or piano.
the problem with Adam is this...
the problem with Adam is that...
And there was a distinct whiff of the word “failure” implied in the use of the word “problem.” Adam can’t ride a horse very well on first (or, if we’re being honest, second, or ninth) attempt, therefore he is a failure as a son, and probably a human being (I know, right? You think I’m kidding). In contrast, I have through the years (with difficulty, and with a long way to go) come to view problems as being something quite different: not so much inherent, immutable flaws or shortcomings, but rather temporary obstacles to be overcome.
Now this is someone who readily accepts the possibility that he may suffer from severe depression for the rest of his life, so, I suppose, one could say: what the hell does he know about it? What license does he have to talk about seeing problems as temporary obstacles? I get it. Take it with a grain of salt. All I can say is, perhaps, that my grapples with mental illness, in this case, are like the weather, whereas this new understanding of the nature of problems is more akin to climate. The ups and downs of my uncooperative brain mean I will have days when I am ok, and I will, more often, have days when the only thing stopping me from secretly going somewhere secluded and quietly ending my life is the fact that, in today’s world, doing that in as responsible, clean, and likely-to-succeed a way as possible, is actually—perhaps fortunately—really quite difficult to do.
But through all this, and I mean all of it—the ups and the downs, this newer and hard-fought understanding of problems as temporary obstacles persists. It’s weird. It doesn’t make any sense. But maybe that’s why I mention it. Me and my addled psyche’s ability to understand this notion at all has to mean that others have a chance of doing so as well, in some cases, possibly even with some amount of ease. In other words, there’s, well, I don’t typically use the word “hope,” but there’s certainly...
I could list the psycho-spiritual reasons-to-dismiss, as well as the logical fallacies, that are involved in this sort of assumption-making, but the point of this writing is to acknowledge that, in this case, my “problem” wasn’t so much solvable through efforts to stop being myself as it was through being willing to understand what that meant (i.e. being yourself), as well as the consequences that might come with it. Being an outsider, as I’m sure both Susan Hinton and the Brat Pack could tell you, comes fraught with elements of peril, sometimes life-lasting ones. But it doesn’t mean that it’s the incorrect choice.
I do not accept that the fact that my work (the quality of which I firmly stand behind) has yet to receive much public attention has anything to do with any sort of failure, even though on my darker days, the thought does occur to me. Firstly, my choice to build from scratch a network of business models and affiliated companies that distributes and represents my work and my mission in a way that is authentic to who I am and what I believe, while a difficult endeavor, is one I will cherish until the day, should it come, I make like Forrest Gump and just stop running.
Finally, and this I owe a lot to my ever-optimist wife, Elizabeth, who helps me, daily, shake off the bonds of the rigid and, I might hazard, tyrannical doctrines governing the families of my birth. If it is established that a problem is not a failure but a temporary obstacle, it must be recognized that the temporary obstacle is not you. It may be some thing you have yet to learn. It may be an aspect of yourself that challenges or undermines your efforts. But those are different from it being something fundamental about you. Rather, I wager that these temporary obstacles that we experience are always a collection of things that you can: i) solve; ii) create a methodology for solving; iii) or create of a good team of worthy people (key word: worthy) who will help you find solutions.
Song: WHY CAN'T THIS BE LOVE (Van Halen, Van Halen, Anthony, Hagar)
Artist: VAN HALEN