i grew up seeking knowledge as a way of life, and in some ways it has served me well; i can write catchy songs, i can come up with interesting stories, i can deconstruct art that i admire to determine what i can learn from it. knowledge of history and science and politics connects me to reality and society, and i can’t complain about that.
but somehow, up until now, i missed out on the middle concept in the equation i used for the title of this post. experience entails getting off the couch, putting down the book, putting yourself out there…this long list of cliche knowledge phrases that are our best vocabulary to describe the unrivaled importance of trying, in person, and not in your own head. for example: i have known for a few years that i should start going to open mics at local music venues and bars to play my songs in public. i had that knowledge, and some other basic knowledge about what i could expect and how i would feel making that first step. but i had no wisdom on the matter, and knowledge – on its own – comes up short. there are too many questions for knowledge to answer…what will it be like? who will be there? what if i am rejected? what if it is a long commute, which bus will i take, who will i talk to first, how do i find and choose the right opportunity, ad nauseam. and there is nothing to study that can answer all those questions, so the only solution is flexing the addend, and going for it.
in the last few months i have found myself becoming addicted to a marvelous new feeling. it centers around discipline and courage. i started going to open mics, and now i find myself comfortable, adventurous, and more than willing to stand in front of strangers who may or may not even be listening. when i was in college, pre-show butterflies would make me sick for days before the first note was played. now, after just a few months of experience and the harsh shock of jumping blind into a freezing river, i am suddenly a completely different sort of person who seeks butterflies and embraces them when they appear.
for a creative person, the opportunities that arrive from making that jump are staggering. i do a decent job of online marketing. i have a website, i’m on most of the big social media platforms, i run a few ads now and then, i interact with fans of my music or drawings. but none of that ever got me a paying gig, and none of it made me a real honest face-to-face friend, and none of it ever made me so uncomfortable that i was forced to grow. and of course it didn’t; everyone with knowledge knows that humans crave interaction, and that the anonymity of web interaction has none of the visceral power of a hug. but up until recently i was not exercising that knowledge, so it was more of a burden than an indication of where i should go next.
so, where should i go next? my worldview is collapsing and expanding like my own modestly big bang. my last post was a poem about using anxiety as a tool to answer the toughest questions in life, like, “what should i do next?” it feels counterintuitive to me, as if you suggested that the secret to flying was by nailing your own feet to the ground. i am in the middle of a spurt of wisdom, and everything is topsy-turvy; if i have a panic attack while walking to the train to play at some dive bar i’ve never seen, in front of people i’ve never met, that panic is a neon sign screaming that i’m doing the right thing. i’m finding that if i want to be relaxed and free, i should kill most of my free time with exercise and meditation and chores and work and take care of myself the way i know (ledge) i should, and then i can actually enjoy the free time that remains. that i can feel slightly less happy every single day when i tell myself that it is time to go to the gym, but by some subconscious alchemy that momentary loss of apathetic comfort blossoms into creativity and energy. earlier when i mentioned jumping into a freezing river i was speaking metaphorically. but, no joke, taking ice cold showers is just another part of all this. hot water makes me warm, but lazy. cold water makes me shiver and is almost too uncomfortable to accept. but after a hot shower i am apathetic compared to this high, (genuine and powerful as any cannabinoid i’ve encountered) a fresh clean energetic high from the moment i shut the cold water off.
i want to spend more time looking at this equation, because it feels like the most exciting thing i’ve ever learned. normally i’d keep this all to myself, because i want to fully research and understand a topic before polluting the internet with my input. but that is just part of this whole new thing. now i value trying and failing over and over (edison/lightbulb), and writing before i figure out the end of the story.