There’s a house two blocks south of my own where the owners have grown a mini patch of corn in their front yard. As I pass their yard every day I’ve been able to watch the stalks go from tiny little things to now having fully harvest-ready ears. I know and knew that the logical conclusion of someone growing and properly tending to their plants would mean those plants could eventually bear fruit and yet I find myself marveling at this plot of 10 by 8 rows of corn stalks full of edible corn.
Part of the marvel for me is simply successful gardening/farming. I love eating fresh vegetables but my dislike for dirty fingernails coupled with my discomfort with non-exercise based sweat has pushed my gardening success to zero. Because I’ve never successfully gardened, my brain still bends when I see gardening success. I don’t turn into a wide-eyed child when purchasing produce at the co-op because of my extreme sophistication and maturity but when I see it in my neighbor’s lawn I’m a golden retriever watching a card trick.
The most marvelous thing for me, though, is just the sense of surprise I can get from someone’s front lawn. There are certainly plenty of opportunities to be surprised on a daily basis. While I like a fair amount of routine and order in my life I also think Chaos Theory is in play much of the time, creating a huge lack of predictability. I appreciate when that lack of predictability can be found somewhere as pleasant and simple as corn. Sometimes I find the idea that I never really know what will happen next and can’t control anything but only react to what’s happening terrifying and stressful. But that terror and stress can be mitigated when I remind myself that sometime the chaos of life means there will be corn in a front lawn.
Everyone wants to connect. At the core of a great many actions there’s a desire to connect in some way for some reason. People behave kindly, people behave horribly, people do things they never thought they would and often they’re not sure why but it’s because they need to connect with someone else in the world.
It can be quite difficult to maintain empathy while under stress or while experiencing someone else’s bad behavior. But if you can keep in mind the thought that you need connection and other people need connection and a lot of what’s happening is an expression of that need it helps to keep in mind the humanity of everyone’s sometimes sloppy expressions of that need.
Good or bad I’ve realized that my work is largely collaborative in nature and created to be read or heard or seen by other people because I’m making it to connect. I don’t need to connect with other people because I make creative work, I make creative work because I need to connect with other people. I bet the same is true for whatever you do that drives you. Am I right?
I’ve made no secret of my love for all things Kid President. The videos and projects all connect people and ideas in the most wonderful and non-cynical ways. So I often revisit Kid President videos at times when I’m happy and wanting more or down and need help pull back up and remembering how great people, life and world really are.
In the past few years, I’ve made a concerted effort to put way more positive thoughts, ideas, and general energy out into my community and world. It’s what I want to see more of in the world and it makes me feel less selfish and whiny. But sometimes I get to wallowing in the negative and draw a blank on how to find a positive angle on something I’m thinking.
That non-positive, wallowy place is where I found myself as I sat down to work out this post. I had a bunch of ideas of things I wanted to write a few hundred words about in an attempt to get someone, anyone in the world to connect with my brain and thoughts. And maybe there’s some good stuff there but digging just a bit on any of these ideas I realized they were sort of complaints or, while sincere, mostly pretty focused on myself and my own barely worth calling problems. (And yes, I realize this is still a post about me. Just give me a break, okay?)
But I really wanted to write something. The only way to be a writer and keep being a writer is to write, right? So I remembered one of the many things I really dig in the Kid President video “20 Things We Should Say More Often.”
"If you can’t think of anything nice to say, you’re not thinking hard enough." - Kid President
I’ve heard that “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” line roughly 17 kabillion times. I like the “don’t be an asshole” message embedded within it but the more I think a out the Kid President version the more I realize that kindness and generosity take work. It is easier to think negatively, find the downsides, expect disappointment. I don’t say that to heap guilt on myself or anyone else who has a propensity towards pessimism.
I think there’s real value in taking responsibility for one’s words and actions. For me that means acknowledging that not thinking of anything nice to say is the result of not working hard enough. It is absolutely fine to not always work as hard as you possibly can. Make sure that it’s a choice, though, to take a knee or pull back on the reigns or some other stoping the work metaphor.
I want to end this post with something nice, a little practice what I preach, if you will. So here goes-
When something terribly happens in the world and people get outraged, their outrage is the result of expecting the world and humans living on it to make better choices and hold each other up. Sure we fail, and way too often, but we also know we can and should do better. I think that means we humans are often better than we sometime give our selves credit for.
Also, I truly think you are awesome.