Tuesday, August 28, 2012
A "Seinfeld" Approach to Life...
Disguised as a spirited conversation about "salsa" and the plot of a T.V. show the characters were pitching, Seinfeld became known as "the show about nothing." Seinfeld was on the air for almost 9 years starting in 1989 and running until 1998. Few situation comedies have that kind of longevity today. I really think the reason is because most situation comedies are about something. There is a certain situation or a certain issue a character has that the stories are centered around. This means the shows themselves already give themselves a shelf-life by providing such a narrow scope of possibilities for show ideas. Seinfeld was just about four friends' every day lives. For that, the show idea possibilities are endless.
I have tried to do more of "nothing" lately. Eric and I recently went downtown, and stopped by a club to see our friend Mike. Mike's had a lot going on and I was very happy to just vibe and listen to everything occurring in his world. He had to run since he was working, but, being the very cool dude and great friend he is, said, "I took up the whole time talking, I can't believe that...what's up with you all? What are you doing?" To which I replied, "Nothing..." Mike stopped for a moment, looked thoughtful, and said, "I need to try that..."
I was reflecting on the evening and our conversation with Mike and I started wondering what I really meant by "nothing". I mean, I was out, downtown, seeing some bands...really wasn't exactly doing "nothing", right? I still have a day job. I don't sit around doing "nothing" all day...
...But I really meant what I said to Mike and countless other people who have asked me what I've been doing. What I think I really mean by "nothing" is "enjoying life." I am a notorious "projectaholoic". I'm not a a "workaholic" per se, nothing I take on seems like hard, endless, 60 hour plus per week work. I truly enjoyed all the various things I've done throughout my life. When I was done, I stopped. However, the key here is there was always something I was working on or doing outside of my normal life.
I'll be honest, for always doing something, I feel like I've missed out on a lot of actual life. I honestly do think friends stopped inviting me out because I was so busy with the band or dog training or whatever. Since I decided I was slowing my life down a bit, my social calendar has greatly improved. This is a good thing. I love people. I love community. I like having conversations and hearing people's perspectives and ideas. That, to me, is what life really is about. I've probably never been happier and I'm not on stage and I'm not teaching a dog to sit or doing anything else that is keeping me from really adding deeper meaning to my life. I'm in real relationship with people for probably the first time...ever...in my life.
Let me take a moment to say that I don't believe that there was some kind of relational element to being in a working band and dog training. There most certainly is, but it's in a completely different way. First of all, let me say that you have to look for the "real" moments of relationship with the whole music industry thing. A lot people are just trying to see what they can get from you as your star rises, and you have to be careful of that. Real relationship when you are a musician tends comes from friends you had before the whole thing started and your band mates. Sometimes it doesn't even come from your band mates because egos start to inflate...big...but those real moments are certainly there. It's very much like a family as I've said before. There are sometimes those real moments with fans, but it's definitely not often enough and not always very enjoyable or uplifting. I was in a metal band. A lot of people who like metal are dealing with pain of some kind. Many of those stories, when you have that moment to stop and listen, are horrifying, albeit very real.
With dog training, well, there is the dog...and that's the most enjoyment you get honestly. The people make it hard really hard. When I say that, I mean the owners and other trainers alike. You are only as good as your successes and when you fail, even though it may be due to lack of owner compliance, and through no fault of your own, word can get around quickly that you, for lack of a better phrase, suck. I love dogs. I believe I can communicate with them better than most people, but my love for such a free, and beautiful animal was greatly diminished by the people I came across. In hindsight, I just figure I wasn't meant to be a dog trainer and this was the way to open my eyes to that. All I wanted to do was love and help dogs. Not brag about my successes or give in to a client's unreasonable demands about how they thought their pet should behave and how to get there. I feel the whole industry should be more esoteric. Instead I find it getting all increasingly militaristic. It's a dog, people. I'm not saying let it misbehave, but I am saying give it room to breathe and be happy.
In the end, I couldn't continue with these activities because they didn't make me ultimately happy. What I find makes me happy is really getting out and experiencing life. Not being hold up in a rehearsal space. Not being held hostage by a client or the ridiculous idea of dominance over another species.
So now I choose do "nothing". Maybe that's what Mike meant when he said he needed to try that. Maybe he noticed the look of calm and peace on a previously stressed-out face. Maybe he realized he was seeing me and Eric now even though he hadn't seen us in a year and a half. There are benefits to freeing yourself of the extraneous stuff. You may truly give yourself more "life"...
...After all, a show about nothing had nine years. For me, the "show" idea possibilities are endless...