Einstein once said a thing about his difficulties with math. In his typical endearing genius way, he comforted those frightened of numbers by saying if you thought you had issues with arithmetic, then just imagine his. Which, for people like me, is impossible. I can’t even figure out my son’s number lines let alone the rapid expansion of the universe.
This quote always appealed to me because, first of all, I got a D in Algebra. It was my only D ever and one of the most stressful times of my young life. (My mom asked me how school was going and, lacking the lexicon to properly explain, I smashed a wooden bowl.) Secondly, I felt some distant connection. Some 99-cent version of Einstein’s billion dollar bean. My screeching, self-aggrandizing version of that quote would be: if you think you have social anxieties, then just imagine mine.
Here’s my deal. I’m an extrovert for a living. All the money that I’ve ever made had something to do with my being a gregarious (or some might say impetuous) fellow who takes hold of any opportunity to entertain. The rub is that I’m not much of an extrovert at all. I really, really like to be at home. I would pay a thousand dollars not to have to do a gig that pays $500. But I can’t not do it. It’s been a semi-lucrative habit, but every step towards the stage is a terrifying ordeal. I often hope for a lightning strike or a seizure or maybe a mild heart attack. Something that very visibly demonstrates to the organizer that I wanted to do it but, because of a million volts of sky fire soldering me to the floor, I need to postpone.
But I must. Persevere. And. do. it.
It kills me hearing echoes of professors and college friends who encouraged me to try Saturday Night Live or go on tour. It sounded amazing but I didn’t want to leave my comfort zone, which is chopping firewood and thinking. Goddamn thinking. It is the most overrated evolutionary allowance yet. Maybe unless your Einstein and your brain delivers shiny gifts of brilliance (that may take years to unwrap but still.)
I guess I shouldn’t drag Einstein into this. But I will pull you in. Maybe you’re a genius. Maybe you just crafted fusion out of a coke bottle and a pancake. Regardless, I have discovered, through years of arduous efforts in avoidance, that there’s nothing more painful and annoying and all-out aggravating than not doing what you really want to do. It’s weird, but doing nothing is far more work than doing something.
I will pause for a moment — and I’m about done here — to say that I don’t believe everyone has the same fair shake. I don’t believe that bootstraps come standard on every pair of shoes. Or that shoes even come standard at all. Over the years I have seen how better-adjusted upper crust kids get much better shots at everything, while the kid born in the ‘hood or in a violent family can never leave either no matter how many places they go. At the same time, there’s a chance that your shitty upbringing has made you stronger. Don’t let the cockroaches crawl over the crumbs of your resolve. Pull what you can together, no matter how trembly and tenuous. And despite hoping with all of your banging heart that you get run over by a car on your way to that terrifying epicenter of accomplishment, do it.
Do the fuck out of it. And I’m sorry for cussing but let’s dig deep and speak primal. Because no matter who you are or where you came from, we’re all descendants of same primordial ooze. We’re all linked by hopes and fears and this upright thing that leaves your head like a periscope in whatever murk you still wade. There are despots everywhere. There are obstacles that some of us can’t even imagine. I know I’m on the winning end of elevated opportunity and I grew up with an outhouse for god’s sake. Compared to 99% of the world, I’m privileged little prick. And you can’t believe the kind of comedy you get when you had to walk through three feet of snow to go poo.
So, in the vein of the throbbing, pulsating people who mire themselves in a sewer of dreams, all you can do is crawl out and do it. Hate it. Curse it. Burden your loved ones with it. But stop thinking. Stop thinking you have trouble with math. Or life. And do it.
So this was last night. It's fun.