So this ad just popped up on an article I was reading:
Now, don’t get my wrong. I’m all about promoting how technology can help improve health care. Whenever I’m in a hospital or doctor’s office, I usually see the GE label on 50% of the machinery, and I’m sure I’m underestimating how much medical technology is actually produced by them.
But really? Agent Smith? From the Matrix? You’ve got several problems here:
1. You’re trying to be topical, and you’re failing. Like Buffalo-Bills-Failing-to-Win-the-Super-Bowl failing. (How’s THAT for topical?!)
2. The whole concept is that, as software, Agent Smith is impressed by how well technology is helping humans. Wasn’t he trying to murder all of humanity in the films? (Spoiler: he was.)
3. When you click through, there’s a video that rolls where, at certain points, a Matrix-like code pops up. You can then click through and see more information on how that particular system helps people. Which is great and all, but OH GOD THE MATRIX CODE IS IN A VENTILATOR! (Which probably means I’m being used as a battery, and if my run this morning was any indication, an out-of-shape one at that).
So, in summation, the machines are taking over, and they’re using a decade-old reference to lull us into a false sense of security. The Singularity isn’t ahead of us, apparently; it’s 10 years behind.
So my plan with my writing career sort of goes like this:
Step 1: Start Writing.
Step 2: Something happens…
Step 3: Profit. Like, stupid amounts of money.
(Seems like a pretty good business plan to me.)
Okay, clearly I’m not that foolish. But as anyone who writes regularly will tell you, coming up with something consistently compelling is a bitch. Finding motivation to build out my writing career to something substantial seems to be hinged on my ability to have lots to say, all the time.
I feel like I’m ready to move from a stable, assured position to something more exciting, challenging, and scary. Writing feels right. I just need to find the right context. I’ve got lots of ideas, but don’t yet have the discipline.
Story of my life.
Thoughts and suggestions as to ways to build out a writing career are, of course, welcome. While I will keep writing about my experiences with Hodgkin’s, I do want this to be more of a dialogue instead of just a series of posts by me (I’ve installed an instance of Disqus on the site, so you can leave comments directly here if you’d like). Always happy to hear what you think.
I take the train to work every morning. I try to catch the Yellow express every morning, but more often than not, I have to take the Green south a bit and transfer. I particularly like the front cars of the Metro. Usually the least filled, I can get a chair to myself without issue if I’m willing to walk a little further than everyone else. It gives me the simultaneous feelings of sublime superiority and solitude, a rare combination. For twenty seven minutes, I can sit and read without expectation of being interrupted by a phone call or email (it’s even better when they switch to single track somewhere along my route - extra stare-at-nothing time).
I do miss the freedom of driving a car, though. The rolled down windows, the right song playing just as you shift gears on the highway. Not so much the traffic, mind you, but the flexibility of being able to write your own schedule is pretty great too. When I moved to DC, I gave it to my brother so that I would take the Metro instead of being tempted to drive. In effect, I chose not to have a choice.
It’s the difference between being in control and giving it up; accepting that someone else is in control of your (literal or figurative) direction, versus you having the option of control (some would say illusion; I disagree). The train works until it suddenly and mysteriously doesn’t; and when it doesn’t, they don’t tell you what magical piece of this puzzle is wrong or missing. At best, you get a half-hearted “this train will be moving momentarily.” At worst, you’re stuck in a sweat box for forty-five minutes.
Of course, there aren’t a lot of alternatives on a train if you’re stuck. If you were in a car, you could get off the freeway and try another route (though it is likely to be badly trafficked. Maybe you’ll get lucky this time. Probably not, though).
In the same way we choose how we travel, so too do we sometimes take up or give up direct control. Sometimes I take direct command of the events in my life, such as opting to back to school while sick. Other times, I have to let others drive, as when my doctors chose much of my treatment for me.
Maybe it’s too easy to say that we either have control or we don’t, so let me try this:
It’s all an illusion. We always have a choice.
We seldom truly find ourselves in situations where we actually have no choice. We almost always have some modicum of control. When we don’t, we’ve either given up or been put in such an impossible spot that outside factors prevent us from actualizing our wants (bed ridden, trapped in our own bodies for example). We don’t always like the choices in front of us, but that doesn’t mean we lack options.
Whether stuck in a job, an apartment, a relationship, we have to acknowledge that we are never without the opportunity to impose our thoughts or preferences in some way. We may not like the consequences of potential decisions, but we should always acknowledge that there is always at least more than one option.
When did I become so addicted to media?
I wake up, I check my email. I eat breakfast, I watch last night’s TV. I ride the Metro, I play a game on my iPad. I work, I have music playing. I get home, I eat while watching the TV I didn’t get to watch earlier.
When I was in college, I used to spend any extra time I had to sit and reflect. I’d use my backpack as a pillow and prop myself against a tree, or lay out on the grass under the sun. In the winter, I’d stand on a street corner watching the snow come down. I’d actually just get a cup of coffee and watch people go by. Now, when I have five extra minutes, I HAVE to have something in front of me, engaging my attention. I don’t daydream like I used to.
When did I stop daydreaming? When did I become so obliged to need stimulation? I’m not suggesting I haven’t always been this way, I’m just asking: when did it get this bad? I feel this constant need to be connected, to be in the loop, to always have the pulse of whatever everyone else finds interesting at my fingertips.
I don’t just… sit and listen. Not like I used to.
When I moved back to DC, I thought the desire to just sit and listen would come back. It was terrible in Los Angeles. I thought it would get better when I was around my family more, around the smells and feelings of my past. But it’s not any easier than it used to be. If anything, it’s still as hard, if not more so, to just embrace an hour of silence.
I hate how much work it takes now. I want to feel the need to sit in my own silence again.
(This, of course, contradicts my feelings of wanting to connect more with people as well, but hey, it wouldn’t be fun if it weren’t also exceedingly complicated.)
If you’ll allow me to be a bit self-reflective for a moment:
I started writing to encourage others to talk about their experiences, and to share my own in what I hoped would be a useful or helpful way.
Instead, I’ve been spending all of my time posting funny articles or inspirational crap that really avoids the reality of my situation: I worry that I have nothing interesting or original to say
So, fuck it. No more reposting. I’m going to force myself to write things of interest and value; I’m not going to let myself become a pageviews addict. I’m not interested in how many followers I do or don’t have.
I’m all ears. What do you guys want to talk about?