Monday, October 23, 2017

Life's Little Moments

In all honesty, I was gearing myself up today to dive into a post about taking care of one's mental health. It's been a pretty present topic in my life as of late. I don't feel like I have anything insightful to say, really. But a funny thing happened on the way to blogging, and I felt the burning desire to overshare something entirely different and random. Which, funny enough, kinda circled back toward mental health after all. Kinda. Bear with me.

It was 90 degrees out, but this building is constantly freezing. So at least I get to wear fall clothes part-time!

Let it be known that it is decidedly not fun times in any way, shape, or form, when you're doing your business at the office, a toilet flushes in the women's restroom next door, the plumbing backs up, and nastiness starts to come out of the floor drain nearby you at an alarming speed.

Thank you push-ups and pull-ups for the emergency arm and grip strength to Spider-Man cling to the top of the stalls before the shit water reached my shoes. Also, thanks to American Ninja Warrior for the continued motivation to do said push-ups and pull-ups.

Why am I telling you this? Not to impress. I assure you it was much less impressive than it sounds. This was no Jackie-Chan-in-his-prime moment of amazing skill, coordination and reflexes. More like a flailing Jim Carrey from a theoretical deleted scene of Liar Liar. Damn that movie still holds up, and it makes me miss Jim making with all the funny. But as I understand, he's gone on his own mental health journey these days. And if a healthier, happier Jim means no more zany rubber-faced dude in studio comedies, I'm okay with that. Thanks for the memories and inspiration, Jim.

I digress. What I thought was actually worth sharing was where my mind wandered after the fact. Life has been pretty good lately. There's always worrisome things here and there, but family is all right for the most part, same with friends, the wife and I are well, and I've been riding the surreal dopamine kick of being a newly published author. Not that I'm on any bestseller lists of any kind, but I'm definitely feeling the warm and fuzzies of having completed a LONG brewing project. My creative brain is, for once, content.

And here I am doing unexpected action hero moves in a bathroom stall at my day job to avoid a flood of sewage water.

Stop and imagine, if you will, Steven Spielberg unclogging a toilet. Tom Cruise comically slipping and sliding on a freshly-waxed floor (In public, not in the cool cinematic Risky Business way). Elon Musk sneezing and accidentally squeezing out a small but audible fart in a crowded elevator. J. K. Rowling taking out the kitchen trash and the bag ripping on her. (LIKE THEY ALMOST ALWAYS DO! Grrr!) Or Mark Zuckerberg, like me, desperately clinging to fixtures to avoid a flash flood of ass water.

Now, I am HARDLY comparing my own meager first-time publishing to the accomplishments and careers of the folks I just listed. But in the moments that followed my harrowing escape, I could not shake the thought of all kinds of famous people, whom we look up to, admire, or at least acknowledge as a "Big Deal", struggling with the same human foibles of everyday life like the rest of us. This isn't exactly revelatory, but occasionally we get a healthy and amusing reminder that no matter who we are -- a legendary actor or director, a Fortune 500 CEO, the mastermind behind Harry Freakin' Potter, or a fledgling science fiction writer jazzed over his first tiny book -- we are all equal in the grand scheme. We're all just big, weird, silly, perplexing animals stumbling around and trying to do our best on a rock hurtling through space.

It doesn't matter how rich and famous or penniless and obscure you are. We all have unflattering moments. We all make silly mistakes. We all have bad morning breath, or get the sniffles and become very unattractive snot machines. We all lose our cool on occasion and say things we don't mean. We all ugly cry. And we all have that time when we eat something disagreeable and have to turn a bathroom into a smelly battlefield worthy of legend. Extra points for that time when you have to do it at a friend's house. Or on a date. Yikes.

George Carlin had a great bit on life's little moments. To be fair, he had great bits on everything.

I suppose the message that I'm sloppily lurching toward here is two-fold. It's humbling when you're riding high, and then suddenly you find yourself slipping on a banana peel. But we all do it. It happens to the best and worst of us. And here's the kicker: Because it happens to all of us, it's also VERY reassuring. All those people we look up to aren't gods. No one has all the answers, and anyone who claims to is either lying, in denial and/or probably trying to sell you something. They're just people. Smart, experienced, determined people, sure. But people. Just like me. Just like you. And with work and persistence, we can be bizarre, silly, successful humans too.

All your heroes, the successful authors, the famous musicians, the super fit people at the gym that make you exasperatedly think, "Oh sure, it's easy for them!" No it isn't. They're just regular people who worked their asses off for what they wanted. You can too. Again, none of this should be revelatory in any way, but it's important to remember at times when you're feeling down on yourself, as well as when you're riding the success train.

And should you find yourself a nice chunk of "success", in whatever form that may be for you, stay humble. Acknowledge, appreciate, and be proud of your accomplishments, hell yes! You deserve it! But always remember to laugh at yourself, don't take things too seriously, and just be decent to people. No matter how "important" you are, don't be that person who says things like "Do you know who I am?" As though you're better than others and deserve special treatment. Ugh, really not fond of those folks. Bad form. Wait in line for your coffee like the rest of us, and be polite to the barista. They work hard too.

Holy crap, I guess I don't have to write a separate mental health post after all. I think this has been long-winded and meandering enough. I'll close with a few quick recommendations of things I've been absorbing as of late. Just a selection of stuff that has helped me reflect on things in my own life. Other people's stories have a way of doing that. Check them out!

The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins
I've read three self-help/personal development books in my life. First was The Nerdist Way by Chris Hardwick. Not because I was looking for guidance, but simply because I'm an unabashed Hardwick fan, and ended up finding some guidance. The second was The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, which was interesting, but didn't impact me much. And now this. Mel Robbins for whatever reason struck a major chord with me, and I recommend this book to everyone (Ask my wife. I won't shut up about it). Grab the audiobook, so you can hear it as it was meant to be read. Mel doesn't come at you like someone trying to sell you a program or seminar (though she has paid speaking events). The book is her saying, "Hey, I was down and out, and here's what worked for me. Maybe it might help you."

Smodcast with Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier
Kevin Smith?! Yeah. Besides being a long-time fan, I've been really digging the recent episodes of Smodcast. With Scott Mosier out on assignment, Kevin gets extra deep on the mic (No innuendo intended). Some recent favorite episodes: #382, remembering his dad's love of music, and #384, chatting with special guest Megan Phelps-Roper about transformation and healing. Powerful stuff.

Nerdist Podcast: Russell Brand
I was at a friend's house laughing my ass off to Get Him To The Greek, and just a day or so later, this episode of the Nerdist came up in my feed. Russell Brand discusses his new book Recovery: Freedom From Our Addictions (which I now want to read), being sober for 14 years, and focuses a lot on the importance of self-awareness. Also he's hilarious because he's Russell Brand.

I'm Fine...And Other Lies by Whitney Cummings
I'm only a third in, but I love it. Again, I grabbed the audiobook, because if you're going to listen to anyone's delivery, it should be a comedian. That's not to say this is a jokey joke book. Whitney gets real about her struggles with anxiety, codependency, and everything else. It's as funny as it is insightful and brutally honest, and I definitely recommend it.

That's all for now, kids. Congrats and thank you if you read that whole post. I guess I had some stuff to say. This whole blogging thing may actually be useful.

P.S.: I am not sponsored by any of these people, products or podcasts, nor the global domination corporation (Amazon) from which I linked them. I wish!

P.P.S.: I have no idea if Spielberg actually plunges his own toilets. I'd like to think he's humble like that though. We should all clean up our own shit.

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