This little orphan of a blog turns 10 years old this year.
We’ve been through a lot together, TRUE LIFE and me. Life and death (literally). Ups and downs. And more downs. And finally ups. Re-birth and re-re-birth.
Betrayal and forgiveness.
The betrayal is perennially courtesy of me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve abandon TRUE LIFE. And yet, this little blog always seems to forgive me. Always welcomes me back.
I’ve beat myself up over this plenty over the years. I mean, come on! Why wouldn’t I? I am, after all, a freakin’ champ in the guilt Olympics. I can find a reason to feel bad about something I’ve done with mind-boggling ease whether it’s warranted or not. And I’ve spent more hours than I care to admit feeling terrible about how I’ve treated TRUE LIFE.
And because I am also a gold medal-level performer in avoidance behavior, my subsequent reaction is pure poetry: I simply pretend the blog isn’t there.
Of course, avoidance doesn’t work. Not forever. Slowly, but surely, I am learning that in life. When I avoid things, they don’t really go away like I wish they would. Most of the time, they fester and get much, much worse. And bigger. Then they come back and bite me right on the ass. I’ve lost so many pounds of flesh over the years that it’s a wonder I don’t need a prosthetic ass.
Okay…TMI. You didn’t need that visual. Sorry. Besides, this isn’t about my ass, anyway. And it’s not a pity party.
It is, in fact, a celebration.
Because it only took me 10 years to figure out why this little blog exists. Not bad, eh?
It’s about the learning.
Turns out my brother, Action Jackson, is one clever mo-fo. He’s the one who deserves credit for tricking me into embarking on this clandestine voyage of self-discovery in the first place. And just how did he trick me? The sneaky S.O.B. hid the lesson precisely where he knew it would be most difficult for me to see–right out in the open.
“This’ll be a really great writing exercise,” he said with all his murky clarity. “It’s gonna help you find your authentic voice.”
FLASH FOWARD TEN YEARS (Well, nine years and one and one-quarter months, but who’s counting?).
I always thought running away from TRUE LIFE, coming back to it in fits and starts, changing its poor little name, and ultimately abandoning it was a problem. Now I see that could not be further from the truth. It was all part of the learning. This whole thing–the entire blogging experience–has been an…exercise.
My fav part of one of my fav movies, THE COMMITMENTS, is when Jimmy Rabbitte and Joey “The Lips” Fagan see each other for the last time. It’s the middle of the night, and Jimmy’s walking home, dejected. Wilson Pickett didn’t show up for their show like Joey promised, and the band just imploded. When Joey buzzes up on his scooter, Jimmy lets him have it. To which Joey responds in all his cool, hip and Buddha-like wisdom:
Joey: Look, I know you’re hurtin’ now, but in time you’ll realize what you’ve achieved.
Jimmy: I’ve achieved nothing!
Joey: You’re missin’ the point. The success of the band was irrelevant – you raised their expectations of life, you lifted their horizons. Sure we could have been famous and made albums and stuff, but that would have been predictable. This way it’s poetry.
I got wrapped up in TRUE LIFE kinda the same way Jimmy got wrapped up in the band. What I thought I was ultimately gonna get out of the experience, namely, (don’t laugh) recognition and fame was soooooo off the mark. But I also wasn’t wrong to dive into the blog with that expectation because there was no right or wrong in the equation. There was only the experience and how it formed me. As a writer. As a person.
There was only the real poetry of TRUE LIFE, and in the end I cannot put a value on its contribution to raising my expectations in my own life, nor on how it helped to lift my own horizons. How it helped me to temper my expectations. How it helped me to realize audiences come and go and come back again. How it helped me feel not so desperate all the time. How it helped me to modulate my message without sacrificing my voice. How it helped me learn it’s okay to figure things out along the way, even if you’re doing it in public where it feels like one of those dreams where you show up at school or work or on stage buck naked and you worry you’ve made a first class fool/ass of yourself. How it’s okay even if that happens because you live to see another day, anyway. How there truly is no failure if you’re honestly learning a lesson in the process. How it helped me understand why I write in the first place.
I am not satisfied with where I am as a writer (and I hope I never am), but I am today a working writer in no small part because of TRUE LIFE…and, of course, that tricksy Action Jackson.
So…dear TRUE LIFE…thank you. Thank you for being there for me. Thank for loving me enough to (paraphrasing the most excellent Jason Mraz here) allow me to do some navigating and waiting patiently to see what I’d find.
I found it, thanks to you.
Now…some of you are looking up at the blog banner (look up…yeah, that one) and scratching your heads. A few of you might be smiling in recognition. To those of you smiling…yes, that’s a resurrection of the original TRUE LIFE blog banner from 2003. To the rest of you, feel free to dig back into the TRUE LIFE archives to figure out what the hell that strange tag line is all about. Hint: look early (2003-2004) and look for references to Wil Wheaton. You’ll eventually get it.
I plan on keeping this banner for awhile, and I plan on hanging around my TRUE LIFE again. After all, there are more exercises. More lessons to learn. And more tricks up Action Jackson’s sleeve…I’m sure of it.
Here’s to TRUE LIFE! And here’s to you. Happy New Year, TRUE LIFERS!