Saturday, January 17, 2015

please despair responsibly

Two days ago I wrote a post called "Please Tweet Responsibly." 

In it I explained the Meaning of Life in a way that was simultaneously easy to understand, and highly entertaining. 

There was pathos, there was wonder. And woven into the words, a skilled cryptographer would have found a formula for curing cancer with the extract of a common, pernicious weed. It was, is, and indisputably evermore shall be the most beautifully-crafted bit of internet-writing anyone's ever done, ever. Indisputable, because yesterday morning when I was having trouble with the alignment on the post I was writing for the day, I accidentally clicked the wrong check-box and deleted it.

Just like that, it was gone. 

Forever. 

In the spiraling funk that ensued I forgot an art lesson I was supposed to teach, was insensitive to my woman-friend, and danced the knife-edge of eat-six-pounds-of-pasta despair. 

Today, though, I remembered that all art is ephemeral. It's here, it lasts a moment, and then it's gone.

So what if only around 140 people got to read "Please Tweet Responsibly" before I deleted it? Those 140 people had a life-changing, dopamine-spiking event—something they will never, ever forget. Eventually they'll die, yes, but they will take the memory of that experience to their graves.

I needlessly obliterated two-ish hours of writing-work in a simple keystroke. So what? Who's to say what the effect might have been if my embedded, cancer-curing formula had stayed up there for longer? Perhaps some Paraguayan Supervillain would have noticed it, and engineered it into a formula he'd have used to give cancer to the whole world.

Sure, yeah, this could all be construed as a ridiculous attempt to guilt you into reading my posts more quickly next time.

But what if it's not? What if this post has been a work of art, as well? What if the thirty-six people who read this post before I decide it's stupid and push delete are actually amused by all my ridiculousness? What if one of those people feels so jolly as a result of it that he decides to quit wasting his life on a Mountain Dew addiction, gets sober, and becomes the next President of the Local Order of Shriners?

My point (if there absolutely has to be one) is that you never know the value of what you've made. The role of an artist (or teacher, or sous chef, or fishmonger) is not to manage response. It's just to keep on doing it with as much love as possible.

Make 'em laugh, if you can, and remember that the last laugh is on you.

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