Less suck, more awesome

A couple of years ago, a friend posted a video on You Tube that I thought was great (you can find it here). It’s basic message was that there are two ways to make the world better: reduce the suck or increase the awesome. Normally, we focus on the former; we strive to reduce poverty, eliminate diseases, prevent wars, etc.. Occasionally, however, it is important to “foolishly” focus on the latter. The video talks about the awesomeness of the Webb Space Telescope, but it could be equally referring to the funding of artists, climbing Everest or blowing up the carcass of a dead whale (in case you missed it, here’s that video).  It’s worthwhile to do awesome things because the awesome feeds our collective souls just like food stamps.

I’ve been trying to figure out why it’s been so difficult for me to write during the last year and partly it’s because I’ve been working on a really awesome project. Mind you, not awesome as in exploding whale carcasses, but awesome as in reaching lots of people and enabling many cool things. Even if I could write about it (I can’t), I wouldn’t. The point is not the project but rather the enjoyment and dedication that working on something you love implies. It’s not that I haven’t had time to write – as a contractor, my schedule is more flexible – it’s that all my inspiration has been monopolized by my work. I’ve probably not done a single creative thing during the last year that was not associated with my project. (Not completely true, I did file a pretty clever patent, but that was pretty awesome, too).

The weird thing is that I’m not even supposed to be working. I retired from Likewise about a year ago and figured I’d get into a different business in a few months or a year. Instead, three months later, I  was starting my new gig. I would not be doing it if it had not involved something truly cool.

As it happens, I’m writing this from 30,000′, flying back from a business trip. On the plane I got to watch a corny movie with a sappy ending that, nonetheless, made me tear up as I realized how much of the joy of being human comes from those moments of awesomeness. Holding my newborn children in the hospital, motorcycling the volcanic desert in Iceland, smoking a cigar with a best friend that I’ve known for 38 years, everyday realizing the treasure that is my wife – these are sublime moments. I suspect that dogs and cats and apes have primitive feelings, but I’m pretty sure that none of them understand how a mathematical function, a hug from your senile 91 year old mother and a song by Nine Inch Nails can all be the same thing. Awesome comes in many different forms.

So my advice is to heed the video.  Yes, a good portion of our lives, be it at work, home or elsewhere, is about reducing the suck.  We all need food, clothing and shelter. Certainly, do your best to reduce the suck in your life. But don’t forget about the awesome.  If you can find one awesome thing every day in your life, I’m pretty sure you’ll be better off for it.

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