Kindness as a Radical Act

It’s as simple as holding the door for someone. Being kind to retail workers. Eye contact.

Life is fucking hard, so being nice is almost a radical act these days.

There are fights to be had, protests to enact, rage to stir change, but if we’re always fighting, always clenching our fists, there’s no room for softness, tenderness, and kindness.

This is not a call to cower, to back down, to put our tail between our legs and submit to evil. Not a chance. That in our down moments, when we can afford to be off guard, let our defenses down, let us be kind to one another and remind ourselves why we fight in the first place.

Getting Outside of Myself

In feeling lost at times, I’ve tried to focus on giving. Getting outside myself. Being helpful.

Does “the answer” magically show up? Nah. But your efforts helped the world, and that counts. I spent nights questioning. Shaking my fist at the universe. Eh. The universe does not care. It continues existing, a massive void of indifference.

These tactics worked for me, so your results may vary. Life is short, and trying to “figure stuff out” just felt wasteful to me anymore. Yeah, I still get sad. Lonely. Of course. But I can’t stay there. I need connections and friends and I need to give, even when I don’t think I have anything left to give.

You Can Totally Give Me Money

Image of Tweet used instead of embedding because someday Twitter will close and the above would disappear

This was hard, as not many folks put their Venmo / Cash app / PayPal link out there, but dammit they should (here’s mine: PayPalSquare Cash / Venmo).

If people want to think this is cheap, or “expecting a handout,” fuck them.

Life is short and times are tough. Sure, an artist should just “make paintings and sell them,” or a writer should just pitch more outlets and get paid that way.

But hey, maybe the artist doesn’t want to come out and say they can’t afford paint right now. Or the writer is left too exhausted after a 12 hour shift at a mind-numbing job that they have zero energy to even make a microwave pizza, let alone pitch an editor.

Don’t like when people “beg for money?” Great. Move along, mind your business, and stop talking shit.

Don’t like Patreon and Kickstarters? Great, you’re so edgy.

Instead of putting down everyone who explores various means of funding (and sometimes fucking surviving), shut your face and donate to a charity – or wait, is that somehow offensive as well?

How to Change the World

Change the world a day at a time. Buy an album or tshirt from a band. Text someone a song you like. Don’t let social media get you down, because it’s designed that way to keep you clicking and commenting. They make $$$ from misery because “misery loves company” is fucking true.

I say “text” someone deliberately. Social media companies aren’t in the biz of sending you clicks. They wanna charge bands, labels, and small biz (big biz, too) lots of money to reach their own audience.

So while you CAN tweet about a band you like, chances are it’s only being seeing by 10% of your followers anyways. Better to start an email list (which usually have 20%+ open rates). Or text a few pals. Make a zine or a podcast and send it around.

Your world was changed years ago before the internet, right? Well, we can still do that.

Sticking With It

I’m often asked how I just keep at things. How’d I stick with Buzzgrinder, or posting metal trivia questions since 2011? Sending out over 1,200 nerdy metal newsletters since 2012?

We all get 24 hours in a day. If I choose to spend 15 minutes scrolling through Instagram, that’s 15 minutes not doing something else.

In fact, this post was written a few days ago, but then I came back and deleted the whole thing and wrote it from scratch. Was that previous effort wasted? Nope. It was a foundation to build on, that’s it.

Objects in motion stay in motion.

Hang Out With Dreamers

Wise words from Thor Harris on The Creative Independent.

The company you keep will make or break you. Find the most honest, smartest, kindest, most creative people who will tolerate you.”

Yes, this. You have to find people who have the audacity to dream. You’ll meet plenty of people who will feed you reasons why your creative endeavours won’t work. But meeting people who “get” you? Oh, that’s the magic, right there. Seek these people out.

Swap email addresses, meet for coffee, work on projects together. Energy attracts energy, so do your best to find it.

 

Listen to Non-White Dude Podcasts

Oh my goodness, Trin here (from the Friendshipping podcast, below) is so right (link to the Tweet is here). As a cis-het white man I’ve been trying my best to listen to more varied voices, understanding that great ideas and concepts come from everyone, not just the loudest dude-bro in the room (or online).

I lived in Philadelphia for six months in 2013, and I’d bounce between a few coffee shops, but always had a spot in my heart for Menagerie and didn’t really know why – until I read this interview with the co-owners from 2014.

“And I think the space (Menagerie Coffee) is kind of feminine in a subtle way. I don’t think it’s obvious, but if you spent some time here and then walked over to Elixr, you’d be very overwhelmed. It’s gorgeous, beautiful, but it’s overwhelmingly masculine.”

Oh my goodness, Elixr is totally masculine. It’s weird – I’ve been there once, and it just wasn’t for me, but Menagerie coffee was for me. I’ve been thinking about this since 2014!

Continue reading

Your Job Just Changed

Guess what? You’ve got something new to add to your job description.

There is a receptionist I know.

She works at a busy, busy practice. But when you’re in her waiting room, you feel like you’re in her living room.

She’s warm. She delights in seeing you (and “you” could be you, me, your mother’s friend, Carl). But what touches me the most is that she looks you in the eye and greets you by your name. And I am ennobled in her waiting room.

I’ve wondered if that’s part of her job description. And what a brilliant description! Part of your job is to see and celebrate people.

Don’t blame me, I found out from Caitie’s ‘The Lightning Notes.’

Yeah, the receptionist at my doctors office doesn’t do this at all, but you know what? I can be the patient who she looks forward to. Not for some narcissistic reason, expecting the red carpet to be rolled out for me when I arrive.

No, the opposite. We’re the ones doing the work.

When we leave any establishment we should leave a wake of good feelings. In a world where customer facing service is seen as a battle front we can be filling those “soldiers” with respect and care and kindness.

You’re hired.

Practice the Wake-Up Practices

I love this bit from ‘How we Handle the Stuff That Gets in the Way‘ from Caitie Whelan,

The most enlivening counter I’ve found to this are regular wake-up practices.

Walking, driving, making dinner without music, podcasts, phone calls. Meditation or contemplation, even if only for two minutes. Writing down any insights that arise in silence, no matter how minor they seem.

When I’m stuck, staring at my computer screen and shaking my fist, unable to focus, to finish, to create, I remember the wake-up practices. Usually I get on my shoes and go for a walk in the woods or a drive to nowhere in particular. Just something that requires a bit of focus on the present – don’t drive off the cliff, stay on the walk path – and that wakes my spirit. It clears some of the channels in my brain that got filled up with static and mush.

Be Your Own Algorithm

Your heartfelt posts and whimsical prose may only be seen by 10% of your actual audience. It’s not your fault, it’s just the way the system is rigged.

If Twitter shut down tomorrow, could you re-connect with the people you interact with everyday? That friend in another country that posts great photos from coffee shops? Or that friend two states away that’s always recommending great music?

Get an email. Get a phone number. No, you can’t keep in touch with everyone. That’s a full statement. You can’t keep in touch with everyone. Just as you can’t really be friends with 542 people on Twitter.

Then when you have phone numbers and email addresses you can speak directly. No one else is butting into your conversations. There are no ads. Your conversations are not being mined, a profile is not being built, your interactions are not being mapped by AI.

Yes, it’s a bit jarring at first. Your interactions with friends, no longer appearing next to explosive news reports, and tragic school shootings, but you’ll adjust. And you’ll get work done. And you’ll still have strong connections with friends.

It can happen, without a social media algorithm coming into play because you’re the one choosing, intentionally seeking who you want to reach. You are the algorithm.