July 10, 2016

What others say about me

"What you say about yourself matters very little, but what others say of you means the world."
-- Hugh Halter, from his book, Flesh

I don't sleep well. On a good night, I'm asleep within an hour of going to bed. If I wake in the middle of the night, I'm usually a couple dozen tosses and turns from my next dream. During the day, I can close my eyes, but rarely do I get past the "whoa, did I just doze off?" stage of slumber.

Why? Is it too much caffeine? Too much sugar? Too much excitement in my life?

Um. No.

It's because I can't shut my stubborn brain off. My thought control skills are on pace with Johnny Manziel's common sense skills. Below remedial.

If I'm not navigating creative waters, I'm treading the depths of self-doubt, God-doubt, and why-did-I-eat-so-much-ice-cream-doubt.

One prevailing narrative is the questioning of my value. Regardless of what Clarence taught George Bailey, I still find myself sinking into questions about my purpose.

On a micro level I know my kids need me. I believe my wife needs me. Still, it's hard not to consider the life my wife could have had with a more successful husband. A more stable husband. Someone who accepted his role in the blue collar world or maybe white collar world. There's nobility in working hard to bring home a paycheck.

But that's the thing. Man am I working hard. So hard that I'm getting burned out.

"I'm so busy" is a phrase that's thrown out almost as much as "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?"

More? Yeah, probably more.

I don't expect everyone reading this to believe me when I say I'm working my tail off. After all, what do I have to show for it? I should share my tax returns here to really humiliate myself. By my calculations I've made about $0.27 an hour over the last 10 years. I made that number up. I'm too busy to calculate it for realz.

We're a results oriented society and the results just haven't been there for me. My family has suffered because of this. My ego has suffered because of this (which is technically a good thing, I know). And there are times I lie awake wondering if the worst is still ahead.

But the question prevails.


Why have I been allowed to work so hard for so long and not see the results I'd expected -- dare I say -- deserved?

I don't know. This silly little blog that I started before blogging was "in" (I think blogging is actually "out" now thanks to SnapChatteragram or whatevs) was supposed to be an inspirational account of one man's journey of overcoming the odds to prove that dreams really can come true.

If you didn't read that last line in your best movie trailer voice, here's another chance...

One man's journey of overcoming the odds to prove that dreams really can come true.

The late, great, Don LaFontaine,
king of movie trailer voiceovers (born in Minnesota!)
I've developed a counter theory to all of this now. I don't know if it's any truer than the former, but it's something I'm gnawing over. In the middle of the night.

What if my story is the anti-dream-following story? Despite Joel Osteen's claims, not everybody gets everything they want if they just believe it to be true. Maybe God needs me as an example that safety is sometimes the best route. Maybe my story is supposed to inspire in a way that contradicts my original intention.

If that's my reality, all I want is for people to say is that in spite of adversity, I am a hard worker. A good father. A worthy husband. A faithful servant.

Of course, that's all I want people to say about me regardless.

But the hard worker part is particularly sensitive to me these days. Really, I'm starting to question if the work I'm doing is useful. All the hours of research, networking, and creating -- are (were) they all worth it?

If I give up my Hollywood dream, I don't care if people assume it was because I wasn't talented enough. What I do care about is if people think it's because I didn't work hard enough for it. They'd be wrong on both accounts, but there's a sense of pride in hard work done well. I feel I've done that. And that's the example I want to give to my kids, my family, my friends, and anyone with whom I interact.

I don't know why God has me on the path He has me on, but I so desperately want to be an inspiration to everyone around me. Yes, I have an everybody-must-like-me complex, but my people-pleasing curse isn't driving my concern of what others say. It's simply that I want to be a positive influence. Not for my sake, but for the sake of the greater good.

But what does it matter what I say? What matters is what others say about me. Am I giving others reason to call me a hard worker? A good father? A worthy husband? A faithful servant? Regardless of whether I make it in Hollywood or not, at this point, all I care about is representing my faith in a pleasing manner to God.

And, really... is Hugh Halter's quote accurate? Does it matter what others say about me? Well, on a macro level, no. What matters is whether I am pleasing God. Where Halter's quote comes into play is that if we are pleasing God, by default, others will say good things about us.