Today is not a good day.
I awoke reluctantly, after dreams of reunions with old friends.
These friends – fortunately – are not among the collection of my dead ones. Nope. These folks are thriving. In fact, two of them have just had a resurgence in their already successful careers. I don’t want to name drop, so I won’t, but suffice to say they have hit the big time not once, but several times now.
The third is another successful and deeply talented friend I have not had the pleasure of seeing in decades. He was staggeringly kind to me. He did the unimaginable. He sent me money to go to Ireland for the first time – when I was shit broke. That incredibly generous act changed the course of my life. That was over 20 years ago. I have never thanked him adequately. And I am still shit broke.
So I resisted consciousness today. I stayed in my dreams, catching up with these old friends for as long as I was able to; visiting, hugging, laughing. I do not begrudge them their success. Not one bit. They earned it.
Then I woke up.
And came face to face with reality; and my own longterm failure to accomplish, well, anything.
I, am performance art; a portrait of the underachiever as a lifetime pursuit. I have turned inertia into an art form.
I suspect that I came into this life with all I needed to make my mark in the world. But somewhere along the line, something crucial went missing.
I had some talent, promise, ambition, a smattering of social skills, and a degree of intelligence – but for some reason I appear to have no drive what-so-ever. Desire without action, is pointless.
It would be nice to succumb to the Tik Tok videos I have seen and blame it all on undiagnosed ADHD. I certainly have strong elements of several neurodivergent traits.
Whatever the reason or cause, the answer continues to elude me. But in my darkest hours, I blame it on laziness.
I have spent most of my adult life trying to figure out what it is that holds me back. The reason it is seemingly impossible for me to stay focused on one thing long enough to see it through – without my drive waning, without doubt creeping in, without allowing life to take over.
Even with respect to this blog…
I have about 23 unfinished drafts on my WordPress dashboard. I have finished and published a further 23. So yeah, I manage to complete about half of what I start, and usually go months and months without posting anything at all.
There is a telling quote by someone-or-other, that ‘when the desire to write is not accompanied by actual writing – then the desire is not to write…’
But what the fuck do they know?
It does not help that I am the master of re-writes and obsessive self-editing. I’ve already changed several parts of this post since I first published it earlier today. I am probably re-writing this right now, this very instant, as you sit reading it…
In the meantime I am getting older and fatter by the day. I am more worried about my health now than ever before. I feel the years and the weight of my own pending mortality, (along with the 200 something pounds of junk food I carry in my midsection) bearing down on me.
I am running out of time.
I am told I am old, yet I remain in firm denial of this – until reminders creep in.
But I am astutely aware that any remaining time to make my mark is ebbing quickly out of reach – if it hasn’t already – and I have done, well, nothing.
I have only felt happy, excited, and somewhat creatively fulfilled by my work, twice in my life. That was when I was writing for a living. Only one of those positions paid more than retail work, and neither of them lasted. Within a short time I was back to menial hourly wage toil, with only my deeply flawed illusions of potential to keep me company.
‘Its only for now,’ I would tell myself, ‘I am destined for better things…’
But evidently not. What ridiculous vanity.
I have ability. Yet in all these years I have not written a complete book. I have not written a successful film. I have not created a TV series. I have not mounted a successful play.
I have not, have not, have not…
Instead, I have had a life time of crappy day jobs, and every single fucking day I chase that minimum wage hoping that it will cover my bills this month. And then the next month. If an unexpected expense arises, I am truly fucked.
It is the hamster wheel of poverty and I fucking hate it. And yet I feel powerless to change it.
I can write. I can express myself. I can stand onstage before a room full of strangers – perform, speak, joke – and not be overwhelmed with fear or panic. I can become more comfortable before an audience than I can in a small room of people I actually know.
Why then, am I seemingly paralysed? Why do I lack follow-through?
I have a thousand ideas. But I never write them down.
And if I do write them down, I never finish them.
If I do manage to finish them, (and to be honest I can’t think of many I have finished) I then do nothing with them.
I have said before that the toughest lesson I ever learned in stand up is that talent is not enough. That goes for everything in the entertainment realm.
Success is a mixture of talent, timing, opportunity, connection, drive, focus, ambition, discipline and a substantial degree of intangible luck. But generally, nothing can happen without the product. The finished product. That is the essential beginning.
And this is what eludes me. I can’t even get over the first fucking hurdle. Why?
I am almost 60 years of age now.
My peers have had careers, marriages, kids, even grandkids.
They own cars, homes, maybe even holiday homes or RV’s, and are probably planning for their imminent retirement – if they haven’t already retired.
I don’t mean to suggest for a moment that these things came easy to any of them. Or that it’s not often a struggle to maintain. But I have acheived none of those things. And at my current age and income, it is unlikely I ever will.
That, is due entirely to my own choices.
I can live with that. I can live with the decisions I have made in my life. I took the path I wanted to take. I did the things I wanted to do. And up until now I would have said I had no regrets.
But that would be a lie.
I do have regrets. And my lack of professional accomplishment is the biggest.
Creatively, I have squandered my time on this earth. For the life of me, I do not know why. And I feel powerless to change it. I always have. I am invisibly paralysed.
Even now, the idea of taking one of my many projects and seeing it through to completion is overwhelming to me. It feels like drowning.
What. The. Fuck.
Is it a lack of discipline?
Is it really laziness?
I honestly do not know.
All I know, is I am running out of time. Every day. Every hour. Every moment.
I feel lost in my own failure. And I have no one to blame – but myself.
It is not a good day.