Posted by: Millard J. Melnyk | January 7, 2014

A Little Shot Out…

Hey everyone! I woke up this morning and spent some time reassessing.

I don’t often talk about what’s going on with me personally, because it seems presumptuous to think that it would interest anyone. I don’t post Facebook photos often or say where I am or what I’m doing–hardly at all. It’s not that I closely guard my privacy, but that when I get the chance to share personal stuff, there’s always something more interesting to do, such as thinking, discussing, or writing about things that seem far more important than the fact that I had a great time with my sons or ate an amazing meal or saw a good movie or had an inspiring conversation with a friend. Besides, any worthwhile insights that come out of my daily living make their ways into the things I write.

The problem being that I haven’t written much lately. I started some things that have languished while I got distracted, things that many of you have expressed interest in. I realized this morning that if I say nothing, I’m leaving you in the dark.

The big item is my “Fun’s No F*cking Joke” book. It’s still in work, but the writing slowed to a snail’s pace since my Kickstarter project ended. As if to balance that out, the learning that will eventually inform the book has amped up as if shot up with steroids. As a result, a key aim for the book recently crystallized: explore how to overcome dread.

My loose premise for the book was that fun is pivotal: it’s both what makes life enjoyable–I’d even argue meaningful–and the first casualty when things turn sour. Learning why that is and how the things we care about hinge on fun should enable us to maximize it. The ultimate would be knowing how to use fun to shut down and overcome the things that invariably kill fun–kind of a modern spin on “overcome evil with good.” So, I started exploring things that kill fun, and dread seems to be a common thread that runs through them.

Dread seems to be the switch that fun-killers flip to shut fun down. If I can get you to dread something–anything, it doesn’t matter what it is or how unrelated it is to the fun you’re having–your fun will immediately and completely stop. And it will take considerable time and effort for you to charge it back up again. And even if you manage that, it won’t be the same carefree fun you had before I squelched it.

So, dread became very interesting to me, and that doesn’t just mean intellectually interesting. The things I investigate and write about aren’t just intellectual curiosities for me, but passions. My life and my being are the terrain I explore and the lab I experiment in. I’m not just thinking about how things work and discussing them; I’m finding out how to actually make them work–how to experience them. The “down side” to learning how to deal with dread experientially is that you have to face it, and the universe lately seems fully agreed that I need to learn.

Don’t worry. I’m not going to tell you that I was diagnosed with a terminal illness or something! Although I could get dark at this point and remind us that we were all born into a death sentence. We’ll get our chances to face that particular dread soon enough. Fortunately, my recent dread came in more manageable doses, concerning things like living situation, the effects of my choices on people I care about, their attitudes towards me, and my resulting self-esteem. You know the stuff. Compounded by the fact that I’m bringing it on myself and, according to some, could call an end to it by following some simple common sense.

So, since the end of summer, my challenge has been how to write about fun when I’m not having much. Besides not having much to say, it seemed hypocritical. Writing about fun at all is a tall order for me under the best of circumstances. I’ve never been the life of the party type. I’m “Wednesday’s child, full of woe.” All the more reason to figure this thing out, and all the more significant if someone like me can make it work.

I wish I could say that I’ve been passing my “tests” with flying colors, but that would be a fib. I’m making progress, though, slow as it might be. Besides, I’m not sure that’s what tests are really about. We were taught that accomplishment is the prime objective. I agree in one way, but not with the short-sighted version we were brainwashed to believe.

Instead, understanding is the fountain that any accomplishment worth achieving springs from, the river that spawns life all around it. So, first and foremost, our tests need to inform us: reveal, uncover, enlighten, and inspire us about things we don’t yet know. Demonstrating what we already do know is secondary; that is, if learning more and becoming more competent are priorities for us. They are for me. Sometimes that takes awhile, more time than we’d like, such as my current lesson in dread. I hope I learn it soon, because too much has been affected; but I also hope I learn it thoroughly. It will be no small thing to figure this sucker out.

So, just a little “shot out to my homies,” haha! I’m doing good and I’ll be fine, and so will my work. Don’t let the pause concern you. It’s all part of the process. Gonna learn my lesson well, and then you’ll probably wish I’d just shut up about it!

Love, Millard

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