[Editor’s note: Every Wednesday New York City’s own Andrew W.K. takes your life questions, and sets you safely down the right path to a solution, a purpose or — no surprise here — a party. Need his help? Just ask: AskAWK@villagevoice.com]
I’m having a really hard time after losing what I thought was my life. I’m in a place now where I’ve lost my marriage, my business, and my day-to-day existence. I’m unemployed and struggling with two children on my own. I’m having a midlife crisis and don’t know which way to go. I’m primarily a floral designer and a landscape gardener, and I love music. Do I focus on what I love to do? Or do I try to bust into a new career?
This is a moment of reckoning. When radical events unhinge your life, do you abandon everything and give up, or do you double down and press on with a deeper appreciation for what makes your life truly worth living?
Now’s the time to treasure what you love more than ever. Now is not the time to doubt what you love or abandon it. Stay true to your passion and to yourself. Besides, you’ll never be able to muster the energy and enthusiasm necessary for success in doing something you don’t absolutely love to do. Why put all the time and effort into learning some “new career” when you already have one that you enjoy and have invested so much of yourself into?
Just because a particular business didn’t work out doesn’t mean your passion for it was wrong. Just because I went to a party that was shut down by the cops doesn’t mean I’m going to give up on partying completely. You do what you love because you love, not because it’s easy or it always goes smoothly. This is a judgement day for you. It’s a day for you to take inventory of your soul and find out what really matters.
Recommit yourself more than ever to your passions and see them through with determination and joy. Celebrate the ups and downs in your life. When the going gets tough, the tough get a party going.
No matter how hard I try to have an upbeat attitude and enjoy life to it’s fullest, I can’t seem to make that feeling last for more than a few days. Maybe it’s just me being young and not understanding life yet. Any advice?
— Party Hard
Dear Party Hard,
It has nothing to do with you being young. No one really understands life. And often, the older someone gets, the less they understand and more they realize how little anyone understands.
We’re all basically awash in a sea of confusion, grasping at beliefs, concepts, and grids of meaning, hoping something will “once and for all” put an end to the confusion of being alive and give us an endless upbeat feeling. But the best we can hope to do is understand that we don’t understand and that we don’t need to feel “good” all the time.
In that way, you’re right on track! In addition, having brief moments of revelation and extreme inspiration are wonderful, but explosions are designed to be brief. You can’t really have a prolonged explosion–it’s meant to be a dramatic burst of energy. It’s part of the process of blowing your mind–you have a mental or spiritual explosion, and then it dies down so you can study it, appreciate it, and absorb it into your soul.
If you always felt on top of the world, then you would lose appreciation for the climb. Once it feels like we’re at the top, we realize there are a whole bunch more tops to get to. At first, it can be discouraging and even exhausting, but try and appreciate the moments of revelation and the moments of contemplation. Look forward to the next break through and just keep on going.
Life is full of contrast, and those dynamics make it more thrilling. Appreciate all the moments as much as you appreciate the upbeat ones, and realize they’re all part of your individual path. Besides, what’s a great life–or a great movie–without some ups and downs, challenges and victories, friends and foes? We don’t want an easy life, we want an incredible life, one worth living and re-living, watching and re-watching.
How do I handle sharing my goals with my friends? I’m not trying to brag, but I’m a guy with ambitions. I want to do cool things and I want to talk about them, but I feel like it makes my friends resent me. How do I tell people my dreams without them thinking I’m an asshole?
Quit talking about what you’re going to do, and just focus on doing it instead.
If your “friends” try to bring you down, stop hanging out with them. I had a few friends that often tried to discourage me, and when I shared my dreams and plans, they usually found a way to bash them. I eventually had to either stop hanging out or stop sharing with them.
I noticed that when I told most people around me what I was working on, they either didn’t believe me or just said I should “grow up.” They thought my goal of becoming a Professional Partier was impossible. In their minds, they honestly thought they were being nice, talking “sense” into me, and helping me realize that the world doesn’t “work that way,” that you “don’t get to do what really you want to do in life.”
They weren’t mean people. They really thought they were helping “wake me up to the real world,” a world they honestly believed was made up of constant frustration, dismay, and failure. It was painful to share and listen to them, so I decided to spend more time on my own and in my own head. A few years later, all my dreams came true. Now those same people don’t have much to say to me at all, and that’s fine, because I’m too busy partying to talk to them anyway.
The world is a mysterious place. Dreams and goals work out better when they’re kept inside you and allowed to manifest from within your own soul. For some reason, sharing your desires with other people has a way of making them not come true as easily. I don’t know why it is, but it just usually works that way.
It may seem contrary to our instincts–it’s natural to want to share your excitement and express your desires, but when it comes to making your deepest and truest dreams into reality, it’s best to swallow them into your subconscious mind and let them blossom out of your inner self. I don’t know how the world makes it happen this way, but if you try this approach I guarantee you’ll see better results. Even when you’re very anxious to tell someone about an idea or dream, try to contradict that impulse and instead swallow the dream deeper into your soul with a satisfying and calm sense of confidence that it’s already on the way to becoming a reality.
Many people will disagree with this method, and of course sometimes you have a very special and trusted team or family that it’s helpful and necessary to share with. But most of the time, don’t talk about what you want to do, and just do what you want to do instead. Put all the energy you would usually spend telling other people about your dreams into making them happen. A dream is precious and fragile. Keep it safe. Keep it secret. Keep it alive.
More:Ask Andrew W.K.