Someone told me a long time ago, "If you want something done, give it to someone who is already busy." The intervening years have only confirmed the wisdom of that statement. I find myself as guilty of this as anyone.
Normally, I am busy. And that's the way I like it. I write, I publish, I head a team of four persons designing a new, kinder, gentler global social media platform, Lokkal.
Having something to do cuts both ways when it comes to my occasional insomnia. On one hand, if my brain switches on when I bob to proto-consciousness for a moment in the middle of the night, it's because I've started to think about my pending chores. On the other hand, insomnia has less sting if I can I quit the bed and get to work. (Somehow it never occurs to me to read or watch a movie at 3:00am.) Recently, I am more anxious about my insomnia, because my workload has declined. There are a few reasons for this.
One is that the social media project, nearing launch, has settled into a comfortable rhythm. I am less called on to boldly lead the team forward. The course is pretty well charted and with that, and the fact that the programmers are sufficiently motivated (you can't just hit them with a stick), I'm okay letting Moises supervise them. Moises is my right arm. He has almost as good an eye for detail as my triple Virgo self. What he lacks there he makes up for by being 35 years younger than me. I remind myself of the chorus a David Bowie song (Quicksand from Hunky Dory) from my adolescence, "And I ain't got the power, anymore." I knew the day would come.
At 28 years old all Moises lacks is experience. I'm not an age-ist, except perhaps when it comes to experience. The perspective of more years gives us oldsters a potential advantage. I explained to Moises that the programmers don't just need directions, they need inspiration, espirit de corps and all that rot. Among his many virtues, Moises is a fabulous guitarist. I told him today regarding massaging the programmers into doing their work, "You can just perform your song, but the audience wants a little shtick before you do; 'I wrote this song on a mountaintop overlooking Caracas.'" There is nothing insincere about it. It's just being human, a norm of the species, something we're programmed to expect.
Sometimes, at least in the short run, it might be easier to do it myself. But, aside from receiving his good opinions and advice (20 somethings are much hipper to social media than we oldsters), I think of the extra time it takes to bring along Moises as an investment I am making. I am grooming him to take a more active role in the lead of the organization, cultivating his people skills. He is very smart and very talented, but a little short on schmooze. Managing people is one part science and three parts art... maybe four.
Moisés Alzuro ***
The second reason my workload has declined has to do with this magazine. I've been publishing what is now San Miguel Sunday since July 2015 (happy anniversary to us), three articles a week, rain or shine, for five years. Well, it was three articles a week until a couple of months ago. I could blame it on Covid 19, there being so much less to write about. But the truth is, coming up with three articles a week was almost always difficult, even before the pandemic. I did it, but I often wondered why. Why was I working so hard to come up with the content? You'd think there would be a lot of writers in town, and you'd be right. But apparently there are precious few who care to have their writing published to so many recipients, over 5000 email subscribers.
I went whoring after articles, going around suggesting to anyone who shared an interesting anecdote with me that they ought write an article. Receiving some submissions, I realized that the gift of gab, the ability to turn a phrase, was rarer than I thought.
Some people don't know how to tell a story. And story is what a good article requires. Something has to happen. No one wants to read a lecture. We want to be entertainment, at least a little.
Again, I remind myself, this time of one of my favorite jokes. It's a guy's first day in prison. He's sitting in the mess-hall, trying not to draw attention to himself. Someone calls out 26. Everyone laughs. Three minutes later another someone calls out 42. Again, everyone laughs. The new guy can't help himself. Turning to the man next to him he says, "What's going on?" "What do you mean?" comes his neighbor's reply. "Well, someone calls out a number and everyone laughs." "Oh," responds his neighbor, "We've all been here so long that we've numbered the jokes." The newbie decides he will give it a try and calls out, "37." No one laughs. Turning to his neighbor he asks, "What happened?" His neighbor shakes his head and replies, "Some people don't know how to tell a joke."
Some people don't know how to tell a joke. Some people don't know how to tell a story. I don't mind editing. I don't mind rewriting. But then submissions stopped entirely. Even Rumpelstiltskin needed straw to spin his gold.
So, a couple of months ago (check the table of contents, if you care to know exactly when) I broke with my three article per week minimum. "Why am I killing myself?" I still write an article or two each week (I have my fans and it's great therapy), but the pressure is gone.
The third major lightening of the load is due to the fact that my girlfriend's son returned from Puerto Rico earlier this year. He had been living there with his father finishing high school. He came back to San Miguel to visit his mother for a couple of months on his way to university in Chile. Then Covid 19 hit. He just turned 19 last week. There was a very nice party.
He is much more pleasant now, as a young man, than he was as an adolescent two years ago when he left for Puerto Rico. Veronica, my girlfriend, spends the whole week with him. We get together on the weekends and sometimes for a dinner during the week. Then also she has some other strong interests that keep her busy: her Weavers' Project, a Biodynamic garden she is helping to grow at the Waldorf School, various online classes, regular school meetings about the Waldorf School where she works...
Years ago, back in Connecticut I was with another girlfriend. At the beginning of our relationship she imposed distance. I complained to my buddies, "She comes over. We have tea. Then we go to bed and have sex. Then she leaves." My buddies, masculinely incredulous, admonished me, "What are you complaining about?" Always in touch with my feminine side, I sighed, "I want more emotional interaction."
I suppose I've outgrown that also. Or maybe it is a lowering of testosterone. But not being required to maintain a relationship during the week makes the weekends seem like a honeymoon.
I am definitely in a better rhythm, at least until I completely run out of things to do. It might not be testosterone, but there is definitely biochemistry involved. Gone is the stress reaction that gave me that buzz. Gone are the hormonally induced second and third winds. I wind down. Time weighs heavily upon me. Maybe I need a hobby... drawing or music? Maybe I should get back to writing poetry? Maybe it is only the phase of the moon or Mercury in retrograde? Maybe I should relax and enjoy this hiatus, this having nothing to do, because if and when we launch my global social media platform things will get very busy.
We like to believe that we are rational. Short of that, acknowledging our emotions, at least we like to think that we are making our own decisions. But a lot of what we do or don't think, a lot of how we feel and how we react is driven by hormones. Venturing out, once again, onto the thin ice of politics, allow me to comment on the current civil unrest. On both sides, a lot of the violence we are witnessing is hormonal. Egged on by the crowd, protesters do things that they would never do on their own. Police aggression, latent as it may be, is provoked by provocative. I'm not saying that it's right, but that's just what males do, unless they are trained, and well-trained, not to. None of us are angels. Nietzsche observed, in the title of a book, we are "Human, All Too Human."
It may be auto-hypnosis, but it helps me sleep at night to believe that I am doing my part. Lokkal, my social media platform project is based on strengthening community communication. These days I think of it as my attempt to introduce civility into our very uncivil unrest. Free speech has been getting a bad rap, still I would inject some decency into what has become a very indecent discourse. As the man sang, "You may call me a dreamer..." Speaking of dreams, at the risk of provoking insomnia in the middle of the coming night, I think I'll take a nap. What else do I have to do this afternoon?
Dr David's roots go deep into the black community, as a future article will make perfectly clear. So just chill out, honkeys. And don't be schooling him about revolution, neither, you who've never stepped out of line in your whole life. He has a few things to show you.