For the past 5-6 years, my partner and I have been going on vacation to a friend's cabin/lakehouse on the shore of Lake Michigan in Michiana, MI. It's always six blissful days of doing absolutely nothing. Well, mostly nothing. Some of the more strenuous things we do include walks on the shore, bringing firewood in, and washing dishes. It's really a place for us to just shed the tension of city living. Plus it does help that the cabin/lakehouse is all tripped out with almost any amenity you can imagine.
This year's visit got me thinking about relevancy. As we get older, does relevancy really matter? If you've accomplished and experienced a lot, does it matter what anyone thinks of what you do anymore? If you've sold millions of records, successfully transitioned from one medium to the next, created a comfortable living space for yourself, and brought joy and enlightenment to many, does being relevant even matter?
Our friend who owns the place we stayed in, started me thinking about this when he was asked to create an auction item for a charity event. He's exceptionally creative and has used his creativity to much success. As his partner told him of this task, he began the freak-out mode. For the rest of the evening, all he could talk about was what he should do. But not talk about it in a sense of bragging. More about the sense of "do you approve". After a continuous back and forth struggle of what he should or shouldn't do, I finally said, "You know, they wouldn't ask you if they didn't think you could do it. Plus, just create something. This is a charity event. You're not being commisioned. Who cares if they think it's ground breaking. It's not always about being the best." To this, my friend responded, "I see that you weren't the last kid picked in gym class."
Well, you know what? I was one of the last kids picked in gym class (until they discovered that I really was good at sports). But, honestly, at what age do you stop worrying about whether or not people will like your creations? Especially, if they aren't about establishing yourself. When we are young and trying to make a name for ourselves, we tend to do things to get the attention of our peers. Whether it was changing our physique, accomplishing a task, smoking, doing drugs, it was always about belonging. I guess, what I would like to know is, if you've already done that, when do you stop?
I've stopped. I'm 35 years old. I know that what I do is not just satisfactory, it is good. I'm no longer trying to prove anything to anyone. Not to me. Not to my partner. Certainly not to the world around me. When I see my friend constantly worry about whether what he is doing is gonig to be approved or whether it will be considered magnificent, I get this sense of fatigue. It's tiring to me. I have told him to just let it go. To calm down and enjoy the fruits of his labor (and he has many fruits to savor). But, I don't know if he can.
On the other hand, what does it say about our society when all we wonder about is whether someone is relevant? I say, enjoy them for what they accomplish. If you like it, enjoy it. If not, then move on. It's not always about being the best always. Sometimes, it's just about being. Later.