A chicken walks into a bar
to keep himself from crossing the road which, he is keenly aware, will end in disaster
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Also we are well on our way to 50 paid subscribers!!! Once we reach that goal Steve Haswell will write another 5th grade essay on the topic of your choosing.
What if Rambo was just called Ramble?
Let the record show: I wrote this on Sun July 31 in the evening time hours.
And it was just Sly Stallone yapping for 2 hours. Talking about this and that and the other. Now THAT woulda been something.
I'm in the mood for a good ramble or a rant or some such other movement from my mind or soul or fingers onto the page or computer or your inbox and so here we are.
Lauren just walked through the door with groceries - she puts the bags down and I hear some glass thank (thud + clank) against the countertop. And now she's goofing with Wilder outside saying "chilly, it's so cold" and he's babbling and now the back door is closed and now Robert is BARKING and now the back door is open and Lauren says "Robert!" and he goes outside because he wants to join the fun.
And now there is quiet which is rare and good.
I like writing like this, sorta droopy and dumb and bumbling but I cannot imagine for the life of me that anyone would want to read it. But that isn't really my thing to worry about. In the words of psychologist Alfred Adler, it isn't my 'task.' He was a psychologist that was around at the time of Freud and Jung but doesn’t get talked about nearly as much.
You Gotta Keep Em Separated
Adler’s whole deal was about 'the separation of tasks.' There's a book that explains all of Adler’s work called The Courage To Be Disliked - originally written in Japanese, its a back and forth convo between a philosopher or monk and a student who walks into his cave or wherever he lives and asks for guidance. The monk then talks to him all about Alfred Adler's work and by the end some new understandings have been reached and believe it or not some laughs have also been had.
So what is separation of tasks?
intervening in other people’s tasks and taking on other people’s tasks turns one’s life into something heavy and full of hardship. If you are leading a life of worry and suffering—which stems from interpersonal relationships—first, learn the boundary of ‘from here on, that is not my task’. And discard other people’s tasks. That is the first step toward lightening the load and making life simpler.
In other words - you do you, I do me. I do not do you unless of course there is consensual whoopie but that’s another story for another time.
So in this case, with this babble or waggle or at the very least a conversational haggle, my task is to write stuff, your task is to read it if you wanna, like it if you wanna, etc.
By wondering if you're gonna like it and thinking maybe you won't and thus maybe I won't publish it, well now that's me actually keeping both of us from our tasks - I ain't writing and you ain't reading / enjoying / hating / etc.
This is of course a no go.
Well this past week man, this past week was a doozy. Turning paid subscriptions here on Both Are True (very dope newsletter highly recommend everyone check it out - earth shattering record breaking stuff) was fucking stressful. It was vulnerable and weird and really putting myself out there in a way that did not feel comfortable. Who am I to proclaim that my work is worth your patronage? I mean obviously the answer is simple - I'm a lil guy who spends a lot of time working on this and would like it to be something he gets paid to do.
But that isn't how the brain thinks.
Numbers Aren’t Real
I am thinking of getting ‘numbers aren’t real’ tattoo’d on me somewhere just an fyi.
And so I got real scared and when I get scared I try to control shit. So now I'm on Substack looking at the numbers. Like addicted to it. The numbers become my god, disconnected entirely from the actual thing that is happening: which is that people ARE subscribing.
My friend Rachel was like 'dude this takes several months if not years to really get going' but see that's not something I can comprehend. I'm like the kid in the marshmallow test who gets asked hey dude do you want 1 marsh now or 10 marshies later and I'll take the 1 marsh every single time. I’ll take half a marsh if you can give it to me faster I do not care. I cannot wait. Where that comes from we need not figure out.
So I did what I always do when I have lost control: I sent $100 to my friend Tomas and said if I look at the numbers in the next week you are to donate this money to Trump or Putin or some anti-abortion activists.
And I haven't looked since.
Is that the right way to do things? I don't know. Who cares. It works and that's what matters.
Seriously, don’t take it so seriously
I just finished the Substack Grow program - it was cool because it made me take this stuff seriously but now I'm sitting here and remembering not to take it too seriously. Cuz then its not fun and there's no joy and there's no ramble and then what's the point even?
So I'm writing now here to remember the bramble, the gamble, the jingle jangle.
And it is in this place this mindset this commune that I can truly and most powerfully feel how fucking cool it is that so many of you have signed up for this and how many of you have subscribed and said "sure man, I'll pay for your writing." That's worth celebrating.
And so that's what this is, perhaps, a celebration.
August is here which means I'm setting goals which is always weird. I set too many and then get less than half of them done. Part of me is like dude why set any at all but another part of me LOVES it. That part loves tinkering with note taking systems, with different apps to do different things, with writing a computer script that will automate a repetitive thing I do on the computer and save me ONE SECOND OF TIME but takes me TWO HOURS to write.
Absurd is the mind that dances through your heart.
The hell did that even mean? No idea but I did just look up the word absurd hoping to find something cool about it. Instead I found that Merriam-Webster has a comments section for every word hahah. Here are some choice comments I found for the word absurd:
So let's keep this chill. What are y'all thinking about? What's August looking like for you? Who is one person you're grateful as shit for? Reply in the comments if you want (ur task, not mine). I'll start.
Lauren. She's my everything. I don't say it enough these days, we're drenched in the worry and wear of baby raising, but that doesn't mean it isn't true. We took the lil guy to Griffith Park today - he rode the lil train they have there and then got to pet some stinky goats and sheep he was FEARLESS walking right up to them giving them lil taps on their butts. Then one of them pooped little marbles out of its butt. What a world!
Lauren was worried that the animals would eat him but I knew they'd be chill cuz animals can feel a good vibe like Wilder's and they know not to do anything stupid. I'm sure this is wrong, btw. I sat for a sec on the bench and was watching all this and a goat came up and untied my shoe. I was like 'hey man' and then the goat bit my shirt.
But yes - Lauren. She's back in the house now. She’s trying to get Wilder to eat this lil yogurt tube but he’s not interested. He’s dancing to John Prine.
I like this, the writing just flows out and I don't hafta do much. Maybe that also means it stinks but hey babe remember, that ain't the task.
I feel good which does not feel good
This good mood is weird, makes a guy like me suspicious. I do maybe know why: I did some acting yesterday for the first time in a long time. My great friend and frequent collaborator Jack is recording a sizzle reel / trailer thing to raise $ for his new film and asked me and great pal / actress Ellie (who writes an amazing newsletter you should all subscribe to) and new pal Sam to act a few scenes from the script that he'd record via audio and splice into the trailer.
And it was so fun. I forgot how much I fucking love acting. It was so nice to disappear into a scene, into a character - I miss that feeling and , uh oh, let's not get negative, hate how little I get to do it. Like imagine if you only got to do your job like once every six months. And the rest of the time was spent waiting for interviews which you did every once in a while but didn't hear back. I AM NOT COMPLAINING acting is a gift a privilege and a dance with god but like still, I’d love to dance more. It's bittersweet really to square how good it felt with the very real possibility that I won't get to do it again for some time. But hey, that's life Jack. Not Jack who made the sizzle reel but a more general Jack. General Jack.
And hey also, I know its something I could change, I could be putting on my own stuff or acting in my own shit but that's a lot of work lol. Sometimes its nice to just have someone ask you to come be a part of something and you get to do that thing and all is great. I don't want to turn the good into the mopey so let's keep things dopey and focus on the fact that it was awesome and reminded me how much I love what I do when I get the chance to do it.
Ok how are we gonna close this thing out? I've been jiving to some taoism stuff lately - listening to the Alan Watts podcast Being in the Way - it's his son Mark listening to his dad’s recordings from way back when (which is very fun and special in and of itself). That dude was a goofball - funny and great at speaking. He'd probably have done a TED talk if he was alive now, or have a Twitch stream lol.
The first ep is a lecture he gave on Taoism. I've long been into it - The Tao of Pooh is an ever wondrous tome - but I really dug one thing specifically Watts was saying about karma which he defines as the consequences you inherit whenever you do something good or something bad - that's karmic energy and as long as you have it you've got to work it out which means doing more stuff which means more karma etc.
So Watts says the way out is to do without attachment, or do without doing as the taoists would say: "in whatever action he does he renounces the fruits of the action so that he acts in a way that doesn’t generate future karma".
I dig that.
Yawns and laughter
I took a few hours away from writing this to hang with the fam, we walked around the block and Wilder kept trying to run into the street but we caught him. He's a real boy now, which is insane. The other night on a walk home as the sun was setting Lauren and I yawned because life and and then he started to yawn, like he was trying to imitate us. It was so fucking funny we were all laughing and he was laughing and it was crazy to feel how it felt for us all to laugh together - it was the first time I'd felt that - us all laughing together, sharing an understanding of what was going on at a deep level. It was beautiful. I'll never forget it.
But now, what to end with? I just finished a podcast interview with Ethan Hawke on Talk Easy - that dude is a poet. Lots of wisdom throughout but I especially loved this which feels like another cool way of saying - separate your tasks, babe. Here it is:
"I'm old enough to know that my relationship to my art will simply be as good as I make it...whether or not I have a good relationship with my art is up to me, I can do it all by myself...sometimes perceived success is an immense distraction from the real work of your life which is being in touch with yourself so that you can be good to other people."
I've spent a long time letting the perceived success of my art dictate how I feel about it - it's about time that changes. Hawke says he's beginning the 3rd act of his life. I feel like maybe just maybe I'm starting the 2nd. Focused on my tasks, my stuff, my family letting go of attachments as I go.
Should be a piece of cake.