I have this recurrent conversation with a friend about all of the things that we could—should—be doing, but never do. All of those things that sound great, that could be great but never pass the hypothetical, the: "wouldn't it be great if we…". It's the podcast we never record, the app we never build, the story we never write, the blogs we never post to. And, at least in my case, all of these unstarted projects creates a great deal of guilt. The guilt of inertia.
Because I don't actually do these things is, naturally, the reason for this guilt. But why? Why this necessity to do all of this things and why do I let myself feel bad about not doing them, instead of being pleased by the ones I do?
There are perfectly reasonable reasons for not doing any of these projects: a full time job and busy life that fills up my time and energy. And, like most people, at the end of a working day, I would much rather relax and be entertained than do more work.
Or perhaps it's not merely a question of availability, maybe there's an underlying fear of failure, of trying really hard just to end up making absolute shit or worse: to do something that is moderately good, but to which no one gives a shit about. To die by apathy and indifference. To not matter.
While it's not difficult to understand the reasons that prevent us from making something, anything, that we believe we would enjoy doing, what has occupied my mind recently is the why I feel the need to do these things in the first place. Because, when I look around, I don't see that same guilt in other people, particularly on those who don't spend their days on the computer and on the internet. Most people don't get home after a day's work and think they should be writing or podcasting instead of watching the latest Game of Thrones episode.
Perhaps I feel this guilty because I'm envious. Envious of the friends that are doing all the things I'm not, and so I strive to achieve the same notoriety or success. Perhaps it's a manifestation of an inner discontent and thus I look for those who appear to be having fun with what they do and so I attempt to emulate them, regardless of what would actually make me happy.
Or perhaps I just crave the attention of those I idolize.
If not that, why exactly do I have this need for online exposure, be it a blog, a tumblr, a twitter or instagram account? Could it all just be a cry for notice? Am I just, in the words of George Carlin, saying: "Look at me. Ain't I smart? Ain't I cute? Ain't I clever?"
Of course there's also a compulsion to create. I regularly feel the need to write, and enjoy doing so. For me, and those like me, there will always be the necessity to create something. But the reason why, for example, I'm writing in English and not in Portuguese, my mother tongue, is perhaps that dim hope that those who I worship and admire might stumble upon these words, read and acknowledge them in some way. To give me a pat on the head and say: "good job, kid".
Is this a reason to create? To reach the eyes of a proxied father figure across the ocean whom I, no matter how many podcasts I listen to, no matter how many blog posts or twitter updates I read, don't really know? In the hopes of getting their notice and approval? To get their @reply on twitter or, heavens to betsy, a link on their blog?
This haunts me even as I write. If I am aware of all of this, shouldn't I fight the temptation to publish and just delete this text file or save it away on some folder? Why keep feeding this monkey?
Perhaps it's by fighting the fear and the procrastination in order to create something new that we achieve happiness and personal fulfillment. Perhaps it's the path, and obligation, of the artist to keep creating.
Or perhaps I'm doing this just so I won't feel so goddamn guilty.