This post originally appeared on my blog on Sunday, May 10, 2015, under the title “Anger”.

Work went great this last week, largely because the previous week was so terrible. Discomfort and failure often prompt positive change.

What was so bad about it? For starters, I was exceedingly, perpetually, and inexplicably angry. I wasn’t angry at anyone or anything in particular, though, and that leads to trouble. Anger is a vector. It has both magnitude and direction. Fail to realize that and you may find your rage unleashed on the first unsuspecting victim who crosses its path.

Continue reading

Leaving Nothing Behind

This post is part three of a three-part series. You can read part one here and part two here.

Try to boil an ocean and you won’t have enough hot water for tea.

I spent most of my life demonstrating that simple truth, taking on one personal project after another. In October, 2015, I finally grew tired of stoking those metaphorical fires. I doused the flames, buried the embers, and set off on a six-month trek down a quiet stretch of beach.

I grew up along the way. I could finally see the harm I had done in trying to make every little thing part of something bigger. I realized how much we all need quiet and solitude, both around us and within. And I finally realized that, through everything, I had been doing my level best to cheat my way past the natural limits of my mortality.

“Nothing” turned out to be exactly what I needed.

Continue reading

Empty Classroom

What Nothing Taught Me

This post is part two of a three-part series. You can read part one here.

In October 2015, after devoting almost forty years to a trove of personal ambitions, I stopped. I picked up an eraser and wiped my slate clean. For the first time in my life, I was officially doing nothing.

This couldn’t last. I waited for the sheer mass of my beloved ideas to draw me back into their orbit. Resisting that pull would exhaust me, I was sure of it. I braced myself for a long night of frustrated temptation and anxiety.

Continue reading

Night Sky

Achieving Nothing

If you’re anything like me, you take on too many projects.

I’ve always done this. And when I say “always”, I’m not only referring to my adult, professional life. Since I was old enough to want to do anything at all, I’ve wanted to do too many things, and I’ve tried to do them all at once:

  • Learn to play guitar and start a band.
  • Write stories, novels, and screenplays.
  • Draw and make animated films.
  • Study science and mathematics.
  • Become an architect and design buildings.
  • Program computers and make video games.
  • Get married, raise a family.

You know. Learn Japanese, go live in Japan for a year or so. Climb Mount Fuji.

As a child, I was surrounded by love and encouragement. The adults in my life told me I could do anything I set my mind to, anything I wanted. I took their encouragement literally and without moderation.

Continue reading