If you happen to look below, you’ll see that this post sparked a lot of commentary, not all of which had to do with the post itself. Some of it did – and I want to say I’m so grateful for the words of encouragement and understanding, and for everybody who shared a story of figuring out their place and climbing a mountain. Also, thanks to friends who go to bat for me, and thanks to those who are brave enough to share their feelings honestly. Although it can stand some tinkering, honesty is a pretty great policy, even when it can be a bit of a bludgeon and cause some bruising.
I believe what I said here, and I believe in the people I mentioned. One of those people is Sarah Dopp, who helped me step into my futuristic world, and who I promised myself in March I would give thanks for on Thanksgiving (and I did), and who is amazing every day.
She said what I wanted to say, and you can watch her say it. She made me cry.
The other evening I was with a friend and I looked at him and said “We live in a wonderful world.” And he laughed at me and said I was a cornball.
Which is true, I am. But that doesn’t make what I said untrue, either. We live in a wonderful world. For all intents and purposes (and as a girl who grew up on Science Fiction from every era of Science fiction writing, I’d know) we live in the Future.
I, specifically, live in the Future. When I say I have a meeting, what I mean is that I will have a video call. Like that have on Star Trek, when they’re talking to Star Fleet Command! My clients live all over the country, I can do work from all over the world, I schedule my work around time differences, I store my important information in the cloud. There’s a cloud of information, and massive amounts of the knowledge of humanity, not all of it but so much of it, is available instantly. I wanted to find a poem about blow jobs, for instance. Now, I failed – forgot the name of the poet, you know. You still need to know what you’re looking for. But with a little information, now, I type it into Google and I don’t even need to hit enter to get the result. (Google’s algorithms are easily fooled by poetry. They can try to block porn all they like, but castles and honey slip right by.)
I can learn about meteorology. I can help build communities. I can listen to Rachmaninoff. I can find out how to spell Rachmaninoff. I can find the right people to help me take over the world. I follow the Dalai Lama on twitter, you know, and somebody who does nothing but tweet quotes from the Dervish poet Rumi. I get my reminders to walk the earth and face the sunlight when I am sitting still facing my computer.
I know people who do this, and I know of people who do this. Amanda Palmer, my current rubric for how to be Very Alive In The World, does this. She has an army on twitter. She can raise hundreds of dollars, thousands of dollars, on kickstarter in a matter of hours. She can make magic happen, she can take beautiful things and broadcast them to the world, she can up the signal, she and her magical band of web-savvy friends, they can do anything. And they know it, and they do, and they make the world more beautiful, and they give away music for free and broadcast shows live over ustream, and I sit there watching the Dresden Dolls from my living room drinking wine and thinking ok, this is the world I want to live in.
If you go to her blog you will see that her army of admirers, the brilliant crazy people who feed on her and who she feeds on in utter symbiosis, are there. In the comments. Sharing the stories of what she’s done for them, which she takes and uses to do more for them. Her feelings, their feelings, raw and amazing, a whole community of art-punk-cabaret-we-never-fit-in-anyhow-now-we’ve-got-eachother folk, there. A community I never thought to see.
And there are others. Think about Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. A bunch of people who worked in the television business and didn’t want to break the Writers’ Strike but also didn’t want to stop doing what they loved or making people happy got together and took to the Net. Just like that, and their fans rallied around them. They’re just a group of friends, Mr. Nathan Fillion and Mr. Joss Whedon and Mr. Neil Patrick Harris and and and, and they make us smile.
A few years ago I would have seen all that and been sort of inspired and also sort of sad, because they could do those things and I couldn’t. But then I realized that was all the lies we tell ourselves. I had help. Maymay taught me first that computers and the Internet are made to be used, even if they’re not made well, and that I was smart and I could figure it out. Sarah Dopp taught me how to reach out and connect to people, and I watched her make her dreams happen, and make other people’s dreams happen, at Genderfork. And when she noticed the way that she brought people together, and realized that she loved it, she took to helping other people do that very same thing. When she knows where she wants to go, she jumps, and she falls, and she believes in the net (the Net) that will catch her.
I don’t believe in the net, though I haven’t told her so. I believe that when she falls, she flies.
What more is there to want? If you learn the tools and have the resources (and I must mention here that in so many towns across America and so many places across the world, people don’t have the resources. There isn’t broadband access everywhere. We can’t all look things up on Wikipedia. I speak from my privilege here) then you can do anything that you think needs doing. You can help other people get the resources. You can improve the resources that people have.
If you want to. If you’re interested. If you’re driven. And if you’re happy.
And if you’re not happy to do what you’re doing, if you’re not full of that belief that you are living in this wonderful future world and you can take it by storm, well, this isn’t anything new, but you can’t. You can’t do what you don’t think you can do, and I suggest that you walk away from all the poison that is there in this Future (non-Utopian), the addiction of TV-on-the-Internet, the things that can break you apart, you turn away and you actually look at the sunlight.
Find your belief. Find your joy, right? And when you’re all jazzed up on happiness, come back and do what needs to be done, because by that time you’ll know what it is, and because we live – corny though it may be – in a wonderful world, you can do it.
(NB: I do realize that we do not have flying cars and are not transported Jetsons style up through our high-rise sky-towers via pneumatic tubes. Whatever, that wasn’t really the cool part of the Future anyhow.)