Not everything in life comes as planned. You can favor your life heavily in the unexpected or try to control the events surrounding you. William S. Burroughs said that control cannot be used toward a practical end, it only leads to more control. I suppose his principle is true, that control leads to more control. So my lesson actually is that you control and release in life so that you have certain predictable, stable factors, and try to enjoy the remaining chaos.
How do you do what you want to do, with your life? By choosing control, you can be like Frank Underwood and go up against the world, manipulating it, deceiving, controlling the chaos like a dark wizard. Most of us are just trying to play by the rules and achieve optimum outcomes for ourselves and those we care about, without interfering with the will of others.
The question however goes round and round: How do you do what you want to do? It has been asked and struggled over by countless souls forever. I’m finding some semblance of a solution in this control and release strategy.
I’m approaching middle-age, but thankfully my generation has extended youth by ten years. Most folks say I’m young enough to start over. I have started over. I moved out of Portland where I lived, built and destroyed my career, over fourteen years. I live in the more dangerous, more dense, urban, and lawless Philadelphia, now. Very different, very new, although I’m coming up on two years here.
I never had a career. In fact, only recently have I put on my to-do list to write a full and complete professional CV, tracking every position I’ve held in my life. Looking back, it is kind of amazing. I’ve done quite a few things.
I spent six months as an insurance claims investigator for a private investigation firm. I was assistant manager for a small café until it shuttered. I volunteered as a broadcast engineer and programmer for radio. I started a bonafide 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation and directed seven music festivals. I installed 200 televisions and audio systems in people’s homes. I installed extensive professional audio systems in a haunted house and historic prison. I was “the best suites bartender ever” for Portland Timbers and Thorns matches. I did the same work in a horse track. I have practiced hundreds of hours of yoga and meditation. I delivered weekly magazines throughout the entire Portland metropolitan area: That city is mapped in my brain forever. I launched and failed with a media startup, but in the process wrote hundreds of articles and produced dozens of podcasts. I operated two art galleries with public exhibits. I restored a rental property, learning permaculture 101. I bought a house and learned all there is about home maintenance. I lived on a farm for altogether four years, learning gardening, forestry, carpentry, how to manage sheep and llamas. I developed prototypes for combustible hydrogen, retrofitting several cars. I rebuilt two engines, one a ford truck and one a Volkswagen, with very different engineering. I managed two music projects, taking the groups on four west coast tours at notable venues. I was in a metal band for a while, and they became a notable band. I was certified in Audio Engineering under the great Brian Ingoldsby, and was blessed with brilliant teachers at one of the best community college systems in the country, Portland Community College, where I earned a degree with honors. I spent a full year as a music student at Portland State University. I was a depressed, D and C student in High School, smoked pot and became an intellectual overnight. I have taken heroic doses of mushrooms and other natural hallucinogens. I trained myself how to manage diet and weight by age 12. I made goofy videos with a boy that became a genuine Hollywood Film Editor. I survived the cult of Scientology. And I’m still learning how to speak spanish.
With a story like that, you want to feel special, accomplished, but when you’re broke and nobody cares, its not exactly the wind beneath your wings. There are people who deserve their story to be told far more than mine. But mostly we need to take the spectacle off the pedestal, break the hypnosis of celebrity culture, and return to a localized way of life, because individuals are struggling despite having alot to offer. They cannot find jobs commensurate with their intellgence earned through a variety of experiences, simply because it doesn’t fit into a recognizable box.
I have always done what I wanted to do. I have run a fools errand or two and lost momentum gained in one area by pursuing another. I have been beaten by taking on too much risk. I have learned all the dumb lessons that one can learn — especially now that I’m in Philly where I’m finally getting the street sense knocked into me. However, I have always done what I wanted to do.
To make sense of all this experience, I really just have to keep going like this. Things that I could see doing for the rest of my life: Media, Music, Real Estate, Finance. All of this can be done by taking up jobs as needed while managing finance really diligently. I just onboarded with the United States Census. That is perfect for me at this moment. Life has a way of bringing you opportunity.
Not every career has to look like a career. Approaching 40 years old, I definitely have goals in mind toward my long term financial health that would connect my experiences much like a career. Probably, I’ll take that farming experience and enter mid-life in the bliss of rural Pennsylvania, close to the greatest American cities of all time, all grouped together in the Northeast. No offense Portland and Los Angeles. My heart was left there but the blood pumping through it is Pennsylvanian.
So what is the answer to doing what you want to do? It changes for everyone. That is why you cannot prescribe a how-to. My personality was fucked for twenty solid years. Probably because my parents raised me in a cult. I mean, don’t underestimate the mindfuck of being even a low-totem Scientologist family. It is pretty much behind me though, I mean all the trauma, all the mistakes. I feel vastly more mature and capable of taking on a whole new range of jobs over the next twenty years, to keep funding my 20-year financial plan. Why I bring all this up is simple: Your starting position is not equal to anyone else’s starting position. The outcome of your efforts will vary. My advantages went against my disadvantages and it led to a fairly chaotic scene.
I am more level-headed, loaded with lessons and skills and things I’ve learned, hoping to just reinforce those skills rather than take more on. I’m looking at a more focused plan, a steadier course, and a less foolhardy approach to whatever thing I want to do next.