Thank goodness that I don't feel this way very often, but I feel it tonight.
I'm so saddened by the state of the world, so outraged, so angry that I feel nearly immobilized. My brain seems stuffed with cotton. Like most everyone else, I'm finding focus hard to come by.
But all is not lost.
And if you know me at all, you know that somehow I seem to be able to get up one more time than I get knocked down. I think amid all my failures as a human and a father, I've passed that on to my two daughters.
Today, we linguistically anesthetize so many qualities I seldom know what things mean anymore. I suppose common parlance would call me resilient. But I'm rigid sometimes, and I associate the word with toys like Gumby. Just like I can't hear the word transparent without thinking of Saran Wrap. I don't think resilient is very good. I'd rather just be known as tough.
On Tuesday night, I started teaching an advertising class at Ad House. Over Zoom, of course.
I had prepared fairly copious notes beforehand. Not so that I could lecture. But so I could find details on things that my peripatetic mind leapt to.
So I had at my fingertips jpegs of about a hundred ads, fifty commercials and a bunch of 'how-to' things I had compiled through the years. The oldest I had been carrying around since 1984; I believe it was older than anyone in the class.
As I was jabbering on and talking about next week's assignment, I gave my students what I guess you could call resiliency techniques. Though I'd rather call them 'how to get through a tough patch.' Or what to do when you're up to your neck in shit and someone starts throwing baseballs at your head.
I don't have any real wisdom on the topic. Though over 40 years of working and 62 years of living I've had so many ups and downs, I suppose I could have earned the nickname Otis.
But I did say something to my class on Tuesday night that I'm thinking about now. It's something I learned from one of the Twentieth Century's greatest diarists, Viktor Klemperer.
Klemperer, a Jew and a dissident, lived in Dresden, Germany. He survived the Nazis, Hap Arnold's firebombing of the city and ten years under communist rule when Dresden was part of East Germany.
Klemperer survived by writing.
Not writing to earn a living. Writing to earn his sanity.
That was my advice to my class--even the non-writers enrolled. Write. Write everything. Write observations. Describe your room. Write about the thing you're working on. Write as if you're blind-folded and don't edit yourself. Just write. You might write your way out of a problem.
That's what I told my class.
That's what I did tonight.