I think it was Lenin who said "There are decades where nothing happens; and there are where decades happen." Sometimes life is like that for us mere mortals, too.
Sometimes, you're in the middle of a therapy session, 45 stinking minutes during which you return from deep inside your scraped knee childhood, through the beatings and the anguish and find yourself old and forgotten--alone--and thinking about a piece of raisin bread you had 75 years earlier that might have been the best thing ever to happen to you, the apotheosis even, if you went to an Ivy League school.
I had one of those therapy sessions--or I've had a few of late. Endless vistas of despair like something out of David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia. Where the despair goes on and on like a powerpoint presentation, yet there's no leaving the room, it just goes on.
It was one of those sessions where I sat at the bottom of an emotional Niagara Falls and every stupid thing I've ever done or said or even thought, every chance I didn't take, every left that should have been a right comes crashing down on me fracturing my fractures until my head itself is Benoit Mandelbroit- fractalized.
The good news here is stupid and simple.
I think a lot of people look at old, nominally successful people like myself and think, somehow that we're like Marvel superheroes. Somehow we're able to resist the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Or able to summon up our strength and Stoic our way through whatever adversity comes our way.
They think every assignment ends in a victory and every blurt contains champagne bubbles of brilliance. I suppose that's an image a lot of people project. It makes them feel good and strong and powerful. Maybe after a while they believe in their own imperviousness.
Today, whatever day I wind up posting this, let me tell you something: It ain't that way. For anyone.
No one is impervious. Outside of a few money-ed republicans, very few people are born on third base and think they hit a triple.
There's crying in baseball.
Crying in life.
I cried when I got fired from R/GA. Cried when I got fired at Ogilvy. Cried when I looked at myself--old for the business and unemployed and boom, done.
I've cried when I've been passed over. For money, for promotions, for the good assignments. Cried when others, who I don't think are as good as me, bound ahead of me because of this reason or that.
I cried when I couldn't sell work.
When I could no longer stand my boss and asked off business I loved.
When I had more work to do than any 10 other creatives and could get no help from the agency and less respect. I cry when the prevailing story in the industry becomes, 'he was born white and male, he had it easy.' Rather than, 'he was born poor and was beaten by his mother, he had it hard.' I cry at the simplicity of bias that obscures and detracts from the complexity of reality.
Every once in a while I have a long phone call with an old friend or two. Or a pastrami sandwich at Sarge's. Or a cheese omelet at some diner in mid-town. Believe it or not, sometimes, I have these repasts with people older than I, and certainly more accomplished. We eat like Monks, taking disinterested little bites and mostly just pushing our food around. We weep into our dirty tap water.
And mostly we cry.
If you've read this far and you sometimes feel like you've fucked up, or you don't know what you're doing, or you did something that turned out lousy, or you got asked off a piece of business, or a partner walked out on you, cry.
And keep on crying.
That's how it's done.
Everyone does it whether or not they admit it.
Cry. And cry some more.
And then keep on going.