Hard Booting Life

I’m rebooting my life. Not one of those reboots where you’ve downloaded some update and now it has to restart to finalize. More along the lines of: everything froze and I had to hold the power button down until the whole thing shut off, and when I turned it back on, all I could do was hope everything would be okay! Technically, it’s still in the process of starting back up.

What happened? The short version is this: due to health and work issues, our household took a huge financial blow which sent us reeling and scrambling to pay even the most basic bills, like rent and utilities. The situation was so bad, there was no way I could chase down enough freelance work to cover the losses, and so I started looking for a job instead. As in one with a salary and benefits.

Three months into the job hunt, I had landed a few interviews and wasted a ton of time on companies with highly inefficient HR. I felt pretty hopeless at that point, but I had no choice but to power through until something paid off.

Eventually, a friend offered me a job at the coffee shop he’s managing. It’s not exactly a career job and the pay sucks, but it’s better than nothing and I was happy to take it. If nothing else, I hoped it would take the edge off the stress of not having any reliable income — sleepless nights and daily panic attacks are no fun – minimum wage plus tips is way better.

The entire process has made me rethink my priorities. Stability is more important to me now, than being my own boss. I’d love to start my own business again some day, but I would do it very differently today, and it would not be in the form of a freelance career. So here’s my new plan:

The current job is a starting point. My own personal Ground Zero. It allows me to barely scrape by, as opposed to bleeding out. The next step is to get a better job. I’m content making lattes and chai until the right match comes along, and when it does, I look forward to plunging in and getting productive. And paying off the debt I have accrued.

Maybe down the line somewhere, the perfect opportunity, idea or partnership will lead to a new entrepreneurial adventure. If not, it’s probably just because I’m happy doing whatever I end up working with. Besides, I will always keep doing creative side projects in my spare time. It can’t be helped. I must, MUST, create things and tell stories just to function as a human being. Without it, I become a dull boy.

My strength is also my weakness. All my life I’ve been producing content of some sort, as a writer, photographer, editor, even musician. My strength is knowing a lot about content creation. My weakness is not having a single, specific area in which I am the ultimate expert.

I’m a jack of all trades, but I have no regrets whatsoever in that regard. In fact, I think of it as my greatest asset. It’s just a matter of finding a position where my experience fits.

In case you’re looking to hire, or know someone who is, here are a few relevant links:

How I Became a Storyteller

Sometimes people ask me why I do so many different things. Secretly, I’m sure some of them wonder how I can possibly be good at any of them, and in my darkest moments I have asked that same question. On most days however, I take pictures, write, code, compose, sketch and make videos without mentally separating them from each other.

I call myself a storyteller. I’m not trying to sound pretentious, it’s just the best description I have found. Because it’s always about the story.

What is a story then? They are essentially about our basic values, right and wrong, life and death, love and hate. The story makes its point by taking the audience for a ride, it evokes emotion and sparks imagination, all fitted into some kind of structure or frame.

Often the point is a message; a song that says she loves you, an ad that says buy this product, or a speech that says make good art. Other times the point is to ask a question, and leave the audience to ponder it (religious texts are full of stories like these), or even dare them to prove it wrong. Conflict and resolution gets us interested and keeps us vested, but that is just a vehicle, not the destination.

I used to be extremely frustrated by having “too many interests”, and in a way I did have too many — because there was no focus. One day I sat down, listed every one of my interests out, and started looking for commonalities. And there it was – The Story – staring right back at me. Once I centered on story, my creative efforts started aligning like planets around a star. The Story is the star, and the rest are just tools to help tell it. I don’t have too many interests after all; just one.

I love stories. I love finding them, crafting them and telling them. It’s what I do.