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woohooligan Jul 15, 2016
woohooligan NEW! Check out our best laughs from 2016!
How many times have you heard someone complain that we've become a fast-food, instant gratification society? Maybe it's just your neighborhood's elderly curmudgeon and maybe he only says that of millennials, but it's a pretty common idea. Though I'm not convinced there's much merit to it.

I think it's human nature to want things as soon as we can get them, at least within reason. And I think this desire for "instant gratification" has fueled a great deal of our invention and technical advancement over the years. I remember once reading a quotation from a famous science fiction author (I forget who), talking about having the sum total of all human knowledge at his fingertips. The internet, right? Nope. He was excited about the telegraph. (I'm pretty sure that quote was from James Gleick's book, Faster, though I can't seem to find it now.)

I think we all would like to be more productive. It's the reason why, as much as you hear complaints about supposedly shortening attention spans, you hear at least as many complaints about the days not being long enough. Are we lazy? Only in so much as it benefits us as a species. We're also a race of dreamers and doers. The other apes have all the physical means and probably even the mental capacity to invent spears and bows, but for them that's more effort than it's worth. People on the other hand... we build things! And to be honest, frustration helps.

If we weren't frustrated with the current situation, we wouldn't feel compelled to change it. When we're satisfied, we let things lie. I've been frustrated lately and it's probably a good thing. In recent years I've become accustomed to not just a lack of "instant gratification", but downright torturously slow gratification. It took me two years after being diagnosed with diabetes to get it reasonably under control. When I wanted to lose weight, I had to read a 450 page book and then spend a half-year religiously sticking to a 90% protein diet to lose 40 lbs before I plateaued. Now that I'm working to build more upper-body strength (to improve my base metabolism so I'll lose more weight), I've worked out EVERY day for WEEKS and for all that work I can say that I've BARELY seen some slight results.

It's good I think that I see those slow but reliable results in all these areas, because it helps me not feel so horrible about the one area where I most want to see progress. I've learned to do the work, do the work, do the work, see NOTHING and do more work. Angela Duckworth calls this "grit". And it's all over the place. Charles Darwin described himself as having a very mediocre mind, Will Smith thinks he's a mediocre actor... but what they have in common is they don't quit. There are days when, working toward being a full-time comedian and cartoonist, I feel like BenoƮt Lecomte swimming across the Atlantic ocean. For seventy-two of seventy-three days (ten weeks), he couldn't see the shore, no evidence of his progress, just endless miles of unyielding ocean... and then on day 73 he landed on the shore.

I started this project in January and I saw good progress in the first couple months, before hitting problems unrelated to the laughs I'm creating. I was forced by circumstance to cut a HUGE swath of both time and money out of my efforts from March to May to move my mother across country when I found out people were being shot and killed in her neighborhood in Dallas. Then last month the transmission in our car failed suddenly and without warning... Although I'm grateful (and shocked!) that we were able to get credit for a new car, an extra $260/mo car payment isn't in any way helping me advertise myself! So six months into a twelve month plan, I'm now five months behind schedule. But you know, this whole goal for the year started with me saying "fuck cancer!" How silly would it be for me to quit now? :) I just have to keep swimming and have faith that some day soon, I'll land on the shore. I hope you'll come with me.

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