Lately I’ve been struggling with the concept of success – specifically, how to discern the difference between progress and success.
I am always progressing – I do not do well with sitting still. Nevertheless, moving forward doesn’t equal succeeding. Motion doesn’t equal a milestone.
Or, at least, that’s my typical mantra of over-achievement.
It can be hard mantra to upkeep; over-achievement requires a lot of regular achievement to maintain, and that requires plenty of milestones to mow down while you’re in motion.
It’s an especially hard mantra to have when no new milestones are in sight … when it starts getting tempting to view motion as a milestone. It’s akin to the kid who wants a teevee break just for doing the first page of his homework. Should I reward myself just for learning one new song, or completing one workout? The slope from those minor successes to learning a new chord or doing one push-up is treacherously slippery.
This was the quandary that stopped my progress cold last week, grinding my life to a halt. I spent a long night of discussion with Elise, reviewing the successes of the past year, and trying to figure out how to translate further forward motion into more milestones.
Elise is the panacea to those inconsolable moments, and as we laid in bed talking it became apparent that part of the problem is that I had forgotten the other, single, proven solution to all of my various doldrums – eight years of Crushing Krisis archives documenting every success and failure, and all the moments of paralysis found in between the two.
Eight years of proof that I am always in motion, and always finding a new milestone.
As of today Crushing Krisis is an alarming eight years old – absolutely ancient in blogging years, and still the reigning longest running blog in my fine city of brotherly love.
I have a blog old enough to be in third grade. If that’s not a major milestone, I don’t know what is.
Not only is CK itself a milestone, it’s a collection of them – a chronicle of my greatest hits, the succcesses that sketch my evolution from aimless straight-A college student and hapless singer-songwriter through hopelessly overcommitted yuppy and emerging artist.
The amazing thing about the last twelve months is how many successes they encompassed. I played a show at the Tin Angel with my band (two, actually). I got engaged to the love of my life. I completed six months of voice-lessons, emerging with newly revitalized vocals. Lyndzapalooza threw not only a hugely successful music festival, but two modestly awesome off-season events. I finally became the senior member of my team at work. I’m planning the most kick-ass party I’ve ever thrown, which coincidentally happens to be my wedding.
In hindsight I feel as though the vast majority of my personal greatest hits record is contained in the last year of my life – like I’m one of those artists who has one big album and that ten years later my record company will release a 21st Century Masters collection of me that regurgitates that one album end-to-end, plus some random cover I did for a soundtrack.
In the midst of all those hits I could easily lose track of the progress I made, but that’s exactly what CK is here for. I already chose the best of them to feature in the Year 8 topic, but my most indelible memories extend far beyond the posts I’d deem as “best.”
Our band got censored for the first time. I had two of my most memorable taxi-driver conversations. I played a game of “what if I managed Britney?” I conquered my quarter-life crisis. I co-invented (and later conducted) an Upscale Bar Crawl. I blogged daily for an entire month for no reason at all, highlighting my favorite (remastered) Trio Tracks along the way.
I dissected Radiohead’s record release, along with the entirety of the “blogosphere.” I became fascinated for an entire night by a trick of photography. I learned valuable lessons from my longest period of bachelorhood in the past half decade.
I began telling the story of our engagement, further chronicled here and here. I disclosed my previously deeply personal delight in hot food eaten cold. I saw Elise’s brother make his theatrical debut. I posted a rare Trio that I liked as soon as it was recorded.
I contemplated being a real band. I reflected on my childhood masquerade as a born-again Christian. I posted yet another awesome-right-out-of-the-box Trio. I celebrated Gina’s birthday by recounting our first time singing together. I cultivated an ulcer. I learned about sibling rivalry by way of working out regularly for the first time in my life, and in the process got to know Elise’s sister a little bit better.
I almost shattered the fragile, bird-like skeleton of one of my SVPs. I taught the entire internet how to edit their MySpace Music profiles (seriously, you should see the referrals I get on that one damn post). I nearly got laughed out of a coffee-shop due to my savant-like knowledge of Clue.
I played my band’s first honest-to-goodness solo gig, and made friends with 13-year-olds. I spoke at my mother’s wedding, and reflected on how just a few decades ago mine would be illegal in some states. I became a big brother, and started becoming my mother, all in the span of a week. I reflected on GBLT rights in Iraq by way of Ani DiFranco and teenage theatre. I posted the best and worst of my teenage poetry.
And, still fresh in my mind, I was the victim of a crime of hate.
Other things happened too – good things and bad things left unsaid as I skipped a few months of blogging while I was out succeeding a life.
I never finished our engagement story. I haven’t been blogging about wedding prep, including dress shopping and invite-making. I didn’t relate how I got chewed out by a co-worker for bashing Jesus on our last Live @ Rehearsal disc. I continuously redacted a post entitled “Figure Skating Pants” because it never turned out as funny on-screen as it was in my head. You haven’t yet heard about house-hunting.
A hundred other things.
If Crushing Krisis is as much about progress as it is about success, as much about motion as it is about milestones, it’s also as much about silence as it is about sound. My evolution is sketched as much by the words I withhold as the ones I write.
I write these birthday posts each year … letters to my future self. Internet time travel.
Last year I said:
If Year 6 of Crushing Krisis was about finding stability, then this past year has been converting stability into happiness.
To amend that quote, if Year 7 was about converting stability into happiness, this past year was about finding a way for happiness and success to finally co-exist in my life.
In their own quiet way, those successes have brought me as close to quitting CK as I’ve ever been. Even though this blog documents my successes the actual act of blogging is all progress, and progress without success in sight can be daunting.
On and off, I plotted CK’s demise. Merge it into a band blog, I thought. Not as important as wedding planning, I decided. My writing has already peaked, it’s time to focus on other things, I resolved. Not saying much of importance anyway, I mused. It’s not as if anyone’s reading it, I whined. Blogs are ubiquitous and thus unremarkable, I opined. I’m out of things to say, I worried.
Yet, here I am, still, heading into Year 9.
Why? Because Crushing Krisis is one of the best ideas I’ve ever had, one of the best things that has ever happened to me, and the best way I know to show that I am not only progressing into adulthood but slowly and surely succeeding at life.
And because of you. You – indefinable and intangible, yet indefatigable.
Not just you – singular you, tu – you there on the other side of the screen reading this now, so much as you – plural you, vous – all of you. The royal you. The Schrodinger’s Cat of you. The mere potential of you.
“You” could mean you – now, in the present, two seconds after I post this; you – far in the future, maybe after I’ve gone; you – both of you; or you – neither of you … some other you entirely.
Thank you, no matter which you I am addressing. Thank you for being a part of and a party-to my never-ending progress and my continuing success. Thank you for reading, listening, commenting, and linking. Thank you for your time, for your attention, and for being you.
Thank you. And, happy birthday to this.