“never half-ass two things; whole ass one thing”
ron swanson, “parks & Rec”
One of many marvelous aspects of being a lunatic on a creative tear is that you can come up with all kinds of ideas that make sense to no one else but are crystal clear to your own caffeinated mind. I have a half-dozen journals lying around with sporadic ideas jotted down in a drunken haste, loud declarations in all brokenhearted caps and drawings for The Next Great Tattoo, all of which will never see the light of day. But lately I’ve been noticing more & more life’s everyday, often contradicting yet typical scenarios and I name them, foolishly, from the mundane such as The Lonely Plane Paradox all the way to The Walken Paradox. The Walken Paradox is funnier, so let’s go there.
Here’s the premise: just about everyone you and I know can do a decent Christopher Walken impression. Don’t agree? May I present a couple of celebrity examples, right here. And right over here is my very favorite, Mr. Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters doing his best. But at the end of the day, who is Christopher Walken impersonating? NO ONE. Not one single person….he’s simply being him. In fact, even without that trademark voice, how can ANYone doubt the originality of this little dance number, thanks to the sonic stylings of Fatboy Slim? Go ahead and check it out….I’ll wait right here.
If we should hang out, there’s a good (likely 100%) chance you’ll hear a Walken impression busted out at an opportune moment, and everyone laughs, but it’s just that….we’re imitating life. You and I and everyone we know are all putting it out there on social media, imitating what we think life should look like; “look at me, look at us, we’re having fun, dammit, see me smiling here with him/her, aren’t you impressed by how awesome our life is?” And we do this because reality is a just that….a real life, not a highlight reel we are trying to impress our peers with; after all, who wants to hear that you’ve spent an hour over your kitchen sink at 2am wondering if your kids are going to be as fucked up as you are, if you have the strength to break the cycles of your own past, if you really do make a difference in this stupidly short time we all get here in life.
The truth is that most of us are out here, pretty much ALL of us, trying our dammed best to make it through each moment, each mounting bill, each encounter with those we meet with the very best of hearts and intentions, even when we fall short. Lindsey Buckingham has spent his life crafting songs with Stevie Nicks about a love so intense it could never die while simultaneously forever failing to be “enough” (HERE is a perfect example), and I think we’ve all been there, too. So we get up, make yet another pot of coffee while the kids are bickering and some new pain fires up in our lower back while our heads lower and we mutter curses to no one in particular. We go to where we need to, doing our best impressions of what we think the world wants and needs.
But I ask you to do this: defy the Walken Paradox. Don’t live the lives your siblings and parents expect from you….live YOUR life. Show your kids you being the Real You, and you’re gonna fall on your ass, and then show them you got up, again. That you loved again. That you lived for something bigger than your 40 hours a week. That you opened the door and stepped out into the rain just to feel alive, really alive, more than some social media post trying to show others you lived. Get the ink. Be your own Lindsey to Stevie, and pour your soul out to someone who will hear you, for real. Burn some midnight oil creating something original. Don’t fucking compartmentalize, live your life in the whole. If you’re reading this, you’re likely going to cash out of this life in less than 50 more years, and what will you have to show for it?
I hope you’ll have a life fully lived to show for it.
I hope you have a story worth telling.
And I damn sure hope that no matter how good your Christopher Walken impression, you’ve spent your life doing YOU, not just imitating someone wickedly original. Be wickedly, originally, perfectly you.