Us and Them
It's a type of thinking I had convinced myself was unhealthy. "Don't categorize people!" I'd tell me. "It's not fair to compare people", I'd remind me. And in many ways, I was right in what I was telling myself. But I was also wrong. Very wrong.
It is wrong to lump a person into a category without any precedent or just cause. It is also wrong to draw comparisons between people when you have no evidence on which to base your comparison. It is also unfair to judge an amateur as if they are a professional, regardless of their field. Those things are true and right.
But, and this is where I was wrong, it is perfectly acceptable to compare people's efforts. Particularly the efforts of someone who claims a professional title. Artist, musician, accountant, bartender, chef, driver, writer, foremen, or doctor – a title is something that is earned.
Effort is made up of three main components: work, dedication, and persistence. How hard a person works, how dedicated they are to exploring their craft, and how persistent they are in the face of epic failure and resistance are all quite valid characteristics by which to make judgments about someone’s status as a professional (or not). How else does an amateur become a professional but through effort?
So, who are Us? is Us? are We? are Us, Them? are...um...Fuck it. From hence forward, professionals are Us, amateurs are Them. Clear? Clear. Good.
Are you dedicated to your craft? Do you work hard at what you do? Does the idea of 'boredom' seem alien and impossible to understand? Well...you might be a professional. Or at least on your way. Professionals don't have time for boredom. It's a luxury of the amateur. Boredom implies that there is nothing to do – and for Us, there is always something to do.
*Now, don't get me wrong. If you know me, you know I am not a work-a-holic. I LOVE my leisure time. I sleep in on the weekends. Sometimes I drink too much. I procrastinate. I spend most evenings and weekends with my wife and kids soaking up every moment of this beautiful life I live.
That does not mean we don’t have leisure time. We do. But it seems to me that leisure time is misunderstood. For the amateur, it's all they think about. Every moment 'working' is a moment wasted not being wasted. This is not so for the professional. For Us, it's not 'taking a break'. We're not 'getting away from it all'. There's nothing to get away from...What we do for income, how we make our money, how we support our families is not some terrible burden from which we want only to be free. It's an amazing challenge. It's an opportunity to do something brand new. A chance to create something never before seen. Every moment spent 'working' is treated as what it really is - a moment 'creating'. And remember kids – work does not always mean what you do from 8:00am to 5:00pm. Work happens when it happens.
It doesn't matter what you do (lordy knows I've had lots of different jobs in 20 years). You have the chance to push the boundaries of your occupation every time you punch in. Making the leap from amateur to professional is right there in front of you -if you make the choice to jump.
And making that choice puts you in with Us. Loafing around hating your life and demanding recognition you haven't earned puts you in with Them. Us vs. Them. If you hang out with Us, you get to explore, expand, succeed, fail, struggle, and strive. If you hang out with Them, I think you get to watch American Idol, or maybe The Apprentice.
Is this a competitive way of thinking? Yes. Does it tend to hurt some people's feelings? Yes, probably. Will this mentality make people think you are arrogant? It seems to. Is this way thinking in direct opposition to the mamby-pamby-hand me everything on a platter-lazy-ass-entitled-American way? A-B-S-O-F-U-C-K-I-N-G-L-U-T-E-L-Y. But that's the point. Once we get to grown up land - not everyone gets to play anymore. Not everyone gets a trophy. Its tough, but its life.
My wife's asleep, my kids are asleep, my dogs are asleep. Most of Them are busy watching the TV or getting all excited because tomorrow’s Friday and they don’t have to work for a few hours…Me? I'm going to create something cool. What are you doing?