I like John Mayer. His voice reminds me of high school and my best friends and the discovery of joy riding with the windows down at 17. It was the start of “adulthood” to the guitar intro of “Why Georgia.” He’s written some of my favorite breakup/ sad love songs, arguably my favorite genre of songs, and my husband and I’ve played the recent “In the Blood” over and over. The wordsmith’s gifts have also gotten him in trouble like anyone else, except that, by being famous and charismatic and public there is a higher percentage of the dumbest things said and done being laid bare in the media.
All of this to say, I follow him on instagram and I find him to be pretty entertaining. He brainstorms, he tells tales, he shares innovative snack ideas and pictures of his questionable footware. His recent multi-story of minds being blown after offering up a world changing idea was a real creative production. And sometimes he even supplies a piece of wisdom.
“The days of consensus are over. There will never again be a great big world that agrees on you… it’s an outmoded [attempt].”
The days of consensus are over. Outdated. We can no longer conceive consensus as possible and it is definitly not something to strive for, the world is simply too vocal for that. What is instyle is the speed of production and the voracious consumption of headlines. I don’t need an article of outlined facts, I can be incensed by a mere heading. They say content is king, therefore opinion in limited characters, lacking in substance and often fact, rules. Have you noticed that a significant number of articles are composed of reactions. The news is, he tweeted and then she tweeted and then they tweeted #reactions. Over and over again. The story is what others think of the happening. And that does not even include the comment section. Which I admit can really suck me. I click “read more” and then am usually horrified by what I am reading more of. I close it while shaking my head thinking about all the idiots, and worse, behind screens. Sensationalism is nothing new. Articles have always been written to intrigue or rile, (full disclosure: In my mind I keep picturing the play/movie/prophesy of the ruthless Kardashian’s Chicago) but never have the reactions been so accessible. There are so many avenues for folks to share their thoughts and strangely, it’s most often about what is making us all angry, or better than, or more right. A lot of it is incredibly unproductive. So much energy goes into getting the last word. So much energy goes into the false narrative of mutually exclusive.
John Mayer’s post gives a bit of freedom to any creative.
“The way to happiness is to accept this. Find you audience, love them, play to them, but protect yourself from the certain injury of trying to bring the larger world to agreement. That pie is sliced in so many slivers now.”
I am pretty low on the radar of any kind. I think my posts have been read by maybe 122 people. I don’t say that in a pitiful way, I say it to emphasize this point. I, who have limited impact, have been scared at times to write a definitive word for fear of rebuttal or worse, being misunderstood, of not having all my ducks in a row before I tell a story or before I add another opinion to the mile high hay stack. I have been intimidated by the idea of how I make them like me. Then wacky Mayer says to me, find your audience. Stop trying to win the world. It’s not going to happen. It reiterated what I’ve heard before, to tell the story, clack the keys to your hearts content on this gorgeous Sunday.
The fear of human opinion is incapacitating. The threat of having to keep up, to respond rapid fire is incapacitating. It is exhausting and a little bit soul crushing. Shauna Niequist wrote, “Exhaustion and starvation are the twin virtues of the world.” She said it is countercultural to be rested, unafraid, and not panicked. And to that I say, phew. We don’t have to play along. I cannot placate that demand of consensus.
Get free by giving up the mirage of absolute acceptance. What’s the plan or the seed in your hand? Drop it in the ground and change the nearby terrain. And, even if it doesn’t change much, at least the view in your sphere will be better than it was before.
Side note: Speaking of outmoded, think about his song 3×5. The literal interpretation of 3×5 anyway. Since now the majority of our view is dots making up things, pixel elements, on screens. Kind of sad when you read the beautiful description of actually developing a photograph, “an image made by a photo-chemical reaction which records the impression of light on a surface coated with silver atoms.” The impression of light.
The lesson of the song still stands.
(I am not 100% on how accurate my understanding of pictures and pixels is, so perhaps I’ll find a tweet to explain it to me.)