looking beyond why we think we like what we like

people with an innate love and ability to drive well have always delighted me for some reason. it started probably because i was never actually great behind the wheel myself, if i’m honest. fast does not equal good, i would implore my pig-headed younger self if i could. but movement of all kinds has always been a necessary part of the lives i’ve experienced, and when just being capable of doing something made it a passable life skill, that bar was easily met and surpassed.

whatever needed to be done was done. i drove back and forth to school a bunch, and across the country a few times. and my learning about what went into that as a physical endeavor ended there. as i got older, what probably truly fascinated me most by those around me as we shared our tales was the artistries of the soul sparks that the more unique hobbies encouraged. they created joys in many who entertain that carried over into everyday life, and knowing of that passion so viscerally myself, it purposes whatever i see differently. especially when i remember that purview is, in fact, an option.

laughter at jarring juxtapositions is what my brain set-up encourages. it likely always did, and that doesn’t prove to be as problematic in circles of creatives where making mistakes is more encouraged than it is where we all pretend to know everything. judgement and competition destruct that joyful proclivity, and the more common settings of rote call-and-response regurgitations zap joy from the equation by design. self-consciousness changes the focus we hold, and pit what are, truly, just our own feelings against ourselves. there is a lot we miss in lieu of that. and miss out on. we will never know what passes us by. hopefully we remember at some point that it is always our choice what we choose to look at. we just get easily get distracted from what can come of that fact all the time.

a guy came to us one time having had a life-changing appearance on a talk show that remained with him years later. the efforts he had taken to quell his nerves at meeting a personal idol, to avoid any potentially awkward interactions with the host, left him massively drunk and more arrogant than he’d intended. while he wasn’t overtly chastened by those at show he had been promoting, a rare breed in these parts then, he thoughtfully internalized the otherwise overwhelmingly negative response, and it shook him to his core. there was another movie coming out, and he aspired to be different than that. better in behavior, more adult. respectful.

hoping we could help him earn that chance, he worked diligently on himself behind the scenes as we put the steps we could in place. the change in him was marked. immaturities dissipated as much as possible, and he tried out stories on whatever audiences of humans he had. most of those he regaled with his stories of underaged driving and the experiences he had had navigating this weird business had no knowledge of the bigger role they played in his world. but those with an eagerness to listen, who showed care for the well-being his past childhood, visibly buoyed his spirits. the opportunity for him to play with those emotional pieces was priceless.

one of the stepping stones we were able to put in place was an appearance on another talkshow in that family. special care was taken with all interactions we had on his behalf. showing me just how life is mysterious with a cheeky wink sometimes, one of the people i met through that effort is more influential in my own life now more than i ever would have imagined. the anxiety levels of the man we worked with gearing up to that appearance was only seen by us closest to him, but it was palpable. especially as he retold his midwest car transport stories and sneaked to me as a non-public outlet those of the accompanying family drama.

a business journalist said recently that she has found the more specific she is with details, the more relatable her words tend to be. without articulating that verbatim then, we employed a similar logic, as relatability is usually what entices people to watch certain entertainment fare. as real as you can be with an audience, the more likable and lovable you tend to be. because it is actually about the feelings you evoke in them, which we couldn’t outright say at the time. probably we still can’t in some places, but in the island i gratefully live in again filled with creatives and idea makers, we’ve all been there. and that connective resonance speaks loudest in the softest, warmest ways sometimes.

it’s been years since i saw him personally, and while he has publicly made some profoundly awe-inspiring personal decisions, his professional choices seem to be a continuation of sorts on that same path. life rhymes are another, perhaps kinder, way to feel the effects of karma, and the repeating parallels to his path that i see in both myself and my person are alarmingly on point. excruciatingly similar, in some cases. we watched a streaming film he was in, and within moments, i just had a feeling that he had also written it. i saw that he had also shot parts of it where he had lived. the footwork he displayed as he drove was his own. and masterful and graceful. it showcased all that we couldn’t get across with words to some producers then, but what oozes out of him effortlessly. especially when he has creative freedom.

when we have people around us who genuinely are interested in the different nuances of what life can be like, perspectives shift and things seem brighter. hope springs up in places thought to be dorment. this man shows me too though, that the work is never done. his social media proffers images and videos of some of his deeply-rooted personal efforts. most are gleeful. another comedian/actor type i worked for once told me that making the movies is the fun part, while promoting them is the work he got paid for. and while that was perhaps once true, a lot of the pieces now at their core are the same. being a rea person, and all that comes with it, can not be cleanly compartmentalized, and so it behooves us to find ways to enjoy all of it as best we can. without question, making good content is usually important. but the nuts and bolts of any business aside, selling it comes down to more than that just having that.

despite what we hear and are being sold, there are no specifics to being likable. dry metrics tell me blatantly that i am not, and abiding by the arbitrary rules that come with any of them requires memory ram that i no longer have. but none of the people i worked with had it all figured out either, and we all keep trying. to make a go of this life somehow, regardless of what gets in the way or what we let keep us down for a spell. it is what it is. and that’s true for us all, whatever it looks like. the more thoroughly we embrace that, embody our quirks and adjust our behavior to what we want instead of what we think we are, the better we will all be. the choices are still always ours. time to act accordingly.

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