Falling out of Love with Hate, Part 3: Mending Fences
Well now, quite a bit of excitement here in Montauk recently; a near fist-fight, a boat launched and christened, a terrible storm with loss of life; all in one month I think. My goodness. Let’s back up a bit to last Sunday.
I got MON TIKI squared away Sunday morning. Late Sunday afternoon my friend came out and we set to work squaring away his boat. Sunday afternoon was very late to be getting around to this, but my friend is a huge generous teddy-bear of a man, and various family and work obligations had prevented him from getting out to Montauk until it was very nearly sundown.
By 10PM we had his boat in the lee of Star Island, anchored just outside of Diamond Cove Marina where MON TIKI lay with two anchors down off his bow, and a plan to put a couple more out in the morning.
Flash-forward to Wednesday morning and my friend was tied to the dock at Montauk Marine Basin. That’s where we assembled and launched MON TIKI and it’s also where I nearly got in a fight a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to go down there and see my friend, and also see how the marina had faired in the storm, but when I got down there I saw my nemisis’s truck and the first thought I had was, “I’m so glad I’m not down here anymore so I don’t have to run into this asshole every other day.”
I visited with my friend. He’s the head of his division’s disaster reponse and recovery plan, and he had the saloon of his sloop converted to a mobile command post; laptops, cellphones, a pot of coffee. We rehashed the events of the last 48 hours, counted our blessings and then I got up to leave.
“Oh crap,” I thought, “another chance to run into this guy. Another chance to decide just how much eye contact to make or not make,” and on and on.
And so I resolved: If I see this guy, I’m going to walk straight up to him, say “My name is David Ryan,” extend my hand and say, “No hard feelings. Okay?”
I didn’t see him. But sooner or later I will. And when I do, that’s what I’m going to do.
I’ve put a little thought into it, so I have some idea why, and at least a few of the reasons don’t reflect very well on me. I’m petty, spiteful, contrarian and prideful.
And for those reason, plus some others, I can’t read a single work Rod Dreher writes without disagreeing at least, and more likely, flying into a rage. Dreher could point out, on a clear Autumn day, that the sun was shining and I have no doubt I’d find a way to take offense. This post, bought to my attention by my and Rod’s mutual friend Alan Jacobs, is no exception:
Andrew Kern on the worst advice he ever got. Excerpt:
These are the worst pieces of advice I ever received:
Follow your heart
Don’t accept limits
Follow your feelings
My response, posted as a comment at Alan’s blog:
I don’t know if I’ve ever made any great work of art, or accomplished any significant intellectual achievement. I don’t suppose that’s for me to judge. I do know that I’m (mostly) proud of my creative and professional achievements; and that creativity and professionalism has kept my family fed, sheltered, and given us enough financial breathing room to (so far) accommodate the unexpected without too much disruption.
When I was a child, my father, who as far as I can tell, didn’t especially enjoy being a physician, often said, “Make sure you like what you do for a living, because you’re going to have to wake up every day and do it.”
I used to joke, before my responsilbities piled up, that I didn’t like waking up every day and being obligated to do any particular thing, and so I had arranged my life so that I didn’t have to.
Of course that’s not true. I do have to wake up every day and do what I do, and (mostly) I figure out what I need to do by following the (apparently very bad for him) advise that Mr. Kern was given.
I don’t know anything about Mr. Kern (and I don’t know if that’s my failing or his) but from my perspective, it he counts those four points as bad advice, well then so much the pity for him, and for anyone who feels comforted by his dour outlook. But as they say, different strokes for different folks.
The very best advice I ever got was from a colleague on the Media 100 email list; and list serve for users of a (very at the time) disruptive nonlinear digital editing system.
His name was Lon McQuillan, and he said, “Anything that’s worth doing is worth doing poorly.”
It’s advice that’s (so far) served me well; making films, building boats, and following my bliss.
Past results are no guarantee of future returns
Your milage may vary
Offer not valid in Guam, Ascension Island, and St. Francisville, LA.
For those of you who don’t know, St. Franisville is where Rod Dreher lives. I had to look that up to complete my snarky little trifecta.
I don’t expect Rod Dreher spends as much time thinking about me as I do about him (which is to say any at all), so the subtitle “Mending Fences” is inapt. There is no relationship to be restored. No breach to be healed; at least not between me and Rod.
But just like I sometimes need or want to go down to Montauk Marine Basin, and it doesn’t serve me to have a running feud with some guy who hangs-out/work/lives(?) there, I like to read what Alan Jacobs and Noah Millman write at The American Conservative. It doesn’t do me any good to be holding my hand up to the screen, blocking from view any incitements Mr. Dreher may have posted to the menu bar. It’s an awkward, inelegant way to live a life. And exhausting too.