(Please don’t mistake the tone of this post as anything more than a catharsis for me.).
I’ve had a tough time feeling inspired lately. The sometimes daily struggle of making ends meet, getting paid for what I do and changing my diet and somewhat lethargic lifestyle has taken its toll on me.
This is no one’s fault. I’ve made more than a few decisions that have made my life immeasurably harder and I’m paying for each and every one of those in nearly anything I do. But that’s cool.
I went to TEDxPhxDC last night with high hopes. I wanted to be blown away by designy people and I wanted to be impressed. I made it through three presentations and then left because I was very tired. But I didn’t leave disappointed or empty handed. I left feeling a bit validated. I left feeling that at least some of my more questionable decisions actually made sense. I left feeling inspired.
Being a good neighbor is extremely important to me. Not just the obvious things, like keeping your stereo down and not planning late-night parties during the week, but a sense of looking out for some greater good, even if that requires a short-term sacrifice.
Most people don’t really know each other. We’re polite and we’re cordial and we’re seldom forced to work together. We usually don’t have to, as the sprawl of Phoenix metro allows each of us to escape from whoever they want every single night. This NIMBY philosophy has always infuriated me, but I know that changing it first means it must be recognized.
I tried to do that at November 2009’s RadiatePHX meeting at Local Breeze. I wanted to force people to reconsider what was actually happening in the city, what really needed to be down and how hard it was going to be. An unhealthy amount of liquid courage, a few shots of espresso and a remixed rant later, I felt like an absolute failure. I ranted on stage, I bitched on Twitter and unleashed a level of vitriol that, while completely true, didn’t do anything to help. I’ve always regretted that night.
But that was yesterday. That was before Jim McPherson showed me his list. Before Jim got on stage at TEDxPhxDC last night and talked about what we can all do to leave our mark. If Jim, who has a track record of getting things done, can manage to check off even a quarter of what he’s set out to accomplish, then my personal failure was worth it.
While I definitely would have liked to convey my points more eloquently and, if you’ll forgive me, less confrontationally, it worked. I traded something I had plenty of (confidence) for something Jim lacked at the time (inspiration to make a list) and we’ve now both been rewarded.
Being a good neighbor means a lot more than keeping within yourself and sharing a cup of flour. It also means making do of what you have, who people are and how things come together. It means being okay with being wrong, but always striving to be right.
I can’t say I’d do it all the same way again, but I can tell I’m glad I did.