Go Ahead, Do Nothing … I Dare You

Like lots of writers, I have another job. While I would never say it is a soul crushing experience robbing me of my will to live, it isn’t really what I want to do. I want to be a full time writer, a reality sitting in the future for me right now. I’ll get there.

Part of my other work includes periodic training on a variety of topics. Most recently I had to attend a class on leadership. It was alright, not really the greatest course I’d ever attended, still not the worst I’ve been subjected to. It did open my eyes to one important aspect of the world around me I hadn’t noticed before. The world hates stasis.

It’s true. Sit around and do nothing for a while and see how long you can maintain that level of non-activity. If you decided to sit on a park bench for a few days, maybe only a few hours, someone is going to accuse you of loitering. At work, if you decide you have reached the pinnacle of your career when you still have ten or more years to work, people are going to look at you like you are crazy.

I only noticed this because of a really odd conversation with one of our instructors. It went something like this;

  • Random Instructor Guy: “What did you think of the class?”
  • Me: “It’s alright.”
  • Curious Instructor Guy: “Just alright? Why just alright?”
  • Me: “Well, to be honest, it is getting farther into the weeds on things than I really want to get. For example, I don’t really need to worry about techniques for working with large groups of people.”
  • Confused Instructor Guy: “Wait though, you need those techniques for your next promotion. I mean, what are you going to put on your next performance appraisal to justify a promotion?”
  • Me: “Not sure I really want a promotion. I am pretty happy with what I’m doing now. Why would I want to screw that up?”
  • Defiant Instructor Guy: “But, how are you going to advance in your career?”
  • Me: “Why do you think I have to? Really, if I never want another promotion ever again, why can’t I do that?”
  • Pained Instructor Guy: “But, more money … more responsibility?”
  • Me: “More headaches for only a little more money? I make enough now to meet mine, and my families, basic needs. Why do I need more headaches?”
  • Offended Instructor Guy: “You just … I don’t … I’m sorry I brought this up.”

I seriously offended this guy’s sense of right and wrong and I never really intended to. My point that I really had no interest in moving farther up the theoretical ladder flew in the face of everything he stood for. In his mind, if you weren’t looking for the next promotion and more money then you were essentially doing nothing.

 
The class itself introduced the idea of social loafing. The insinuation was that if you weren’t bucking the system or working to make change then you were actually complacent in social loafing. Essentially letting everything else happen around you while you just nodded your head in agreement. The question I couldn’t get answered was this, “What if you are alright with everything going on around you and see no need to change the situation you’re in?”

I’ve said it before and it is worth mentioning again. Writers interpret the world around them. As a group we are not really part of society as a whole. We act as interpreters to our society and point out the things which don’t seem to make a ton of sense. And this really doesn’t make sense to me.

In writing, I want to strive for the top of my craft. I want that not because I am driven to it out of devotion to someone else’s ideals, but because it is a goal I want to attain for myself and my readers. But in my day-job, I am content to just be who I am. Society seems to think there is something wrong with that level of contentment.

At the end of the day, I frustrated the instructor to the point he just threw up his hands and walked away. It was comical to say the least.

I’m curious, have any of you ever felt that way? Felt like you were being pressed to be something you had little interest in being because it was just expected?

-Your Humble Servant,

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Killer Clown is Deeply Disturbing

Killer Clown: The John Wayne Gacy MurdersKiller Clown: The John Wayne Gacy Murders by Terry Sullivan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For me, this story has a distinctly personal note. I am native to the south Chicago suburbs. I grew up only one hour away from where John Gacy lived and killed. Being born in 1973, I was just a little kid when this story broke. Too young to fit the pattern of Gacy’s victims, it did affect me nevertheless. As Mr. Sullivan points out, there was a gravitational shift in the world during the 70s. Partially this shift came as a result of the Gacy case. The world no longer felt safe. When us kids were out in our front yards, we needed to check in or be with someone our parents knew and trusted. The world became dangerous to us and we were only kids who lacked the ability to explain it all.

John Wayne Gacy jr. still stands out as the stereotypical serial killer. As Mr. Sullivan points out in his book, he could have been anyone. There was no telling this man had been committing such horrors until his final victim was murdered. The thought that someone like this may still lurk in the world is horrifying when you really think about it.

Mr. Sullivan recounts his experiences as a prosecuting attorney on the case against Gacy and retells it based on his review of the information from the trial reports. The book is well done and chronologically organized so it takes you through the gripping court drama in order. It is well written and easy to understand, if the motivations behind such a horrific act are not.

I think Mr. Sullivan’s motivation for such a book is to ensure the victims will not simply vanish into history and at least someone will remember they lived on this planet. To that end, I think he did. I felt genuine pangs of sympathy for the families who had to go through this horrific ordeal.

John Wayne Gacy Jr. is dead and was cremated. However, as there is still interest in famous serial killers such as Jack the Ripper, Ted Bundy, and the Zodiac Killer, there will remain interest in John Wayne Gacy and his legacy of devastation he wrought on the Chicagoland area and the entire country.

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