by Ralph Greco, Jr.
When I set my addled mind to the state of my business (scrambling freelance writer and musician), the state of the world (dangerously bereft of civility and empathy), and the state of human interaction (worse than ever, even forgetting the pandemic for a moment) I realize that what proved important all through my growing up isn’t so true anymore. Woody Allen’s “Eighty percent of life is showing up” Interview for The Collider (2008) is something I held dear, yet it seems to play so quaint and archaic these days.
There is a certain irony in that now that we can communicate better and faster, and pretty much wherever we want, we are doing so less, or at least we are communicating bon mots of no substance. Tweeting a picture of what we had for breakfast, texting personal manifestos multiple pages long, posting and vlogging the most mundane news of the day, we don’t know how to digest or relate the important stuff…if that important stuff even came up and bit us on the ass!
Not that I am any kind of a mover or shaker in the businesses I work in, nor am I a composer or player of note (yes, I am a “Legend in my own mind,” but that’s a story for another time) but over the past decade I’ve noticed my clients and the people I work with are taking longer and longer to reply to emails and texts. And these are emails and texts are about the work we are doing. Or I find I must hammer a potential tavern owner for the simplest follow-up details of a gig. Really, in both instances above, I do have better things to do with my time (ok, I don’t, but it feels good saying this) but in the all too often cold-hearted quote of Al Pacino’s character, Michael Corleone in The Godfather, “This is nothing personal, Sonny. it’s strictly business,” I want to get to the business I have been hired for. And that’s very personal.
And how about the rabid and rapid decline of a care to be present. I love how people have been trying to convince me how the pandemic has positively affected work. For a number people (employers and employees) it might be true, time and experience will reveal how things like digital communication is the way of virtual classrooms and teleconferencing a much-needed boon to our culture. But if you have 20% of people/kids listening during Zoom meetings or digital classroom learning, not just reading texts, or putting the conference on mute, I’d say you’d be lucky to boast a higher percentage. That assessment I agree will be affected by the context of physical and mental resources/ability and the immediacy of the environment. Will we have a holistic blending?
The only thing we seem to be fully present for is to engage that sexiest of lovers we have ever known, our cell phones, as much as we can. ‘Social distancing’ might be a term we have coined in the past two years, but weren’t we were well on our way, not wanting to show up in person for anything really?
The pandemic is perfect for what suited us; shut-ins unite…but stay in your own homes. And when the dust clears from this world-wide tragedy, I dare say nothing much will change. The naked ape is a shadow of its former self, and we will forever take the path of least resistance now that we have walked that path a damn long time.
Do we need Showing Up, New Revised Edition, to coincide with the changing definition and interpretation of work culture, lifestyles, and survival skills?