Picking yourself up when everything seems pointless

I wrote a little while ago about how marketing doesn’t matter. And how nothing seems to matter, except the people you love and the emotions you feel. I was on a bit of a downer. You know, we get in those moods where it’s like a film noir.

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You sit on a cafe chair, drinking your coffee, chain smoking (except I don’t smoke) watching the world go by, thinking about it all. You have your notebook, and a pen, and there’s this great french word for how you’re feeling – ennui. The dictionary  definition being:

“a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement”

You don’t feel like working because nothing seems that interesting. You feel like resting, but you feel a bit restless. You don’t seem to think or care about very much. And your ennui continues.

There feels like there’s nothing worth saying.

You feel a bit lost from what you feel like you should be doing.

But then gradually, bit by bit, you come out of it again.

Yes, you know deep down that there’s not a lot of point to work, business, chasing things and everything else. Yes, you know that there seems to be lots of meaningless things and then you die.

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BUT, eventually you feel that you might as well do something. You do need to snap out of that mood and you CAN do things.

I think there is a certain satisfaction from work, and you do get a feeling of purpose. I’m not saying all work. I mean corporate law is always going to be soul-destroying to most people.

I mean the kind of work that genuinely helps people DOES make us feel good. I feel that way after writing a good article. Or spreading ideas on a popular blog site (this one’s like shouting in a tin can, it’s small, but it does affect and move people). We can all feel that way. It might be when you make a sale. Or fix someone’s boiler. Or paint a wall. Or massage someone. Get out on stage and act. Or bake a cake or whatever.

I think one of the reasons humans have manged to create such advanced societies, and evolve as a species for so long, is because we’re programmed to help each other. We’re not designed to do nothing, to sit around all day on a beach. We’re not designed to be lazy. We get good feelings from helping others. That might be raising children, doing masterful work, helping other people meet their needs. That gives us satisfaction.

But there’s something that stops us from being satisfied… ourselves. Due to some baggage in our past weighing us down, we don’t do what we’re supposed to. And we get disconnected from what we’re here to do. Then you end up in a spiral of lots of drink, sleeping with people you don’t like and feeling grim because you’re not being honest with yourself.

The challenge that we all face throughout our lives is: “how can I make life function for me?” That means choosing work, relationships, friendships and accommodation that gets our needs met. And if something isn’t satisfying us, we need to be ruthless, honest and direct about changing it.

I’ve spent the last few months recovering from the other 9 months I’ve had gallivanting around London and San Francisco.

I burned out and have felt this sense of ennui. It’s because I was doing a sales job, trying to help people that I didn’t really like or care about. I was sleeping with people that didn’t really matter to me. I felt I only connected to most of my friends on a superficial level.  I lived in a flatshare on a noisy main road, where I didn’t get much sleep. And my health (in all it’s forms – emotional, mental, physical, spiritual) was suffering. It felt like I was dying.

So I quit. I came back home to my parents, who do care a lot. I kept in touch with the real friends who I care about.  I caught up on months of sleep deprivation, ate good nutritious food again, drank less booze. I’ve spent trying to make sense of it all – writing my thoughts in a notebook, doing whatever my body feels like doing. And it feels good.

Now I feel healthy again. I turned 21 yesterday.

I feel ready to take on new projects, do some writing that’s more potent and powerful than anything I’ve done before. Over the next few weeks, I want to pick up writing projects (or whatever I can pick up) so I do work I’m proud of, help my struggling bank balance and make a fresh start.

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Does marketing really matter?

Today I want to write about something that’s close to my heart. And I want to be honest… at least as honest as I can be. Over the past year I’ve tried a few different things. I’ve been gallivanting around London, San Francisco, London again and Spain. I’ve had a few mini-careers. I’ve tried myself as a software salesperson, been a copywriter, as well as some other things.

I’m not saying these things to brag, but rather to say I’m talking from the experience I’ve had.

I’ve earned good money, and blown it and am now fairly skint. I’ve been merry and miserable. Often one following the other like the tide coming in and out.

I realise this post is probably a bit self-indulgent, this post. Go away if you don’t like reading it but I’m writing in the hope this might resonate with you.

Why? Why do all these things? Why fanny about everywhere?

Well, I guess it’s about trying to find some meaning in things, you know. Life is short. Life is very short. It’s over in the blink of an eye. One day you’ll wake up and be 40,60, 145… there’ll be several tubes in you, you’ll have bed sores and you won’t have the freedom you have now. There won’t be much time left. And my biggest fear was letting things slip away, missing opportunities… not doing what you can. It’s better to do things and get disappointed, than hold the regret of not doing it, I feel.

I’m an addict. I like seeing how other people think, react, play, behave, misbehave and those sparks between people. I absorb experiences, people, places. And when I’ve learned what I can, I piss off. I move onto the next thing. I can’t commit to things, and people.

That’s probably not healthy. It’s probably not good. But it’s the way my brain functions, or seems to be wired. It’s not good. I can’t hold down a proper 9-5 job. I struggle to do much freelance work… probably just enough to pay bills and avoid running up debts. And unless I’m really curious about someone or something – we’re not friends for very long.

One of the things I’ve learned from this past year is that not a lot really matters. And it’s not worth getting attached to things. What does seem to matter is care, love, energy and self-esteem… emotions.

Which brings me onto the headline of this piece: “Does marketing really matter?”

At the end of the day we’re all persuadable, mushable human beings. And marketing /sales /whatever is just professional manipulation. Persuading  people to think, behave act in a certain way. And with the internet, you can often shape an image, situation and what someone thinks of you really easily.

That’s why people love Facebook. It lets us prove to ourselves that our existence exists. It’s gives us the illusion that we’re important. We’re in love with ourselves. Me included – I’m probably a worse culprit than most people.

“You’re just so funny… and so like me”

Returning to the point, marketing is capitalism condensed. It’s making a silk purse from a pig’s ear. Things have value because we have a socially constructed a value to them. Look at the art world – millions of dollars for a few gaudy paint splats on a canvas. What am I trying to say? Wealth, goods, material things.. they’re artificial.

Our whole Western school of thought has one goal. Getting, acquiring, beating other people and having things and feeling self-important. Apparently we advance as a society by generating wealth. And with marketing/sales we push people’s emotional buttons. We exploit the fear and greed that people have hard-wired into their brains since we were cavemen. This gets people to spend money, and therefore gives us as marketers/salespeople/ business people, power.

But where can that money and power get us? Does it really get us anywhere? It might satisfy us for a while, and keep our needs met… but once we’re fed, housed, watered, have independence and feel safe… there’s nothing. There’s a void. And no matter how much more power, money, influence we acquire – it doesn’t make us feel any better. There’s a lot of unhappy millionaires in San Francisco, London… and every city in the world.

Therefore, I feel like there’s not much point in pursuing that or anything beyond basic needs and what your body feels like doing. I’m clever and capable. If I applied myself I could probably do anything. I could become a politician, doctor, set up a big business… but I don’t have the patience. And I know the process and end result wouldn’t be satisfying enough. It would be painfully, nullifyingly craze-inducing. In any case it would probably be destroyed by destructive habits you’d pick up along the way – drugs, gambling, alcohol, affairs, fights… something.

I want to opt-out. I don’t want to do much. I want to be part of a society that’s calmer, more chilled out and more focused around those basic needs. I spent 4 weeks in Spain this year. And I love it. I love it. I love it. The heat, the dust, the cafe culture, the outdoor living, the sitting around, the way doing nothing seems to be everything, the real food, spending time with family and friends. They don’t have a system of work and school that is so aggressive. It’s a way of life that’s so much peaceful, and so  much earthier… so much more bloody real than most of what you face in London and South East England. The cost of living is low. It’s warm. People are friendly. Life is easy and gentle. Life comes first. Work comes second.

I’m looking to move out there at some point in the next few weeks and months. And am really looking forward to it. And I just need to have enough work coming in to cover bills. .

At the end of the day I think marketing doesn’t really matter,  in the grand scheme of things. Yes it makes money, giving us power. So it is important in fulfilling our needs. But if we obsess about acquiring that power, we’ll end up destroying whatever we create.