Taming the Mess
I’ve always been a bit messy.
I hear that’s a sign of creativity. I also hear it’s a sign of mental illness.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that I am currently living in the one of the cleanest environments of my life. It’s not a dig on my parents, but there were also four of us living and growing and gathering things in my house growing up. Also my dad liked dumpster diving.
People’s things take up space.
But we need these things.
I recently cut a verse for a good friend of mine. He’s been going through some hard times and has thrown his energy into creativity to briefly distract from the day-to-day.
He’s also a grown man and a talented dude, so he’s accessing and articulating his emotions through these creative efforts. And really emotions is kind of my whole vibe. (I’m sure my good friend would want me to mention that he was also spitting murder bars so it wasn’t all touchy-feely).
Anyway the idea of the song is that life can be hard, yeah, but there are many things to live for, and we need to chase those moments of joy. The hook includes the phrase “I don’t want the whole pie, I just want a slice”.
First a digression, the whole idea behind this song blows my mind a little, as it directly pulls some concepts taught to me from the world of executive education. One of my dear colleagues taught the idea of ‘growing the pie’, and the idea of pie is used liberally in negotiations frameworks.
Another colleague I respected deeply used to talk about how in all the successes of his life, his true calling was creating “moments of joy”. Gratitude and purpose and making time for family were always prevalent threads in executive leadership (perhaps not surprisingly these are not natural-born skills for some leaders).
Some of these concepts seem self-evident, maybe even common sense. And yet these faculty are easily some of the wealthiest people I know personally.
Now, I’m listening to this song that’s essentially about gratitude and mindfulness and understanding what you have in the moment, and I come to a sort of revelation: I’ve already spoken on this. A bit, actually.
That said, I like the beat, and I really like collaborating on music with friends, so I sat to write.
And I sat.
And I sat….
And honestly sometimes spending too much time thinking about a creative project can make you less creative. Eight years out of the game is testament to that.
But then I thought about the idea of the song from a novel angle: what if I did a true mindfulness exercise? Really absorb the moment.
I began observing my environment. Aka looking around my room.
A bit messy. The office is the one room in the house Kelly allows a little clutter. Still, neater than I’d ever have it.
I then opened my desk drawer. The desk drawer, to be honest, is probably the most like what my whole environment would look like if I were a bachelor.
I sifted through the items in my desk and audibly said “ha my precious memory drawer” (yes I speak out loud to myself alone what of it?). And that was the revelation, the first four bars came quick: As time wears down like an emory board
I drop a trinket of each moment in my memory drawer
I keep on thinking of my life and what he sent me here for
Then i dig deep down, there’s still plenty in store…
This bit of focus connected me to the broader idea of gratitude because i am grateful for all these memories.
I am actually not overly sentimental about things. Experiences, interactions, sensations, those are all things I remember and cherish.
But for the most part if it isn’t a functional item or one that can be repurposed it’s something to be sold or discarded (Per KayRay Code. It’s a good rule, and thorough).
The memory drawer is an embassy from this rule, but the items are small. Pocket knife, postcards, old pictures, pins. Mementos. (there are also a few bins stacked neatly in the garage that I have a sneaking suspicion are on a “TBD” list somewhere)
I remember during an interview once when asked my weakness I quipped “Well, sort of like President Obama I do occasionally have a messy desk”. I paused a beat and briefly observed my surroundings and before I could filter my next thought I blurted “sort of like yours”.
The silence following was as awkward as you would imagine.
But I got that job. And I did that job very well (I think they hired a team of 2-3 people to replace me, lol), albeit with an occasionally messy desk.
As I advanced in my career, I learned that even a tiny mess could be a true liability.
I confronted this ‘weakness’ with vigor, and became a program manager where mess was barely tolerated. And I did that job very well, although the messiness was far less tolerated (and rightly so given the clientele I served).
Needless to say it seems I am capable of excelling even in the midst of a bit of mess.
But I put more energy into being good in a job I wasn’t meant to do than what I ended up getting out of the job. Sure, I was paid pretty well, and I had amazing job security, but I came home at the end of the day wondering “what is the point?” I wasn’t motivated by the work. It didn’t fulfill a sense of purpose in me.
And that, my friends, got messy. Figuratively, but then literally.
When the pandemic hit I had already resigned from my job. I had no idea the job itself would never quite be the same again.
Leaving the company was bittersweet, but it turns out it also would have been inevitable. The week after my last day, several of my former colleagues were offered voluntary resignation packages. Others were not given such a magnanimous option.
Nonetheless, my plan was always to take this time. As mentioned in these reflections my time was (essentially) wisely used.
All that said, sometimes things got messy.
I can’t ignore the biggest anxiety I have when I go into any new job is making mistakes.
I know that everyone makes mistakes, but I hate making them. It’s not even a fear of showing weakness or fallibility. I honestly just don’t like letting people down.
Now that said, it’s hard to disappoint people when in the cannabis business.
My favorite part about this new job is the enthusiasm. On both sides. My coworkers are (generally) geeked to be there. The customers just as much if not more so. It’s an awesome vibe.
But it’s also super important to get it right.
Every transaction is closely regulated. Product and money must never be ambiguously handled. There is an order to things. I prefer that order, given the product.
Within a week I began understanding the rhythm of the sale. By the second week I was granted the responsibility of my own register. I even have my own style and am feeling like I’m getting to know a few of the regular customers.
I am beginning to understand my environment. And that environment is not messy.
No miscounted inventory. No miscounted drawers. No mis-handled transactions. Clean house every evening. A true team effort. It’s hard work, but the look on people’s faces when they walk through the door looking to try something new (or to re-up on their go-tos) is worth it every time.
People consume cannabis for all sorts of reasons. And cannabis helps all of those people in one way or another. In my role I am legally and ethically not permitted to make any health claims about our products, but I really don’t have to. People are excited to try new products, learn about effects and strains and modes of consumption. And I’m excited to talk about all of the above!
If cannabis helps make people’s lives feel a little less messy for even a few hours, I believe there’s value in those moments. I realize tolerance, dependency, and addiction are all very closely related to any ingested substances (and I am acutely concerned about all of the above). I understand the concerns about celebrating a substance that many have struggled with in their lives and some have joined programs to quit. I know the connection between unaddressed mental illness and substance abuse.
While all that is a bit messy, it’s far from a unique or personal problem. Many people struggle in silence never realizing their neighbor, or coworker, or casual acquaintance, is walking into the same stores purchasing similar products to achieve the same results.
It makes me more hopeful for humanity than I expected, all the mess included.
We are kind of all in this together.
Even if some of us just want to catch a buzz and let it be messy for a while.
All the best,
Jonathan "Doc Wattson" The Native Stranger