Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Feeling Insignificant

I saw a video of a Fleetwood Mac song that blew me away and made me feel so small at the same time.
Yeah, so it's about twenty years after their heyday, but still they take what was a semi-good song on the album and make it so much more passionate here. Lindsey Buckingham can do it all, yet he never had guitar lessons and doesn't even use a pick. I couldn't imagine simply being able to play that music, let alone singing so well while doing it. And he's a lot better looking than I am, too!

 That's a little of why I am so sad. I know that the only type of immortality we really have a shot at in this life is perhaps leaving behind some fantastic piece of art - whether a painting, a song, a book, etc. - that may be remembered by people long after we are gone. It doesn't bother me when someone is better than me at some particular talent, because I can always tell myself that I have talents where I am better than they are. Then someone like Lindsey comes along and is better at way too much all at the same time, and I can never hope to compare with even a single one of his talents. He has an amazing voice, plays incredible guitar, and is extremely charismatic. He's a great songwriter and, who knows, he can probably write rings around me in fiction if he wanted to.

For those of us in the writing game these days, it's about as tough as it has ever been. We can write a book now that, if published two hundred years ago, could have stood out and become a classic, but today it would most likely be buried in the avalanche of books being poured out by far too many talented writers. So rather than our book becoming a classic and making us well-known even after passing on, our book is quickly lost in the shuffle and forgotten.

I suppose getting older is making me far too aware of my mortality and of how quickly time is slipping away as far as being able to make a lasting mark on the world.


  1. Oh get off the pity pot and write your story. I'll buy and read it. That is some encouragement in disguise if you don't see it for that. But seriously...Ted...I am hankering for a good fantasy and you seem like the right guy to put it in my hands. So as Morgan Freeman says in the Shawshank Redemption, "Get busy living or get busy dying." I hope that you choose the former and surprise us all with some life.

  2. Funny, Michael, but I'm in the middle of writing a sci-fi!

  3. That's why I've decided the best way to be immortal is to be remembered for who I am, not what I write.

  4. Ah, Alex, you know that sounds good but doesn't truly work. Will they remember you a thousand years from now because you are a super nice guy?

  5. Please don't feel insignificant. You are far from it! Um ... you've probably blogged about it, but why did you move to Budapest? Link me if it's easier than to explain again. Really curious to know!

  6. Jessica,
    I work as a diplomat, so every two to three years I get assigned to a new post. My last one was Baku, Azerbaijan, and now I'm assigned here to lovely Budapest. It's a relief!

  7. BTW, is no one even checking out that fantastic song? Maybe it only seems amazing to me?

  8. Ah okay! I'm reading a few blogs quietly on mini laptop in front of TV (NEWS) so can't listen! :-/

  9. I'm sure any Mac fans saw this one ages ago, but it somehow escaped me until recently.That second guitar solo is unbelievable, and when I try to do those vocals...well, let's just say it's ugly.

  10. Hello Ted:
    As a foreigner living in another country there will, perhaps, always be something, rather in the manner of the song, which evokes the past or, indeed, something which reminds one of one's culture and, in so doing, gives rise to reflection on life and, inevitably, on death too. As far as any 'memorial' is concerned, as we become older we are more conscious of the importance of the here and now and of one's relationship towards others.

  11. Despite his many talents, don't forget it's still a collaborative effort. If he doesn't have other great people working in cooperation with his own greatness, it can drag a person down.

    Golden-age comics always said the hardest part--and the funniest part--of comedy was being the straight man. Sure Jerry Lewis' buffoonery was funny, but it was funny because Dean Martin was there acting the foil.

    So don't let a person's talent get you down. They have a lot of help being great.

    As for the song, it's not bad. Not so my style, though. I prefer this.

  12. ooooookaaaaayyy.
    first off @ joseph selby- YIKES! O.O scary!

    ted!- HI!!
    beautiful song, though not my favorite ever.

    and that's what some of this thought comes down to.


    here's what i mean. you will probably never be remembered by nearly everyone in the world in a thousand years time. i mean, seriously, who will be? the president? probably not everyone... probably just history scholars.
    so let's get historical, basic version (the only version i know:P).

    as with many things, i have a slippery grasp of history. but when i think of writers that wrote long, long ago... i can come up with like religious writers, and... homer... and... well, not hardly anyone at all. most pillars that stand that long are built upon a belief group, a religion passed down through generations... so unless you want to start the church of ted, let's talk about being remembered for the next century, instead. a bit easier of a goal... and one i think you already have achieved.

    you have two magnificent works that you've already poured much of your life into.

    anton and alex will live on after you. and assuming either of them has children or adopts, grandpa will be remembered.

    and not for something as trivial as being imaginative or good with words...
    like michael said, it will be for being a good man. which is much better.

    you want immortality?
    that's not going to happen.
    everyone dies.
    even civilizations die.
    even books die.

    they're burnt, or lost, or shelved and forgotten. millenia pass and they turn to dust.

    ted, wise wise ted.
    don't ever aim for less than you can achieve. don't ever forget to dream big.
    but understand why you want what you want.

    is it really fame or legacy that drives you? what does any of that mean?
    if it's a chance to touch lives after your gone, well focus on that. that means something.
    if it's for people to know how great you are, well, just be great then. don't worry about being recognized for it. the greatest people are the ones who put themselves last, like mother theresa.
    if it's leaving a shadow behind, a mark on the world, spend even more time with your sons.
    if it's to share your stories. then be true to them. write the stories you love, ted. not the stories that will sell. forget about the agents and the audience, and just frickin' tell the story.

    ted, friend, i hate to hear how sad you've been, because i worry about the same things. i worry about being insignificant. shoot! my job is WAAAY less significant than yours.


    i don't really know what to say here ted...
    it's just, man. the focus seems to be all wrong here.
    i'll noodle on this post a while, and then rant at you more later.
    hey, man.
    just keep thinking of your family. :)

  13. I did love the song. Listening to it as I respond, but I doubt I'll hear the whole thing - my lunch is about up and my job won't let me blog on the agency computers. some people are so lucky . . :)

    You'll be remembered a long time after you're gone Ted, with all the good work you do. And maybe once you retire and live in one place for longer than two years you'll feel more permament.

    I know what you mean about all the talent out there. These writer blogs really show off some excellent writing/stories. All I can do is write my stuff and hope it measures up some day.

    Have a good week Ted.n Keep your writing chin up . .


  14. We are a lot alike, Ted. I often feel the exact same way. It's depressing, yes, but it also motivates me to keep going, to keep pushing myself far beyond the limits of most normal folks.

    I hope you're the same way. Keep on keeping on. Nothing worth having comes easily, etc.

    And yes, that's a great rendition of the song. But as a former drummer wannabe, I was even more impressed with Mick Fleetword's work. Not bad for an old guy. :)

  15. Joseph, we certainly do have very different tastes in music!

    Vic, I know what you mean, but I always feel it is artistic work that is truly worth remembering. We all remember Shakespeare and Michelangelo and daVinci, Arthur Conan Doyle, Dickens, and Walter Scott, Bethoven and Mozart, the Beatles and Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. I want to do something like that!

    Terry, I agree that Mick was great there, too, though I'm a guitar guy myself.

    I won't ever give up; I just need to recharge sometimes.

  16. Our immortality is with the difference we make in others' lives.

  17. In some ways it may be more difficult now to publish a classic, but in other ways, it is much easier. Was there less competition then? Yes. But 200 years ago my genre didn't really exist :) And that lack of competition was due to there being few outlets for writing, as well as few educated readers of means. Many great artists had no idea while they lived that their work would become classic - there was such a small audience to appreciate them.

    Another thought, you list "We all remember Shakespeare and Michelangelo and daVinci, Arthur Conan Doyle, Dickens, and Walter Scott, Bethoven and Mozart, the Beatles and Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd." These are all men, and of a narrow representation in ethnicity. For many women and minorities, right now is the best time there has ever been for writing and publishing.

    This is all my way of saying that it may seem other times and other people had it easier, but I'm not so sure. Luck still plays such a huge factor. Even with monumental talent, you still need to catch a break, or many breaks, to make it big. And many without monumental talent will get those breaks, fair or not.

    I can't help but end with that famous quote from Woody Allen, "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work... I want to achieve it through not dying." Which is sort of how I feel about that.

  18. J.A., that is precisely what my current WIP is about - the struggle for immortality. I believe we are among the last generations to have to vanish from the earth through death. I truly believe it won't be that long before technology enables us to copy all data that resides within our minds and thus ensure a form of immortality, even if it may not be what people typically think of, i.e. living forever within your original body.

  19. Luckily, 40-year-olds are considered young in the writing world. You got yourself some decades, good man.

  20. Two hundred years ago we may not have been able to get our book published unlesswe had a sponsor. Even pre-war authors had a tough time as the book market was relatively small compared to today.

    I don't think it's any thougher than before, we just like to think so.

  21. Hey Ted. Fancy meeting you here :) saw a ghost comment on my story from you, what happened? no need to be shy ;) I hardly use blogspot, can't figure it out, so it's there mainly for me to dump my old work

  22. Ah, there we go, here I am :)

  23. Oh, Ted... You have such an impressive interesting life. Don't squandor it worrying about your legacy. Raise your kids well (which you are) write your books (which you are)... and just concentrate on enjoying the now.

    I happen to think society is up for a huge overhaul and either a dark dystopian future, or some really strange variation. I think SO MUCH of what we care about now will be irrelevant. In your diplomatic role-you actually have your hands in stuff that might REALLY make history books. The rest of this will all be footnotes.