Power grid went down in District 3 today just when I was connecting to the internet for a phone call. I gathered my things, packed up, and headed over to a cafe in D1 to make the call. My business partner there luckily had cleared two hours for the call, so we still covered everything.
I sat in this cafe for a while, but it was a little bit loud, so I decided to move to another cafe nearby. The place I moved was an American chain that serves weak coffee at high prices. Really, it's a bad choice of a cafe to go to for coffee's sake, but tends to be an excellent cafe for work environment. Normally there is quiet, ambient music playing, it's well lit, and there's plenty of space and power outlets.
So after I'd bought my expensive, weak coffee, and expensive, mediocre food, I headed upstairs to see some guys setting up audio equipment. Hmm.
One guy is testing some sort of mixing board or something, in short toot toot toots and feedback. This is a little bit annoying. I put some light music on so I can read, write, and do some work. The testing eventually stops and two guys come up with guitars.
They're playing and it's... not very good. They're all over the place, pretty uncohesive with their music. No transitions between songs or even genres. They played some Led Zeppelin, and then some country music, and then some Eric Clapton, and like, a lot of this is music I like, but you gotta transition through music for it to be decent.
Also, there's some feedback from the microphones, with some screeching. Fed up with it, I turn up the volume on my headphones and look for the music I've got on my computer that'd drown out almost anything and has enough feedback and distortion so as to blend anything out. What should I put on, hmm, okay here's Things Falling Apart by Nine Inch Nails. I haven't listened to this in years, but it should do the trick.
And it worked, for a while. But then a female singer came and joined the guys, and she was awful. Now, look, I'm sympathetic for artists who are learning their craft and making bad art. I know, cuz I've made bad art in my life. It happens. We all gotta start somewhere.
But she was bad, and loud. They started playing and singing "What's Up" by 4 Non Blonds.
Sound unfamiliar? Oh, you've heard it. It's shitty 90's earthy slightly ironic music, which is, y'know, a pretty bad era of music anyways, and this is a pretty bad rendition of a pretty bad song. So the lead singer is singing (screeching), "Heey heeeey heeeaaaay HEEEEY what's going on!!!"
It's drowning out loud electronic-remixed heavily distorted Nine Inch Nails. I mean, her singing (screeching) is that violent.
And I'm kind of getting pissed. This would be a stupid thing to get pissed about, except that I paid twice the money for worse quality coffee at this place, strictly because it's normally a good working environment. After a particularly loud screech, I quickly gather my things and head downstairs. I see two other groups of people leave as well.
On a tangential note, I think betrayal is an emotion. Well, there's two aspects of it. There's betray the verb, the action. But then there's also the feeling a person gets when they feel betrayed. It's a fairly unique feeling. Me, I think it's an emotion. It's a mix of anger at self and other person, and self-contempt and contempt-for-other, and feeling stupid. Betrayal is when a person feels that someone they trusted hurts them as a result of that trust. (This isn't even always rational - some people feel others have a duty to them when no such duty exists - but if that imagined "duty" is broken, they feel betrayed)
Anyways, silly as this, I'm feeling a mild form of betrayal. I left a perfectly fine cafe to come spend more money for a quiet atmosphere, and I wind up with this?! Now, the problem with feeling this way is if you're at all disciplined or perspectived, you start getting annoyed at yourself for feeling annoyed. Like, I should be better than this, and yet, here I am, aggravated at this whole situation... so I leave the upstairs in a bit of a huff. Not very poised of me.
Finally, the situation is resolved, I'm set up away from there, and I find a place to get my work together and do my thing. And I start reflecting. I don't get get ticked like this very often, and so I decide to reflect on it for a moment. And then I have a realization... I feel juiced, energized, ready to really do some stuff... any trace of low energy or tiredness is gone, I feel ready to go.
And I start reflecting more. I think about political leaders, and how they whip people into frenzies at "the enemy" followed by a strong call to action... fascinating...
...I think more. Religious people too. Heck, companies do it sometimes, setting up "us vs. them" dynamics... athletics too...
....is this a universal phenomenon? Does anger clear away tiredness, and get people energized and ready to break through barriers? I remember, maybe five years ago, when checking out what a disliked competitor was doing always fired me up to work really well... if it was 3AM and I was dragging on something that needed to be done by morning, I'd always go check out #1 in the market's communications about how well they were doing, and I'd be juiced and ready to work.
Something to chew on. I typically try to avoid anger - I like calm expectancy, discipline, focus, dedication, calm strength, consistency - I try to make these the basis of my emotions. But man, I feel awake and alive and ready to climb Mount Everest right now. And this is just over something silly and trivial, some bad screechy music in an expensive place I expected to be quiet and pleasant.
That observation is worth the $8 and unpleasant 20 minutes, maybe a hundred times over. Does anger universally spur people to action and energy? I think so. Still probably a bad thing. But what a fascinating insight, eh?
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to climb Mount Everest. Comments welcome.
Since emotion is, biologically speaking, just your interpretation of the combination of physical symptoms (elevated heart rate, adrenaline, etc.), it could, potentially, be useful for you to find some sort of imitation that would, theoretically, give you the same effect without the need for true anger, nor the risk of not having an outlet. Psychologists have really found this useful in treating people with anxiety disorders or anger management problems. Have the person identify their physical sensations, usually to get them to be able to change their behavior from it, but I've found a similar effect on my productivity. In fact, I had a jiu jitsu class and then a short run earlier, and I got more quality work done in the two hours following that than I had been able to manage all day...
Hope this helps!
What about the times when there is no positive, or useful, outlet for your anger? Here you had an opportunity to put that energy to use, what would have happened if you were unable to do so?
I find that for myself, anger can be a motivator, but also can be paralyzing when there is no way to use it, other than to become more and more angry over the lack of solution or outlet!
Well, this is embarrassing. Day Two of my "Most Productive 90 Days Ever" was off the rails. I'll share why it happened to the best of my understanding, along with some best practices on what to do during bad days (some of which I abided, some I broke).
Here was my "the night before" plan for yesterday --
Wake around noon Morning routine, modafinil, etc. Write observations from yesterday on blog
1PM: Prepare questions I'm trying to learn and things I want to understand about the nonprofit space. Go through my email, reply call or write to everyone who responded, call people who were out of Beijing when introduced. Ask questions and/or invite to lunch next week.
I had a little epiphany a couple of days ago while getting ready for my Cafe Coco show on Friday night. The question "Why do I do this?" popped up in my head. By "this", I mean why am I in the music business--dealing with all the work promoting shows, scheduling practices, booking, website upkeep, practice time, lugging all of my heavy equipment everywhere, and all the little things in between. It's a mountain of work particularly for a solo artist such as myself. Well, the answer, as it turns out, is the simple fact that I love performing music. Especially now, after years of overcoming stage fright and figuring out who I am as an artist, I've reached this place where I LOVE LOVE LOVE performing on stage. Something comes over me, and I'm not the same person that I am off the stage and the rest of the time. It almost feels magical. I walk on stage. I sit at my keyboard and this feeling of strength washes over me. Inevitably, I still get a little nervous, but to me, this is perfectly natural now. Maybe this is what it means to be fully alive. All of your senses are elevated to a sensitivity rarely achieved. Your heart is on your sleeve, and you're giving 200% of your emotions and yourself. I've often felt that my music is more emotionally driven than anything else. Whether a song is compelled by a feeling of longing, anger, sadness, loneliness, and even happiness (heaven forbid), I try my best to convey the emotion first before anything. I guess this is why I get so exhausted after a show. Not only am I playing like crazy, I'm putting all of my emotion into it as well. So, yes, I love this. I love all of this. My objective is not to be rich and famous (though I wouldn't resist it if it ever came along). I want to create music that I am proud of and to perform it passionately. I was glad to have this epiphany for my show on Friday night. It made the experience more joyous and meaningful. Appropriately enough, I started off the set with a song of mine called "This Is Love". It was fitting and proper for the occasion. This is love indeed. -g0rdon