End of Year Links

As a follow-up to my piece about warding off nihilism with gratitude, I’ve found this image, by Scott Sonnon. If you can’t see it well enough here, try this link for a bigger version.

Which in turn goes well with my piece about getting past irony, and in turn with this difficult piece called “6 Harsh Truths That Will Make You a Better Person” by David Wong. The writing is not great, but get past the first half’s neo-con aggressivity and get to his over-arching point: do shit, don’t talk about it or spend your time criticizing what others are doing, and remember that you are valued for what you do, not what you think about doing, and not, in some abstract way, about who you “are”. His Top 3 are especially worth reading: (3) you hate yourself because you don’t do anything, and (2) what you are inside only matters because of what it makes you do, and of course (1) everything inside you will fight improvement.

#2 especially. Being a good person doesn’t count for shit unless you engage it and can actually do things that people need done. There’s a lot of bad stuff out in the world, from the mundane and catty to the outright cynical and oppressive.

I have a lot more to write about; the past few years have been an almost crippling struggle for me, but I feel – finally! – like I’m coming out the other side, in some ways more deeply cynical but also absolutely re-committed to the work I want to do. Or, what Iggy Pop said yesterday here on my blog: I have less patience, and yet everything good and beautiful has 80 million times as much meaning.

Tomorrow I’m going to write a little bit about the company you keep. And maybe about the five cynical things I’ve learned the hard way which are invaluable lessons.

It is going to be a beautiful thing to let 2012 fade into history, and I didn’t lose my house or my stuff to Sandy, and I didn’t know those beautiful teachers and children who were massacred. But I do know that the world is getting harder – gun sales went up 300% after the Newtown massacre, not down – and that we are all probably going to need to be made of sterner stuff.