Three years ago today, my mother died suddenly.
There was no warning, and I didn’t get to say goodbye. We didn’t get to say goodbye. My sister and I are still picking up the pieces.
Here she is, teaching me videogames and the art of biting one’s tongue in concentration.
I wanted Tears Are In Your Eyes, by Yo La Tengo, played at her funeral. She loved this band. I wrote a lengthy ode to my mom, but couldn’t read it myself, crying too hard. Turned out, the pastor was too choked up to read it clearly either. And then this song came on, washing over us like a tidal wave.
This is one of the most deeply felt songs in my life. There’s a titanic gravity attached to this song now, but it was always one to gut me with this one specific line. A line that my mom said thousands of times to her kids, in varying words, throughout our lives. I’m going to share it below.
Although you don’t believe me you are strong,
Darkness always turns into the dawn.
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
– Ira Glass
I still feel like I’m hustling, and like I have no great talent. I’m not a great singer. But as long as I can keep the hustle going, and nobody taps me on the shoulder and says, “You’re busted,” then I can keep doing it.
– Jason Pierce
This, in all things. Thank you for the inspiration, Spaceman.