‘Member that scene in Terminator when a kid smushes ice cream on Sarah Connor’s apron, her homegirl, Nancy asks her, “Look at it this way. In a hundred years, who’s gonna care?” Nancy also becomes Sarah Connor’s unintentional harbinger (“You’re dead, honey”). Ironically, by the end of the film, a pregnant Sarah Connor (can’t say just Sarah) ends up going on the run and effectively is in fact dead to society.
But that question has always lingered with me: “In a hundred years, who’s gonna care?” Perhaps the biggest motivator for following the path of an artist, no matter what, was once being struck by the realization in my late teens at that point, that I’d met way too many middle-aged people and senior citizens who said something to the effect of, “Oh, I used to make art,” and in their advanced years were trying to remember how their inner child, so long neglected, used to hold a brush before it was too late.
Not me, I decided.
And despite the fact that many of my friends watched in puzzlement as I skipped from the Humanities building to the theater to some live show to some protest to some coffee-shop open mic to whatever else I was on that week, many of them discouraging me for being so “flighty,” there was something in me that couldn’t stop sampling a little of this and that from the wide buffet of all that the arts world had to offer. Later, as my writing began to help consolidate everything I was learning into at least a manageable field and career option, I unintentionally began to compartmentalize my life. I had theater friends who didn’t know I was a writer, I had writer friends who didn’t know I sometimes hung drawings and paintings in small galleries around town, I had artist friends who never knew about my background in any of that. The older I got, however, it was harder to continue to keep those things separate, so I stopped when I realized I could combine all of them in books and make short films and live interdisciplinary performances with friends. But then academia showed up and sometimes still has a hard time accepting the fact that I am also an artist. And that I don’t think like other academics about my field. And I have plenty of artist friends who don’t understand why I’m always babbling on about different theories and discrepancies as though I’m intentionally rubbing my degree in their face.
But the thing is, none of those labels really matter to me. I don’t care what you call me. I know what I am—a little bit shaman, a little bit scholar, a little bit artist, a little bit teacher, a little bit cat mom and crystal collector a little bit meme enthusiast. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been calling myself a Liminal. It’s the only word I know that is a wide enough umbrella to encapsulate how I think and what I produce. The content chooses the form. My job is to learn the form only insofar as it is useful to distribute the content. So, really, it’s more about getting to know the content—the crux of what it is I was put here to say and do—and not care so much about what to call the vehicle it picks to get here.
I think I’m here mostly to meet and learn from other Liminals. I think in another hundred years people are going to care and perhaps look back on the early 21st century for these first kernels of societal rebirth and call it a kind of renaissance, which means if we want to be ahead of the curve, more of us are going to have to become comfortable in more than one area, masters perhaps even in at least a few. If we think about someone like Leonardo da Vinci, who Robert Greene discusses in his 2013 book, Mastery, he talks about how Leonardo had the kind of genius that was able to fixate on multiple areas because it wasn’t so much that he was a natural artist. It was more about how he trusted his instincts from the early age of eight when he stole some paper from his father’s office and went to go draw flowers in the woods. But he didn’t stop at that impulse. He worked and worked and worked until he perfected until he could do no more and then moved onto the next. He just happened to a) move really fast and b) put in hours that no one else did. But Leonardo also brought something of himself to every apprenticeship and every medium and every court he worked in, becoming in a lot of ways, a free agent. You had to hire him for a year if you wanted him to show up and do more than just paint your mistresses’ portrait. He did all kinds of stuff. And all kinds of stuff taught him something new about expansion, which again, is the name of the game the cosmos is playing. Leonardo was also obsessive and tinkered with something until it revealed its secrets to him, working hours into a problem that no one else wanted to work.
In a recent interview, Rushion McDonald discusses how to reinvent yourself at any age. He himself, had left a well-paying job at IBM after working his way up through the ranks as an intern by doing all of the jobs that no one else wanted to do. He made himself indispensable, working those hours no one else wanted to, and then felt he needed to walk away from it all to become a stand-up comedian. Not even a collapsed lung stopped him. And then he ended up managing Steve Harvey’s career right after Original Kings of Comedy. Seriously, check out that interview. His story is wild.
But the idea of mastery is certainly about determination and focus, but it’s also about trusting that instinct when it says walk, sprint, stay put for a minute, hone in. It’s about opening up to the possibility of not just what if and what could be, but how do we contribute our own interpretation of All Of It to All Of It? I guess you’d have to subscribe to the notion that we are each of us the cosmos expressing itself to itself in that sense. But that kind of breadth of vision begins to reveal patterns in the work and in a life that many other people can’t or won’t see. I’m not talking about trippin’ balls or anything, I mean perspective—being aware of where you are in the tapestry of your life and what has contributed to how you got there, what’s keeping you put, and all of the infinite directions in which you could go. And it ultimately doesn’t matter what route you take to get there, because just like The Fool in the major arcana, y’know, or the Dude, you’re right where you need to be no matter where you are.
And to be sure, at this stage, synchronicities like repeating numbers and other cledons are fun to take note of in this space, that’s just Muppet Babies compared to what happens when you apply that kind of openness to your craft. Leonardo knew what was up. He called it ostinato rigore—relentless rigor. That is, the subconscious compulsion to become part seer and part seeker—knowing that what you need will be there right when you need. This is not luck. It’s knowing the answer is quite literally within arms’ reach, even when there don’t seem to be any. Because there are no coincidences. There couldn’t possibly be, and yet, paradoxically, we’re all making this up together as we go along. The hippies have recently dubbed this sort of built-in search-engine we all have for the soul, the causal chakra.
And it freaks folks out when they all of a sudden start writing or singing or dancing or drawing or pulling cards or whatever they do when they wake up out of nowhere and feel like they have to do and they didn’t go to bed that way. It’s not unlike the calling of the sibyls of ancient days. And it’s scary, especially if you’re not anywhere near a touchy-feely field like Humanities or the fine arts. And I feel like not enough people ask themselves “In a hundred years, who’s gonna care?” in the right way. It can make you feel sticky-notes bonkers because now you’re thinking sooooooo fast and not many people around you can keep up anymore, and there’s definitely gonna be a stretch of time in there somewhere, where you’re recalibrating to this new way of thinking like, “Am I seeing the Matrix right now?”
So, I mean sure. Take a minute if this happens to you and your causal chakra pops online. You could certainly waste…I mean take that time to think long and hard about what to do with this information and why no one else is seeing what you see. Or you can push snooze. Whatever. Takes all kinds. But. I will say this. Denying the gift of relentless rigor because you don’t have all the words yet for it and your friends and loved ones won’t get it and you won’t be able to have the same boring-ass conversations you always have with the same boring-ass people whose minds are just as glazed-over as the same boring-ass screens they let watch them, would kinda be like Sarah Connor not trusting the man (aka Future Baby Daddy) in that shot-up nightclub holding a shotgun talm bout some, “Come with me if you want to live.”