From: IMC@vax2.utulsa.EDU (Marc Carlson)
Subject: The Wall
Date: 25 Mar 1996 17:48:01 -0500
I was recently reading an old copy of _Sky and Telescope_ when I ran across a copy of an editorial titled "Walls of Amateur Astronomy" (March 1995, Gary Likert) that itself referred to a BBS letter from a gentleman named Poole, and after reading it I felt that what it had to say was as important for many of us here and in related groups, as it was for amateur astronomers.
The "Walls" it referred to were those the walls that comprised the vast prison of amateur Burnout. This is, should there be any of us here who have never experienced it, the condition that occurs when the flesh is willing, but the spirit is overwhelmed by questions like "why bother?", "who cares?", and so forth. For some of us, this prison locks us away from the hobby, the group, the friends we had once enjoyed so much.
These walls include, but are not restricted to the Wall of Equipment ("I need to improve my equipment/kit, but it's going to be a lot of bother"); the Wall of Money ("Oh God, it's going to be a lot of money"); "The Wall of Age and Health" (I'm too old to do that, or too infirm to get involved"); and in the SCA I have seen
the Wall of Politics ("THEY are just SO political, always fighting and backstabbing"); the Wall of Uncaring ("Nobody seems to care or notice what I've done"); which is related to the Wall of the Uncaring Other ("But *THEY* don't care"); the Wall of Authenticity ("no matter what I do, I will never be absolutely accurate"), which the editorial actually refers to as the Wall of Aperture; the Dead End Wall ("Ok, I'm a X (Peer/Laurel/AoA/whatever now.") and finally the Wall of Disregard ("No matter what I do, *someone* will have something negative to say, usually while trying to build up their own ego") leading to the Wall of Angry Response. ALL of these statements are eventually followed by "so why bother?". I know there are more walls out there, but I'm not sure how people have or can overcome them.
Most new people who enter the Society are *full* of enthusiasm, but gradually they are worn down by being "not noticed" by others, or by others actively putting them down and their efforts. *THIS* is the origin of the Walls of Defensiveness guarded by the legions of anti-Authenticity police, threatening to stomp on any who look like they might be approaching with something new and different, or with something that looks like what they've been beaten with before.
Others begin to notice that while *THEY*'ve been doing the dishes trudging along unnoticed, many others, some newer than they are, are sitting on their fat rears, getting awards, and stuff. Related to them are those people who bust there humps to create absolutely authentic clothing, food, etc. and have it passed over in contests by judges who think that the Chocolate cake, the flashy looking late period gown, or whatever is more desirable.
Others eventually get sucked into the self-aggrandizing games
played by the pathetic few parasites who infest any social
organization (We Know who they are -- we don't really need examples
here do we?).
Have I described you yet? Anyone you know?
Every one of these "Walls" we hit is either overcome, often teaching us bitter lessons that we turn around and teach to newer people (such as acting "in persona" makes you look stupid because you do it badly, thereby embarrassing us in public), or we leave to play elsewhere because of the (to quote a recent thread) "My way or the Highway" attitude that others have learned through bitter experience.
So, an I suggesting that those of us who are "guilty" of doing these things (and I suspect that we've ALL done some of these things one time or another -- I know I have) need to change our behavior? Nope, or at least not if you don't want to. We burn out because *we do it to ourselves*. Certainly it would be nice if the other motivations weren't there, but it's stupid to try and blame our own self-sabotaging doubts on other people. It would be nice if there were no Rhino-hiders out there, but as long as important, influential people are doing it, that's what the new people are going to learn is "The" correct way to do things. It's a fact of life,
it's not likely to change in the near future. That's why I want to know how those people who have overcome these and other Walls, have done so.
In my case, I suffered early on from the Political BS around me and a strong case of the "lack of recognition blues" that were only overcome by *YEARS* as a peripheral player (only staying in at all because of my wife). I have overcome those by finding something to work towards that I can reward myself for doing, that is continually improving my level of authenticity. While I enjoy the occasional pats on the back, those really aren't my basic motivators.
Last year, I once again hit the wall of Political BS, although it had more to do with the often-openly adversarial nature of this newsgroup, with some serious mundane "lack of recognition blues". I haven't overcome the mundane ones yes, but am still slugging away at them, but I have determined for the moment that if this is "The Game" is played here, then perhaps that can be changed by example.
That way, I only have to worry about how *I* feel about what I am doing.
(Oh, and just as a note to those of you who are about to flame me for any of this, I have two suggestions. The first is to wait a day and then re-read it, just to see if you *really* wanted to hit me with your criticisms, and the second is to re-read the last paragraph and see if I'm really going to care :) )
"Authenticity is not a matter Diarmuit Ui Dhuinn
of money, but of time" University of Northkeep/Company of St. Jude
-- Unknown Recreator Northkeepshire, Ansteorra
(I. Marc Carlson/IMC@vax2.utulsa.edu)