Experimentalist Podcast Writing Submissions: Entry 007 / by Brandon Mitchell

"Do you think people like meditating because it gives them a reason to feel good that they have nothing going on in their mind?"

That’s how I always wanted to start the show. I thought primarily I wanted to be clever, but really I just want to be real. Really real. So real you just can’t believe it. And you'll be so blown away by the realness that you can't stop thinking about it. You’ll think about it so hard that eventually you’ll think, ‘Believe what?’.

I FINISHED UP working this week. Working for the man. The corporate man. The super rich man that doesn’t know what it’s like. And let’s get specific. Why not? Fred Smith. That super rich man. I’m no longer working for him specifically. Past Friday. I’ve worked for him since 2005. Since around the time I moved to Richmond, Virginia. I’ve worked for his company since 2001. He is the man and I have worked for him. I’m leaving for reasons that are not contempt for ‘the man’ or rebellion against the corporate world. I’m leaving to see what else is possible.
    I said earlier in a fairly general way that he doesn’t know what it’s like. Let’s get specific there too. What do I mean by that? Sometimes when speaking, especially when you don’t have anyone to challenge or throw a question back at you, you can say something that requires more explanation; that demands context. Some ‘matter of fact’ statement that should immediately be followed by some other voice saying, “Wait hold up. What do you mean by that?” It’s actually surprising we aren’t encountered with that question more often. I think if people were really listening they would have that question all the time. But, it’s also hard to question people. We all can get defensive easily and turn it around. Instead of knuckling down, taking time to develop and own an opinion and assuredly state what we really believe, we tend to find ways to quickly cover for ourselves. We can say a generic statement capped off with ‘you know?’. “I’ve been working for the super rich man who just doesn’t know what it’s like, you know?” So many times ‘you know?’ is used not to find out if the other person is on board with the previous statement, it’s like asking quick permission to keep going without having to back that shit up. I really need to get out there and start having conversations with people. Put myself - and others - to the test. I don’t want it to be confrontational though.
   I have to finish this for now. I said something earlier. I said that my past employer, a man who I never met, doesn’t know what it’s like. What was I talking about? What did I mean by that? Well, it may have sounded vindictive and that’s why I moved on. I respect a man who once had an idea and turned that into a multi-billion dollar corporation. The dollar thing doesn’t impress me as much as the action of taking an idea, a concept that springs through one’s mind which is both like a maze and a minefield. To extract that idea and turn it into something real in the world that we live in. To have the idea function so much so that others can see it in motion. And it provides things in return. What is it that good old Fred Smith doesn’t know what it’s like? Well...quite simply...he doesn’t exactly know what it’s like to be me. Indirectly, he has taught me a good number of lessons. He has hired people that I have met and they’ve influenced me. Some in a way that kept me moving forward working for his company doing my best, most focused and accomplished work in my life. On the other hand, he has hired people who have shown me that it is possible to get pretty far in life without truly knowing what you’re doing. Without having deep rooted beliefs in themselves. Without being able to fully and directly communicate their own ideas or without even taking the time to create and implement an original idea. They just piggy back off of ‘the man’, collect a decent wage and slowly climb up the ladder. A ladder that, in my ultimate   opinion, does not lead anywhere but a foggy haze somewhere above our heads. A place with a lot of room to hide and a steady paycheck to make it all feel okay.
    ‘The Man’ does not know what that is like because he doesn’t live in there. He didn’t necessarily have to rise through that because he started on the initial idea before that byproduct was created. When a man envisions a grand idea, he cannot see all that it will create. If he could, it might stop him from moving forward because unintended consequences could arise. The industrial revolution added to the world’s pollution. I’m sure Henry Ford who revolutionized the auto industry or Henry Bessemer, the man who invented the process to mass-produce steel, didn’t set out to put more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. They just had great ideas that changed the lives of every human being on the planet. The CEO’s of their respective companies now have to knowingly deal with those unintended consequences and that can mean big paychecks because that responsibility can be quite difficult to manage.
    I don’t know why I first uttered that statement that ‘that particular rich man’ doesn’t know what it’s like and it may not mean much. And there still may not have been a reason for saying that. What does it matter? He does not know what it’s like to follow in a dusty, barely recognizable set of his own footsteps that have been traveled over by many other people. Some sticking closely to it and others veering off this way and that. Following that somewhat certain trail into a dense fog where originality can barely be seen or rewarded and steady paychecks can keep you there for eternity. He doesn’t know that. He also doesn’t know what it’s like to be up in there, looking around that blurry mist and confusing it for your own eyesight. Doubting yourself and your ability to see straight, but then making the decision to climb down completely. Off the ladder and standing on the ground where there is now endless other paths that people have had the guts to create. And seeing that somewhat clearly. Knowing just how overwhelming it is to attempt even just the first step in any direction. Ahhh!
    I’m entering a world where I am going to stumble so often. I can’t even take that. Of course I can, but it’s so much the truth. I freakin’ fake the funk all the time. But, after you fall and skin your wittle knees in front of people, you can’t fake yourself around that. You gotta stand up and say, “Yeah, that was me. I fell in that ditch right there. I did that knowing that you all saw me and. . .‘yeah, I’m embarrassed. I want to punch myself in the face, but I’m going to wait ‘til I get home to do that. I don’t care if you know that. But, no, in case you are walking away wondering. Thinking about looking back to see if I am doing it. No, I am not going to beat myself up over that right there. In fact, I’m accepting it. And if you are looking back, you will see that I am already walking the other direction, with my hands in my pockets, at a speed that is not ‘fleeing the scene’. I’m so confident in my stride that you may ponder for a second whether I even fell at all. Maybe it was some bizarre concoction inside your mind. But, just so you know though: I really did fall. You saw everything. And you have a right to laugh.