On Sucking

Hey hey hey! How are you!? Good! How am I you say!?? Well, now that you ask, I’ve actually been feeling a bit confused this month. More so than usual. It kinda feels like the good old days when confusion was one of my closest friends. And you know how when you see an old friend that you haven’t seen in a while and it’s like no time has passed at all… Well, it’s kinda been like that.

The confusion seems to be the collision of two things: my stated intention to be traveling around the world performing for the next four years and my complete inability to control my life and will anything to happen. It seems I ate too many red pills and am now perpetually “in the flow,” whether I like it or not.

So sometimes when I’m just sitting around, I’m like, is this it? Am I still even traveling? What am I even doing with my life? And then I wake up and realize I’ve gone from Washington to Oregon to California to Arizona back to California back to Arizona back to California and back to Arizona this month and it seems Mexico is calling… And I think, oh, when you look at it like THAT, I guess I have been traveling pretty consistently this month. But isn’t it supposed to look different? I mean, is this IT!?

It’s a funny thing, that thing. How you find yourself living your dream and thinking it’s supposed to look different than it does…

And thus the realization that is at first quite depressing; it’s never gonna get any better than this. This life, this… is heaven. Right here. Ho-hum. And in fact, my glorious idea of “traveling the world performing” is pretty much no better than any other thing I could do. The only thing that makes it even the slightest bit better is that it’s what I want to be doing. So even when it sucks, at least it’s the particular brand of suck I said I want.

So speaking of things sucking, that’s actually the main thing that I’ve been been tossing and working through my brainstem this month. Sucking. As in, not being particularly good.

And so, this month, our topic is sucking.

I Still Suck

It’s a weird feeling. I quit my math path like 12 years ago now. Gave it all up to be a dancer. So romantic. I even finagled my way into befriending and best-friending many of the very best dancers in the whole wide world. And I kept thinking, one day I’ll be good like them! I’ll be cool! I’ll be a star! And they are all stars now. Winning all the big contests. All over the TV and the Broadway and the movies. And here I am. Still sucking.

And yah yah, I know. “No Otis, you don’t suck! You’re pretty good! You’re so cute when you dance!” Ummm… thanks.

I see it so clearly when I dance. My body is all wrong. My hips are too tight. My shoulders are not muscular enough to make the right motions. My core is not strong enough to give the right look. It’s like UGGGGHHHHHH. And when I perform, it’s usually not right. Not engaging. Too inward. I can see it so clearly. And then, here I still am. Still me, still not right, still unable to magically change into some other person who’s so much better than me.

One day, I was out street performing in Tempe, Arizona and I just said in the parlance of the youth, fuck it. And I just sucked. I had fun dancing and making music and juggling and didn’t try to be good. I was just me. And people kept coming up to me like, damn dude, you’re pretty good! Damn dude if I had a dollar, I’d totally give it to you. Etc etc.

And I knew there was something to that. Something as liberating as it was depressing, as profound as it was obvious.

I knew for a moment that the key to all of this, the key to my own fame and fortune, and much much much more importantly than either of those, the key to my own happiness and sanity and clarity, was just sucking.

Just being willing to suck. Giving up the idea that I’m EVER going to be good. At all. Giving up the idea that it’s EVER going to be better than this. And just doing what I do. Naturally. For the lulz.

My Emancipation Proclamation

And so, I, Otis Funkmeyer, born one score and twelve years ago, heretofore do proclaim that I give up my desire to be good, to be better than I am, to be like my idols, to be known throughout the land for my goodness. Specifically:

I accept that I may never be as good a dancer as Ryan Webb or Walid Bouhmani.

I accept that I may never be as good a juggler as Michael Falkov or Stefan Sing.

I accept that I may never be as good a beatboxer and live looper as Beardyman, Dub FX, or Reggie Watts.

I accept that I may never be as good a rapper as Illmaculate or Rone, Jay-Z or Mos Def or Jay Electronica.

I accept that I may never be as good an improviser as Ross Steeves.

I accept that I may never be as good a singer as Jason Mraz or Jack Johnson.

I accept that I may never be as good a street performer as Robert Shields or as good a performer as Charlie Chaplin.

I accept that I may never be as good a mime as Tony Montanaro.

I accept that I may never be as good a pianist as Bernie Worrell.

I let myself off the hook for sucking. I let myself just be as good or as bad as I am. I let myself just be.

I am just going out and doing this. Over and over and over. Because I love doing this. I hate trying to be good. I hate being tense. I hate trying to live up to my own standards. I hate not having fun. I hate that my standards get stricter the better I get. I hate that I want to be good so much that I don’t even let myself do anything. And so I release it. Right here, right now. And so it is.

So next time you see, just know, you might be embarrassed that I have let myself off the hook and now am letting it all hang out. Or you might like it. We’ll see. I’m just sick of trying to figure it out in advance.

My Declaration of Enjoyment

I know, historically speaking, I’m going in reverse order with these two documents, but it’s my letter and I’ll change the order of history if I want to.

I do declare that the most important thing for me, from here on out, is my own enjoyment of performing. More than being good and more than people liking what I’m doing. I’m just here to amuse myself. Out in the world, having fun. I am preemptively striking, shock and awing the haters. I already know that I suck before I start. So who cares. I’ve already laughed at myself and so I give up and just be what I be and just do what I do. And yes, I am doing things wrong and no, I am not living up to the standards. It turns out that I am the goofy guy that I’ve never wanted to be. The one that I’ve always pointed the finger at as I’ve snickered with my friends. Always trying to NOT be that guy. Well, get ready, cuz here he comes, pale and awkward, unsuave, unshaven and unashamed.

“Oh dear God, what is he doing?” You’re damn right what am I doing. I’m doing ME. And good luck stopping me…

Comments (25)

  1. This has gotta be the must transparent essays I’ve ever read. It’s written with such honesty that it’s like I stole your diary and read your private thoughts you share with no one.
    This essay hit me hard. Right in my heart, because I know exactly what you mean. I am a visual artist, and a good one check me out at http://www.subwaysurfer.blogspot.com I too ave my heres in my chosen field of cartooning ad caricature , I too studied long and hard, and even achieved a bit of respect among my peers. I ade a living of sorts with my art, and realllllly thought things were going to be different if I could only draw ad good as…so and so famous artist. The truth is, for all my striving, reaching, practicing, etc. I never dd reach that level of success that my heroes did. People admired what I did, but not to the point f bending over backwards to know what I was doing every minute f the day, give me book deals, have me do seminars, or invite me to stellar events.

    It hurt to come to TGE realization that this s all it was ever going to be for NE, and I wasted years and time and sweat, tears, and money pursuing something that was barely going to make a blip on the radar screen….

    Don’t know where to go from here, other than to let you know that you’re not the only creative feeling what you feel.

    Again, thanks for sari g.

  2. Hey Brit, your posts are always inspirational, and often seem synched up with whatever my own current lesson is. I’ve been trying for several months harder than possibly ever lifelong to fit in with the wage earning real world of mundane utility (looking for a job without much success, often so little the whole task it seems rigged against me as some giant spiritual lesson), but :: I keep on going. Love to you and Jenny always ::

  3. It’s always good to let go of the self-criticism and pressure we put on ourselves. We tend to be hardest on ourselves. It’s great that you are once again finding the joy and being willing to “fail” in that you have decided to stop worrying about failure. It’s brave and courageous. But isn’t the actual work of mastering a chosen art form or profession a good thing? Train, train, train while you are feeling the joy, joy, joy of performing. And if you reach the limits of what your own body can do, perhaps you should choreograph the bodies of people. It seems you would be very good at it. 

  4. Thank you Otis for being open enough to admit that you suck! I happen to agree with those people who say you’re good at what you do, but most of us creatives are pretty hard on ourselves, always expecting perfection. I really appreciate this post. It reminded me of being with you and enjoying your easy and honest energy. Keep on truckin’ man!

  5. Hi Otis!  I lust LOVE that you suck!  well done.  sucking is a great place to start…hey!  it’s where we all started right? sucking at the nipple of life…
    Just keep going and sharing and inspiring…I LOVE YOU!
    not so sure about the pic of the little boy up there tho…looks like he’s been taught to judge and hate…not a good representation of what you’re about…I’m just saying…:)

    • Yah I always felt that with Re. The first time I met him he just started free styling a conversation while strobing. I was so confused. I’d like to make people that confused. And stay sober while doing it!

  6. Brozallion, good post. Tangentially, I believe Mr. Re had the same focus as yours, dancing for self enjoyment/entertainment/amusement. Such a thing, intertwined with illusions made of music can create an amazing landscape of da funk. Keep intergalactically activating’on em. 

    Your pal,

  7. well, get ready to be as good as you always wanted to be. in my experience, letting the love and enjoyment rip without any attachment to outcome is the secret to doing that which you love in a uniquely amazing way. you seem like an awesome dude. good luck!!!

  8. Bravooooo!!! One can’t ever suck at being one’s own self!! Love the lists and links to all the best of the best. Know the world’s best and still proud to be one’s own self is the way to go. exciting thought eloquently explained!

  9. Well. Once again your words and your story and your experience is so relevant and kind of hits the nail right on the head.  Brilliant and brave and uncompromising and vulnerable and speaking to all those of us who get stuck thinking we have to be a better version of ourselves. There can be no progress and no joy in resisting our sucking that’s for sure!
    Thankyou! ;D x

  10. I love this, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying your newsletter as of late… Peace and love to you on the endless road of Self xxV

  11. thank you!!! You speak for many and I can say I travel this journey with you in spirit. Thank you for your example of courage. Truly, being courageous in our lives is not in fighting saber-toothed tigers but in exposing our vulnerabilities. This is how we grow, this is how we are initiated…..keep walking through the fire and inspiring us all, we’re right behind you!

  12. Exactly Mr Otis!  Let it go and do your thang!!!  Having fun is way more important than having all the skills!  Peace!

  13. You have to break through those boxes; I often find that a lot of people are uncomfortable of seemingly irrational or obscure practices because it engenders fears of their own acceptance.  Keep doing what you do and change the spectrum.  Miss you buddy.   

  14.  “As human beings we share a tendency to
    scramble for certainty whenever we realize that everything around us is
    in flux. In difficult times the stress of trying to find solid
    ground-something predictable and safe to stand on-seems to intensify.
    But in truth, the very nature of our existence is forever in flux.
    Everything keeps changing, whether we’re aware of it or not. What a
    predicament! We seem doomed to suffer simply because we have a
    deep-seated fear of how things really are. Our attempts to find lasting
    pleasure, lasting security, are at odds with the fact that we’re part of
    a dynamic system in which everything and everyone is in process.” (Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change)-Pema Chrodron.

  15. My brother, thank you. You continue to inspire with your honesty with which you live your life and express your self through a variety of means and methods, especially in writ. Congratulations on moving through the pedestal illusion. I’d say this now belief is a would constitute a “level up” life lesson. Gonna hafts to share this one.

    Love you, brother.

  16. Dude that’s totally rad. I can relate. Why am I stressing about being the “best this or that”. Why do I want to be the “best” in the first place? Oh yeah it’s supposed to make me happy if I’m the best. Well look at the fucking 27 club and thousands of other “top dogs” in their field of artistry. Were they happy? Sure they had huge amount of fans, all the money they could want, but they also had something else. Oh yeah, crazy drug addictions, overwhelming inner daemons, and whatever else.

    So what’s the point? Didn’t we all start our art form because it made us happy to sing, dance, play guitar, or jump up and down on a pogo stick? That’s what it’s really about. Just do your thing and enjoy it. Yeah sometimes it’s not easy. We live (especially in the USA) in a world where we’re constantly being given messages that say we aren’t good enough.

    Well I think that’s bullshit. Everyone has the complete power to be happy, amazing, and successful just by being themselves and finding peace in that.

    Anyways, thanks for sharing Otis.

    -Jonah (Portland, OR)

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