No is for wimps

No is for wimps. No is for pussies. No is to live small and embittered, cherishing the opportunities you missed because they might have sent the wrong message.

There is a point in one's life when one cares about selling out and not selling out. One worries whether or not wearing a certain shirt means that they are behind the curve or ahead of it, or that having certain music in one's collection means that they are impressive, or unimpressive.

Email interview with Dave Eggers

I have no memory of how I found this interview, really just an email to the author Dave Eggers and his replies from 2000, but it stuck in my mind and has probably ended up being one of the most personally important things I've ever read online. It's religious to me in the way that Frank Llyod Wright's buildings are religious to me; they inspire me and awe me and make me want to be better to live up to their standard.

I was recently in San Francisco and finally made it to 826 Valencia, a free tutoring center fronted by a pirate supply store, and I knew it wouldn't happen but I was really hoping Mr. Eggers might be there so I can thank him for this interview. I've read his work and bought every issue of The Believer for a few years, but this is what I would thank him for. The message of saying Yes to things, to not give a shit what people think or how this or that might affect your rep really resonated with me.

What matters is that you do good work. What matters is that you produce things that are true and will stand. What matters is that the Flaming Lips's new album is ravishing and I've listened to it a thousand times already, sometimes for days on end, and it enriches me and makes me want to save people. What matters is that it will stand forever, long after any narrow-hearted curmudgeons have forgotten their appearance on goddamn 90210. What matters is not the perception, nor the fashion, not who's up and who's down, but what someone has done and if they meant it.

It's long and some of the specific references are a little dated but the overall message, the way Eggers smacks down this pseudo-intellectual hipster prick whose asking him "what steps are you taking to keep shit real" with an honest and open soliloquy on saying yes to new things and no to fashion and what others will think, is something I re-read regularly and would memorize if I could. I really encourage you to read it as well, there's something for everyone to take from it.

I try to live up to this, even though it's hard for me. I'm incredibly shy and have a problem with new things sometimes but I try to remember "No is for pussies" and press on. When I feel like I've let myself down by giving in to my introverted nature I read the end of this interview and am renewed.