I started writing a response to a commenter and friend from Chicago. The comment was left in regard to my last email about shutting down Think List. As my response grew in length, it occurred to me that I was also writing it to all of you. Here’s the comment:
Sad to hear it. I enjoyed reading your essays; was slow to read each issue but when I did, I gained a new idea or perspective. Isn't that what it's all about? I wish you well Brian. -Amy
Thanks for the comment, Amy. I appreciate the thought. And you're right: gaining a new idea or perspective is a big part of what this whole endeavor is all about. It's very possible that my negativity bias has led me astray. Perhaps I've misread the situation. I honestly don't know.
I'm going to share something with you here because you've commented on my musical references in the past. A few came to mind yesterday that relate to my thoughts on all of this right now, and that made me think of you.
As you know, I have a weird black hole in my heart that Bon Jovi somehow entered in the 1980s, and that reanimates from time to time and pulls me back into it, despite what I know (which is that listening to Bon Jovi always ends with the equivalent of a stomachache and the thought that I should stop eating junk food).
Some years ago I watched the 2009 documentary When We Were Beautiful. There's a scene in there where Jon Bon Jovi talks about how mad it is to be experiencing the energy and rush of playing in front of ginormous seas of people, and then, only moments later (thanks to a private car waiting behind the stage), be sitting in your hotel room alone, in the middle of the night, with ears ringing and no one to talk to.
I am absolutely not comparing myself or my life to JBJ and his. We and they are nothing alike. However, I do relate to what he said in my own way. The thrill and joy I feel while writing is intense. It is an energy and a rush. My sea of screaming fans, I suppose, consists of the neurotransmitters and chemicals in my brain. Then I click send and there's no private car or hotel, but there is me and my aloneness and something akin to ringing ears. It's a bipolar event that happens almost every time I write something and share it. And that’s been true for a decade now. So you can perhaps imagine how the negative signals I receive in those moments might stand a pretty good chance at hitching a ride with my negativity bias and leading me astray.
Back to JBJ in his hotel room for a moment: Let's say three fans from that night’s show walk inside. Two of them say something fairly innocuous: “I don't want to listen to your music anymore.” One says: “I also do not want to listen to your music anymore. Please unsubscribe me from your list and never talk to me again.”
I of course can’t know, but I imagine even JBJ, someone with millions of adoring fans across the globe and multiple generations, would home in on those three things above all else, for at least the night. He might even sleep poorly as a result and make a mistake on stage the next night. This is clearly conjecture on my part. But you see where I'm going.
I feel right now exactly as one might if they'd just broken up with or asked for a divorce from their longtime partner. In other words—which you'll probably find in some form on every Bon Jovi album that exists—I have what we so commonly and unscientifically call “a broken heart.”
And like many people who experience that totally science-denying condition, I'm also feeling like I may have made the wrong decision.
There's another scene in that Bon Jovi documentary where JBJ says he doesn't want to play small and intimate venues. He wants to play the desert. And he wants to sell it out. And he wants to do it more than once. He's not being hyperbolic either. They're interviewing him before one of his sold-out shows at THE DESERT!
In this, though, we differ. I'm perfectly fine "playing" small and intimate venues. I don't think I was built to play the desert (unless it's to an audience of zero, or you know, 25; then maybe I could do a 30-minute set).
Amy, thank you sincerely for your words, and I hope I haven’t upset you by sharing them here. I'm going to keep thinking about what you said, and what I said, and what I think, and what in the mess of all that matters. In the meantime, I would like to invite you and all remaining subscribers to please complete this form so I can look at and consider actual data on your thoughts about Think List as well, rather than just the idiotic nuisances swimming around my brain.
Finally, I beg you, please do not stay subscribed out of pity. With all due respect, if that’s why you’re still subscribed now, it’s time to walk into JBJ’s hotel room and tell him no more. He’ll understand and get over it quickly. I believe this to be true.