4.24.2012

"Do Good."

Sunday night, I posted a story about my interaction with a kid that works out at my gym. He feels like a "weirdo" and has no friends at school. I told him the truth about being weird: it rules. Being weird has given me three distinct careers (web development, author and now world-reknown anime expert). Being weird means you're being yourself amongst a crowd of followers. It's a fantastic thing.

The story exploded across the internet. As I write this, it's been featured on Reddit, Huffington Post, Hacker News and all over Twitter and Facebook. 

I was a bit shocked, but not surprised. It is a story I think that resonates with every single one of us who felt alone and were ostracized in school (or in college, or at the job we work at now). It's a hard thing; this human condition crap. If you don't fit the mold, you're cast out from the herd. And we as animals crave interaction. Sure, we learn to live with a deprivation of it, but at our core, we all long to be understood. 

But honestly, I had no idea it was going to blow up like this. And I'm so very honored that people enjoyed it and wanted to share it. And I have to admit, it's a validation of an idea I started incorporating into this blog (very quietly) in January:

"Do Good."

About a year ago, I joined up with Studio Revolver in Atlanta. I became very close friends with Casey Edwards. Casey is one hell of an interesting guy. His illustration work is AMAZING, he's super bright, and he has the keenest grasp on the human condition of anyone I've ever met. 

Casey doesn't really say "goodbye" when he is departing a place or ending a phone call. Instead, he says "Do Good."

For a while, I thought that it was a very nice sentiment. But then at some point, it started sticking with me past the point I left the conversation. It really started to sink in. I'd find myself thinking about the words themselves when I was interacting with others. I always felt like I was doing good when I interacted with the world at large.

 But it started really ringing in my head. "Do good." I'd find myself snagging floating grocery carts from parking lots and walking them to the front of the store. I pick up random litter. I clean up messes that aren't exactly mine. Just little things. And I'm sure that I did those little things before I met Casey -- like I said, I think I'm a pretty decent guy. But by putting that phrase in my head -- "Do Good" -- it really made the concept stick. 

In January, I made "Do Good" my mission statement for all of my writing. If you go back and read my stuff from 2002 until January, you'll see... Well, at first, you'll see really horrible writing. But for the most part, you'll see attempt after attempt to make people laugh. There are a few bits in my books and throughout this blog where you can see sentiment seep in. And people have been relating to my weirdness through my strange stories and blog posts since I started.

But in January, I shifted the lens a bit and really focused on doing good. I started writing about matters of the human condition that I experience, hoping that people can take them and relate to them and know that things get better; that they're not alone (I summarized some of that in this post about why I write -- it's sappy, so get ready for that if you choose to read it). 

I think that I would have had the same talk with the same boy in the same situation even if I hadn't taken the "Do Good" mission statement forward, because I'm still the same guy I was. But I do feel those words echo in me whenever I think about things I want to take on and do and say and share. I want the world to know the amazingness of Akira. I want everyone to understand that we are all human at our core, and as such, we're really all very much the same. 

I want young people to know that right now, life sucks because they're living from a very limited set of experiences, under a very stringent set of rules, in a very small cross section of society. I want them to know that they're GOING to get free of it if they want to, and when they do, they're going to be so thankful that they had the experience of sticking with what they love despite being misunderstood (or, worse, hated) for loving it, because it's going to lead them to something amazing. 

And you helped share that yesterday and today. And I thank you very, very much. I hope that sharing the story of Bradley and his weirdness helped you to Do Good by a young person (or adult) you know. I hope it helped me Do Good by you. And at the end of the day, I hope that whatever our interactions may be in life, be they friendship or handshakes at conventions or just you reading what I write here on the blog -- I hope they Do Good in your life, and that you'll in turn Do Good in someone else's.