Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Mistake is a Dream that Your Heart Changes

About a month, or two, ago, my department at work was "encouraged" to attend a conference all about what our department does, and how it can be done better, and so forth. As I said, this wasn't mandatory, and I really don't think this encouragement had anything to do with a dissatisfaction with how our jobs were being done (in fact, I sort of know this last part to be true, because after the conference was over and I was back at work, I told my boss what the conference entailed, and she seemed to be as down on the whole thing as I was). The truth is, the conference had nothing whatsoever to do with our jobs in any specific way. But it was motivational. Yes, that's what it was, all right. Apart from being told that exercise is good for you, and eating breakfast is important (seriously), our speaker went around the room and asked as many people as were willing (which was a lot, as it turned out) to say, into a microphone, their favorite motivational quotes.

So the first half of my day consisted of being told I'm important, and that so is breakfast, and also "A mistake is a dream that your heart changes." Or "Sunlight is the sun's way of saying 'Good morning!'" (Incidentally, we were also told by our speaker that saying "good morning" is something everyone should do.) Or "Being the person you want to be is a good way to tell the world and others that being yourself is a great way to be!" Or "Success might be scary, but flowers succeed and failure is a raincloud." It's possible I have some of these quotes wrong, but I hope the point has not been lost on any of you.

In case you're wondering, no, I did not provide any inspirational quotes. A few ran through my head, though, and if I had it all to do over again, I would have chewed through my own wrists before ever agreeing to go to this goddamn conference in the first place. If that had failed, and I still ended up going, I might have offered up "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child" or "Most people never have to face the fact that, at the right time and the right place, they’re capable of…anything." Because there's actually a lot of wisdom in both of those, though I'm not sure they count as "motivational".

Anyway, here's a picture of that monster from Equinox.

32 comments:

Flickhead said...

Motivational conferences?

My condolences.

bill r. said...

Thank you, Flickhead. I'm glad that somebody cares.

Greg said...

I love that quote from Chinatown! It's one of the most brilliant and truest statements I've ever heard. If I had used it I wouldn't have been able to resist beginning it with the proper, "You know Mr Gittes" - pronouncing it "Gets" of course - and doing it in his voice.

Anyway, I also could have done the quote from if.... that I love: "One man can change the world with a bullet in the right place."

And then I would have proved it by shooting the speaker.

Arbogast said...

A fart is a smell your ass makes.

Ed Howard said...

Might I suggest: "It's like a serpent's egg. Through the thin membranes, you can clearly discern the already perfect reptile."

It works best if you then stare intensely straight ahead and hold up a mirror to yourself.

Rick Olson said...

Motivational jewels from Ed Crane:

"The more you look, the less you really know."

"Sooner or later everyone needs a haircut."

bill r. said...

Greg - That scene has my other favorite line, from Gittes: "How much better can you eat?"

And guys, these are all good ideas. Where were you yesterday? I could have been the belle of the conference!

And now I'm off-line for the rest of the day. And tomorrow. Training, you see...

jryan said...

Next motivational meeting you attend, try some of these lines on the crowd:

"Always be kind to those you work with, for their time will come."

"Great is the man who sits through a motivational meeting without chokin' a bitch."

"Sunshine is the Sun's way of telling you it still has fissionable fuel."

"We all have a little Ted Kazinski inside us. All that we lack is the will.. and sometimes the explosives."

"Always remember to stop and smell the roses... I find that is also true with corpses."

"9/11 was an inside job."

"Beauty is God's bullseye."

... or you could just be as confusing as everyone else. You can accomplish this by combining any wholesome noun with any joyous verb... and possibly attribute the whole thing to something larger than ourselves. Examples:

"Grass is God's way of making us laugh."

"A gentle Breeze is Earth's plaything."

"A child is dreaming made into sunshine."

And so on.

No matter what, make sure you have a goof grin on your face when you're done.

(Ps. "Beauty is God's Bullseye" will be the title of my first novel. No Stealing!!!)

Krauthammer said...

Can't go wrong with a couple of Cocteaus:

"You’ve never seen death? Look in the mirror every day and you will see it like bees working in a glass hive."

"One is either judge or accused. The judge sits, the accused stands. Live on your feet."

Both best said painfully earnestly, with a far-away look in your eyes. Like you're not all there.

Pat said...

Bill -

I feel your pain. I have been to more of those kinds of workshops than I care to remember.

Year ago, at a company I (thankfully) no longer work for, we were presented with a barrage of motivational quotes, one of which was attributed to Maciavelli. It wasn't "the end justifies the means," butit was pretty close - and presented to us without the slightest trace of irony.

I use a Franklin planner datebook, but I stopped buying the "Motivational Quote of the Day" pages for it when they actually printed one from the Marquis de Sade. This is not a joke. I don't remember the exact quote but it was something to do with ingnoring social conventions and striking out boldly on your own path. I'm not sure who picked out those quotes, but they had to be pretty dim.

I also attended a class on how to use my Franklin planner, and found out that they're named for Ben Franklin. And that's because Franklin as a young man set out to achieve these twelve or thirteen personal states of being in his life, and used a systematic method for getting there. The instructor claimed he eventually achieved all his goals, one of which was to achieve "Chastity." I don't think the instructor heard me when I muttered "He must have had a very unique definition of chastity !"

Ed Howard said...

Maybe it's just me, but the only way you could ever get me to buy "Motivational Quotes" pages for a planner was if it consisted of nothing but quotes from Sade, Maciavelli and such.

Pat said...

Ed - Well, of course, but that's because you'd get the joke.

I actually don't mind motivational quotes if they're substantive or meaningful. I used to have one from Goethe on my fridge - of course, I'm blanking on the exact wording right now (I'll find it later and post it), but it was to do with being bold and taking risks.

Pat said...

Here it is:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way.”

Ed Howard said...

It's also maybe worth noting that Sade is at least an inspirational, motivational figure for the comics writer Grant Morrison, who featured Sade as a spiritual father figure in his series The Invisibles, for roughly the same reasons as that quote you mentioned: he was someone who defied social conventions in radical ways.

Pat said...

Ed - I don't read comics at all, so I wouldn't have known that. In all honesty, I know de Sade much more by reputation than by any direct experience of his work, but from what I do know, he wouldn't be a 'spritual father' to me. I freely admit to being a pretty conventional person - not prudish, but definitely conventional - as I'm sure are most people who use Franklin Covey produce. So seeing a Marquis de Sade quote in m Day Planner still seems bizarre to me.

Pat said...

Franklin Covey produce? Oops! I meant "products."

Krauthammer said...

I haven't read any DeSade so I can't pass judgment, but I will stick up for Machiavelli and I get annoyed that he's become this caricature of an amoral manipulator when he was far deeper, smarter and moral than that. But what's even worse is that apparently some people are taking that caricature and turning it into an ideal.

Pat said...

Krauthammer -

I think that's really what bothered me. It wasn't just that they used a Machiavelli quote, bu that was presented without any acoompanying context, as if it was just one more "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade"-style gem of motivational "wisdom."

And, to be clear, what bothered me about seeing the deSade quote in the Franklin Planner was pretty much the same. The quote on its own had one, fairly conventional meaning, but when you find it's from the Marquis De Sade then it takes on a different meaning entirely. And the Franklin Covey people seemed to be pretty clueless about that, presenting as if it were just another reminder to "think outside the box"! It's not deSade or Machiavelli that offend me, it's the lack of intelligence about how their words are used that I find offensive. I realize my prior comment to Ed may make it seem otherwise, but really, that's the substance of my complaint.

bill r. said...

Jryan -

A child is dreaming made into sunshine...

That's actually true. Though I'm less inspired by it than I am unnerved.

9/11 was an inside job...

Also true. Wasn't it Rosie O'Donnell who said, "Planes don't crash into buildings"? Or something like that? Anyway, she's right.

And I stole your book title and idea and wrote the book, and I'm getting it published. Look for it next Fall from Knopf.

Pat -

but I stopped buying the "Motivational Quote of the Day" pages for it when they actually printed one from the Marquis de Sade...

That's hilarious. And feel free to judge away, Krauthammer, because De Sade was a rapist. He didn't just "defy social conventions" by writing bad porn: he also physically assaulted and abused a variety of actual human beings. So maybe I won't read Grant Morrison. Sorry, Ed.

Ed Howard said...

Bill, Sade's crimes will keep you from reading Morrison (who includes Sade as a rather funny character in one of his books) but not from watching Salo? Huh?

bill r. said...

Well, Salo hardly glorifies de Sade, does it? Maybe I misunderstood you, but it sounds to me like you're saying Morrison admires de Sade in some way, which is unfortunately common. Too many people see de Sade as a guy who bucked the system and pursued his art despite society's restrictions, as though that's the important thing about him. The guy was really kind of a monster.

Ed Howard said...

Yeah, I'm sure Morrison does admire Sade to some extent, at least in an abstract sense as someone whose books pushed all kinds of boundaries of taste and decency. Unfortunate, maybe, but it's not like Morrison's endorsing Sade's real-life indecencies. We all do it to some extent, divorcing the art from the artist: it's not like I'm going to stop watching Roman Polanski's films because of what he did, for one example.

Anyway, I wouldn't worry about it getting in the way of enjoying Morrison: Sade appears infrequently as a character in The Invisibles and that's it.

jryan said...

"Polanski is a riddle, wrapped in statutory rape, and kissed with rose petals" - Grant Morrison

The evidence is incontrovertible.

Ryan Kelly said...

You know, I'm a real idiot. All this time I thought sunlight was 8 1/2 minute old energy from the sun traveling through space at the speed of light, warming our atmosphere and thus facilitating life on this planet. But, no, it's the sun's way of saying "Good morning"! What a revelation!

What company do you work for? Or is that too incriminating to post here? Sounds like they view you more as a statistic than a person.

jryan said...

Statistics are a Good Morning enumerated. So yeah, that makes sense.

Ryan Kelly said...

Statistics are a Good Morning enumerated...


I think we've found out latest slogan. Someone make some bumper stickers!

Greg said...

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch is my spiritual father and I plan on writing an entire comic book series around him, The Venus Chronicles. Look for it in bookstores this summer!

bill r. said...

Oh, so much to respond to, but I'm tired, because training SUCKS!

But Ryan, while I don't want to get into who I work for, it's really not that bad of an organization. I did feel a bit like a statistic on Wednesday (which is funny, because I'm not a number, I'm a human man!) because not only did they feed us that motivational bullshit, but they seemed to advocate the merciless structuring of every aspect of our lives, including our time off-work. Which they can cram with walnuts, to be honest.

Also, it may not have come across, but I actually made up all the sayings I used in the post. I hoped they were absurd enough to come off that way, but maybe not. At the same time, one of the motivational sayings I actuall heard (created on the spot!) was "Don't forget to enjoy the M&Ms while waiting for the package." If you can explain to me what the fuck that means, I'd love to hear it.

Krauthammer said...

I believe that it's a variation of an ancient Zen Koan, namely "As you wait for arrival, savor the wagashi" I would meditate on it until you reach enlightenment.

bill r. said...

Okay. This is probably going to take a while, though...

Greg said...

See, the reference was that Sacher-Masoch is where the term "masochism" comes from. See? Get it? It's the opposite of sadism. See?

See? Anyway, I gotta go. My wife is wearing faux furs and smacking a paddle in her hand. I think I've been a naughty boy... again!

P.S. Fox's wife likes to cut him.

bill r. said...

I got it, Greg. I got it. Sorry, but at the time I didn't have the energy to respond to everyone. Because like I said, training sucks.

And I'm pretty sure everyone likes to cut Fox.

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