Any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is is clearly a man to be reckoned with. — Douglas Adams
I’m going to go ahead and assume that Mr. Adams intended to include women in this inspiring quote, but I’m happy to report that, after slightly more than one earth year spent reading and writing here on Medium, I still have my towel.
How did I keep my towel? What have I learned? Gather close and I’ll tell you — and throw in some more sage advice from the late, great Douglas Adams. But first, a little Einstein. I think he knew a few things about the galaxy, too.
The Theory of Relativity
OK, so the theory of relativity states (basically… I’m assuming the Wikipedia entry is totally on the up and up) that things happen to one person in time but not at the same time for another person who is experiencing the exact same thing. Savvy?
So here on Medium, you might be experiencing the highest of highs. Perhaps your stats look like towering redwoods, your viewer engagement has reached record numbers, and you’re giving Ebeneezer Scrouge a run for his spirit-summoning money.
Meanwhile, Maximus X. Riter’s stats look like pitiful piles of wilted lettuce and nothing but the deafening sound of silence and “not distributed in topics” greets him. Perhaps you’ve experienced one or both of these scenarios at different points in time.
When I first started writing here on Medium, I was ecstatic just to get a set of eyeballs on something I wrote, let alone have someone deem it interesting enough to read or clap for. And I’ve definitely had significant ups and downs. I try not to let these fluctuations bother me too much because success on Medium is always, always relative. It’s only natural to compare ourselves with others, but it’s good to remember that we’re all traveling different intergalactic routes.
The Long, Dark Teatime of the Writer
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.
When I quit my job to start freelance writing last winter, I was expecting a few things, among them, wild and lasting success as a writer whilst squirreling away ginormous piles of money. You know, totally reasonable expectations.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the drastic change ended up miring me deeper in depression and anxiety. Not the best conditions under which to pursue a new career path.
Sometimes life takes you on a path different from the one you had intended to travel. This can be a great thing! Just make sure to bring your “towel” along — be it a savings account, unfailing chutzpah, or a network of intergalactic friends and associates who’ve always got your back.
There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.
When my brain starts squawking about changes to the platform, decreased earnings, and general impending doom, I try not to let fear stop me and I do my best to stay firmly rooted in the here and now. After all, everything else is either history or conjecture — it can’t be changed (until someone finally invents a time machine, of course).
I also console myself with the knowledge that if something ever does happen to Medium, another even more bizarre and inexplicable writing platform will pop up to take its place.
The Holistic Detective’s Guide to Medium stats, algorithm, partner program, all the things!!!
The more Susan waited, the more the doorbell didn’t ring. — (from Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency)
OK, I admit it. I have a serious stat-checking problem. I suspect that even those among us who deny checking their stats secretly do. Probably. I can’t say for sure because I’m not a detective — holistic or otherwise.
If like me, you tend to be overly concerned with what those mysterious numbers are doing, you know that the more you watch and wait, the more that little green dot doesn’t show up and the more your numbers refuse to budge.
So I’ve learned to go out and explore the galaxy, revel in its diversity and richness, then return, renewed and fresh — and perhaps with a few tasty fish and dolphin friends.
Medium is a land of opportunity. I’ve met delightful souls, read stories from realms I could otherwise not have imagined, and indeed, hitched the length and breadth of the galaxy.
And so I’ll end with this delightful yet lesser-known quote. May you eff the heck out of not just Medium, but also life and all its abundant treasure.
Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable, let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.