It's been an interesting 72 hours. And that's putting it mildly.
If you asked me a week ago if I would ever expect to read a headline about myself that says "Wooster Collective Dad Currently Enjoying Cocaine and Transvestites" the answer would certainly have been "No."
But if you had asked me a week ago if I would have ever expected to be in a situation that would lead to the headline "Wooster Collective Dad Currently Enjoying Cocaine and Transvestites" I would have probably laughed and said with a smile - "Well, yes. And there's certainly a lot worse problems to have than that."
And that's kind of how I feel about it today. While I don't enjoy reading about myself in that light, I'm not all that bothered about it. I know that others are, which is why I'm sharing this with you now. I do know that some people think I've absolutely lost it.
But let me explain…
You wake up one morning, thinking, knowing in advance, that your day is going to be incredibly boring. You have a two and a half hour train ride through the British countryside with nothing to do, nothing to read. You're jet lagged from an earlier flight from New York to London and you're alone without your family and friends. All you want to do is to be someplace that you're not. But you don't know where that is and you definitely know it's not going to happen today.
And then an announcement on the train tells you that things are going to get even worse for you. Your day is going to become even MORE boring. Your train, or the train in front of you (it's hard to understand from the announcement on the PA system) has hit a person on the railroad tracks. It's clear at this moment that you're going to be on this train for hours and hours until the crime scene is cleared.
And so you do what most people do, you tweet out the fact that your day is fucked.
More than an hour later you're even more bored than ever before and you're taken off the train and told to go onto a smelly bus that will take you to another train 45 minutes away. The last thing you want to do is to get on this bus.
And when you find out that the bus is already full, you're relieved.
But you wonder, how the hell do I get to Sheffield?
You hear a taxi cab driver scream out asking if there are six people who want to share a cab to the next town. You volunteer and throw your bags into the cab and jump in without looking. When the taxi starts to drive you look around at who you are about to spend the next 45 minutes with and discover that your day is about to change dramatically.
It's about to get interesting.
Everything you hoped for, but knew wouldn't happen, suddenly falls into your lap (literally!)
If you know me, which I now realize most people don't, its completely natural for me to tweet out that I'm in a cab with transvestites.
It's funny and, in my opinion is Twitter is used for.
So I do. I tweet it out.
I know at this moment that suddenly my day is not going to be boring at all. It's going to be an adventure. And I'm thrilled. As I type the first tweet, not letting the others know, I feel kind of guilty that I'm sharing something in realtime without letting them in on it.
And then into my head pops a realization and a remembrance of the most influential piece of literature that I've ever read in my life - Hunter S. Thompson's short story - "The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved"
But what pops into my head is not the story itself. It's what it was like to be me when I first read that short story. While Thompson wrote the story when I was six years old, I first read it in high school. It changed my life. (Or so I hoped)
"The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved" is something that opened my eyes to a hybrid form of journalism and literature that I wanted to be the "driver" of my future life. None of my high-school friends knew who Thompson was which made my love for that story in particular, and his work in general, so special and important. It was my special private thing.
As I got to know the people in the cab, I remembered that Thompson was said to have written "The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved" in real time, firing off notes to his editor as fast as he could write them.
The penny dropped for me.
It was at this moment that I would make the commitment to live-tweet my day, no matter what would happen. Did I know at this moment that this would include cocaine? No, of course not. But my commitment to telling my story in real time was made and I wasn't going to go back on it no matter how things escalated. If I did I would completely betray the commitment that I made to myself when I was sixteen years old reading Thompson and wishing that my future life would be as rich as his was. It was in reading Thompson that I realized that as a kid I would always be interested in subcultures, but - most importantly - be accepting of them.
So the other day I found myself living a story that Thompson may have written if he was alive and experiencing it and there was no turning back now.
People have asked me in the last few days - "Why would you tweet THAT out?"
The only answer that I have is - "Because I can"
And because I know that most people can't. They can't because they have a boss who would fire them. I don't. They can't because they have a wife who would divorce them. I don't. They can't because they are worried about losing something that they need - money, clients, friends. I already have everything I need. I don't need any more money, any more friends, or any more clients. I have everything I need already. Not only do I not want to lose them. I want to bring them closer to me.
I've been thinking a lot lately that what I really want right now is for my world to get smaller not bigger. I don't have dreams anymore about opening offices around the world. Or becoming a billionaire. I don't want to spend time with people who don't matter to me.
When you wake up one morning and are told that your life is going to change at that instant because your daughter has been diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder that you've never heard of, you only have two choices. You can run and hide, or you can embrace it. I chose to embrace it. I chose to embrace it because I love my daughter Samantha more than anything I can ever express. To run from her would be to run from myself. I can't do this.
I was told once that 90% of the couples who have a severely disabled child get divorced within the first five years of their child's life. And while I understand why this happens, that's not me. And that's not my wife Sara. The reason why we are together is that we laugh and we laugh a lot. Our motto is "Fuck it. What do we have to lose?"
The only way I've been able to cope with having Samantha is to "overshare". So when I was criticized for "oversharing" my experiences the other day it made me laugh. Oversharing is the best thing I've ever done. It's been the greatest asset of my life. Those that don't overshare don't make real deep connections with people. Sara and I will tell anyone and everyone about who Samantha is and this includes things that are not "typical." We celebrate her because she is us. We are the same. She is my daughter. And when you go down the rabbit hole of having your life change overnight you either embrace it or reject it. Sara and I chose to embrace it. In my wife I've found someone that I could never imagine existed. I am blessed every day for having Sara, Samantha, and Charley in my life. I know this but I also know that I don't share this enough because I'm too busy and too distracted.
My staff at my marketing firm has been struggling to come to terms with my actions. And I can understand why they are doing this. I'm told that some clients are upset with me and that my staff are hearing it during calls.
But the truth is I don't want clients. I want partners. I've been struggling for a long time about being in an industry that doesn't fit who I am.
Being reliant on clients and having a headline that associates you with cocaine and transvestites certainly has its drawbacks. But it also has it benefits. It will "cull" my clients. The ones that stay will be my partners for life. The ones that leave will be ones that I should never have dedicated my time to in the first place. I'm a marketer who doesn't love marketing. And because if this I'm a better marketer for those who accept me.
The truth is that the Gawker piece is the byproduct of what I did. It's not the action itself. The action is my live tweeting my journey into a subculture. It was live tweeting my "giving into" the subculture.
Would I do it again even after reading the Gawker piece?
It comes with the territory. It's a gossip site and I need to play by their rules. I have to live with the fact that it embarrassed some of my friends. But it doesn't embarrass me. Again, if it did I would be betraying who I am. I want to live a life where my actions and my beliefs are one. And if this means reading about me in that light, I need to embrace it. I can't control what Gawker writes about me. But I can control how it effects me.
The reality is that I've become incredibly bored by social media. It's become so sanitized that it's no longer engaging to me. And when you do it for a living it can become a soul killing endevour.
I don't want to be bored and I don't want others to be bored. I tweeted about my experiences in real time because I knew that nobody else would have the guts to do it. I was testing myself and my convictions. I didn't want to be a hypocrite.
Will this incident hurt my reputation? I'm not sure. But what I do know is that it will hurt a reputation that I don't want, in my heart, to have. The reputation I want to have is one that I am living my life in a manner that I control and nobody else. Life is an experiment. I'm willing to experiment. I'm willing to let this experience make my world a bit smaller so I can concentrate on only those that matter to me. It may be a smaller group, but its also a more important group.
I've been worrying a lot lately that the pursuit for making money has also made me boring. I think it's also made me cautious. In my heart this is not who I am. I'm playing a role.
The role I'm playing is when Im trying to convince a client to hire me. Not when I'm diving into a subculture and have no idea where I will land. Wooster is the real me. And I want clients who want me to work on their projects because of the real me. Not because of the fact that I have an agency that is popular.
I want adventures in my life. They're not going to come from sitting behind my desk. They're going to come from letting life take me on a path that i didn't expect. And certainly I never expected what happened the other day.
One thing that I've learned is that reading about my experiences in real time is a lot different than reading about it afterwards. And if you take any one tweet out of context, it looks absolutely terrible. But when I wrote it I wan't thinking about a single tweet. I was thinking about Thompson sending his notes off to his editor as fast as he can.
For me the only negative out of all of this is that there will be people who read the Gawker piece but not my Twitter timeline. They won't know the context for it and this saddens me a bit.
I want to live my life in a way that every day is a celebration.
For my daughter Samantha, because she doesn't know any different, every day is a celebration. I am so in awe of her. I want to be her. My tweeting about my "crazy day" was intended to be a celebration of giving in and letting life take you in a direction that you didn't expect.
I truly wanted to be more like Samantha.
All of this, including this long essay, is something that is completely natural to me and something that I don't regret for a second.
My only hope is that everyone that read the Gawker article will read this one as well because this one is the real me.