Why do I write this blog? The written word. It’s a powerful thing. It can incite senseless violence, it can promote peace, it can express love and espouse hate. The written word is dangerous, more so now than ever before. Because of the internet, the written word is more accessible and permanent, instantly available to billions of people. And that’s exactly why it’s so important.
Words can change you. Every once in a while, something is said that is so profound, so succinct, it rings in your head for the rest of your life. The right string of words can rescue you.
I suppose that’s what I’ve been after my entire life. The right string of words. It’s a puzzle I’ve been obsessed with ever since I was a child. I’ve always wanted to say things just right. It’s a blessing and a curse. When I do string together a collection of words in a glorious manner, it’s like the world’s finest drug circling through my Asian veins. Just kidding, I’m not Asian. But “Asian veins” is a fun phrase.
My search for the perfect string of words can be a detriment, too. Sometimes I worry so much about trying to say the perfect thing that I can’t say anything at all. Sometimes I try to recapture an old collection of words in a later moment, when the time requires present words. Sometimes I worry my words are never good enough. Sometimes I fear they’ll spill out the sides of my mouth like a careless sip of wine and stain the clothing of my reputation.
That being said, I accept the consequences of the words I speak and the words I write. I have to. Words are my life, they are my meaning.
I don’t think I truly understood that until now. I had to really sit down with myself and ask why it is that I do the things I do. Why would I leave my friends and my family, the family business, one of the most beautiful places in the world… why would I leave all of that to go tell jokes in Texas? Well, it’s not just about jokes. It’s about opportunity: the opportunity to express my words freely, to fall on my face in the pursuit of saying something that needs to be said. And trust me, I’ve done plenty of falling on my face.
That’s exactly what I love about the stage, especially here in Austin. It’s a place where anything goes in a society where people are increasingly intolerant and critical of other peoples’ words. In college I had a professor write in the syllabus to “make sure you don’t offend anyone in class.” This was in a discussion course. What happened, you ask? No discussion, that’s what happened. Nothing was ever said because everyone was afraid to say anything at all.
And you might think this is just one example, but this kind of thinking is rippling through society at a startling rate. I saw where it started, in the liberal arts schools. Now I’ve watched it infect society more quickly and with more fury than COVID. The virus is the shiny object. It seems like it’s destroying our lives, we feel like it’s the most important thing happening right now, but it’s not. As much as we try, we can’t stop it from running its course. We can create vaccines, but the virus will just mutate and become stronger. It has come and it will go. We have little control over that.
What we do have control over is our words, and how we act around them. We can choose to speak the truth. We can choose to stop being cowards, hiding behind a keyboard and destroying anyone we believe to be at fault. We can choose to forgive and to learn. We can choose to disagree without hate. We can choose to admit that none of us know exactly what the hell is going on, and maybe it’s time we stop acting like we do.
So, I return to the question I’ve been trying to answer for months. Why do I write this blog? For fun, to share, to become a better writer, all of those things… but most importantly, to be fearless with my words. To say what I believe to be true. To write something I think is funny, without worrying about who might take it the wrong way. I know the day will come when somebody will find something I’ve written and try to use it against me, but I’ve accepted that. It’s simply the cost of sharing your words in a public setting. If I can inspire just one person or bring a little joy to someone’s day with a laugh, it’s worth it.