Ideas have ruined me. They have taken more out of me than seems humanly possible, made me less human, made me less whole. I love ideas. Ideas are my opiate. Ask me about my life and I’d sooner give you a rough chart of what ideas I was having at any given point in time. I can’t remember the names of most of my friends (did I even have friends? They seem like a fiction now) or teachers — hell, I can’t even remember the faces of my few enemies.
When I was sixteen I wanted to become a graphic designer. I had it all figured out in my head, right down to the way I’d introduce myself to people when I was said Graphic Designer. “Ooh,” they would say, “you’re that Graphic Designer.”
I’m nearly 21 and now I’m a lousy Graphic Designer.
When I was seventeen I wanted to be a novelist. I was going to be the best damn novelist in history. I had it all figured out in my head, down to the dedication on each and every novel, how the covers would look, where the ISBN would be placed. They were great ideas.
I have yet to finish a manuscript, let alone publish a novel.
When I was twelve I really wanted to own a restaurant. A big restaurant. I didn’t know what kind of food we served, but I wanted a big restaurant.
Then I wanted a small restaurant. This was for a few days.
Then I wanted the big restaurant again. I had it all figured out in my head, right down to the way the menu looked and what all the staff would wear, how the people would react to eating the self-designed food and how I’d sit in the corner grinning with my mother, co-owner.
I can cook a grand total of five things including tea. I always over-salt. My mother is dead.
Sometimes my memories seem to be less firm than the fantasies and ideas that swirled around them. I barely remember the trip to Mangalore when I was nine. I do remember in exact detail the point-and-click adventure game I planned to make when I got back home. I had it all figured out in my head, right down to the tagline on the box. What? No, I don’t remember the tagline, but I do remember that I had the idea figured out. Memory’s shot to hell.
Bah, who needs memories? I have ideas.
I have so many ideas. I have two notepads full of ideas. I have a three page long list of titles of ideas that I haven’t written down yet; movies and novels and TV shows. I have them all figured out in my head. I could narrate most of them to you verbatim. I don’t remember anything they taught me in school. I don’t.
When I try to gather up my memories I feel like a young man. When I gather up my ideas, all of them, all the stages and the reworkings and reimaginings of older ones, I feel old.
Oh, but the ideas are just great; they’re your future, you never get the same idea twice, and if you lose it it’s gone forever. That idea can make your life…
…I can barely remember a life beyond my ideas, beyond the holding and nurturing of them, beyond the power fantasies of a time when those ideas would come to be.
You know when Someday is? It’s the day right after you die. Your ideas die with you. This, believe me, is a good thing. I don’t want my ideas hanging around after I’m gone. They’re perfectly good ideas, mind you, but they’re ideas. They’re like cancers. Perfectly efficient, marvellous things when you look at them on their own, but put them in a body and you know what happens. I have Idea Cancer. Hey, that’s a great idea for a…
Ideas, they say, are Free. The fuckers couldn’t be more right. Ideas are so free they should be given away.
Here’s an idea: A man walks into a diner and sneezes onto the classic jukebox. The jukebox, coated with his germs and transdimensional energies develops intelligence, then sets out on a world-wide quest to find the defunct manufacturers who created it. Somewhere along the way it realises that it is, in fact, not seeking it’s manufacturer, but in reality is searching for the family of the man whose snot it was that triggered its ascent to life, his memories and thoughts being transferred to it. The man is now dead. His family is still there, the children — The Children! — need a father, the wife needs a husband. The jukebox moves in. He plays tunes for a living by the side of the road.
A lonely jukebox that plays in the middle of a highway just to feed its human family.
…pretty good Idea, huh? It’s yours. Take it. Do what you want with it, make some money off it; I don’t care, I have a million more ideas where that came from, and each one is potentially as good.
When you suffer, as I do, from Idea Cancer, there are only two options.
You get a Job. A job lets you live a life, make some money and still have your Idea Cancer; you can have as many ideas as you can fit into your testicles, and you can shape them in as elaborate a fashion as you see fit, because you have a job and you hate your boss and if only — If Only! — you could quit your job then all your great ideas would be unleashed upon the world.
Don’t get a job. Don’t settle for the easy way out with the security of getting up every day and going someplace where someone else tells you exactly what to do and how to do it. Don’t settle for the fact that you can marry the slightly agreeable person of opposite gender who works two cubicles from you just because, well, you’re getting old — thirty — and you need someone to be with you, to take care of you.
Take care of yourself you idiot.
Do something. For once in your life do something. Pick one idea, any idea, you have a million of them and they’re all gold, right? Pick one and do it. There you go.
Well, now, how do you do it?
I have no idea.
This is going to be fun.