Yesterday a child asked me how many hours are in a year, and because school is technically over, instead of making her work out the math, I googled it. The answer is 8000 something—the exact number I am sure is not important because numbers are not very interesting to me. Then she asked how many hours you could expect to have in your life. By then I was bored with google so I clicked over to my calculator. If I’ve done my math right (don’t count on it, cough) I think you can expect to endure something like 700,000 hours if you live to be 80. Honestly that doesn’t seem like very many to me. I guess half of mine have already gone away, and I’m going to sleep through another half of what remains, and then another quarter is going to be spent wandering around in a circle trying to remember where I put my phone.
So given all that, I went ahead and typed Rachel Hollis into YouTube and up popped something called #rachmotivation. Basically Rachel Hollis, for a minute or two, overtop fancy pictures and video clips of herself, says motivational things at whoever is watching (I guess me sometimes). The one for this week is called Make it Happen—a minute thirteen seconds of peppy advice arising from the question she is asked so often,
“How have I achieved goals in the past?”
The answer is simple, she says,
“Start with a crazy dream. Start with the end goal and work backwards, breaking it into manageable pieces.” (Badly transcribed from watching the video twice.)
I’m pretty sure that if you need more information you can buy her book or subscribe to her YouTube channel and she’ll say more things like ‘dream big’, ‘don’t sell yourself short’, ‘good girls never make history’ and some other stuff that sounds mostly like that.
Honestly, every time I click on anything Rachel Hollis I wonder about the American phenomenon of Platform. It is a dubious prize to covet, especially without an article in front of it.
Also I’m pretty sure that Ms. Hollis is wrong about just figuring out her endpoint and then working backwards. Her ‘Platform’ surely did involve hard work, but it had also to mean that she was saying what people wanted to hear right at the moment people wanted to hear it. She had the lilt and the hair and the message that would resonate for such a time as this. This culture wants to imbibe her relevant message.
It’s so interesting to me to watch clips of her striding across a stage, shouting at thousands of women all lined up neatly in soft cushiony chairs, their hands outstretched in applause and adoration, and the thing that she is telling them, essentially, is you can be like me no problem, just work hard, that’s all I did, I just worked hard. At the end of the talk they all file out of the auditorium and return to their unknown and obscure lives, never to end up with a clothing line on QVC and a New York Times best seller. And yet they are meant to go on wanting it, hour after hour, lest Ms. Hollis’ book sales fall to the ground.Her hours have happily been spent becoming more and more famous, gathering more and more people into her sway and telling them what to do to be happy. And all those people spend their hours trying to do what she says, trying themselves to follow the dream of being famous.
Whereas I, well, do I have to have a crazy dream? Couldn’t it just be that I both try to fulfill my obligations in life, to worship God rather than myself, and to do the things that I find interesting in and of themselves, for their own sake rather than for the ends they might serve?
A better question, perhaps, than what is your ‘crazy dream’, might be what do you like to do? Do that, even if nobody will ever know about it or think it was interesting. My grandmother wrote doggerel poetry for the church bulletin, crocheted strange little potholders from the plastic tops of six packs of coca cola, and prayed for all people everywhere. Another person I know spends a lot of her free time happily scrubbing the disgusting stairwells at church (shudder). The dream, in that case, probably is crazy, but it doesn’t mean thinking of your end goal and working backwards until you’ve put it in bite sized pieces that inevitably lead you to fame and riches. All she has to do is get in her car with her washing bucket.
I really like to write. I also love clicks. So I just wake up everyday and try really hard to write something interesting enough for the clicks. What is my crazy dream? To wake up tomorrow and do it again, because it’s so fun.
Anyway, I think I also want an anti-platform lifestyle brand. I’ll sit in a little hole in the ground like the prophet Jeremiah and weep gently to myself. It’ll be called #annedemotivatesyou. ‘Stop trying to build a platform,’ I’ll shout from my hole, only you won’t be able to hear me on account of me being in a hole. ‘Just eat more cheese,’ I’ll whisper. True happiness comes from eating enough cheese. After all, what if you spend a lot of hours you could have been eating cheese instead trying to construct a sparkly platform, but then when you’re perched atop it, precariously, you discover that you didn’t build it very well, you literally assembled it from internet clicks, so that when you said something foolish on twitter, it all tumbled tragically down, leaving you bruised and irritated, and also still hungry for cheese, then you would be really sad. Especially when you consulted google and found out you only had a few hours left to live.