Henry Rollins: Pride Getting the Best of Me
[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Saturday KCRW broadcast.]
I have come to the conclusion that it's a waste of time to have too much pride in anything. Perhaps it's good to have a sense of duty, a jealous zeal to protect or improve, but pride ultimately is only that which stands vulnerable to offense and degradation. Pride is a thing that I have tried to abandon completely. Try as I might, pride still creeps into many of the things I do.
Repetition and a dedication to consistency as a standard make me prey to pride. I, through some insecurity or unresolved/undealt-with issues, tend to overdo everything. I put a lot of time into all tasks I obligate myself to, perhaps too much.
A few nights ago, I did a show in the Midwest. The audience, whom I overcare about to the point of obsession, was great to me. After the show, the impact of three days of multiple flights, hotels, shows and not much sleep started to make its presence known.
I packed my gear and considered the next several hours of my life. There would be, at best, two hours of sleep and then two flights back to Los Angeles, a few hours to even out and then off to the radio station for what looks like my last Saturday shift. I have been moved to Sunday nights, 8 p.m.
As I was gathering my possessions, now that the show was behind me, I returned to the thoughts I had been dwelling on before showtime. Pride told me to quit my post at the radio station, that I had wasted four years working idiotically hard to make a consistently exceptional show and that my considerable efforts had only landed me one of the loneliest time slots the airwaves offer. Pride was making me very angry and confused. The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. I knew I had to stow these feelings because I still had tasks ahead of me before I got back to the hotel.
After giving the backstage one last check, I headed downstairs. There were people gathered by the exit door who wanted to meet me. There was the girl I had put on the guest list and secured a seat on the side of the stage so she could watch the show and not have to deal with her intense crowd-anxiety issues. There were people in bands who gave me their CDs and asked me to listen to them and tell them what I thought. I don't know where they think I can get the time to do this, but I know they mean well. There was the man who asked me to sign his arm so he could get it tattooed the next day. There were others who just wanted to get their ticket stubs signed and do a photo. Not a problem.
Luckily for me, I genuinely like my audience. They really are a good bunch. As people gave their friends tutorials on how to use their cellphone's camera function, I found myself growing weak and remembered that, since the night before, my total nutritional intake was a single protein bar. Poor planning that I cannot afford. I met all the people who were there and did what they asked.
As I was leaving the area, a security man told me that there were a lot of people outside waiting to meet me. Out into the cold, misting rain I went. These people had been waiting there the entire time I was inside with the others. There was no way I was going to let them down. This has nothing to do with pride. It has everything to do with respect. You do not take someone's honest and good intentions and treat them like they're nothing. This is a trust that you must never, to the best of your ability, ever betray. If you willfully do this, then everything you stand for is totally worthless.
After several photos and soggy signatures, I found myself falling asleep in front of people. I was hungry, exhausted and less than five hours from lobby call. I almost started tearing up because I just wanted to sit down, eat and not have to be attentive or interactive. I struggled but eventually met them all. Like about 99.9 percent of the time, they were completely cool, sincere, and while it wasn't easy, it was totally worth it. My level of hunger and exhaustion was not their problem and I wasn't about to make it so. This isn't pride. It is duty, respect and affection. I really like these people.
Eventually, they all left into the night and I actually fell asleep standing alone for a few seconds when a security man came over and told me to come back inside. I got a ride back to the hotel and ate my dinner, which was a bag of cashews and some water. A few hours later, I was in the air.
I got back to Los Angeles several hours later, grossly overtipping the taxi driver because of the hostility that was steadily rising in me. It's a strange thing, usually, the angrier and more exhausted I am, the more I tip. Many a $50 hamburger later, I think it's the right thing to do.
Hours later, people I work with talked me into staying at the radio station. I had gotten some rest, eaten and cooled off somewhat.
Since pride is that which can be so easily wounded, it is nothing that I can use. As I get older, I act out of a sense of trying to do right, but mostly it is a sense of duty to my personal code that commands me. I have to do things for myself, and if those standards are set high, then it's up to me to pass or fail. In my weaker moments, pride still gets the best of me. For some reason, I feel the need to tell you this.
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