We met in high school, he being the invented scapegoat for my hijinks. “What is your name son,” the Modesto authority figures would inquire whenever my shenanigans required intervention, “Uh, John Moss sir.” It was a different time, no homeland security, no facial recognition apps, and no phones.
One specific night while pouring out a case of Lowenbrau after an especially sad interaction with police, the officer pulled me aside and said, “That’s funny, that guy just said that his name is John Moss, how could there be two of you?” Ah, high school.
When I became the principal of the Arts and Ethics Academy in Santa Rosa, I needed an outlet for my suppressed gonzo tendencies and resurrected John in the North Bay Bohemian. I wrote about being dosed on a school field trip and when the story went viral, I got nervous.
Mostly because people didn’t realize the story was fiction (then editor Gretchen Giles never asked) but also because it was picked up by Boing Boing and my office manager had to field calls from strangers trying to track down the real John Moss. Since then times have changed, rigorous honesty means no more scapegoats. At 51 I just want to be Walt Williams.
It’s really the most important thing. Are you a hammer or a nail, a wolf or a sheep, a talker or a doer, one who believes in clichéd choices or not. Once you figure that part out, the work starts as you try to become who you want to be. Have kids? Be the person you want them to become. No kids, take your top three problems in the last year and find solutions.
I never listened to those teachers who said you can do anything you want in life but since becoming one, I want my students to know that their potential is limited only by their willingness to do the necessary work.
Wanna be president, easy-work on a variety of campaigns while completing your law degree, impressing people with your knowledge as you work as the leader of a non-profit or large company (depending on your political leaning). Learn the game, network, rise, and get elected. Or do whatever Trump is doing, which we won’t get into here. Wanna be a doctor-also easy, BA in Science, PHD in medicine, residency, done. Code writer, synch, come up with great ideas then spend 10,000 hours transforming that idea into an app or a game.
What do all these things have in common? Lots of hard work.
And that’s the rub, we are by nature a slothful people, our goal is to make it to 5:00 or retirement or that week vacation. We work so that we can rest. And we’ve made downtime available all the time. Netflix on the phone during class? Social media? Sports? Do they enhance your life or do they suck your time? We sent a man to the moon 50 years ago, shouldn’t we be a little further along technologically. Yes, I can stream a Japanese anime cartoon while riding the ski lift in Tahoe but is that really progress?
Where are my flying cars? Why can’t someone supersize a drone, put a seat and a joystick in the middle of it and get me in the air? Why do we still have cancer? Simple cell biology, replicate the good, get rid of the bad. Why haven’t we figured out that relying on fossil fuels is killing both our species and our planet?
It’s past time to look critically at our choices, stop blaming others, be true to ourselves, blah, blah, blah. Kill your scapegoat. John is dead.