how ‘not giving a sh*t can really help you a lot’


(Video link here.) Last week, Open Culture ran two incredibly illuminating videos in tandem: the first, below, is the comedian Louis C.K telling of being at a low point in his career, having done the same old comedy routine for 15 years and getting nowhere, when he happened to hear George Carlin talk about how he came to figure out who he REALLY was, and the work he was really meant to do. Carlin’s example totally changed Louis C.K.’s life, eventually bringing him massive success. The second video, above, was Carlin telling part of the story C.K. heard. The story of Carlin’s process of becoming is interesting and valuable; as usual we notated the essential bits.

I realized…that I didn’t fit. And here’s what was missing: I was missing who I was.

What I really was was an outlaw and a rebel…I didn’t give a shit. It’s important in life if you don’t give a shit. It can help you a lot.

I was one who swam against the tide of what was expected, but I didn’t know that about myself. My [mainstream] dream blinded me. I didn’t know this dissonance was inside me… Suddenly I realized that…artists are using their talent to project their feelings and ideas not just please people…and I was suddenly able to see my place and realize I was in the wrong place.

It took two years. I didn’t go to the mountain and come back different…It took two years. I had denied that part of myself and suddenly it came into full flower. 

Carlin stopped caring about what people thought; he cared about telling the truth and being who he REALLY was. And that was one of the big lessons that Louis C.K. learned from Carlin. Here’s C.K.’s video; the great stuff starts at around 4:07.  Best line:

“He (Carlin) say whatever he wants. What do I really want to say that I’m afraid to say?”

Watch these guys in fabulous action:

Carlin’s 3-minute riff on The Modern Man, life and society.

Louis C.K.’s brilliant nobody’s happy.

Related posts: eddie izzard on passion in career choices
louis c.k on being broke (with su tung-p’o)
7 principles of comedy/design/creating anything
‘everything is so amazing, but nobody is happy’
tina fey’s 4 1/2 rules (in 4 1/2 minutes)
how to be yourself in 10 simple stepsx

5 Responses to how ‘not giving a sh*t can really help you a lot’

  1. Melanie F 02.21.2012 at 9:38am #

    I don’t love the suggestion that “not giving a shit” is the way to go. Wanting to burn down math buildings and breaking into cars? Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone took this advice to heart and only lived for number one? That’s a really narrow and cold way to realize yourself.

  2. Sally 02.21.2012 at 10:02am #

    I get what you’re saying but don’t think the suggestion was to destroy stuff; it seemed pretty clear that he was viewing that as youthful acting out. I took it as advice to stop examine what we’re really buying into, what’s our real feeling, and the best way to make that live, which is what Louis C.K. did.

  3. Elizabeth 02.22.2012 at 12:05am #

    What I found really interesting — in the Louis CK video — is how he stated letting go of his old stuff (taking the advice of Carlin), he was able to plumb the depths of his authentic self. At risk of sounding cliche, I’d say that his comments (about being a father, etc.) sound radical coming from a man — but that sort of honest interiority and plumbing the depths is something that women have been doing for years.

    Just a thought — thank you for both of these links. There is much to think about from the standpoint of being a writer, too, and I appreciate the inspiration.

  4. Katy 12.17.2012 at 11:20am #

    In 1975 I was living on the cliffs of the City of Refuge in Hawaii..absolutely wild..I was 22. I came to the park for my fresh water refueling…to see my habitat overrun with invaders from the Perry Como Christmas Special…setting up right there. I telt personally violated..and turned quickly with my water jugs to hear the distinctive voice of George Carlin…wanting to talk to me! We chatted a moment and he asked..did I want to come back to Honolulu with him..I’m sure I scampered like a rabbit at the thought..back up the cliffs. Now I wonder what would have happened had I asked him to spend some time with me roughing it. That would have been a true test of his rebellion to the status quo…or maybe it would have ended his career right there!

  5. Sally 12.19.2012 at 11:03am #

    Either way, you going with him or him staying with you would have been a true test of rebellion to the status quo. Thanks for the wonderful memory!

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