The Next “Next”
Wyck had a brilliant mind. Quick witted. Educated. Creative.
Depending on when you landed in his life, he was the next Jim Morrison, the next Mario Puzo, the next Casey Kasem, the next Babe Ruth.
During the next-Jim Morrison phase he was Molly’s first boyfriend. Unlike Luther, who was his replacement years later, he was a close friend of mine, too. We discussed books and music and dreams. We thought he’d “make it” and that inspired us to want to make it, too.
Looking back . . . He was the next Ignatius J. Reilly.
If his life was a movie, this would be an oft-repeated scene:
Wyck walks into his parent’s kitchen, where his mother and her friend are playing cards.
He walks in with “purpose,” making a point of clearing his throat once he stops to pose, so his presence isn’t in question. He’s wearing his best Jim Morrison uniform (black leather pants and a white, gauzy, poet’s shirt).
Wyck: I’m the Lizard King.
Wyck’s mother: That’s nice honey. Would you like a brownie?
His mother’s line is delivered as she places down another card, not breaking to look up at Wyck.
Wyck pauses. For a heartbeat the audience expects him to scowl like all the other misunderstood twenty-something’s embracing the emerging grunge movement.
Instead, he quick steps to the table, leans in, picks a brownie from the glass plate and then exits the kitchen, looking more Dennis the Menace than Lizard King, a child distracted by a treat.
I thought his parents didn’t “get him” — that they underestimated his potential.
They’d lived through 20 years of him being the next x or y or z before I entered their story — and were used to being the test audience for the various incarnations of “I’m the Lizard King” lines that went with each “next.”
I thought about Wyck after reading Mark Manson’s article “Screw Finding Your Passion.”
Read Mark’s entire post. For now, here are two slices:
Today I received approximately the 11,504th email this year from a person telling me that they don’t know what to do with their life. And like all of the others, this person asked me if I had any ideas of what they could do, where they could start, where to “find their passion.”
And of course, I didn’t respond. Why? Because I have no fucking clue. If you don’t have any idea what to do with yourself, what makes you think some jackass with a website would? I’m a writer, not a fortune teller.
The problem is not a lack of passion for something. The problem is productivity. The problem is perception. The problem is acceptance.
The problem is the, “Oh, well that’s just not a realistic option,” or “Mom and Dad would kill me if I tried to do that, they say I should be a doctor” or “That’s crazy, you can’t buy a BMW with the money you make doing that.”
The problem isn’t passion. It’s never passion.
In Wyck’s case, his parents would have supported whatever he tried. They were those kinds of parents. The problem was that, like Ignatius, he erred on the lazy side, with a solid helping of self importance mixed in.
He was “meant” for something special. His were bigger plans — a grander purpose. All of this led him on a quest to be someone famous, which meant he had to write something or appear in something or do something BIG. He was chasing what he called a passion — while in reality ignoring who he really was, which was where his greatness existed.
In hindsight, he would have been a great lawyer, which was too “straight-suit” for him. Quick-witted. Photographic memory. Fast processing for connecting the dots. And, at times, ruthless. He enjoyed a good fight — and was a great debater.
However, as Hanson pointed out, the problem was priorities. He didn’t want to put in the work.
A few years ago I heard he was in Palm Beach, the next playboy scuba instructor to rich, bored socialites.
Today I think of him when I see those Direct TV commercials, with the sports figures encouraging the audience to be one version of themselves vs the other.
Whether he’s the bad joke-telling Eli Manning or the smooth and sophistic Eli Manning, I hope he’s found himself.
I hope he’s doing the work.
I hope he’s happy.
I hope he’s being Wyck instead of the next “next.”