Janet From The Good Place


Right now I am in one of those periods of life where I feel “broken” or out of touch with the general population. My thoughts and actions these days do not feel like they have an anchor in any real world* that everyone else is taking part in. I wake up every morning, walk out of my house through our courtyard into a work in progress Fidelia Hall where I take my morning shower because that’s the only place we have hot water. I listen to Lindsey Buckingham’s contributions to the TUSK album pretty much all day and think about the huge artistic leap of faith he took and how the world turned on him for doing so. My thoughts get bigger and I start to think about the world as a whole and why we value certain unnatural and cumbersome things over the pure and joyful things like art and creativity. I hone in on human beings and how on a daily basis everyone chooses to wear some kind of mask and lie through it just to be able to exist and function. I just realized how fitting that last line is because it is Halloween.

I am broken because the world is broken, trudging through the days in a stupor because there’s a bit of acting and lying in every little thing we do. We do this because these actions are necessary in a world that values unnatural things like money & politics over natural things like artistic expression & creativity. The more we do it the more it feels like that this is normal. The more we do it the further away we collectively get from any real meaning and impact.

Over the past month I’ve been around a lot more library people than I usually am in my day to day life. I can’t help but draw a parallel between that and my recent broken period. At every gathering of librarians, meeting, or casual conversation there’s an overarching disconnect between the thoughts in my head/the words from my mouth and the other individual library people that surround me. I speak but the words don’t make any connection. They speak and all I hear are buzzwords and copy/paste ideas that were most likely featured in one of the recent issues of insert library publication or at fill in the blank state library conference session. There is a bland palate sweeping the public library profession. We’ve been trying on all sorts of masks for the last few decades, trying to figure out what the public library is in days where our funding dips to such obscenely low levels that we have to think about things like whether or not we can clean the toilets and sweep the floors on a regular basis. We chase things like star ratings for our libraries just so we can say that we did something and that we have value instead of actually doing something that has value in its original action. What’s more important? Preparing and having an event for the community just because that is at the core of what we do or going through a program and filling out a checklist to get a desired status? Both scenarios result in an action but I believe that only one of those scenarios is a result of a pure and honest action.

In the end what I am getting at is that I’d like a cosmic shift in our entire world where we moved away from masks and away from actions that required us being pushed or driven by an incentive to do something. We as a collective consciousness need to reconnect with our driving urge to create and do because it is who we are. The systems and ideas we’ve put in place are false paths that constantly trick us into believing that what we’re doing has real meaning. Repeated over and over again for years, they have become the norm. That is what I believe needs to change. It’s time to step off the ledge we stand on, fall through air freely, and land back in the world of honest action.

THE LEDGE by Fleetwood Mac, but written/produced by Lindsey Buckingham ***

* real world because what is real? Is something real just because a large portion of the population believes and follows it? Is something real because when mentioned to another human being it elicits a response where both parties understand the context and meaning of what was said?

** this piece may have fit better over at B-Sides but it is going here because I wanted increased visibility. I will be honest about that.

*** When I talk about Fleetwood Mac’s 1979 album TUSK these days what I’m actually talking about are all of the contributions in writing and production by Lindsey Buckingham. I find his selection of 9 songs on this album to be one of those pure and honest acts that I spoke about above. Instead of following up their album Rumours (one of the most commercially successful albums of all time) with Rumours Part II , Lindsey leaned in, took a huge artistic leap of faith, and instead embraced a creative muse that surrounded him and created music that was real and honest. For a look into that whole era and what Lindsey was thinking, this entire radio show and a portion of this video are good places to start. I ended this post with his song THE LEDGE from the TUSK album because it’s a good musical reminder of the ledge we all need to step off in order to get back a life that is creative and honest. As the second song on the album, the song represents an aural leap off of the ledge, a reminder for your ears that Lindsey isn’t content with going with the status quo and would instead follow the honest path.

“Janet From The Good Place” comes from the character Janet in the TV show The Good Place. It’s a neat show that my partner Haley and I have been making our way through. The whole thing is good for a laugh, but it is Janet that keeps me smiling the most. In one episode, she is “broken” and that’s where the post’s image comes from. I love the delivery of this line. It makes me smile. Janet is, well I guess the show describes her as something like the “basic operational mainframe” for the world that the show exists in. Don’t call her a robot though. Or a lady. She’s neither one of those. Her honesty in the lines she delivers really elicits a response from me. Despite not being “real” (see above for *) she feels very real to me.


  1. I just finished listening to Brene Brown’s “Braving the Wilderness: a Quest for True Belonging”. Have you ever read/heard this one? It think it speaks to why we feel such a disconnect and how to counter it.

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