Editor's Letter — January 2019

It’s 10:02 pm on New Year’s Eve. I’m on the couch, with Netflix’s Big Mouth playing in the background. Sometimes I feel guilty reveling in the show’s off-color humor that features a bunch of kids living life. But who’s kidding who, I would 100% feel comfortable writing these gags.

As 2018 is about to turn into 2019, I start to run through my head what the next 365 days will yield. Part of me is in a state of perpetual disappointment—with myself, with what I’ve achieved. Faster, better, more thorough—I push myself not because I’m in a race, but because I have a fundamental belief that I need to grow.

As I told Charis a few days ago, growth, not in the icky “grow at all costs” financial sense, but the actual growth of what I do is in many ways tied to personal goals and cultural goals. The success or failure of the things I attempt is for better or worse, directly tied to my identity.

Everything I’ve been interested in and/or had the good fortune to call a “job,” has been inherently linked with how I see myself. I felt that I always had to have careful control over all occupational things and gave myself no room to fuck up or look bad.

It was stressful, to say the least. Call it an act of self-policing. The act got old. The value of broadcasting a hyper-considered persona went away and the stamina to maintain it faded as well.

One of my biggest life lessons and source of personal relief was to learn the ability to openly admit, “I don’t know.” I don’t know the answer. I want to know the answer, but I’m going to put the question out there and see who else is in the same boat. Who else doesn’t know and who can help me solve this together?

I used to feel that putting a question out there without an answer or without offering next steps could be perceived as laziness. In retrospect, some of the most challenging questions don’t have immediate answers or are new, uncharted territories and thus very circumstantial. And sometimes even if a question I’m asking has been answered, perhaps my willingness to ask it allows others in the dark to admit they don’t know as well. Nobody sees everything I tell myself and often times, our different moments in time pose different questions.  

As I look back on the small experiments I’ve had a hand in, some of my proudest MAEKAN moments over the last year were when we provided a place for others to be heard and gave solace to anyone who felt alone in their journey. They included stories with Neal Brennan and Mike Shinoda on mental health, and how Joshua Kissi and TONL unpacked race and creativity.

It’s valuable for ourselves and others to provide opportunities to align with those without the answers—in the same group of “I don’t know.”  

Solidarity can be just as powerful as the answer.

Signing off for the month,

Eugene Kan Signature

Eugene Kan


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