ASK H E L I O S EPISODE THREE:
HOW HIGH CAN YOU LEAP?
From the DeLorean dashboard of h e l i o s:
Don't you love gossip? Of course, you do!
It’s only human to enjoy the juicy, flaming hot gossip game. One thing I noticed about myself...the more I hate a job, the more I get sucked into gossip.
C’mon! How good does gossiping feel when you’re in a boring job? So-and-so is leaving the company to study a language. Another so-and-so just broke up with his girlfriend. Who you become at a boring job sure is a travesty. You lose your spark. You switch to autopilot. You become as numb as a tongue on novocaine. You gossip to feel something.
So, you wanna hear today’s gossip? Well, too bad! This ain’t no gossip rag. This is the third installment of ask h e l i o s. To bring you today’s letter, I had to dig through a whole new patch of dirt for questions to answer. Where did I look? Where did I go?
I entered the nostalgic and blissful...Vapor95 Discord.
In case you don’t know, Discord is a unique place on the Internet. Discord is an online hangout much like a forum. In the Vapor95 Discord, h e l i o s and the Vapor95 team chat with fans and friends, discuss everything vaporwave, retro, and aesthetic, and have lots and lots of fun with memes. (Join us in the Discord!)
One day on Discord, I discovered something. Our gracious guests were asking h e l i o s questions. Many of these questions were quite nice. So, I decided to write a newsletter to answer these Discord citizens. Alas, a letter to you about work, meaning, education, and courage.
Many years ago, I worked with this old Asian lady. Actually, I just lied to you. She wasn’t old. She was younger than h e l i o s and full of silly jokes and a childlike naivete that I loved. This was during a phase of h e l i o s’ life he doesn’t share too often. I lied to protect her identity. But, today’s letter is about courage so...I’m coming clean.
This young woman from Taiwan told me something I’ll never forget. Our boss asked us to hand out flyers on the street one day. “This sucks,” I said. Then, she hit me with her work philosophy. “Nine out of ten things suck at a job but as long as you get to do one out of ten things that you enjoy, it’s a good job!”
I forced a smile and said “nice”! But really, I thought that was terrible. 90%!? What kind of life is that? Let’s put this into perspective. You’re going to work almost one-half of your waking life. Ninety percent of one half is...way too many hours doing things you don’t wanna do. I thought this mindset was such bullshit and a recipe for disaster for those of us who cannot numb ourselves into oblivion to live through our work.
(h e l i o s is a frigid, marble statue but he’s not numb enough to be disconnected at his profession!)
This, I suppose, is precisely why someone asked h e l i o s on Discord our very first question:
Why is life so miserable?
For most of us, life is miserable not for the reasons we’re led to believe. For the vast majority of us, there are no floods or famines or pandemics. In fact, most of us reading this have probably never even been truly hungry or thirsty.
So, why the misery? A lot of human misery comes down to self-inflicted damage. The slow burns. Being shackled to a depressingly heavy rickshaw we keep throwing shit on top of. We’re all so good at sitting in a pot of increasingly boiling water for too long. It’s our gift and our curse as humans. We endure.
An unmistakably huge, huge, huge part of this miserable unhappiness stems from not doing the right thing for your job. “But, it’s just a job, right?” No. It’s not. Jobs are a huge part of our lives. They provide us community. Socializing. A paycheck. A purpose. Friends. Lovers. A real connection. Some jobs are an escape from your problems.
(Don’t worry! This isn’t your parents in disguise telling you to get a job and get out of the basement.)
Not all jobs are created equally though. Some actually do suck. Can you guess how many jobs h e l i o s has had? Really think about it and don’t let your eyes peek. I’ve had over 23 legitimate jobs. I’ve worked a lifetime of jobs before even becoming the marble statue you see before you, full of wisdom.
For a long time, I let myself believe I was the variable of unhappiness. “22 jobs and I’ve hated all of them...I must be the variable of unhappiness!” Then, I wised up. I retired for a brief stretch of my twenties. I like to call it being “on sabbatical” instead of “unemployed”. A few times actually for months at a time. I just stopped working when I felt like it was too much. The time was mostly miserable.
I learned that misery often comes from ignoring a deep desire to collaborate with other people in the pursuit of something greater. As a writer and lonely marble statue, I need to remind myself of this daily.
If you’re feeling a lot of misery in your life, perhaps it’s time to think about how you’re spending eight or more hours of your day. Believe me when I say, there’s no shame in spending three to twenty years finding the thing you want to do everyday which doesn’t make you feel miserable. The journey might be long. People may doubt you. You may doubt yourself. But eventually, you will find your place and misery will vanish like mist in the virtual shopping mall when the sunlight pierces through the atrium windows.
I searched far and wide for a quote to share with you. Instead, I had a vision and made up my own quote: All misery stems from within, especially if you are the type to post a meme on Facebook that says "the first five days after the weekend are the hardest" because those people are the worst kind of misery because they spread it in the form of humor.
Never stop seeking. Never stop learning.
Speaking of learning, our next question:
Hey, teacher! Is vaporwave a philosophy?
We received this question from a pupil who already asked their teacher but the teacher shot down their vaporwave query. The student went on to tell us that their teacher scoffed and said “Ha! Vaporwave is no philosophy!”
h e l i o s squints. His mind begins to reach far and wide for the answer. He cradles his chin with his knuckles like Rodin’s The Thinker...why isn’t vaporwave a philosophy?
What is h e l i o s, if not a philosopher? I mean, vaporwave looks like a philosophy. It even smells like one.
In short, it is a philosophy. By all definitions. Your teacher was wrong. For evidence, I have something for you. An amazing Vapor95 DARKNET writer explores the vaporwave philosophy question with a much deeper dive.
But, the troubling part of dear reader’s question is how dismissive their teacher was. It has come time for h e l i o s to use his platform to challenge societal norms. Will you allow h e l i o s to step on his marble soapbox for a moment?
You see, a teacher’s job is to explore the universe and always be questioning and testing the boundaries. Divergent thinking. Connecting dots. Seeing around corners. Venturing across the chasm. The mark of a great educator is one who hears a difficult question and says, “I never saw it that way...let’s spend the whole day exploring our curiosities!” Sounds like this teacher doesn’t like their job. Dare I say...they sound miserable!
This is the great shame of education in 2019. I can list so many jobs that pay more than being the educator and role model for our upcoming generation. Isn’t that crazy?
It’s all a big, miserable shame. First, they tell us vaporwave isn’t a philosophy. Then, they tell us the aesthetic isn’t real art. Next, they say vaporwave isn’t real music. They poop on our dreams. They stifle us. They tell us that all we can ever hope for in a job is to do one thing out of ten you actually enjoy. My vaporfriends, we will resist. But, how? Courage. I know you have it in you. Why? Because the opposite of courage is conformity. And, you are way beyond conformity, my aesthetic pal.
Sometimes a courageous act can be as simple as sending an email. Did you know I used to be a teacher? I don’t mean the wise vaporwave sage you see and hear before you, disseminating advice and wisdom to your vaporears. I mean, a real books-and-test-and-lectures kind of teacher.
(There’s a lot you don’t know about me. Truth is often stranger than fiction, huh?)
You might be wrapping your head around a lot of things I’ve written today. You might be wondering “who is h e l i o s?” Much like the person on Discord who asked the same question.
Everyone asks...who is h e l i o s?
The better question is...why is h e l i o s? Who he is...that’s a question for another time. We’re keeping that hidden for now. The big reveal is coming in time (even though some of you met me at a very special vaporwave event already).
But, “why is h e l i o s” is something I am at liberty to discuss. I told you about conformity and courage before. So, let me take you back into my past. To a span of a few years when conformity and predictability nearly broke me.
I graduated from college and visited my parents’ house. I ran into my neighbor and the conversation got serious. He put his hand on my shoulder.
“You know what you need?” he started.
I remained silent.
“You gotta make some...money!”
I nodded and said, “go on.”
“You gotta get a job in finance.”
For several moments, he went on to talk about how I needed to start working in the financial sector so I could make real money...money was the answer...money was the key to fitting in. And, what did I say? Nothing. But, I let that moment simmer in my brain for years. You see, we’re tempted by conformity at every turn.
The reason for h e l i o s’ very inception began with resisting conformity. After years of temptation to the predictable path, I took a creative leap. This part of the story might destroy the magic, lore, and legend of h e l i o s but it’ll be worth it if it inspires you in real life.
Who was h e l i o s? The truth is, h e l i o s was just another dude who was tired of his job. He was miserable. He’d been dismissed by teachers and written off my nosy neighbors. Just like you might be.
I started a silly little vaporwave Instagram account on my own. I called it s e r i o u s w a v e s. I was one of many a e s t h e t i c i n s t a accounts. It was very unoriginal. In fact, Vapor95 was already a great company and served as my main source of inspiration. I quit Instagram after a few weeks. Too hard and too late, I said. Months later, I started writing again (a passion I walked away from years earlier because I also said “too hard and too late”).
Suddenly, the dots connected so I sent an email. I sent an email to Vapor95. The benevolent Vapor95 CEO answered my email. The conversation led to an opportunity to show them what I could create. The opportunity led to something bigger. It paved the way for the birth of...h e l i o s.
After many years (none of which were in the financial sector), I sure showed my neighbor. I got rich after all. No, not in money. But in creative riches, impact, and fulfillment. I became h e l i o s, the lonely, nostalgic Vapor95 figurehead and voice.
Steve Jobs was right when he said it only makes sense when you look back. That’s when you see the dots connect.
(If you’re reading this and you’ve been touched by my words, let me know with a comment or a share. It would make it all worthwhile for me.)
It feels good to tell you my tale of creative courage. Now, I have a challenge for you. This is no platform for h e l i o s to brag about his life, after all. Use my interesting tale and figure out what you can do for someone so they can do something for you.
Who is someone you admire? What’s your favorite company? What unique value do you bring to the table? What project are you dying to start? Who can you collaborate with? What have you always wanted to do? What would creative courage look like for your life? The challenge, my friends, is to simply make one courageous step forward. Just one. The rest will fall into place eventually.
What would your step forward look like? Now, go do it.
I grant thee courage,
h e l i o s
Did you enjoy the writings of h e l i o s?
1) Leave a comment and let us know what you think. These words that you read were no accident and years and years of misery fueled them.
3) Consider joining his email list here.