I Went to the Hank Green Concert (How Nerds Drown Out My Cynicism)

This past weekend the Tour Because Awesome came to Cambridge, featuring Hank Green’s band Hank Green and the Perfect Strangers, along with Harry and the Potters, Driftless Pony Club, Rob Scallon and Andrew Huang. I dragged my friend Mrs. HP along and for four hours we sang to nerdy songs, danced, and drank Harry Potter-themed cocktails. A giant, carnival-prize-looking snake was thrown into the crowd when Harry and Potters sang about saving Ginny Weasley from the basilisk and it was bounced around like a beach ball.The encore consisted of the Ghostbusters theme and the songified version of Hank and John Green’s multi-video Batman argument. One guy rocked out so hard to the whole Driftless Pony Club set that Craig Benzine noticed, and he was a little bit my hero. I bought a poster, a T-shirt, and some CDs and got a $2 bill signed by Hank Green with a Hankler Fish on it that I will never, ever spend.

Four hours went by and I didn’t even notice until they said goodnight and I realized how massively dehydrated I was.

I had so much fun.

Terrible cell phone pic, go!
Terrible cell phone pic, go!

It has been a while since I’ve gone to such a purely nerdy event, where ages spanned from what must have been 8, to some people who were old enough to be the parents of the teenagers present, though I believe a good amount of them were there for themselves. Everyone was excited, jumping up and down, dancing to the songs, singing as loud as they could to the lyrics they either already knew or were being led through by the bands. It was joy and fun with people in Doctor Who dresses and Vlogbrother shirts and no one judged you for it.

It’s so easy, in my regular life, to be a little embarrassed about my usual enthusiasm for things, which can then turn into a kind of cynicism when people are not embarrassed to be thrilled. Usually, the people around you don’t get it, and you have to explain it, but you never do it right, and it all sounds funny when you put it in words. Yes, I lost sleep over a children’s book; yes, I have listened to a cartoon song a hundred times in the past month; you bet, I spent money on nerdy graphic T-shirts. But at a thing like that concert, where everyone understands, basically, why you do these things, why you get so excited — when you don’t feel like there’s a critical eye on you — it’s harder to get embarrassed. And when you’re not as embarrassed, it’s easier to let go of that critical, cynical thinking and just enjoy yourself, and enjoy everyone having a blast around you.

Response: You Will Be Forgotten

Last week, Hank Green posted a vlogbrothers video titled “You Will Be Forgotten…And That’s OK.” This was in response to a popular Tumblr post where the original poster revealed a fear of living an average life and never doing something to be remembered by, and he was concerned about the fact that so many people seemed to share this anxiety.

Watch the video, definitely, it’s less than 4 minutes long, but here’s a gist of what he said: oblivion is inevitable, and it’s impossible to be actually remembered for forever. Besides that, the idea of being permanently successful is a myth; as he points out from his stance as a “successful” person, you can have many successes, but being successful and satisfied one hundred percent of the time just isn’t a thing.
Hank Green None of it exists

This struck me, because, I think, that’s something that bothers me, too. I want to be remembered, I want to be known. But…why?

It’s a hard thing to grasp, but I believe this feeling comes from not quite understanding my own motivations. I want to be a writer. Being a writer makes you sort of famous, so that seems like a “why”. But is it?

If I can be a famous enough writer, I’ll make enough money off of writing to be able to make that my vocation. I’ll get the satisfaction of knowing that I’ve done something well when other people like what I’ve done. When other people know that I’ve done this thing, and like it enough to pay me money for it, I will feel “successful” and “remembered.” With that as the seeming goal, having not reached that point yet is, well, kind of depressing.

Hank Green’s video helped remind me to not get caught up in this. Becoming known for my writing is a byproduct of what I want, writing for a living. It’s not what I’m actually aiming for. If I don’t ever become “famous”, or whatever, that’s not a problem, because that’s not what I’m trying to do.

Hank ends the video emphasizing that what’s important is the good things you have done, and the good things you will do, “…things that you’re gonna make and have already helped make.” Who cares if I won’t be remembered. I’m WRITING now, and I’m going to keep writing, and creating, and just doing things that hopeful add an ounce of happiness to the world (even it’s just my own world). That’s the thing that matters.

Here’s Hank’s video, embedded below. But check out the whole vlogbrothers channel; they’re really smart, sensitive dudes.