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[check-in] AN EXPERIMENTATION WITH LUNACY

December 6, 2010

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Yesterday I sat on my couch and thought about killing myself.

Okay, now that I have your attention, I’m going to unpack that for you.

Firstly, I really was sitting on my couch. Secondly, it was only a part of myself that I thought of killing: my precious online “Daniel Baylis” brand.

You see, over the past two years through the work I’ve done with Tourisme Montreal, I’ve established myself a leading travel blogger in Canada. My friendly, smiling face has been available as your affable contact in the city. I’m part of a team that has won awards for creative online content and cutting-edge marketing strategy. My image is playful, friendly, cheeky, cutsie.

I have no regrets about the work and brand-building I’ve done. In fact, I’m appreciative for the opportunities to augment my skills in writing, video creation and networking. And I’m especially grateful for the people with whom I’ve connected along the way. Blessed, I am.

Over the course of the next twelve months, I will be embarking on the biggest challenge of my life – international exchange-based vagabonding. This trip permits the occasion to not only see new places, but to become a new “Daniel Baylis.” Each time I move countries is opportunity for reinvention, for complete identity renovation. This idea both entices me and scares the crap out of me.

I question what I’ve created. How precious do I need to be about maintaining a positive/loveable online identity? How much flexibility can one demand of a personal brand? And ultimately, why the fuck do I care about a “personal brand”?

For instance, if I decide to take a daily photo of my bowel movements, sharing these images with the world as I discuss the impact of travel and localized eating on the digestive system, will I be pigeonholed as the guy who shared his shit for a year? Should I censor myself for fear of irrevocable damage in my future?

Ultimately, I desire flirtation with insanity. But how far is fair? Am I willing to challenge my family, my friends, my readers? What have I built here, and what are my responsibilities to those who have invested time and friendship? Do I owe anybody anything?

Many questions are surfacing.

Watching the documentary film Exit Through the Gift Shop yesterday afternoon has brought many of these thoughts simmering below to the surface.  I’m not convinced that the entire film is not a hoax. But I am catalyzed by the nonconformist spirit of Banksy, and the other street artists; I’m inspired to reflect on this question – why am I so quick to abide by the rules?

If the trajectory of my current career continued, within the next five years I could probably be making six-figures in advertising, travel and/or media. If I kissed enough ass, and got my teeth whitened, in ten years I could be the slick, smiley host of a snappy CBC talk show. I could be living in a hip, renovated loft, driving a black hybrid SUV and choosing from a closet full of organic merino wool sweaters. My biggest dilemma might be how much to tip the cleaning lady. I could have a very comfortable life.

But all I’m craving right now is an experimentation with lunacy.

Next year, you might witness the compelling story of a man who goes into the world and connects with the grand tapestry of cultures and peoples from six different continents. It might be the greatest quixotic adventure you ever follow.

Or you may see the complete unraveling of a guy hell-bent on identity destruction.

RIP “Daniel Baylis”?

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. Chas permalink
    December 6, 2010 2:39 PM

    I have to say….

    I lived in Colorado for nearly 2 years and I blogged as a Canadian without a cause. I, at least, encourage you to do whatever it is you feel is proper for the day, but not stick to any overall rules.

    If this means you end up drowning Daniel Baylis in the Dead Sea, then so be it. It will only open a door for the new chapter of someone like “Danny Baylissio”.

    If I end up having to analyse photos of your shit for a year, I am already excited to do so!

    Run forth…..

  2. December 6, 2010 6:43 PM

    No.

  3. December 6, 2010 6:44 PM

    LONG LIVE DB

  4. December 6, 2010 6:58 PM

    Well, life is what it is. You cannot have second thoughts. I only hope that when you visit The Pacific Northwest you will come in October and definetely look us up!

  5. Natalie permalink
    December 6, 2010 7:38 PM

    you @#$*ing rock.

  6. Jeffrey C permalink
    December 6, 2010 7:58 PM

    Stop thinking so hard and just be.

    Show us your true character, not how good you can be at playing one you invent.

  7. December 6, 2010 8:42 PM

    a friend of mine that i deeply respect told me once that the best and most revealing time of his life was spent playing pinball until he got good enough to reach national championship levels. basically, he did nothing productive. he feels he had a breakthrough.

    it isn’t hard to make six figures in advertising. i have no education and have no trouble believing i could do the same thing in 6 months if i felt like it. we’re the same age, there’s very little difference between us.

    what is good is easy to get.
    what is terrible is easy to endure.

    – TheTetrapharmakos, a 2500 year old document about happiness.

    • danielbaylis permalink
      December 6, 2010 9:51 PM

      So you’re suggesting that I relax and “let it be”?

      That’s hard for an individual who aspires to act with intention and precision.

      I suppose that’s part of the desire to deconstruct the previous “brand” – one that was somewhat calculated.

      I think for me lunacy equates letting go.

  8. Jay Monaghan permalink
    December 6, 2010 9:33 PM

    Hey, planning to be in Australia from end of April till mid-late June, then all over Europe for July and August. Perhaps we can run into one and other?

    Have you already planned your travels or just going to go with the flow?

  9. December 6, 2010 10:57 PM

    Hmmm. Rebranding.

    There’s something that I have been admiring about how you have gone about building and maintaining your current “brand” : it has much more to do with the vessel (and the steering) than specifically with the contents. You have achieved a constant and well-integrated presence without being obstrusive or obnoxious about it.

    In that sense, I expect that whatever the content (and somehow I expect the content to continue to reflect your personality, whether you’re trying to sell Montréal or embarking on a voyage of self-discovery), the vessel and the steering will continue to be comfy and enticing to us all.

    So maybe you can let your inner anal-retentive organizer take care of the vessel and the steering and let the other stuff go where it may. I’m sure we’re all along for the ride.

  10. gilles gosselin permalink
    December 7, 2010 1:02 AM

    as far as you can go, you’ll always be the same… I went to China last month, pretty much the same guy, just know ,now, what it feels to walk on the Great Wall…you will just reactivate part of you who are just sleepy right now…but will be always the same guy at the end…have a good trip

  11. Jeffrey C permalink
    December 7, 2010 8:26 PM

    Was thinking more about this today and remembered this poem:

    “Both Ways” by A.R. Ammons

    “One can’t
    have it

    both ways
    and both

    ways is
    the only

    way I
    want it.”

    –A.R. Ammons

  12. December 9, 2010 11:12 AM

    I think about those same questions all the time. Let’s try to remember that we’re people first, who must interact genuinely with the other people around us, even if it might make a dent or two in the “brand.”

    Remember when Letterman confronted his blackmailer and admitted to having an affair with a staffer — in the segment where he normally tells a few jokes? I think we all love and know him better now.

    Even Mike Tyson biting simeone’s ear off ultimately enhanced his legend.

    Be honest with yourself on your voyage and share your new truths with your readers. If you don’t share your real truth, you’ll be cheating them.

  13. December 9, 2010 11:21 AM

    Life is a journey… a journey in which neither the road nor the traveller remain the same throughout.

    We evolve throughout our lives – we change; our goals change, our path changes, our friends change.
    We need to be true to ourselves… trust ourselves. Not every “internet friend” or blog reader will be with you forever. Some will drop away and new ones will appear. But if you’re true to yourself, then none of that will matter.

    You have to do this travel, this blog, etc for you…

    Internet friends and acquaintances are a fickle bunch, witness the fall of MySpace and the rise of Facebook.

    The legend is something that will shine through with honesty.

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