Being What You Do

August 05, 2018
$8,345 Raised
87.84% Funded
83 Contributors

This is a “crowdfunded” creative project, with levels of rewards available if you Go and Fund. Hover over the thermometer for more information on funding plateaus. Alternately, you can find a full detailed budget breakdown on the About The Project page.

"You are what you do." This is a Jungian mantra that's helped mark the boundaries of personhood in modern industrial societies for the past century, and it still pops up in postmodern self-help materials by libertarian charlatans. The implications are obvious: we not only perform the actions we undertake, we embody them in very real ways.

I can't think of anything more depressing than that. (Except, perhaps, for the Roboticized "You are what you repeatedly do," which was a misquote of Aristotle by a lifehack website.) What a loss of freedom this implies, all so that we can more quickly be pigeon-holed and employment-tagged in convenient shorthand by people who don't know us.

These days, we are always measured by others in relation to something we did that one time, the brilliant first impression, the highest point of perceived success or notoriety. If you truly are what you do, then what happens when you stop doing it? Do you implode or cease to exist altogether? Life is too long for this kind of thinking. The only way to survive the late 2010's and the societal hellscapes to come is to become masterful in adapting and surviving, not necessarily any one single thing.

If I've learned anything in the 14 years since I started writing in public for large audiences of strangers, it's this: detach yourself from what you do. If you've created something, surrender it to the public and move on to the next one. Keep moving forward. Slip the trap of becoming someone whose entire identity is wrapped up in something you did when you were younger. In my case, that would be a college basketball blog and resulting national media gig, "Last Man" and BLAPP.

So if you are feeling lost or broken lately, if your footing today is unsure, or if you're reflecting on inadequacies in relation to something you were/did once, listen to me. You are who you are. Actually, wait. F*ck. Scratch what I said just now. Ke$ha already sang that, and now it's stuck in my head damn it. HOT, AND, DANGEROUS.

Try this one instead. You are the arc of your journey, and that includes everything you've done, are doing now, and everything you're going to do later. The story is not over. Because, baby, whether you like it or not, things are gonna change.


With the help of the voting public, Project Darkhorse now has its Final Four of storyline arcs. Because this is an underdog book, all the stories involve using what little is available in order to build something bigger. An important part of the subtext is that the stories with tragic endings involve being stuck in being that thing, while the ones that survived post-peak gravity were those that evolved to survive.

Despite being born with a deformity, he used soccer to pull himself out of abject poverty, then transformed the way the game was played (and how fans cheered for it) on the way to a World Cup victory.

From destitution in the wake of colonialism and occupation, this tiny nation used one man's vision to become one of the richest and most expensive countries in the world in just three decades.

A poor struggling immigrant couple started a mom and pop clothing store. Six years later it had expanded to 100 locations, and within its first decade it was worth $1 billion.

It was a "resistance" movement designed to topple its country's brutal dictatorship through humor, creativity and non-violent action. It only took two years.

Some of you were having fun guessing what the others were. In no particular order: Haiti, America Online, the University of New Orleans basketball team and Round Rock, Texas. These will all be covered in the book too, perhaps in a more major way if we complete our fundraising early. Here comes another segue.


This is an incredibly crucial time for our fundraising. We've reached the 60 percent point, which ensures that the nuts and bolts of the project -- editing, design, printing, production and shipping -- are funding-assured. That is awesome.

The remaining 40 percent is what is going to determine whether this is a five-star book with lots of local on-site flavor, or a four-star academic research exercise. (There will be those who will find reasons to rate it lower either way.) We're talking about trips to Brazil, Singapore, Serbia, and the United States! That is what this next phase of fundraising is about, and the sooner it can be achieved the better.

So please share PDH with anyone you think might be interested. We also have brand new reward levels, so if you want to upgrade all you need to do is donate the difference to get the higher package. PDH, turn it up-up-up-up-up-up-up!

Thank you again for your support and interest.

Until next time,
Yer pal,
Kyle (@whelliston)

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