I’m not quite sure that I’m recommending this Youtube series, The Spirited Man, simply because I’m not sure I even understand it accurately.
But I am feeling it and thinking about it a lot. So check it out or not.
The series is by Casey Neistat’s brother Van. If you don’t know those names, that’s normal. Casey is a YouTube celebrity which is a kind of celebrity that gets massive traffic and yet often goes unknown to the general public. I mostly don’t know the names of any of this category of celebrity even though they often have billions of views (Casey has more than 3 billion).
Anyway, the thing that’s holding me back from fully recommending this YouTube channel is that I don’t understand two things.
First, I don’t understand if “The Spirited Man” is going to turn out to be a pun and the whole channel is going to end up being about substance abuse. The problem with that is that I keep hearing the phrase “Spirited Man” and feeling something deep in my core yell, “That’s me!” But I haven’t struggled with substance abuse, so I’ll feel kind of dopey if I’ve so thoroughly misunderstood the point.
Then second, I’m not totally clear on the gendered nature of this. Occasionally Van will clarify, “The spirited man or the spirited woman.” The way I hear either term seems ungendered to me. Everyone can be spirited and the things that you get spirited about could be gendered without diminishing your spirit. But maybe Van sees it differently.
Ok. Caveats aside. I’m feeling this concept that’s emerging in Van’s videos. I guess start with the first one and then maybe this one. They’re both very short. And then what I’d ask you is: do you recognize this spirit inside you? It’s resonating with me big time.
Van’s taking the phrase from a book, Shopcraft as Soulcraft. And this is a key quote:
Spiritedness, then, may be allied with the spirit of inquiry through a desire to be master of one’s own stuff. It is the prideful basis of self reliance. It is characteristic of the spirited man that he takes an expansive view of the boundary of his own stuff.
I often ask people, “To What End?” as a way to get them to think beyond tactics. Who cares about getting things done if those things don’t add up to and end result you care about?
But when I ask that question I want to remind people that one completely valid “end” would be to simply serve your spiritedness.
One of Van’s examples in one of the videos is that the spirited man sees that his dishwasher has stopped working and decides to dismantle it entirely out of a sense of inquiry.
I would never do that.
But there are plenty of other things that I would do. A lot of projects that supposedly make up my work are actually just spiritedness where I wondered “What would people do if <insert project> existed in the world?” I’ve got to build it then! There was no analysis or business plan. Just a spirit of inquiry.
An obvious reason these videos are resonating with me is because I’m trying to articulate this work I do and what I’ve come to about being driven by curiosity about what I’m capable of and what you’re capable of.
I think sometimes we contort ourselves into having socially acceptable reasons for self improvement. I want to go to the gym to be “healthy.” I want to stop procrastinating so that I can make more money. Etc.
But what if the reason is just you’re curious to explore your limits. That’s sufficient.