artist blog

Can I Do It? (Part 1)

Can I Do It? (Part 1)

This is the fundamental question of the ages.  It reverberates throughout the halls of time.  Especially into the future.  Do I have what it takes?  Am I a contender?  Will people recognize my talent?  Do I really have talent?  Do I have enough?

These are important questions to answer, especially for creative people.  Some might argue that even entertaining such questions with consistent intensity is part of the creative process.  The answers come back with great uncertainty. 

Some will try to scientifically minimize the emotional angst of such questions with simple, probing questions: what is it you are really after?  How do you define success?  How will you know when you find it?  These are meant to help…

To Love What You Do (Part 7)

To Love What You Do (Part 7)

“Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” Not quite. Freedom is the ability to choose. It’s having a choice. Being aware of that choice. Beholding that choice. Respecting that choice. That’s freedom, both duty and delight. Too often we have let addicts define freedom. Really. Normally those who talk about and flaunt their freedom have the least. The addict at first, of course, is escaping all the trappings of everyday life in favor of much more heightened existence.

To Love What You Do (Part 5)

To Love What You Do (Part 5)

We have discovered that what you believe infinitely changes your reality. If you believe something is possible, it is. Our accuser lives, as we have also said, to convince us not to believe - to shut us in on ourselves. To render us powerless.

To Be or Not to Be (Part 4)

To Be or Not to Be (Part 4)

So eventually we must take a leap. We must literally move our feet in a direction in which we do not know the outcome. We must be willing to live in that state of ambiguity without guarantees.

That is the necessary risk-jump and every business or humanitarian effort has had to take. It started with one person willing to risk their own comforts in their own futures for the sake of a dream birthed in faith.

Don't give up because it is hard. Don't give up when it seems like you made the wrong choice. Don't give up when you feel discouraged, unsupported, neglected by those who have committed to serve.

Right around the corner is a break. Not all breaks are good ones but they all lead to increased clarity. That ultimately is what we're after. But we will not get there without a serious amount of determination.

*So we keep climbing. And we realize that the struggle for life is life itself. There is no better way to live, no greater use of our short time on earth, than to struggle on behalf of others with our gifts. There is nothing else to do.

To Be or Not to Be (Part 3)

To Be or Not to Be (Part 3)

There's an absolutely huge responsibility to know and foster the right sort of ideas, primarily because ideas become reality.  We become what we think. Or we create what we sync up.

It's the secret behind Murphy's Law. Once someone imagines that life is picking on them they literally start to create realities that line up with those ideas. And things literally do start to happen to them.

It's almost as if their thoughts go out and seek the kind of things that will vindicate or prove their suspicions.  Their thoughts will quite literally send vibrations into the universe seeking affinities. It becomes sort of a closed circuit of self-fulfilling prophecy.

What most do not realize in that state is that if they are able to change the way they think, realities will line up differently for them.  Our most valuable asset in the true sense of our freedom is found in our thoughts. We really are in charge of what we think about.

Being Inspired (Part 4)

So what do we really know? What can we really prove? Who can we really impress with our cultured dialogue about coffee and fine foods? That’s what it comes about after a while. Can we “win” over the people with resources to us and our cause?

It’s very easy to fall prey to this scarcity mentality. Only a relative few hold all the resources and there is no way for me to get a hold of them...unless I play their games. The irony here is that all the attention gets put on the resources. People in scarcity mode forget what the resources are for, and whether they really need them in the first place. The beautiful thing about newer media outlets is that they remind us chasing the dollars may have missed the point.

The point is to get creative content to the people. Eventually there are costs to doing that (obviously) but keeping at the center that goal is key. That puts the artist in charge. Thinking only about the money it will take puts “the man” in charge.

It does NOT mean we decrease the size of our goals, in fact the opposite. Keep goals big, bigger than makes sense. Get to that edge where we can’t necessarily see the end to our dreams, but we also don’t fall into despair for lack of a next step. Plans don’t need to be elaborate 5-year indicators, at least not for the visionary. They need only to give us our next few steps. What is more important that plans are goals, outcomes, vision statements that describe what we long to see.

Then we have to start wrestling with that deep-seated enemy that raises the objection: “who are you to be thinking like this?” The real question is did we put those desires in there OR did we discover them? Is there something inherently “us” in them? If we can establish those desires were there than we have the perfect excuse for excavating them. We did not put them there. They were wired in at my birth as a distinct part of me. I am not at liberty to take them out of me without trying for them.

And besides that life is too short. We are here so little. We really don’t have time for all this whining and going back and forth. Either we go for it or we don’t. How are we going to make this world a better place? What is our mark? Some have wasted their precious opportunities ironically contemplating that very question. That is the beauty of the child or one lost in their curiosity. They do not even consider such things. They are mindlessly free to do what they love.

Their extreme focus is evidence that such questions do not drive nor distract them. Now, unfortunately, life happens and at some point we run into ourselves. Our existence forces itself upon us and such questions rise to the top.

Still, lose not the example of the enthralled child.

Be curious. Find wonder. Do the thing that lights you up. Shine bright like a diamond :-). Mind not anyone else. It is just you and the mortal reminder that this could be your last time to create.

The creative must be vulnerably open to the wounds of this world. We must be intensely aware of the suffering in and around us. We must feel the full weight of the burden of being human, with all its frailty and responsibility.

There is no doubt a seriousness to the work. Unlike a scientist or researcher, we do not go out with a certain premise in mind. We do not gather information to support a claim. Rather we simply go out and see what is really there.

That kind of painful honesty is the root of creativity. Out of those deep roots comes a special sort of longing, one intensely close to inspiration. It is related to the overall fatigue we feel when looking at the pervasive brokenness of the world.

Times of tragedy especially bring out this sense of otherworldliness, a connectedness with our ancestors (all those who have gone before us). The current world has little awareness or appreciation of such, which is in part responsible for the creative void.

The creative and the poet must dig around in our emotional dirt, connecting us to artifacts of our past world and reality. Our job is to remind people again and again there is meaning to life. We are not simply clogs in a machine.

We matter. Our work matters. Our thoughts matter. Our input matters. Our dreams matter. Our faith matters. In a world consumed with outputs (the external machine) we desperately need reminding that there is something more.

We need convinced again and again that there really is a greater power than survival. There is something higher on the human experience food chain than power and animal instinct. We are more than our survival. There is something higher.

In a word: love. Love will always be the soaring space for our imaginations. It will be the open invitation to see the world beyond survival, free tickets to the only show that can guarantee a quickening. It literally makes us more alive!

The choice to love may at times seem in tension with the pursuit of the creative. The overwhelming needs of the world will draw us into themselves. They may require of us action, dedication, commitment, time. We may be lured into them.

That is certainly not a bad thing but must be held in tension with our creative pursuits. It is NOT one or the the other, it is both. The creative pursuit is made better with the love, the love is made better with the creative pursuit - never in isolation.

Did the Beethoven's of the world have time to attend to the social needs around them? Was their greatest concern in life the next note of the their symphony? Certainly the masters had such single-minded fury that it may today border insanity.

But was their pursuit of the next note really bounded into the community and context to which they lived? In other words, was their music to them a social responsibility, not an tangental escape? Yes, yes, yes! Most assuredly the answer is yes!

The Power of YOU (Addendum)

The Power of YOU (Addendum)

Competence is such a slippery concept. It is tied so directly to our worthiness. What makes us think we can do what it is we do. There will always be scoffers, people who think we are not qualified to do the job we have been called to do.

Sometimes we are the scoffer. We mock ourselves enough. We literally struggle to see how it is we can do what we are supposed to do. “I’m in over my head.” We’ve all sensed that feeling of being over-whelmed, but who says the “over” part?

In other words, who tells us we are out of our league? Who gets to define the league. It is ultimately us. Certainly many of the challenges we face will be new to us. Others will seem to be seasoned pros. All they have is experience, not expertise.

That’s the qualifier we often forget in self-loathing. Just because people have been doing it longer does NOT make them better. Their experience creates a mirage of confidence and competence that simply may not really be there.

Competence sounds so official, so definitive. Our tendency is to let others define what competence is. In our utilitarian ways we base it on the “average.” “Well, compared to others...”, we create a whole system upon computing average competency.

The implied message is that we “should” be competent in every area. To be a fully-functioning human (what some call a “contributor”), we need to have a working level of competence in basically every area of life (think the subjects in school).

And while there is a general sense to where a working knowledge of all subjects is helpful, our tendency is to want to be great (or “the best”) in every area. We compare ourselves with experts in each area and beat ourselves up for not being better.

As we get older (and hopefully wiser) we learn to accept our limitations, but some still with a tinge of bitterness. Instead, let someone great in one area inspire you to be great in yours. Who cares that you are not good at someone else’s “what.”

Don’t let anyone else define for you what success is. Many people will cut in on your race and offer suggestions. Don’t let them. They will try to make you their version of whatever it is. They have no authority or responsibility to do so.

We are alone held accountable for our lives. We can not blame anyone else for our ultimate decisions. Who we deeply are outside even of our actions is the person we have to listen to. No one else knows that person like we do.

The most well meaning people can be the most dangerously dead wrong. Listen to your life. Listen to the deep voice inside yourself. Certainly we can gather insight from trusted people on who we are, but it is us doing the asking, not them.

My race is no one else’s. Finishing my race implies NOT finishing yours. I am not accountable to finish someone else’s. That means I must know my race. That alone may be the one single, solitary, most important thing we ever do. God help us.