Honesty in art.
I’ve been struggling for the past year on the music I’ve been making.
Somewhere, somehow I picture a phantom critique who picks apart everything I do and who will ultimately be my undoing.
But it’s only in that vulnerable place that we can make art that is truly significant. I think, better yet I am sure, that is the reason so many people stray away from art. To let your soul be seen on that level is risky at best, soul crushing at worst.
So what steps can we take to be honest? Can we start small or dive head first into the deep end? How do we practice this method of vulnerability?
This blog has helped me in this facet. It is my daily dose of honest art. Whatever happens, as soon as I’m done writing this will exist into the world. And, little by little, hopefully my imperfect honesty will make its way into the world.
A sense of adventure.
Adventure is one of my favorite words in the English language.
I love calling my long run days “adventures” because they instantly feel more casual and less chore-like.
To adventure is to approach things with a sense of wonder. It’s to appreciate the little things such as a simple meal. It is to understand that even the most difficult tasks are part of the overarching goal.
When we adventure, we put things into perspective.
What if we used the word adventure in everyday conversation?
What if we took every difficulty in the stride that we take them on an adventure? What if we appreciated every simple task just like we do in those times?
What does it mean to be seen?
Pardon the rhyme. I couldn’t help myself.
These daily writing exercises have been a quest for me. A quest to open myself up to the world in a way that I never have before. And it’s been complicated.
There are days where I want to hide behind my own scrutiny. There are days when I think there is zero point because I think no one is going to read this.
But conquering both of these thoughts is the goal. I think we’re meant to express ourselves, and I think exercising our thoughts is necessary.
What does it mean to be seen?
I think it means not hiding behind your own scrutiny. Not hiding behind a persona you’ve created. Letting your guard down in order to build something up. We can’t truly grow without some sort of vulnerability, so let’s exercise that notion daily.
Write. It is a gift.
It’s been about a week since I started cataloging my thoughts. Some days have been easy. Other days, like today have me staring at an open tab, curious to see what will happen.
Honestly, this is my third draft. The first was too lengthy, the second, too pointed.
But I started this experiment to build not one, but two habits. The first, to steadily write, and the second, to exercise vulnerability.
And both of these are the overarching musing of today.
Write poorly. Write well. The only way to do either is to write often.
To read and write are a super power. They are a gift that has given us the greatness of human history. Write to celebrate our past and help forge the future.
Writing is a skill, it needs to be refined, practiced like a musical instrument. If anything has soothed my aching head over the past few weeks it’s the notion of getting my thoughts on the page and learning how to be vulnerable with the world.
Write like your life depends on it.
Join me in building the habit of being prepared to be wrong.
This will start with a book suggestion. “Anything You Want” by Derek Sivers is a short, fantastic read.
At one point, Derek shares a small anecdote about his morning bike ride.
He discusses how, each day, he would huff and puff and hurry to the end of his route. One day he decided to take the steam off. Easing his way through his route, he took time to enjoy the scenery, experience the environment, and enjoy himself throughout his ride. At the end of his majestic journey he looked down to see how much longer it had taken him…four minutes.
Derek had spent his entire time as a bike rider with such intensity that, little did he realize, it was only saving him four minutes.
Fast forward to this morning. I always attack my morning routine as if every minute counts before I walk out the door. But today I took note of Derek’s experience and took my time, eased off, and enjoyed the morning. I literally walked out the door at the same exact time that I usually do.
What other parts of our lives can we simply apply the “four minutes” approach to?
Would it not be easier to exercise more consistently if we didn’t work out like we need to lose or gain twenty to thirty pounds by tomorrow? Wouldn’t be easier to conquer that marathon if we didn’t treat every day like race day?
Find something that you usually rush through, your workout, your commute, and treat it like a journey. Try to notice something new that you did not notice before. Sometimes four minutes can be the difference between burnout and a life changing way of thinking.
“Shame, shame, shame”
I’ve been listening to Brene Brown’s lecture titled “The Power of Vulnerability” and it is rocking my world.
There are many parts of her work that are profound, but here’s a slight bit of one that has been hanging in my mind.
This is not an exact quote:
“In over fifty years of research, there is not one drop of evidence that shows that shaming someone leads to a change in their behavior. Guilt, on the other hand has an inverse affect. The difference between shame and guilt is that shame is based on the person, while guilt is based on their behavior.”
How many of us consider ourselves lazy, unfocused, out of shape, bad at (insert most creative skills). What if we separated our actions from our identity? What good may come from it?
How can you speak to yourself today in language that is productive? How can we change our talk from “I am so stupid, worthless, lazy.” to “That was a bad thing to do, but it’s not who I am.”?
Let’s take note of our inner monologue today and see what tiny changes can be made to be more productive.
You are more than your “to do” list.
Our culture has so refined the idea of getting things done that our identities are wrapped up in it.
We revel in the misery. “Busy” has become a brag. We wear exhaustion like a badge of honor.
I am among the worst of these. I have learned throughout the past few months that I am either thinking about the next thing, working on the next thing, or beating myself up for not doing either of the two.
But the cycle has to stop. We can’t constantly live our lives like failure is the worst thing possible. We can’t live like notoriety is currency. We are worth more than that.
I’ve spent so many hours and days aching over how to create art that matters that I failed to see the point. The art that matters is what matters to me.
Pick one thing on your “to do” list and don’t do it.
If that’s too scary for you, just hypothesize. What is the worst case scenario if it doesn’t get done?
Sometimes it truly is a necessity, and sometimes it’s something that is unnecessarily stressing us out.
May we find the wisdom to discern between the two.
The tranquility of early morning is something that has been written about too many times to count.
But the mornings like today, the day of my long run are held near and dear to my heart.
There is something about a blank canvas on a day like today to make one excited about the possibilities that the future may hold.
To rise, to run far, to toil. These are some of these are some of the most ancient features of being human and to be able to celebrate these things is a gift.
Let us treat each day with the same wonder as we do in the blank canvas of the long run day. Let us find hope in possibility.
I’ve learned that one of the main tenants of the culture I exist in is the fear of being seen as a quitter. Sometimes quitting can be the best thing, the most conducive thing, even the thing that saves our lives.
It’s so easy to live in a world of routine. The old adage of “the devil you know…” rings in my ears as I write this. We crave safety over possibility, which is understandable to a point. But how long before certainty becomes an illusion as well?
“What if?” should be the mantra for today.
What if it all went right? What if taking that one chance is the thing you needed to set the rest of your life up for success?
What if it went wrong? What is the absolute worst that could happen, and is the worst case scenario really that bad?
This question may lead us to realize what amazing changes can happen if we just let go of certain things. If we quit feeling the social pressure of feeling like a quitter, who knows what good can come from it?