A most important moment

The vast majority of us will never be president. We’ll never be movie stars. We’ll never run Fortune 500 companies, or invent technological advances so profound that they shape human achievement for decades to come.

The vast majority will not become published authors, or produced playwrights. Our canvases or art installations will not be shown in national galleries or private collections. Our musical compositions will not be performed by symphonic orchestras, or sung by operatic professionals.

The truth is, these heights to which we all, at some level, aspire to will be far beyond our reach. However, at one point we’ll look back and see the most important moment in our life. And though it may not hold the immense gravitas of moments in the public arena viewed by millions, it will have been a defining moment in our lives. One that we’ll (hopefully) look back on proudly.

What is that most important moment? Has it happened yet? You already have one, though something more important may come along. Are you proud of that moment? Or would you rather something else takes its place?

We are the heroes of our own stories. Make damn sure the climax is rewarding.

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Untethered

A gifted and persuasive arts advocate I know once told me of advice he received from his mentor. It had to do with focus.

This arts advocate was doing so much – a musician, a fundraiser, a public speaker. He worked with and for numerous organizations. His mentor gave him this advice:

“You can either be a grenade or a rocket. Imagining that the grenade could explode with the same force that the rocket ignites with, the scattering effect of the grenade will reduce the force of the explosion. You want to be the rocket, taking all the force in the direction you want it to go.”

Same energy, but one goes in all directions, and the other is a straight shot. One singular course. A focused ignition.

rocket-launchI think about this in relation to various decisions we have to make; crossroads that arise in life. Sometimes, when we think we’re on a singular course, we remain tethered to the crossroad, able to go back should failure occur.

But we can’t utilize the momentum if we’re tied down to where we started. It’s only when the tether is released that we can use the force of the rocket.

Sometimes, the untethering can look to observers like irrational behavior.

Steven Pressfield, in Do The Work!, states, “The three dumbest guys I can think of: Charles Lindbergh, Steve Jobs, Winston Churchill. Why? Because any smart person who understood how impossibly arduous were the tasks they had set themselves would have pulled the plug before he even began.”

Pressfield advocates staying stupid. Don’t let rationality get in the way of your creativity. I don’t necessarily agree with his word choice, but the sentiment resonates with me. Stupidity could be described as irrationality. I can think of several times that I’ve acted irrationally, and I know it was when I moved beyond any safety net I had in place. That’s when failures can happen. Often, they do happen.

But it’s also when the most staggering achievements can be reached. That’s why the following  questions are so important:

  • What would you do if money wasn’t an issue?
  • What would you do if time wasn’t an issue?

You want to learn to play the piano? Or code a computer? Or write your novel? Get back into shape? Eat better, or learn to cook?

“Do you know how old I’ll be when I get done,” you may ask?

Julia Cameron responds to that question in The Artist’s Way: “The same age you’ll be if you don’t.”

When we lose sight of the crossroads, we turn our gaze to the road ahead, and move unwaveringly towards our destination.

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9P(R)

My shorthand for tarot readings, Nine of Pentacles Reversed. I had a rough day at work, and decided it was time to move on; time to leave there and find a new job. I wanted to ask the Universe what today taught me. This was the card I drew.

“This card in reverse may be telling you that something you are spending a lot of time on will not yield financial or personal gain. You may be wasting effort. Consider if it’s time to throw in the towel on something that is not giving you the results you had hoped for.”

Thank you Universe.

I’m listening to Dvorak’s New World Symphony right now, to relax. I picked up a used album at a library sale a few weeks back. I’ve been wearing that vinyl down. There’s something supremely reassuring about the notes of No. 9 in E Minor, Op. 95.

I had listened to a Chamber Ensemble in Prague, and the Second Movement of this symphony was played. It’s one of my all time favorites.

The title of this blog post comes courtesy of watching Shut Eye, on Hulu. I just got around to seeing it, and really enjoyed. Each episode was titled after a Tarot card, and was relevant to the plot.

The overall thoughts on my mind are new beginnings. Learning that life has a path, a plan. To quote Tosha Silver, “Let what wants to come, come. Let what wants to go, go.”

Amen!

Find your true North

Most of my life now is lived in the phrase,”Recently I’ve…” As in, “Recently I’ve been reading…”; or, “Recently I’ve started a practice of…” Very little in my life as it is can date back to before a year and a half ago. I’d say it would be a positive thing (living in the moment, and all that) but recently I’ve noticed that much of what made me who I was has been lost in the shuffle as well.

Like most things, I sat down thinking I’d be writing about the book that recently I’ve started reading, Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans. I had heard an interview with them on NPR last year and made a mental note to read the book at some point. 

Thinking of the design problems of life (my life in particular) led me to think of another book that recently I’ve started reading: Wanderlust, by Jeff Krasno. This was a companion piece to the fact that recently I’ve started a practice of yoga. Which, in the full circle way my mind works, brought me back to the fact that the past eighteen months has been a whirlwind and I still have no clue what I’m doing. 

Then I thought, that may not be a bad thing. We got lost sometimes. Lose our way. Think we’re following a path only to look down and see that we’re the only set of footprints to be found. But every path had to be discovered that first time. Not every mistake leads to innovation, but every innovation began with a mistake. 

The cover of Wanderlust invites the reader to “find your true north”. I set the picture of my first tattoo as header because I’ve been searching for true North for longer than eighteen months. Maybe that’s the one constant throughout my whole weird and wonderful existence. Who knows if we ever reach it? But I believe that we can keep moving the needle in that direction.

Namaste.  

My Favorite Pearls

Wisdom. Where does it come from? It seems that much of the past fifteen months, for me, has been an unending quest for wisdom and understanding. As of yet, I’m still coming up short. Mostly I quote Socrates (as Plato has written): Ἓν οἶδα ὅτι οὐδὲν οἶδα.” All I know is that I know nothing.

Yet, over the years, people have given me advice in one shape or another. Maybe I’ve read it in books, or seen it on television. One of my favorites has done little more than make me smile, but sometimes that’s all advice needs to do. So I wanted to provide some of that here.

The early bird gets the worm

Obviously. The earlier you start digging in the dirt, the more likely you are to reap the spoils. 

Measure twice, cut once

I’ve never been one for construction, but this can applied to many avenues of life. It’s about being precise – even if it takes a little longer in the beginning to get it right, it saves time and money on the other side if you aren’t redoing your work.

Breathe

Quite possibly the simplest yet most profound peace of advice I’ve ever gotten, and it still shows up for me today, to remind me how important breath is. In my singing, and reading of music, I’ll see hand-scrawled notes indicitating breath marks in the music telling me to breathe. When I’m feeling overwhelmed by external forces, breathing slowly makes the anxiety manageable. If I’m lifting weights, or holding a yoga pose, and it’s becoming impossible – focusing on the slow breathing gets just one more out of me, whether repitition or moment of concentration.

Don’t sweat the little stuff, and it’s all little stuff

This was a book that I never read. But the advice is sound. There are very few things in life that can improve if you worry about them. And when you start worrying about something, suddenly the problem is obfuscated and you can’t focus on the real issue anymore. It seems to happen a lot in relationships, where the one thing is the problem, but every other thing starts being seen in the negative by not fixing the actual problem. When life seems too much, focus on the manageable. 

Don’t eat the yellow snow

Okay. Thanks Dad. I’ve seen snow a handful of times in my life, and never did I want to eat white snow, let alone yellow. Still, when I was a young boy my dad gave me this advice (even though we lived in Florida) and I’ve remembered it to this day. Never will I eat yellow snow, but I can’t help but smile when I think about it.

And I guess, when it comes down to it, advice is just there to make life easier. To make you smile. So don’t eat the yellow snow.