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Arts Creativity Productivity & Work

Beware the mind virus

Creativity dwindles with age. First, school sucks it out of you, and then corporate work puts the nail in the coffin. 

Patterns of normality and absolutes are leaches. Like a mind virus, they try to kill off the imagination and train your organic reflexes into compliant sheep. 

If you’re lucky, you’ll have no choice but to follow the siren song of vocation. Suppose that means becoming an artist; if it’s a bank teller, ditto. Follow up your calling way with the utmost passion.  

Never let your ambition slip out of sight. The happiest people chase their human truths to exploit time. 

As the musician Brian Eno reminds us, “Try not to get a job. Try to leave yourself in a position where you do the things you want to do with your time and where you take maximum advantage of wherever your possibilities are.”

Following the herd is a mind virus. Ride the mind wave of opportunity instead. 

Categories
Creativity Productivity & Work Writing

Creativity is a fancy version of productivity

People confuse busyness with productivity. Answering emails all day is mostly a waste of time, as is instant messaging co-workers. Doing something — typing into little boxes all day — fulfills the human desire to feel useful.

People also perceive what artists do is an unnecessary use of time. But creativity is a fancy version of productivity.

Nothing gets wasted when it comes to painting, songwriting, and any other artistic vocations. Scraps and shitty rough drafts give us something to play with. The art of gathering string — doing the hard work, heart work, and head work — expands the reality we perceive.

Sensible work gets us paid. Yet, when we photograph everything, we look at nothing.

Without propelling the imagination and practicing our craft, we’re just procrastinators and waiters. The whole point of making art is to do and ship something interesting.

Categories
Culture Tech

We make great trends

Some people enjoy the process of discovery. They want access to niche communities and discrete resources, trying to “get it” before everyone else.

These people are also the incubators of trends, filtering the good from the bad before deciding what goes mainstream. Naturally, the edgy curator loses interest as soon as something becomes a commercial sensation.

But the internet flips the trendsetters on their heads. The so-called cratediggers become an uber tribe of their own. Take a walk around Brooklyn, where hipsters run rampant.

The arrogance of taste consumes the hipster, ultimately conforming to a cohort that shares similar interests and looks the same. Uniqueness becomes standardization. 

Meanwhile, the closet researcher remains individuated in digging up abstract art for themselves and for their little circle. For them, popularity is rarely a barometer of what matters

The difference between standing out and fitting in lies at the center of who we are. We are all collectors and explorers of each other’s artifacts. We are also free to throw away, remix, redefine, or tweak that which sturs us.

As influential physicist Richard Feynman reminds us, “You are under no obligation to remain the same person you were a year ago, a month ago, or even a day ago. You are here to create yourself, continuously.”

Categories
Culture Life & Philosophy Poetry

The business of living

The temptation to linger in maximum comfort — life isn’t a warm shower, you know.

One typically extends a staycation at the sight of pleasure or during a pandemic, displeasure.

People are adaptable, prepared to extend or narrow their comfort zone in various situations.

They’ll even attend to simultaneous entertainments if it means they can get on with the business of living.

Moving across the stream, pinging into and around rocks, life thrives when you stop looking for happiness and absorb all the scars—reality bites.

Where there is joy is pain and lots of courage in between.

Categories
Creativity Productivity & Work Writing

If you’re struggling to get started, do it badly

“Work finally begins when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing it badly,” advises the author Alain de Botton

Perfection is the antithesis of inspiration — it prevents you from getting started.

The trick to getting going is to do it badly. To do that, one must be intentionally messy. The art of spontaneity asks you to start before you’re ready. Don’t over-think the process; intensify the habit of doing.

The emancipatory power in getting started helps jumpstart creativity. 

Producing crap isn’t the end-goal. There is no quality without quantity — first, we get going, then we deduce. 

“If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”

Margaret Atwood

The point of taking small actions is to create enough momentum to feel like we’re winning. You’re looking to go from one pushup a day to two the next week, four thousand steps a day to five-hundred. 

You’ll need to write one-hundred words day after day before developing the muscle to consistently get down two-hundred words. By the way, there is no such thing as writer’s block!

Do small things to get started — no matter how poorly — to avoid second-guessing yourself and prime the motivational pump.

Categories
Life & Philosophy

Dealing with everydayness

Distraction takes us away from the stresses of everydayness. We keep our phones nearby because screens help entertain our worries away.

But an excess of interference comes at a cost. When we fail to experience things with our senses, the virtual and reality become one. Irreality calcifies into callousness, much to the detriment of human necessities: emotion and touch. 

Always on is a kind of psychological enslavement. There’s a correlation between digital plenitude and the pressure we feel of a world closing in on our heads. 

The ebb and flow of boredom, pain, and pleasure are healthy aspects of life. They keep us hinged, reminding ourselves that each wave requires versatility unstuck from the ludic loop of attention. 

Categories
Life & Philosophy Photography Science

More than a job

The photographer’s job is to capture. They get a pass on intrusion despite a face of expressive flesh. So too does the scientist who uses their more elusive hands to dabble in a dangerous experiment.

The maker needs no excuse to have skin in the game, as they should feel free to explore via an aura of invisibility to discover and connect the seemingly unconnected.

Creativity is an imaginative process that makes one bolder. Both the artist and scientist live to be more than proactive, to think and feel something beyond the sheath of obviousness.

Should palette beget the pedestal, fame and earned respect follow from doing what matters.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Politics & Society

Don’t adopt other people’s anxiety

We rely on other people’s testimony. It’s no wonder, therefore, that their anxiety becomes ours. We then cognize every piece of information to fit our nervy narrative.

Worries spread like viruses. And they provoke an unwarranted shock into mass health scares, money problems, and job pressures.

Humans are a strange and contradictory animal who can barely see through the apparition of fear. The brain’s chemicals are so easily triggered and duped.

Society is just the storyteller. It’s the citizens who exacerbate panic.

To avoid falling ill to anxiety’s publicity machine, we need to convert the abstract energy of positive motivation into something with meaning. We have to put a mental finger on the synchronicities between facts and hope.

People who can stay light and grounded without falling into the trap of the mind’s filmic productions know how to separate truth from fiction.

It’s the obedient clerks that manufacture all the negativity. It’s the interested folks that refuse to buy into the algae of stress.

Keep our perspective. It’s a passport to freedom.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work Psychology

Avoiding the losses

Every story needs a villain that disobeys the rules. Bereft of the drama, we lose interest in the hero’s tale.

Every single event that occurs in one’s life prepares them for a moment yet to come. Life begs for a beautiful struggle, where an exaggerated sense of faith begets a David versus Goliath triumph. 

When we overcompensate for our vulnerabilities, we harden our determination. “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how,” wrote Nietzsche in the Twilight of the Idols.

The last scene may culminate in success, but the movie goes beyond the screen into new chapters. Even the victor with impressive persistence rarely goes undefeated. Every hero meets their maker, accepting risk as to the possibility of a loss. 

The protagonist expects the ebb and flow of living. All the scars reinforce a type of fundamental competition. A confident attitude brings us closer to the winner’s circle than surrender does. 

Knowing we’ve got nothing to lose avoids all the losses.

Categories
Politics & Society Tech

Collisions of thought

It’s not about how much information we consume. One can suck all the information out of the Twitter firehouse and learn nothing. 

News makes our brain fat. 

After all, it was Aldous Huxley who forewarned that we’d drown in excess entertainment and not care about anything else. Writes Neil Postman in Amusing Ourselves to Death

“Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.”

Neil Postman,Amusing Ourselves to Death

TV and social media silence thought — our opinions quickly become someone else’s. The attention merchants intend to monetize on such passivity through ads. Retweets are endorsements.

But we can still take a proactive stance on the balance of ideas thrown at us.

An ambient awareness keeps the excess noise at bay as we learn to listen and absorb the world’s texture. Our goal is to replace the enormous dent that screens instill in our thoughts with a perspective we call our own.

The more ideas collide with one another, independent or externalized, the tighter authenticity clicks into place. The thinker makes their own rules.