The corrosive side of ambition

The corrosive side of ambition draws us into an unending hole of dissatisfaction. Competition, whether within the inner self or with other’s attrits the soul.

No one wants mediocrity. But they do want less stress. We operate best in flow, a process of thinking without thinking, where the mind matches the thoughts of the pen.

There will always be moments to strive. Persistence comes easy at the grandeur of individual vision. We want more without the risk of overkill.

But patience is also a form of action. Enough is enough. We build momentum and preserve enough creative energy to do it all over again tomorrow.


Known and strange things

Exploration augments the senses. Within the pursuit of strangeness lies one important truth: we prefer the unknown.  

Can you imagine if the world stopped innovating, where everyone just decided that they’d seen it all! Yet even history compels us to repeat new mistakes

Discovery pushes us forward slowly. There’s a limit to all the novel information we can consume. We need time to process the research.  

If we stay with problems long enough, letting them simmer in the subconscious, the conclusions tend to draw themselves. All the while, expect years to go by misunderstood. 

Human memory connects the dots over time as lucidity restores a type of balance. The others finally catch up to our train of thought.

Chasing down both known and strange things was a calling all along.


A vocation of old and new

Everyone harbors an undeniable vocation that starts when we’re kids.

Playing in the NBA, winning a Grammy or an Oscar — most aspirations are pipe dreams. But the characteristics we build in pursuing those far-fetched fantasies such as confidence, persistence, result from facing all the anxieties and fears that arise from such honest confrontation.

When we feel incompetent, we channel grit elsewhere toward something that feels more intuitive and enjoyable. Like a magnet, we’re drawn to what comes naturally.

A writer who draws. A bicyclist who runs and swims. A photographer who rock climbs. The former is who we are and what the market demands, even if the latter is what we prefer. Neither trade guarantees success nor fame because all reward is in the doing.

While sometimes feeling detached, the intuitive self invites us to travel down the road of uncertainty until we find an occupation that feels just about right — where ambition and talent intersect, where passion overlaps with our skills.

There is beauty in constraint, what bounds focuses the mind.

Until we can identify our strengths, we jump from lily-pad to lily-pad like frogs. We ultimately return to the one that feels like home.

Having the courage to follow who we are rather than live up to somebody else’s expectations is a blessing, not a glitch.


Stop making new mistakes

History teaches us our mistakes. What it doesn’t teach us is how to avoid repeating them. Because we just make new ones. 

The past, present, and future are GIF loops. We are condemned to err all over again, slightly different than before. Yet, we keep testing our limits, believing that we can reach the mirage. Possibilities gnaw and tug at us with the utmost vigor. 

After all, boredom is the mind-killer!

So we undermine the cognitive toolkit. “Yeah, but this time is different” becomes the thinker’s venom. 

But the upshot is almost always the same. The cinema inside our heads fails to project into reality.

We can’t coax a train out of a tunnel. We can’t use positive psychology to make a Bitcoin “moon” to a million bucks (at least not yet).

Thoughts rarely mirror reality. 

So instead of a self-wound, we stay grounded. The discipline of non-action helps recenter the exaggerated narratives in our heads. Stare at the ants and clouds instead. 


Evolutionary parameters

We evolve from the art of spontaneity. 

The future is an extension of the present. We respond to the demands of the moment with ingenuity, not suave perfection.  

Humans harbor the same creative impulses: to survive, express, and question the status quo.  

In the 14th century, we wore pointed medieval shoes. Today, we’re wearing Nike, Prada, etc., with an assortment of shoes split by occasion. Fashion is cyclical but intense, to which the ebb and flow converge into dynamic designs. 

Often along comes the elemental strangeness of the individual. We must give the weird space to explore their unique curiosity.

Outsiders set the evolutionary parameters. The misfits, changed agents, make the crowd more malleable. Society strives off the plurality of ideas. 

People, too, are part of nature and combining multiple perspectives augment the mental model. 

Since change is the only constant, we live in beta. 


Busy living with doubt

The painful past, the anxious future, the joyful present — to be alive in any mood requires that we hop over the indifference threshold. 

The more we feel negative emotions, the more we care. The caring fever remains scarce even when others don’t.  

The fool ignores their own peril and remains stuck in a state of monotonous myopia. Reality bites hard.  

The Self remains what it is — natural behavior and creative output are things we can’t change. But doubt is what keeps the identity plastic. Tightening is a response to fear.

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Uncertainty compels us to live. If beliefs, like knives and forks, are tools for living, then the only reassurance we need is the faith to keep going

We acknowledge the tentacles of past pain. We fret about the uncontrollable future. We dance in the present. We are too concerned with the “business of living” to worry about what comes next. 

Take the plunge. 


Predictably unpredictable

All outcomes are predictably unpredictable.

There is no such thing as chance, with most things in life predetermined at the outset of infancy. Free will, the so-called author of our choices, presents constraints.

What happens when the amygdala, the brain’s seat of emotions, chooses for us? Instinct overrides self-control. We manufacture great urges in a state of perpetual wonder.

Thinking doesn’t wander freely. 

People live in a simulation, where even the slightest guesswork constrains the believer into a particular worldview.

Freedom is artificial. We’re rooted in what’s at stake. 


Powering off

Dreaming exudes clarity. Only when our mind is in a state of utter relaxation do the disparate parts coalesce. 

Yet, the era of self-thought and free will is nearing the end. Unable to sleep, we slump into the distraction of rectangular glows before drowning in information overload. The algorithms ensure we never think for ourselves. 

The digital world enslaves our attention rather than liberates our thinking. It also weakens the patience muscle. 

Ideas, fantasies, theories — one can’t innovate nor begin the next one without a state of rest. 

Inaction is a form of action. 

Disconnecting is a thinking tool, one that is undervalued and deprioritized by the hustle. It reminds people of their purpose to create value rather than acting as passive consumers. 

The only hassle is making time to think to see the reality of things. And God knows how painful self-reflection is for many. 

Arts Life

Doing it our own way

To do it our own way, for you, regardless of external interpretation and expectation.

Individuality is all we have. Character is destiny.

Sure, it’s in our DNA as social human beings to want to receive feedback on our creative outpourings. But making is therapeutic in itself.

Output is the manifestation of input. What we cultivate is a reflection of our inner narrative. And yes, a lot of it is trash, because most creative pursuits are temporary.

As they say, a good idea is an accumulation of a lot of bad ones. We aim for simplification as the most durable storage.

Being all things to all men is a foolish endeavor. We no longer chase other people’s dreams, nor our own. By running after our ideal selves, we run foul of authenticity.

We simply ride the wave of chance hurled at us, adrift on the storm-tossing sea of luck. We dance with all the uncertainties and anxieties in our work, following through even on the most unrewarding tasks.

Real makers talk as themselves, not about themselves. What matters is the creator’s point of view.

Devoid of context — it’s the viewer’s challenge to try and sense where the artist is coming from.

Complexity is the by-product of uniqueness, as people make out only what they know how to see.

Arts Life

Reborn ideas

Life arises out of nonlife, developing as a consequence of the random workings of nature. 

Similarly, creativity arises out of noncreativity. Concepts are non-existent without chance execution. All ideas are dead ideas until further movement. 

Yet, it is procrastination that brings some of our best work to the forefront. Clarity emerges during idle times — thoughts coalesce in the shower, taking a walk, playing with the kids. 

Focusing on something entirely different helps break down the blindness caused by closeupness. Eureka moments are therefore myth; instead, we toil and stumble toward realization. 

The shadow that lies between focus and disconnection compels our actions.

Layer by layer, we keep stacking resources and exploring ways to curl the mind, and then we take periods of rest to examine the forest for the trees. 


The boss of time

Time is more important than money, yet time is money. So the clock (exported by the East India Company) emerged as a system for streamlining global trade. 

He who obeys the hour, minute, and second is a slave of time. Nature moves toward continuous variation regardless of tick-tocks, adhering to the sun, water, seasons, and the moon — the mother of all things. 

For humans, the standardization of time enforces discipline. 

Alarm clocks, closing bells, factory openings, Black Friday: there is no escaping the tyranny of the clock for the economic initiative. 

It takes time to make time. Yet, time reminds us that we don’t have forever. 

So we stay engaged and do the work now, knowing that tomorrow may not come.  

It’s time to create something worthwhile. It’s time to face the resistance and make a difference.   

Time may be boss, but we’re the boss of time. And we mean the business of living. 


The space between our ears

The space between our ears, where what we know or think we know, contrasts the reality of what we should see.

For some people, mental chatter precedes vision. The ignorant always risk being blindsided. They are the opposite of a child, turning a blind eye to the openness that foments growth.

As adults, we stop asking ‘why’ at the most fundamental level. We refuse to sacrifice the comfort of hardened beliefs even if they turn out to be lies.

If reality is unexciting and too sober, that’s also why it works. It keeps us grounded in the facts.

Truth lies beyond the blind spots. Exploration and exposure to challenging questions are the way.

Curiosity helps convert people into life-long tourists.

We don’t always hear and see what we want. The space between our ears which encompasses the head and brain shell could do for perspective and better listening.