Categories
Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Aging with energy

We are constantly searching for a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Why are we even here — to suck the land dry? 

We force meaning into the world with the hope that an outer stimulus ricochets back to accentuate the pulse. 

We risk everything to feel something, encouraged by the mechanisms of error. 

Life is an experiment. First, we act, then we deduce, making sense of the world by categorizing our reactions to it. The never-ending to-do list forces humans into overdrive. 

Evolution is more than about survival. It’s also about the resistance to boredom. “All man’s miseries derive from not being able to sit quietly in a room alone,” wrote Blaise Pascal

We push ourselves to stay interested and excited. We pay the costs for playing it too safe and overthinking. What a pity it is when we leave it too late!  

We deploy attention to the endless opportunities and challenges ahead — and then we wonder why we’re exhausted. How does one keep going? 

The race between our need to mature while remaining child-like explorers is an extant struggle. The mind hears what it wants while the body takes it personally. 

The flow becomes more effortful with age, yet the knowledge comes easier. With the extra push, we go far further than we could imagine. 

Categories
Arts Life & Philosophy Nature

Adventure by design

A step into the wilderness with no path in sight, the only certainty is the next crunch of leaves.

One can’t see the forest for the trees without first seeing a tightly sealed version of the world. Each stick of bark aggregates into a sum of parts individually wrapped and bending into each other — passing signals above the shrubby floor.

Nature holds the strongest connection.

For better or worse, humans have the elemental need to keep moving on terra firma. Unlike water running effortlessly over rocks, we force progress by messing up the Earth that feeds us.

We put our minds in the void and bleed design everywhere. Restless, the mind and energy keep going. Life is one big party. 

We build societies, unplanned, over and over again on top of ruins, sucked into history. While humans may be disorderly, at least the cosmos tells the truth. Now we have to consider the unexpected and negotiate for a vastly more dependable calm. 

For every action, there’s a reaction. Thankfully, while the left brain remains fixated on the individual trees, the right brain plants new ones. Growth by giving back also flows from brain to brain, in accord with more universal vibrations.  

As they say, “the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”

Categories
Culture Life & Philosophy Psychology

No preferences

Presets are active, combatant, and not easily contained. The true believer builds their own alleyways that offer no escape. Who are they to play God?

Thus we must loosen our grip on preferences and explore neutrality, never clinging to any belief with absolute conviction.

Parochialism is a blind spot. Shrouded by significance, we deplete the energy to see out other options.

Yet, neutrals see bridges where others see voids. The open remain unstuck, privy to ideas and new knowledge.

The enclosure is already so tight, browbeaten by popular messages. But thinking about the possibility of being neither right nor wrong shifts attention toward a beautiful constraint. Strong opinions loosely held can go a long way to fortify a premium tension. We seek confidence, not a certainty.

As we toggle between abstract and the specific, what we seek is more practical. Rightness already floats around in the head as we compel ourselves to embrace the unconscious.

Openness offers a rare opportunity to climb out of the box, to go one way, then the other. It understands that that’s how some things happen in the world, standing at the edge of possibility.

Categories
Life & Philosophy

The all-important gaze

Stuck in a default state of distractedness, we look away for the next magnetic clue.

As the gaze proceeds, a sense of familiarity comes to our aid to help us navigate our way in the world.

But most of what we perceive is just noise, impeding both our short-term goals and long-term moon shots.

We often fall victim to the fickleness of attention, especially in a virtual reality environment. The screen dominates our lives. 

However, we can remain sensitive to context while continuing to stare at the world and our model.

Most middle-aged people freak out about their mortality when they realize that they’re entertaining themselves into inanition. The brain falsely justifies how we spend our time.

Meanwhile, the cosmic forces in the universe are awaiting our participation. Don’t give up. Turned on, we can see opportunities and realize them. 

Wake up and look outside the immediate window of attention. Our spatial memory is ready for action, awaiting the soul’s evolution. 

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy

Where comparison fails

We discover our uniqueness through failed conformity. We’re not here to follow and jump through hoops. We endeavor to bend standard practices in strange and wonderful directions.

Thinking different is the ultimate motivator. It carves us into individuals. 

We are who we are — purple cows instead of mindless little robots — and do not accept anything that does not feel authentic. 

“Originality consists of trying to be like everybody else and failing.”

Raymond Radiguet (view books)

When we wield the paintbrush, our imaginative grip never dies. We can invent systems that free us from the tyranny of sameness.

Yet, no matter how individually wrought, we sell our stems to the world for others to imitate and recast as we did to works before us. 

The hope is that our craft encourages others to chase their own fancy version of creativity. The lemmings, forever unoriginal, suffer for nothing.

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Throwing a rock into a hard place

Stuck between the intention and the act, we often fail to carry out what we’re meant to do. 

Motivation is fickle. Distractions are plentiful. Doing is not a matter of talent but discipline. Every repetition is a bicep curl for the brain. 

Wrote William James in The Principles of Psychology: “This very day I have been repeating over and over to myself a verbal jingle whose mawkish silliness was the secret of its haunting power. I loathed yet could not banish it. What holds attention determines action.”

What holds attention predetermines action and protects us against the pitfalls of the next shiny object or stirred emotion. 

Focus is our only guard, without all the narrowness of attention. We need to keep our eyes on the donut over the donut hole. 

So we keep going, showing up despite there being no guarantee of happiness at the end of the tunnel. 

Greater use of the palette insulates the individual from the dizziness of anxiety and the needless aim for the pedestal of fame.  

A creative flow hardens the brain’s sticktoitiveness and summons a type of artistic unity. 

We throw the rock into the hard place. The daily practice is our only durable storage. 

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Arts Creativity Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Crafting confidence

Confidence is fickle. Better to start before you’re ready than wait until you have full faith in yourself. 

The key to crafting confidence starts in the imagination. If you can armor yourself with enough courage — even if it means acting slightly overconfident — you’ll have revved the engine for risk-taking. 

Synchronicities also tend to happen when you’re feeling more upbeat than depressed. Anxiety and darkness, while integral to artful thinking, impair memory and squanders productivity. The maker wants to establish a long-term rhythm of creating rather than weaning off the fickle energy of short-term dopamine.    

Even the wisest men need psychological tactics to regulate the monkey mind. Expectations drive achievement. Of course, one should expect sensible outcomes — no one becomes the best or gets rich by merely thinking it. 

Patient with results, impatient with action

Pace, purpose, and practice are everything. Only a few are geniuses; most are late-blooming opsimaths. Like the Japanese artist Hokusai once said, Until the age of 70, nothing I drew was worthy of notice. At 110, every dot and every stroke will be as though alive.”

Do anything enough — even if it takes decades — and you’ll begin to find your own style and workflow. Hard work usually compounds into something greater than expected and ultimately supports the joy of living.

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy

Flow of attention

The creator goes from broad attention to a narrower focus. First, she aggregates, connects the dots, and then produces. 

She rides into the future, churning from a generalist to a specialist, wearing a badge of curiosity while facing past notes. 

She’s not obsessed with what’s novel, nor concerned with making any grand discoveries. She’s more intrigued by spotting information patterns and documenting them in her journal, the camera, etc. — wherever she can jot thoughts down so she can move on. Paying attention is the only way to create answers. 

She’s a collector, researcher, and storyteller at heart. The messy output called writing is what results on the canvass. 

Creativity offers a rare opportunity to climb out of the day-to-day doldrums. Making is a lifeline, the telescope where her attention flows. In other words, all the thinking about the beauty of life just seems to happen. 

Categories
Creativity Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Never mind the mood

The work doesn’t begin or end at the mercy of mood. Feeling lazy or prepared is neutral — both are non-starters. The mood’s texture remains unchanged. 

Having a daily discipline is the best way to keep the shipping alive. Habits are stronger than moods. 

If your emotions or conditions get in the way because you’re either unmotivated, too sick or cold, exhausted, or missing the perfect seat, you’re screwed. 

Show up and ride the wave of frequency

Sitting in the chair and beginning promptly by 10 AM is non-negotiable. By sticking to a schedule, you alleviate the pain of starting while forcing yourself to dance with all the anxieties that arise. 

If you get frustrated or stuck, try running out the clock. So be it — you showed up but didn’t produce. 

Dissatisfaction is part of the creative process. Afterward, rest or take your thoughts for a walk to digest the reality of incompleteness. A blank canvass with even the most disappointing attempts is a refreshing experience. There is always tomorrow!

When your perspiration and dedication are the muses, the creativity always comes back because the motivation is the same. The sink keeps dripping. 

Even while going about your day, discipline pays off. Deep work compounds, as the brain uses rest periods to reconvene, reconnect, and make sense of all the input. 

Creativity is complicated, but moods are untrustworthy. Once you’re committed to the process while following your curiosities, there’s no wasted time. 

Categories
Arts Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Imagining life without work

Some people are obsessed with work. It defines them, gives them a structure. Without work, they’d sail away at the mercy of the waves and get lost at sea.

But technology facilitates creativity. The accountant becomes a music producer at night, a photographer, or YouTuber on the weekend. He or she identifies more as being an artist than a professional who crunches numbers. Their online persona seeks some greater truth beyond the work, more aligned with who they want to be. 

Everyone wants to pursue something meaningful. We want to do something that matters while working hard without working hard. As the musician Brian Eno reminds us, “Try not to get a job.” 

Whether it’s the day job or an artist, work is supposed to reflect our life philosophies. Most jobs, though, are solutions to a practical problem: we need the cash to live. The money fact keeps man awake at the clarion call of labor.  

The pressure to blend work and life results from our obsession with careerism in a twenty-four-seven hyperconnected world. So what would we do with all that free time if we didn’t work? 

We’d just do stuff rather than getting stuck in a career. We’d read, hang out with friends and family, watch and play sports, and listen to music. It would be like all the activities we’ve immersed in during the extra free time of COVID lockdown, minus all the social distancing and depression. The future of work would look less like a vocation and more like an extended vacation.

Will we be ok when the robots take over and the concept of labor fades away? Will making art suffice? We’re born off balance. It’s how we dance with the uncertain future that shapes who we are.

Categories
Arts Culture Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Through the wire

The world grows numb to the air of distraction. We’ve left the world of 2-D consciousness in exchange for the anesthesia of the brite lite’s bits and bytes.  

Freedom to do anything is the freedom to do nothing. Technology makes us more curious and ever-more cautious. But like a video game, unfettered space uses up attention and propels excess consumption.

The inability to disconnect and steer clear of the shiny object suffocates our attention. Restraint, on the other hand, is why limits are also so magnetic. They help us protect against an addictive environment. 

As we gravitate toward constriction, we stymie the possibilities of distraction.

We do more crucial work in stillness and silence than we do fritter time away in the tangled wires of freedom.