Still ignorant, not stupid

A lot of people get dumber after college. It’s not entirely their fault. A job takes up all their time. Besides spending time with family and friends and doing chores — getting on with the business of living — a lot of free time is spent on staring at lite brites for entertainment.

“We think we understand the rules when we become adults but what we really experience is a narrowing of the imagination.” — David Lynch, Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity

Experience makes us wiser but not smarter

As we age, we’re able to resolve practical matters with less effort. But therein lies a skewed perception. We accidentally interpret how things usually go as facts rather than acknowledging that’ that’s how the world works now. Change is constant, the possibilities infinite.

An educated person should never stop learning. They should revel in their ignorance, not as an excuse to know less but as a means of staying interested in understanding more.

Advertisements

The paradox of holding high standards

gif by @montagutchuen

The irony of holding high standards is that often times they prevent us from taking action.

Perfectionism can be a thought stopper rather than a thought starter.

Sometimes we can only solve a problem if we’re willing to let it go.

It helps to do things with a bit of insouciance.

We should feel free to rebel against our own seriousness time and again.

The only way to work is not to work, to resist the mindset of overtrying and overthinking.

Indecision never gave people more time.

‘What art-MAKING advice would your older-self give your younger-self?’

Senior Art Critic for New York Magazine Jerry Saltz posed an interesting question to fellow creators on Instagram:

What art-MAKING advice would your older-self give your younger-self? I’ll start with three.
1. Let go of being smart; don’t dismiss any idea as too dumb.
2. Bring the crazy.
3. Change the ways you use of making the same thing.

The advice in the replies blew me away. The common sentiment seems to be to push through CRAP (criticism, rejection, assholes, and pressure) and to keep making pieces true to the artist themselves. After all, the War of Art is a war with your own inner dialogue.

  • mepeterson.art 1) master the core skills and time honored rules of the old world painters. It will be boring but worth it. 2) Promptly forget the rules and routinely misuse the tools.3) Make YOUR art. Straight and unfiltered. 4) Don’t push so hard to sell. Let the art lead the way: it’ll find its own audience or not. 5) Stay curious about everything not just art and be bold. 6) Have a personal standard: make paintings that can stand on their own in the time honored tradition of painting. Many won’t know, you will.
  • mandelau 1. Be brave and fearless 2. Generously share what you’ve created with anyone who’s interested.
    3. Don’t listen to (or read) criticism about your own work…negative or positive
  • johandeckmann Trust your gut. But before that be able to feel your gut in the first place. Then act accordingly
  • the_lynne_avril Talk with the painting – it will tell you what to do.
  • didihoffman4 As Auguste Rodin told his protege Malvina Hoffman, the reason for art is to show truth in nature – to express in whatever form the universal truth He believed one should first be a master of technique and drawing – from there the artist would then have the ability to express in their own way. He didn’t really believe in a specific style. He wanted the artist to be true to self and to express only truth. He saw art as a very serious craft that should not be trivialized.
  • studiollondon 1 – you can’t trust your eyes if you’re imagination is out of focus – mark twain 2- comparing yourself to others and not trusting your ideas leads to unnecessary paralysis and creating crap because you’re not being true to yourself. 3- go with your initial instinct and work it out. You’ll know what feels right to you and what doesn’t to work out in the end.
  • wanderlustyes You don’t need more space. You can work in your closet. You need time alone. Don’t spend your time trying to get money to get more space. Allow yourself the luxury of being bored. Allow yourself the freedom of restriction. Do it over and over and over again.
  • rosettihnw 1. Get a good well paying job. 2.Raise a family and save your money for retirement. 3.Retire and paint your heart out.

That last comment reminds me of what Brian Eno said about art: “Art is everything you don’t have to do.” It also reminds me of Hugh Macleod’s ‘sex and cash theory‘ which encourages artists not to leave their day job.

Too many interests, more than one skill

We need doctors who specialize in heart surgery and spend 100% of their time helping other people. But we also need polymaths (Newton, Darwin, Leonardo da Vinci, etc.) to combine ideas to push society forward.

As Dilbert’s creator Scott Adam points out, achieving excellence is rare.

If you want something extraordinary [in life], you have two paths:

1. Become the best at one specific thing.
2. Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things.

The first strategy is difficult to the point of near impossibility. Few people will ever play in the NBA or make a platinum album. I don’t recommend anyone even try.

The second strategy is fairly easy. Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort. In my case, I can draw better than most people, but I’m hardly an artist. And I’m not any funnier than the average standup comedian who never makes it big, but I’m funnier than most people. The magic is that few people can draw well and write jokes. It’s the combination of the two that makes what I do so rare. And when you add in my business background, suddenly I had a topic that few cartoonists could hope to understand without living it.

The fox and the hedgehog

Said the Greek poet Archilochus: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” When it comes to survival, all the hedgehog has to do is protect itself with the skill of its spines. But the fox is more versatile. It can adapt against a multitude of predators and different scenarios.

Furthermore, our success may hinge on what two or more things we can combine. We should think about our life experiences and how we can merge them with preexisting skills. We have the responsibility to create our own vocation if it doesn’t yet exist.

Both experts and practicians make the world a better place. One can’t exist without the other.

How to avoid the comparison bubble

How to avoid the comparison bubble

It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison bubble. You always want what we don’t have. You are incorrectly taught to copy, just as you’re erroneously taught to think in absolutes.

Celebrate what makes you unique

You should do what makes you unique. You should feel free to steal ideas from other people and build on top of them. Don’t just copy-paste.

The worst nightmare will be looking back on your efforts and thinking we you just couldn’t be yourself.

Being different, standing out, is what should push you on.

If you need more encouragement:

Belief + Doubt = Sanity

BARBARA KRUGER: BELIEF+DOUBT
Belief+Doubt by Barbara Kruger

We dump our problems on tomorrow because we can’t handle the anxiety of today.

Time keeps moving on its way, unimpeded. We’ve already lost.

Yet there’s still a sense that one day, we’ll snatch time and ride the wave of an opportunity to change society.

‘Belief + Doubt = Sanity’

All we can do is show up to the world, not hide behind in its shadows. ‘Excellence is the next five minutes,’ and then the next five minutes after. And so on, with unparalleled lightness.

Attitude is the most rational day to day decision. Only then can we go on a critical run.

The froth is coming off

via giphy

With the right instructions, the unfamiliar becomes manageable.

We follow the recipe with the hope that the convoluted reality seeps away into the froth.

Yet, had we followed our instincts we may not have gotten stuck in the first place.

If we don’t take Google Maps with a grain of salt, we will find ourselves submerged under water.

Knowledge is visceral. The rest is streaming.

The space between our ears

200w_d-1
gif by mestrefungo

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

We 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.

Stuck in a cobweb of exciting lies, unable to dust away the boredom of truth. Reality is too sober, but that’s also why it works. It keeps us grounded in the facts.

The benefits of walking in nature

The benefits of walking in nature

One of the main benefits of walking in nature is that trees inspire feelings of awe. According to research done by psychology professor Dacher Keltner at UC Berkeley, awe benefits not only the mind and body but also improves our social connections and makes us kinder.

Spending time outside is also vital as a destressor. One study found that camping gets the stress hormone cortisol back under control. Even sitting near trees at the office help calm us down with “softly fascinating stimulation.”

Spending time outside has many benefits including improving short-term memory, sparking creativity, lowering blood pressure, reducing fatigue, strengthening focus and more.

The benefits of walking in nature
The Hyperion: The world’s largest tree located in Northern California (Photograph by Michael Nichols, National Geographic)

Nature is a higher power

Knowing how little we stand in a swathe of gigantic trees also puts life in perspective. Wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson in his essay Nature:

“Standing on the bare ground, my head bathed by the blithe air and uplifted into infinite space, all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball; I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or parcel of God.”

Nature soothes the sense of self. It reminds us that we are less significant we are, and that fact may make us happier we’re here.


The Broccoli Tree 🥦🌳

giphy.gif

“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,” said Andy Warhol. That was certainly true for a broccoli tree in Sweden, whose anonymity disappeared due to its popular Instagram account with 30,000 fans.

In a world of surfeit images, people actually spent the time to look at this broccoli tree. It became a tourist attraction, even hosting its own photography exhibition. But according to a heartless individual, it may have overstayed its welcome. Someone suddenly sawed off one of its limbs.

“You can’t unsaw a tree, but you can’t unsee one either.”

The broccoli tree went desist, but its fame lives on through calendars, prints, and its Instagram feed.  “To share something is to risk losing it,” especially in the era of social media.

It’s a harsh world for something that seemed already untouchable.

Alien Hand Syndrome

giphy
via NPR

What if you woke up one day and had a brand new second hand that moved on its own?

This is what happened to Karen after she had brain surgery to help cure her epilepsy. After her operation, her left hand immediately took on a life of its own. For starters, it immediately began to unbutton her shirt on the hospital bed while the surgeon pleaded her to stop.

After she went home the hand started to do other things like slapping her, which reminded me of the self-beating Jim Carrey famously gives himself in the movie Liar Liar.

What caused her alien hand syndrome?

Apparently, the surgery had to split her brain and removed her Corpus callosum, which ties the left and right brain hemisphere together. Basically, the operation caused the opposing sides of her brain to switch roles.

Fortunately, Karen has come to appreciate the moral authority her left hand tries to impose on her decision-making. Any time she tries to smoke, for example, her left hand puts the cigarette out and even flicks the ashes around.

Karen’s come to appreciate the magic discipline of her hand. However, she still gets in a smoke or two. “I understand you want me to quit,” she tells her hand, “but cut the crap!”

Who will curate the curators?

source (6)
gif by Carl Johanson

Who will curate the curators, influence the influencers, or teach the teachers?

Those who marinate the world with their point of view assume their rightness. But the signaler too must too look back in the mirror and reimagine themselves.

The true expert sees reality at arm’s length, merely touching what they know, always learning from others.

Everything we do is a false start

Fragility becomes a strength in the hunt for gathering strings of ideas. Gazing into space, the clusters of stars flash with an impulse that branches forward from moment to moment.

We do best to gut-check each other, with history whispering in our ear.

A shared stimulation keeps the world more interesting and encourages us to make small bets. We need good ideas to resume going upward as a whole.

 

‘Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it’

giphy (89).gif
via giphy

If you are thinking in absolutes, the fickle world will shake you.

Uncertainty is what keeps you on our toes, never in a standstill.

Predictable patterns try to lull you to sleep.

You compel yourself to ride with the pendulum.

Comfort meets chaos with patience and confidence.

If you need reassurance, read Rudyard Kipling’s 1895 poem, “If”:

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting…

If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim…

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you…

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it.

Brian Eno: ‘Try not to get a job’

What would the world look like if everyone was guaranteed a basic income?

For musician Brian Eno, that society would put a lot more emphasis on time well spent.

“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.”

Of course, not everyone can afford to remain jobless; the harsh reality is that work pays the bills and keeps us alive. But as more jobs get outsourced to robots and artificial intelligence, humans will need new ways to think about their responsibility.

What will we do when there’s no work to be done?

Work defines who we are. It forms the nucleus of our identity. However, a jobless world may encourage more innovative thinking about ourselves and our role in a secular, globalized world.  Perhaps it’ll compel some people to pursue more passionate work, the type of vocations that choose them instead of the other way around.

In such a world, we’ll be makers instead of cogs, thinkers instead of algorithmic lemmings. Writes Oliver Burkeman in The Antidote: “There is a positive correlation between the fear of death and the sense of unlived life.”

To work on something we actually enjoy is to live.