Art

My artist is writerly and enjoys sophistication, hope, sincerity, solitude, and the intimacy of small, thoughtful groups.

My artist has clear influences: the vulnerability and heart of Brené Brown, the entrepreneurialism and distinction of Seth Godin, the whimsical craft of Austin Kleon, and the cultural grounding of Bo Burnham.

But my artist is not them.

My artist is unique to itself.

This uniqueness must be nourished and accepted without compromise to live the fullest, most contributing expression of my life.

Nourishment involves constant experimentation.

Its affinities manifested through this iterative process include the love found in the writing of E.B. White, the curiosity of Krista Tippett, the collective shame of adolescence, and the authenticity of Thoreau.

It is not drawn to others’ poetry because of the time it takes to decipher the abstraction, the negativity found in the writing of Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the manipulation found in books about selling and business.

I don’t know what we should be doing with our time.

If I were to guess, I’d say figuring out what it means to live a good life, advance truth, and discover what’s fulfilling.

In sum, to understand wisdom, love, and happiness.

This is antithetical to the idea of focusing on how to get ahead of others, how to take advantage of them, and how to compete.

It’s better to fail in a career and be true to yourself and kind to others than to reach the heights of institutional success by abandoning your values and being selfish and manipulative.

Work hard. Stand in your conviction. And don’t be afraid.

SELF-DEVELOPMENT

I’m on the verge of significant self-revelations.

I can sense the connections forming that will eventually lead me to a familiar, nearly unnoticeable self-progression.

It’s so subtle, the gentle understanding of what the foreseeable future holds.

In moments where I am compelled to express myself, it feels like confidence.

If feels like self-possession.

It feels like a voice.

I appreciate my evolving individuality. I crave to feed, nurture, and grow my inner artist.

Though, I wish that the process didn’t require so much patience.

Western Civilization

Western Civilizations, 2009 – Brian Dettmer

It’s all fun and games,
Until someone grows up
Then come the anxiety, neurosis,
Man’s rivalries
We crave love.
Escape the pain
Through video games, drugs, and the LA dynasty;
It starts to feel like it’s not enough.
Hype beasts and iconography give rise
To champagne idolatry
Try to stay tough.

Self-will and good books
Overcome our Byzantine ivory
Scared they won’t accept us.

Those authorities, so sure,
Standing upon divers of mighty degrees –
Lending credibility
Ego fuels the corrupt.
The devil’s a good effigy to enforce our morality
Muster the force to speak up.

Or bury our greed and deplete our license with lies
It’s fine. It’s all right.
True, most of us just get by,
Craving comfort and love.

Art serves to shine a light on humankind;
It can unite or divide, destroy or inspire
Hacks trade what’s right to serve their own devices

There’s a thin line between connection and good service
When you’ve ignored the voice in your heart
And live in comfort despite those hurting,
Ask yourself, “Was it worth it?”

With so many people and ideas, it often feels like everything has been said.

We all are human.

We all want connection.

We all want love.

We all want belonging.

We all want to feel like we as individuals and our work matter.

So we all crave a voice.

And many of us crave fame.

Fame, micro (social media influencers) and macro (folks who have to worry about paparazzi) is a good proxy for our self-worth.

 

There’s this moment as an artist. You enter a flow. You might experience a familiar flow in the work you do. In high school, I experienced it flipping burgers at Steak n’ Shake. At first, the work would be terrible, but as the tempo accelerated I went into a mode of concentration where the time just flew. In college, you experience this with papers. You dread the writing. Tap by tap you pick away in the beginning, not knowing quite what you’ll say or how you’ll get to the end of the paper. But, somehow, you enter the flow. The talent takes over. The work gets done.

As an artist, it is the same flow but way better. Brian Koppelman talks about it in his latest podcast about how to be creative. He says that he wanted to write about finance but didn’t know how, so he studied the finance game until he got it and when he finally did … boom. I experienced this for the first time before I started blogging daily by watching Jon Bellion work. Check out this video to see him in his process. Look at his pure joy. Watch as he gets into the groove and becomes captivated with his own creation. Watch, in other words, how he enters the pocket.

The pocket is this place of elation. The pocket is where we experience the greatest part of our creations. It’s where we’re living our greatest potential, and it’s revealed by ecstasy – the weightlessness of pure expression of soul or genius. I want you to be aware of it because if there’s some calling in you, you should know what you’re missing out on by not striving for it. You’re missing out, plainly, on the fullness of life.

 

This is an unorthodox post. There’s not an idea I present. Instead, I just wanted to share with you the latest album I’ve been listening to: NEOTHEATER by AJR. AJR made a splash in 2017 with their album The Click with songs like “I’m Not Famous” and “Weak.” Their style was unique because it infused catchy pop beats with ostensibly authentic confessionals.

This new album, which I’ve already listened to about five times, is an augmented version of The Click – more insightful and human with better, bigger beats. While it’s mostly a general exploration of the band’s evolving 20-something existential struggles, it also provides a keen representation of their conceptions of their new fame their last album earned them, the propensity to drown out depression and angst with novel entertainment, and the ease of selling out.

Check out this song for a great taste of the album.

What’s right for you
Ask yourself
I’ve read other books
And I don’t have the answers

That’s right for you
Don’t let nobody else
Trample on your visions

You’re finding hope
Don’t let it go
This world will test you

But all you need to know is…

What’s right for you
I know it’s easier said than done
You’re sad, you’re scared, you’re lonely
And you feel like “if only”
And you feel like it’s so confusing

The world seems selfish
Someone tell it
You. Are. Just. A. Kid.

It can’t help itself
We’re rolling down a mineshaft

Covered in coal
Our backs are broke
Craving a mother’s love
And a place to call home

We need more artists
Thank you, God, for kindness and Susan Sontag
Thank you, God, for good books
Campfires, snuggles, and cozy nooks
Folks who think
And movies with Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio

You’re different
You’ve got this
Just trust your conscience
And find friends who think that farts are funny

That smarts are sexier than money
That a Benz is dope but would much prefer
Vision quests, pillow talks, and games on Easter

No one’s perfect
No one’s read enough books
No one has the answers
The world is far too busy
Out there working instead of living

I know, it’s really, really hard
But believe me
Just do what’s right for you

And forget money. And fame. And anything besides what you love because I promise the success isn’t worth it, and the vast majority of the fans and fair-weather friends you make along the way will not care about you.

You’re a human being, not a commodity. You’re a feeler, not a competer.

So ditch the Beamer for a beater and live a life you love.