Creative Life

Please accept my apologies for not getting the daily blog out lately. I have just returned from an intense conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  I am back now, though! So back to it. In the future, if I’m about to head out for a conference, I’ll give a heads up. I had no idea my networking activity would be so demanding.

A consistent theme I saw while networking was competition. The entire time I was there I witnessed it – competition between schools for ranking, between journals for prestige, between students for job placement, and between colleagues for publication. (I’m preparing to go into academics.) The takeaway: I’m about to set forth into an incredibly competitive climate.  But I have a secret weapon; that is, the awareness between the difference between hierarchy and territory.

In Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art it’s said that “In the animal kingdom, individuals define themselves in one of two ways – by their rank within a hierarchy (a hen in a pecking order, a wolf in a pack) or by their connection to a territory (a home base, a hunting ground, a turf).”

To sum up Pressfield’s argument, most of us define ourselves hierarchically, and it’s likely that we don’t even know it. This is because school, advertising, all of the materialist culture tells us that we need to define ourselves by others’ opinions.

He says that this definition of our identity, which you will notice breaks down in places with a ton of people like Manhattan, is detrimental to our creativity. You will witness the development of the following characteristics:

  1. You become caught in a vicious cycle of trying to elevate your position in the hierarchy and defending against those beneath you.
  2. You come to define your happiness by your rank in the hierarchy, feeling satisfied at another’s defeat.
  3. You treat people differently based on their rank rather than other, more important, factors.
  4. You act, dress, speak, and think for others.

So we must live territorially.

What’s a territory?

  1. It’s the place that gives us sustenance, the core element of our soul’s nourishment.
  2. We love our territory alone. We don’t need anyone else to claim it. The work itself satisfies.
  3. It is something that takes work to be claimed. It doesn’t give, it gives back.

I’m going to leave his line of reasoning here. There’s more to it, but for the rest, I suggest you read the book.

In close, don’t get caught up in the competition. Just do the work you’re passionate about. Try not to think about the competition. Just have fun. Don’t care how praised someone is or where they stand in whatever fabricated pecking order exists. Just search for two things. First, who has interests that overlap with you? And second, are they a good person?

 

 

 

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.

I just finished Seth Godin’s The Icarus Deception. Like all of Godin’s work, it was excellent. I highly suggest you check it out if you’re interested in creative work.

Here is one of my favorite lines in the book: six daily habits for artists.

  1. Sit alone; sit quietly.
  2. Learn something new without any apparent practical benefit.
  3. Ask individuals for bold feedback; ignore what you hear from the crowd.
  4. Spend time encouraging other artists.
  5. Teach, with the intent of making change.
  6. Ship something that you created.

You can find more great quotes here.