The Death of Creativity / Day 39 of 365

Back in 2012, I was a creative super-machine. I finished a 365 project the year prior and had just bought my dream camera. It seemed like every week I was doing something crazy and new. I regularly dragged friends into frozen creeks, through stinging nettles, and into the wild recesses of my world. My camera lived on my shoulder and, like my mind, it was always fully charged.

I vividly remember having a late night conversation with Jake back then. He was one of the first artists that I was close to – and the one who really pushed me to create, no matter what crazy ideas I had. Our conversations usually centered around critiquing art that the other had made.

On this particular night, I was really pushing Jake to start blogging. Beyond consuming my life with photography, I had bloomed into blogging. It was almost October and I was participating in an annual ‘Blogtober’. I’ll never forget what Jake said to me that night;

“There’s so much stuff already out there already – I don’t want to contribute to the noise.”

Jake is about 5 years my senior and, unlike me, had been creating across every medium. I knew him as a photographer, a sculptor, a painter – one of the first interactions I had with him was at a church over-nighter. We went bowling and I spent the night talking with him. As we talked, he took out his sketchbook and drew a charcoal picture of me.

I think that artists typically remember their birth into art. This was the beginning for me.

When Jake said he didn’t want to contribute to the noise anymore, it was although I had woken up even though I was already awake. Suddenly I saw noise everywhere. There was too much information out in the world and I became self-conscious.

That was my death.

A weed was planted that night and I’ve spent the last 5 years pulling them up. “Is what I’m creating worth being put out there?” sprung up from the corner of my beautifully cultivated garden. Soon thereafter, “Am I really contributing or just creating junk?”. I wasn’t quick enough to pull these weeds out. I was in deep trouble when the “Am I bothering people by putting my art in front of their faces?” arrived.

Soon the weeds overtook the garden, and although I plant new flowers occasionally, they’re dwarfed by self-consciousness. At 18 years old, I didn’t have the capacity to understand this. I only saw that I was ‘making noise’. That was my creative death.

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/Ifit6xW8UCY?rel=0

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We’re too Quixotic

If nothing stays the same in life, why do we believe or hope that things will remain the same? We know that we will grow older and that one day our parents will pass. Friends we had in high school will grow up and move away. Still we expect that our friends will always be there and we’ll be young forever.

Why not abandon the idea that we know what’s going to happen next? Treat every moment like it’s your last. When you walk into a room, know that it may be the last time you step foot through those doors. Appreciate the experiences you have. Inevitably there will be a time when you will never return. There will be a last time. Take a moment to really experience what you have now.

Sometimes our expectations ruin what could be great experiences. When you hug your friend, you expect that it will happen again in the future. When you kiss your lover at the end of the day, you believe that it will happen again and again. But one day it won’t. You’ll hug your friend goodbye and that will be it. You’ll have a last kiss with your lover, but we don’t know when it will be. It’s impossible to know.

Appreciate what you have while you have it. That means really let that hug sink in. Kiss deeply and passionately. Listen to your coworkers even if it’s been a long day, you don’t know if you’ll have the chance again. You don’t know if you’ll walk into this room again. Everything ends. Love while you can.

346/365

Decide

There is so much more power in fleeting moments. The knowledge that what’s happening will eventually end and move on. Everything will die eventually and we have little control over the many things around us. When we know that we’re going to die, we lack the ability to do everything. We must prioritize and choose the actions we wish to take in our short time.

With immortal life, we could experience everything. From every type of heartbreak to every delight. There would be no separation from you and the next guy because eventually you would experiences all of the same things.

In our short lives, we are destined to end. We are fated to eventually perish. What you do with your time is what makes you who you are. Not what you think or what’s in your head. What’s tangibly done in front of you. At your whim. Use that power to decided where you’ll go.

153/365

New stuff!

Tonight I just bought two Sandman t-shirts off RedBubble and I’m so excited to get them! If you haven’t read Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic series, you need to go do that – RIGHT NOW! It’s an amazing series about these beings that exist, such as Dream, Death, Desire, and Destiny. A cult captures Dream and reeks havoc on the world in his absence. The whole concept is brilliant – a true work of Gaiman. If you don’t know Neil Gailman, he wrote Stardust and countless other material! He’s also married to Amanda “fucking” Palmer. Sorry for the random blab today but I’m just excited about all of this!

151/365

Become Intimate with Your Fears

Lately I’ve been reading a lot from “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron. It’s a rather small book that seems almost too small to be significant. The book almost feels like it’s an older novel in size. This contrasts with how big the ideas are inside.

Pema came to my life when I needed her the most; amid the mental crisis of moving to a new place and hitting the restart button on most of my routines. There is excitement in going to a new place, but, for me, there is also the fear that I may not like what I’m stuck with.

When I was flying from Minneapolis to Charleston, I began reading. The way that everything is explained goes much more than typical Eastern philosophy. Sometimes you get those books where you have to interpret what the author is try to say because they don’t have English grammar down. Pema doesn’t have that problem at all! All of her examples are totally applicable too!

Basically “When Things Fall Apart” is a self-explaining name. The book is about crisis and when we react to those crisis rather than respond. Inside, Pema explains how fear is something that shows you that you’re alive and progressing. It’s something to become intimate with and understand.

Part of my struggle, and what I believe a lot of other people face, is that when we face the unknown, many of us become subdued. We climb into our shells and retract from the world. Pema explains that through fear, we can realize a lot about ourselves. We can look and see what we are attached to. We can see that we are attached to much more than we think.

Over time, we can release this fear of losing what we think we have, and we can accept fear as an emotion. So much of what we fear is illogical or creates unnecessary suffering for us. By paying attention to our fears and our worries, we can move past them.

Each time I’ve gone somewhere new in the last year (I’ve moved 4 times around the country), I’ve been afraid of the unknown. When I’m about to move, I become gloomy and act as if everything around me is coming to an end. Especially when I moved to north Texas. This fear destroyed the pleasure of getting to know a new place, and enjoying my last days in Mississippi with my friends.

By realizing this is cyclical, I can become intimate with that fear. Realizing that growth doesn’t happen without change. Fear and worrying go hand in hand; by worrying about moving and leaving things behind, I fear what I will experience in the new place. By fearing what I will experience, I worry about things that may never happen.

The silly thing is that fear is of itself. Let me explain. Fearing fear is another great fear. We realize that we are afraid and it amplifies itself. That fear compounds and becomes much more simply because we have a bad relationship with fear. We are afraid of being afraid.

That is exactly what “When Things Fall Apart” is about. Changing that, and realizing that fear is nothing to be afraid of. The cycle of fear is becoming afraid of something, then becoming more afraid because you are afraid.

Become intimate with your fear and when you are afraid, acknowledge it. Realize that you fear something and accept it. Don’t try and fight it or reject it. Simply think about the feeling of being afraid and why you are afraid. Your fear may not dissolve but you will stop being afraid of being afraid. Learn to be intimate with your fears!

110/365

Striking Balance

And in the end, all the suffering we inflict will be equivalent to the suffering we incur.

With running the risk of sounding like a preacher, I think that everything evens out in the end. All the pain and discomfort we strike on one another, shall be the same amount as the suffering we experience. It is as if you are striking yourself when you strike another.

On the other side, all the good you bring into this world shall also be returned. Every kindness you bring about for a stranger, shall be brought onto you.

So then I pose this question; are you birthing kindness to all those around you or are you bringing suffering into this world?

109/365

Death and Dying

Lately I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries and reading a lot of books on happiness. It’s definitely an interesting subject because the whole topic is relative to each person. You may have a horrible event happen to you and recover in half the time that I would.

One of the most interesting subjects that I’ve been reading about lately is from His Holiness The Dalai Lama’s book “Advice on Dying”. It follows a prominent meditation from Tibet on dying. It involves imagining everything in your life dying. That means all of your friends, family, loved ones, and everyone you would ever meet.

However, the meditation isn’t filled with sadness, it’s focused on acceptance. Accepting that everything that arises must end, and that includes yourself. Understanding your own mortality in extremely important because if you understand that your time is limited, you’re less likely to waste it.

Too often we think that everything that’s going on now will last forever. We think that all of our family will remain in good health, our animals with stay with us, and our favorable job will last forever. When we become adapt to having these things but don’t understand that they aren’t permanent, we bring a great suffering on ourselves.

That is why it is important to meditate on death and dying. Accepting that everything ends is a way to avoid the suffering somewhat. It’s a way to appreciate what you already have. It’s a way to bring greater happiness on yourself.

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