Ruminating further on *the idea that our deepest desire is often bundled in our darkest fears…
What is it about the thing we love that make us so afraid?
Why does our love of something leave us feeling so naked and vulnerable? So much so, that we often hide from it or avoid trying the thing we want most desperately in the world?
It’s a strange phenomenon
To reach for our greatest desire, we run the greatest risk of failure.
Truly failing- not just in an external sense of the word. A deep failure that we feel in our souls.
To run the risk of failing at something we love is the most vulnerable place we can be because we expose ourselves fully to pain.
It is easier, then, to succeed (and fail) at things we don’t care that much about.
This is why we often find more success in shadow careers- that is, careers we didn’t really want, but that seemed easier than going for the career we truly wanted. It’s easy to take risks in a career that spiritually means nothing to us. But it is oh so difficult to do the thing that would bear the most meaning to our souls.
Our fear is always showing us what that thing is.
So if you’re unsure of what you want, you might ask yourself instead- what am I most afraid to do?
That, of course, is the thing you must do, above all else.
I have trouble differentiating between what is fun
and what is work
I’m told this is a problem:
“you need to learn how to unwind”
people often tell me
“you’re working all the time!”
weirdly, I don’t feel stressed out
it’s not like I’m staring at a computer all day, madly sweating, tearing my hair out
much of my work feels like fun
much of my fun feels like work
are the two mutually exclusive?
my sister set out to prove to me one day that I did indeed know how to relax:
“see. you’re reading that fiction novel! That’s relaxing!”
“Oryx and Crake. Yes, that’s fun, but it’s also work. I’m researching for my script.”
“Hmm…ok, but you watch movies.”
“Fun, but also work. I’m trying to learn about directing styles.”
“Ok- you go out and socialize. That’s obviously just fun.”
True. I know what pure relaxation is. I know what work looks like in it’s purest form. It’s pretty clear what both ends sides of the spectrum looks like.
But it’s the middle stuff I’m confused about. And that stuff seems to fill up most of my life.
Are my photo shoots fun or are they work? They’re not easy. You could hardly call standing in a glacial lagoon at 6 am a lot of fun- not to mention the 3 days of editing that follow. But no one’s making me do it. I get relatively little in return for my labor. Is this fun or work?
Ditto movies- am I watching for pleasure or research? Hard to say anymore.
Ditto every book. Every dance class. Every networking event. Every film festival.
Is there a place in the middle of these two extremes where people like me spend most of their days? Somewhere between fun and work? Furk?
….mark it down, ladies and gentlemen. You heard it here first.
When you’re working so hard it can’t be fun, but you’re funning so hard it can’t be work…you’re hard at #furk.
Growing up in the dance world, I spent a lot of time learning how to spin on one leg (aka: pirourette) properly.
Getting a clean double can be difficult initially, and going beyond that into triples and upwards is what sets apart the intermediates from the pros.
It requires a great deal of balance and control to execute multiple pirouettes reliably enough to choreograph them into a routine, and so you need to be sure that whatever turns you choreograph are able to perform proficiently.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever learned about turning, was the idea that very little force was needed to pirouette 2-3 times, and that our tendency was to apply too much force going into the spin, which caused us to turn too fast and loose control.
It was a counter-intuitive idea: apply less energy, and it will become easier.
Once I tried this, I was amazed at how much easier the entire endeavor became. I was suddenly able to pirouette beautifully and with ease, and amazingly, I was using about a quarter of the effort I had been using previously.
It’s an interesting lesson: There’s a minimal amount of force to execute a particular action. Any force amount beyond that is excessive and wasteful to your energy.
Likewise, when I started rock-climbing, I was always gripping the wall too hard, like a frightened cat, putting too much strain on my arms and consequentially making the task of scaling the wall much more difficult. Once I got better, I learned how little strength it actually required to support my body, and that by simply relaxing my arms, I made it much more probable that I would make it to the top of the route without tiring along the way.
This, I think, is one of those concepts that can be lifted and applied to almost any area in life. How can we accomplish tasks with the least amount of strain possible? Strain, of course, can also mean mental strain.
How much of the anguish you are experiencing is actually necessary? Is there a way you can execute the same actions with a minimal amount of stress?
Is it possible that you are applying too much force to something that could otherwise be easy?
since the industrial revolution
humans have become masters of energy
from the power of steam and electricity
wind and the sun
even splitting atoms
we have learned to harness the energy of the natural world
and convert it
to do our bidding
we artists have a similar talent
we convert the energy of our emotions
and our joy
it fuels our art
it allows us to look in on ourselves
it enables us
to step outside our individual experience
and join in a collective one
to reflect upon ourselves
art helps us contemplate our meaning in the world
as scientists work to harness energy into useful technologies
we artists work to convert our own energy into art
technology is useful
art is not
but that doesn’t mean art is worthless
art helps us remember
our reasons for innovating in the first place
for what is the point in building
if we forget what we’re doing it for?
life exists not outside our work
not on the outer periphery of our art
it flows through it
it seeps into every word we write
every photograph we take
life is art
no point trying to silence your life while you work
lately, my life has been loud,
even if I tried to create the safe space I wanted for my writing, life wouldn’t allow it
like a wild animal, life can’t be tamed.
it can’t be told to “stop-
wait until it’s convenient,
for accidents to happen,
for things to unravel,
for people to die.”
life has a life of its own
and so you’re going to have to stop trying to trample that out
and start running with it
start using its natural currents as energy
go with the flow in every which way it takes you
life isn’t going to give you the whole day
it may not even
give you a whole hour
it’s not going to give you the perfect conditions
the perfect inspiration or mood
but it may give you
just a little
tiny bit of space
here and there
and if you use it wisely
it may very well be