The vulnerability of love

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.

#furk

glacier-outtake

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.

converting energy

since the industrial revolution
humans have become masters of energy
from the power of steam and electricity
to oil
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
into entertainment

our frustrations
our rage
our despair
and our joy
like electricity
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 pours through

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,
rowdy, unpredictable.
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-
wait until it’s convenient,
for accidents to happen,
for things to unravel,
for people to die.”
no
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
or circumstances
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
enough.

In like a lamb, out like a lion

If you start a project that you’re unsure about, keep it quiet until you’ve gone far enough along to decide whether it’s a project you want to pursue wholeheartedly​ or give up completely.

Quietly means not sharing your grand plans with others. It also means not getting yourself overly excited about it and quitting your day job until you are able to commit to the project entirely.

There are good scientific reasons for keeping your ideas quiet.
It makes it more likely you’ll achieve your goals.

It also helps you not look like you’re crazy.

Keeping a measured air of caution about projects until we are ready to commit to them makes sense because it gives us the time and perspective to cooly assess the merits of the project.

Once you have gone through due process, and you’ve fully committed yourself to it, you can then give yourself permission to discuss the project with anyone who can help. Any person you meet is a potential ally to your project.

The idea that began as a tiny whisper inside you may now be broadcast with confidence from your personal megaphone.

Your dissemination of the idea is then in direct proportion to its realization. You only talk about what is real.

This helps you appear to be a doer, not simply a dreamer to those around you. That will be an important distinction you’ll want to make in people’s minds, as later you rally them behind your master plan.

Quitting at Half-Time and the Erosion of Self-Esteem

I come up with lots of ideas and projects.
Sometimes my mind explodes with a grandiose idea that in the naked light of day just doesn’t stack up.
Or maybe I get into it, and realize:
Hey- this idea isn’t so great after all.
This isn’t my passion.
This doesn’t fit into my goals.
This is too crazy.
This isn’t that original.

The list goes on.
Some of the best advice I ever got was to immediately and whole-heartedly drop these half-hearted projects.
Let them go completely and never look back.

In the past, I often let them linger in my mind.
For years they would fester,
frustrating me and making me feel subconsciously bad about the important work I wasn’t doing.

The most important thing for me now early on is to log the idea and then quickly dismiss the ones I don’t plan to pursue entirely. This clears mental room for the projects I DO want to pursue. And I can chase those with reckless abandon.

Something I have noticed is,
the deeper you get into a half-hearted project,
the harder it is to extricate yourself from it.
Soon enough, there are expectations involved;
your own and possibly other collaborators you’ve brought along with you.
If you turn your back on the project mid-way, it’s not just yourself you’re letting down,
it’s those other people too.
That puts you in a difficult position:
you must either stick with the project you don’t love and waste your own time,
or give it up, knowing you have wasted others.

Giving up on projects halfway is a practice I don’t like to keep.
An unfinished project has a corrosive effect on one’s self-esteem.
It makes you feel like a failure.
It makes you question your own judgment.
Over time, you may even wonder whether you are capable of completing anything at all!

The more projects you walk away from mid-way,
the more it destroys your confidence.
Soon, others will lose confidence in you also.
They will see you trying things, and giving up all the time,
and they themselves will hesitate to follow your lead,
or get excited for you,
since it seems like a waste of time and energy for them to do so.

To avoid this effect, I recommend evaluating projects by the COMMIT OR QUIT method I have outlined in the previous post.

This often requires you wait til you have enough information about the project to make such an assessment.

Starting projects quietly seems like a good idea. More on this in the next post…