Fat?

This morning my wife and I were talking while carpooling to work. My wife, Laura, needed to stop by Hart Bakery to pick up donuts for work. (As a brief aside, Hart Bakery makes tremendously good donuts. I highly recommend them.) On the way, I remember remarking to Laura, “I really want to lose weight…” and after an ever so brief pause, “…I’m getting a donut anyway.”

I’m not excessively overweight. I can stand to drop 20 pounds but nothing morbid or serious. I desire a body that would evoke pleasure from my wife. Wait a minute. What gave me the idea that my wife needed me to look like a carved Greek god? Just how much power does popular culture have over me? I’m not sure which annoys me more about this, popular culture or donuts.  The truth is, I enjoyed that donut and my wife loves me for me. So to hell with that, I say pass the donuts. Remember when trimming the fat, that fat is flavor.

Question:rewsnA

For the logical mind day to day tasks quickly become mundane. I find that this is a most peculiar aspect of my personality. It is difficult, in any job I have taken thus far, to maintain a strong enough challenge to counteract the way my mind actively seeks to resolve all problems. This is why I love writing, drawing, pondering, and all other acts of creation.

I learned about the idea of being left-brained and right-brained some time ago. I’m not sure if such theory still exists but I am definitely an exception to the rule. I am both left and right brained. My brain functions primarily on a logical level treating everything as if it were a game of chess. I quickly calculate outcomes and resolve to pursue the most logical choice. In any job, I am actively seeking the “right way” to do a given task. However, I am never satisfied with just finding the “right way” to do something. I immediately follow this with a pursuit of the best way to do something.

The problem is that it doesn’t take very long before I have completely absorbed all learnable facets of the tasks I am doing. This results in the occasional state of boredom. I have discovered that I enjoy interactions with people much more than interactions with task oriented activities. People offer a different kind of challenge, they add a bit of chaos that cannot be accurately predicted or planned for.

People are more difficult to study. The answer to the question of how to handle the situation changes with the weather, mood, and situation. The variables inspire and delight me in a ways that most mundane tasks cannot. It was this obsession with people that took me as far as it did when I worked for Best Buy. I was very customer-centric in my obsession with pursuing a better understanding of our clients. I dug as deep as I could into our customer’s needs and eventually their pocketbooks. I’m not so proud of that last bit, but it is, of course, what they were paying me to do.

The most curious logic problem is myself. I seek to understand myself and fulfill my needs and desires. I find that I am not sure of the answers yet. So I am actively spending my life living as the questions. I know that my life will undoubtedly lead me into a creative endeavor. My heart is too closely tied to writing to ever give it up. I am not sure what it is that writing will lead me to. My wife, Laura, probably hopes it’ll eventually lead to a paycheck.

What questions do I have regarding myself?

  1. How do I plan to leverage writing in my future?
  2. What can I do to make myself better?
  3. How do I plot, test, and enact my theories?
  4. Will I ever finish a novel?
  5. What do I want to be when I grow up?
  6. How will I be a good father?
  7. What can I do to better share what I learn with those who follow behind?

As I live my life, each day, I am discovering more information that will lead to the discovery of those answers. The quote below is from one of my favorite poets. Rainer says in this quote precisely what I have come to expect from my life. I welcome you to come along with me on this journey. It will all be broadcast here, stay tuned, or catch up. 😉

“Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers.”  ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

Boredom and the Art of Procrastination

Bored? You probably are. You are reading a blog after all. I bet you’re even supposed to be doing something else right now, something that someone is probably paying you to do.  Reading my blog at work? Shame on you! (No, not really, keep reading!)

I was sitting through yet another lecture at IUPUI and it hit me, rather hard, that I was bored. This came as a frightening revelation because I was sitting in a classroom full of my peers in the future of Informatics. If I’m bored by the topics of my degree, does that mean that I’ll be bored later in that chosen career?  I wonder how many of you were bored in the classes pertaining to your chosen degree program. Did you stop to ask yourself if you were doing the right thing?

“The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life.”  – Jessica Hische

So that brings me to the other half of the title “The Art of Procrastination.” What do you do when you are procrastinating? I bet some, especially those over-worked perfectionists, would say “nothing” because that’s precisely what they see procrastination as. I see procrastination much as Jessica does, a window to what you’d rather be doing. Doctors tell us all the time to listen to our bodies because they know best. For the same reason you feel bloated and ill after spending the night at your local pub plowing down fried bar food, you’ll likewise feel wasted, drained, and otherwise unfulfilled at the job and classes you don’t care for.

I find that when I’m procrastinating, I’m really thinking. I’m thinking about what to write about, thinking about the novel in progress, thinking how that villain is going to interact with my main character and why the object of the novel is willing to die for something that he just acquired.  I think that’s enough about the novel, just buy it when it comes out. You’ll understand later and hopefully thank me for not spoiling it!

So, in a way, procrastination is an art form, an exercise in self-expression that many of us fail to recognize for what it’s worth. I admit that my procrastination isn’t always productive. However, more often than not, it is, even if it is as simple as working out a plan or a solution to a pending problem. When people ask why I procrastinate and wait until the last minute to do an assignment (for class mind you, my work ethics are much better, I swear!)  I often tell them that I “work better under pressure” and it’s true that a certain amount of stress and a deadline will force anyone to crap out an example of work. It’s never your best work and no matter how many A’s my professors kindly give me, we’ll both know that I am capable of better.  The problem isn’t that it needs to be better; the problem is that my mind is telling me what you may have already gathered. My heart belongs to something other than Informatics. My heart belongs to my writing.

What does your procrastination produce? What should you be doing?

Originality Sin

Be yourself!

Be different!

Stand out!

We artists are all guilty of some form of theft. However, it’s really not our fault. There are simply no original thoughts. You won’t often see me quote from a religious text. However, the following biblical musing accurately communicates my thoughts on the matter.

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:9

Does that leave any hope for us? We, the starving artists, are looking to make our mark on the world. What are we to do if our “mark” is just another stolen and unoriginal gouge in the face of our craft? I say there is hope, but we must learn to embrace our thieving ways.

Truly great ideas build upon other ideas, which built upon the ideas before them, and so it goes. Here’s the kicker, there is nothing wrong with that! I recently read a book by Austin Kleon entitled “Steal like an Artist.” Austin does an excellent job of explaining why ideas are stolen and why it is a good thing. I strongly recommend his book as an example to artists, writers, and dreamers everywhere.  He explains that ideas have a certain genealogy to them. He compares ideas to the birth of human being. We “steal” traits from both of our parents and selfishly use them to create ourselves in their image. We embrace our parents, so we should embrace the parents of our ideas.

Austin does an excellent job of describing the difference between “Good Theft” and “Bad Theft” in his book. Bad theft is plagiarism, as repeated incessantly by every college professor I have ever had. Plagiarism is stealing and passing off an unchanged product as your own work. Austin explains that Good Theft is a matter of drawing on the influences of many and generating an idea that borrows from many sources to create a mixture of your own. Good theft honors the works that it came from and transforms it into a beautiful personal crafting of art from you.

This should come as no surprise to you. We steal. We do it every day, we borrow our ideas from the environment, our family, our values, Mother Culture, and even from the unworthy abyss of modern media.  Yet we obsess with trying to prove our originality. We should learn to accept our need to steal and do our sources justice by adding artfully to the previous iterations of an idea in the creation of an amalgamation of our thoughts and ideas.

Why is it considered a sin to embrace your ideas for what they truly are… well-crafted thefts!

Think about some of your recent ideas at work, in your writing or in your art. Do you believe it is truly original or have you come to accept the influences of your experiences on your craft?

Fear and the Pursuit of Dreams

We all have a dream, some of us two or three. When we were growing up, we dreamed of the day we’d be old enough to do whatever we wanted. We dreamed of being astronauts. We dreamed of meeting our superheroes, heroes, and celebrities. We idolized actors, musicians, and authors. We dreamed of being greater than we are, stronger, faster, better.

I dreamed of being a writer. Since I was about 8 years old I have been writing stories, poetry, and thoughts. I dreamed of writing a novel, something that the world would remember as great literature after I’ve been long dead and gone. I wanted to be Charles Dickens, Edgar Allan Poe, and Ernest Hemingway.

I never wrote that novel. Sure, I had dozens of ideas for novels. I’ve written down outlines and timelines. I even dreamed up character names and conjured conflict and settings. I could’ve probably written twenty novels in the time that I procrastinated. What held me up?

Fear.

I have been afraid of rejection for a long time and so, short of a few poems, I have never published anything anywhere but a blog on the internet. I have published a poem titled “Echoes of November” in Indiana University Kokomo’s literary review titled “From the Wellhouse.” This was the closest I have come to really putting myself out there for the world to view.

So why do we allow fear to control us? We allow fear to lull us into a stagnant existence where we never really put ourselves out there for anyone to see. We get by, we pay the bills, and we call ourselves accomplished. The truth is that most of us have forsaken our dreams in the name of practicality. We convince ourselves that they are unattainable and simply decide not to try.

I spent a great deal of time thinking about this last year and came up with a plan. I decided upon a New Year’s resolution and have held myself to it. My resolution was simply “just do it” and I have held true.

I realized while I was pushing myself to pursue my goals and dreams that we have a limited amount of control over how things turn out in life. We may never become great athletes, celebrities, rich, or any of countless other dreams. We can, however, put ourselves into a position where the outcome we desire is possible. What does that mean?

It means if you hate your job and wish you had a new one, you must first apply for a new job or multiple jobs. You must make connections and associations that will allow you to accomplish this goal. You put yourself out there and hope for the best, fearlessly.

In my case, it means in order to ever have a chance at becoming a writer. I must write. I must submit my writing for approval and publishing. I must, must, complete a novel and send it in. I’m willing to put myself out there and give my dreams a chance. Are you?

What are your dreams? What do you need to do to put yourself in position to succeed?