Every ending

Each day’s end represents a new beginning. Each cycle will close, opening another.

Sometimes the end is painful. Sometimes we cling to long hopes. But the new, though frightening, can prove to enriching in novel ways.

Optical concerns

Decision-making can be said to be a process whereby we choose a) the best option for us or, b) what maybe we perceive to be the best option available. Quite often, however, the optics of choices we make are eschewed.

Choices are based on the information we have available to us at the time. The more information, the more fact, the better the choices we make.

Great art

“Great art stretches the taste. It doesn’t follow tastes.” – Steve Jobs

Sometimes it’s possible to know that the piece you’re working on, the design you’re creating, whatever – sometimes you know that it will be well-received. Mostly, though, it’s a huge gamble. The most prepared you can be is looking at it with fresh eyes, and thinking that this is something you’d appreciate.

Universal acceptance is almost non-existent. All creatives inherently know this, and yet when those negative reviews, sometimes scathing, come in, it feels like a personal defeat. One negative review can outshine a hundred positive ones.

And there are times when the art comes to early, only to be appreciated later. Look at Van Gogh, whose success during his lifetime was virtually non-existent. A popular anecdote is that he only sold one painting in his lifetime, though it has been revealed that it’s an exaggeration.

But, ultimately, you’re creating for the sake of creating. It may be commercially successful, or it may not. But when you have something that has to be given to the world, the only thing that you really can do is create it.

A week like no other

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any stranger, the country takes another step towards… I don’t know, anarchy? Divisiveness, at the very least. And so, we’re left to pick up pieces in such a way that we have to be careful how we handle them – they are still fragile, and it could break even more egregiously.

The nation, this democracy, is an experiment, one that generations have believed in and worked towards perfecting. There is no claim to perfection, of course, but the attempts can be made, and appreciated.

I like the words of Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse: “When something’s ugly, talking about beauty isn’t just permissible, it’s obligatory.”

The belief I have, and that we all should have, is that next week will be better. And we can work to make it so.

The injured

There are some injuries that are so insignificant that you can go about your day without any detriment. Some require immediate attention. And there is a bevy of possible outcomes from one extreme to the other.

Knowing when help is needed is paramount. Some injuries just won’t heal on their own. And they can be physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.

It’s never wrong to ask for help if you need it. Just don’t wait too long, or help may be impossible to provide.

For the ones who burn

I wrote last week about the commonplace book, and writing out passages that mean something. Here’s the one I referenced:

“…and I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones are are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a common place thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow Roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue center light pop and everybody goes, ‘Aaaww.'” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Right then, it was likely about wanting to live a life like that of Neal Cassidy. To be “mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time.” And as I think on it now, nearly nine years after that reading, I wonder exactly how far I’ve progressed, and how much distance I’ve actually given up.

Old vs. new

I like my Kindle. The lightweight device is superior to reading the iPad because, when I’m reading in bed (I know, you’re not supposed to read in bed, but even I have my vices), if I fall asleep, the Kindle hitting me in the face is a lot lighter than the iPad.

But, I like the physical presence of a book. I remember Giles in the tv show Buffy the Vampire Slayer saying that he “like the smell.” I think he was saying he was distrustful of computers which, in the 1990s, wasn’t too uncommon a complaint.

This goes back a long time, though. Lord Byron, in a passionate plea to the House of Commons in the early nineteenth century, sided with the Luddites opposing the use of mechanical looms. New technology is often scary, even in olden times.

Are we there yet?

I’m fairly confident we had an election back in November. No, I distinctly recall voting. And yet, there’s the runoff election in Georgia tomorrow (“Can’t wait to stop seeing political ads,” said every Georgian everywhere), a cacophonous Senate where members are still plotting to overturn election results, and a President who will not go gently, raging against not only the light, but just about everything.

And I thought it was exhausting in the months leading up to November.

What the vast majority of us know about politics comes from history and civics classes we took in grade school, dramatic programming like The West Wing, Designated Survivor, or House of Cards, and watching our politicians interact on the media stage. In 1979, Al Gore posited that “Television will change this institution, Mr. Speaker, just as it has changed the executive branch. But the good will far outweigh the bad.”

An while there may be some question as to how bad it’s gotten, there is an argument to be made for it based on the shear volume of political coverage. But maybe that in itself is an issue. With so much coverage, so many talking heads issuing their opinions on the topics, maybe we’re faced with a viewership fatigue – much like the poor residents in Georgia must be feeling over the onslaught of political ads.

What are you going to do with your life today

It’s a good question to ask any day, but here in the new year it’s exceptionally apt, particularly after the year that ended.

What are you going to do with your life today? Work towards something important to you? Rest and recover? While away the hours at something meaningless.

It’s a question you get to ask yourself every morning, and one only you get to answer.

Rein in the good ideas

I’ve been meditating more over the past few months and I’ve noticed than when I lose the moments of mindfulness, I’ll find good ideas popping up. At first, I struggled to try and recall them. This led to more thinking about them during meditation, disrupting my concentration even more.

I’ve started noting them down – pausing my meditation for a moment – so that when I return to the practice, I don’t have the distraction of knowing I’ll have to try and recollect the thought.

All creativity operates in much the same way. When we’re not beating down its door, it’s more apt to come calling. It just happens that it’s usually while we’re in the kitchen attempting to put out the small grease fire we’ve started while trying to cook for a dinner party of twelve. That is, when we’re focused so strongly on other things, good ideas tend to pop up – often at inopportune times.

I’ve yet to work out how to control the creative impulses, but I’m assured that it can be done. Most artists and creatives follow routines, repetition, and daily practices to ensure that the work moves forward, calling forth inspiration when at convenient times.