Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Knots Grow Tighter On The Ropes That Bind Us

"Who we are at seven is who we are forever." When I was a kid, I was always the first one done with the exam. After fifteen minutes, I'd look up from my desk and realize everyone else was still on the second page. Woops. So my teachers cocked their heads. They figured I was either cheating, rushing or didn't care. And my classmates rolled their eyes. They thought I was either kissing ass or showing off. But neither was true. I'm simply wired to work fast. Velocity is part of my genetic package. And it's a pattern that's persisted in every phase of my life. Both positively and negatively. As an entrepreneur and artist, speed is blessing. There's nobody to slow you down and there's an infinite pile of work to do. Bam. Done. Next item. But as a team member, you can become a victim of your own efficiency. Working with different personalities at different velocities, speed can create friction. What's the holdup? Doesn't everybody here work fast? Why can't you be more like me? And that comes off as impatient and unempathetic. When it's really just a difference in wiring. Maybe we should call an electrician.

"Who cares what you got on the test if you have a superpower?" The great human irony is, you're always the last one to recognize your own value. You're simply too close to yourself. You don't have the eyes to see your highest abilities. So you need people in your life to be mirrors and witnesses and encouragers. The ones who make sure your potential doesn't go to waste. Today a friend of mine spontaneously and nonchalantly demonstrated a skill he'd been practicing his whole life, but didn't realize it was a superpower. So I started asking him about it. Wait, what did you just do? Where did you learn that? Is that something you do all the time? Can you teach me how to do that? Johnny chuckled a bit, but only because he was just being himself. Doing what he does. And he had no idea how valuable that really was. 

"Every day the knots grow tighter on the ropes that bind us." For ten years, mindfulness meditation was my daily ritual for maintaining sanity, managing anxiety and motivating creativity. Without it, I'm not sure I would have survived my twenties. But like many of life's endeavors, meditation reached a point of diminishing returns. The buzz wasn't having the same affect anymore. And that totally bummed me out. But despite my efforts to cling to this thing that was so magical and intimate and useful, I knew I had to let it go. Which, I suppose, is the whole point of meditation anyway. And on the upside, not needing to meditate isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's like what comedians always say. You know you've made when you're not doing comedy anymore. Inspired by a book on depression every artist should read.

"People are in love with you, but then all of a sudden, they can't wait to watch you fail." In my hall of fame of songwriting, there are a handful artists whose work is so brilliant and inspiring, that when I listen to their music, I actually get angry that I'm not as good. To the point where I press the stop button, go grab my guitar and songbook and try to improve my own work. Leonard Cohen, Bright Eyes, These United States, Tom Waits, just to name a few. And that's the difference between jealousy and envy. Jealousy is healthy. The root word jalousie translates to "enthusiasm, love and longing." Which means you have something I want, that upsets me, and now I'm motivated to work hard and get the same for myself, so thank you. Envy, on the other hand, is dangerous. The root word invidere translates to "casting an evil eye." Which means you have something I want, that diminishes me, and now I'm determined to knock you down to feel better about myself, so fuck you. Interesting comparison. Inspired by an interview with Dennis Crowley.