Lately my brain metaphor has switched and I see all the randomness (or seeming randomness) as flotsam and jetsam. Is the brain a sea? Or maybe all our brains together are one big sea, a little bit like Jung’s collective unconscious, but wetter.
So the mind drifts here or there, and when I meditate I see how it goes from thing to thing to thing, but winds up so often at the same place: there is something wrong with me, or I did something wrong, or my feelings are wrong. I should be happier, sadder, more at ease, less judgmental. The list goes on. When I’m not busy castigating myself or trying to make myself get up and clean the house, I notice how certain ideas and things tend to show up again and again. These are the things my mind is stuck on. Here’s a partial list, in no particular order: Continue reading →
Recently I’ve been making an effort to exercise more. I set a goal of averaging 10,000 steps a day, and I track my steps with my phone. According to a random article on the internet, the 10,000 steps per day goal comes from a marketing campaign to sell pedometers in Japan. So, there’s no magic number of steps that will make anybody fit and healthy. But something about that number is alluring anyway.
I started thinking about the number ten thousand and how it surfaces in various contexts: Continue reading →
I have a Pinterest board for inspiration. One of my favorite pins is a picture of Virginia Woolf surrounded by text. The text reads: “I WILL LOCK YOU IN A ROOM OF YOUR OWN UNTIL YOU FINISH YOUR NOVEL.”
You may have heard Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2009 TED talk about about creativity and inspiration, in which she discussed the idea that writers and other creative people are visited by a Muse while they work. This extraordinary being (angel? daemon? goddess? blithe spirit?) drops by to guide the writer’s hand and leads the writer to produce something beyond what her normal abilities would allow her to produce. This is a very old idea– so old, in fact, that the Muses as we know them date back to the classical period in Greece. If you look around on the web, you can find lists of their names and information about their appearances in classical literature.
It’s an interesting idea, for sure. But Gilbert suggests that this is more than idea. It is the way that you make peace with your creativity. You understand that your part of the deal as an artist is to show up and work hard. The rest is up to the Muse. It’s not up to you, the writer, to be an amazing creative genius. Therefore you don’t need to feel badly if the writing isn’t going as well as you’d like. You just keep going. Sooner or later the Muse will show up.
Full disclosure: sometimes quotations that are supposed to inspire me instead make me gnash my teeth and wish I never, ever, had to hear them again. This is especially true when the words come on a poster with flowers or a sunset or a beach or a little innocent child. I’m talking about stuff like this:
Bonus grumpy points if the quotation is attributed to someone who never, ever, said or wrote it: Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Mother Theresa, or Mark Twain. These people had better things to do than to sit around thinking up pithy quotes about “fall down 9 times, get up 10.”
Now that I’m done ranting, I want to share a few things that inspire me. I hope they don’t make you want to kick a puppy* or start drinking at noon.
Sometimes you will put out a blog post or a video or a poem or whatever and someone will stop by to read (view/listen/etc) what you’ve done and then offer an opinion. Here are 3 ways to deal with (and not get derailed by) criticism.
I’ve read a lot of books about creativity, making art, and becoming a better writer. In many of these books, there are one or two great ideas, and then some ideas that I find are not useful, or not original, or both.