Consumption

Not having the means to sufficiently live is a really tough place to be. A billion people will go to bed tonight without power, food or clean water. Think about that. A billion people.

Yet, we can get caught feeling that we are behind right here at home. That’s because of indoctrination. Industrialism has taught us for many decades to want more and to not be satisfied.

Do you really need a new car or is the one you are driving working just fine?

Do you really need a new pair of shoes or do you have enough?

Do you really need a lot of these things we charge or do you simply want them?

This post isn’t to shame anyone. I love nice tools. However, luxury is a narration, a story we tell—not a necessity.

If you are feeling behind, the question is, “From what?” Because consumption can feel like a hamster wheel that’s constantly spinning.

Creation can kill our need for consumption.

Minimizing the efforts of others

Why do we do this?

Why do we equate other peoples success to luck or privilege while simultaneously view our situation as circumstantial?

Most of it has to do with our narration. When we can insulate ourselves it lets us off the hook. When we have no responsibility then we can’t take it.

There’s a reason why many people who win the lottery eventually end up with the exact same as before. Think about it.

Torchbearing

If the boss asks you to jump, we have been indoctrinated to answer, “How high?”

Another way to think about this is if the boss said walk, you may respond, “How far?”

It’s a silly visualization. To imagine people jumping up and down or walking with no direction.

But the thing that strikes me is this:

We only give what is enough to not get in trouble for a job that we don’t care much about. Even if the destination is pointless. Show me the set of instructions, show me the map, and I will comply. No more, no less.

On the other hand, when we are creating art, you’ll realize rather quickly:

We don’t know what to do because no one is expecting anything out of us. And we are terrified of the space and freedom to decide when no one defines the genre/rules/boundaries for us.

Many of us have a hard time handling this. Which is what makes art so terrifying to begin.

Some people think it’s a call to do art. While you certainly can feel a pull towards one’s vocation, we are way more afraid of the freedom and judgement art creates and call it mystical to avoid the leap to make work that might fail.

What does it say about us if we put our heart and soul into something and not have it work?

To make art is to lead. To take a torch and shine a light in the darkness for others to follow. And if you don’t pick yourself, how are you expected to lead us?

Everything is improv

Improvisation theatre teacher, Keith Johnstone, astutely claimed that every interaction on stage is about status. Who’s up? Who’s down?

The analogy is powerful. Because once you see it, it will change every interaction you have going forward.

The interaction with the boss, the exchange with a teacher, the run in with your neighbor, attending someone’s retirement party, getting pulled over by a police officer—all exchanges in status.

We think improv is about being spontaneous working without a script or a set of instructions. But we are wrong. It’s about the exchange of status.

Life is improv. Everything is improv.

“If I had a million dollars”

I was recently asked what I would do if I were handed a check and could retire today.

I would spend my time with my family and friends, go on trips, read and write, go skiing, cook dinner, work on Pivot Adventure, solving the problem of teen suicide and perhaps start another nonprofit.

The thing is, I do all those activities already. Sure if I had a few million dollars I might do them more. It was a reminder that you don’t need to be rich to do the things you love. We just think we do.

Obviously, this doesn’t work for everyone. Not everybody comes from a place with this much opportunity. At the same time, there are plenty of studies that show that our level of happiness declines once we hit a certain number.

You cannot price what fills your soul.

Curious and angry

When we are angry, we jump to conclusions. We are assuming that we are right, we are certain and we have lost something that we are entitled to. The amygdala is in the driver’s seat.

On the other hand, when we are curious, we are asking questions and observing. We are admitting that we are in a state of incompetence and trying to understand what is actually happening.

The two are not compatible.

You can’t be curious and angry at the same time.

Can’t and won’t

You are telling me that it is impossible to learn how to code or to learn how to play the guitar?

Of course not. You could learn it if you wanted to. It’s the same with riding a bike, learning how to swim, and driving a car. All skills that need to practice. And with reps, you get better.

How come then we are reluctant to make art? Why won’t we put pen to paper and write something down?

We treat our art as something that only people with talent have. But nothing can be further from the truth.

You could do it only if you wanted.

The greater mistake

Yesterday is gone. It is not coming back. It’s a shame that the system has worked overtime to get you to believe that you are insufficient to even begin. What would be unforgivable, however, is to let the mistakes of the past haunt the opportunities of the future. 

Now that you know better, what now?

8 billion

According to Worldometer, Earth’s population hit 8 billion people today.

That’s a lot of mouths to feed, clothes to make, homes to build, jobs to create…

History has shown equality doesn’t happen by accident. It’s done with intention.

It won’t happen overnight. If we are to solve the problems of the world, it will have to be together.

The magic formula

The magic is there is no magic.

If you want to be a creative or an artist, you simply begin.

We have no guarantee of success or if it will pay the bills.

The only guarantee is that we get to do the work.

With time, if you stay with it, you can get better.

And perhaps, with a bit of luck, you can get your ideas to spread.