How are you staying awake to life?

January 21, 2009 at 7:23 pm | Posted in Creative Risk | 3 Comments
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“Why does death so catch us by surprise, and why love? We still and always want waking. We should amass half dressed in long lines like tribesmen [or women] and shake gourds at each other, to wake up; instead we watch television and miss the show.”

In the above quote Annie Dillard (in her book, The Writing Life) is referring to the capacity of a good writer to rouse us from the mundane and infuse our hearts and minds with a sense of fresh possibility.

Reading is a wonderful way to shake up your perspective, one of my favorites. But what else can you do to juice up your reality? Sometimes the smallest change — like taking a different route to work or trying a new recipe — can transform how you think and feel. It doesn’t have to be a major shift, like learning a foreign language or becoming a political activist or moving to a new town . . . but it could be.

The point is to do something — hopefully, every day — to stay awake to life . . . so that you’re not caught off guard by death or love or crisis when it shows up in your life.  These elements are part of all our lives.  Fear can make us avoid people or situations that make us uncomfortable, but it’s our willingness to embrace drama and break away from the ordinary that keep us truly alive.

How are you staying awake to life today?

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Those liberating creative risks

October 16, 2007 at 5:19 am | Posted in Creative Risk | 2 Comments
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neptunus-rex.pngCreating something new that’s never existed before can be scary business. Whether you’re delivering a motivational speech, or singing an original song, or sharing a feeling with a friend that you’ve never voiced before, or having a baby — you can never be sure how others will respond to what you’ve so lovingly crafted. It’s always a risk, isn’t it?

The sensationally encouraging news is that even though it’s rewarding to have others appreciate our creativity, there are times when it’s good and right to take the risk to put something fresh out there in the universe and release any anxiety about the reaction of others. How incredibly liberating to stand back and declare, “I did it!” It makes us feel alive.

Today I hope you’ll indulge my parental pride for a few moments as I celebrate my son Logan’s willingness to take creative risks. The particular risk he took about 18 months ago was to move from Phoenix to New York City to pursue his passion to write professionally. One of the projects he wanted to work on with his friend Robbie was a film script. The very short version of that lengthy process is that now the 41-minute film, “Neptunus Rex,” is finished. In fact, it premiered this past weekend at the New Hampshire Film Festival and was awarded “Best Student Film.”

This is one of those times when creative risk met with praise. But the dream of critical acclaim was not the prime motivating force behind Logan and Robbie writing a film script. They came up with a novel concept and some endearing characters who had a fun, distinctive story that simply begged to be told.

Taking creative risks — whether or not there’s an audience, whether or not we’re pleased with the result — is an essential element in our becoming more whole and fearless . . . and infinitely more free.

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