Category Archives: Art

“Every Wall Has An Opening” – A reflection on questions, context, and building intimacy

For years I’ve been quietly practicing the art of getting to know people, often quite quickly. To put it in different words, I learned how to build intimacy.

The road there has been a combination of a few things. Some of it is my background in acting, some of it is my love for journalism and storytelling, and a bit of it is just generally learning to ask questions that help people open up about what they like to do and where their passions lie.

It’s a more difficult skill than most people think, and I’d like to share both a little bit about how I approach it, and also some specific examples. One small disclaimer: this is something I’ve learned to do over time, and it’s not a recipe to manipulate people or get things that you want, although those are both possibilities. The risk, if you do go that route, is closing people off and making the walls higher and more solid, and of course along with that building a reputation for being selfish and advancing your own needs and wants completely at the cost of other people. I think that’s probably reason enough in itself to avoid using this framework in a negative way, but it’s important to remember that there is value and usefulness in learning from other people, and also sharing things with them.

I was home-schooled until high school and only occasionally had access to TV. As a result, a lot of my early experiences were, to be honest, mostly in books. And while my parents made sure I got some social interaction, high school and college were kind of a shocking experience for me. I had to learn to navigate environments that were completely new (there are some pros and cons to that, as you might imagine).

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The best thing I did this year

Two years ago my life was falling apart.

Bankruptcy, divorce, losing my mom to a 4 ½ year battle with ovarian cancer.

I was, almost literally, unmoored. I remember thinking, this is what it feels like to be a ship lost at sea without a way back.

“I want to go home” constantly looped in my head, but I didn’t know what it meant or how to get there. I drank too much, worked too many hours, and tried to stay afloat. My heart was broken. Some days it still is.

This is often what I think about when I see people doing destructive things to themselves or others. Sometimes it’s a small heartbreak and sometimes it’s big.

We don’t do ourselves any favors when we try to deny that heartbreak. I resist the idea that we can gloss over our problems or concerns, or that anyone is doing life better than anyone else. There isn’t a formula, algorithm or app in the world that can tell you how to be human.

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A running start on resolutions, my movie cameo, how you can have Fun-A-Day and thoughts on Not Being Dead

Eventually I was going to write up a post that is a mix-mash of thoughts, and apparently this is that post…

Resolutions

I spent some time this week thinking about resolutions for the New Year, and for the first time ever found myself in the position of feeling like I’ve already started on all the things I want to do next year.

Already in progress are: exercising more, cutting down on drinking soda and alcoholic beverages, engaging in creative physical exertions (biking more, had my 1st massage ever, going to yoga), small but fun art projects, jamming with friends on their ideas, and regularly re-thinking about how I want to live my life.

One of the things I want to focus on is being creative every single day. I’ve been writing and playing music consistently since August. I’ve been writing a song a day and started recording some of them a couple of weeks ago.

Which leads me to…..

Continue reading A running start on resolutions, my movie cameo, how you can have Fun-A-Day and thoughts on Not Being Dead

TaGQ: What responsibility do artists have to drive change?

I saw a film about the Chinese artist and dissident Ai Wei Wei yesterday. It was a beautiful and moving documentary, largely because the director/producer/cinematographer, Alison Klayman, succinctly captured his point of view and gave it context

It left me thinking about the role of artists/musicians/writers. We are often criticized for sharing too much, not sharing enough, or not sharing in a way that makes sense to anyone else. I’ve felt for a long time that an artist first and foremost has a responsibility to share her/his point of view, and if possible to also reflect a society back to itself. As it goes with an individual so it goes with a larger community: when we know ourselves better we can be better.

I was struck by Ai’s understanding of the implications of even the most simple activities and his ability to challenge the hidden assumptions present there. At one point during the film he met supporters for dinner and they ate around an open table in front of the restaurant. Local police arrived with a camera to “document” the activities and further harass him. They asked him several times to eat inside, and when he replied that they were going to finish eating outside they asked “how long?” He repeated himself a couple of times, saying they would be done “when they were finished eating” before finally quoting them 30 minutes.

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