The Great Experiment
So, these next few posts will be a joint venture between The Shaeman and Denise Hinson. We’ve been collaborating on a Sekrit Projekt that we will be unveiling over the next few months; however, we would like to give you a little glimpse into what we’ve been cooking up during this period when we’ve been more silent than we normally appear. Believe me, Shae’s enough of an extroverted attention whore that this apparent silence and inactivity has been gnawing at his very soul. Well, what’s left of it.
Once upon a time, we took a challenge upon ourselves, a 30-Day Challenge of our own design for our own doing.
Or maybe undoing.
I suppose time will tell which it will be. If we’re lucky–and I would argue we are very, very lucky– it will turn out to be a bit of both with generous tablespoons of bravado, wonder, and sheer terror mixed throughout. The 30-Day Challenge was simple: Spend the next thirty days being creative, spending as much energy as possible understanding, celebrating, embracing, and fostering a lifestyle of pure creative bliss. Oh, and journaling each step of the way. We didn’t realize what we were in for, nor did we realize that the Universe had its own plans. Plans that have more than once knocked the wind right out of us. We’ve certainly learned at least this important lesson:
We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the life that is waiting for us. – Joseph Campbell.
The challenge came about because we were finding ourselves immobilized in the mire of everyday punching in and punching out. To be two relatively bright people who write and speak about creativity and the pursuit of a creative life, we had become two of the most stifled human beings we’d ever seen. We were watching as our own lives became one giant sludge-ball of hypocritical mediocrity and complacency. Trust me on this: Sludge-balls of mediocrity are not pretty to behold, no matter how many tattoos they bear.
We talked at length some days about this immobility that was choking the creative light out of us. We were paralyzed. We were unable to move from the place we were to the place we wanted to be. We could see it, articulate it, envision it, dream it, but we were wearing concrete boots and sinking fast. We were the Jimmy Hoffa of Creativity – dying while we were selling ourselves out for convenience and comfort. Finally, we realized the things we were doing just weren’t working. As Einstein is often credited with saying, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” I call it smashing your head into a concrete wall and expecting the wall to crumble.
The main purpose of the 30-Day Challenge was to break the cycle of insanity we were both wallowing in before we did irreparable damage to the creative souls within ourselves. Our plan– we didn’t have one. All we walked into the challenge with was a desire to restore the creativity that was slipping away from us, to shatter the paralysis by any means possible.
One of the first steps we had to take was to look the Demon Paralysis in the eye and name it. Now, there are many types of paralysis, each wearing a different costume, like little punk Chitauri wanna-bes without the good looks. But looking at our artistic pursuits, we decided there were two we needed to address– Fear and Apathy. We recognized them pretty quickly. They wear the most garish costumes of all the Paralysis demons, these hideous get-ups in rancid purples and oranges, stripes and plaids, no sense of style at all. But at least you can see them coming. And to be fair, we could see Apathy is really just Fear wearing a hideous tie with polka dots.
Imitator or not, however, Apathy was the demon in charge of both of us. We were in a place of numb existence, unable to find the energy to even develop a healthy sense of Fear. That’s Apathy’s calling card– the total lack of fire in the belly. Before we could take on Fear we had to deal with Apathy. This was going to take small steps focusing on a single need–to reclaim ourselves as artists.
The 30-Day Challenge is still unfolding for us, but over the next few weeks we will share some of what we’ve learned. I will say this: when moving from Apathy to Activity, you have to be purposeful. You don’t simply wake up one day to find you are no longer apathetic. Apathy is the master of subtlety, but don’t mistake subtlety for impotence. Apathy is one of the most powerful forces in the universe – but not THE most powerful force. There are currents stronger than Apathy, and one just happens to be Activity. Wallowing in the sludge, we simply decided to move. Walk. Slowly. Steadily and with purpose, we walked.
This journey has been powerful and, as we learn almost daily, nothing happens by accident. Each step leads to more direction and understanding. Each moment of action builds a little more momentum that will eventually bring Apathy and its ugly tie to its knees. We can be apathetic no longer. These are our very lives.