Stretching/Straining Creative Muscles

There is this really stupid scene in Girls where Lena Dunham is bitching about her job at GQ. She is sitting there freaking out that her working at a very affluent advertorial job has somehow inhibited her creative spirit. That having a nice paycheck, free food, and other amenities is killing her passion and wasting her talent as a “voice of her generation.” In fact, she goes as far to quit, TWICE, to better pursue her passions and non-stifled creative process. At the end of the episode, when she has finally resolved to try and do both the sell out writing gig and creative writing at home, we see her passed out over her computer with a blank page open.

When I watched this episode I wholeheartedly agreed with Salon’s article of the episode and thought that this was Ms. Dunham’s best look at the reality of trying to make it as a creative writer. Even more so trying to make it as a creative person in a world full of hot models, free bagels, and the unending reality of growing up. It was really interesting to see through Lena’s eyes this thin veil that was put over all of her coworkers eyes that somehow this job is given them that (paycheck) creative outlet to satiate their needs. Instead of her character enjoying the amenities and disregarding that little itch everyone feels when their creative spirit starts to die, we see in an over dramatization of the rebellious nature one feels when they realize they are being trapped in a cage. Although it was played up for humor, I find myself constantly thinking about that episode and finding myself wishing I could be as reckless and irresponsible as Hannah! Maybe not leaving GQ, but being able to actively speak up when I feel that the world is not aligning with the support of my passions.

When sitting down and finally trying to put myself into that creative zone after work sometimes, actually most times, I feel like Hannah at the end of that episode. The day has completely drained all reserve creative capacities. Instead of sitting down to create the “next great american novel” or hell, even writing down 10 ideas, I find myself sitting in front of the boob tube and just recuperating all of that burnt energy at work.

Work and what you do is supposed to be fulfilling. And sometimes it is, but what I really connected with in this story line for Hannah, was the fact that even doing something that you feel is socially defined as success can and will usually not match up with your personal ethos. No matter the luxuries, the benefits, or the salary, if it doesn’t match up with your goals in life, it is not a good match. And instead of creating the opportunity to have an emotional or creative outlet, so much of your energy is wasted on trying to force a good thing to be the right thing.

A good thing to the RIGHT thing.

Much of what happens in life is this pervasive march forward to death. We are constantly reminded that we are moving to in a straight direction with finite time to the same conclusion. And although we talk about living every moment like its your last, we are actually living a life of complacency and acceptance. As we continue our straight line, we start to compromise who we are and want to be to accept the system is our life. We slowly start to accept the benefits and amenities we receive as fair compensation for our sacrifice of personal growth and value. We trick ourselves into positions that on paper say we are helping people but ultimately don’t give us any meaning. We create a system of acceptance over appreciation of the dynamic.

As I am trying better to stretch my creative muscles and my writing muscles I seem to always find myself staring at a blank page with little to say because I don’t have the energy to put action into my words. But when I am writing I feel alive. Instead of that buzz of life I feel from pursuing my creative endeavors, I have chosen to give my energy to something that leaves me unfulfilled. And in doing so I have created a system of compromise and uneasiness because I wasn’t strong (or naive) enough like Hannah to see through that veil. I am allowing that itch to become normal and submissive to the assumptions that we all make of life instead of forging my own meaningful and rewarding experiences in life.

Ultimately, what I need to remember as I try to refocus my energies into my passions and my projects is that when choosing myself I have to address what I want out of life and can not let myself get disillusioned. Even if I have a title or job description that says I am helping people, in my heart I know I am not helping anyone. That my world is becoming smaller and smaller. That my routines are becoming less engaging and more like watching a clock tick down. I have to be able to be strong enough to let go of things that are not giving me that feedback and energy and ultimately pushing me forward to find what I consider  rewarding in life, regardless of financial incentives or benefits. Now I can’t be idealistic and expect my parents to pay for everything, but when we talk about “taking responsibility” I have to be able to take responsibility for myself and what I want success to be.

If I feel that at the end of the day I am burned out with little less than nothing to give to what makes me want to live, well then, I have my energy misappropriated and need to get that back. I need to be willing to take drastic measures, improve my life, and learn to walk away and let go of the titles, the benefits, and the projects that are vexing and instead redistribute that energy into what I consider “rewarding”

 

Fear Mongering and Accepting Our Limitations

The Syrian Refugee crisis has been swirling around for weeks now. Regardless of whether you approve or oppose the movement of millions of people across the world, this is a real fact and a real problem that is inevitably going to directly impact many different countries including us here locally in the United States. Countries like Germany, Spain, and even Greece are already feeling the pull on resources from Refugees in the area.

No matter how you spin it, this is a massive project to take on regardless of what country you live in. More so the the countries in Europe who don’t have a whole ocean providing a natural filter to bottleneck and slow the rapid progression of people into their borders. Even though I currently work in Refugee resettlement, I bless every day for the temporary reprieve of people and projects we will be working on in the United States.

The problem with the Syrian Crisis, like most problems of migration, is that there is an inherent fear stemming from lack of control, a strain on personal resources, and a fear inducing media conglomerate that uses anything and everything to up ratings and encourage people to watch their channels 24/7. What we are seeing play out in front of us is nothing too different than Gentrification problems in local communities or disruption of businesses by up and coming start ups in set markets.

The big issue that we are having to address, beyond that of helping people and protecting our borders is that of….

CHANGE

The biggest and scariest word that any of us know. Yes we can get riled up and dissent on each others stances and positions on the problem but when we strip down the issues to their core structure, we can see that we are all resisting a grandiose paradigm shift in our personal values, beliefs, and way of life.

For years, and even ISIS or devout Christians will attest to this, many of the wars we have fought have been for territorial claim and resource claiming. Backed by grandiose philosophies and belief systems, our people have always had a way of finding something that is “comfortable” or “stable” or “just the way it is” and wanting to keep everything the same. And to keep everything the same you want to control more and make it the same as what you have.

Think about this in your own personal life. Think about your own habits and routines. You feel safe, you feel comfortable, you feel like you can predict things in your life. Even sometimes to the point of where you feel like you are stuck. That there are limitations to what can happen in your life because that is “the way it is.”

Think about this on a community level. Your community has always had the same festivals annually, your neighbors have been your neighbors. The neighborhoods are predictable, your streets have been driven down, paved, and reinforced inn the minds of all who use them “this is the way it is.”

Even on a larger scale in our great nations, government structures are set up with common rules, legislation is presented and voted upon, people in power relatively seem to stay in power. The conservatives are against the liberals. Politicians become out of touch with their constituents. Power remains the same because “that is just the way it is.”

But what the Syrian Refugee Crisis is presenting to the modern western world, what Gentrification is making  us address in our neighborhoods, and what empowerment is teaching us as individuals, is that for far too long have we lived in the comfort of predictabilty and stability and ultimately are now having to finally and openly confront oru worst fears.

THE FEAR THAT WE CAN’T CONTROL THE WORLD CHANGING

Our schools, religious beliefs, and values are all based on a predisposition that those “truths” are “unalienable” constant structures that we can depend upon. Which I for one don’t doubt. But when we start to get comfortable in our stability, our senses of these constants become translated from ideas into concrete structures. We believe that our land, our money, our homes, our material possessions are our own. That the truth is this is the way it is and we must protect the way it is from any outside forces.

But what is it worth defying anything changing when change is inevitable?

Control is such a fragile concept in our lives. It is nearly non-existent and fleeting. In our fear of letting go we hold on even tighter to the control that we have. We complain, we commiserate, we alienate, we vilify anything and everything that will change what believe to be concrete and true.

IT’S BECAUSE WE FEAR CHANGE 

If we look at the arguments against the Syrian Refugees and critically analyze the core argument structure, we can start to see a pattern emerging. One of xenophobia and fear of status-quo disruption. Yes there is a fear of terrorist acts on domestic soil. And yes there is a fear of Islamic beliefs corrupting the “traditional” views of children. But those are fear based arguments of change. One of terrorism’s main tenets is to disrupt the system through any means necessary to bring about change. Whether that be political or territorial change, they want something different.

Because of our fear of the unknown, of different, of disruption, we vehemently fight tooth and nail against our lives being different. As such, we create these notions, we develop animosity and anger against those we don’t know. We use the same belief systems to create arguments and counterarguments. We see enemies made from friends. And all of this boils down to people just wanting to open up and scream, “I DON’T LIKE CHANGE!”

Here is the problem…

CHANGE IS INEVITABLE 

As our world becomes globalized and as we gain the invaluable benefit of creating a world of inter-connectivity we are ushering in a new age of growth. This growth is allowing us to innovate and create new and exciting standards of life for all different type of people. We give people hope by seeing what the rest of the world is doing and we inspire individuals and communities to be the difference in the lives we want to see.

But the word that we never hear ushered in this new world of growth is that of change. Ultimately, as our world has become more connected, so to has it changed. So too has our understanding of nations have changed, of religious beliefs have changed, of our actions and the way we run our businesses and way of life. But this change is subtle. It slowly happens over time and gives us the ability to feel comfortable. The world changes around us and we don’t notice. Because we don’t notice we feel that everything is the same even though the world is different from 5 minutes ago. We have accepted this change.

Disruption or immediate change is what scares us. It makes us confront the fact that ultimately we don’t have control. We are simply along for the ride. When things change slowly we adopt new routines without thinking about. We passively change. But the Syrian Crisis has brought to life proactive change. The inevitability that we will have to become something different rather than them. And by them we mean the collective idea outside of our barrier of control.

This realization that we have to change leads us to using counter intuitive and bad arguments against those that confront us with this change.

When you look at your newsfeed you will see tons of memes that use the same argument in contradictory manners. An example is a picture that shows people protesting the negative slandering of police saying that we can’t blame all cops for a “few bad apples.” The same picture again points out about Syrian Refugees that we CAN blame all Refugees for “a few bad apples.”

This kind of contradiction in argument and the fighting among ourselves does nothing but show that we are stubborn and afraid of any change. That disruption is ultimately the cause of unhappiness and pain in our lives.

BUT CHANGE IS INEVITABLE 

The sad truth of reality is that we can’t stop change. We can slow it down to a crawl, we can push against it with all of our might, but change does happen. The only true thing that we control is how we react to it. How our personal self addresses change. Do we understand that the fear of the unknown that the progression of time is something to embrace and ultimately grow from? Or is it something that we use to hold back and create conflict between ourselves and our peers over the inevitable?

If we take away our pride, our fear, and the minute details and really get down to the core of our arguments, we can start to see that we are ultimately resistant to change. If we want to truly resolve the Syrian Crisis, or gentrification, or even accepting the inevitable It will require us to stand up and admit our collective fear. It will take strong wherewithal to let go of our pre-conceived notions (which in and unto themselves are fluid and not edged into the atoms of the universe) and hold together as a collective unit stepping into the unknown.