I was recently enjoying a post on Luck Stone’s Values Based Leadership site about preparation and process as it relates to leadership. Read that post. It’s fundamental and substantial. It included the phrase “it’s what you do before you do what you do that matters most” which reminds me of a story that sticks with me. I learned this story while studying the topic of mindfulness. I’m sure it was a Thich Nhat Hanh book but don’t recall which so I’ll paraphrase from memory:
There is a monk that writes beautiful poetry and the people in his life and the nearby city regard his poetry very highly. They see it as a beautiful Art that brings happiness to the world. He also loves to grow lettuce in his garden. Lettuce is easy to grow but difficult to maintain because it is fragile. Insects and animals eat it before it can be harvested and very little of it actually makes it to the kitchen. One day the monk is teaching a student about meditation practice and mindfulness and she asks, “Teacher, why do you bother growing lettuce. Anyone can grow it and it requires so much attention. You’re time would be so much better spent creating more beautiful poetry for people to enjoy.” And he replied to her, “I write beautiful poetry because I grow lettuce.”
This parable summerizes the notion of interbeing and illustrates the idea that “everything affects everything.” Interbeing is a broadly debatable concept but we can understand and accept it easily on a minute scale. If we sleep well and eat a healthy breakfast, this simple act has an impact on the other things we do that day. It prepares us to be more capable of unlocking greater potential in our day by functioning at a higher level, communicating a better sense of being and encouraging the world to embrace our place in it. So this one seemingly isolated task, “tills the soil” for other outcomes.
These topics also remind me of a cautious insight. It can be a fine line between preparation and procrastination. On one hand, if you don’t allow enough space in your day to have a friendly conversation, enjoy some music or take in a beautiful view then your focus and engagement diminishes. On the other hand, if you try too hard to embrace all of the interceding opportunities for inspiration you can hop from distraction to distraction and slip into rationalized procrastination.
Most artists or creative professionals know this well. We make coffee, organize our area, supplies and desktop, listen to music, clean out our inbox all in the name clearing clutter and tilling the mental soil. I call this prep-crastination and when I notice myself doing it I embrace it for a couple more minutes as I commit to a starting point and choose a progress milestone to meet before allowing another break “inspiration” break. By letting my discipline and inspiration coexist or even collaborate I can often cultivate a better experience or work product and clearer vision for success.
Cleaning out the junk drawers in my hard drive, I found this old freestyle composite from a few years ago. The idea was that a lot of the time people start to make progress they let up on the intensity of effort. This was to sum up the notion of executing with gusto.
Two very significant influencers in my own art, life, experience. It makes so much sense to know that Frost has this relationship with Marley’s music and that I might discover this connection on my birthday. I got clued to this over on Arkitip.
I’ve been following Hamburger Eyes for almost a decade now. I guess I haven’t been following closely enough to catch this documentary before now but I just stumbled across it on Vimeo.
Hamburger Eyes could be described as a black and white photo periodical but to me it has grown to represent a community of people affiliated with it’s production and an approach to image gathering. Many of the photos are moments that could not be replicated; spontaneous punchlines and oddities and interest.
From the site: “When opening Hamburger Eyes Photo Magazine you enter a pictorial history of both the unseen and iconic moments of everyday life. It is organized in such a way that it has become many things to many people. As a photo journal, we share our travels and experiences. As a photo diary, we share our accomplishments and heartaches. And as a photo album, we share our families and friends and reach people on a level they have been familiar with since their first birthday party. Our publication is currently composed of black + white photography. We have contributions from photographers of all levels. Inspired by the traditions that began with National Geographic and Life Magazine, we hope to revitalize the sensation of photography as a craft as well as a tool to record and document.”
I have no context for this post. It was forwarded to me by an inspired friend. I’ll be keeping my eyes and ears open for more from Secret Sidewalk.
From their Vimeo bio:
Hailing from San Francisco and Oakland, Secret Sidewalk is Mike Boo, Puzzle, and Asonic Garcia. Their use of electronic tools such as samplers, synthesizers, and self-built sound modules is with an approach that’s of true musicianship. No programmed loops, no pressing play, its ALL LIVE here. they share the sensibilities of live beatsmiths, but their sound transcends to something much deeper and more complex. There is a wide range of interests and influences amongst the trio, which translates into a very diverse sound, from song to song, as you will hear in their live sets and on their recordings.
The reduction of line and form all the way to black on white. Literal direct concrete symmetry. Looking upon this the right and left eyes see almost identical images which is unusual in our stereoscopic and assymetrical lives. Image creation at it’s most psychologically and perceptively primal must be black and white symmetry. It is uncommon in nature but utterly natural in the mind.
As I interpret his work, Tony Orrico records movement to create image. He is not reproducing an image from his imagination but rather creating an image as by-product of an art meditation, a process of mind and body but not thought or idea.
On a physiological level, his process involves the balance of right and left arms moving together in mirrored motion. This engages his right and left brain at the same time on a motor level beyond simple reason and imagination.
Any art involves right and left brain activity but as the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa, I imagine that his ambidextrous technique engages his brain even more fully and it’s no accident of nature that some of his images conjure a likeness to the nerves of a human brain as the mind creates the body, the body does not create the mind.
Black books clutter my environment. Many can attest. Journals are stashed everywhere full of heiroglyphs, unflattering portraits of coworkers, project notes, client feedback and useful nonsense. I only rarely refer back to my journals because the act of writing things down is more valuable than retaining a record. It helps me physically see my thoughts as I am having them but organizing them for reference later is utterly secondary. Getting to the point, I can’t wait for the release of the BLK Book which is slated to be exactly “soon.” To learn more about the BLK Book or it’s creators Hugo & Cat check out this link.
I got clued into this product over here at Aisle One.
In a message to the generation of artists and designers that would follow him, c. 1999, Stephen Powers explains in his book, The Art of Getting Over, “You suck until further notice… Theres’ nothing wrong with knowing you’re the shit as long as you are. But once you reach that conclusion you’re one foot over the edge of falling off. Watch your step fathead, there’s no shortage of people chanting, “JUMP, JUMP, JUMP!”