Inspired by Jim Henson's following quote, which I discovered in Gavin Aung Than's wonderful Zen Pencils Volume 2.
"Most people, and particularly kids, don't realize that they are in control of their lives. And they're the ones that are going to make the decisions. And they're the ones that are going to make it one way or the other.
Usually adolescence is a time when kids feel that the world is doing it to them. Whether it's their parents doing it to them, or their teachers doing it to them, or their other friends doing it to them. And that they are the victim in all of this.
Somewhere in here you have to learn that you're not the victim. But instead you're the one who is doing it.
That moment is sometimes a long, slow realization, or sometimes it's turning on a light switch.
All of a sudden you realize that you are the person who has control of your life."
“The most astounding fact.. is the knowledge, that the atoms that comprise life on Earth – the atoms that make up the human body – are traceable to the crucibles that cooked light elements into heavy elements in their core, under extreme temperatures and pressures.
These stars, the high mass ones among them, went unstable in their later years. They collapsed and then exploded, scattering their enriched guts across the galaxy: guts made of Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen, and all of the fundamental ingredients of life itself. These ingredients become parts of gas clouds that condense, collapse, form the next generation of solar systems – stars with orbiting planets – and those planets now have the ingredients for life itself.
So that when I look up at the night sky and I know that, yes, we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the universe is in us. When I reflect on that fact, I look up, many people feel small – ’cause they’re small and the universe is big – but I feel big. because, my atoms came from those stars.
There’s a level of connectivity. That’s really what you want in life. You want to feel connected, want to feel relevant. You want to feel like you’re a participant in the goings on of activities and events around you. That’s precisely what we are, just by being alive.”
Succeed over the long run
I love this statement from Marc Andreessen:
"My goal is not to fail fast. My goal is to succeed over the long run. They are not the same thing."
Now you know something about yourself
“Great people do things before they're ready. They do things before they know they can do it. Doing what you're afraid of, getting out of your comfort zone, taking risks like that- that's what life is. You might be really good. You might find out something about yourself that's really special and if you're not good, who cares? You tried something. Now you know something about yourself” Amy Poehler
Change is good. Risks are good. You've just got to take the first step.
Who doesn't love Jack London?
“I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.” Jack London, 'Tales of Adventure'
Aware of its own conditioning
Self-awareness is critical for growth. But it's difficult.
"It is necessary to encourage the development of a good mind - a mind which is capable of dealing with the many issues of life as a whole, and which does not try to escape from them and so become self-contradictory, frustrated, bitter, or cynical. And it is essential for the mind to be aware of its own conditioning, its own motives and pursuits."
Krishnamurti, 'Total Freedom: the Essential Krishnamurti'
A silent inside job
“Change is often a silent inside job that requires patience and courage. Courage to be yourself. Courage to resist negativity. Courage to go beyond your boundaries. Courage to take responsibility for your own life.”
Pieces of all the places I've been
Everything influences everything.
"I am pieces of all the places I have been, and the people I have loved. I’ve been stitched together by song lyrics, book quotes, adventure, late night conversations, moonlight, and the smell of coffee."
"I was talking with this billionaire friend of mine, and I was saying, 'I'd really like to write a book about the way your mind works.' He was [commenting on] the difference between someone who isn't a billionaire and a billionaire...He said, 'The biggest mistake you can make is to accept the norms of your time.'
Not accepting norms is where you innovate, whether it's with technology, with books, with anything. So, not accepting the norm is the secret to really big success and changing the world."
I have been here before
From the poem Sudden Light by Dante Gabriel Rossetti,
I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.
You have been mine before,—
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at that swallow's soar
Your neck turn'd so,
Some veil did fall,—I knew it all of yore.
Has this been thus before?
And shall not thus time's eddying flight
Still with our lives our love restore
In death's despite,
And day and night yield one delight once more?
You just have to fight your way through
This famous quote by Ira Glass perfectly sums up the creative process of an artist.
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.
A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this.
And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.
And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
The storm will pass
"You can't calm the storm, so stop trying. What you can do is calm yourself. The storm will pass."
A fearless mindset
Inspired by the following quote by Robert Greene:
“You are facing death and danger and competition, but at any moment, you can decide to have a fearless mindset.” ~
It can be lonely inside the creative brain. You've just got to trust your instincts.
Look fear in the face
"You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face." Eleanor Roosevelt
Sometimes my ink work takes me to another world and my mind wanders there for a while.
"Forget purpose. It's okay to be happy without one. The quest for a single purpose has ruined many lives."
Deviating from the path is important. You don't know what you'll find. I started enjoying my photography far more when I branched out into different genres, rather than focussing on one or two.
“In spite of everything, I shall rise again; I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing.”
Vincent Van Gogh
Requires an open mind
“If you want to be one of the few to defy those trends in our ever-softening society, you will have to be willing to go to war with yourself and create a whole new identity, which requires an open mind.”
If you haven't come across David Goggins, you really need to look him up.
Conformity leads to mediocrity
"Conventional education makes independent thinking extremely difficult. Conformity leads to mediocrity. To be different from the group or to resist environment is not easy and is often risky as long as we worship success.
The urge to be successful, which is the pursuit of reward whether in the material or in the so-called spiritual sphere, the search for inward or outward security, the desire for comfort - this whole process smothers discontent, puts an end to spontaneity and breeds fear; and fear blocks the intelligent understanding of life. With increasing age, dullness of mind and heart sets in."
Krishnamurti, 'Total Freedom: the Essential Krishnamurti'
"You absolutely own your mind. This is part of the 'gift of life' thing that you get in exchange for never having asked to be born.
You are the proprietor of your thoughts and feelings. And you choose how you frame the many experiences that form the campus of your personality. It's a weird and glorious moment of self-awareness, the day you realize that you are the warden rather than the prisoner of your emotions.
The interesting thing about our minds is that if we don't actively seize control of them they default to autopilot. When you don't take an aggressive role in shaping your thoughts, feelings, and perceptions you become a helpless passenger, merely reacting to wherever it takes you. Awesomely, you don't have to go along with it."
Amid a crowd of stars
From the poem When you are Old by Yeats:
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
Find the others
From the following quote by Timothy Leary, and brought to life by Gavin Aung Than:
“Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the “normal people” as they go about their automatic existences.
For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think deja vu is for?” Face it, you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator.
But what if that girl in the elevator (and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work) are thinking the same thing? Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence.
Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others…”
In the understanding of ourselves
"It is in the understanding of ourselves that fear comes to an end. If the individual is to grapple with life from moment to moment, if he is to face its intricacies, its miseries and sudden demands, he must be infinitely pliable and, therefore, free of theories and particular patterns of thought."
Krishnamurti, 'Total Freedom: the Essential Krishnamurti'