streets | teach

circumstance teaches us to live or to lose…pick one.

Tag: inspiration

sometimes you have to walk alone…

Don’t think you’re on the right road just because it’s a well-beaten path.

The Nebulous Space Before Realization

We’ve all experienced that one friend or lover who we just KNEW was a good person, and we convinced- even confabulated- to believe that its true. Then that person betrayed our expectations, let us down or really, just acted to his or her true character. The illusion was lifted- suddenly-and realization kicked in. The “wow” moment. Or the “How could I be so stupid/naive/blind” moment. At once everything became so damn clear. 

Better late than never, so they say… 

But really… what is this space… this nebulous/cloudy/illusive space before realization… that makes us feel so certain, and sometimes aggressively defensive? Is this about knowing… or is it about not knowing enough?

Is it about proving something to those around us; maintaining a facade or image? Or is it deeply embedded in a more daunting fear of facing and overcoming our mindset, habits, and circumstances.

Perhaps society is responsible for making us too concerned with how we appear rather than astutely aware of who we actually are/what we actually need/how we actually feel.

Esse est percipi, says George Berkeley; to be is to be perceived. Let’s say he arguably places the power of identity into the hands of the observer. And perhaps we define ourselves by how we are viewed or perceived (from the past, in the present, and for the future- either way, we all seem to burden ourselves with a need to fulfill expectations/impressions/perceptions).

This need is profound in so many ways, especially as trends of massclusivity and media-driven ideals continue to define society in macro and micro terms. What happened to introspection and analyzing our decisions so to not make the same mistakes over and over and over… in this age of information overload and the critical need to feel plugged in to the network, we somehow lose the ability to pause and rethink things or question ourselves. We’re teaching our students and kids and peers to do the same; the result becomes detachment from ourselves and detachment from one another.

So who are we, really?

And at what point can you or I overcome the perceptions of others? How many times have we seen or heard stories like Chris Gardner‘s and felt intimidated by it. Could you pull yourself to your feet after losing everything? His path from homeless to millionaire is beyond comprehensible for so many of us… but why?

What’s holding you back from truly realizing your potential? What’s holding us all back from helping one another be real for a change… face our fears… reinvent ourselves… overcome hesitation and embrace possibility?

“You are exactly where you are meant to be in life, right now.”

This thought puts a heavy responsibility on those of us who are writing and reading and thinking about the need to change/do better/move forward.

A sense of urgency, even.

And so the challenge begins… to follow your intuition from the start, and not suffer through the sticky, miasmic, space that lingers before realization sets in.

it’s so obvious, but…

“Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind!”
-Dr. Seuss

ON FEAR or ON PURPOSE?

Since my own intimate tango with tragedy, as a youth, I have remained closely entwined with vitality/life/color flowing throughout… everything. I’ve never been able to breathe, without the lingering reminder of life within breath.

Even with this said, however, I too become lost within clouds of self-doubt or even the self-imposed pressure of “perfection” (all too often the enemy of done”). You’d think that when you’ve lost loved ones, or nearly lost your own life that you’d be utterly fearless…eager to just create, and continually cross the parameters of your own comfort zone. Right?

Realizing this inkling within myself has made me more aware of it in others… and its forcing me to reconsider my own habits. Why? Because recognizing that internal battle in someone else’s eyes is far too common… its far too tragic…

there are so many uncontrollable factors that can make, take, or break life.

So pause for a moment and ask yourself what you REALLY want. If you don’t know, ask yourself why you haven’t tried to aggressively find out. If life is really about creating ourselves, as opposed to finding ourselves… then why the hell do we still choose to live “on fear” instead of “on purpose”?

And how can we possibly teach by example if we don’t practice what we preach?

Nathan Knows Courage

Walking from Chicago’s Lollapalooza, a friend and I discussed purpose. He was sharing the profound experience he had in the mountains of Peru and how this experience solidified his own purposive drive to change the world. It sounds funny to think one person could have such a seemingly naive drive and tenacity but the reality is, it really just takes one person with conviction to start a movement. And so its been said and written and seen in, within, and as a result of the trials and triumphs of some of our current thought leaders, moguls, and warriors of change. It just takes one.

Just as his words began to ignite a cascade of thoughts and questions- mostly to myself- my senses were pulled into a swallow of music. But not the fist-pumping, deep bass and beats bouncing off of the Lollapalooza grounds… no, this was something much more simple, unmastered, unrefined.

I looked up to see a young boy playing violin, just a few steps before Edward Kemeys’ massive lions guarding the Art Institute’s Lichtenstein advertisements. Suddenly, the presence of these bronze beasts were dwarfed by the height of this youth’s courage.

Walking closer, I noticed his face flinching and frowning at every missed note or squeak of his bow; perhaps low on resin or just purely hesitant. I recognized this sense of doubt, anxiety, and hyper self-awareness because I’ve often felt the same way while making music from my own piece of wood and strings. Owning it, overcoming it, committing to it… its much easier as a fleeting thought than a fulfilled action. And so I watched him play, and felt my heart warm. By the sheer act of him working through his fears… and bravely exposing his vulnerability to the folks passing by with a glance… he inspired me. He inspired us.

While Nathan shared his story- of taking the train everyday from the west side of the city, violin in hand- he was unsure of himself. Constantly fixing his cotton shirt, stretching it enough to tuck in, and consciously reminding himself to stand upright without a slouch or keep his chin up when he responded to our inquiries.

It struck me. He has no concept of his power and presence.

We thanked him for his energy and focus. Got his number with the intention to book him some gigs, left him some dough, and encouraged him to play on.

Play on no matter who hears you, no matter who recognizes your talent, no matter who says you shouldn’t. Because some things are meant to be shared no matter what. And the conviction you embody is enough to define your future, your fate, and the infinity within your fearless creativity.

from the streets,
grew the opportunity to prove unbreakable;
from the grey concrete cracks
sprouted the space to color life;
and live it
full

%d bloggers like this: