Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Spend a Night in Jail

Well, it's been a long time
I shouldn't have left you
without a strong rhyme to step to
Think of how many weak shows you slept through --
times up. Sorry I kept you. 
     ~ Rakim 
Personal events, losses, changes. It's been a bumpy fall and winter here in Velophoriaville. I'm reporting in from the front.

Been thinking a lot lately about rebuilding the egine of my life. Stripping down and turbo-charging my aging creativity. Been doing the same thing creatively for a long time. From the time I was nine, sitting at my mom's ancient Olivetti, banging out nonsensical Krazy Kat stories. Ever since.

I'm listeing to creative people in different disciplines. Artists, activists, clergy, filmmakers. Today, I came across a few of the four thousand things Werner Herzog has said about being creative. For anyone who's stuck in the muddy middle of their life, may this be your next to-do list:

Always take the initiative. There is nothing wrong with spending a night in a jail cell if it means getting the shot you need. Send out all your dogs and one might return with prey. Beware of the cliché ... Keep your eyes open ... Carry bolt cutters everywhere. Thwart institutional cowardice. [My personal favorite.] Ask for forgiveness, not permission. Take your fate into your own hands … Learn to read the inner essence of a landscape [okay, also my favorite]… Guerrilla tactics are best … Get used to the bear behind you.

I don't care if you are laying on the couch playing Candy Crush all day with a film idea rattling around  the back of your mind... working a full-time job with dreams of hitting the local open mic stage... or crafting your next bike trip or homemade saddle bag. Do it right, and how you pimp your ride can be an expression of your innermost self. What you wear to work, too. The plans for your homemade chicken coop. Whatever it is, do it right: do it as an expression of who you are, warts and all. The dangerous parts -- the righteous anger, the pollyanna-ish, sunshiny bliss, the black questions that have no bottom -- go there. If you're not afraid of what a project will reveal about you, don't bother starting it. You're spinning your wheels.

Just to be clear, I'm not advocating quitting your day job. And I'm definitely not saying "do what you love and the money will follow."That phrase (and book) led me into near-bankruptcy 15 years ago.

Here's what I'm saying: Do what you love, period. Find a way. And don't just do something; say something.  Take it into those places that scare you way down inside. That story that makes you say, "Yeah, that would do the world some good, it needs to be said. But I can't say that out loud…" That's your next project.

Make it one page or five minutes long.

But make it.

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(With thanks to for the inspiring Herzog excerpts on their site.)

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