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education as resistance

Knowledge is power. But power is only potential energy. It has to be put into action in order to be of any real value in the world.

I’m as guilty as anyone of reading too many books and articles, watching way too many videos, and taking too many online courses/webinars without actually getting anything done. I research the hell out of things. I always did this with term papers in college, too. I’d spend the majority of my time compiling information, with all of the real work happening at the eleventh hour. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty good at spinning my wheels.

You can be constantly acquiring information and knowledge, but you’ll never be an expert in your field unless you implement that knowledge. You have to DO your craft in order to hone your craft. You can be an expert at learning, but you’ll never be an expert at what you do unless you physically do it. Book learning and head knowledge alone can’t do what loads of practice can.

Learning without application is like watching a workout video from the couch. Don’t expect to see results if you’re only learning the moves instead of moving.

What sets apart the experts in any given field is that they’ve put in hundreds–if not thousands–of hours of practice. They are constantly honing their craft. If you want to be on the same playing field as the best of the best, it’s not enough to watch what they do and hear what they say. And comparison will only cripple you. You have to do what they do every single day. Implement your craft in your own unique style, and do it constantly. That is the one foolproof way to get great at anything.

Bottom line: be a perennial student, but don’t forget to do the work. Consistent practice is the key to mastering your craft.

persist

When you meet resistance

for who you are,

for how you look,

for what others assume you should give away,

When you meet resistance,

become the Resistance.

Persist in being a mighty citizen of the world.

Persist in doing good.

Insist upon your equal rank in the fight

for goodness, truth, and beauty.

Desist in carrying shackles

intended to keep you in your place,

designed to impress upon you

that you are less than.

Resist those instances

in which it’s hinted

that you should be pitted against

your own kind.

Persist in love.

Pursue empathy.

We can all walk in one another’s shoes,

they are unisex.

We are all humankind.

There is no “them,”

Only “we”

as we continue to be

the Resistance.

 

Happy International Women’s Day, with thanks and love to those who have made this world a better place.

responsibility

“Ninety-nine percent of all failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses.” –George Washington Carver

No one but you is responsible for your growth. Absolutely give credit where it’s due to those who have contributed to your success. But it’s no one else’s job to look out for your success.

Sometimes you show up like you’re supposed to, and get punished for it anyway. Today has been one of those days. I had written my weekly blog post, which was admittedly not the best, but I was relatively happy with it. (Spoiler alert: it was about Resistance.) Now I know to always always cut and paste my writing into another writing app before clicking anything in WordPress. I lost 100% of my work, and it was 100% my fault.

No one and nothing, including technology, is responsible for keeping track of your shit.

Taking responsibility for everything is a stay against Resistance. It’s adulthood 101, and the sooner you get comfortable with it the better equipped you’ll be to handle other forms of Resistance when they come your way. Whatever your goals are in life, passing the buck will keep you from growing. Own it when you succeed, and own it when you screw up. How can you learn from your mistakes if you can’t admit to them? If you can’t man up and accept mistakes in humility, then it’s not okay to take full credit in your victories. Success is sweeter when it’s tempered by integrity and an honest inventory of the (often ugly and awkward) steps that got you there.

If I don’t back up this lousy post, especially after what I’ve learned, whose fault do you suppose it is if I lose my work again? I own the mistake. I wanted to throw up my hands and decide not to even post this week, but I don’t like how it feels to skip something just because I temporarily felt like a website let me down. Excuses are, quite frankly, just super lame. Excuses are nothing more than lies, another form of self-sabotage, and they get you nowhere. I messed up, so I can fix it. When I write a better blog post next week, I can own that, too.

the necessity of art

We need art, and never more so than in times of cultural stress. Art can be the Virgil and Beatrice to our Dante, taking us by the hand and leading us through purgatory to enlightenment. It can help us:

Escape our reality

Art can be an escape from reality when reality becomes too much for us to bear. We can immerse ourselves in another world of someone else’s imagination, adding our own to it, until we forget our everyday anxieties. What a joy it can be to take a momentary romp through a vision other than our own!

Confront our reality

It can evoke positive feelings, or it can provide catharsis. 

Catharsis (from Greek κάθαρσις katharsis meaning “purification” or “cleansing”) is the purification and purgation of emotions—especially pity and fear—through art[1] or any extreme change in emotion that results in renewal and restoration. It is a metaphor originally used by Aristotle in the Poetics, comparing the effects of tragedy on the mind of a spectator to the effect of a cathartic on the body.

While catharsis is essentially the opposite of “good feelings,” it helps us uncover good feelings by purging us of anxiety, fear, etc. We are restored to good emotional health when we cleanse ourselves of pent up extreme emotions. We participate in emotions vicariously by creating or consuming art, without having to act out negative emotions in the real world. Art creates a safe place to express our emotional spectrum without the direct consequences we would otherwise incur by enacting those emotions.

Gauge our reality

Art can be a metric of the state of the world we live in. It can hold up a mirror to our culture and reflect back either beauty or ugliness. It can be a welcome reminder that there still is beauty to be enjoyed in the world. However, when there is a proliferation of ugly art, it’s a good sign that something is going sour within the culture at large. Art acts as a canary in a coal mine, or the symptom that lets us know it’s time to go see a doctor. When nothing beautiful is reflected back in the art created within a culture, it’s time to address the issues that culture is facing.

Reshape our reality

Art is a powerful educator, especially when other systems (such as government, schools, and other cultural institutions) fail. A work of art can often speak volumes more than any textbook. Someone’s creation gives us a look inside another point of view. Our view of the world is expanded every time we participate in someone else’s experience. We do so profoundly with each song we listen to, book we read, film we watch, painting we admire.

 

When we look back at any past civilization, what tells us most about what it was like to live and breathe within that culture is the art they left behind. Art both shapes and is shaped by the culture in which it is created. We are experiencing a new era, and the art made in this era will undoubtedly leave a strong impression of our culture for following generations. We must, therefore, make the most truthful art we can, and lots of it.

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