My Facebook feed is filled with friends who are angry, sad, frustrated, confused, and at a complete loss about why there is so much senseless killing happening. I am, too. I worry about what kind of world we’re leaving for our children, and then I read this article from Time about a 10-year-old-girl named Eva who lives in Paris. She was granted a PhD level fellowship. Her pitch was: “The streets of Paris are sad. I want to build a robot that will make them happy again. I’ve already started learning how to code on Thymio robots, but I have trouble making it work. I want to join the program so the mentors can help me.”
Yes, technology can isolate us. It can also be used to build a better, kinder, happier, and safer world. And I think that if we begin to think about technology the way that Eva does, we’ll be able to build a better world together, a world in which every life matters.
“Get back in touch with self-mastery because it’s the one thing that never goes away. You’re the one person you’re stuck with forever.” ~Mark Lack
I’ve been thinking a lot about ending and change lately, not in a sad way, but just as a natural part of life and evolution. In all this change, I’ve also spent some of my time thinking about what remains constant. It seems that almost everything and everyone shifts somehow. Faith can be shaken. Our minds can be changed. Our health, and the health of everyone we know and love, ebbs and flows. Neighborhoods turn over, for better or for worse.
Then I read this quote by Mark Lack and meditated on it. In my lifetime, the beat of my heart and the constancy of my breath are the only things I will always have and know everywhere I go. And that brought me a lot of peace and happiness. All the more reason to spend some time every day quietly getting to know exactly who we are at our core.
“The most important people in Cuban culture are children,” said our guide. And that made me tear up. What if that were true everywhere? What kind of world would we have then?
So much of our society is geared toward growing up. It’s a society built by and for adults, and for turning children into them. We don’t always celebrate children. We often don’t stand up for them. We don’t let them be who they are, but rather we shape them into who we want them to be.
Think about how we each treat our own inner child. Many times, we squash him or her. Too often we don’t let ourselves try things just for the fun of it, or fail at things, or experiment, or doing anything without it having some kind of practical purpose or end goal.
Maybe that’s why the connected world is flipping out over the mom in the Chubacca mask. She exhibited unbridled delight. When was the last time we all did that? Why have we given up on pure joy? Why isn’t that our goal? Why are we slaves to accomplishment, and not our own happiness? Let’s change that.
La hora loca is a Latino wedding tradition that reminds me of carnival. Just as the dance floor at my friends’ wedding in Puerto Rico this weekend was slowing down just a tad, a team of bold and brash drummers, followed by 2 men clad in colorful costumes on stilts, barged into the dining room. Giving out giant foam hats and head accessories, they wound their way through the tables and found the dance floor. Singing, laughing, clapping, and dancing with the crowd, they proceeded to conduct us for a solid hour in how to immerse ourselves in collective and rhythmic joy. It’s the best wedding tradition I’ve ever witnessed. It’s what a wedding, and life, is all about.
Last night I saw 2Cellos at DAR thanks to my music-loving pals, Gary and Jessica. I’ve been a fan of 2Cellos for a long time and love how they use the cello in such innovative ways to re-create rock and pop hits. At one point, Josh turned to me and said, “Look at him. He’s completely in the zone.” It was as if their cellos just became extensions of who they are. They were so in sync with one another, their instruments, and the audience. We could literally feel their love for music.
And isn’t that exactly the way it should be for all of us? To find what fills us up with joy and share that with others is the way to a happy life. And that should be as true at work as it is in any other part of our lives. The lessons you can learn from a cello. Who knew?
“If you sense there must be more, there is more.” ~Alan Cohen
Have you ever thought this: “Is this all there is?” This has happened to me, oh, maybe several hundred times in my life. Maybe thousands. At some point, it happened so often that I just lost count.
And here was my second thought every time: “Of course there’s more out there. Go find it.” And I don’t mean more as in more money, notoriety, or some other superficial possession. I mean more in terms of inspiration, better health, more happiness, peace, love, joy, passion, knowledge, adventure, and all the good things that make life worth living.
I didn’t always know where to find it or how to get it. I had to work hard for it. I had to make difficult choices. I had to take the long view. I had to go through hard times and plenty of uncertainty to find the good stuff. But I did find it, always, eventually, in spades. And I’m grateful for it every day, every time.
There are more of these things for you, too. For all of us. And I want us to be brave enough to go out there into the world and get them and share them. In 2016, let’s do that, okay? Okay.
If you’re curating your personal art collection, you collect pieces that bring you joy. Curate your life the same way. Fill it with people, activities, and (a sparing number of) belongings that make you happy. Let your life be your greatest work of art.
“Without play, there would be no Picasso. Without play, there is no experimentation. Experimentation is the quest for answers.” ~Paul Rand
My teacher, mentor, and friend, Ed, posted this photo yesterday and it made me think of this quote from Paul Rand. We don’t play enough. We don’t smile, laugh, or enjoy life to the extent that we should. We deserve to be in the front row of this photo in every way, every day. So choose it or lose it. Experiment. Make art. Sing out loud. Dance like a fool. Try something or create something just because you want to. Love big. Take a chance, hold on, and enjoy the ride no matter where it leads. Happiness and play are choices. Make them.
I went to Sixth & I last night to see Linda Holmes interview Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, the creators of the podcast and new novel, Welcome to Night Vale. Night Vale is a small southwestern town where every conspiracy theory is true. There’s much you can read about the podcast – how it was started by two theater artists in a Brooklyn apartment, that there were only 52 downloads in the first month, and that the creators are flat-out shocked by the success of this off-beat, quirky, and confounding story that’s filled with equal amounts of tenderness and weirdness.
What you haven’t heard, because it has to be experienced, is the overwhelming joy that the loyal fans feel toward this story, these characters, this town, and its creators. The cheers and applause never stopped at the event last night. The laughter literally rang through the rafters of Sixth & I, the warmth between the audience and the authors was palpable, and I’ll never forget it. This is what story told with authenticity and love can do. This is what happens when we build from the heart and not for the wallet. (Night Vale refuses to take money from advertising and instead relies on donations, merchandise sales, and revenue from live shows.) It’s an example of how art done right has a powerful impact on the soul. All of it makes me happy.
“Start ignoring people who threaten your joy. Literally, ignore them. Say nothing. Don’t invite any parts of them into your space.” ~Alex Elle
Look right through people who interrupt, disturb, or attempt to steal your joy. They’re not your work to do. They aren’t your responsibility. They aren’t worth your energy, time, nor effort. You go on being your magnificent, talented, beautiful self. The best you can do for them is to inspire them with the ripples of true joy flowing from you into the Universe. And if that’s not enough for them, then they aren’t enough for you.