Wake up.

I’m working on an oil painting.
A portrait of a client.
I’m creating it from a photo.
One shot casually and… stealthily.
As I paint, I naturally refer to that image.
A source of inspiration that no one has ever seen.
Nor will ever see.
And yet, I find myself curiously constrained by it.
As if someone is watching me and judging my creation.
I used to feel a similar, dream-like self-consciousness.
Early on in my professional speaking career.
I felt the need to be… perfect.
As if everyone in the audience held a copy of my speech.
And would be assessing my performance.
Thankfully, it finally dawned on me.
There is no script!
I woke up to the fact that no one has a clue what I am going to say or do.
So there is no reason to feel anxious or self-conscious.
The same goes for you and your work.
We are not here to play a role in other people’s dramas.
By staying “in character.”
Trying to gauge their expectations and assessment.
We’re here to improvise and uniquely express ourselves.
We’re here to move people.
Emotionally and intellectually.
We’re here to change things.
To bring a spark of inspiration and joy to an increasingly complacent and hostile world.
So let’s try something new (it can’t hurt).
Let’s wake up.
Let’s forget about how we appear to others.
Step out of our stifling roles.
And live our truths, from the inside out.
And let’s do it with no expectations.
For as John Lennon made clear:
“When you do something noble and beautiful and nobody noticed, do not be sad.
For the sun every morning is a beautiful spectacle and yet most of the audience still sleeps.”
Have a wonderful holiday season.
And be a beautiful spectacle in 2018.

Scary fun.

It’s Halloween season.
And people are looking forward to frightening themselves.
With horror movies and haunted houses.
It’s a weird kind of high.
A chemical cascade triggered by the fight-or-flight response.
An adrenaline rush, but with a sense of control.
It feels dangerous, but it’s not really dangerous.
And so it’s exciting, almost primal.
Our hearts beat faster.
Our blood pressure and respiration increase.
We get butterflies in the pits of our stomachs.
Our minds become fully aware, conscious, in the moment.
And we feel stronger and more alert.
Sensations that are outside our safe and boring daily routines.
Which makes us feel alive!
If we’re conscious of the illusion.
If we sense no actual risk.
The adrenaline rush is enjoyable.
The experience becomes play.
Screams turn into laughs and smiles.
Because we’re aroused.
And we know we have nothing to worry about.
We also feel a sense of satisfaction.
A strange self-esteem boost.
Because we’ve succeeded, we survived.
Human beings are strange animals.
We want to feel, to be aroused by life.
But, we want it to be safe and under our control.
And then we can approach life with curiosity and wonder.
But here’s the thing.
Wittgenstein wrote, “We are asleep. Our life is a dream. But we wake up sometimes, just enough to know that we are dreaming.”
Life is make-believe and temporary.
Just like walking into a haunted house.
If you’re asleep, you’re a slave to your feelings.
Like a terrified child.
There is no free will.
You’ll never enjoy the fear, because you’re unaware of the illusion.
But if you wake up, your free will is unlimited.
You can get excited again.
And play!
So wake up.
Don’t take yourself or your circumstances too seriously.
Step into your fears.
Have some scary fun.
And come fully alive.