There is a Certain Calmness with Doing the Work

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I find it interesting that my job title is User Experience Strategist. At least that is what I do to earn a living. I consider my "career", or life's work, to be an Artist. In my “day job” I make websites more useful. I help clients complete their visions and goals and help their customers have an easier time navigating the websites. I find the title User Experience Strategist can also help in my desire to be a full time artist - my desire to live from my creative space. After all, we all want to be a participant in a web of our own User Experience.

Recently, I was inspired by a talk with Jared Leto at the New York Times as he spoke of his multi-faceted career (link below). He spoke of all of the different things he had his hands in, from running media companies, to creating, directing and producing videos/films, making art, acting, making music, and finally, touring with his band, 30 Seconds to Mars. The list seems to go on. He is a true renaissance man for sure. But more than that, and the most inspiring piece of the interview for me was his openness about his doubts. When he questioned himself – where he thought he was and where he wanted to be, if his audience would get his direction, his creations, etc., he said (paraphrasing here), that in his times of doubt he did what he knew he could do. He sat back down, amongst the crazy thinking, and created.

There is power in going back to your golden thread of what you are here to do.

For Leto, it is making music or art. It is the core of what brings his other enterprises to the surface. For me it is making art and all of the process, seeking and discovery that goes into it. It is just a part of who I am. I recently returned from a month long trip to California and I have a deep desire to return. I fell in love with Malibu. I live on the beach here in south Florida and it has been my teacher so it is no surprise that I was pulled into the ferocious beauty of the Pacific Ocean. Since I left my job almost two years ago to do my own thing and consult, I have reconnected with a personal freedom that has been a huge source of energy. That energy comes in waves of good and overwhelming doubt. So I sit and do the work. Sometimes it is this blog, sometimes it is fixing my website, but mostly it is my art. It centers me. Makes me find my still point. And it gives me a sense of forward momentum. When I think I don’t deserve Malibu, or success in my art or the other myriad thoughts of doubt and incompleteness, I sit and do the work. And sometimes that is enough.

I wanted to share these thoughts and his video as I am battling my desire to head to Malibu (living in the future) and learn what s/he has to teach me there and my need to be fully present. Each day brings a new layer of finding the dynamic between wanting to claw your way to “success” and living fully present in the now and being open to what is next – actively surrendering. Somewhere in between there is the calmness in doing the work.

One more thing to note about learning who I am. My friend says I should be more Sasha Fierce and I think I am more Lou Reed with a sprinkling of Ziggy Stardust. So maybe Sasha will show her way but I like the edge lyrics of Reed and the ironic flash of Ziggy. I am a Jersey girl, after all.

~b

Video of Jared Leto and Times Talk --> Click Here

 

 

 

 

Not Leaning Forward or Backward

 

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Being present, in the moment and not furiously looking at ways to control the future is so much harder than it seems. What if you are asking yourself, "What is next?" or maybe you are trying to define a new path that is different from the one you have been on. All of the external messages reinforce the notion of being present and/or having faith that things will work out. My nature is competitive. I want to move forward and that leads to a state of discontent. Is there a balance for people that believe action gets things done and the wisdom of keying in to the present? How can we take a step into the now without reaching for the future or leaning into the past?

There is a concept in Buddhism named dhuka and it roughly translates to suffering. As a society we are constantly try to numb an ever present dissatisfaction by turning to things around us or craving things we don't have to silence this feeling. But what if we sit with it? Identify if? Maybe we can poke at it like a bruise and not shy away from it. Numbing ourselves in front if the TV or shopping for unnecessary objects are great examples of dhukha. To dive deeper into that a little bit, dhukha causes dhukha; suffering causes suffering. Once our issues or cravings are identified and explored they start to lose their power. Maybe once that inward journey is activated then we can be more fully okay with ourselves, at peace with how things are, right now. The now is not craving. The now is present.

On the flip side is sukha, happiness not shadowed by craving or aversion. It is a state where we are not confusing emotions like desire or nostalgia. This state of balance is considered enlightenment. It is at this point of realization and this defining moment when after his searching and introspection, Siddhartha Gautama became Buddha. He saw in that moment where he no longer craved. He was no longer reaching, searching and exploring, there was no clinging - no aversion or delusion. This led to freedom and with it the knowledge that it is an inherent state of humans.

Ultimately we strive to be a witness to ourselves without passing judgment. When we sit in meditation there are glimpses of this witness. There is no judgment. No thoughts. It just is. In that moment - whether it be on the hiking trail, sitting at our desk or in meditation, things are entirely OK. We experience more of these moments through meditation and going inwards. These moments that are lacking a sense of unsettling thoughts, a lack of judgment become our freedom. They allow a sense of peace to guide our daily thoughts and actions. Quite possibly, these are the moments that open us up to faith if we have felt that missing.

So in the end, and as part of a daily practice I leave with this: catch the judgments, catch the doubts and the over-thinking and striving for perfection. Slowly strip away the constant anxiety inducing pining for a future that does not exist. You are enough right now. Sit with that. Next time you overreach and try to be the funniest or smartest in the room or the better actor or you sit in judgment of someone just remind yourself that you are enough. Right now.

~ b