Thursday, December 12, 2013

Setting your sights

A sunset over some winter weather lowlands,
A clear December afternoon, 
A good way to clear a mind.

Focus from the frost


I like to work in the winter. The snow absorbs sound outside, our windows are sealed, and the indoors are more silent and still than any other part of the year. This stillness is conducive to interpretation, which allows the mind a chance to catch up with itself - and that’s what I call focus.

Focus can be looked at like a tool, a tool with which to pick things apart. If you’re a thinking sort of person, you get a lot of enjoyment out of this because the focus lets you think through things. It is from a place of enjoyment and also a sort of duty that you turn things over in your head, sometimes for days. It’s sort of like tinkering if you’re a tinkerer, or fixing if you’re a fixer.

In fact this sort of mindless repetition of focus on one thing comes to you so easy you’re hardly aware it’s happening most of the time. Especially if you spend a lot of time alone, you’ll wrestle around with some concepts in an endless pattern until a more pressing matter forces itself to the prow of your consciousness.

This state of being can be both good and bad, as you’re likely to find yourself hung up on one particular issue if you’re unable to take action on it. For instance, sometimes it’s a book list you’ve really been meaning to get to, or a letter you’ve been meaning to write. Maybe it’s a project, like finishing up on your new ice shack or even finding a way to repay a favor to a friend.

On the one hand you’re afforded a great deal of concentration on your topic, but on the other you become a bit useless until you’ve brought to light some fruition, some manifestation of whatever it is that’s drawn all your attention. This sounds sort of debilitating (and it is), but I think it’s a good thing.

Nobody uninspired has ever done much in the way of inspiring others...

The best way to be inspired and find inspiration is to do the things you want to do. Many times we think other people or circumstances are holding us back, when really, we’re usually the biggest roadblock to our own progress.

Let me put it this way: find a way to do what you really want to be doing with your time. I really believe there is nothing more beneficial to you, and thus everyone in your life. That is to say, find fulfillment and in turn fulfill others.

Great work comes from earnestly inspired minds. Look no further than Dante, Shakespeare, or Poe to see what I mean about inspired writers. Each was tortured by some repetitive, intensely focused subject matter - pushed to a sense of artful duty far beyond normalcy. The result of which produced a depth of quality unparalleled still today.

In fact I suppose this is the way all art works. Michelangelo served a higher calling, Van Gogh impressed one of the greatest visions of all time, and Jackson Pollock pushed American painting into the history books. Talk about inspired… these people are some of the world’s greatest.

Now, you don’t have to change the world with your own work, but you should follow whatever calls you. You should do what calls you because life is too short and the world in too great of need of people answering the call.

Concern has raged on the topic of whether or not art is dead, if everything world changing has already been done, if all the greats are gone. Maybe our brains have all been rewired into social media status updates, capped at 140 characters and hash-tagged to insignificance. Who can say for sure, but I don’t think so.

My bet is that the next great thing comes from the next great nobody. Steve Jobs and Kurt Cobain started empires out of garages, who’s to say your neighbor or you yourself aren't about to do the same? Who’s to say the next great thing doesn’t come out of a cozy, snow-laden household in the upper midwest?

“When you do not know what you are doing and what you are doing is the best -- that is inspiration.”
- Robert Bresson

See you out there,
A woodsman in training.

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