Serve Life

Untitled by David Robinson

Untitled by David Robinson

I’m writing language for a website. In the past my website reinventions felt like an exercise of the same old cereal in a new marketing box. This time it’s different. I am a new cereal and I’m not certain that I want a box. It makes a difficult task of telling people what I do when I’m fully invested in container resistance. As I wrangled deep into the night with clever but remarkably meaningless marketing language, I had two mini-epiphanies:

1) Last year, unlike the captain of the Titanic, I sailed my ship directly at an iceberg so that it would sink. I sank the ship with all of the fine china, the gold bars and diamonds in the safe, the furniture, the clothes and fine food. It all went to the bottom of the ocean. I wanted off the ship so why would I now build for myself a new ship? I didn’t bob around in my raft in the vast ocean spearing tuna and catching rainwater so that I might someday step back on to the bridge and do it all over again. What, exactly, am I building?

2) I have tried my whole life to squeeze myself into too small of a box (as, I suspect, all of you have, too). I have worn the jacket of coach, of facilitator, of teacher, of director, of actor and waiter and painter. I am none of these and all of these. I have made websites complete with testimonials and classes, nice pictures and e-books, workshops and retreats. The process of building a site is a two-agenda process: first, locate yourself in space and time for other people so that they might find you and, second, orient yourself toward other people’s concern so they might know why they should seek you. In other words, 1) this is where I am and, 2) this is what I provide. The pronoun is “I.”

What, exactly, do I provide? I am not a plumber or a pizza maker. Every marketing person I’ve ever known has advised me to brand myself. Brand myself as what? Brands are made up. A year ago on New Year’s eve, tarot woman told me that she didn’t see a career for me. Rather, she saw lots of expression. “Brand that!” I thought to myself. Last night I reasoned, “I am not a brand.” Neither can I reduce what I do to a pithy phrase or clever visual. That’s precisely why I sought an iceberg and sank the ship!

I’m an artist (a painter and performer) and I write. I like to write a lot. At the center of all that I do is…disruption or change or spirituality or transformation, words that sound great but what do they mean on the concrete, day-to-day experience of living. I deal in heart, intuition, and soul. Great. I hold people’s hands and walk with them into their dreams. I dive with them into their past so they might let go of their story and sit solidly in their present. I help them unbuckle the weight belt of their story so they might surface for air. Brand that.

To ask, “What do I provide?” is to ask the wrong question. This question will always lead to too tight boxes.

Joe sent me some links: short films of Stephen Jenkinson (The Meaning of Death and Making Humans). Stephen Jenkinson says that humans are made, not born. He speaks eloquently about the necessity of dying to our childhood – which means recognizing that our short lives are limited. That’s the recognition necessary to grow up. We can only really fulfill our gifts when we understand the necessity to serve life, not our life. We end. Life continues. Martin Prechtel writes of his community’s male passage rituals; young men learn that they can only serve their community when they recognize their mortality. The passage ritual is meant to bring them to the realization that they are finite. Only then can they understand the imperative to serve something greater than themselves: life. Tonight in the Taize service, Pastor Tom read a passage about losing yourself to find yourself. It is the same concept wrapped in biblical clothes.

Here’s what I want to say on my site: when you are willing to stop trying to save your life and ready to start giving it, call me. No box necessary.

Go here to get my latest book, The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, title_pageSeeker, Learner, Leader, Creator…You.

Go here for hard copies (amazon)

2 Responses

  1. There’s something to that word, “expression,” David. You help others in orienting in choice. You help others express their authentic selves- without judging or seeking approval.

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