Think “And”

a second version, a second point of view of my painting Shared Fatherhood

I suppose it is the great trap in human nature to define life through oppositions. Was your experience good or bad? Are you liberal or conservative? Are you your brother’s keeper or is it every man for himself? Oppositions provide the illusion that there is a right way or a wrong way, that any issue can be reduced to a simplicity, a singular path. One way. Oppositions are great language devices for dictators and the righteous. They remove the grey tones and blunt the grey matter. With an opposition, us or them, “god” can be exclusively on your side (a small god, indeed) which self-grants permission for all manner of abuses enacted by “us” on “them.” The problematic word when employing oppositions is “or.”

“And” is a much more useful (and honest) term to employ when dancing with oppositions. Can you be your brother’s keeper AND take care of yourself? Certainly. Can you survive entirely by yourself without the participation of your brothers and sisters? Certainly not. No one lives in a vacuum; “or” is the great creator of illusory vacuums. “And” guarantees a conversation and perhaps a host of useful, challenging and robust perspectives. Both/And is always more functional than Either/Or.

AND the first version of Shared Fatherhood

The snag in “Or” is that there is very little truth in any reduction that ultimately lands on just One. This or that. All life is movement and all movement stops in One. Creative tension requires at least two points and a desire for someplace place to go. There is no single arrival station in real life. There is no achievement that stops all the presses. Every answer inspires new questions. Each question opens doors to multiple possibilities. Agreement is a fluid target at best and must be nurtured. Compromise is never an end state; it is a relationship imperative. Life is never found in the static “or.”

Do an experiment: go to the grocery store, choose any item and ask yourself how many people it took to bring your chosen item to the shelf at that moment. If you are not astounded by the complexity of participation, how dependent we are on actions of others, your imagination has most certainly failed you. Skip, entrepreneur extraordinaire and mentor to entrepreneurs taught me that a business cannot succeed until it serves its customer’s customer. Note the word “serves.” Businesses serve. Not simply a customer but the complexity of a customer’s customer. Entrepreneurism is a service to the creative genius of a community and multitudes of communities beyond.

Entrepreneurism, like artistry, ….even, yes, like governance…like all things vital, moving, complex and growing, live in service according to the good graces of AND. Anything else is a mirage.

 

 

 

Treasure Your Treasure

661. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

The process of moving has afforded me two recognitions. First, I’ve found two outlines for books that I meant to write a few years ago, the completed text for a children’s book that only needs the illustrations and another that I only need draw final drafts of illustrations. I found two plays, poorly written, that are waiting patiently for me to revise and reconstruct into health. Who knew that I had so much unfinished work in the file! I am an out-of-sight-out-of-mind kind of guy. Filing cabinets are mausoleums for my projects. If I file them, they might as well not exist. I feel like I just opened a pyramid and a long lost friend was sitting inside and said, “Hey, it’s about time!”

The second recognition is that I have too much stuff. I am an odd duck in that I expect myself to move lightly through this world. It’s not that I have a house full of furniture, I don’t, but I have more books, more files, more paintings, more…stuff, than I want. So, moving has provided the opportunity to lighten up. It has been interesting to see what things I invest in, what carries meaning for me, and what does not. My friend John made me a small box a few years ago and I treasure it. Sam gave me a signed a copy of his book of poetry – I would grab it first if the house was burning down. Tamara made me a glass sun to help me through the winter and I will hold it close until I die, not to mention a growing catalogue of songs that she’s written and recorded that warms me inside. Teru made a quilt for me that is beautiful beyond belief; it evokes gratitude every time I look at it or sleep beneath it. I have DeMarcus Brown’s notes about theatrical design written in a notebook that he made himself almost a century ago. His daughter gave it to me after Marc passed away, saying, “This belongs to you.” I cherish it. My niece Tori sewed for me a purple bear that I have named Mulberry and there is nothing more valuable to me on this earth.

I’ve realized that my treasures are my friendships and the deep love I hold for so many people. I step as a gypsy into this New Year walking into many unknowns and double uncertainties and I’ve just reaffirmed how rich I am in projects, ideas, creative fire and made more wealthy by the vibrant, generous people accompanying me through this life.