How the best solve . . . everything

Months if not years from now we’ll be comparing notes about what we did during covid.

It will be a variation on How I Spent My Summer Vacation. Only this will be a more somber version, especially for those of us whose livelihoods were threatened, whose lives were put in danger — even for those who wondered, Good God how am I going to survive being pent up with these people!

It will have been more than a year in which the entire world had to decide was worth doing and what wasn’t. We all had to figure out how to worm our way through the new constraints.

Most of our covid projects were private, personal. But some were designed to be shared.

Like this one.

The text was mostly written when covid lockdowns began. In reality it was the editing, revising, tweaking, design and layout stages that were incubated during the pandemic.

But how timely! My own outdoors time shot up threefold.

I’m excited to share this with you — the official debut.

Click on the title to check out my new bookito:

It Is Solved By Walking
How World-Class Creators Solve Life

. . . . . . .

I think you’ll enjoy it, for these reasons:

— It’s short (a bookito : -)

— Stories abound, mine and others, some famous, some not — some of them amusing, all of them intriguing

— As one reviewer pointed out, it takes you to unexpected places. To small art towns, to spiritual sojourns, to where the 20th century really began

— You’ll get to walk with giants: world-class thinkers and doers who’ve had paradigm-shifting epiphanies while out for a walk

— You’ll meet up with everyday people for whom a daily outing is a delightful release valve

— You’ll find out why a simple walk has been the most common method for thousands of years to produce ideas, insights, and solutions to vexing issues

— There’s even a wee section extolling the physical benefits, cuz there’s some fascinating science there

For the creatively adventurous and the spiritually seeking, this bookito is for you.

Most of all, I think you’ll enjoy the read : -)

Here’s the link again so you don’t have to scroll ALL the way back up — check it out:

It Is Solved By Walking
How World-Class Creators Solve Life

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Desperation, transcendence and Maslow’s Pyramid

“Modern-day presentations of Maslow’s theory often leave out this critical notion of an integrated hierarchy and instead focus on the stage-like pyramid—even though in his published writings Maslow never actually created a pyramid to represent his hierarchy of needs.

Todd Bridgman and his colleagues examined in detail how the pyramid came to be and concluded that “Maslow’s Pyramid” was actually created by a management consultant in the sixties. From there, it quickly became popular in the emerging field of organization behavior.”

Transcend: The New Science of Self-Actualization
by Scott Barry Kaufman

That makes sense to me! I’ve long felt that the highest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is often precipitated at the lowest levels.

What I mean by this: Our worst moments are often the catalyst for our highest aspirations.

Maslow of course referred to his system as a hierarchy of needs, so the fact he didn’t use a pyramid shape himself doesn’t negate the tiered effect — that you step up from one level of need to the next as you satisfy each level.

Still —

From my own experience and from those of acquaintances, it was often at our lowest darkest moments that we found something transcendent. Something that altered our organism so completely we resembled a new being.

I’m sure there are a number of people who do move up the needs chain, securing sleep and food and security then abundance then greater meaning and actualization.

But it’s also uncanny how many have have found transcendence at their lowest points.

Moments fraught with financial freefall or physical crisis or relationship splintering have tormented us even as they’ve lifted us.

Purgatorial suckholes of personal devastation have produced moments of high clarity. Moments that gave mission to our misery.

It was precisely those trough experiences that catapulted us into greater spiritual maturity.

For me it was looking at the sky in a time of financial ruin and pleading to have my fear taken from me.

And it was. Immediately. For three days I was in a bliss cloud, floating like a demigod of joy through my days.

I know a mother who had a young son with severe dietary issues, who overhauled how her family secured and ate food. This son is a healthy and wildly successful developer now. Once shy, this mother found her way into activism. All because rather than succumb to despair she tapped into a greater mission at a moment of peril for her child.

A college friend of mine lost in a drug and alcohol slide reached out in his greatest moment of torment to a God he didn’t believe in. There lying in his bed late at night feeling existential helplessness, he underwent a spiritual experience so profound it changed his worldview and propelled him to health and wealth and vitality for decades.

Transcendence can come at the bottom.

Or in the middle.

Or at the top.

It’s a beatific thing, the flexibility reality has.

All I’m saying is this: Don’t get caught up in someone else’s paradigm.

Greater meaning abounds if you ask for it.

Seemingly, only two things are required from us.

  1. Great intensity, great need

. . . and . . .

2. Giving up what we think we know

A hyper-focused yearning will satisfy the first part.

The harder part is surrendering our established viewpoint.

Once we can do that — ahhhhhhh — resplendent living light can slip in through the cracks.

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Sun thru overhead palms

Pattern interruption: In art as in life

Sun thru overhead palms

We’ll remember this time of coronavirus better than most of our birthdays.

We weirdly and fondly recall physical challenges, though usually only long after we’ve overcome them.

How many times have you heard someone tell the story of a broken leg, an accident or even a minor mishap with a glint in their eyes. I know I tell those stories.

Our son does too. A physical lad, he likes to keep count of all the traumas visited upon his body.

Back of his head gashed open after being thrown on a bed in fun. Who knew he’d bounce so far?!

(That was his Mom, not me : -)

Two broken arms by the time he was five.

Smashed testicles, enough to concern the doctor about his potential to sire children — from an overexuberant leap onto a karate-kicking friend.

And about twenty-some-odd more events that hurt oh so much at the time but are now life stories to be shared.

Every time pop music becomes too treacly, something jarring comes along: rock, punk, grunge, rap.

Think of the art that stuck in your head. It took you somewhere unexpected. It started as one thing, then veered.

Hey Jude

Parasite

The Tropic of Cancer

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

Great work establishes a pattern — then breaks it.

It’s the same with work habits. The great ones develop deep focused routines interrupted by explorations in other directions after exhaustion sets in.

Einstein played the violin, taking it with him in his travels.

Darwin, Jung, Freud, Mahler, O’Keeffe, Jobs, Hemingway and thousands more took long walks.

I suspect for Wilt Chamberlin it was sex.

Patterns work for us. From cosmic explosion to matter clumping together to stars and planets to night and day to the routines that sustain us, our existence is enabled by a richly interwoven set of patterns.

Pattern disruption can work for us too.

Without an asteroid to finish off the dinosaurs, almost certainly humankind would not have come into existence.

That’s pattern interruption on such a massive scale it set new life forms into motion. New patterns emerged on our planet as dominant patterns were disrupted.

Michel de Montaigne refined the essay — a new written-word form he invented — during a plague. As life was interrupted, he dove more deeply into what mattered to him most.

Miguel de Cervantes had the idea for Don Quixote — the first modern novel — while in debtors prison, a life interrupter if there ever was one.

More millionaires came out of the Great Depression than any previous time in America.

Coronavirus is the great pattern interrupter of our era.

How will you use it?

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Note: Soul adventure

I was leaving for New York City in a few weeks from South Florida — on a motorcycle.

The woman I was casually dating at the time coaxed me into visiting a museum, the first time I’d ever gone to one not part of a tour arranged by school or parents.

A couple of contemporary artists were featured. Max Ernst was one of the artists, I believe.

I was gobsmacked by the imagery. I was tumbled and tilted by the work, sent in unaccustomed directions.

How did they think this way? I wondered.

It was as if these artists thought from within that space between reality and dream, that place before you fall into deep sleep.

How do they see the world this way?

How do they manage to express it?!

How do you free your mind to imagine what is not seen just beyond what is seen?

What I saw on those walls expanded me. Once in New York City I started visiting museums. Whole worlds existed within a canvas.

Experience itself felt laid bare, in painting after painting. Moments rich with nuance presented themselves to me, almost all within variations of a rectangle.

It was impossible to know that in twelve years time I’d co-found an art gallery with my future wife. Me, who was fresh from working in my Dad’s tire store when I stepped into the Norton Museum of Art.

My puny thinking apparatus couldn’t begin to muster a vision for what tingled in my body viewing these creations.

It was impossible to know I’d befriend artists and creators and thinkers and writers, that they’d become the portal through which I’d experience my life.

It’s been more than 35 years since a date beckoned me to meet her at a museum.

I may have thought it was but a prelude to something flirty and physical later on. Instead it was an invitation to live la vida creativa.

Walking out of the museum that day I couldn’t have told you the trajectory of my life had been changed. That took years more — it was more an accrual of charged moments rather than one pivotal instance.

Yet . . . thank fucking God I followed the pull!

It’s made all the difference. The gulf between keen and dull.

The difference between a butter knife and a samurai sword.

I can’t even bear dwelling upon how life might have turned out had I not followed the pull. If I’d stayed on the conventional trajectory.

Yes, I’d be richer. Monetarily. But the true riches of uncovering a deeper self would almost certainly have eluded me.

That sounds esoteric — vague — uncovering your deeper self. Yet from that pull toward something enigmatic, something enticing, came a thing of paramount value to me:

Meaningful relationships with seekers and creators.

Some people live for fun. Others live for financial success. I seem to live for dialogue: With myself, with others.

I delight in conversation with others as much as I relish self inquiry.

Follow the pull of sharpened experience, I would tell my young self now. Follow it unabashedly. You may never quite figure out why certain situations and certain people tingle you.

It doesn’t matter. I don’t know why I like mango so much, but my life is enriched by uncovering more mangoes, wherever I can find them, in whatever form they’ve been processed.

Follow the pull of charged experience, that’s where adventure lies.

By adventure, I mean a life quest exploring the outermost reaches of your soul.

An eternal adventure of the spirit.

And the coolest discovery strikes you at some distantly later stage — You have no outermost reaches of your soul.

There’s more! There’s always more!

. . . . .

Let your intrigue guide you

Evan Griffith
#NotesForCreators



For insights and stories on the connected creative life, check out these bookitos:

The Creative Morning Challenge

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within

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Why I need 7 Daily Practices: A highly irregular guy aims for consistency

The previous post — Wanted: Art maniacs — highlighted an art madman I’ve known for the 25 years we’ve been in the gallery business.

A takeaway was that he’s achieved the elusive goal so many creatives dream of — to make a living entirely from his art — by simply diving in every day.

These Notes For Creators are almost always meant for me. This message more than most. Because I live a highly irregular life.

Days are never the same. I travel multiple times a year for a week or more. I run across the state to help my vibrant but aging mom. We have a teenager. Business is fluid, unpredictable. The coronavirus rages.

So it’s rare two days look the same.

But really, it’s me. I’ve set up this everchanging ride of a life. No other art gallery owner hits the road like I do to visit artist studios. At least not by RV.

(Used to be by van.)

I’ve rarely been able to sit for long. I’m antsy. I’ve got to move or change focus.

I prayed when I hit my 30s that I’d subside.

Noooooooo——–

For sure when I hit my 40s.

Definitely by the time I hit my 50s.

Nope.

So that message about a daily commitment was for me. Because I fail at it so often.

For those of you like me — you eternally flitting creatures who can’t sit still — I thought I should pass along one other idea. From someone who thrives on change yet strives for routine.

The solution that has seemingly burbled up on its own accord is this: Modular core practices.

You could also call it variable time blocking.

Here’s how it looks.

— You sift through your experience to isolate the essential activities in your life that sustain you.

— You identify 5 or 7 areas

— You name them

— You estimate how long you require for each one each day

— Then you feed them into your daily planning structure

And even if each day is full of surprises and differing time frames, even if appointments and meetings and travel time and obligations tug at you in different ways on different days, you make sure each core practice is scheduled at some point in the day

I’m going to walk you through mine so you get a feel for how this works.

Years ago I honed in on 5 Daily Practices necessary for my sanity. And for my growth.

Spirit
Love-appreciation meditation
Plus expressing love energy in my efforts and my interactions

Vision
A short session for getting clear on what I really want, could be for any time frame — the next hour, the day, for my life

Body
Getting in motion. Excercise! I like to get at least an hour a day. It grounds and enlivens me

Creative
A daily creative practice, writing bookitos, writing to you here or via my email newsletter

Connection
Relationship time, connecting meaningfully and lightheartedly with people that matter to me

Then I had an epiphany — two important parts of my day weren’t covered — I really had 7 Daily Practices.

I added these two, because in reality these hours formed the bulk of my day and I was often engaging in them mindlessly:

Workfulness
I own an art gallery, it was important to dedicate the same level of thoughtfulness to those hours as the rest of my life

Homefulness
How did it take me so long to realize the homefront also needed that same high level of attentiveness! They may sound like chores to you, but now laundry and vacuuming and cleaning up are imbued with a deeper purpose for me — and what a difference that makes

So there it is — those are my 7 Daily Practices.

These daily practices are simply building blocks. I move them around each day in my planner to fit my changing schedule.

For an easy visual I draw a little triangle off to the left of each daily practice — it gets colored in when completed. It’s an easy scan down the page to see what daily practices remain.

For example, I try to get my first Body session in early, but it’s not always possible.

No matter, the empty triangle lets me know that particular practice still awaits my attention.

For an irregular guy like me, whose life gets thrown in different directions on different days, now all I need do is make sure I’m tackling each area for some portion of my day, and voila — my days are more fulfilling — life is engaging — heartier even — it is deeper and groovier —

And I don’t fall into bed every night like used to, with a nagging sense of incompleteness.

Even if inexpertly handled, even if a mountain of tasks still need to be tackled, I’ve lived core values that day. Which is surprisingly rewarding.

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Note: You have the gift of prophecy

Granted it might not seem much of a gift — to imagine your way into a better experience, even if only for the next little while.

But really, what more do you need?

It’s not just a gift for you, it’s for all in your orbit.

Let’s say you’re on a freeway and you see someone trying to ease into the flow. You can be that person who lets them in, whose gift of compassionate foresight brings relief in a temporarily fraught situation.

Let’s say you’re in a zoom meeting following the path of entropy. It’s become so low energy the discussion has fallen apart. You can be that person injecting much needed clarity.

You see the trajectory and with a small bit of thought can change its arc into something better.

That could be the tagline to this website:

Notes For Creators — Making reality better

But really, isn’t that the theme of all religion, philosophy and the personal transformation universe?

How to make reality better….

And you — with your gift of prophecy for what is most likely to occur in the next few minutes — can do your part.

For yourself too.

You find yourself in a political back and forth that’s getting more and more heated. You can be the one to jump lanes. Or to seek common ground. Or to acknowledge the stark differences and then disentangle with (genuine) well wishes.

Or maybe you find yourself awash in anxiety. There’s plenty of track to keep that particular train rolling these days. You become alert to the building momentum and like the best of engineers, switch tracks.

It’s a small gift — to peer into the next oh so many minutes and see what’s most likely coming. But it’s your gift. And you can use this power for good.

For levity.

For fun.

For adding value.

For whatever you want to make it.

. . . . .

You have the gift of prophecy in you —
You can see into the next few minutes
and make them better

Evan Griffith
#NotesForCreators



For insights and stories on the connected creative life, check out these bookitos:

The Creative Morning Challenge

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within

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.

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You Power, Me Power, People Power

Readers of Notes For Creators know the thrust here is creative spirit living, drawing inspiration from my decades in creative fields working with artists, writers, designers, freelancers and indie biz types.

Not much is topical — meaning, very little deals with news of the day. We’re concerned here with creative exploration, spirit renewal, with sussing out what works, with sharing insights and stories.

Today I’m breaking the mold. Today we’re celebrating just a smattering of the stories spinning out from the protests of the last week and a half, examples that highlight the power of connecting.

You can view these as examples of people power, and they are. To me they depict the power of an individual to light a spark for higher good.

They show me that I’ve got power in the moment. They show you the same. You can’t not be touched by these people — all showing us that small gestures, small actions at the right moment are impactful.

Here — restore your faith in humanity:

The power of a hug
Short 2-minute video compilation showing people reaching out across opposing lines
https://a.msn.com/r/2/BB157TTv?m=en-us&referrerID=InAppShare&ocid=News

The power of taking a stand
Rogue staffer risks career and gets the NFL to change
https://a.msn.com/r/2/BB157r94?m=en-us&ocid=News

The power of listening
Quarterback Drew Brees models how to listen to pushback and grow from it
https://a.msn.com/r/2/BB156Daf?m=en-us&ocid=News

The power of friendship
https://a.msn.com/r/2/BB152urU?m=en-us&ocid=News

The power of showing up for others
75 people join black man afraid to walk in his own neighborhood
https://a.msn.com/r/2/BB14Y4bY?m=en-us&ocid=News

These are just a few examples of the goodness breaking out everywhere. I guarantee you that more that is good and right and uplifting is bursting forth than its opposite.

May we all take this spirit into our daily lives. May I do so!

Note to self: Often it’s the simplest actions that change a situation for the better.

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Frederick Douglass shows us something unexpected

“I went, one day, on the wharf of Mr. Waters; and seeing two Irishmen unloading a large scow of stone, or ballast I went on board, unasked, and helped them. When we had finished the work, one of the men came to me, aside, and asked me a number of questions, and among them, if I were a slave.

I told him “I was a slave, and a slave for life.”

The good Irishman gave his shoulders a shrug, and seemed deeply affected by the statement. He said, “it was a pity so fine a little fellow as myself should be a slave for life.”

They both had much to say about the matter, and expressed the deepest sympathy with me, and the most decided hatred of slavery. They went so far as to tell me that I ought to run away, and go to the north; that I should find friends there, and that I would be as free as anybody.

I, however, pretended not to be interested in what they said, for I feared they might be treacherous. White men have been known to encourage slaves to escape, and then—to get the reward—they have kidnapped them, and returned them to their masters. And while I mainly inclined to the notion that these men were honest and meant me no ill, I feared it might be otherwise.

I nevertheless remembered their words and their advice, and looked forward to an escape to the north, as a possible means of gaining the liberty for which my heart panted. It was not my enslavement, at the then present time, that most affected me; the being a slave for life, was the saddest thought.

I was too young to think of running away immediately; besides, I wished to learn how to write, before going, as I might have occasion to write my own pass.

I now not only had the hope of freedom, but a foreshadowing of the means by which I might, some day, gain that inestimable boon. Meanwhile, I resolved to add to my educational attainments the art of writing.”

Excerpted from My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass

There is not a single paragraph in Frederick Douglass’s autobiography that doesn’t have you leaning forward pulled into the intensity of his life as a slave and his quest for freedom.

This passage in particular I felt I needed to share with you. It shows how others can fan the flame of a dream, yes, but most remarkable to me in this short passage is how this young teenage boy immediately set himself the task of learning to read and write to prepare for his undertaking.

Even gaining literacy is fraught with peril in a society bent on keeping slaves in chains. It was a monumental endeavor, one he pulled off in secrecy.

If you’ve not read one of Frederick Douglass’s autobiographies yet — he wrote five — do yourself the favor of a lifetime. Go and grab one and set yourself down in a quiet corner for a transformative ride.

To read from the lips of an escaped slave of his bondage and pains and triumphs will forever put your own obstacles in perspective.

You will feel awed by his experience — and audacity — while also realizing how puny in actuality are the constraints you perceive in your own life.

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Sometimes you just need Gandhi to remind you

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

~ Mahatma Gandhi
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Note: Blink

Ye God, sometimes it takes eons to alter your viewpoint. Like how long it took me to give up Mountain Dew. Decades.

Then there are those other times, where something changes in an instant. You’ve arrived at a new understanding — it catches your breath!

Oh damn, I think I’m in love with her.

I might just like fish afterall….

Those tend to sneak up on you. You didn’t foresee the shift yet there it is.

I’ve discovered a shortcut too. Let’s say you know a certain thought will serve you better but you can’t quite get there.

I’m going to come through this better than before.

I like veggies. Yum yum.

Play this game with yourself. Tell yourself the preferred thought you’d like to entertain — it takes but a moment — then blink!

Maybe blink twice for emphasis.

It can have a surprising effect. As if you’ve just stated the thought reality you wish to inhabit, then blink, you’re in it.

You’re (playfully) seeing through new eyes.

You’re (playfully) trying on this new thought habit.

You can let this new thought reside within you for awhile — and every time it begins to fade, blink again.

Life has got my back.

I’m coursing with vitality!

I deal with disappointments with humor now, that’s my way.

You may feel like a blinking fool — best not to do this when all eyes are focused on you — still — try it — sometimes the thought you want is only a blink away.

. . . . .

Change your perception —
Blink your eyes —
There — it’s all different now

Evan Griffith
#NotesForCreators



For insights and stories on the connected creative life, check out these bookitos:

The Creative Morning Challenge

Burn Baby Burn: Spark The Creative Spirit Within

.

.

.

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