Is this you?
Calvin. Says it all. Without saying a word.
One of Bill Watterson's early creations was a copy of Michelangelo's “Creation of Adam” from the Sistine Chapel. It was the middle of his sophomore year at Kenyon. The idea just came to him. He decided to do it, figured out a way. He had to paint over it when the year was up.
As he said in the Kenyon College commencement address in 1990:
Despite the futility of the whole episode, my fondest memories of college are times like these, where things were done out of some inexplicable inner imperative, rather than because the work was demanded.
You work the hardest when you work for yourself. You do your best work when creativity and play are part of it. The only way you can stick out with writing, creating, building every day is to let your mind wander into new territories.
But nobody teaches you how to create constructively. We often follow the law of least effort. Hence why the pull to streamlining, simplifying, making small chunks… and likely how that becomes “spare parts” approach to many things.
You may be surprised to find how quickly daily routine and the demands of 'just getting by' absorb your waking hours.
You may be surprised matters of habit rather than thought and inquiry. You may be surprised to find how quickly you start to see your life in terms of other people's expectations rather than issues.
You may be surprised to find out how quickly reading a good book sounds like a luxury.
We need space and ways “to restore and expand ourselves.”
Anything that lets your mind play helps. Calvin & Hobbes gave Watterson a way to put himself into the mind of a six-year old. That's how he re-discovered creativity. Finding a sense of fun in things is the antidote to stress. And a good way to keep going.
The truth is, most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive. At that time, we turn around and say, yes, this is obviously where I was going all along.
I've had a few detours. Starting in a nonprofit. A corporate career in five industries. And a couple of agencies. The work I have done for me throughout has been critical: to enjoying the scenery on the detours, but also to my success.
Enduring rejection is some of the hardest work you'll ever do. You cannot allow it to harden you. What Watterson says here feels true:
To make a business decision, you don't need much philosophy; all you need is greed, and maybe a little knowledge of how the game works.
The pressure to capitalize is real. I've been writing here for 15 years. My vision has remained the same: to transfer value. Not a day goes by without someone asking me to add their links to an old post. Now I'm even getting offers to sell the site. And you know what happens with a high ranking site, don't you?
In the system that turns everything into money selling might make sense. But not in the system that says there is higher intellectual and social value in the 3423 articles that are here. There's plenty of energy available here. Food for thought. Ideas for programs. The rise and commodification of content and many other trends. I was creating social networks before social media.
Have you ever read a blog cover to cover? I have. It teaches you so much about the evolution of thought and humans. It teaches me so much about the evolution of my work to have this platform.
You will find your own ethical dilemmas in all parts of your lives, both personal and professional.
We all have different desires and needs, but if we don't discover what we want from ourselves and what we stand for, we will live passively and unfulfilled.
Sooner or later, we are all asked to compromise ourselves and the things we care about.
We define ourselves by our actions. With each decision, we tell ourselves and the world who we are. Think about what you want out of this life, and recognize that there are many kinds of success.
The work here continues to make my life meaningful. This to me is what it means to put life into a larger perspective. One way to go from: “aaaaargh!” to reclaiming your power.