Coin Side 1: I feel like I want to use my voice to encourage the creative process and inspire people to become brilliant innovators that create cosmic shifts in the world around them.
Coin Side 2: I don’t want to be just another blabbering person with strong opinions adding to the deafening white noise that’s already flooding cyberspace and inundating our minds with endless to-do lists and heavy duty how-to strategery.
This two-sided coin flipping around in my head isn’t just…in my head. It’s a tortured reality I live with every day. I would despise becoming the very thing that I am trying to resist being sucked into.
You see, I confess that I’ve become quite an info-maniac. Nothing can trip me up more quickly and easily than a Twitter byte about some fresh-off-the-press-and-incredibly-earth-shatteringly-amazing new blog post from some uber-significant guru…or a Facebook link from some killer new website with a tribe of thousands who are flocking to gobble up the latest juicy advice on how to be better, bigger, more recognizable, more famous, more connected, more organized, more productive, more spiritual…and yes, even more creative.
I’m an addict in the truest sense. I confess it out loud to you. If left unmonitored, I could read that junk all day! (This very public gesture is one of my first baby steps towards ultimate recovery.) You see, I can never seem to get enough of how to be a better version of…me. I don’t know if anyone will ever write the article that leaves me thinking, “you know, thanks…but I’ve already got that topic LOCKED! I’m good. Thanks anyway.” I’m always a sucker for the elusive tidbit that will somehow make me more savvy.
I just simply love learning about new things, new ways of doing things, new perspectives, new insight and new ideas. I love new trends in fashion, new technology, new music and new movies. I can’t seem to get enough of the innovative and unique, the never-before-seen, the ground-breaking and chart-topping. I crave the fantastic and clever and ingenious and disarming. I find all of it just so fascinating.
I must also admit that I have no sustainable resistance against the allure of being one of “the chosen ones” who gets the inside dish. So I sign up for blog feeds…like a junky would put a dealer on their speed dial. Innocently enough, most of them are about creativity, spirituality, or the business of doing art. (Because I want to be more responsible. I want to be a better artist. I want my work and my life to have more meaning. And I want to run a better business…don’t I?!)
But in the spirit of true confession, I need to admit the ridiculous thing: I never read the feeds. What kind of junky stockpiles the drugs and never shoots up?! Oh, I’ve taken the time to subscribe to the feeds. They pour into my inbox every single day. I even created a special folder that they automatically get sorted into. But I never take the time to read them. At last count, I had almost 1,000 unread blog posts in the “special” folder in my inbox. That’s just ridiculous.
But rather than beat myself up for being lazy or a small thinker or unmotivated or afraid, I’ve given myself the grace to get inside my own head and see what’s really going on…and I think I’ve stumbled on to something BIG…at least for me.
The barrage of information that I receive on any given day has morphed into some kind of supernatural wall of white noise for me…and to be honest, I can’t hear a stinkin’ thing. I’ve taken in so much “helpful” information that I could feed on it for the rest of my life and never go hungry. My “to-do” lists are so long, I could work on them diligently for the rest of my life and never get them all done. I have so many “how-to” directives running around in my head that I could try a new strategy every single day for the rest of my life, and I’d never reach the levels of success or popularity or fame or fortune that they all pretend to deliver…because my thinking would be someone else’s thoughts and someone else’s plans, with someone else’s goals compared to someone else’s standards. I would be fragmented, confused and distracted, at best.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to come across as unteachable or unduly defiant. But somewhere along the way, we’ve been force-fed so much “good” information by well-intended people that we forget how to think for ourselves. We lose the payoff that comes from hacking through a problem on our own, because 42 million bloggers have already solved all of life’s problems for us. We stop listening to the voice inside of us, because the myriad of voices around us drown it out…because they’re smart and famous and important and significant. And we’re just…us.
Here’s the point I’m really getting at: Watching re-runs of Oprah will not make you a better person. Reading Seth Godin’s blog will not make you better at marketing. Subscribing to Indigenous Worship will not make you a better worshiper. Getting The Wall Street Journal will not make you into a Fortune 500 company. All of these sources have important information that will influence the you of tomorrow, but not a single one of them can MAKE you into the thing you so desperately want to become.
Quite simply, we’ve lost the courage to be uniquely and wonderfully us. We’ve lost the patience and tenacity to see things through to the finish. We’d rather read about the us that could be, rather than embracing and living whole-heartedly the us that already is. It takes too much work…and it takes waaaay too much time.
The very best thing you could ever do for your heart and your art and your family and your friendships and your marriage and your community and your creativity is to just shut off all of the white noise. Shut it off. If it means not Twittering for a while…or God forbid, signing off of Facebook for some time…DO IT! Have the guts to do what it takes to disconnect from the white noise so that you can listen…to YOU.
Listen to your own voice. Listen to your dreams. Listen to your brain crunching through a maze-like problem…and hear the sweet refrain of the solution that comes from what seems like out of nowhere. Quiet your heart and your mind, and listen to the melody of deferred hopes and the sad songs of disappointment. Dive deeper and listen to the complex symphonies of creativity and innovation. Feel the reverberations of the groaning strings of desire and want and need. Listen to the lyrics that lie dormant in the depths of who you are. Listen to the whispers of the One who created you to “be all that you can be”.
You see last week, in a fit of defiance, I “fired” all of my “executive counsel”. All except for a few that I would literally take to a desert island with me, like my pastors, some “fathers of the faith”, and dear friends. I fired the dozens and dozens of blog feeds that I had subscribed to for my quick, brainless fixes for the day. The ones that told me I didn’t have it all together…that I wasn’t doing enough…or that I wasn’t enough to start with. I handed them and their endless supply of posts a proverbially pink Pink Slip.
And I realized very quickly, as the silence settled in…that if I am scared about anything, it’s about my own thoughts. Owning the responsibility for them. Having to work a bit to have a good one. Or running the risk of having bad ones, and possibly making a fool of myself.
Today, for the first time in a long, long time, I had the panicky feeling of an addict in rehab: I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.
But there’s hope. Because today, I am totally alright with that.