Words in My Head

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Category: Musings (page 2 of 3)

Gratitude is More Than Lip Service

I’ve had enough self entitlement for a while. And though I was once a teenager, I hope to hell I didn’t have my head as firmly implanted up my ass as some folks do at the moment. So I’m going to clear the air with a bit of a rant by expressing three ideas as clearly as I can.

One: Be Grateful for the People Who Help You, Because They Don’t Have To

First, let’s talk about the things that people do for you out of the kindness of their hearts. As a parent, I feel responsible for my children’s well being. And I’d like to see them happy, but usually that’s beyond my control so I focus on the things that I can do.

I promise to put a roof over their head, make sure they have clothes to wear, and food to eat. I promise to make sure that they are afforded both a good education and health care as long as I am able. And to the best of my ability I will try to support their hopes and dreams by providing support and advice whenever I can.

That’s it.

I don’t feel that I’m here to support their social lives and drive them around town to parties with their friends. I don’t feel like I’m here to ensure that they get the latest X or Y because everybody else has one. I’m not always going to say “YES.”  And I’m not going to give them spending money unless I feel they’ve earned it in some way.

They get my love and attention, room and board, clothing, health care, and as much education as we can afford. That’s a pretty good deal.

In addition, when I am able, I try to support their extra-curricular habits. In my house the list of extra-curricular activities starts with soccer, but varies wildly after that. Drama. Choir. Art. Cooking. It gets insane. But there’s a point of no return here. If you push your luck, the next time I will likely be less inclined to help you in your mission of the moment.

I’m not saying that I won’t take them to the occasional party, practice, or shopping spree, but I am saying that I’m not made of time, patience, or money and there are limits to all three.

Two: Gratitude is More Than Lip Service

Second, if you’re in my house, you’re pretty spoiled whether you have two feet or four. We spend way too much money on things we don’t need. We go out to eat too frequently. And we’ve even gone on trips to the other side of the world from time to time. So… spoiled and you have it pretty good.

What I expect in return is that you participate in the household experience, show respect towards family members (both immediate and in our crazy extended family), and express gratitude towards those people who help you out. Otherwise, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

This means that you need to take a good look around you every now and then and examine life beyond your own little world. Help with the dishes. Cook a meal. Clean up a room. Take care of the animals. Offer to do something nice for a change.

But it goes beyond muttering the words “thank you” or “love you” every now and then and trying to isolate yourself more and more. Actions speak louder than words. We do a lot for you without you having to ask us and we would like to think you would do the same.

That hasn’t always been the case. And it wears thin. So refill the gratitude bucket now and then without us badgering us to do so.

Three: Pay it Forward

Lastly, be sure to pay it forward. I’ll explain this with a quote. Babylon-5 was a TV show well ahead of its time. And it had many quotable moments, but one of my favorites was when G’Kar (a warrior and a politician) gave some advice to another character… “The universe is run by the interweaving of three elements: Energy, matter, and enlightened self-interest.” This quote is never far from my mind.

What do I mean by that? Karma is a bitch. If you take the folks for granted who help you daily, it’s going to bite you in the butt eventually. If you are mean, cruel, or rude to them, the payback is that much quicker. The principle of enlightened self-interest is best expressed through the Golden Rule… ” do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Matt. 7:12)

Unless you want to be treated like crap, try to treat those around you with kindness, love, and respect at all times. Maybe they don’t deserve it. Maybe you don’t feel like giving it. Doing the right thing is rarely easy all the time. But doing so is in your best interests.

You have been treated kindly by the universe so far. Pay it forward. The universe may not respond in kind immediately, but I bet eventually your kindness will come back to you in spades. It’s a good feedback loop to try and keep going.


Rant over.

 

One Crazy Stay That Influenced My Creative Life

Today I saw the trailer for a new project from Netflix based on a world I explored from a hospital bed in 1982 or 1983. Later this year Netflix and Jim Hensons’ Creature Shop will begin work on The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance and watching the teaser over at Nerdist, I got very excited. VERY excited.

Go watch if you would like, I’ll wait…

Ok, are you back? Cool! Now let me tell you a story about why this got me all geeked up and set me on an expedition into my memories.

While I was in junior high school, in the 7th grade I think, I played basketball. Poorly, but I had fun and worked hard with a bunch of my buddies. One day during practice, I unexpectedly had a grand mal seizure. One moment I was passing the ball to a teammate. The next I was sitting on the wall of the gym covered in a bit of my own vomit with my coach and wondering what the hell happened. Definitely one of the scariest moments of my childhood.

That led me to an ER visit, which led to visiting various specialist doctors, and eventually I ended up at Children’s Hospital in downtown Denver. The very nice doctors and nurses there got me sorted out and I was on my way after a few days. I won’t bore you with the details, but will suffice it to say it was a side effect of a thyroid issue and treatable with medication I’m still on today.

While I was there, I had a TV in my room and that TV had HBO. I think this was before the time we had cable TV at home, so HBO (and cable in general) were luxuries we simply didn’t have. And all I remember watching are two movies over and over again while I was in that bed hooked up like a video game.

  • Firefox. Clint Eastwood as a pilot of a super jet he stole from the Russians and had to use his mind to control. It was awesome. Gun fights. Cool planes. Spies. Everything a growing boy needed to kill a couple of hours.
  • And The Dark Crystal. Wow. Jim Henson took it up a notch for that one.  Fantasy. Magic. Monsters. Humor. Peril. This one blew me away even more than Clint flying an amazing jet.

Quite honestly I think The Dark Crystal formed most of my initial impressions of the fantasy genre. This was about the same time I discovered Dungeons & Dragons and played with my friends every weekend we could. To this day, I remember the Skeksis being cruel and interesting, while the Mystics were slow and meditative. The Gelflings were my entry into a world very far beyond our own. And they had a pet — Fizgig — and I wanted one.

My other influences were Star WarsRaiders of the Lost ArkFlash Gordon, and many many books. I devoured fantasy and science fiction and hardly touched a comic book.

But if you look at the stories I create, they’re a combination of Conan the Barbarian and The Dark Crystal. Sure, there are more variations than that, but my sword and sorcery influences are strong even today.

Why am I excited about The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance? Because I’ll be revisiting my childhood and revitalizing my love for Jim Henson fantasy… YAY! I hope they don’t screw it up. 🙂

So let me leave you with this question…

What were the movies, TV, or books that influenced you the most in your childhood? Let me know in the comments!

The Struggle with Negativity

Every so often I fall into the trap that many people do and start listening to the whispers in my head. Call it self-doubt. Call it self-loathing. Call it imposter syndrome. But whatever it is, the whispers are never a positive influence.

  • You don’t deserve this.
  • Happiness is for other people.
  • You suck.
  • Nobody listens, so why talk?

Now, the rational part of my mind knows this is all bullshit. I definitely deserve to be happy, deserve to be heard, and deserve to have the success that I have worked hard to achieve. But the whispers wear me down over time and I get more and more tired.

Though I am married to an extrovert, I’m definitely an introvert. So I typically have to combat this negativity by feeding the creative side of my personality during my downtime. Sometimes I can do that through my writing. Other times through reading or drawing or music.

But these days that’s become harder and harder to do as we have become more and more busy as a family. The girls are constantly busy with school, soccer, and busy social lives. My wife is working at multiple animal clinics, running a non-profit, playing indoor and outdoor soccer, and starting a business. I’m working a full-time job, trying to be a part-time publisher, and attempting to keep up with the madness.

What’s quickly becoming apparent is that without the time to recharge, the battle between positive and negative forces is becoming a losing one, so I need to change a few things. I can already feel the retreat from the world in full swing inside my brain and choosing to fall back behind a wall of my own devising is not the way to go.

I’m finding less and less downtime in the cracks and finding that a few minutes here or there isn’t enough to combat the slide. Even a few hours tucked in here or there doesn’t seem to be enough. Sleep isn’t enough because it never has been. And our lives are definitely not slowing down any.

So I just need to figure out how to a) stop the retreat and b) return to a sense of positivity again in a world not predisposed to giving me what I need.

Yay. This adulting thing continues to be a challenge.

The Prisons of Thought We Build for Ourselves

This past Friday, I was doing a workout for the CrossFit Open and found myself saying a number of things I hadn’t heard come out of my mouth for a while. “No more.” “I can’t.” “F*ck this.” All while attempting to squat under a 20 pound medicine ball and thrust it upwards to a 10 foot target. It’s a common movement in crossfit and one I’ve done many times before. But I seriously wanted to quit.

Putting aside any physical discomfort, this is a common problem for me in more than just crossfit. There are many, many boundaries I bump up against that are purely in my brain. I am a creature of comfort. If I’m pushed out of my comfort zone, I really struggle to continue.

Thank goodness for crossfit and the demands of family life or I would be even more of a social hermit than I already am.

I’ll give you an example.

I hate crowds. They are exhausting to me. I’m pretty good at reading the room, both from a strictly neutral observation standpoint and from an emotional one. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say that I’m empathic, but I have used that word before. If I’m in a space with more than 5 or 8 people, it gets difficult because I am bombarded with input.

Sometimes I can center myself enough to enable myself to remain calm in certain situations. A couple of years ago we went to a concert where I was able to sit on the ground with my family, close my eyes, and focus on the music rather than the masses of people that surrounded us. I almost reached a sort of meditative state to where I was able to tune out the world and just listen.

Other times, that’s not an option. I’m a geek and like geek things, but places like Denver Comic Con are completely overwhelming. Even a few hours of wandering through the vendor and art hall, I have to really fight to stay calm.

Honestly both of these reactions are ridiculous and I believe I learned the behavior from my father. He has hated crowds as long as I can remember. Going to places like Elitch’s or Disneyland was not his idea of a good time, so now it’s not mine either. But I’m at a loss with how to combat it.

My response when my wife asks if I want to go somewhere where a crowd is almost immediately no. But I’ve gone to Denver Comic Con a few times now despite it. And by forcing myself to endure those situations, I hope I’m helping myself get over the automatic “NO” response. It certainly doesn’t feel like it’s helping, but hey — at least I’m trying.

Here’s another one of those weird behaviors that is having a detrimental effect on my ability to function day to day. Talking on the phone. I go out of my way to avoid it, actively putting off the simplest of conversations simply because it causes me a great deal of stress.

A few years ago we had some issues with a collections agency. We went through one of those organizations that helps with such things and that was supposed to reduce our stress while resolving the problems. And it did resolve the problems, eventually. But it did not reduce my stress.

I learned to hate the phone during that period of my life. Now I go out of my way to avoid any phone number I don’t recognize. If it’s important, they’ll leave a message. But it doesn’t help the other way. Calling people back. Making simple calls to make appointments. All of this becomes impossible because there’s a huge ball of stress that builds whenever I even contemplate picking up the phone.

We only have one working landline in our house right now and I’m considering killing it. We all have cell phones. Cell phone coverage is good at our house so if we need to dial 911 or anything else, we can do so without needing a landline.

But that doesn’t help me. I still have to pick up my cell phone and make the damn phone call.

It’s the most ludicrous thing ever, but it’s standing in my way to doing certain things. I usually ask my wife to make the calls for me so I don’t have to, but even that is becoming harder and harder because I see the insanity of it all.

So as you can see, I’ve built a lovely little conundrum for myself. I don’t like crowds, so you’d think that a phone call would be a perfect solution. But I can’t make a phone call because I can’t get out of my own way to call someone. I’m becoming a hermit in my own house.

What does all this have to do with the crossfit workout at the beginning of the post? Good question. I think it comes down to the fact that if you say things or do things enough, you start to believe them. “I can’t” will eventually just prevent me from doing those damn wall balls, despite the fact that I can do them. Nothing physically is preventing me from doing them, not really.

Just like nothing is preventing me from picking up the phone and making a damn chiropractic appointment. And yet, I can’t bring myself to do it.

The mind is a powerful tool for defining our own prisons. I just wish I could find the damn key.

I know I’m not alone in this, but damn I’m a bit frustrated.

Effective Workflows in Publishing

No, this is not a normal topic for me but it’s something I’ve recently had to ponder and decided to capture my thoughts about.

I’ve been doing desktop publishing in some form or another for a very long time. I’ve worked with Interleaf, Framemaker, Microsoft Publisher, Microsoft Word, and InDesign. And I even vaguely remember doing physical layout of copy for a class at CSU more than 25 years ago.

Yes, I’m not doing it professionally these days, even with my degree in Technical Journalism and choosing to make my living doing software development instead, but that doesn’t mean that I have stopped. My work through Moebius Adventures, even going back to the mid 1990s, has seen me lay out books of significant page counts (from a handful of pages to over 100) for quite a few projects since I stopped doing it full time.

But working alone, I probably have developed some odd habits over the last 20 years while I’ve done this work.

For instance, I do quite a bit of writing within my desktop publishing software. I don’t recommend this. In fact, I don’t think anybody does. But it’s easier for me to get some text written in Evernote or in a Google Doc and then keep working on the text itself while I am working on layout. This requires that I mix and match concepts from desktop publishers and writing tools from time to time.

I rely heavily on templates, not only for the look and feel of a book, but to help structure the content. Paragraph styles, just like in Google Docs or Microsoft Word, do that nicely. I can consistently apply the same headings, text styles, bullets, and so on, to keep the document structure manageable. And that’s probably one of the reasons why I can get away with editing/writing directly inside InDesign when I go that route.

So I would sum up my process as:

  1. Write some notes
  2. Move notes into new InDesign document
  3. Do layout and writing at the same time in InDeign from that point until completion

Recently however I hired a designer to help update the look and feel for some of our books. First to create a new template and second to actually lay out a new book.

The designer does not have the same goals in mind as I do for the results of this exchange. I mean, sure — the document has to look good in print or online. That is a shared goal and he definitely has an amazing eye for that. But I realized very late in the game that I was not specific enough in what I was expecting out of a template.

We exchanged many e-mails and sample PDFs of how pages would look and when I got the final template I discovered that paragraph styles were not part of his approach to creating templates. Instead he formats everything independently, changing space before and after, adjusting indents, adding elements, and so on. It’s a perfectly acceptable.

It became very obvious that his preferred process is:

  1. Get complete, final, unchanging document for content
  2. Move content into InDesign and do layout
  3. Produce output. Done.

When I receive the “final” documents from the designer, I will have to go through and update them locally with paragraph styles to create a usable, living document and template I can use from that point forward.

This has been a very expensive lesson to learn.  It’s not the designer’s fault. I made an assumption and it’s going to bite me in the butt.

What was the lesson? Be VERY specific when you are paying someone to create something for you, not only in what you want as your deliverables but how you are going to use the deliverables going forward.

Rough week and saying goodbye to a furry friend

Promise I’m not going to bore you with the details, but I definitely want to express a few thoughts about this past week. It wasn’t a good one. We dealt with sick kids, a pet whose time had come, work struggles, and who knows what else. And I came to realize that there is nothing harder than seeing the end of a good thing before it gets there and knowing you can’t do a damn thing about it.

We first met Caliente while we were still in Arizona. We dog-sat for Monika, one of Ev’s vet techs, a few times, and eventually things conspired to where we ended up adopting Callie as our own. That was probably 2003 or 2004. She was a rescue dog — a pit bull mix that I liked to call “the world’s smallest pit bull.” And though she could be dog aggressive at times, she was the sweetest, softest dog you would ever meet. And she would talk to you like no other dog I’ve ever known, with a sweet “roo-roo-roo” that would melt your heart.

It’s impossible to think that I’ve known Callie longer than AJ has been alive. Impossible.

She was a very good dog. Sweet. Sassy. And the queen of the house, for sure.

Over the last 12 or so months, she’s been on the decline. She took some hard tumbles down stairs last year and that was the beginning of the end. Ev did everything she could with medicines, laser pain treatments, we even did acupuncture. And it helped some, now and then, but it didn’t stop the decline.

The last few weeks have been rough. We knew that when it got cold and snowed we were going to see rough times, and that absolutely happened. I began to dread going downstairs in the mornings because I didn’t want to find her not breathing or stuck outside, unable to get back in the house. And the latter thing happened a few times. We had a few snuggle sessions where I had her in my lap wrapped in a blanket in the recliner while we tried to get her warmed back up.

And when we finally had to put her down yesterday, there were a lot of tears. I’m a sensitive guy and am not too proud to say that I cried. Sobbed even.  She will be missed. And there will be more tears before we’re done.

Here’s the thing. When I grew up, we had a cat. Fat City Kitty. She was an indoor/outdoor cat and I think her ghost still probably haunts my childhood home. I knew her at least a decade I think. And I wasn’t home when she passed.  We had other cats growing up too, but I was not there when their time came.

When I started dating Evelyn, I got to know Lobo (a German Shepherd/Mexican Wolf mix) and Dakota (a Corgi/Beagle mix). They were really the first two dogs I got to think of as family. Lobo was a smart dog with a lot of attitude. Dakota was probably one of the best dogs in the world and an amazing navigator in the car. They both passed after we moved to Arizona. And it was sad. But I didn’t know either of them all that long. A handful of years at best. And there were still tears.

Boo and Tigger, our two cats, outlasted both Dakota and Lobo by a long while. And it was hard to say goodbye, especially to the Boo. She was a very good kitty. More tears.

That said, I’ve known Callie forever in pet years. There’s a hole there now. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve come to love our Weimaraner Storm. She’s a good dog too and it will be equally as hard to say goodbye when her time comes. But it’s hard to know these pets for this long  and not take them into your heart.

Callie. I miss you already. And as someone on Facebook pointed out, you’re probably going to be waiting in the hereafter for us wondering what the hell took us so long to get there when we finally do.

I want to hear you “roo-roo” again. 🙁

Some days you realize how far you’ve come

Life likes to test us sometimes, or so it seems. Yet I’m coming to realize that perhaps it’s not what happens to us that’s important, but what we invite into our lives.

When the unexpected happens, I sometimes rail against it like a living thing. Nothing today went according to plan, from the moment I woke up to the time I’m getting ready for bed. And that’s ok.

It was ok.

That statement simply acknowledging that change happened is a huge step forward for me. Used to be I would freak out at the smallest deviation. Today, to use a football term, I “called an audible” at 6am and it changed the order of the day. Ev made some calls, I reached out and changed my schedule a bit, and the world didn’t end.

Go figure.

Later in the day, I resisted another change. Why? No good reason I could fathom when I sat to think on it a bit. So I called another audible, changed my plan, and adapted.

Towards the end of my day I got into what essentially was an argument about nothing about one of the game projects I’m working on. I didn’t get the response I was looking for and got more and more walled up. I asked for one thing and got sarcasm and grief instead.

So I did the only thing I could do. I backed off, said I’d check in with them tomorrow, and let it go. Even just a month ago I might have stormed off, slammed a door, walked for hours… who knows.

Right now though I’m wondering at why I’ve seen this change today. It’s not because I’m better at “adulting” – that’s for sure. Even before today I was always pretty calm on the outside. I only get rattled when there’s a lot of people around or confrontation of some sort. Is it possible to become even more calm?

My goal these days is to simply be a better me. And that varies day to day. I’m trying many things at once and find that of everything I do, writing is the simplest part of my day. Whether I’m writing for work, for a game, or writing something for someone else, it usually flows better than any other activity I attempt.

Perhaps some of that flow is spilling into other aspects of my life. One can only hope.

Namaste.

The Challenge of Unmet Expectations

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been at war with my own perception of how the universe should work. Usually I get an idea in my head and my idea of how something should work and how it actually works in the real world are rarely in sync. And when I get my hopes up, that’s the worst.

Today was one of those types of events.

Since the mid-1990s, I’ve been part of a publishing effort under the name of Moebius Adventures. We have gone through three separate iterations over the years: the 1990s, the mid 2000s in 2006/2007, and the most recent run starting in 2012/2013. If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out our website at MoebiusAdventures.com.

2016 was a great year for us and 2017 has been off to a bit of a rocky start. Today we were supposed to run a game for a group of playtesters at our favorite local game store. Yesterday I spent about 4 hours pulling everything together, getting in the right frame of mind to run a game, and today when we showed up… nobody came.

Let me start by saying that this is not the fault of our FLGS.

Over the last couple of weeks, I shouted into the void on social media — Facebook and Google+ — and mentioned it to a few friends. Obviously nobody was interested or had time. And that’s not their fault either.

The lesson here is that I need to figure out another way to get playtesters to the game table. That’s it in a nutshell.

But here’s the thing. It took the wind out of my sails in a way I wasn’t quite prepared for.

It’s not like it took long to realize that today wasn’t going to happen. I’d even mentioned it to AJ (my youngest daughter), who was there to help. We were going to give it 30 minutes and then head out. I think we gave it 20 and that was it. The writing was on the wall.

On the way out, I began feeling very, very tired. It was like I had just done an hour-long workout and my body needed time to recover. We went home, took care of a few things, went to lunch, and then I took a nap for about 90 minutes.

That’s unusual for me. I may like down for 10-20 minutes now or then, but 90 minutes of crash time is strange.  I believe this was a symptom of the difference between my inner perception and what actually occurred in reality.

In the past, I have reacted differently. When I realized that the Moebius Adventures Core Rules book was a failure at the game table after a playtest session, I retreated from publishing for TWO YEARS before I was ready to start again. And when I did start, I wrote reviews of other peoples’ materials through Game Knight Reviews. I did that from 2009 to 2012 when I started working on the first One Spot for the rebooted Moebius Adventures in the fall of 2012.  That was nearly a five year break between “failing” in 2007 and starting again in 2012.

My goal is not to retreat this time, but to learn from what happened and move on in an intelligent manner. 🙂

I think that’s a better way to go, don’t you?

Beating Myself Up

I thought about titling this one “The Art of Self-Flagellation” but I kept thinking of the character Silas from the Da Vinci Code and decided maybe it wasn’t a good comparison. You may disagree when I’m done.

Nobody is better at tearing me down than I am. Years and years of practice attempting to control the world around me through willpower. We all know how that goes. Ultimately I can control exactly one thing… me. And sometimes even that’s a challenge I’m not up to.

Today I am dealing with a few extenuating circumstances that led to an unsettled mental state:

  • Going on a week-long business trip. (Always stresses me out.)
  • Not sleeping well. (May have squeaked out 3 or 4 hours last night if I was lucky.)
  • Haven’t been eating well (less healthy than usual) or drinking enough water.
  • Drinking too much alcohol. (One, sometimes two drinks a night, which is unusual.)
  • Coming down with a cold on the eve of my trip.

All of these have led to less-than-stellar performance when I go to the CrossFit box. (No, I’m not going to talk about CrossFit here – if you want to know about my CrossFit experience I’d direct you to my CrossFitz blog.) And usually I just try to keep a positive attitude, do what I can do, and chug through it.

Today I quit during a workout. Could I have continued? Probably. I would have been slow as molasses and was having issues breathing right, but I probably would have finished after about 18 minutes or so.

Man Shouting Through Megaphone

The quitting is what is eating me alive now.

  • I walked out of the box after cleaning my equipment. I simply didn’t want to have to interact with anybody and explain why I had done so poorly.
  • I let myself down because I know I should have done better.
  • I took a protein recovery shake (a post-workout ritual) with me and decided I didn’t deserve it due to my poor performance.
  • I swore a lot during the workout and afterwards.
  • I decided that I really don’t deserve to eat lunch because of my poor performance either.
  • I’m upset as well with the fact that this is probably the last workout I’ll get in before I go on my trip, which means I’ll leave on a failure.

None of this is healthy. The critic is running rampant. And I need to let it go.

A healthy response would have been:

  • Accept that I wasn’t feeling up to snuff and bailed early on the workout.
  • Accept that I get a DNF (Did Not Finish) today and that it’s still better than DNS (Did Not Start).
  • Accept the minor victory that I accomplished a 2:09 400m run.
  • Challenge myself to do better next time.

I have finished Helen before. I will finish it again. Today was just not my day.

Or, as my Dad puts it: “Get mad, get glad, get on with yourself.”

Yes sir. I’m trying. Failing, but trying.

A little more self-compassion would be good. Just a little.

Art is Art. People are People

Lately it’s become very difficult to breathe in the space where many folks seem to think that everything must be polarized. You are either THIS or THAT. There is no in-between.

The world doesn’t work this way. We must find middle ground.

I’m going to come right out and say that’s a bunch of bullshit.

Yes, I said it. You’re entitled to your opinion, but I’m just as entitled not to share it. And that doesn’t make you wrong and me right. Let’s agree to disagree, remain civil, and compromise on the important issues. Without middle ground, we’re never going to move on and make the world a better place.

That said, let’s talk about one of the elephants in the room that sometimes causes people difficulty. Interpreting art.

Wait, what? How did we go from polarized opinions to art?

Art, in my opinion, is essentially a product. It exists in a particular moment of time, created by one or more individuals, and captured in a particular medium. A painting. A performance. A story. Whatever it is, the artist creates a single thing for one audience or a million audiences.

So let me clear this up. If I like your art, I’m going to say so. If I don’t like your art, I may not say so unless I feel strongly enough about it to say so.

But I don’t care if you (the artist) are black, white, or brown. I don’t care if you (the artist) are Christian, Islamic, Agnostic, Atheistic, or worship the Great Spaghetti Monster. I don’t care if you (the artist) are gay, straight, or asexual. I don’t care if you (the artist) are a native, an import, or an alien from another world.

Your art stands alone. And I may like one piece, but not another. That’s the great thing about art. We all come to it with our own baggage as an audience. No two people have the same experience with art. You and I may both like a piece for wildly different reasons.

And that’s AWESOME. Check out this quote from Selma Hayek:

I don’t expect you to share my opinion on a particular movie, book, song, image, or whatever. I would encourage you to share your own opinions. Let’s compare notes. Maybe I’ll come to see things your way.

After all, I am entitled to my opinion, but that doesn’t make me right. It may be right for me at this moment in time where I am in my own personal journey. That doesn’t mean that my opinion can’t change with further reflection, experience, and discussion.

But here’s the thing. If I like your art, it doesn’t mean that I automatically like you (the artist). And vice versa if I don’t like your art, that doesn’t mean that I don’t like you. Like most things in life, it’s not that cut and dried. Context matters.

So… as I say in the title for this post. Art is art. People are people.

And opinions are opinions. Everyone has one.

In the end, all we can hope for is respect. Respect the art. Respect the artist. And respect the audience. The only part of that equation that doesn’t have an opinion of its own is the art. It simply is.

But remember that I can respectfully disagree and that is not a bad thing. It’s a conversation starter. We may agree to disagree at the end of that discussion, but I hope that we respect one another regardless of whether either of us changed our opinion.

We all can get along with respect. I’m convinced of that. I have hope that you do too.

In the meantime, let’s enjoy the art. 🙂

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