Words in My Head

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Tag: people

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. 🙂

Positivity and a Negative Mind

There’s a weird dichotomy when I look at the world from my point of view. I’m not the most positive guy in the world, really, but I find myself trying to help others look at the bright side of things more often than not. And it seems that perhaps that approach has rewired my brain a bit over the last few years.

But what do I mean by that? Let’s start with a baseline.

A Few Things About Me

If you talk to my family, they’ll tell you a few things about me.

Change is Hard

First, I don’t like change. As a result, they often had to give me advance warning (at least 15-30 minutes) before it was time to go anywhere, especially when I was doing something like reading and lost in my own head. If you try and change plans at the last minute, I get very cranky.

Second, I don’t like confrontation and will go to ludicrous extremes to avoid it. I think this goes back to my issues with change.

That said, if you do something to harm my family or friends, I can be a bull in a china shop. I may avoid confrontation, but I will maul you like a bear if you do anything to mess with my family. And family goes much deeper than blood.

Third, I don’t like interacting with people I don’t know. Or people in general. I love interacting with individuals or even small groups, but crowds are exhausting. And even dealing with people on the phone is exhausting.

If I can text you, e-mail you, or send you a chat message via Facebook or some other site, I’m there. It gives me a chance to consider my words.

The Changes

Over the last 17 years, I’ve had one very large factor for change in my life. My wife. She’s a force of nature and very impulsive. My resistance to change has been worn down out of necessity. She’s been good for me in that respect.

Having children has also forced me to deal with most of those issues I deal with all the time. Sometimes I just have to get out of my comfort zone and deal with things I don’t want to. And that’s been good for me as well.

And then there’s CrossFit, which has given me a ton more confidence in my own abilities.

I still don’t like change, confrontation, or people, but I think overall I’ve improved by leaps and bounds over where I was before I was married and had kids.

It used to be that the world conspired against me and I’d get angry about it. I had a picture in my head of how things were going to go, and they rarely went that way, which would make me less and less willing to make plans in the future.

Now, if I have a little time to get my mind right, I can leave enough room for change to not throw me off as badly. I still have to prep for it, but if I know that we don’t have a set plan and we just figure things out as we go.

But where does the positivity come in?

Helping Others

I listen and I watch. Pretty much I’m a passive observer in much of my own life. And when people talk to me, sometimes I have advice. Sometimes I don’t and the mere act of listening is enough. But usually I can make a suggestion or relate something I’ve experienced, read, or heard, and I have hope that sometimes that makes things better. I try to help when I can, even if it’s just offering encouragement.

That said, with CrossFit I have begun working on myself. I feel like until I started CrossFit, I was locked into the physical awkwardness of a 12-year old boy. Over the last 4 years, I’ve at least progressed to maybe age 13 or 14. 🙂 But I have plenty left to work on. It’s like relearning how to do the most basic things all over again, and it’s deeply humbling.

And I hope that my work ethic serves as an example to others. If I can do some of this stuff as an awkward, out of shape, 40 something, geek, then anybody can. I’m still amazed when I do simple things like kick up on the wall and do a handstand push-up. Who have I become? Or, better yet, who am I becoming?

Heck if I know, but I’m enjoying the ride — and that in and of itself is amazing to me.

Helping Myself

Beyond that, I find myself approaching the world with a cautious optimism and trying to accept things as they come. I can only control one thing – me. That has to be enough.

These days if I need something done, I try to take the time to do it while I’m thinking about it. That avoids any awkwardness with asking someone else to do it only to have them forget. Doing it gets it out of the way.

That doesn’t mean I don’t still procrastinate or put things off indefinitely. But that’s not on anybody else but me.

And because I’ve helped others, some of those folks are now helping me by offering encouragement and advice. Sometimes I even accept it. 🙂

Conclusions?

Quite honestly, 2016 was a pretty good year for me and I hope that 2017 continues the trend.

It’s taken a long time to get to the point where I can try treating myself as well as I treat others. Accepting my faults is a big part of that because it means I can address them better.

Now we just work on everything a day at a time.

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