There are many days that I wish I was artistic. I believe that I would be happy if I could play the guitar, but my feeble attempts at learning were ultimately squashed when my younger brother got a guitar and was playing more in 3 hours then I had been able to in 3 years. When I look at people who can draw out emotion in others through painting or design, I am easily impressed because bringing ideas to life through visual creations is something I can not do.
I have wanted to be Donavon Frankenreiter for the past ten years. The idea of having a soulful voice, a spirited and passionate presence that allows me to inspire others, just doing what I love to do. And to be in a place that is not “super star” celebrity, where maybe walking done the street doesn’t require getting stopped by fans or paparazzi when I want some ice cream, or a beer. I believe some of these ideas and thoughts on what a life would be like as an artist are inspired by the documentary, Thicker than Water. I have watched it too many times to count, but it definitely created the illusion that life can be all about living passionately.
Somewhere along the way, most likely at the moment of conception, because I always recall being this way, I developed an analytical mind. It does not carry me through life to a musical soundtrack, it pulls me through the day to day structured in excel rows and evaluation charts. Emotions are generated based upon how “on track” life is. I often worry that I am not analytical enough, I am a faker, an impostor that wants to be logical. I know many others that would shudder at the lack of analytical ability I possess. That is my perception.
The tendency to over think, over analyze and the need to keep the train on a well constructed track which leads to a place that I believe I want to go, does not lend itself well to encouraging artist. I do not think it does anyway, because I have never really known what it means to be an artist, so let’s just say it is not ideal to inspire creativity. The numbers and planning requires a different side of the brain, compared to what it takes to paint a landscape or play a piece of bluegrass on the banjo.
Despite my natural tendency, or maybe because of it, there is always a longing to find ways to be more creative. It just seems like a wonderful way to increase the senses and experience life in general.
For me, this has always been writing. I have wanted to sit down and write something, for as long as I can remember. There is part of me that loves to write because it allows me to express things that I couldn’t in any other way. I believe that I am a good communicator. I know that I enjoy speaking to groups and teaching others. But, I often find myself stuck when it comes to communicating things that involve anything emotionally charged.
There is a general perception of being a man, where I grew up, that expressing emotion is not exactly done publicly. This could be a perception I created myself as I looked at those men I viewed as models of ideal behavior. They worked hard. They fixed things when broken. They competed in business and in sport. They helped teach younger men how to do all these things. They did not sit down and indulge themselves for hours writing a story or poem. If they were painting, it was either to paint a house or done in their spare time, which they didn’t have. They did not cry in public. And the idea seemed to be that emotion was best dampened, so as to never have too many highs or lows. The one exception might be expressing anger, which was ok at times, especially if it involved sports and specifically the Huskers.
This perception I had, made me mostly hide the writing I did. I remember being outside at a young age and not running, but taking a notepad and writing. I do not recall what types of things I wrote, but when I got home I would often throw it in the trash. My personality is one that trends to lots of emotion, with plenty of crying. I learned at a fairly young age, that being emotional on paper was easier to do and much easier to hide.
We had a burn barrel outside our house and it was often a chore of mine to take out the garbage. Once I was old enough, I would also be asked to start the fire. I can not imagine the amount of papers, journals and notes that lay in ashes at the bottom of that barrel. By now, those ashes have probably blown all across the central plains and Sandhills of Nebraska. I guess, in a way, it has allowed me to share all my fears, dreams, sadness and happiness I had as a young person. Those things are best left there then sitting in a basement or closet somewhere.
The first time I learned that writing and communicating through writing had power was my Junior year of high
school. My parents were moving to a new town to keep a business growing. While only a few hours away, as a person getting ready for their senior year of high school, it might as well been across the world. After a period of time, it was a letter I wrote that prompted change. It was a letter to my parents that ultimately gave me the ability to choose for myself what I would do. Initially, I chose to stay and lived with a great family and friend. That summer I decided it was best to move and I spent my senior year, in a new school, trying to make new friends. It was a great decision for my long term development. But, it was that letter that enabled me to go from having no input into the decision, to being given a choice. It was the first experience I had that provided an example that writing could be powerful enough to change other’s decisions and perceptions. To change reality.
It was during my senior year that I was exposed to Dylan Thomas. He was the focus of a project I did for English class. The project probably was not done well and I likely didn’t get a good grade, as by comparison to my new classmates, I was not a great student. Though, I remember reading most of Thomas’ writings that year and somehow related to his message. Most people remember Thomas as the author of “Do not go gentle into that good night”, as it is performed by Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society. I read about his life and saw a young man that struggled with life in general and in so many way, whom died a death too young. It was Dylan Thomas that inspired me to increase the amount of poetry I wrote.
At some point, the art of writing stopped for me. It was less about being creative and more about getting eyeballs. It was less aligned with a desire to be like Donavon Frankenreiter and more of an effort to increase the number of coaching clients I had. It was less expression and more business. It became about numbers.
In a very similar way that I allowed running to be something I did for others, I allowed writing to become less personal and all about production. It was no longer an outlet for creativity. It was no longer a way to put in the daily effort to establish some use of my brain that is not numbers and charts. For the most part, I lost the desire to write.
Over the past year, I have started to find that desire to create again. I first read James Altucher’s book and his implementation of the “daily practice”. He also discusses the need to practice regularly to get any impact and development of your writing. It sounded very similar to what I tell runners. Sometimes the best advice is that you just need to do it and forget the rules, forget the details and just do something. I then read “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield, with a very similar message. Although he very specifically identifies the writer’s nemesis as “Resistance”.
So I have been following their lead. I know I love to write. I am happy when I’m writing. Therefore on a nearly daily basis (there are days I don’t, but I do have a good daily routine currently) I sit down at my laptop, turn on Scrivener and start typing. There are days I have a purpose.
Then there are other days, such as today that I sit down and write and realize that I’m writing just because it makes me happy.