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Steal Like An Artist

My good friend Elbert gifted me with 2 books today: STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST and SHOW YOUR WORK! both by Austin Kleon. I started reading STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST first, which is a book written by an artist with the intention of giving advice to his past self. I really resonated with his belief that nothing is really “original” in this world – everything is merely stolen and adapted from previous concepts/ideas. True authentic art, or any ideas for that matter, are stolen from inspiring work and made better or different. I liked this passage the most:

First, you have to figure out who to copy. Second, you have to figure out what to copy.

Who to copy is easy. You copy your heroes – the people you love, the people you’re inspired by, the people you want to be.

What to copy is a little bit trickier. Don’t just steal style, steal the thinking behind the style. You don’t want to look like your heroes, you want to see like your heroes.

The reason to copy your heroes and their style is so that  you might somehow get a glimpse into their minds. That’s what you really want – to internalize their way of looking at the world. If you just mimic the surface of somebody’s work without understanding where they are coming from, your work will never be more than a knockoff.

 

 

This is not who you are

I’m re-reading the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne which I’ve probably collectively read and watched the documentary over 10 times in my life. It’s transformed my life for personal reasons and was shared with me by a dear friend years ago who’s no longer alive. But I started re-reading it again out of the blue and you always learn something new when re-visiting a book. I like the following passage on your current self being a collection of your past thoughts and that you can always change yourself if you choose.

Most people look at their current state of affairs and they say, “This is who I am.” That’s not who you are. That’s who you were. Let’s say for instance that you don’t have enough money in your bank account, or you don’t have the relationship that you want, or your health and fitness aren’t up to par. That’s not who you are; that’s the residual outcome of your past thoughts and actions. So we’re constantly living in this residual, if you will, of the thoughts and actions we’ve taken in the past. When you look at your current state of affairs and define yourself by that, then you doom yourself to have nothing more than the same in the future.

 

“All that we are is a result of what we have thought.”
– Buddha

On Being Alive

Yesterday, I drank a cup of coffee way too late into the evening and found myself a little restless as I was trying to fall asleep. I could feel my heart beating, and it was beating fast and hard. I was just in my bed, wrapped by the darkness of my room, quietly listening to my heart beat. And then I had a thought as I was listening to my heart:

“What if this heart stops beating and I don’t wake up tomorrow?”

Of course that’s a dramatic thought and I didn’t actually think I was going to die, but just observing and listening to my heart beat and knowing that it’s been beating since I was born without missing a BEAT like a true solider..  it made me think about how precious life is. If this heart of mine stops beating, it’s all over. And is tomorrow really guaranteed? It was a beautiful realization I had, and I really felt like it was a blessing to wake up this morning and see the sun shine through my windows.

I was reading the book Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris yesterday and there was a question posed in the book:

“What are some of the choices you’ve made that made you who you are?”

The book interviews a lot of extremely successful people in different fields, so this question was posed to these people to figure out what lead to their success. However, I thought about it and posed it back to myself – what are the choices I’ve made in my past that have lead me exactly at where I am right now? And taking it a step further, what are the choices I CAN and WILL make that will allow me to BECOME the person I will be? When I thought about that, that was an extremely powerful question. Because through the book Conversations with God, there is one concept that keeps repeating itself through the entire series – that life is a process of creation, not a process of discovery.

We’re not here to find something that we’ve been searching for. We’re meant to create whoever we want to be, and we’re creating ourselves in every second of our lives. Literally every choice you make is an expression of who you think you want to be. But the beautiful thing the book mentions is that if you don’t like what you have created, choose something else and create again. It sounds overly simplified, but it’s a fact that we’ve created ourselves to be who we are right now. For most of us, it was probably an unconscious act of creation. But we always have the power to create ourselves and choose again. I think that’s the beautiful thing about life – yes, life is hard and it’s harder for some than it is for others, but each of us is given the power of creation. And creation is not about what you’re doing but it’s about what you’re being while you’re doing. For example, it doesn’t matter that you’re a billionaire CEO if you’re not being happy, fulfilled, inspired, and driven. I think that’s what is meant by creating yourself – not the lifestyle you want or the things you want to have, but the highest state of being and feeling you can achieve in this life. Another beautiful thing is that all of us have different preferences and desires so maybe it IS that having a certain lifestyle and getting a bunch of things will make you reach that state. But it’s never the opposite way around.

Appreciate the fact that your heart is beating right now and even for just today, we can choose to create a beautiful day for ourselves.

“Life doesn’t happen in any other way than that in which we think it will.”