2015 was an interesting experiment in goal setting. It was more about focus and theme vs specific goals. However, I did have one specific mandate for my business and that was profit. Yes, part of my ‘theme’ for the year, but it was a very pointed and specific goal. I actually hired a business coach and stopped trying to just have my business partner and I try to figure things out. We also worked on brining in strategic partners and that made a difference as well.
It was a success. And I’m stupendously happy about that aspect.
Not that I want to put a damper on success, but certain personal troubles occurred specifically around automobiles. Some good. Some bad. Lost a car. Got a car. Lost a car. Got a car. Very odd and unexpected all scenarios.
But even more than that, I started hearing phrases that started rubbing me the wrong way. Why? Did they raise doubts in my own goals and convictions?
Yes, they did.
- “I would never want to be a millionaire.”
- “I wouldn’t want to have a company that big.”
- “All big companies are just greedy and taking advantage of the common Joe.”
The first thought that popped into my head has been, “WHY NOT?”
Why WOULDN’T you want to be a millionaire, have a big company, and are you sure that big companies are greedy? Or is it that you don’t understand business? Do you feel it’s better and more noble to serve people in a soup line and look them in the eyes or to be a business owner who has managed to make money enough to pay for hundreds of meals for those same people?
We bitch and moan about corporations like Walmart and others and still go shop there for the low prices. What a bunch of hypocrites! Now…those that complain and don’t shop, bravo!
The fact is we live in a capitalist Republic that runs on money. Play the game or get out. And while I agree it’s not the most just system, with a little effort you can make changes that work. Until we figure out a way to move to a resource based economy posited by The Venus Project, these are the rules we have to play within.
But I digress, as usual.
We give ribbons for participation these days. I say find ways to question, think differently, challenge the status quo, and learn from past successes and failures. In 1984, I was picked as one of top ten seniors who the faculty believed would go on to do great things. Have I?
As I hit level 50 in a few weeks, this is the question I keep coming back to. What have I done to make people’s lives better? What have I done to help others. How have I made a dent in the Universe?
So, my theme for this year when offered big opportunities is simply…
Play big or go home.
Can I sustain? I have no idea.
Can I help everyone I want to? Probably not.
But if I don’t try, I know I won’t.
I should really have shared more creative connections since October of 2014 when I posted my first connection, but… Cie la vie!
Creative Connection 0002: Why People ‘snap’ so much in the USA.
Oh, sure, there is violence and craziness everywhere in the world. I won’t disagree. But today I saw a connection that our craziness is due to the fact that we have created a society of antagonistic living.
What do I mean by “Antagonistic living?” I mean we are bombarded by conflicting messages telling us what is good and right, what is fun and adventurous, what is achievable and imaginable, followed by how each can be bad and wrong.
- Ads for dieting and ads for ‘lobster fest’ back to back.
- Work hard or you are a loser. Live life to the fullest or you’re a loser.
- Sex is bad. Sex is awesome.
- Religion makes you feel great to be part of something bigger. Religion tells you are born in sin.
- Buy our cigarettes. FDA says, “Learn the real cost of smoking.”
- Love one another. Hate people who are different than us.
- “Why’d he hit me, momma?” “Oh, that little boy probably likes you is all.” “Why does my husband beat me?”
- Rich people are evil. Please donate to our cause so we can help others.
I could go on and on, but it’s these same things make me feel crazy as well.
But I’ve been told, nothing can MAKE you feel anything. It’s the way I interpret these events.
Well…I feel crazy…sometimes.
How about you?
As I walk in nature, I often come across an abandoned camp site or a pile of stacked stones and I think about the people who had been there before me and left traces behind from their visit. Granted, the hiking trail is a constant reminder of years of use and people leaving impressions behind and I am aware of this too.I heard someone talk about the story and adventures of Gilgamesh the other day
Readers may know that mythology is an interest of mine as well as lost civilizations. There are so many traces of civilizations that have fallen, disappeared and been rediscovered, that last week alone saw at least three major discoveries of the ancient world. Tombs. Temples. Caverns. While some people go out and shout “Ancient aliens must have built these things!” I personally believe we are smart, creative and tenacious enough to do some pretty amazing things on our own.
How Long Does It Take to Lose a Civilization?
I was fascinated by a show called Life After People, a few years back, that explored how our modern civilization would fair over 10,000 years if we all vanished. To see a major collapse of buildings and bridges after two hundred years was stunning. To see how many things vanished over 2,000 was amazing. And to see how only the largest structures would still be seen after 10,000 was humbling. Nothing, save the Hoover dam, the great wall of China and the Pyramids would be recognizable. Nature is pretty persistent.
Recently, I heard someone talk about the story and adventures of Gilgamesh. They said that Gilgamesh was searching for immortality, although I haven’t been able to confirm this. The speaker was saying how that he ended up achieving a kind of immortality as his story has been passed down for thousands of years and continues on today. Gilgamesh, according to an entry in Wikipedia, was an actual historic figure as a king of Uruk, Mesopotamia, around 2800 and 2500 BC. But he is also the main character (two-thirds god and one-third human) in a Mesopotamian poem titled the Epic of Gilgamesh. It is considered the first great work of literature.
We are constantly finding more ancient sites ranging back 11,000-12,000 years or more. We were supposed to be simple farmers and nomads, but archeologists are finding full ruins buried beneath sand and dirt. Golbekli Tepe is one such site. More are being found in Peru and across the globe.
Geologist Dr. Robert Schoch (mentioned often on this blog), dated the Sphinx at 10,000+ years. A striking contradiction to the 4-5,000 years that Egyptian historians stick to as it’s age.
But why does it matter what we leave behind?
What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.
~ Pericles (495 BC-429 BC)
As I approach a half-century mark in years, I think about what I’m leaving behind. For a while, people were trying to convince me that we shouldn’t leave anything behind. Zero Carbon Footprint was a movement going around. It honestly pissed me off. I was born here and have a right to live. And while I tried to build more than destroy, the movement was almost saying that I shouldn’t exist because I was destroying the Earth. I have calmed down. I understand the goal. But I refuse to shrink.
Why does it matter so much about what we leave behind? For me, it’s easy. While the Ancient Greeks would ask about someone who passed away the question “Did they live with passion?” I think what I wonder most about is, “Did I make a difference?”
That is probably the biggest thing I think about looking back on my days is “Did I matter?” In the grand scheme of things, did my existence help, hinder or do nothing for our planet and the universe?
Now, many readers may say, “Huber, you’ve got many many years to go! Why so glum?”
Luckily, I am not glum at all. Rather, I want to consider that the next half of my life (should I be so luckily) is even better and more meaningful than what has come before.
Words, actions, and how you affect the world around you by your actions seem to last much longer than buildings (with a few exceptions from antiquity). I have discovered that I have helped many people in my life and didn’t even know it. I remember when I was growing up, unsure about my place in the universe or what God might have in store for me, I would often say, “God, I know you put me here for a reason that may not be anything more than to help someone across the street some day in the future, but would it be okay if I could stay around a little longer afterwards and explore and play?”
I’m not sure if I’ve done what I’ve come here to do yet. I have some new ideas. In the long run, whether we only leave behind footprints in the sand that are washed away by the tides of time or we create or inspire epics of song, story or poetry to be written that echo through millennia, we should share our gifts with others. Whatever talent, love or passion you have, do that as much as you can and you will end up weaving your essence into the lives of others and ripple outward and forward in time.
(This article was written in January 2015. See Author’s note at the end for a new additional perspective)
In 2016, Star Trek and I will hit the half-century mark. That’s right, 50 years young. Whether it was because my parents watched it, or I just was amazed by the show as a kid, I have been a long time fan. Or dare I say, a Trekkie?
But since 1994, the year marking the end of Star Trek: The Next Generations and the film Star Trek: Generations, I have noticed one simple thing that has killed the franchise for me: Hope.
When I watched the Original Series with Captain Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Sulu, Chekov, and Uhura (and all the other cast members of their three year run), I saw a mix of all the races of Earth PLUS a complete alien all working together to explore, solve problems and so much more. My main message I carry with me today is that we are all more alike than different.
Klingons were the evil Mongols and dark skinned…different than the rest. They craved war and battle and glory. The crew came in peace. While the episodes with the Klingons didn’t always have everyone seeing eye-to-eye, there was often a truce, or some understanding. The Romulans, unseen for a century at the time of the episode Balance of Terror, ended up being just like Spock. The crew battles their own biases and fears of being infiltrated, much as it was believed that Russians had infiltrated the United States with sleeper cells. In the end, we find that the Romulans are fierce and dogmatically loyal and end up following orders to the death.
I could go on and on about how much this goofy show inspired me to find peace, try new things, and… of course try to be suave and get lots of women like Captain James T. Kirk did.
The Darkness Descends
From the spin off series of Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, and all the movies – ESPECIALLY THE REBOOT – focuses on war, darkness and a dark future. Oh sure, the very last scene of each movie is upbeat – “Hey, we made it out alive and all together. Let’s go see what else we can discover.”
You mean, “Let’s see who else is going to try to kill us in the galaxy?”
I won’t go into too much detail, and I’m always up for interesting twists on a classic, but I got a bit irritated with the whole Wrath of Khan…errr…Star Trek into Darkness… sequel… twist… geez… a remake of a sequel based on an episode. And here is where I will flat out show how the new reboot abandons the entire theme of Star Trek.
Fans know the episode. The Enterprise finds a derelict ship and discovers it is a lost ship housing genetic super humans from Earth’s past in suspended animation. They escaped Earth as the planet turned against them. They were the worst of the worst. And their leader was Khan Nooian Singh, the worst of them all, and played wonderfully by Ricardo Montalban.
Khan, being the bad guy, takes over and then orders Kirk’s death and is on his way to kill them all. Of course, Kirk gains control and retakes the ship after a fierce battle in engineering with Kahn. Or at least Montalban’s and Shatner’s obvious stunt double fight.
In the end, does Kirk drop the final blow killing Khan? Does he push him out an airlock? Does he put him back into suspended animation?
NO! He drops Khan and all his people on an uninhabited world to conquer on their own.
Star Trek the Wrath of Khan
Now, I loved this movie more than just about all of the movies except Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country. And there is nothing like the finally where Kirk beats yet another ‘no win scenario.’ But in the end of the film, does Kirk blast Khan out of the sky into space dust? NO! He offers to beam him and survivors to the Enterprise.
Cut to the first reboot film where Kirk and Spock face Nero and say, “We’re ready to beam you over and lend assistance.” When Nero says he’d rather die a thousand deaths, Kirk says, “So be it.” AND BLOWS THEM UP AND KILLS THEM.
And cutting to the horrid Into Darkness movie… I just have to shake my head. I… don’t… care… about… Sherlock, err… Khan… now a bleached out, blue-eyed sociopath who is (let me break out the tissue) just protecting his ‘family.’ Don’t get me started on the super blood. Now, Kirk does work with him for a bit and then immediately stuns him into submission. And the end of the film? After the ‘amazing’ twist that Kirk and Spock trade places compared to the end of the original movie? With a logical Vulcan going absolute ape sh*t crazy beating Khan to death? And after that? They put him back into suspended animation.
We end the movies with a dark vision of the Federation. Kirk standing up in the wreckage, talking about ‘there will always people who wish us harm,’ a funeral, the tones of the uniforms are all dull gray, deep shadows, and empty Enterprise before finally showing a little light at the end before relaunching once again on the ‘Five Year Mission.’
Bring Back the Hope!
That was NOT a reference to Star Wars, by the way.
I want to see adventures, explorations, new life forms, battles that lead to understanding, and… yes… more Orion Slave Women.* Star Trek: Enterprise gave a really interesting twist to THAT whole race in space. I actually liked parts of Enterprise, but they too took on a super dark militarized version of Star Trek… and it was supposed to take place before the original series.
Anyway, this was more of a rant. I’m just ready for some uplifting adventures. Adventures where the villain isn’t so evil that he/she can’t seek redemption and understanding, they aren’t killed at the end of the movie, and, hopefully, they can appear again later.
And that brings me to what got me started on this.
There have been many fan made ‘episodes’ and films. Due to Paramount ownership, they cannot sell the productions or make money, but so far, they’ve been given leeway. Some of those films, like Star Trek of Gods and Heroes was another dark spin as were some other ones I’ve seen.
But today, I discovered a group who has gone back and meticulously recreated the sets, lighting, sounds and even has James Doohan’s (Scotty) son playing Scotty. I’ve only watched part of one of three they’ve created, and after I got used to the fact that the actors are all different, I really like it.
But the bonus is that there are characters from the original series that pop up, Star Trek actors like Martina Sirtis from TNG, and a guest appearance by Jamie Bamber of BSG!
(Author’s Note 2017: Star Trek Continues has seven great episodes available with even more guest stars.
I’m hoping the show ends with an upbeat message. We need to return to the original Rodenberry message of hope. And, yes, I know they were campy, sexist, and probably racist, but they were ahead of their time when they first came out.
Here’s to a bright future, and to being realistic of where we are and hoping for the best. And let’s see if we can all beat a ‘no win scenario’ together.
* Author’s Note: January 2017
It’s been two years since I wrote this article. With the announcement of a new Star Trek: Discovery television show, Paramount/CBS changed their stand on allowing fan fiction and set up guidelines. Some groups have gone to court over the changes. In the end, intellectual property is owned by someone. An entity or person can allow it, or not. But the vision of the future that Star Trek offered to me, was always one where we all got over our differences and became a race of exploration, collaboration, and more.
Orion Slave Women.
Half kidding around, and half not kidding around. As a white kid in the 70s watching Star Trek reruns, I didn’t understand slavery. Much like the “Slave Leia” phenomena (a movement to call her “Hutt Slayer Leia” is on the rise), I never really thought about the reality of actual slavery or even what sex was, at the time. As mentioned above, Star Trek Enterprise put a different spin on the Orions and who was actually the slave. Star Trek Continues brought the reality of sex slaves, human trafficking, and the psychological toll it really has on those sold and trapped in slavery. Wrap a story around an issue with characters we love who struggle with issues just as we do and then have them take a stand? That, my friends, is Star Trek.
Star Trek Beyond.
And one last note, besides the utterly ridiculous method of destroying the drones (no human or alien was harmed in this mass destruction of beings), and a slight rehashing of the plot to Star Trek Insurrection, I liked the movie. And the motorcycle stunts! Just like classic Kirk who…oh wait. That never happened in Star Trek TOS.
As part of my ‘beginning of the year’ reflection and goals, I really wanted to get back to my core strengths and passions. It’s pretty easy to pinpoint, actually. I love creating. And this isn’t in just one area.
- Designs for print and web
We’re ALL creative in one way or another. Some of us can write epics of adventure and the next person can create poetry from computer code. We all have the ability to creatively find solutions. Many people don’t believe they have an ounce of creativity within them, but they are wrong. Creativity comes when you have experience in an area and can come up with solutions. From making clothes and meals to fixing cars and building bridges. “I just used a pattern I found.” Uh…yeah…but you can use a sewing machine and I can’t. “Oh, but anyone can learn.” Yeah…but they don’t. YOU did.
I have a tendency of citing sources in my writing to let you know I’ve done my research before spouting information like in the paragraph above, but that is one thing I’m letting go of this year. If you don’t believe me, that’s fine. If you find different research disputing my information, that’s fine too. Why is that okay? Because we create our lives and our realities every day.
Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is About Creating Yourself.
~ George Bernard Shaw
How Do You Live a Creative Life?
The trick to this is that you already do. You may not be a published author, have a gallery opening, sell your music or crafts, but you are being creative and, thus, a creative life.
Don’t make the connection of creativity and money. Let this notion go and you will be infinitely happier. This is not to say that you can’t make money. Any creative person can. In the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, she helps you break the notion and belief of the ‘Starving Artist’ syndrome.
And if you really want to learn more about how a creative life looks, check out Twyla Tharps, A Creative Life. I did a review on her book a while back you can check out. But the idea she has is how you let the creative ideas out and how you get them done. So many of us have unfinished work, but what might surprise you is that that work may be ‘done.’
A painting is never finished – it simply stops in interesting places.
~ Paul Gardner
I should probably take this lesson to heart more often myself.
But back to Tharps idea on getting your ideas out. In the review I did, I mention another book called Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality. It’s angled more towards the Graphic Design field, but it gives great strategy and steps to plotting out and accomplishing your creative ideas. What does this have to do with Tharps “A Creative Life?” I read Making Ideas Happen after Tharps book and discovered her strategy for getting ideas out was exactly what the researchers discovered in Graphic Design. Keep in mind that these are tried and true pattern that successful creatives follow whether for their own enjoyment or for commercial careers.
But all that is interesting, but isn’t the main thing keeping most of us from living our creative lives. And if you are reading this article, and aren’t doing the creative play you want, you probably have a few thoughts going on in your head: “I don’t have enough time/money/experience/stuff,” or “What if nobody likes what I do or they think I’m weird?”
To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.
~ Joseph Chilton Pearce
We’re all afraid of rejection. We’re all afraid of being wrong. I am. But I’m losing that fear.
Destroy the Old and Create Something Better
What’s that burning idea you’ve had for years and probably sketched, written, or tinkered with for years? You know exactly the one I’m talking about. And each time you see a piece of artwork, read a book, or see a movie that has some similar ideas you think, “Oh, no use in creating that now. They’ll just think I’m copying them.”
Here’s a fact: There is no way that you can create something exactly like someone else.
Oh sure, you can be really really close, especially if your entire goal is to copy it exactly, but it still won’t be exact. No one sees things the exact same way you do. No one has had the exact same experiences as you’ve had. No one looks exactly like you. No one has the same exact nervous system, neural connects, or DNA as you. NO ONE in nearly seven billion people on the planet.
When it comes to ideas, there is the possibility of similar ideas coming to people. Two movies about a meteor striking the earth in the same year. Two apps that do similar things. Two solutions to curing polio. But they will never be exactly the same.
So why do I say “Destroy the old?”
If it doesn’t serve you, if it isn’t moving you towards the life you want…blow it up! Painters reuse canvases. Materials from various types of projects can be reused or re-purposed. But the important thing is that you must remove what isn’t working and don’t think that one day in the far future, maybe, hopefully, it will work or be used. Here’s a hint, if you’ve had it for more than two years (and that’s being generous), you probably are NEVER going to use it. Sell it. Ditch it. Give it away. DESTROY IT! It’s holding energy that is keeping you from doing something else.
What’s Your First Step?
Here are some thoughts to get you going. You’ll have to adapt ideas depending on what area of creativity you want to explore.
- Artists: Get an index card or some stiff card stock and take 10-15 minutes. Find some object in your house (or some idea in your head and…)
- Sketch with a pencil (any…#2 or from your art pencils)
- Pick one color of acrylic or watercolor and paint
- Grab a marker or crayon and let your inner child draw
- Writers: Get ONE sheet of paper and pencil and set a timer for 10-15 minutes and try one of these.
- It’s the end of the year and I did these three creative things…
- If money, time, or experience wasn’t an issue and I wasn’t afraid of anything, I would…
- If I could destroy one thing/aspect/part in my life, it would be… and I would feel like…
- Cooks: This is a bit more time, but take 10-15 minutes to find a NEW recipe from another culture to create. Many folks fix meals for others and may have finicky eaters, so plan to cook for you and a friend or loved one who is willing to try. Set a date. Go buy the ingredients. Put on some music from that culture on Pandora or your favorite streaming music and make a night of it.
It’s your life. Create what you want. It takes practice. It may take some time. But you must work on it every day until the habit is strong and those around you will respect your time and efforts. Remember, NO ONE has to like it but you. And remember, you can be a painter, writer, chef, designer and NOT be paid to be one. Those are referred to as “Professionals” (and really just means they’ve been paid at least once. You can still be all or any of those things.
At the end of your life, won’t it be great to look back and think, “Man…that was fun.”