Of Resolutions and Regrets #Kindess2018

I believe in goals and resolutions. This year my resolution is simple. I want to be kinder. Volumes have been written about the need and practice, I doubt I can add much to the idea. I know I like me better when I am kinder. I know I like how I think and interact with the world when I chose to be kind. My outlook expands and my optimism grows when I try a little harder to be a little kinder. I love this thought from Mormon Church leader Thomas S. Monson

I have wept in the night

For the shortness of sight

That to somebody’s need made me blind;

But I never have yet

Felt a tinge of regret

For being a little too kind.

I don’t want to live with regret, I want to live with purpose.

My family was en route to a fourth of July reading of the Declaration of Independence in Boston when I noticed a woman’s “Make America Kind Again” button. I commented on how much I liked it and she gave me her last one. I love it! I keep it on my bag to remind me and everyone who sees it that we can be kind. I get comments on it all the time. I am convinced the vast majority of humanity are good and want basically the same thing: to live in a world where we look out for each other.

I was revisiting some of my social media posts from last year and found this Instagram post from the summer:

Recently I saw a business man stop what he was doing and help a homeless man get breakfast, watched a hurried commuter stop and give directions to an immigrant not familiar with the train, saw a young black man help an older white woman cross a busy street, watched as a stranger helped a blind man get on the bus and made sure the bus driver knew the man’s stop. People are good. The world is not so scary. I need to stop thinking about myself so much and start helping others more. #selfpeptalk #lifeisgood #peoplearegood

I am sure if I stop to notice, I’ll see much more of that around me all the time.

What if I just tried each day to be a little kinder? Pay attention to those around me a bit more? Serve more? What if we all did? What impact would it have on us and those around us? I don’t know exactly but I’m excited to try it! #kindness2018

“Mind The Gap.”

Most everybody has seen the sign or heard the phrase “Mind the Gap,” it’s used in the London underground to remind passengers to be careful of the gap between the platform and the train. Whenever I think of that phrase now, I instead think of this powerful short message from famed producer and storyteller Ira Glass. His basic assertion is this: after time and exposure to a particular type of art you become more discerning, you develop great taste. Your ability to understand the complexity of the art is now helping you develop a mature sense of the art. Once that happens, you might find yourself with a desire to produce art. That’s when the trouble starts. You produce something and now that you have discerning taste, you begin to recognize the immaturity of your own production! You begin to recognize the gap!
Once we produce art and see that it comes up short, many of us stop producing art. We simply quit. Mr. Glass suggests instead of quitting, we need to close the gap. The best way to close the gap is to produce more work–to force yourself to create more and more until you have narrowed and closed the gap. I love this idea! I find it liberating. Instead of being defeated because your work isn’t great take comfort in the fact that you understand it isn’t great! You now have the good taste to recognize the gap; to quit now only leaves you discouraged and vulnerable.
Here are some things that helped me have the courage to work on closing the gap:

1. Don’t buy the hype about being financially rewarded. Why have a monetary expectation for what you produce? I get it, we all need money to make the world go around. But surely there can be satisfaction from work you produce that goes beyond monetary reward. We don’t play league softball or sing in the church choir hoping to get discovered or have those interests become incomes. We do it because we love it! Let that be the same with your art! Especially the the gap work.

2. Force yourself to work at it. Take a community education class, enter your painting into the county fair, audition for the your local theater’s production of King Lear (if your local theater is doing King Lear you may need to move) take a risk, share your gift, make yourself do it! I guarantee you if you pay $100 for a Community Ed class you’ll do it. Set deadlines, have an accountability partner, make yourself produce a body of work.

3. Don’t compare yourself, complete yourself. Of course you will evaluate your work compared to others, evaluating art is what helped you develop great taste in the first place! However, allow yourself to have the gap. Embrace it! Remind yourself you are working to improve your art, to improve who you, are to be a richer, fuller person!

4. Be patient and persistent. Give it some time, give it some space, but don’t give yourself an out. Make yourself produce work! Just don’t beat yourself up when you see the gap.

The older I get the more I admire those who produce things. My own appreciation for art is growing–with that comes a sense of inadequacy and fear as I am more keenly aware of the gap that exists in my own work. When I find myself tempted to quit, I just remember to “Mind the Gap.”