Monday #41: Carpe Diem

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?

I am going through some big life changes these days and, I’ll admit, it makes me a little existential. I have always liked the notion that, right now, wherever and  whomever we are, in this moment, we are an absolutely perfect blend of every single moment we have ever lived. Every experience, every relationship, every thought, feeling, sight, every taste and sound–all these things are the delicious recipe of us. And, what’s more, changing one moment along the path of our lives has the power to alter the entire outcome. Known in the chaos theory as the Butterfly Effect, this convergence of moments into our present selves is a big, mind-blowing idea that actually gives me comfort because, as a glass half-full person, it takes into account all the stuff–even the stuff for which we might feel a sense of disappointment or regret. If you are generally a satisfied and optimistic person, you get to embrace your dark side, your bad choices and your mistakes and chalk them all up to being a part of that great, big picture that is your life. You also get to hold onto the fact that, just as quickly and unexpectedly as one challenging moment arrived, a new flip-side can slip into view just as suddenly–often as a direct result of the other. As the saying goes, you never know the sweet without the bitter.

And, while life changes can prompt us to be reflective, I also notice that the temptation to try very hard to become a fortune-teller is quite strong and I wonder if this isn’t a dangerous direction for a healthy mind. It’s all too easy to get caught up in being so afraid of bad outcomes that we let fear and anxiety dictate the direction of our lives. We can end up choosing what we don’t actually want to choose at the very moment of the choosing because of some completely imagined outcome that hasn’t even happened yet.

I find all of this quite poignant because the cautious, fear-filled life leads to the quintessential death-bed scenarios of people who can’t stop wishing they would have done things differently, people who can’t help wonder what could have been if they’d only chosen what they wanted to choose without fear of failure. And as if our own fear isn’t enough to discourage us from living our truest lives, the people around us love to play judge and jury when they run out of their own fears.  The irony, of course, is that we are a culture who truly values struggle on the way to success and, more than anything, loves to root for the underdog. We like stories of serendipity and chance and want desperately to believe that “everything happens for a reason.” It’s our fear that keeps us from being our own heroes and heroines.

I started thinking about all of this a few days ago when my favorite bestie sent me a link to an excellent article by Maria Brophy. Brophy is a creative Jill-of-all-trades and is the owner of Son of the Sea, Inc. which oversees her husband’s surf-related artwork. Her expertise is in licensing, marketing and promoting art and her blog is a treasure trove of information on all manner of art marketing. But it’s this recent post on Providence that inspired me last week. I especially love her comments about LUCK because I hear this idea of what makes me lucky all the time from people who punch the clock and ignore their otherwise creative impulses for a “real job.”

First, luck is not a factor.  People tell me that I’m lucky to be able to travel and run my own little family business.

A freedom-based lifestyle is not created from luck.  It’s the result of making a commitment to what you dream of doing, and then living it out as everything falls into place to make it happen.  This is what I consider “Providence.”

Her article is full of so much inspirational goodness that I think you just ought to read it for yourself, particularly if you are feeling as discouraged about the world as the news media would like to have us be right now. She brilliantly weaves one of my favorite quotes into her post. It’s a quote credited to Goethe and, although the critical jury is still out on Goethe as the source, I don’t care one way or the other; I love the sentiment and find it invigorating thought-food for the heart, soul and mind:

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

So, this week, I’m talking to you about initiative, splendid plans, and boldness, my friends. What would you seize if you had no fear? What would you jump headfirst into if you didn’t worry about the outcome? What would you attempt to do if you stopped thinking about failure? Who would you be if you were being your truest self?

TRY THIS WEEK: Seize that day, everyone. It’s going to be a good one.

About Dar Hosta James

I am an artist living in New Jersey. I write and illustrate children's books, paint, draw, blog, coach, teach and speak about creativity.
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13 Responses to Monday #41: Carpe Diem

  1. Judy Shreve says:

    Great post as always, Dar. Hope your changes lead you right to where you are supposed to be!

  2. tlruminski says:

    No worry of the outcome or no fear? Motherhood. I am in my 30s and can’t decide if children are in my future. I’ve been married and divorced, quit jobs, moved to unknown places, but deciding whether to have kids is the most difficult decision I have faced. I like the question about being my truest self, and I know I am still figuring that out. Until then, I will continue exploring everything that intrigues me and keep my mind open.

    • Dar Hosta says:

      Great questions, tlruminski! All I can say is that every parent I know is NEVER 100% sure it’s “time” for kids and I might argue that this is one of the top places to take a big jump if you think you want them. I have done all the things you have on your challenge list and can tell you that having my two sons is the most sure thing I’ve ever done and that each and every day they absolutely, 100%, no doubt about it make me my truest self.

      Best thing is, you don’t need a man to get them.

      • tlruminski says:

        I am happy to report that I have a fantastic man in my life now. He is just getting his career started and is as indecisive as I. I trust that we will figure it out together. Thanks for the great response; I am glad your boys add so much to your life!

  3. mariabrophy says:

    Indecision can cripple. Most of the time, it doesn’t matter which way you go, things will work out. Have a child? You’ll love it forever. Don’t have a child? Your life will be wonderful, too. The agony of indecision is what is painful. I once read that successful people make decisions quickly, and change them slowly. I have practiced that, and it makes everything flow so much easier! Once you do make a decision, don’t look back. Never question it. Roll with it. (And regarding having a kid – that’s something you don’t have to decide this minute – you can decide to make a choice later!)

    • Dar Hosta says:

      The agony of indecision is what is painful…. Brilliant. So simple, so true. Thanks for weighing in, Maria. Your blog (and your life) is an inspiration.

    • tlruminski says:

      I do agree that indecision is tough. We made the decision to take it off the table for this year since we know we aren’t ready, and that feels great! Thanks for your feedback!

  4. Pingback: Monday #42: Open Up | Dar Hosta's 52 Mondays Blog

  5. beth loveland says:

    Week late reading this. Perfectly timed. I have been mulling around for weeks, the decision to quit teaching next year and fully commit myself to writing and illustrating children’s work. My degree is in theater. Art and writing? No experience. No education. Just this unrelenting urge to sink myself into a creative endeavor and a small pile of ideas. Over the past year I have occasionally bent my ear to the faint whisper of a creative voice fluttering around under a few sketches and manuscripts to the point that I have grown wildly curious. What, if I set it free, would it say?
    We are, by all intents and purposes “poor people.” My husband works in the artistry of timber framing and sometimes we barely make ends meet. This feels so reckless. So insane. But I am about to sink the upcoming year into unleashing that voice. I have been inspired to engage my theatrical experience. I am going to build sets for my book, create 3D characters, and photograph them.
    I can’t believe I am doing this. Yesterday the school called. I told them I needed one more week to decide about work next year. Today my prayer was, “give me clarity as to where I need to be next year.”
    Today the battle ended between the questions, “What if you fail?” and “What if you don’t try?”
    Carpe Diem, my friend!

    • Dar Hosta says:

      Heavy stuff, Beth… but exciting. Exciting to get to a point in one’s life where there actually appears to be a CHOICE. Perhaps my own sense of being reckless or not is tempered by the fact that I almost compulsively think of all possible scenarios and play them all out in my mind, even though we can’t ever really know what will happen. I don’t want to always choose the safe and predictable path in life, but imagining the outcomes of various choices can be productive as long as it doesn’t scare us out of living our dreams.

      • beth loveland says:

        Ha! Did you read my last post on “Practice What You Preach?”

        There are a few other factors at play in my “reckless” decision. The biggest thing about my leaving work is the choice to homeschool my Kindergartner who was not built to sit still. But, I have been on the fence about both of these decisions. This blog was such a confirmation to stay home. This enables me to commit to my own work and teach my little guy. We have one go at this life. We might as well invest it in our loves. I heartily agree with everyone here that indecision is @#$!.

  6. Pingback: The Unforeseen Irony of Choice | Notes from a "Closet" Writer

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