Day #33 – “Something from Nothing…”

I LOVE the creative process.  I just do.  There’s something almost otherworldly about taking a blank piece of paper (or a blank canvas or blank screen or empty air) and, layer by layer, adding elements, lines, notes, paint-strokes, whatever… until something-from-nothing has been created.

Everyone in my immediate family is creative.  My wife can create the most amazing dishes from just a few simple ingredients.  She can conceptualize and verbalize new outfits, wedding designs, and flower arrangements – all in her head.  My daughter is an amazing writer, paper-craft-maker, and musician.  My son is an unbelievable artist, a musician, and a martial artist.

I feel overwhelmingly blessed that all of the important people around me ‘get’ this part of my life, they ‘get’ the importance of it in my everyday existence, and they ‘get’ the same level of pleasure and satisfaction and meaning from it that I do.

I honestly, wholeheartedly believe that everyone (yes, EVERYONE) has the same innate ability to create something from nothing.  I truly do.

Imagine a world of artists; a world of creators.  Wouldn’t that be Utopian?

Day #32 – “Wait till they getta loada me!”

Remember the Michael Keaton “Batman” movie?  Remember the scene where the Joker smiles his exaggerated, permanently fixed smile and says, “What till they getta loada me!”

Well, that’s how I feel sometimes.

I long ago learned that it’s more productive, as well as being conducive to a peaceful environment, if I simply smile and listen while ‘people’ ramble on and on and on, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.  Does that make me a dishonest person?

Does “honesty” require that I say what’s in my head or heart when people are tossing (what I feel is) silly or inaccurate or inane word-salad?  Is it my responsibility to correct them, even politely?  Or is it okay to simply recognize the potential volatility of the moment, remain silent, nod politely, and smile as genuinely as possible?

Was that a rhetorical statement?

Is THAT a rhetorical statement?

Day #31 – “So Many Nargles…So Little Time.”

My favorite part of the creative process is – The Beginning.

I love receiving the seed-idea, wherever that comes from.  I love nurturing it – or obsessing on it – or methodically building it up – or simply examining it from all angles.

It is that initial spark, followed by the flow of creative juices, that really inspires me to be a song writer, a novelist, a poet, an artist, a program developer, and a boatload of other creative pursuits.

BUT… It’s what comes next that deflates my sails.

I’m old enough and experienced enough now to know that every (EVERY!!!) creative endeavor must include a period of grinding-it-out.  The writer must actually sit down and write.  The artist must put pencil or paint to paper.  The developer must sit at the keyboard and build code.

It’s a must!  If you’re going to actually complete ANY creative project, you have to do the grunt work.

I am constantly inspired by watching my daughter spend hours-upon-hours creating her projects from scratch.  Those gorgeous and rather ingenious books contain page after page of individual artwork, hand-crafted envelops, letters, and other flourishes.  Awesome!

I am equally inspired by watching my son spend days, weeks, or even months crafting a skill (i.e.: turntable-ism).  Each hour spent tweaking his abilities adds new layers of beauty to the music he creates.

So, of course, being the dad, I feel compelled (obligated, actually) to lead by example and… Write!

So… Here’s to the success of cranking out 31 straight days of these Letters to my Kids (blog).

I hope my Kids are as proud of me as I am of them.

Day #30 – “No More Pooh & Tigg’r”

Two of THE MOST painful periods of my life were when my Kids, in their own time, each lost some of their innocence because they had finally seen the reality of the world.

It’s inevitable, of course, but still – it hurts.  I so loved and enjoyed seeing the world with boundless wonder through their eyes, unclouded by the darkness of life.  It still saddens me to this day when I compare the before and after.

While raising them, I did my best to fill their minds & hearts with wonder and excitement and fascination, constantly telling them that anything is possible as long as they believe and work hard.  I didn’t lie to them; I still believe in those tenets of life.  But they know now that the Real World is far more complicated than that.

There came a day in each of their lives when they realized: their parents weren’t perfect, not all people are nice, there are those who don’t play by the same rules that you do, people can be vicious and cruel, the word “fair” means different things to different people, and there are some injustices in this World that are ALMOST impossible to make right.

But I also try very hard, each and every day, to show them that there is still a great deal of joy to be found in this world.

To that end, by choice, I am often a 55 year old Kid.  I play.  I laugh hard (sometimes snorting when I laugh).  I tell stupid jokes.  I enjoy simple pleasures.  Old movies and music and art and stories still mean a LOT to me.  And I do my best to maintain the mindset that anything – yes, anything! – is possible if I believe and work hard.

And it is now the other lessons I taught them early on in life that, I hope, have kicked-in and gained more importance since they saw the world as it really is.  Lessons like:

— You make your own reality; for example: if you think your day is going to be bad, it will be.

— You are responsible for your own actions at all times, not for the actions of others.

— You can instill and propagate integrity and honesty by displaying it to others daily.

— Surround yourself with positive influences (people, books, music, art, and so on).

— Life is still a playground, but it has rules.  Learn the rules and you can still enjoy the game of life.  I didn’t say “follow” their rules; I said “learn” them – and then decide for yourself when it’s right to deviate from them.

— Please…marry someone who infuses positivism into your lives, and bring that to their lives too.

Most important, please grow to be elderly children-at-heart.  If you can successfully do that, then I did my job as a dad.

Day #29 – “Still GQ?”

When is it okay to let yourself go?

Is it EVER okay to let yourself go?

To clarify — “…let yourself go” refers to no longer stressing the absence of 6-pack abs.

They say that husbands pack on the pounds when they become dads.  Although I’ve seen this trend with most of my family and friends, this was true for me until just before my second child showed up.

I had 6-pack abs until I was about 38 or 39.  Then the abs started to soften.  I was able to quickly get ’em back with minimal effort for the next couple years.  But they’ve been ‘gone’ ever since I hit 41.

Since then, I’ve tried uncounted diets and insane workout regimens, but nothing has made my abs visible again.  They’re in there; I feel them.  Underneath the burgers and rice and other great food, I can feel them: tight and gorgeous and just waiting to appear.  But no matter what I do, the belly – the BIG belly – remains.

So back to my original question >> Should I give it up?  As long as I’m eating healthy, keeping my metrics (BP, cholesterol, etc.) within ‘normal’ ranges, and working out regularly to help avoid “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”, should I be satisfied?

Am I working toward being the healthiest corpse in Nebraska?  Am I giving up actually enjoying life in favor of the unattainable ‘bod’?

I keep hoping – praying! – that, one day, I’ll magically discover the perfect diet; one that won’t make me feel like I’m totally deprived all the time.  I feel 99.374% confident it isn’t my workout routine.  I can still out-run and out-work people half my age, and I feel strong as a bull.  But the ‘diet’ thing — THAT is hard!

Oh well.  Who am I kidding?  OF COURSE I’m gonna keep trying to lose the gut.  OF COURSE I’m gonna keep weighing myself every morning…counting every plus and minus pound.  And OF COURSE I’m gonna keep looking in the mirror with the hopes that maybe, just maybe, even a 2-pack will begin to appear.

“Hello.  My name is Lee Jackson, and yes…I am a typical middle-aged American guy.”