Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mount Olympus

I told my kids at the breakfast table this morning, “The most important things are almost never urgent, and the urgent things are almost never that important.” I’m sure I’m paraphrasing the late Stephen Covey here, but it’s true.

Alison's Guitar

Our thirteen year old daughter, Alison, is buying her first guitar today.  A nice one, a steel stringed Fender.  I told her how proud I was of her.  She beamed.  She chose to save her money for what mattered most to her.  Now how do we do that with time?  Is something taking us toward the mountain or away?  Is something important, or just urgent?  Is it just easy to get, or do we truly value it?  Like my friend Whitney Johnson says: deciding means killing something.  Homocide, fratricide, suicide, decide.  

I love the ad that's running right now during the Olympics: 

Why have they not done these perfectly fine, enjoyable, good things?  Because something else was more important:  the Olympics.  They were moving toward Mount Olympus.

(If you think the odds are long and the pay is sporadic for artists, try being an Olympic athlete.)

So again, Neil Gaiman's commencement speech to the University of the Arts:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Walking Toward the Mountain

My mother in-law sent my wife and I a link to this video yesterday (see below).  Thank heaven for mother-in-laws.  Some of the best things I've read or seen come from her.

So I've watched this twice (which is no small matter since it's nearly 20 minutes long and--as Paul Simon says--"I've got short little span of attention...why's my life so long?")  But I've watched it twice now, and I've spent a good bit of time journaling about it this morning.  I think I may spend the next few days extrapolating and exploring the ideas Neil talks about, but for now I want to focus on "walking toward the mountain".  Career paths are fickle things.  I found it refreshing that he prefers to call his professional life 'a ride' rather than a career path, because "a career path would indicate some sort of plan."

Old Rag Mountain - One of my favorite hikes.

I remember talking with a friend who was the son of a very wealthy businessman.  The father specialized in turning around troubled companies.  His advice to his son as he graduated from college was "It's all about career path, career path, career path."  That has haunted me ever since.  Why?  Because I've never had a career path.  Like Neil, I've always followed the notion of do whatever feels like an adventure, and when it stops being an adventure and starts to feel like work, stop doing it.  [Sorry all potential job interviewers, I'm just putting it out there.]

So I'll stop there, because I could go on...and probably will in the near future.  But for now, I leave you with the May 2012 commencement speech from Neil Gaiman to the University of the Arts.

Please comment.  I'd love to know what you think.  Thanks for reading.