Embracing Spontaneity By Discarding Life’s Presets

Photo by Michael Competielle

“Knobs and wires, parameters easily changed to create unique soundscapes once lost often impossible to replicate.”

Have you ever started writing the most amazing article, where every word feels just right in the assemblage? Your inner voice clear and detailed as you feel the rhythm of your thoughts translate to the computer screen. The genius of your work you’re certain will gain you a Best Selling Author title.

And then something happens, the data gremlin creeps into you’re computer and pulls the plug.

ddddrrrrreeeeewwwwuuuu you hear as your laptop goes into cardiac arrest and that godforsaken spinning beachball twirls around the page while your words are eaten like a starving Pacman. “WTF” you scream as you panic and hit every button and utter the only word that you can articulate “no, no, no” as you stare in horror at the screen like Max Renn in Videodrome.

Photo by Michael Competielle

“Save early and save often” my computer instructors would say. “Yeah yeah yeah, everything will be fine” I’d retort. Well, not this damn time. My brilliance diminished into the oblivion of my short term memory bank and a bunch of 1’s and 0’s amounting to zero-sum.

The Perfect Meal

Okay so maybe you’re not into modular synthesis or you’re one of those safety officer types that look both ways, doesn’t J-walk and covers their mouths with surgical masks when they have the sniffles. But I’ll guarantee your willingness to be calculated and rule-abiding tendencies can’t explain what happens when meals go wrong.

Okay, you marinated the ethically grown grass feed beef in certified organic Worcestershire sauce according to the latest Beef Afficiados Magazine’s top recipe. You observed the temperatures of your Mom’s Wolf stove with Dad’s digitally accurate to the nano-degree meat thermometer. The triple-ply All-Clad braising bathtub roasting pan slides into the oven and 45 minutes later. The meat just doesn’t taste right as the meat is tough and hard to chew. You eliminated all the variables and yet it still wasn’t quite right. Variables and life’s inconsistencies.

Shit Happens Bro

Okay, so what’s the point Mikey? As I’m certain I’ve lost everyone up to this point I with 100 percent certainty can say whatever the fuck I want.

Preprogrammed life sucks. Don’t do it. Forgo going to work for a great Corporation with great benefits and golden parachutes. Avoid buying into the false narrative of homeownership and 401k’s. Take some risks and have some adventures. Be spontaneous and whatever you do don’t be damn boring.

Join the startup and watch a business being built. If they succeed you’ll learn so much. If they fail, you’ll learn that too.

Don’t buy any furniture except used or Ikea. Anything else is a waste of cash.

Mindful Developments

I’m a work in progress however I’m currently selling off crap I own that I have hidden behind. Excuses for not being more creative and spontaneous. I’m not even close to achieving my goals but I will say it’s a refreshing feeling to move on and get rid of crap. I force myself to read web articles I’d otherwise save for another day. Or use the tools and equipment I previously wasn’t. And if I feel they are dull and uninspiring, I send them packing.

The culling of the herd of shit I’m hoping will bring me closer to the things I love and free me to be more adventurous as I embrace learning, experimenting and experiencing.

New connections and opportunities create a more complete and enlightened me. I’m modifying my lifestyle to allow for less guarantee and certainty that I’m thinking will create a more fulfilling life.

I’m feeling I can always go back to the safe path and follow in the footsteps of others, many of whom I see are sad, lonely and anxious. While not having an actual plan yields uncertainty on how I’ll move forward I feel it’ll necessitate the need to keep pushing on.

Daily I reflect back on my day. What did I photograph, write and experience? Could I sit down and tell an amazing story about my adventures? If not maybe it was another wasteful day, hiding behind my safety net.

A modular synthesizer with its knobs and wires lacks pre-programmed sounds. Putting a cable into a different signal path can yield new and unique sounds never witnessed. And if you don’t relish them at that moment, you’d better because if you turn one knob wrong and try to go back, you may get that sound but it may never be exacting. And actually you shouldn’t want that anyway. As new sounds and experiences are what makes us complete.

Taking Steps Forward And Leaving Your Fears Behind

Photo by Michael Competielle

How do we determine if something is alive? “Is it moving?” “Is it breathing” in that fearful curiosity voice we all had as a kid. If we are moving are we dying or dead?

One of my many vocations is I’m a Sound Designer and Editor. I edit, clean and create sounds to extend the suspension of disbelief in a motion picture. The irony is if it’s not moving, it doesn’t make a sound. It feels odd and unsettling to add sound to objects that aren’t moving on the screen. Add some movement and we open the possibility to add an effect, no matter how slight to accentuate the movement.

As we age many of us slow down, our movement reduced as we tire or lack desire. There is a sense of safety not leaving our warm beds and cozy couches. The evil and fearful world outside our safety zone. What lurks in the dark? 

In a horror film, it’s an evil monster or a possessed spirit. Both amazing possibilities for sound design yet horrible excuses to not step outside. That evil monster is our fears. Fear of being judged. A fear of taking risks. 

Some mornings I awaken in fear, possibly from a bad dream or an unsettled issue I need to resolve. My heart rate will rise and anxieties will slowly creep in like the dark damp fog in a supernatural film. 

But what do I know that others may not? I’m comfortable here, in my fears. Why? Because I’ve been here before. In the dark alone and scared. When I stay frozen in the fear, it lurks towards me, it’s coldness surrounding me like a plague. If I breath easy and control my breath my chances of survival increase. You can’t die if your breathing right?

With each controlled breath I feel a calming overcome my body and mind and my fears, they may still be there but I slowly step away. The sound of my footsteps i hardly heard. 

Once I reach my point of safety many steps away, I can breathe easier, as my confidence returns. I’ve chosen to live and not have my fears strangle my movement.

So now let’s just image your struggling with life. Breathing in and addressing your fears have you petrified within your own existence. What happens? Fears lead to anxieties and anxieties can lead to depression. And there you are, motionless and probably not even recognizing you are actually breathing. 

Generally breathing is an autonomous bodily function however once fear and stress enter the equation we can have difficulty breathing. We then must manually control our breath to work ourselves out of the situation and return to normalcy. 

By recognizing our breath and rhythm we can control our emotions and regain control allowing our body to take back over.

So let’s imagine we have an interest in mountain climbing. The thoughts of the amazing mountain summit fuel our desires and we encourage ourself to the experience. But then that voice steps in, the voice of reason? Hardly, it’s that voice of fear. Everything that can go wrong will. What if I lose my footing and fall? What if the oxygen isn’t enough? What if I get tired?

Excuses we make to not have to face our fears. The fear of failure or falling or whatever can happen walking from your warm bed to the toilet. These are all excuses we make to not face the fear.

In our fear movie, our protagonist is afraid of heights, afraid of leaving the house, afraid of falling. Yet we are all rooting for this character, an audience of hundreds watching, hold their breath as our character takes steps to overcome the fear.

We suit-up in our hiking boots and shorts, pack our sack and head outside. Slowly at first, we may walk the neighborhood to feel comfortable with our pack, evaluating our energy levels, water consumption, and feelings in our body.

The first day we may feel tired or unsteady. If we stop at the first signs of struggle, we are right back where we started. Nowhere. Yet if we embrace our pains and laugh out our fears, every step and every breath will increase in strength in selfconfidence.

So our protagonist trains daily for her upcoming trek. Fears still exist as they never actually go away, we only leave them behind as we move forward. With each confident step forward our fears are left behind watching us take each confident step.

In our fear movie, if we wanted to show the confidence of our protagonist the camera would follow the character. The scene on the screen would be a shot requiring camera movement. This movement is the same movement of our character as we are as one.

However, if we care to show that our character is triumphant, we will leave the camera stationary as our protagonist moves away and leaves her fears behind. 

Getting up and facing our fears and with confidence walking away is the strongest lesson I’ve learned in self-improvement. Controlling my breath and emotion is still a challenge yet what I seek is the comfort in knowing that I’m confident enough to take on risks, try new things and make movement my goal.

Pinpoint A Moment By The Separation Of Space and Time

Photo by Michael Competielle

Our world is a connected place, every individual person is a blip on the World radar moving about in a common cosmic universe. Experiences are influenced by our emotions based on the present time and space.

Rereading a book or listening to a favorite song can often invoke feelings and emotions from past experiences as we can transcend backward in time. Based on your present mood and level of focus the revisit can unearth new discoveries and connections often unheard or unread. We will frequently find new meaning and understanding as we have expanded our knowledge through experiences and personal growth.

What variable in time discrepancy offsets the fabric of connection?Where exactly is the wrinkle in time that creates the missed connection? Decisions we make writes not only our history but the history of others. Inclusion in situations influence the course of others lives and more often than not purely by happenstance. 

Fragments of data I’ll file into my mental memory banks stored like a scientists notes. Compartmentalizing content I’ll keep the metadata available for future exploration and hope the content will expand in concrete understanding. 

As I mature and maintain positive forward motion looking back only to see progress and a refusal to dwell on the past, I comfort new discovery. New experiences map a new and unique future guiding me to another space and time. 

My interests in music, film, sound and design are now almost a circadian rhythm of connections as I’m close to closing the infinite loop. What’s new is frequently old, a fusion of old concepts rediscovered and reborn into a new being.

As I walk around expanding my connection to nature I’ll often recognize I’m on hallowed ground. Prior to the creation of a sub development in a suburban town, the land was a tree farm, prior to that forest and a Battleground of the Revolutionary War and prior to that home to the Lenape Indians. We are only separated by time as space or place is remains consistent.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Only through conversation and discovery do we unearth the individual fibers used to weave the pattern of our existence. Only with an open mind and exploratory mindset can we expand our horizons to absorb new discoveries. We shall never stop learning nor discovering. Reading, writing and photographing fragments of time are only missed connections unless we defragment our data-dumps into buckets of commonality and make connections.

Patterns will emerge as we better understand our minds content. As we cleanse our minds of junk files, the reactions of others or our superfluous content allowing room to fill the void of self discovery and conscious understanding.

Freedom to create, design and experience. To use our own connections to expand our minds and our lives and share with others to change their experiences in the fragment of time. 

Your Writing Sucks

Why I Send Myself Hatemail

Photo by Michael Competielle

I’m not a writer but more of a storyteller. My style is based on my actual feeling and emotions and on my interpretation of the truth. For the most part, I’m writing how I speak and more realistically it’s how I think. I use the words love and hate often interchangeably based on my current mood and situation. The reality of the matter is I’m creative and therefore I take risks.

Creative People Traits

  1. easily bored
  2. risk takers
  3. color outside the lines
  4. think with their hearts
  5. make lots of mistakes
  6. hate the rules
  7. work independently
  8. change their mind alot
  9. have a reputation for being eccentric
  10. dream BIG

stolen from somewhere.

You never really know what version of me you’re going to get. My current thoughts and mood are plagued by my current emotions. I put passion into most everything I do and I’ll visualize myself doing things prior to making an attempt. If I can’t see myself doing something, generally I know I won’t partake.

Daily I try new things and need to find inspiration to get myself on board with my new experiences. I’ll try new things having visualized the outcome and honestly, it often doesn’t work. Many people wouldn’t notice or even care however my minds eye knows when I’ve gone astray.

Plenty of my creative endeavors have been pure trash, thrown by the wayside and discarded. My embarrassment and self-judgment often pollute my flow and produce feelings of anger and sadness.

The rules I follow are my heart and my gut instinct, the only emotions I know I can truly trust. Sounds can be lies, tastes can be poisoned and sights can be a mirage and only your inner voice will guide you to the truth.

I have a pure distaste for rules and restrictions. Asking my confidant, my minds eye if we can break them my inner voice always says absolutely.

Ironically for someone who doesn’t generally follow the rules, I have a lot of personal rules and you know what… I break those too.

The rule of thirds.

Ok, so I’m a Libra, which means I’m a scale and all about balance. Call it the rule of thirds such as hot, warm, cold or red, purple, blue. My favorite color is purple, I like my drinks warm or room temperature or evenly balanced. This is a basic guideline I generally don’t break and helps in my decision-making process.

I’m a Vegan based on three distinct different reasons, empathy to animals, environmental concerns and lastly diet. Politically I lean towards being a Progressive or Independent since I don’t fully align to the Left or the Right.

I like my day broken up into one-third work, one-third play and one-third rest. As much of my work is play and my play often work, my rest can get clouded with the other two thirds. Not a horrible situation to be in except when I’m questioning my abilities rest can become work.

Functioning as a sine wave I have my ups and downs. Deadlines and complexities are equalized by positive yardage and motion. As I envision the finish line and keep my mind’s eye on the prize I’ll internally battle the emotions and push myself towards completion. Sometimes the completion of a project, design or article yields a joyous feeling however just as frequently I land into a world of self-doubt and anticlimactic disgust.

Kind words and acceptance from others does not always work to convince the only actual quality I can trust which is my gut instincts.

As I may be self-deprecating and question my abilities and recognize my shortcoming what I don’t lack is confidence. Instinctually and with utmost confidence I can make decisions and continue to trudge forward. I can take criticism at face value and analyze the data to determine if I’m off the rails and need adjustment.

Photo by Buddha Joe

Honestly, I’m Living the Dream as I daily have the opportunity to step outside my comfort zone to try new experiences and my new mistakes. Somewhere between my two happy places which are the mountains and the beach is the equalized me. Writing, photographing, recording and creating. I’m my own harshest critic who aggressively doubting my abilities and qualifications. But the power of being creative I can recognize my shortcomings and push myself through my self-doubt and make myself proud.


Why I Always Publish My Drafts

Photo by Michael Competielle

As of late we are all writers in some capacity. Tweeting, Facebook posts, blog posts, text messages are all forms of creative writing and free expression. Often these are purely emotional outbursts of self expression based on how we feel at that exacting moment. It’s doubtful we should determine a persons moral fabric solely on a crappy Twitter post and probably excuse a statement we can’t align with.

Creative writing for an outlet such as Medium has allowed my posts to become expanded quite a bit further into short articles. Generally I’m basing my writing solely on my actual unabridged real life situations to emphasize my philosophy and creative process.

Currently I’m writing at an accelerated pace of an article per day with original photography. Sort of aggressive and masochist as I’m also working full time while still running my production company. It’s doubtful I’ll be able to continue this pace and still be able to write about interesting topics unless I make the effort to increase building additional unique experiences. My main goal is to challenge my own thoughts and beliefs.

Daily I’m expanding my world connections and finding my space within it. I never really have a completed concept or thought and so therefore I’m always evolving. Today’s dumb idea often yields tomorrow’s brilliance as I fine tune and dig closer.

My conscious thoughts intertwine with my subconscious to help define where I’m going and how I’ll get there.

. “For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something”. Steve Jobs

My creative articles are snippets of content that will expand my style, vocabulary and help to find my voice. Currently my achievable goal is to complete 100 articles, with original photography. I’m well on my way and have already exceeded one third of the projects quota.

Looking back at the past 34 days of articles, there is some great content in my feed. My best work? Probably not but I’m finding my lane and I’m feeling I’ve had moments of inspiration and epiphany.

With my first book of 100 Haiku with original photos scheduled to be published in December, I’m excited to see the outcome and hope I’ve made enough writing fans to sell a few copies. Get rich scheme? Hardly. Actually it’s all a springboard for my 2020 projects.

I’m planning to start my second book on the Philosophy of visualizing, designing and building of projects and products. The narrative is based on my 25 plus years of hard core experience. Hardly a step by step guide on how I work and manage purely because I operate on emotion and gut instinct backed be years of actual scenarios.

These articles though self standing actually formulate the various chapters in my future text. Have I a plan to look back at these writing and borrow from them? I’m doubting it. Will I memorize specific topics or well written passages. I’m hoping so. Moral to this writing exercise is similar to publishing daily journaling entries. Exploring my concepts and solidifying them into text. I’m hoping it’s meeting my present criteria and personal challenges.

With simple goals of writing honestly, not modifying my titles, photos or content to pass thru Google or Mediums algorithms I’m publishing daily with the utmost confidence. The writing a culmination of my present mood I often feel it translates well into text.

Very little of what I do is polished nor perfect. I spend little to no time lamenting over underperforming articles based on false metrics. The greatest mark of accomplishment is relishing in the moment I’ve hit publish. My words and thoughts out there in the world and to be able to breathe and bask in the glory of moving one step closer to achieving my goals.

I’ve no real interests to go back and rewrite my drafts as you would never go back and edit your journal entry. The writing is snapshots of where I am, where I’ve been and where I’m headed. Dragging my typewriter and research material with me everywhere I go… my phone and my mind.

Michael Competielle


Step Off the Path and Find Your Way

Photo by Michael Competielle

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” Benjamin Franklin

Today I had a interesting conversation with a friend who’s writer family member stated “If you aren’t weird no one will remember you.”

Honestly a great observation, possibly the statement could be expanded to odd, unique, creative amongst others however I’m feeling the point is you need to step off the path and find your way.

Daily I’ll awaken from my lucid dreams having resolved issues or found clarity in a design. My mind struggling to rest as I’m compartmentalizing projects and problems into little buckets that help me to think them through. Often working backwards from my anticipated outcome to each individual step and I’ll clearly see the starting point.

I’ve reprogrammed my brain and conscious thoughts to logically follow potential pathways like following traces on a circuit board. More often than not this generally brings me uniquely to a similar solution that isn’t unique to me.

Photos by Michael Competielle

It’s often then in that moment when I’m feeling my solution or concept isn’t original or unique enough I’ll decide to find my own way.

By stepping of the beaten path.

Now I must warn you that you’ll need to be very careful. I’ve stepped off the beaten path and found myself in rabbit-holes like in Alice and Wonderland. My mind will expand and possibilities become endless however I can get lost. That’s why I’ll try to follow some basic rules by keeping my meandering in perspective.

Guitarist Adrian Belew formerly of King Crimson has worked with Trent Reznor on three Nine Inch Nails albums. Working with Trent who is in industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails is an experimental artists dream as Trent records in non conventional techniques.

Well, I’ve done three records with Trent now, and all three have been alike: I walk in the door, get my equipment working properly, and he starts playing me pieces of music. He’ll say, “If you find something you want to play, stop us and we’ll record you.” [laughs] It’s usually easy for me to find something to play in his material. It really fits my styles — my sounds and the things I like to do — very well. When you play with Trent Reznor, you don’t want to pull out your normal things; you go do the most extreme things that you can. It’s a lot of fun, because it puts me on the spot to do what I really love to do, which is be creative with the guitar. The sky’s the limit. Nobody is saying “No! No! No!” Everyone is saying, “Yes!”

I really enjoy working with Trent, because it gives me that type of freedom. In a way, it’s the same kind of freedom that I had working with David Bowie. He was also very encouraging, asking me to do more wild things. The same was true with the Talking Heads. Trent Reznor is, to me, a major inspiration in the world of production. I really like the way that his records sound. I’m always keeping my eyes open on the process, so I can maybe learn something. Adrian Belew

With a floor full of guitar effects pedals that generally function in an unwritten sequence, Trent and crew would reverse directions of effects and their linear sequence in an attempt to find something new.

My latest creative endeavors have been working on some unique recording and sound writing projects with Cities and Memories by reimagining sounds into new creative assemblies. It’s as wild experience that forces me to think outside the box and experiment. My creativity has expanded exponentially as my work product increases.

In some ways I’m consistent and in others I’m finding new experiences such as never driving the same way twice or refusing to make predetermined plans. Not following rules is exciting and creates new pathways and connections.

By stepping off the normal path I’m finding creative ways to express myself. Objects and places have morphed into inspiration that guides me into experimental experiences. My path no longer known I find comfort and solace in discovery.


Taking Pause During the Passage of Time

Photo by Michael Competielle

The season is changing, maybe a bit more gradually than in past seasons however it’s still inevitably happening. The days are getting noticeably shorter as the temperature doesn’t rise quite as it has. The trees are shifting color into lovely autumn hues. The slow conversion into winters hibernation.

The sounds of the winds change as the whistling through green leaves is replaced with a distinctive different tone of rustling through autumn foliage. Footsteps crunching sounds alarm wildlife as we head into the forest.

Large flocks of birds flutter across the grey sky in a pattern like a squadron of jet fighters. Squirrels nesting away their winters stock of acorns cleaning the forest floor. Deer cautiously drinking from the cooling streams.

As we slowly and silently escape into the forest the rules of our trek is not to speak a word. Our objective is to use all of our senses to enter a meditative mindful state while preserving the serenity of the woodlands.

Armed with headphones attached to field recorders, we monitor our surroundings as we attempt a stealthily silence. Man made noise pollutes our recordings as in the far distance we can hear leaf blowers and highway traffic.

Seated comfortably on the ground we become one with the earth. The wind blows and trees branches sway above us like choreographed freestyle dancers. We breathe in deeply and smell the fresh pungent air.

Closing our eyes we fine tune our ears listening to the forests sounds anticipating motions in the trees. As our focused listening moves through the individual sounds we hear the forested orchestrated instrumentation’s. Distant human made sounds become more evident than ever while we now struggle to filter them out.

The forest floor reminiscent of a large hand knitted Persian rug embedded with a seasons worth of dander. We pause time as we find full immersion.

As we leave the forest our concentration is focused and our respect for the environment, our hearing cleansed.


Inventing New Ways to Gain Results

Photo by Michael Competielle

Recently I was asked how I had the ability and willpower to turn down some birthday cake. Being a vegan for over one year now most of the ingredients in the birthday cake I don’t eat. Eggs, milk, processed sugar, butter and who knows what else. As I listened back to the question in my mind of what I had just heard I believe they were saying “I don’t have to willpower to say no to cake”.

Certainly this is a person that lacks in self control and discipline.

Daily I’ll turn down food options that I’ve previously eaten and even enjoyed in my quest to maintain my new lifestyle. Is this the correct option for me? That’s a question I can not answer however it currently is working.

Am I on a diet? Not exactly. I’ve decided to make a large change in my philosophy that drives my life decisions. Empathy towards animals, environmental issues of factory farming and lastly my personal health. Is anyone one reason more pertinent than the other? Not really.

Is it a fad diet? Good god no. I feel sorry for the fad diet types, convincing themselves this is the best thing since sliced bread, only to dropout days or weeks later citing a list of reasons why they could hack it. Why not? Because they probably didn’t make the diet a lifestyle change, and the reasoning behind the diet was probably superfluous and selfish.

Is there a magic bullet that will change your life and make it perfect? Nope. Is my life perfect? Nope. Do I want it to be? Not really?

With environmental issues, sustainability problems and corporate greed, we’ve gotten ourselves into quite a mess. The environmental impact of over populating the planet, over using the natural resources and not really caring have us in a downward spiral as we race to the bottom.

Do I have the answers? Nope and you shouldn’t listen to me anyway. What you should do is look in the mirror and take an honest assessment of yourself. Is there anything you can change? Is there any way you can make a minor adjustment that can incrementally have a large impact?

Are you in control of yourself? If your lacking willpower to not eat cake what exactly can you be in charge of? Are you faking your way thru life cheating and lying to yourself. I’ll guess the answer is yes.

Am I perfect? Fuck no far from it. Do I daily try to address my issues and make modifications. Absofuckinglutely. Will I be someone different tommorrow or next week? Gosh I hope so.

Currently I’m questioning my daily diet and the impact of my bananas and avocados. Are they sustainable and what impact are these foods having on the environment? Probably not a great one however I can tell you I don’t buy a lot of imported single use plastic crap.

I used to take mass transporation to work and for the last eight years I work 5 miles from home. Do I walk or bike to work? Nope as a car is a requirement for my job however would I? You bet your ass.

I’m of the BIFL movement. Buy It For Life. These products include:

Vitamix, Magimix, Jeep Wrangler, Mazzer, Sennheiser

I could go on for quite some time however I’m assured if you’ve bought any of the products on my list…. you already know.

Am I functioning in an environmentally friendly way. I certainly make a concentrated effort to.

“Five percent of the people think; 
ten percent of the people think they think; 
and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.” 
― Thomas A. Edison

So how exactly do I invent things to get ahead? Think Thomas Edison…

Photos by Michael Competielle

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” 
― Thomas A. Edison

Thinking like Edison and having the courage and willpower to try something. See if it works, if it does hooray for you, move on. And if it doesn’t work, don’t give up try something else. It’s only after you’ve exhausted every option can you finally saw there isn’t a solution.

Image if Thomas Edison gave up after his first failure. Would we have the incandescent light? The Phonograph? The Movie Camera? And the list goes on.

What does it take to invent something? Tenacity.

Every day I try something new. I’ll expand myself by taking on new challenges and stepping outside of my comfort zone. I’ve reinvented myself many times over. Have a failed? The real question is have I ever succeeded? For the most part the answer is no. I’ve gotten things done, received a few accolades but am I complete or complacent? Nope. Not by a long shot.

What is my legacy? I’m building it daily, constantly expanding my network of life’s works. Does anyone really care? Not really, or at least not presently. Will they? Probably when I’m long gone. Does that depress me? Nope it makes me push my self harder and farther.

Looking back at my achievements there a lot of small cumlative efforts that combined equal something. Am I successful? You bet your ass. Do you know why? Because nobody has to push or drive me to take risks and succeed. My inner inventive voice does that for me.


The Freedom of Creating and Putting Yourself Out There

Photo by Michael Competielle

“Fear is only as deep as the mind allows.”

— Japanese Proverb

There is nothing that I fear. Not judgement, failure or vulnerability. Everyday I’ll rise to the occasion to take charge of my life and take risks. I’m a decision maker in which 95% of my decisions are good and 5% are brutally horrendous however I stand behind every decision 100% always.

Years of experience doing things wrong, failing and being judged has toughened my skin to create a resilience to critique. My inner self questions my thoughts and path as my gut tells me “just do it”.

Recently I was mentoring a colleague where a work situation went wrong, I let the problem fester a bit and when the moment was right I corrected the situation. My colleague was perturbed at how I’d left them vulnerable in this scenario and my reaction was “ remember how you felt in that moment. Your heart racing and chest sunken. When you feel that way again you now know how to react and direct yourself out of this situation”.

“If you give a man a fish, he will be hungry tomorrow. If you teach a man to fish, he will be richer forever.” Indian Proverb

It works, when I get that gut feeling or emotional moment I recognize I’ve been there before, make a fine adjustment to counteract the situation and move on.

When I was a kid my uncle and father taught me to play pool. I didn’t have great strength nor dexterity to effectively break the tightly racked balls. When it was my turn to shoot, I’d miss three or four times until I’d realize I was about to lose. I’d focus on what I was doing and patiently plan my next shot. Knowing I was about to be beaten I’d concentrate on the speed, angle and trajectory of the shot while planning the next.

With a firm crack I’d hit in one ball after another in a 2–3 ball run and usually catch up. I wouldn’t always win but my abilities and confidence increased with the pressures of possibly loosing.

With focus and determination I’d put my mind into a state of flow.

Throughout my life when I find myself in a creative state and need to push thru and finish, I’ll focus on my vision of the completed project and get there. Hitting the send button at the completion of any project once I feel I’m complete I do so with the confidence I’m at my best.

I’m never questioning if I’ve done wrong or missed the point, I’ll hit send based on my ability to take risks and ward off criticism. My objective is to keep creating more and more content. Occasionally I’ll miss the mark however my next attempt will be better than every and an improvement on the previous iteration.


Zen and the Art of Lasts

Appreciate life experiences as if it’s your last

Photo by Michael Competielle

Sitting helplessly in a electric chair I watched my fathers motor skills diminish rapidly. A former draftsman, artist and entrepreneur with perfect penmanship, he struggled to hold a pen to write the word hello.

His Multiple System Atrophy was affecting what little was left of his physical being. Trapped inside his sunken body was his mind, still detailed and sharp like a tack.

Months earlier I questioned him on why he was giving up, not writing his memoirs, explaining his life. He had gotten to a point where he had given up the fight.

We had collectively made decisions as a family on his future care and how he wanted to live out what weeks or days he had left. Forced to eating through a feeding tube, stuck in an electric chair, cherrypicked into his bed he refused to live out his days in a hospital. He wanted to stay home surrounded by his belonging.

An avid book reader, he had a massive library of leather bound literature, fine furnishings and artwork, all material possessions he believed completed him. I made my most noble attempt to teach him mindfulness and practice however he only saw the pain of his decline and his last few years he missed the moments.

Recently I was talking to a best friend of mine about the situation. He’s currently going through a similar scenario with his beloved sister. My only advice is to live in the moment and treat every experience as if it were your last.

Stepping out of the plane in a foreign place, embrace the experience. What does the air smell like, Listen to the sounds. Walking along city streets recognize the people, their expressions, the vibe.

Stepping out onto that amazing beach, listen to the surf, smell the salty air and watch that stunning sunset as if you’ll never see another again.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Always one to be in a rush my mother and my wife would yell at me to chew my food, taste it and enjoy it. They are correct, one day you won’t be able to chew or eat certain foods, and you’ll wish that you could eat a steak just one last time. But what if this next time your eating that steak you take your time? You slowly chew and taste the flavors, the texture and add that experience to your memory banks. When you next are asked about your favorite meal, you’ll remember it in vibrant detail which you could describe.

When I travel now I no longer plan specific details, just going with the flow of the journey. Weather doesn’t change my plans as rain, wind or even hurricanes can be a once in a lifetime experience. Instead I embrace the uniqueness of the scenario and program each detail into my memory banks. I’ll use most or all of my senses to log the event.

The last day I saw my father alive, we both knew it. We often struggled in our relationship to express to each other how we felt, however I saw it in his eyes. As I left and headed to the airport I told my wife with absolute certainty that was the last time we would see him alive. Unfortunately I was right.

The irony of this is I’m complacent with how it ended. We were in our own terms, and shared our last moment. Not a day goes by I don’t think of my father, often not in the best regards and often with bitterness.

What if he had listened to me by embracing those last years of his life present and in the moment.

All experiences good or bad are experiences. We choose what details and emotion we extract from a given moment. By focusing on the positive details and embracing those who share them with us, your last’s will be your bests.

I’m writing daily to chronicle my thoughts, perspective and interests. Daily I challenge myself to do more than the day before. I’ll someday leave behind a long legacy of myself, uncertain if it’ll matter to anyone besides myself. One day I’ll return to my projects, writings, photos, films and life to recollect myself.

My mind won’t stay sharp forever and so therefore I’ll need to document my last’s as I feel I’ll have many. Daily I look at the details in everything I see and touch and often wonder why I never noticed them before. The life cycle of a flower, the growth of the baby fawn, the sounds of a summer rain.

My quests for quiet places is for self reflection and immersion, determined to not follow in my fathers footsteps missing out on the last years of his life.

I’m present, in the moment and spontaneous. I don’t generally make plans for the future as future is unknown and not predetermined. I’d rather stay right here, in this moment and hope it never ends. Cataloging every detail as if it’s the last.

Michael Competielle