“There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened. To be successful, you need to be a person who makes things happen.”
The world moves around me like a cosmic vat of fragmented debris. My mind requires stimulation and challenges to avoid death by boredom. Television and films have become stagnant of purpose and risk while auteurs struggle to exist.
Music venues have elevated ticket prices to audacious amounts while strangling artists’ abilities to remain lucrative and remain devoid of creativity or taking risks. Boring arena tours with overpriced meet and greets are the norm. Aging has been artists who are echoing their past to the allegiant fans stuck in a proverbial timewarp feels like a money subterfuge.
Stripper anthems and rapper idioms are proven profit makers exacerbating the dumbification of our floundering society. Venues are serving corporate conglomerate beers, soft drinks, and processed foods to aid in declining the health of the patrons while posting adverts for medical centers and pharmaceuticals to help pay the bills.
Why I Suck
I’ve no desire to follow the masses. I’m currently fighting with my blog’s AI SEO algorithms telling me my article currently sucks. I’d guess the algorithm was written by tracking the top 1,000 keywords utilized by top publication rags a clickbait.
As I ponder my future as a successful writer I’m researching some titles I feel are sheerly brilliant that could titillate the herd.
7 Ways Gordon Ramsey Can Teach You Emotional Intelligence
How Lindsay Lohan Excels at Defensive Driving Skills
How Vanilla Ice Can Teach You To Understand Copyright Laws and Write a Hit Song
9 Ways to Find Love…Again By Studying Zsa Zsa Gabor
and the list goes on
Save The Brain Cells
As I work to keep the neurons of my brain enriched by stimulating it with art, well-articulated literature and scientific studies I’ve recognized our societies lacking in autodidacticism. It’s doubtful I’ll gain much traction with this quintessential diatribe of creative expression but I’m certain every time I reread it I’ll giggle to myself on how profound exercising the brain really is. And the fact many will need a dictionary to fucking read it.
How do you know you’ve maximized your day and economized projects to succeed? By prioritizing our day based on establishing small achievable goals while focusing on completing them we can see progress quickly. Morning seems to be a moment in my day where I can be productive and creative optimizing my limited time.
Writing has become easier when I have planned my thoughts prior to even opening my computer. Being I write based on my life experiences, I make sure I document all of them with photographs. When I’m writing about my experiences words begin to follow as I’m describing my recollection of stored details.
To obtain inspiration I love stepping outside into city life to enter into culturally diverse environments. Most cities’ density and mixed uses forsters a culmination of cultural heritage that inspires inspiration. Walking and interacting with diversity help define differences and expands our knowledge.
People watching and focusing on their details
Mornings in a city is a brilliant time to people watch. Window seats in coffeehouses is a favored spot as you can view people candidly observing their body language and movement. As we pay attention to finite details and memorizing them we build attention to details. What makes brilliant writing? Attention to detail and perspective.
When we have clarity and focus on details stored in our memory banks, writing becomes easier. We no longer have to struggle to find words and descriptors to expressive ourselves. As we optimize our writing time while getting into our flow, fully-fledged concepts become paragraphs of precise descriptive narration.
Morning writing lessens environmental influences as we haven’t yet stepped into the outside world. Our thoughts and words are yet to be tainted by the complexities of our day. Allocating morning time towards writing, the compressed availability of free time places pressure on clear and concise phrasing.
Who Wrote This Shit
When I get into my zone, words materialize a rapid pace with fluidity. Minor typos and proper punctuation matter less than getting the words out as if I’m telling a friend a story. Once I get close to what I feel is the end of the article, I’ll reread it to determine how well to flows. When I know I’m writing well the sentences read well. If I’m on track I’ll read the article and question the identity of the author.
It’s in those moments when I’m most creative and thorough that rereading the text makes me question who the author was. It’s that inner voice who comes out and tells the most engaging stories in the briefest amount of time. The economy of time and focusing on small goals have expanded the amount of content I can write about while detail in a focused moment.
Letters and symbols of nine various languages meticulously connected together to form 19 floating cloud-like stainless steel orbs. The creation of the world’s most well-known sculptors Jaume Plensa in an installation he calls Talking Continents.
Each unique individual letter is fused together to form words without any true meaning and function as an example of the breakdown of communication.
However, as we look at each unique form as they represent humans sitting on top of these floating orbs we begin to understand Plensa’s title of Talking Continents.
The Sounds of Continents
As I’m preparing for my next large scale project of 100 days of unique sound recordings I find inspiration and connection to Plensa’s works. What would be the unique sounds of these nine different and unique letters or words as they were formulated into a connection of sentences or statements? Are we all saying the same things albeit in a different tongue?
In our study of text and more elegantly typography, we see how the combinations of only a few letters can create words of beauty. The beauty of our every language articulates our feelings and emotions that resonate from island to island, continent to continent.
The Beauty In Plensa’s Silence
As I quietly walked amongst each orb I recognized letters that highlighted the diversity in distance Plensa was recognizing. It was here in the silence circling each island that I began to question our differences as we were all connected and unified, fused together as one.
Is each unique letter chosen by Plensa to make connections to our similarities while appearing to be different? What was the connection that made each sculpture unified? Are we as humans actually unified and we are saying the same thing maybe just a bit differently?
Upon closer inspection, I noticed all of the orbs seemed to be facing the same direction. Was this intentional? Are we collectively moving along together while seemingly drifting apart?
On this day I don’t have any insightful answers however I’m certain my explorations of typography, sound, and languages will have a new and enrichening perspective.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”—Dr. Seuss
Yesterday I was reading a post from an artist friend where she asked her social media friends what books were they currently reading. From Malcolm Gladwell to Sun Tzu, the answers to the question continued with a flurry of the most interesting titles. Ironically the answers mostly came from the most brilliant artists, many of whom are mutual friends.
We learn from reading. Electrical impulses fire inside our minds sparking new connections. As we learn and expand our thought process, we become more creative, inspired and free. A few moments with well-written text is mediative as the immersion allows focus into the unknown.
Piles of Well Placed Words
My shelves are filled with piles of books written by literary masters. Many of my books I haven’t the time to read yet my connection to them remains strong as they encapsulate my personal space.
From Kerouac to Hemmingway fragments of their experiences fuel my passion to create, experience and love because the treachery of life is softened by the well-articulated notions.
When I’m with my well-read friends the connection is expressive and passionate because you can hear the power of an author’s inspiration in words they speak. Details and descriptors fill every sentence as the well-read can paint you a photograph so you feel as if you are there no longer a spectator.
The well-read can quote paragraphs and phrases embedded within the narrative that has become the fabric of their existence. The power of perfectly placed wording can take your breath away but feed your mind.
Words Inspire Creativity
My list of friends is made primarily of creatives types such as musicians, actors, painters, writers, photographers, and sculptors. When I get to the heart of the connection I’ve recognized a pattern. They are all well-read.
Most of my favorite books have been recommendations or gifts from my closest friends. From the smallest passage to the culmination of a writer’s manifesto these books have helped develop and feed my passions.
Boredom is a trait for the closeminded and lazy because when we are open and impressionable our experiences become life-changing. Spontaneity and risk are the only paths to development and growth.
Having read a substantial amount of books I find that it is the reading list of my most celebrated people that defines their style and inspiration. Steve Jobs studied calligraphy and annually read Autobiography of a Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda. Ryan Holiday recommends Sun Tzu and the Art of War while Werner Herzog recommends The Peregrine.
As philosophy intertwines with spirituality and we learn about life from our connectivity to others, reading and sharing will continue to invigorate our souls.
Your arm is wrapped tightly around my bicep, your head on my shoulder. We walk together in a cadence of rhythmic footsteps. My every word touches you. We are connected as one, I take your breath away.
It’s a warm dark night for a streetwalker. The gas lamps only show a shadow of your face and your identity is unknown. I’m barely dressed, almost naked and vulnerable. Putting myself out there hoping to entice you to share this intimate moment.
I speak volumes as I’m hoping you hear my voice. My words are chosen carefully to engage your emotions. With passion and a willingness to give you pleasure, I continue to speak.
As I look into your eyes I’m seeing a spark as I hope to ignite a flame in your soul. Cars pass by, potential new business yet I’m completely immersed at this moment with you. Right now, I am yours, completely vulnerable yet trusting.
We walk down a dark alleyway and prepare for our intimate engagement and we see the reflection of light off the cobblestone streets. My eyes struggle to adjust because I’m longing to see your face.
You say nothing, silent and still. I squint my eyes as I continue to speak, my words of nakedness and honesty. Closer I move towards you and reach out my hand to touch yours as I’m hoping we still have this connection.
My footsteps and soft delicate words are the only sounds to be heard because I no longer hear your breath. Are you still engaged in our intimate moment?
I slowly move closer in an attempt to feel your presence only to find you are no longer there. I’ve lost another one.
Wiping the tears from my eyes I readjust my emotions and proudly walk back onto that gas lite street hoping another passerby will stop so we can engage in intimacy.
For I am a writer, a servant to the faceless, silent, and unknown. My passion placed onto every word hoping for a moment of intimacy so I can stop your breath.
Reading someone’s memoirs changes your perspective of the writer and inspiration for the reader.
Photo by Michael Competielle
A few years ago I received an email for one of my best friends and mentor. Written in the body of the text was an explanation of how my friend 33 years my senior was entrusting me with his memoirs or at least the start of them.
Living an exciting life that he had created, my friend is quite the renaissance man. From a War Veteran to a banker, entrepreneur, Potter, filmmaker, botanist he is what we would call eccentric. With a remarkable passion to experience and explore, he dives headfirst into the turbulent waters of challenge. Armed with little more than an open curious mind and the tenacity to embrace the unknown.
As I began to read the letters of my friend whom I’ve spoken to almost daily for 10 years, I found a different person than I felt I had known. The same person but a different version of who he portrayed daily.
Armed with little more than a computer, Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft and a vibrant life of experiences my friend began to write. His style is not dissimilar to his storytelling with incredible detail and topics you’d often struggle to believe. Not because he stretches the truth but because he’s an opportunist that always finds himself in amazing situations.
However, some of what I found out was about a dark side. Not that he is evil or misguided. Actually how he came from a difficult beginning. With parents that struggled to parent, he and his brother and sister found themselves bounced around amongst relatives that opened their doors to help raise the family.
Money was tight making a normal childhood in a traditional household tough, combined with bad parenting.
The stories of his summers with Grandparents in the Poconos or hanging out at Monmouth beach are vibrant and entertaining. Always making new friends and often doing without things other kids had, his amazing character placed him into situations where people would show their love for him.
Christmas around his house was rough with little work his odd job lawn mowing father could round up to make Christmas magical as other kids enjoy. But my friend had generous and kind friends that invited him to their home to open their presents with them and play with everything they received. And always under the tree would be one present, the most special one of them all. The gift they had all chosen for my friend. He never felt more love and a sense of belonging than one those Christmas Days where he was accepted as one of the family.
Always struggling to fit in he played basketful for the High School team. Making what he believes a horrible game losing error, he rode home on the school bus mortified. The next day he dropped out of school and signed up for the Army.
After basic training and struggling to find an identity, he was pleased to be stationed in Alaska, which at the time wasn’t even a State.
With little more than some Superior Officers who liked my friend, he embraced his surroundings and was finding himself.
Upon returning to New York after his Army career, he applied for a job at Citibank. Dressed sharply as a soldier would, he walked into the employment office with his resume. The employment officer recognized that my friend not only didn’t have a college degree but he also hadn’t finished high school.
He was sent around the block to the employment office for tellers. The room was filled with a lot of sloppily dressed people hardly interested in obtaining employment. A hiring agent walked into the room and scanned the room and noticed my friend, well-groomed and professional looking. He was hired on the spot because he looked like he wanted to be there.
That evening he headed home on the train and cried, saddened by again his rejection and knowing he needed more from his life. He got off the train and headed to the Community College and enrolled.
Working full time, raising a family while going to school, my friend pushed himself to succeed. Immersed fully into every course and absorbing knowledge like a sponge. He was single handily reversing his course.
Then the oldest son became sickly. Life became more challenging and difficult than ever before. Working full time, college in the evenings full time and nights studying by his son’s hospital bed my friend saw no other choice but to continue.
Telling the stories and understanding the man his internal narration of his life helps to understand him and appreciate our relationship. He’s honest and forthcoming and I’ll go to him for advice and mentoring often. Armed with his worldly knowledge and experiences and a passion to help others succeed he will tell me if I’ve gone astray. We’ve visited his boyhood Hoboken home, and shot films in his childhood playground of Washington Square Park. He is certainly the single most person that impresses me as much as I impress him. Daily we challenge each other to take steps outside of our comfort zone and embrace the unknown. His mind is still sharp as he tells his stories and experiences. This weekend he and his sons are heading into New York and have a boys weekend. He plans to show them some apartments he lived in New York so they have the perspective. In the coming weeks, he begins his video memoirs where he plans to sit and record his life experiences. As he struggles to write what he thinks he’s using the technology of a voice recorder that he will dictate into and software that will convert those recordings into written text. The challenges of life hardly challenge if you find a way to circumvent them.
My High School education was at a mediocre school in a middle class town. The curriculum was your standard 1990’s mixture of mathematics, English classes, foreign languages and hands on electives.
Most of the teachers were boring, tenured puppets, pushing the importantance of GPA’s and focusing on passing shitty Scantron tests such as the High School Profiency Test or the California Standardized Test. Tests designed to be administered where each questions answer fits into a box with choices generally A,B,C,or D. Trickery was used to generally have two of the four listed answers to appear very close to being correct however with only one correct answer generally.
This form of testing paved the way for Software Testing Metrics and State Accountability Metrics. Shitty ways to analyze shitty educations with crappy fill in the box exams.
Ironically 3 out of 4 workers sitting in cubicles are expected to think outside the box. Kenneth Cole
Critical thinking and conceptualizing aren’t taught as it’s challenging to grade concepts and philosophies.
I didn’t struggle in school I honestly just didn’t give a shit.
Refusing to study, take notes, do homework and other forced educational tasks I hardly passed any classes with better than “C”.
I’ve never crammed for a test as I felt storing pointless facts in short term memory is like exceeding a sponges saturation point.
Overfill a sponge with fluid and it’ll drip out the excess. If you don’t commit the information into long term memory, your just a test taker and a drippy sponge. Plop,plop… Good luck with life, passing tests and failing at retention and comprehension.
I always loved the first day of school walking into class while being handed a syllabus by an overzealous educator. Grabbing a seat and listening to a teachers introductory formalities about weighting of homework, quizzes, tests and class participation would be discussed and I’d glance around the room looking for the Neo Maxi Zoom Dweebi that would ask about crap like extra credit reading assignments and book reports.
Mathematics I struggled with “showing my work” as the answers always just appeared in my vision mind.
It’s doubtful I ever finished a book report completely as I always refused to create index cards, outlines and rough drafts. My final grades always included demerits for lacking the supporting documents and other time wasters.
If I can get to the correect answer who gives a fuck how I got there?
Teachers that encouraged cramming would review answers to questions that could foreseeably be on a test never anticipated the future…Google. Why crap your brain with useless facts such as the 5th President. Does anyone really give a crap? Doubtful.
So why cramming? To take tests obviously.
Sophomore year English changed it all for me with the greatest teacher I ever had. With a reading list of The Glass Menagerie, Johnny Got His Gun, 1984, Twelve Angry Men…. I was certain it would be another crappy class and another crappy year.
Guess what… I was wrong, way wrong.
His grading style was unorthodox as tests and quizzes hardly weighed anything and class participation was the main grading parameter.
Were the dweebs pissed? You bet your ass they were… and me? I was in heaven, all I had to do was read a book and participate in open class discussion. I was in, all in.
Feverishly I read every book on the list plus others. Huxley, Salinger, Orwell, Kerouac. Every evening all I did was read, ensuring full comprehension so the following day I’d engage in the classroom discussion. Hell I’d even lead it.We would argue, fight and force ourselves to reread and reevaluate.
When it was time for grading, Mr. Hughes would walk around with his grade book listing his students names however absent of any grades.
He would stop by each of our desks and ask us what we felt our grades would be.
He was an early adopter of self assessment.
Always a “C” student I was content with a “C” and Mr. Hughes would always say “Mike you deserve an “A”.
To my parents and my shock I aced Sophomore English.
I remember one day in class Mr. Hughes sent me to his car to grab a bag of tennis balls. When I returned Mr.Hughes ask me my favorite song. At the time I was heavy into Metallica and so I chose the song “One” based on the book Johnny Got His Gun. I was instructed to write a few lines of lyrics on the black board.
I can’t remember anything
Can’t tell if this is true or dream
Deep down inside I feel to scream
This terrible silence stops me
Now that the war is through with me
I’m waking up, I cannot see
That there is not much left of me
Nothing is real but pain now
Hold my breath as I wish for death
Oh please God, wake me
Back in the womb it’s much too real
In pumps life that I must feel
But can’t look forward to reveal
Look to the time when I’ll live
Fed through the tube that sticks in me
Just like a wartime novelty
Tied to machines that make me be
Cut this life off from me
Hold my breath as I wish for death
Oh please God, wake me
Now the world is gone, I’m just one
Oh God help me
Hold my breath as I wish for death
Oh please God, help me
Darkness imprisoning me
All that I see
I cannot live
I cannot die
Trapped in myself
Body my holding cell
Landmine has taken my sight
Taken my speech
Taken my hearing
Taken my arms
Taken my legs
Taken my soul
Left me with life in hell.
“One” Lyrics by Metallica
Mr. Hughes handed me three tennis balls and said ”juggle while you recite your poem”. Puzzled I remember saying it was a song, not a poem. And Mr.Hughes proved me wrong. With three tennis balls in hand he recited my “poem” while juggling.
He created a rhythm by accenting certain syllables while he was reciting. I as well as the rest of the class were in amazement. Thinking back almost 30 years later, the experience is still fresh and life changing.
Having found the way to a real interactive education based on comprehensive, free thinking, discussion, debate and re-evaluation I’ve found a path to how I interact with new life experiences. Free, opened minded and impressionable.
And how did my remaining years work out, I failed Junior English and subsequently called my teacher a talentless hack. There was only one Mr.Hughes.
So how am I an “A” player?
Daily I do self assessments to check in with myself and give myself a grade.
I don’t set an alarm clock. My bodies internal clock awakens me early and the first thing I do… read. Every day I read.
Read, Read, Read. Werner Herzog
My morning breakfast routine consists of oatmilk lattes, avocado toast and a banana. My ritual is mindless so I can read while making it.
Grab a shower, dress and walk the dogs, again while I read.
Getting through my busy day directing others, designing and building I’m personally motivated to keep moving myself and my project tasks forward.
Driven by my own rhythm and self motivation it’s my job to push others. I’m a self starter, a self motivator…. a self assessor. And thats how i manage.
Not everyday do I give myself an “A”. Some days I fail and occasionally miserably. However I will assess the situation and right my off course ship, set her sails and regain my course.
I’m certainly not the smartest person, nor the best writer nor the greatest communicator. But everyday I awaken with a fire, sparked in a windowless classroom by an educator that said “be who you want to be. Just be honest to yourself”.
Without a doubt I’m a storyteller. Everywhere I travel I’ll find a purposeful narrative from my experiences. With the quality of the gift to gab as well as an artful eye, my stories can be witty and engaging yet often long winded and tiresome.
With a narrative history storytelling style I’ll always start with a pre-story illustrating the stage of the story to give the listener perspective. I alway analyze the listeners reaction and modify the story as needed to maintain engagement. Facial expressions and body language along with the listeners interjectionS are clues their connecting to the story.
Some people nod their heads up and down like a bobble head while I can see in their eyes…. I’ve lost them.
Creative writing is a bit different as I’m uncertain to whom I’m writing and what the faceless reaction is. Talking into a soundless abyss if I’m not writing for myself I’ll wind up lost. Lately I’ve been using the percentage of articles read or reader engagement as my metrics to determine my small audiences comprehension and connection.
Attempting to engage a mass audience and formulating my story to suit the masses leaves me angry and incomplete.
Lately my personal challenge is to write an article per day. The idea of writing a coherent engaging article based on any semblance of reality besides my own interpretation requires quite a bit of thought and research. Telling stories for me is actually really easy and so for the most part I’ll write first person narratives.
To motivate myself and get my creative juices flowing I’ll flip thru the 15k photos I have on my cell to determine my daily topic. Finding an inspiring image starts my imagination and internal voice to flow. The sentences formulate quickly into paragraphs as the storyline unfolds.
Thinking like a screenwriter for a film I’ll use the image as a springboard to enter into creative nirvana. With a limited writing skillset I begin the text with basic information such as where I am and why. Proper grammar is less important than getting my point across clearly.
Sitting here naked, vulnerable and alone with my thoughts I start to write without fear nor remorse as I honestly attempt to articulate the situations I’m experiencing and hoping it can be felt as I write.
Armed with only an iPad or my laptop, I write how inspired I am by this thing called life.
Originally I was attempting to wake up early in the morning and begin to write. Issue I was having was I’d awaken refreshed, cheerful and ready to embrace my day. My writing was nothing more than bubblegum words stuck together exposing my early morning meditative state of unrealistic world happiness. Sentences of boring text lacking the abrasive grit of my actual voice I decided to write later in the day after I’d encountered the irregularities and stress encountered throughout my day. Struggling to make it thru without tainting the meat in my head I call my brain.
As reality sinks in often quickly, the days phone calls and emails can change my emotions, it’s then I find I can articulate my most honest emotional thoughts.
Deep concentrated breathing helps me snap back into my own conscious state of calm. Brushing off the uncontrollable frustrations I turn to creative writing to release me tensions.
Rules are made to be broken or at least modified and as it’s generally my modus operandi to bend the rules daily I decided my creative writing should follow a series of rules. Most of which I’ll probably break.
Honesty. Don’t say it or write if it’s not honest
Write for myself and tell stories I’d enjoy to share
Use original photography and my “inside voice”
Publish or post daily
Medium has been a great format for publishing my literary works. With a wide range of topics and a high amount followers in many of the publications I decided to post everything on the site.
The double edged sword was when my second article was published and I began to receive an increase in followers and likes. My email feed began to fill with articles on becoming a better writer, where to buy stock images and social media marketing.
In order and to maintain my status as a writer in a publication I recognized I needed to increase the quality of my articles by using catchy titles with trigger words and stock photography.
I’m unwilling to compromise my artistic style and so I write using the honest wisdom of my inner voice.