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Don't Transfer the Ox's Load to the Cow

I pride myself on being well-informed. I pride myself on having good taste. I judge myself so harshly and berate myself so aggressively that I'm left to wonder how this rigorous humility might serve me. Perhaps it saves me the trouble of taking on some of the work I want to do, that I could be doing.

I began my published writing career in college, as a music critic, in a town heavily populated with the musicians I was criticizing. By hanging out with them and working alongside them as a dishwasher (because they took the jobs that were lax enough to let them to tour Indonesia for three months in pursuit of their passions), I learned that they weren't gods. They weren't particularly cool people. They were just doing stuff. And I was putting a lot of pressure on them to create the sort of work I wanted to hear, instead of learning to do my own stuff.

Being well-informed isn't what it used to be. In the age of Wikipedia and Google, there's much to be said for finding the calm spaces within ourselves that are easily obscured by information overload.

And taste? Taste is a beast. Refined taste makes it particularly hard to launch my own projects without spending a lot of time in the Seth Godin Dip and the Ira Glass Taste Gap.

After experimenting with hardcore asceticism, the Buddha decided instead to go out into the world and to teach, to be part of his own lessons and classroom. In the Shambhala tradition, we meditate with open eyes. We do this for several reasons, one of which is that we want to take the insights of meditation into the rest of our lives, to practice seeing things as they are with posture lifted and eyelids ajar.

After college, I began to focus on my own path. I made my own art. I reported live from the Dip and the Gap. I performed spoken word in Champaign-Urbana with a new-age jazz band. I look back on my old stuff and cringe. I look at a lot of my new stuff and cringe. But I believe I'm better off this way. It beats passing the buck.

If you want to Be the Change You Want to See in the World, you have to start somewhere. It's often a painful place. But your creative endeavors make me happy to be alive, and I hope that every day for you can be Ruckusmakers Day.

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