The last few months have been some of the busiest of my career (Thanks, President Trump!*).
The level of busy is positive for income and also for how it’s teaching me about my craft. While I make mistakes all the time on sets, I’ve learned how to deal with them better.
Another way to look at it is that I turn failures into opportunities. And that generally feels good.
Tina and I haven’t had a day off in what seems like forever. There wouldn’t be any real way to count. It would be exaggeration to claim no day off in months. There’s not a day that goes by when we don’t do something work related.
When we’re busy, my social life, media diet and reading life turns to shit. It kills me when I feel like I can’t keep up with my friends, or even maintain my personal media diet of books, exercise and mediation. Through the thick of it, I try my damnedest when and where I can.
Last Saturday night, Tina took some time to spend with her cousin Kelly and other girlfriends. I hunkered down and worked the night away on some interiors photography that had a hard deadline. It’s work that I’m really proud of, but can’t share because it has to publish first in a magazine. After that, I can share it.
Most of the night, I listened to one of my favorite radio stations: Nova Radio France. They play a mix of House, Jazz, some disco, etc. I heard a version of a Radiohead song once that I can’t find and it’s killing me. A lot of the music on Nova is bass-driven, and I think that’s why I like it so much. I used to play bass (try to anyway). Plus I get a little taste of French between songs, or in French songs, or in interviews they do with DJs.
Lately, they’ve turned me on to a pair of beautiful twin artist who go by Ibeyi. They’re super thought provoking and talented. Plus, I have a weakness for female vocalists.
I have a weakness, too, for hip hop and most anything with a, dare I say, cheesy beat. On my running mix, I have Chainsmokers, Lorde, and Kiiara. I’m practically embarrassed to admit that I have Kygo and Selena Gomez’s It Ain’t Me in that mix. There’s an octave change around the last 1/3 of the song, around 2:45 in the music video, that makes me as happy as the one in Kendrick Lamar’s I (more below).
But shit like that and listening to French radio, those songs paved the way for me to include work from Jax Johnson (above) in my running mix. I love seeing how the song is constructed live by one dude. When he swings that bass around (my favorite), it tiddles my tattles.
Ever since Kendrick Lamar’s SNL performance (click below) of I, I knew I liked the artist. And it always bothered me that the performance was so different from the studio version (and it’s different from the music video version of the song).
But it wasn’t until much more recently, I heard the song King Kunta off the same album as I and I was hooked.
I’m pretty sure Kendrick Lamar is damn near genius.
I want a personal relationship with you
When we’re busy, it affects our personal relationships. My social life goes into a tailspin during these times. Tina and I try to keep up with several different designers and creative friends on a personal basis, and those times suffer.
Through all of the business, I’ve been keeping a bi-weekly appointment with a therapist, which I think is a valuable investment into my headspace. I’ve really learned a lot about some of my more angry experiences, how to approach them with more mindfulness, and how to forgive myself when shit hits fans.
If it weren’t for my relationship both personally and professionally with my wife Tina, I’d be in a gutter for sure.
Part of my news media diet lately has been avoiding some fattening sources like Facebook and even Instagram. My favorite blogs are FStoppers, Kottke, Joe My God and TYWKIWDBI.
I’ve been reading Apple News on my iPad in the mornings while I wait for Tina to stir. I still put NPR in the background when I work, but turn it off for hours at a time to check into some music. As well as streaming Nova France, we’ve been listening to the a local college radio station 88.7 WLUW instead of shit radio.
Faith is Fake News
No matter what I do, I’m always thrown off by “faith” or belief found in “news”. News should be reality based. If you can’t interview God, you shouldn’t source him as a character in your articles.
Apple News is a recommendation-based service. I’m not sure why they recommend certain articles. CNN is prevalent in my feed. I don’t remember ever designating them as a source I was interested in.
FOX News is also in my feed. Their articles tend to be about teachers accused of raping students and other stupid shit. It always throws me off when a “news” source integrates religious ideas into the news. Like that’s “news”.
This week, I read an article on Apple News from FOX about Chip Gaine’s faith.
Chip Gaines is the husband/demolition and all-around handyman carpenter builder from “Fixer Upper”, a show that Tina likes to put on, and I happen to watch from my computer when I’m editing at night. I happen to know that they are religious, which doesn’t really seep into their show that I’m aware of.
In this article, Gaines says,
“For me, [faith] changed everything,” Chip told us. “It’s a part of who I am. I can’t separate the two.”
“I try not to rub it in anybody’s face. I’m not real boisterous about it but people seem to find out about it just through the way that Jo and I live our lives.”
I read this article with interest, because the quotes are almost identical to things I said as a Christian … “Faith changed everything.” Said that.
“I can’t separate the two.”
Yep, said that.
“I try not to rub it in anyone’s face.”
Yep, tried that one.
Back in my teens and twenties, I was an outspoken voice for faith. I lost a lot of my evangelical faith in college, but held on to some form of faith with two, white knuckled fists for most of my twenties. My goal was to become a liberal Christian at one time. I was turned on by lots of Jewish studies and mystical teaching.
But at some point I had to let go, because deep down I didn’t believe in Jesus as a savior, or as God, but as some good character to glean some good discipline and behavior from.
It was Jesus, in a way, who guided me to disbelief. Everything I was taught about him really didn’t exist in church anyway. It’s more of a way to speak than a way to live. And I still feel like I’m a better Christian now than before, and I don’t even believe in the deity aspect of faith.
I say that because now I truly think of selflessness as one of the most important parts of relationships. And through therapy and mediation, I find myself strengthened by a more balanced approach to listening and being present with Tina and others.
In fact, I think that the more I think about faith, I think it damages relationships. Let me explain.
In that same article about Gaines, there’s a quote from Chip’s wife Joanna that reads,
“I had to learn that this whole God thing isn’t just this big religion. It’s really that He wants this relationship with us on a personal level. Even today with the opportunities that are coming our way… I need His guidance. Otherwise I’d say yes to everything.”
God wants a relationship on a personal level. Yep, said that too …
I need his guidance … yep, done that!
I was taught that God wants a personal relationship with you. I’ve been told that to know Jesus better, you must spent more time with him. He is God after all, the nicer kinder gentler face of the mysterious megalomaniac known as Gee Oh Dee.
That Joanna Gaines quote, by the way, is so so so so exhaustingly elitist. It assumes that God smiles so much on giving success to certain people that it comes in abundance. It assumes that God somehow loves Chip and Joanna more than people (who love God too) living in squalor. It assumes God favors certain children over others. It assumes that God is a big AWESOME SAUCE to some and a big fucking jerk to anyone who with a handicap, a disability or little girls all over the world sold into sexual slavery, or anyone who can’t make rent or anyone who doesn’t have the success that Chip and Joanna worked really fucking hard to achieve.
How do you have a personal relationship? Seriously? Seriously. How do you have a personal relationship with anyone? Let’s not talk about God right now.
Let’s talk about personal relationships. Ones where you meet someone today and say, “Hey, I’d like to have coffee with you.” “Hey, let’s go on a date.” Or “Come over to my house! I want to make you dinner. I want you to meet my wife.”
Or do you have a picture of someone that has been passed down to you from long long ago? Everything you know of this person in the picture is from hearsay. Some it is from teachers and mentors. You know so much about the person that you believe you know them personally?
Do you look at a picture of them, tell the picture all about your day, tell picture the mistakes you’ve made, the good things about your day, ask the picture for help?
What if that person in the picture walked into the room. When you see them, they claim to know you, too. They claim to have designed you.
Or what if you get mad because they pretend to know absolutely nothing about you, your vulnerabilities, your hopes and dreams. When you realize your picture of this person and your knowledge of them is all completely made up … what do you do? Do you sit down and start erasing the stories you made up, or someone else fed your head? Or do you say, “I like my picture of you better than you. Please go away.”
A personal relationship is an investment of time. Of listening. Of eating together.
If you eat and even sleep with that picture of a friend, you may think you know that person, and know them well.
But you’ll be very surprised if you actually meet up with the person in your picture and actually had a two way conversation. You’ll be surprised to hear about their real experiences, that they even have a voice, and that they think you’re picture of them couldn’t be further from the truth.
With Jesus and the Gee Oh Dee, you are recommended to pray. Prayer in a religious sense is defined as talking to God. This is a direct line you have to tell God anything. This can be done out loud or in your head. It doesn’t matter. God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit hear that. They’ve got your back. As long as you believe.
But a personal relationship with God is a one-way relationship with a picture handed down by a bunch of irresponsible assholes who want you to have the same relationship that they have with the picture they have had all their life …
And if you hear something back from your picture, as long as it falls in line with certain thought/ideas about the Bible, and the ideas you were handed down by the legacy of your culture’s faith, then it’s probably God’s voice talking back to you.
But in real life, this is ridiculous. The idea that you talk to God and he talks to you. This is all in the head. It’s personal. Yes. It’s nuts.
For me, there was a point when I was tired, sick and tired, of a relationship with a picture of God … There comes a point when I read the bible as not the voice of God, but the voices of men who wanted to paint a picture of something unpaintable.
The picture of God varies from man to man, woman to woman, culture to culture. People start saying your picture is wrong. My picture has more scars and wrinkles.
My picture has more brown hair. Mine has thick black hair.
Mine has a beard.
Mine shaves his armpits.
My picture is more feminine.
Mine has a goatee.
My picture has bigger muscles.
My picture’s caption is in Arabic.
My picture has three people who are one.
My picture captures God creating everything.
My picture has a zillion who are different.
Well, my picture has no one in it. And I’m good with that.
If everyone’s picture is different, and everyone’s picture is personal, and there becomes conflict. I’d rather stay away from that conflict. I’d rather have personal relationships with people.
That leads me to my last point. And it’s this. When people have a “personal relationship” with God, I see that as a one-way experience. When you’re used to being the sole true voice in the relationship, you start to think one-way relationships are just fine.
Your ear for “listening” is damaged when your best personal relationship, the one you think is supernatural, is based on a “talk to” or “pray to” relationship. It creates a culture of “I think I know what you like and need” rather than I’m interested in hearing about your day.
When you’re picture of your friends is personal, heady, not created by a picture that the person gave you with his/her own lips, it handicaps the brain.
I’m proud that my “personal relationship” definition isn’t a one-way experience. It hurts me when my busy-ness damages the value of together time. Real togetherness.
And I’m particularly happy that I can literally (not figuratively) see, hear, touch and smell my personal relationships.
And yes, I realize that Chip, Joanna, lots of my loved ones, friends, family and acquaintances, truly believe their relationship with God, their picture of him, is true, it’s real, it’s personal. I would remind you and them that I did, too.
My question’s are: is it real? Is it personal? Is it really fulfilling? Are you SURE?
* If you didn’t read that “Thanks, Trump” as sarcasm, you don’t know me.