Tag Archives: uncertainty

Stretch Your Canvas

This is one of many lovely art works I’ve collected over the years, made by people who I work with who tell me they cannot draw. Apologies, I don’t currently know the name of the artist, but what we have here is a visual response to the question ‘what brings you joy?’.

A lot of my work is about encouraging folk who talk about creativity and innovation, to talk a little less, and do a little more. Take some action – convert your thoughts and ideas into objects and artefacts, learning from what that feels like. Something I observe in the work, is it needs repeated practice. Doing things differently often doesn’t come easy, and when you and I cannot respond positively to the ‘so when was the last time you did something you felt uneasy about?’ question, we undermine our ability to encourage, to influence.

In the coming weeks I am particularly busy, playing in the space where people’s desire to progress meets the stalling effects of uncertainty. For me – I feel better equipped to help people move through these feelings, into participation, when I am also pushing myself. In order to refresh this desire, at the beginning of last week I decided to take part in an open mic event at The Brook, a lovely venue just down the road from me. As the big day drew nearer I realised that this was no ordinary open mic night. A band called Love Zombies were visiting the UK to record a new album at The Brook, and the venue announced the band would be taking part in the open mic evening.

I arrived and the place was packed. I nervously approached Dan, who organises/encourages/sets up/pretty much does everything to make these evenings work well, and asked for a slot. 9.15pm it is then. At 8pm I take my seat and watch the venue come alive.

Love Zombies played first, then a series of talented local musicians took to the stage, as each one concludes their short act, my time of reckoning draws nearer. Heart thumping, 9.15pm comes and goes, things are understandably overrunning a little, it’s hectic in here. I lost my bottle at around 10pm, and went to find Dan to apologise before leaving. He said sorry for the delay, I realised I was being a chump, and we opted for a 10.15pm start.

At the reallotted time I took to the stage, nervously, and played two songs. I fluffed the first (When I Grow Up – by Tim Minchin), picked myself up and finished it, and the second (Where In The Hell Did You Go With My Toothbrush – by The Reverend Horton Heat) came out better, in the right order at least! I did what I set out to do. Sure, I made some mistakes along the way, and I got it done. I’m as certain as I can be that further mistakes will occur in the coming weeks too, and I’m also certain that when someone asks me ‘so when was the last time you did something you felt uneasy about?’ I can respond positively, currently, and authentically.

Whatever you’re up to this week, go well, have fun, and maybe even make a mistake or two? 😉

Martin and Mark

A post about being in a hole, and finding a way out.

Suddenly I stop
But I know it’s too late
I’m lost in a forest
All alone – Robert Smith

The impulse is pure
Sometimes our circuits get shorted
By external interference
Signals get crossed
And the balance distorted
By internal incoherence – Neil Peart

Change is the only constant – A. Smartarse

Sometimes, work sucks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fortunate compared to many people, but sometimes, work sucks. Projects get deferred, postponed, parked and abandoned. Plans made carefully over time, can drift apart in seconds. We all now how that feels. It’s quite common for things to shift, and it’s thankfully less common for so many things to slip at once. Right now, I find myself in the middle of a lot of this stuff. A few short  weeks ago I felt like I was on solid ground, currently it feels more like quicksand. I’m not complaining – just noting this is how it is some times, and it gets me down. I’m only human.

Martin

I caught up with Martin Couzins earlier in the week. Martin is a great guy and we had a lovely, lively conversation. We spoke about all things good and bad, challenging and frustrating, uplifting and depressing. We spoke frankly and honestly. Martin is a great listener, generous in spirit and also with his time. We parted company after a little over 90 minutes, with me in a very different place to when I arrived. Thank you Martin, you are a good friend and I needed to see you more than I realised. My work doesn’t suck so bad.

Mark

As I walked to the tube station to start my journey back to the office, I passed by a guy and his dog, sitting on the pavement near Gloucester Road tube. I saw some sketches at his feet. I stopped to admire the artwork, sat on the pavement with the guy, and we started to talk. Mark is homeless, he’s been on the streets for three years. When he found himself homeless, he couldn’t bring himself to beg, and he didn’t want to start drinking, so he decided to make art instead.

Family Tree

As you can see, he’s quite the artist, though he assured me that when he started drawing three years ago, ‘it was all stick men’. I showed him some of my pictures, and he showed me more of his. Two artists (and a dog) sitting together on the pavement outside Gloucester Road tube. I gave Mark a few water colour pencils – treasured possessions of mine, time to pass them on. He offered me the picture of his which I had been admiring, I took it and insisted on paying for it. I tucked £10 under his pencil tin, and he put it away. ‘There are a lot of people on the streets who will have that away if I leave it in sight’. We talked a while longer about our art as our work, and parted company. Thank you Mark, for helping me reconnect to my work and realising, it doesn’t suck so bad.

So what?

Things go wrong all the time. When this happens, I have a tendency to keep things bottled up. This is partly because I’m an optimist first and foremost, and partly because I feel a sense of pressure to comply with a culture of ‘Everything is Awesome’, which often pervades my social networks.

The truth is, you cannot know joy without despair, happy without sad. Life is a wonderfully mixed bag, and to deny this, is unhelpful, even dangerous.

Conversations with good people are a great way to put things in perspective and move on. My day concluded with me finishing a key part of an important project. Thank you Martin and Mark.