Finding Vivian Maier

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gif via Fast Company

The 19th-century French novelist Gustave Flaubert once said to be “be regular and orderly in your life like a Bourgeois so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

Vivian Maier took this to heart. No one ever knew this nanny was an artist of her own.

She took over 100,000 photos, mostly street photographs of downtown Chicago, and kept them for her own viewing, including her selfies. Taking pictures was her happy place, a creative outlet, that allowed her to see the world with a third eye. She wrote with light.

Today, Maier would’ve been an Instagram and VSCO sensation. While she may have resisted social media given her inclination as a loner, she probably would’ve enjoyed connecting with others who shared the same passion. The internet unleashes the weirdness in all of us, motivating us to share our work.

Van Gogh only sold one piece of artwork in his life, to his brother. His posthumous reputation speaks for itself, as does Maier’s.

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Don’t let social media use you

Attention is a gift that the social networks want to steal from you. Here’s a simple trick to ward off their magnetism and catch yourself: put the social apps on the fourth home screen.

That’s right: make it harder to access Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest with just a couple taps. The design hurdle allows the mind to pause before engaging into a sinkhole of distraction and emotional envy.

Take back control of your time and don’t let social media use you. Direct its intention by redirecting your attention. Let the story be about your presence.

Break the Code

Image by Joel Filipe

Your DNA runs on a floppy disk. You are who you are from the minute you’re born. That’s just the way it is. Deal with it.

While your genes predetermine your physicality and mentality, the latter is more malleable. My favorite stories are those that break the rules. Someone defies the caste system; they pick themselves instead of waiting for someone to pick them. They embrace the fear but do it anyway.

Everyone’s got tendencies; most people let their doubt win. Staying pumped up takes practice. Believe long enough and supplement it with effort and magically things start to unfold. They have to. It’s the law of momentum.

Persistence requires staying upbeat. As Muhammad Ali said: “When I win the fight,” he already predetermined the outcome. He was either going to be right or be upset but move on anyway. When they studied Ali, he apparently had none of the characteristics of being a boxer.

Prepare for the best by being at your best when your best is needed. What else is there to lose but the genes? The mind is naked. Break the code.

Dream wildly but be bluntly honest with what you need to do to get there.

What Matters Isn’t Always Popular

what matters isn't always popular
No need to jump through hoops

If you’ve ever published anything on the web you know what it’s like when all you hear are crickets. No likes, no comments, no reshares.

You think your content sucks because no one’s acknowledging you. But it’s a misconception to sell your work short, especially if it’s your labor of love.

There are 2.1 billion+ people on the Internet. If you’re writing, acting, or sharing your music someone’s going to connect with you. They may be a fan, a teacher, or someone you admire within your scenius. But you’re never going to appeal to everyone.

“The less reassurance we can give you the more important the work is.”

All social media is based on reassurance. That’s why most Instagram content looks the same. If you want to guarantee success, you’ll share photos of beaches, dogs, selfies, and food.

“We were raised to do things that work.”

But why not challenge sameness by trying something new? Go for some tension. Err on the side of being vulnerable if it means you get to make the stuff that makes you happy.

Unlike politics, creativity asks that you own up to being edgy, different. People that make change stand up and take responsibility for causing a ruckus.

“The internet could save your life because it’ll keep you from a lifetime of being told what to do.”

Choose yourself. The rest follows.

All quotes above are from Seth Godin’s most recent presentation. Watch it below.

The barber paradox

Image via Nautilus

Imagine that you live in a remote town in the Austrian Alps that only has one barber. You either shave yourself or go to the barber. But who shaves the barber? The British philosopher Bertrand Russell coined the puzzle ‘the barber paradox.’

Language confounds meaning. In the case of contradiction, everything is true, and nothing is true. It’s a gray area with almost no answer but in the exponential.

“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.”

Toni Morrison

Combines


Nothing goes to waste. It all cross-pollinates.

Picasso’s sculpture work bled into his paintings, as did his work in theater.

What we want to pursue are our interests, not what they should amount to. Seek a lifestyle rather than a categorization.

“Work as hard as much as you want to on the things you like to do the best. Don’t think about what you want to be, but what you want to do!”

— Richard Feynman

Loop dreams 💤

Image via Cristian Newman

Dreams are unconstrained remixes of reality. They manufacture light and float with fantasy, all lucid to the sleeper. Anxiety, happiness, emotions — it’s all tangible in a slumber.

We dream when we’re awake too — we just call it using the imagination. Yet, we restrain the material world to a predictable order. We crimp our creativity.

We make better movies when we dream to sleep. Being awake is a boring hallucination.

Read Dreaming Outside Our Heads