Do one thing everyday that scares you. – Eleanor Roosevelt
After practicing movement and martial arts for so long, I sometimes lose track of the reasons I started in the first place. Lately, I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus, but I was able to get some training time in last weekend. The combination of time off plus the intensity of training reminded me of why I do this in the first place, and, more importantly, why I want to do this every single day.
You see, when I train regularly, I feel capable. I feel like I can handle whatever life might throw at me. I feel eager to face more tests and rise to more challenges.
I think this is one of the most important elements of any kind of regular training routine: that it allows us to challenge ourselves in such a way that we can overcome small hardships regularly. This gives us the mental stance of seeking out more challenges, rather than avoiding them.
One reason I feel so off when I’m not practicing regularly is because I’m stagnating. In the absence of challenge, the spirit turns soft, just as the body becomes weak in the absence of load.
Applying Your Training to Everyday Life
Many of the obstacles we face require us to trust in our skills, to work with and rely on others, to go out on a limb, or to take a leap of faith. Sometimes the biggest thing stopping us is fear of the consequences of failure: if things go horribly wrong, can I land on my feet?
So how can movement training help with this?
I’ll use this weekend’s training session as an example. The main focus of the workout was actually overcoming fear, so the skill I was working towards was balancing across the top of a swing set. The surface itself was well within my capabilities, but the height added an element of fear that made it much harder. Here is a list of the ways I tried to accomplish that and what I learned.
- Crawl across: I learned that I always have a fallback if I need it. It might not be as fast or effective, but it gives me a way to accomplish the task without any fear of falling. The lesson: Just because you can’t do something well doesn’t mean you can’t, or shouldn’t, do it at all. Starting and making do with what you’ve got is the best way to get better.
- Stand: I tried standing on the beam, and actually did pretty well. As I lifted my body, I tried to do exactly what I normally do when balancing: look straight ahead and trust my feet. Of course, when you’re ten feet off the ground, there is a very strong urge to look down, which I did by reflex. I immediately fell, but was able to easily catch myself and get back on the beam. That alone put my fears in perspective; even if the worst should happen, I had the ability to save the situation and get back on to keep going. Lesson: In other areas of life, we may discount our ability to handle the inevitable crises and difficulties that will crop up, and this can paralyze us from taking any action at all. Just because something is hard doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing; quite the opposite in fact.
- Crouch Walk: Getting across the beam in some kind of walk forced me to hold myself up and actually move forward. Every time I started losing balance, I reminded myself that the fear was extra and had nothing to do with how to perform this skill. I just focused on doing the things I normally do: look up, keep my spine straight, rise off the beam a little, and move forward! Every time I started to think, “This is different from anything else,” I would hunch down and get wobbly. The lesson: Sometimes situations only look bad but are actually something we are accustomed to. We shouldn’t change our routines when we know they work just because the stakes have changed.
- Falling: I fell a lot, but I never got hurt. I was able to catch myself every time, partly because I was being extremely careful but also because I knew my limits. Even if I wasn’t the greatest at balancing, I have good reflexes and am a powerful climber. I’d also tested my falling ability in less dangerous situations, so I knew what I could handle. Each time I fell, I was less scared to get up and try again. The lesson: Know your limits and your abilities. Don’t go beyond them, but also don’t underestimate them. Also, failure is an important part of learning confidence, because it teaches us a) what not to do, and b) that the consequences aren’t as severe as we fear.
- Overall: Being up on the swing was actually really scary, to the point that I would be shaking and my heart rate would elevate just crouching there. I had to focus my breathing and mindset to calm down. That enabled me to perform better. The effect of fear was far out of proportion to the situation. The lesson: our fear of something isn’t necessarily related to how good we are at it, and might not be a good indicator of whether we have any business doing something. Being able to see fear as something separate from the action can help us put it into perspective.
- Climbing up: Climbing on top of a swing set takes some doing. That’s a lot of work to put yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Getting out of the situation (safely) is almost as difficult. So once you’re up there, you’re committed. The lesson: It’s useful to learn how to put ourselves in situations we can’t easily back out of, and it gives an understanding of what commitment entails. We don’t often deal with that in a society that provides safety nets and escape routes for so many things, with plenty of ways to walk away without incurring consequences.
Walking home, I felt more in control of myself, having explored an entire toolbox of mental tools to overcome my inner demons and accomplish my goals despite them. I was energized and eager to tackle the blocks in my life, confident that I could handle them.
Obviously, you don’t have to be ten feet up to face your fears, but the point is that it should be a part of your training or practice. Doing that safely requires a careful and skillful manipulation of risk and danger to challenge your sense of safety without actually putting you in harm’s way.
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Upon returning from my trip to Utah, I’ve found myself caught in a whirlwind of activity, trying to catch up with all sorts of projects. This hasn’t given me time to act on the important things that are normally part of my routine, nor the amazing insights I gained in the desert of the Canyonlands. That’s one reason this post is late. It is a pattern I’ve noticed in myself before, when I lived in Korea and was trying to establish a match between the life and wanted and the life I ended up living.
Every now and then, it’s good to take stock of how closely the life you’re actually living matches the life you want to be living. Are the things that are important to you getting their due, or are they just sitting on the back burner, day after day?
I find that stress tends to lead me to give up on my routines and plans with the excuse of surviving or making do.
It’s like that saying about putting your head down and plowing through. You don’t know (or don’t want to know) where you’re going, you just need to get through whatever’s in front you, as fast as possible, without regard to finesse or tact.
But the problem with doing that is that sometimes you move forward only to look up to find yourself somewhere you didn’t mean to go. Then you’ve got to go back or find another way. You’ve wasted effort.
Or worse, because you haven’t taken the time to plot your course, you end up barreling into another crisis situation, and the only way to deal with that is to do the same thing that got you there in the first place. Then, you become a slave to events, moving in the direction set by each crisis. At first, you are just telling yourself, “I just need to get through this week, then everything will be back on track.” But when that week passes, you haven’t taken the time to set your course, and it becomes another week or ‘getting through,’ then another, then another, until you find yourself lost. read more…
I had to pick an answer in the middle somewhere, because while I normally feel that I should take an active role in my life, lately I have felt that I am intended as an instrument for something. When I am doing the ‘wrong’ thing, my life seems very difficult, like swimming upstream. When I finally decide to stop fighting or stop making excuses for doing the things I want to do, suddenly I’m flowing along and everything comes easily. I make more progress in a day than I would have in a week.
The problem is figuring out specifically what I’m supposed to be doing. Sometimes it’s obvious–I want to go hiking around in the woods, climbing trees, bounding over rocks–but I keep making excuses and don’t make the time. Then, when I decide to stop putting off the things I really want to do, all the stress and stuckness in my life, even in unrelated areas, seems to dissipate. I feel relieved and happy.
Other times, I think I know what I want but really I’m being led by my ego or external expectations of what I should be doing. For example, making a lot of money has been a driving force in my life for a long time, but I think it’s motivated by fear or a need to impress. Not the sort of thing the universe gets behind.
Lately, I’ve felt like the universe is trying very hard to tell me something, and so I’m trying to allow more experiences, rather than directing too much.
I’m not normally a huge believer in the metaphysical, at least not as something that can manifest tangibly, but lately I’ve had some experiences that defy my normally pragmatic, down-to-earth worldview. Visions and coincidences, compulsions and behaviors that fall squarely outside of my normal framework have forced me to reconsider myself and my world.
Take my morning hikes for example. They have started to feel more and more layered, like there is something tangible going on behind what I can see and hear and smell. Every step sends ripples throughout the space, ripples I can’t help but notice because they come back to me, and walking along a trail feels like walking through an infinitely complex web of strands reaching throughout the forest, into the past and into the future.
It is almost as if the facade of sight and smell and sound has been revealed to be a curtain, and I can tell there is a lot going on behind the curtain. Walking along, I’m running my hand on the curtain, and I can sense things happening behind it, sometimes even feel something solid. Life really is starting to feel like The Matrix.
Every now and then, the curtain pushes back far enough that I can actually see back there. And the things I see are both exciting and terrifying. Terrifying not because they are inherently scary, but because they imply so much more to life than I had previously understood or accepted as true. I take this as a sign that I need to reassess the direction of my actions and how my values interact with the world. It suggests to me that I have a lot to learn.
It makes the whole experience very exhausting.
I’ve tried to explain things with rational psychology, but the most rational explanations actually seem to be the mystical ones, or at least of a psychology far more subtle, sensitive, and complex than anything covered in Respectable Publications (or even pop psychology). We’re talking about concrete experiences of collective unconscious, genetic memory, primal heritage, and communion with nature.
I worry that I’m losing it.
Except that one image I had was of a wolf, which is apparently a symbol of spiritual protection, a sign that no matter how scary or weird things get, someone or something is watching over me to make sure I come out of it alright.
I’ll be in Utah, lost in the desert somewhere with my dad, until May 14th. This post should hold you until then. In the meantime, ponder this in the comments: “Do you direct your experiences, or allow experiences to happen to you?”
Photo Credit: photo_gratis on Flickr
This post is shared with my movement training website. Head over there if you’re curious about learning to move with power and grace.
Now that I live in Boulder, I have the great opportunity to share my love of natural, playful, useful movement with the great community of the University of Colorado at Boulder. With its thriving athletics community and the fact that it is the heart of outdoor- and wellness-obsessed Boulder, CU is the perfect place to introduce young athletes to the concept that exercise doesn’t have to be a chore.
But first, I have to prove my skills to the head of the fitness department, and while I do this stuff because I want to flow like a wild animal ninja through the woods, I knew I’d have to tone it down a bit to avoid alienating her. On Tuesday, I had my interview. Here is how it went:
I arrived early to make sure I had time to orient myself to the facilities. The head of the department had structured the interview as a ‘Snapshot’ training session; I would be training one of CU’s established trainers, who would be acting as a naive client. We met outside the locker room, I got changed, and we headed up to the massive weight and cardio room that serves the CU student population.
As I walked by rows and rows of weight machines and treadmills, I began to doubt myself. It was clear that the status quo was well-entrenched here. I didn’t want to estrange my ‘client’, who, as a trainer herself, would probably have some very strong opinions about what was legitimate and what was ridiculous.
I had two choices:
- Follow the program I had drafted, which was a standard weight loss/strength/’firming up’ sequence, with some MovNat thrown into the warmup, OR
- Really emphasize the natural movement and blow her mind, hoping that she would get it.
I chose the latter. read more…
The problem with charging people for a service is that it limits who is worthy of being helped.
I’ve been in the position of being someone who is really passionate about learning a skill, and would make the perfect student, but who cannot afford something. It never felt fair because it suggests that only rich people can be skilled or learned or whatever.
If I believe that people will benefit from learning how to be more in-tune with their bodies, to move with power and grace, then presumably this applies to all people. However, if I charge a lot of money for it, then I’m saying that only people with plenty of disposable income are worth being helped, and I simply don’t believe that.
If I don’t charge a lot of money for it, then I’m devaluing myself and the importance of what I do.
I know I need to make a living in order to be able to survive so that I can continue to help people, but I can’t make that reality fit with my sense that I’m excluding a large number of people who couldn’t afford what I’d like to charge (or what I feel I deserve).
How do people reconcile these two issues? Any advice or input would be really helpful right now.
A friend suggested that I not diminish the value of what I offer, but instead find creative ways to help others meet that value. So, if someone doesn’t have the money, ask if they have some other way that can fill the difference.
Possible ideas include:
- Referrals: Instead of paying full price, they make up the difference with referrals. If they don’t bring in enough referrals, they can’t continue training.
- Other services: Everyone’s got some kind of expertise. Maybe they can offer something I need in exchange for training.
- Access to networks: The opportunity to present my ideas in front of larger audiences is certainly a valuable exchange.
I guess it relates to having a sense of self-worth, which is ultimately the most important thing you can offer a community. Without it, you end up being consumed and sucked dry, left with nothing to offer. With it, you hold on to enough energy to continue giving.
Photo Credit: stevendepolo on Flickr
I was recently featured on the MovNat blog, talking about how much of a pansy I am (sort of). I thought I’d just share that article for today.
One thing they never tell you about barefoot running is how painful it can be. When you step out on a trail for your first totally unshod trek, eager to run wild and free though the forest, you are suddenly struck with an unexpected problem: tiny pebbles.
I had been doing trail runs in my “barefoot” shoes (talk about an oxymoron) for about two years before I took my first completely naked run. Even in those light shoes, you can step wherever you want. As soon as the shoes come off, however, every little pebble makes a difference. A false step on something sharp can throw off your balance enough to cause a fall, even if it doesn’t cut.
You realize just how small your margin of error has become. You realize how truly frail human beings are.
This was perhaps the biggest lesson I got out of practicing MovNat and other movements applicable to the real world. It’s fine to crawl on a flat, clean gym floor, but when you start crawling around obstacles, you learn just how useful (and limited) your conditioning is. The difference between a tree branch and a smooth bar is about as big as the scrapes you get all over your body for using sloppy technique.
You can read the rest over on the MovNat blog.
How do you define your personal success? When asked what you want in life, do you tell people the job you want to do, or the kind of company and environment you want to work for, or the effect you want to have on the world?
Yesterday, I was meeting with a mentor to figure out what I needed to do to be successful and happy in Boulder now that I’ve quit my job, and to understand why I felt the need to quit my job in the first place (oh yeah, Mom and Dad, by the way, I quit my job.
He told me the story of figuring out his own path, sharing how he’d looked back over his work history to figure out the things he enjoyed doing that tied it all together. He thought of the things which made him happy. In the jobs that minimized those things, he was unhappy, so he sought to create a kind of work that would allow him to focus on doing the things that he loved.
So that was the first way to define personal happiness: what do you want to do?
When he asked his wife the same question, she talked about the environment she was in, rather than the projects and duties she worked on. She was more concerned with the people she would be surrounded by and the atmosphere of the job.
At first, he thought that she hadn’t understood the question, so he clarified and asked again, but got the same answer. Eventually, he figured out that the way she saw her own success was more about the work environment than the kind of work.
That led to the second category: what kind of environment do you want to work in?
Then he asked me the question. After giving it some thought, I realized that I was the happiest when I got to inspire people and help them grow to overcome challenges and become their personal best. It didn’t matter if I was doing that by teaching kids how to camp, writing inspirational psychology, helping a friend approach a difficult relationship with integrity, or teaching people how to move and eat well. As long as I was helping people grow, I was happy.
And so, my mentor now had a third way to define success: what effect do you want to have?
Being able to think of my personal definition of success as fitting into one of three criterion has helped me get a better sense of what matters to me. Previously, I always thought in terms of WHAT job I could do that helped people. The reality, of course, is that I can inspire people and help them grow in any kind of work, as long as I can figure out how and the structure of the work allows it.
That gives me the freedom to stop defining myself, but it also gives me more clarity on how to chart my course and present what I do so that it has integrity with my values.
Being able to act with integrity empowers me to be passionate, which in turn enables me to connect with and inspire others. Hopefully, that in turn will lead to some significance in the community and the material/financial support that comes with it.
So, when have you been happiest? What is your priority in finding a job or calling that makes you feel fulfilled?
- What do you want to do?
- Where and with whom do you want to work?
- What effect do you want to have?
This post is cross-published on my coaching blog, Warrior Spirit Movement.
Most mornings, I head out into the mountains, not to hike, but to ramble. I go where my heart leads me, over rocks, up trees, through fields. And when I am on the trail, I move over it in my own way, hopping from rock to rock or crawling along past wary hikers and excited dogs. Moving in these ways has me sprinting, swinging, scrambling, leaping, reaching, and everything but “Hiking.”
I came to Boulder expecting to find an understanding community where my weirdness would be accepted. Instead, I found a place where normal, socially-approved movement is simply greened up a bit and called “Natural Living,” where barefoot running means a jog in Vibram FiveFingers and every expression of freedom needs to be accompanied by a purchase, a concession to the shackles of consumerism.
I pass “Trail Runner” and “Dog Walker” and “Rock Climber.” I even see a few “Spiritual Seekers.” All of them are proud of their labels, and scared of me, rarely greeting me, unusual in friendly Boulder. I represent something dangerous and wild; they thought that by taking their movement-in-a-box outdoors it would be more authentic, natural, and perhaps even wild, but my presence, unshod, unshirted, and unconfined, reminds them how deep their restricted ideas of movement have penetrated into the very way they think.
The dogs and kids get me. The adults rarely do.
Chain the Body, Chain the Soul
Civilization is the systematic domestication of human beings. We are born wild and free, eager to explore the world outside of the womb, full of all the vitality, creativity, and risk-taking spirit every entrepreneur aspires to. As children, we possess all the courage we need to be the most wildly self-assured artists.
And the process of growing up to fit into Civilized Society is the meticulous taming of that courage.
Very quickly, we are put in mental and physical boxes. First, the boxes are assigned spaces to sit quietly in rows, Then, they are boxes (or bubbles) on standardized tests. Then, the boxes become a bit more creative in their oppression: your major, your job, your career.
We become defined by our role in society. We become cogs in a machine. Cogs cannot be allowed to turn at their own pace, or not turn at all, or turn on a different axis. A cog that does is dangerous and needs to be destroyed. The machine of society seeks to limit how its members can move.
And so it is with us. The very first and most visceral form of individual expression we have is how we move. Language, while versatile, does set limits on how or what can be expressed; it is a form of a box. But movement is constrained only by our biological and evolutionary heritage. It is the purest form of expression.
Nip it in the Bud
Therefore, movement is the first thing to be limited, controlled, and regulated. One of the main objectives of traditional schooling is getting children to SIT STILL. They are taught to only move at specified times of the day – recess or after-school sports – and then they are taught to only move in approved patterns – jogging, pushups, situps, weightlifting – and finally, to only move in specific places – gyms, athletic venues, exercise parks, running trails.
But you have to wonder, what was wrong with rambling, crawling, rolling, and toting, on the bed or the couch or under the dining room table, in a vacant lot or a backyard or a forest grove or a construction site, anytime and just because?
I asked that question once, and began to wonder what might happen if humans continued moving in the instinctual, expressive ways we had when we were young.
What if our movements hadn’t been suddenly cut off by the needs of a factory-school system? How would adults move if we remained free to move from the beginning, and what would the implications be for other areas of our life? Would we be be so afraid? Would we feel so mentally trapped?
I came to Boulder to explore this question in humanity’s original playground: untamed nature.
Finding the Outsiders
At first, I was disappointed and lonely, but then I realized that there were others like me, who had come here expecting something different but were likewise overwhelmed by the mobs of triathletes and trails runners. There was a community for me to be a part of, but it was in hiding, discouraged and disconnected, each one of us thinking we were the only ones.
I met a woman in her 60s who had been disillusioned by gym routines that left her bored and injured, who believed she had a right to enjoy her body on her own terms, rather than a fitness magazine’s. I met young men who spent their days wandering the trails and peaks around Boulder, not ready to call themselves rock climbers or hikers, but who hated being caged in the manufactured frames of a weight machine or a box gym.
Raised in Captivity
I learned something else, too. I learned that many people, despite their commitment to health, want to stay safely inside a box to pursue it. They want to simply follow the status quo, and when they get bored or injured, they don’t want to ask the hard questions why. The answers, they know, would force them to admit something scary.
It’s not scary because it is dangerous or risky. It is scary because it requires them to be present, to make choices that regular training frees them from: Should I step here or here? Should I run or jump? Should I go this way or that way?
And most people like to be told what to do. You cannot be told how to move naturally, just as you cannot be told how to play.
So, this is what I do: I give people the tools to forge their own way. I give people back their bodies and their movements, those most essential, foundational tools of expression. In the same way that a parent might get his kid a paint set in the hopes of stimulating creative freedom, I hope what I teach will stimulate people to break out of all kinds of boxes.
My challenge to Boulder is to get outside of the fitness industry boxes, instead of simply painting them green. I’ll be waiting off trail somewhere, swinging from a tree. If you’d like to find me, check out my coaching and group training projects at Warrior Spirit Movement. There will be videos and wilderness trips soon. Check it out and get on the mailing list.
Photo credit: lululemon athletica on Flickr
My new theory on success is based on techniques I developed annoying my sister, applied to the universe (thanks, L).
Here is how it works:
- I say something I want to be right about: Mommy likes me better.
- She says the opposite, or simply refutes my argument: Nuh uh!
- I persist: Uh huh!
- We repeat the process until one of us tires and the other person’s perception is accepted as fact.
In relation to the universe, it works like this:
- I tell everyone I meet that I do something exciting and groundbreaking: I’m a natural movement trainer and inspirational writer.
- The universe denies this fact: Nuh uh! Nobody wants to pay you so you can’t do that. Get a job working for The Man instead.
- I persist, neglecting to tell people that I do work a less glamorous job to pay the bills: I’m a natural movement trainer. I help people break out of the human zoo, rediscover their childhood spontaneity, and connect it all to the fate of the ecosystem through thought-provoking articles. Oh, yeah, I do some other stuff for the time being, until this picks up momentum (which it will).
- The universe starts to wear down: FINE! Here’s a client. Now stop bugging me.
- I insist that I make a living doing this amazing dream job: I have very exclusive rates and lots of clients.
- The universe rolls its eyes, but it is getting tired of arguing with me so it starts to accept my view as reality and moves on to other people.
- I end up living a comfortable life doing something I love and making a difference in peoples’ lives and my community. FTW!
The universe, it turns out, it way less resilient than my sister, so you can guess which of us (me or the universe) is going to win this one.
The more people I meet, the more chances I have to tell my story of who I am and what my life is. Eventually, it will simply have to become a reality because everyone in Boulder will assume I’m that awesome guy who helps people break free of the human zoo and whose writing makes them question and define their spiritual purpose.
Delusional? Not if I keep my wits about me and do what needs to be done. I do have a normal job, and I do my due diligence.
But when people ask me what I do, I tell them what I do in my soul, not what I do in reality.
This is because I want them to think of me in the role I want to fill, not the one I currently inhabit.
So far, it’s working.
It occurs to me this is similar to The Law of Attraction, The Secret, and Think and Grow Rich, but I feel that my approach is more pragmatic and speaks to something all of us with siblings have experienced.
One of the greatest literary and artistic accomplishments of Western civilization is an illuminated Bible created in medieval Ireland called The Book of Kells. It contains some of the most intricate illustration anywhere, despite the fact that it was created at a time when having your town pillaged by Vikings was a very real threat and Adobe Illustrator was not yet invented.
What fascinates me about The Book isn’t the beautiful illumination. It’s the fact that somebody took the time to create it. Or rather, a large brotherhood of monks spent years to create it.
Someone had to write the book, then go over the words in calligraphy, then draft the drawings, then actually fill them in. The work of creating The Book itself was only a tiny portion of the effort that went into it; every contributor had to be well-trained in the art of illumination. That alone took years.
So much art these days is meant to be consumed and disposed of – advertisements, bestsellers, magazine articles – but The Book of Kells belongs to a different category of creation.
They were doing something so different, so rare, we may not even fully understand the mindset that motivated it anymore. It was a way to conceive of value that we no longer practice.
Kids These Days…
I think, in modern times, there have been very few such works, performed meticulously for the love of the art itself. Commercialism is the order of the day. Even fine art is often created to be sold to collectors. We have imposed a requirement on all people that they “create value,” with the assumption that value means money, so “Being an Artist” carries with it the implication that you sell your art, which carries the implication that you make art to sell it, not because there is some truth behind it.
If you don’t sell it, you starve, so our society selects for artists who make art that sells.
Obviously there are exceptions. Memorials are still commissioned, and there are artists who defy the social pressure, but by and large, most art is commercial, and much of it is disposable, temporary.
What artist could create a Book of Kells in these times?
Well, J.R.R. Tolkien created something of the literary equivelant, I think. The Lord of the Rings is a story told for its own sake, a world created because it was necessary and beautiful. The depth of description in Middle Earth goes far beyond what was necessary for the telling of the story. That is why the story gives the impression of sub-creation, an alternative living reality, that you could walk off the path of the main characters and still find the world behind the page. Even though Tolkien never takes us into the eastern deserts, we know there are stories there. They feel as real as Frodo and the Shire.
Why did he do that? Why bother?
Not because he was being paid for it, or he was seeking fame. Those kind of motivations cannot empower that kind of dedication.
The Artist’s Struggle
So this is what artists struggle with: how to be true to their art without selling out. How to survive without writing or painting or sculpting to a formula.
I think the art that moves us is created despite the need to survive. It helps us see beyond the basic day-to-day, to a higher existence that is unconcerned with trivialities like income, or even life and death. Art like that deals with eternal, universal truths. To sit carefully coloring in a Bible when you should be running from Viking invaders, fortifying your town, or focusing on survival is perhaps madness, or the truest form of inspiration.
To breathe and remain calm when you should be collapsing in fatigue; to stand your ground when you should be taking a corporate kickback; to run into the heart of the storm, convinced of the truth of your purpose, not caring if the world recognizes it but determined to give it life regardless; to put your life on the line, either immediately or in the form of self-imposed poverty, in the name of truth; that is true art. And it is the essence of integrity and therefore of the Warrior Spirit.
I never understood all that until just this moment. This is what A has been saying all along about her art, and I never fully understood. I now see that it has implications for me as a writer as well, and the kind of stories, blog posts, and articles I write.