Monday, January 31, 2011

Art, Brick Walls and Salmon in America (As Inspired by the State of the Union)

Blank canvas. Each and everyday we wake up and the 24 hours that lie ahead are a blank canvas. You don't have to be an artist to think of your life this way.

What we create during that time determines whether or not we make art (defined for the sake of this post as "innovation") or if we're just making more "things."

What are the "things" I am talking about?

I suppose that depends on what you value, what you want for your life, for the world in which you live, on what matters most to you.

In this day and age, it is easy to get caught up with things; to fill our daily canvas with the subliminal replication of other people's ideals or methodologies.

"If so and so's business is operating this way and is successful, then my business should operate that way too. Only I'll tweak the model."

You have a brain. Why not discover a new way of doing things? Why not customize your canvas and leave YOUR legacy behind?

How about this scenario--"If this expert advises that _____ tip is the only recommended way to do something, then surely I must copy it in it's entirety."

Now, that line is not intended to jab at any experts; for they naturally have boat loads of experience and know what they are talking about. I simply make this point to state that advice and guidance can be a good basis but given the creativity we are allowed in social media, writing, video editing, whatever the medium, it is not necessary to create a case of monkey see, monkey do EXACTLY the same.

Just look how wonderful things turned out last week, when people took to Twitter during the State of the Union address. Serious subject matter came up and people had real distinct opinions. Best of all, there were no rules to follow, tweets flowed freely.

There were thoughts on the salmon comment, remarks on "don't ask, don't tell", we examined the spending freeze which proceeded to be followed by comments on visine. All in all, the Twitter version of the State of the Union was far more engaging than the newscasters version was on TV.

What started out as a blank canvas grew into something so much more. I was really proud that people utilized their right to free speech, but what inspired me most was President Obama's point that "America is a place where you can make it if you try." Cue An American Tale...there are no "cats" in America. (80's flashback..and it's a catchy song too).

Currently, a lot of Americans feel as though they have been trying--those that may be facing foreclosure on their home, those that are unemployed. Perhaps even those folks who currently own and operate their dream business during these tough and economic times feel as though they just can't try enough. 

When I watched the State of the Union, I thought of a person I love to quote often, Randy Pausch. A man who continues to inspire my "blank canvas idealism."

Randy is famous for saying: "Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want something badly enough. They are there to keep out the other people."

I've had my share of facing brick walls. No matter how fast, how high or how often I've attempted to jump over them, I hit those bricks with full body impact, then I fall to the ground on my big old butt and try all over again until VICTORY is mine. 

And I'm not the only one. Our country was created by people who overcame brick walls, by people who created their own art. Today, innovators continue to tear down brick walls and create additional opportunities. Just think how often things fail that require modification. Look at Steve Jobs,  he faces brick walls frequently but he keeps trying, he continues creating.

So I ask you this--each day, when you wake up do you think to yourself and say, "Today my life will impact the world, for this is America and I can make it if I try." Or do you just view your existence as merely getting by?

Do you rule the brick walls or do they rule you? Is your canvas blank or is it a replica, being borrowed from someone else?

These are the questions to ask yourself in order to get some answers.

Also, if you haven't done so already, take an hour to watch Randy Pausch's video "The Last Lecture." Upon seeing it, I hope you'll be ready to bulldoze the brick walls down, to go out and create something amazing on your canvas of life--something that furthers America's reputation as the land of opportunity.

In the meantime, I'm preparing my bulldozer (for about the 100th time.) But at least I have the freedom to do so. At least my canvas is reset every 24 hours and I can try to create something new each and every day. I just hope my contributions make America proud. If not, at least I'll have some stamina from trying.

Signing off on a sentimental note,

The Jaclyn of All Trades

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