Friday, September 4, 2020

Two Life Lessons I Learned From A Drawing Class

I recently took a beginner drawing class online on Udemy and I highly recommend it if you're interested in drawing.  It's called "The Art & Science of Drawing / BASIC SKILLS" by Brent Eviston.  It was affordable and well worth the time.  There were two drawing principles that I believe apply not only to drawing, but to all aspects in life.

Life Lesson #1 
The quality of your life is determined by the quality of the conversation in your mind.

This idea comes from the drawing principle that the quality of your drawing is determined by the quality of the conversation in your mind.  In drawing, this means continually evaluating basic shapes in terms of size, axis and location.  Asking the right questions allows the drawer to make informed decisions.  Which results in better shapes.  Which results in a better drawing.  

Distracted thought and excellent drawing cannot coexist.  Distracted thought includes negative self-talk, limiting beliefs, unconstructive self-criticism and unfocused questions.  There have been entire books written about the importance of self-talk in musical and athletic performance (The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green, The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey).  It turns out that drawing is no different.

Decision making is no different, either.  The quality of your decision making is determined by the quality of the conversation in your mind.  It's about asking the right questions at the right times.  A drawer translating a complex shape onto paper must ask the right questions.  What is the biggest shape?  What's it's axis?  How big is it?  Where does it go?  What changes can I make?  Keeping the thoughts focused on the answers to these questions will result in a good drawing.  

We run into problems in drawing, and in life, when we focus our thoughts and energy in the wrong places - when we ask the wrong questions.  This is what causes us to make bad decisions.  

In poker, there is a term called going ''on tilt.''  It comes from the idea that when a slot machine goes "on tilt," it hemorrhages money.  The poker player who goes "on tilt" starts making bad decisions, and thereby hemorrhages money - just like the slot machine.

A poker player who is "on tilt" gets angry, such as after being bluffed by an opponent or losing a big hand.  He loses focus.  He begins making bad decisions.  He gets overaggressive.  He takes unnecessary risks and falls into traps.  He loses site of the forest (making money in the long run) because he's only focused on one tree (the bluff or bad beat he just took).  

Being "on tilt" doesn't just apply to poker.  You can go "on tilt" anywhere.  People go "on tilt" so often when they are driving that there's even another name for it: "road rage."  Karen goes "on tilt" at the grocery store because they ask her to wear a Covid mask.  Little kids go ''on tilt'' all the time.  Pretty much anyone throwing a temper tantrum can be considered "on tilt."

Being "on tilt" and being focused on what's important cannot coexist.  If you're angry, you're not focused on what's important.  If you're focused on what's most important, then you won't be angry.  There's never a reason to be angry if you're asking yourself the right questions and focused on what's important.  Even if you're stuck in a traffic jam.  Even if you're stuck in jail.  You can still focus on something that gives you hope.  Viktor Frankl survived Nazi concentration camps by focusing on the dream of seeing his wife again and returning to his work.  He focused on what he loved most.  It's always an option, even in the most hopeless circumstances.  

It may take an extraordinary amount of self-awareness and emotional maturity to recognize when you're "on tilt" and quickly get off of it, but it is a skill that can be learned with practice.  The ability to get off of tilt quickly is probably the most valuable skill you can learn because it enables you to make good decisions.  The quality of your life is determined greatly, if not completely, by the quality of your decision making.  Successful people make good decisions.  Happy people make good decisions.  Good people make good decisions.  Successful, or not.  Happy, or sad.  Good, or bad.  All determined by the quality of your decisions. By the quality of the conversation in your mind. By asking the right questions at the right times.  By focusing on what's most important.  By releasing negative thoughts and energy.  The quality of your entire life is determined by the quality of the conversation in your mind.  

This is why strong leadership is so important to a business, organization or country.  The words and actions of the leadership have a major impact on the conversations people have in their minds.  If the conversations are paranoid, scared, confused and mean, then the people's actions will be paranoid, scared, confused and mean.  Right now we have a U.S. public that is paranoid, scared, confused and mean because: 1) we have a President that is paranoid, scared, confused and mean, and 2) the President is having a paranoid, scared, confused and mean conversation with the public.  The quality of a country is determined by the quality of the conversations in the minds of its people.

Life Lesson #2 
Masters never get tired of drilling the fundamentals.

This applies to learning any skill, period.  Sports, martial arts, language, music, drawing, painting, you name it.  Any skill you can think of.  Masters never get tired of drilling the basics. 

Master martial artists repeat the same basic offensive and defensive moves thousands of times.  The timing, rhythm and technique of the basic moves can be perfected endlessly.

Master drawers draw the same basic shapes thousands of times.  They can create hyper-realistic and lifelike drawings because they have practiced seeing and drawing basic shapes thousands of times.

Master gymnasts can perform spectacular movements because they have drilled the basic movements thousands of times and perfected them.

Master linguists read and write millions of lines of basic sentences and phrases.

Master guitarists can play complex pieces because they've mastered basic notes, chords and patterns.  They've practiced these thousands, if not millions, of times.

All art forms, and all skills, can be broken down into basic components (movements, shapes, notes, chords, patterns, letters, words, phrases).  It's not magic.  It's mastery of basics.  Masters never get tired of drilling the fundamentals.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Civic Duties: The United States of Greed, Corruption, Liars, Hypocrites and Dimwits

Woes to the United States of Greed, Corruption, Liars, Hypocrites and Dimwits.  Never been more embarrassed or concerned about the future.  God help us all if there's four more years of Trump.

The country is overrun by angry white guys who think they are being oppressed.  You're not being oppressed, son.  You lack an education.  Go back to school.

Which brings me to my next point - school is prohibitively expensive.  On top of that, we have an education secretary (Betsy DeVos) who is currently working around the clock to make school even more prohibitively expensive in order to enrich herself and almost no one else.  Crippling the education system is bad because it makes the population dumb and thereby more prone to misinformation and conspiracy theories.

Information warfare is a real thing now, it's not going anywhere.  It's been around for a long time, actually.  This is always how dictators have maintained control.  Name your dictator: Kim Jong-un, Putin, Hitler - masters of controlling and manipulating the media.  The only difference is that now it happens on the internet.

The best way to combat the spread of misinformation is to have an educated and well-informed populous that knows when it's being served bullshit.  Ours doesn't.  That's why we have a bullshit President and a bullshit government.  We have a dumb population.  There's an education crisis in this country, and it might sink the United States with a civil war, world war, and/or healthcare crisis within the next four years.  Things have already reached the point of emergency.  If a pandemic and daily public executions don't qualify as the point of emergency, then what does?

I hate to have to keep writing about Presidential politics when it seems like it's already on everyone's mind, but there are grievous crimes being committed by the federal government against its own citizens every day.  Beating and murders in broad daylight, on camera, with no charges filed.  People dying in the streets - normal people with friends and families and homes.  I feel it's my civic duty to speak up about this and I won't apologize for it.  Because I'm not okay with what's happening.  I'm not okay with Trump's government, and if you are, then consider yourself a citizen and ranking comrade of the United States of Greed, Corruption, Liars, Hypocrites and Dimwits. 

Of course we have a chance to stop all of this on Nov. 3 at the election, but I don't feel good about it.  I feel that the government corruption is so deep, and the apathy and lack of awareness of the population is so great that corruption is going to win and it's going to doom the United States.  We are showing all of the familiar symptoms of a crumbling empire: government corruption at the highest levels, disappearing middle class, inflation, unemployment, plague, mass incarceration, school shooting and unparalleled street violence, mass misinformation, deep political divides, inaccessible healthcare system - these are the signs of a society that is in steep decline.

For someone who loves to put his name on everything, Trump has yet to claim Trump's America as his own.  In fact, he's showing clips of Trump's America to the entire country and calling it Biden's America.  Biden isn't President yet, but let's hope to God he is soon.  I am going to vote for Joe Biden as if the world depends on it, because it really does.  Not because Biden is a savior, but because Trump is an aggressive cancer that's spreading rapidly every day in the forms of violence and unrest.

As long as this political drama plays out, I will continue to voice my opinions about it.  Not because anyone cares, or should care about my opinions.  They probably don't.  And not because I want to keep writing about Presidential politics.  I don't.  I'm doing it because I feel it's my civic duty.  Silence is complicity on this one.

Quiero Relajarme

Mi vida es sencilla No tengo problemas grandes Pero lo paracen Cuando los pienso mucho Los pequeños hacen grandes Y me preocupo Mis amigos m...