Mastery by Robert Greene

Mastery by Robert Greene is one of the first books I read this year and it will shape how I will approach the rest of my life. Honest, thorough, and engaging, Robert Greene instructs you how to truly devote your life to your inner calling.

mastery

Real World Examples

“Darwin could have played it safe, collecting what was necessary, and spending more time on board studying instead of actively exploring. In that case, he would not have become an illustrious scientist, but just another collector. He constantly looked for challenges, pushing himself past his comfort zone. He used danger and difficulties as a way to measure his progress. You must adopt such a spirit and see your apprenticeship as a kind of journey in which you will transform yourself, rather than as a drab indoctrination into the work world.”

– Robert Greene

I discovered Robert Greene (like most people) through his book The 48 Laws of Power. I quickly fell in love with his writing style and sought out more of his work.

Greene tends to collect his ideas into a “law” or principle that he has observed during his own personal experience or through his research. Then he codified it with a historical example of that law being played out either in that person’s favor or to their detriment.

The real world examples add an extra dimension to the idea being presented, helping it to be digested, as well as helping the principle stick with you. The laws come alive in his writing with the historical characters acting them out.

In Mastery, Robert Greene pulled from historical examples as well as contemporary sources that he interviewed himself. The figures featured in this book that have stuck with me the most are Hakuin Zenji, Wolfgang Von Goethe, The Carolina Islanders, and Cesar Rodriguez Jr.

Practical Advice

It is not a matter of studying for twenty years and then emerging as a Master. The time that leads to mastery is dependent on the intensity of our focus.”

– Robert Greene

The advice in this book is immensely practical regardless of your interests. Greene stresses that you achieve mastery through hard work and constant improvement. To gain mastery in a field, first you must master yourself.

Conclusion

I would recommend Mastery to anyone who is interested in self-discipline and wants to achieve something great.

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Stop Trying to Make Art

“Say who you are, really say it in your life and in your work. Tell someone out there who is lost, someone not yet born, someone who won’t be born for 500 years. Your writing will be a record of your time. It can’t help but be that. But more importantly, if you’re honest about who you are, you’ll help that person be less lonely in their world because that person will recognise him or herself in you and that will give them hope.”

– Charlie Kaufman, BAFTA Screenwriters’ Lecture 2011

I’ve been working on this screenplay to try to get in the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. It was dark, sad, and a lot different from the stuff I usually do. It felt like I was imitating filmmakers that were popular at Sundance, although I didn’t want to admit it.

Eventually, I had to scrap the script because it just wasn’t me. I started to dig deep to see why I would try to abandon writing the things that I am normally interested in.

I realized that I was “trying to make art” instead of being vulnerable and actually doing the work. As silly as it sounds, writing a gritty familiy drama is less traumatic to me than showing someone a video of me running around in a chicken suit. 

The family drama will ring hollow because I don’t really care about it, but I put my heart and soul into every one of my dumb, no budget shorts. They are personal without trying to be, they are my art without any of the pretension of award ceremonies.

Art doesn’t become art because an external force bestows the title on it. A work is rises to that level when you love it enough to keep making it, even though no one else cares.  Art isn’t made for an audience, you make it because you are burning to tell that story.

 

“This is the other secret that real artists know and wannabe writers don’t. When we sit down each day and do our work, power concentrates around us. The Muse takes note of our dedication. She approves. We have earned favor in her sight. When we sit down and work, we become like a magnetized rod that attracts iron filings. Ideas come. Insights accrete.”

– Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

 

Don’t Vote

“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

I visited a local veteran’s memorial recently.

vote

The monument depicts all of the major conflicts that the United States participated in from the Revolutionary War to the War on Terror. The individual bricks make up the names of people who fought, where they fought, and when they died.

There is a lot of names.

I have fretted over writing this. I don’t expect a good reaction. My countrymen seemed to whipped into a frenzy over this midterm election, but I think this something they need to hear. It is something that no one is saying, but its truth is no less sound.

Don’t vote, improve yourself.

Voting Won’t Save You

They have begun to realize that the difficulties confronting us are moral problems, and that the attempts to answer them by a policy of piling up nuclear arms or by economic “competition” is achieving little, for it cuts both ways. Many of us now understand that moral and mental means would be more efficient, since they could provide us with psychic immunity against ever increasing infection.

But all such attempts have proved singularly ineffective , and will do so as long as we try to convince ourselves and the world that it is only they (i.e; our opponents) who are wrong.

-Carl Jung, Man and His Symbols

I’m not implying that you shouldn’t vote because things are fine (like this pathetic, manipulative ad). Things are bad and will only get worse if we don’t improve as individuals. Voting is a distraction, not a solution. People think they can vote for a candidate, instead of actually bettering themselves. It is away to abdicate responsibility for their own heinous behavior.

Nothing is inherently wrong with voting itself, be an active citizen, but a vote will not save you from evil.

Shall I tell you what the real evil is? To cringe to the things that are called evils, to surrender to them our freedom, in defiance of which we ought to face any suffering.

-Seneca the Younger

Ideology

People are not evil. I think ideology is evil. The memorial is filled with names kiled by ideology. Ideology incenses people with religious-like fervor to kill each other because of mere differences of opinion.

I have been alive for two years (approximately) where my country has not been involved in “major military operations.” President Obama was at war for both terms and it looks like President Trump will be too.

Both of our political parties are ideological and corrupt. It will not change anything if one or the other is in power, so we, the American people must save ourselves by improving ourselves.

There is no greater evil we face than the lie of a Political Savior, but luckily we can save ourselves.

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Thanks for reading! This was difficult to write given our current climate, but it feels good to get it off my chest.

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Long Exposure Photography- Sunrise

Recently, I had the opportunity to capture the sunrise. I wanted to do some long exposure photography again, this seemed like a good excuse.

For this outing I shot with the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 and my Nikon D3100. For most shots I was shooting wide open at for about 30-15, but as the sun came up I moved more to 1/100-1/200.

I did mess with them a little in Lightroom and convert them into .jpegs also.

More than the color, I really like the texture of the images. It reminds me of an oil painting in a strange sort of way.

It’s really fun to edit long exposure photography because of all of the data you have to play around with, but Nature’s color balance is usually good enough.

long exposure photography

I’m generally more of a night person, so it is always a treat to see the sunrise. It’s a miracle that happens everyday!

I know these aren’t great photos, but I’ll definitely try to experiment with this again and get better ones!

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Thanks for reading! Got any tips for getting sunrise photos or any cool ones of your own?

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