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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Stillness and Vulnerability

The first fourth of my day is dedicated to mustering up the courage to write, the second fourth is about procrastinating, the third is thinking about what I will write, and the last one is actually writing.

I don’t think the act of writing is very difficult, but looking my own consciousness in the eye is quite the task. I’ve started and stopped Zazen meditation numerous times for that reason. Something about stillness is frightening to me.

I have been a lot more focused lately and I have been trying to become more disciplined. Some of my goals have been to read and write something everyday and to get my sleeping habits under control.

My sleeping habits and my writing habits are very similar.  I usually try to sleep listening to music, movie reviews, or anything really even though it just makes it harder. I consciously put them off as if I am afraid of something, but what am I afraid of?

Perhaps, it has to do with vulnerability? You have to feel safe to both write and sleep. I’m not attacked by predators or criminals, but I do often have a dream where my teeth fall out and I am exposed as something.

That feels right.

There is vulnerability in stillness. Whether it be writing, sleep, or meditation.  I become open to harm whether it be internal (doubt, dreams) or external (predators, weather). I have felt many times when I have written something that I have held back for some reason.

I understand now.

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Balancing Act

“As a human being the artist may have many moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is ‘man’ in a higher sense – he is ‘collective man’ – one who carries and shapes the unconscious, psychic life of mankind.”

-Carl G. Jung

I’ve been trying to more flexible with my work. I tend to over prepare for everything I embark on. It is the way I cope with anxiety about uncertainty. Unfortunately, I talk myself out doing things and I remain rigid.

The best things I have ever made, writing, film, or anything else, have come from fluid spontaneity. However, if I become too spontaneous the piece turns into garbage.

I find it very interesting that any good pieces exist and that any artists have any degree of sanity. In order to make something worth while, your consciousness and unconsciousness have to communicate with each other simultaneous and at the right time. It is a sleight of hand maneuver that fools both the audience and yourself at once.

If you are lucky enough to pull this magic trick off, the stiff, shallow feeling starts to appear in your heart. It is doubt, the doubt that you can replicate such a feat a second time. You spent all your time anticipating failure and once thing start going well, you panic. You never considered such an outcome. When someone fails they hang their head and go on their way, but when someone succeeds, that’s basically uncharted territory.

Fear is what ultimately stops me from creating anything. My head spins with millions of ideas for projects, but I just I lay in bed staring at the ceiling. Fear is useful in most respects. It colors my projects both negatively and positively. I’m not one to take irrational risks, but I’m not one to take rational ones either.

I am glad to report that I am getting better. I am creating things more regularly. The dull color of fear has left my vision and merely accents my frames. My consciousness and unconsciousness have been talking and have become friends. I can look myself in the eye and truly see.

 

 

Living vs Being Alive

“I have to die. If it is now, well then I die now; if later, then now I will take my lunch, since the hour for lunch has arrived – and dying I will tend to later.”

-Epictetus

I want to understand why people do things. I think that’s why I was drawn to the arts. Through film or writing, I can explore the thoughts of people that I have never met that live on another continent and sometimes they aren’t even real.

I think the central conflict that every person faces is the fact that one day we will die and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  We spend life trying to cope with that reality in different ways. Death stands in the corner of our eye each passing second and we either ignore it or accept it.

Up until relatively recently I was obsessed with death. Rather than standing in the corner of my eye, Death stood in the center blocking the view of everything else.  I spent every moment of the day terrified, and every dream was a nightmare. There were so many things I wanted to do before I died.

It occurred to me, after much thought and study, that I had to live. If you spend each second ruminating on death, then you are already dead.

I have found that the most courageous thing you can do as a human being is to live, not simply being alive. You need to experience everything you can. The world is as beautiful as it is ugly. To live you need to seek out new adventures.

A fun exercise is to take something familiar and create something new out of it. There are endless possibilities and you should try to explore as many as you can.

If you were to die right now, would you be satisfied with what you would leave behind?

Hi guys!  I was featured in Feedspot’s Top 100 Writing Blogs. I’m super excited to be included on a list with so many awesome bloggers!

Check it out: http://blog.feedspot.com/top-100-writing-blogs/

The Night of Chopin

 

“Every transformation demands as its precondition “the ending of a world”-the collapse of an old philosophy of life.”

-Carl Jung

One night this week, I was lying in bed listening to something by Chopin.  I had heard the song before, but for whatever reason it resonated with that night. My shoulders relaxed and I could breathe deeply. I felt at peace.

It was a feeling I had never consciously experienced before.  I have been scurrying after one imaginary threat after another since I can remember. I understand the absurdity of reading a post about someone experiencing the baseline of average human behavior, but it marked a major turning point for me.

I have really struggled with various anxiety problems for awhile now with seemingly no end in sight, but now there is a clear path out. The best part of this whole experience has been that nothing external has changed. There have been no new medications, no change of locale, or anything like that. It an entirely internal battle.

I decided to start writing about my experience because I want to be definitive proof that you can get better. At my worst, I would always see other people with similar problems outrunning me in all aspects of life and it seemed as though they were miraculously healed one day.

I would like to document my recovery because you should not be ashamed of helping yourself. We all have problems that we need to overcome. The only way to find no problems within yourself is not to look.

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”

-Marcus Aurelius

Kaufman Kounselling

Charlie Kaufman is my favorite screenwriter and his lecture at BAFTA is something I like to listen to periodically. I think applies to artists of any medium and contains some of the most potent universal truths about life in general. I highly recommend listening to it.

What did you think of the lecture? Let me know in the comments and stay connected with me on social media!

Slide Whistle Wellness

How To Play the Slide Whistle,  is my most viewed video that I have ever made. It was released on January 3rd, 2011 when I was 11 years old. At that time I lived in Jackson and had a lot free time (obviously).

I was homeschooled at the point, and I was just learning to grapple with my nemesis, Boredom,  I made videos every day back then. They were unpolished, barely edited, and very strange.

Despite the lack of quality of the videos, they were well received by the small few who watched them. If I didn’t make all those videos, then I wouldn’t have learned the basic skills that I rely on everyday.

As a child, I would draw, write,  make videos, sing songs, and do whatever creative thing I wanted to do despite not knowing anything about those mediums. It just felt good to express myself.

Fast forward 8 years later, and I still like to be creative, but with some reluctance. I am now concerned with budgets, schedules, and equipment. I hunger for day when I can make something everyday once again, but at a “respectable quality.” Looking back, I am envious of that child’s “blissful ignorance.”

But, in reality, it is the adult who is truly ignorant. Films are not made by budgets and equipment, they are made by people. Schedules can always be altered to make time . for anything. These things are just excuses being used to cover up the true problem. The adult is afraid of rejection.

The child wasn’t dumped by his girlfriend, denied selection in this or that film festival, or not hired by this or that employer. The child still has the fire in him, but somewhere along the line, the adult had his flame smothered.

The reality hasn’t changed though. I could film anytime I want with my DSLR. No one is stopping me, but me. That may sound perilous, but by the same token I had hold the power to change.

In the end, we’re all fearful, but what makes us brave is acting in spite of that fear.

Below, I have compiled some of my favorite videos from, “The EMagnusTV Era.” I hope you enjoy their ridiculousness.