Month: March 2014

Find More Of My Work On Tumblr

Hey guys! This past week at work has been extraordinarily hectic, so unfortunately I haven’t had time to write a full-length blog. But I did want to tell you about my new Tumblr account, as well as what you’ll find there.

For the past six or seven months, I’ve been toting a small leather-bound notebook, jotting down thoughts and ideas as they come. It’s full of writing fragments, freewrites and other personal thoughts. It’s a significant chunk of the raw source material I’ve been drawing on when constructing my blogs, short stories and books. I thought it might be fun to share some of these ideas with others, so I decided to start posting selections from the notebook online.

I considered placing them here, but quickly realized that doing so would significantly deviate from the theme I’ve been cultivating for the blog since last October. I thought about my options and decided that Tumblr, the popular micro-blogging platform, is perfect for what I want to do. I started an account and will now be posting at least one random selection from the notebook everyday.

It’s a chance to see what kinds of thoughts flit about in this crazy head of mine, to explore a few of my imagination’s raw unedited seeds that may or may not germinate and grow into full-length pieces. If you’re into that sort of thing, you can find me at http://jeffcolemanwrites.tumblr.com. You’ll also notice that there’s a widget on the right side of my blog that displays the ten most recent posts.

Check it out, follow me if you feel so inclined and let me know what you think. This is going to be a lot of fun! 🙂

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All You Need is Love

Image licensed by Shutterstock.

At the end of all things, when at last you gaze down from the precipice at what was once the vista of your life, you will come to understand that the value of your time here on Earth had nothing to do with material wealth or power, that it had nothing to do with good health, that it had nothing to do with whether or not you accomplished everything you wished to do when you were alive. Instead, you will find that the measure of your worthiness hinges solely on whether or not you loved. The pinnacle of existence, the highest pleasure, is to live a life in communion with others, to love and to be loved. Love is the fulfillment of the human experience.

There are different kinds of love. There’s the love we’re born into, that between a father and a son, a mother and a daughter, a brother and a sister. There’s the love between friends. There’s eros, the uniquely intimate love between two people that culminates in an even greater love, the conception of new life. There are so many ways to love, so many ways to express our need to be close to others.

All the money and health and power in the world can’t buy the simplest kind of happiness that can be purchased for as a little as a smile, a hug or a kiss. With enough money and power, you can move mountains. But what of that? With enough love, you can move souls.

Love can be experienced by the poor as well as the rich, by the sick as well as the healthy, by the foolish as well as the wise. It knows no boundaries. It’s an all-consuming fire that razes the world, burning down the material and ideological divides that separate us, reducing us to our purest essence.

Love has the power to shine into the darkest depths. It provides aid and comfort before the most fearsome powers of Hell, even as death and despair surround you from every side. As long as there’s love, there’s hope. Nothing is more precious.

To love is to be a part of something greater than yourself, to be one with a collective whole that feeds and nourishes the soul even as it sustains and uplifts the body. To be indifferent, to shut yourself away from this life-giving force, is to be cut off from this higher existence, to slowly wither and die, cold and alone, huddling in some obscure corner of the world even as those around you burn with the blinding radiance of a star, with the brilliance of hearts set ablaze by the most powerful force in the universe.

Reading fiction can teach you how to love. It affords you access to the hearts and minds of a variety of characters, and in so doing, helps you to understand others, since well-written characters always reflect real people.

In fact, Research has shown that reading fosters empathy. And it’s precisely this emotional understanding that bursts through the walls that separate us, that bridges hearts so that all who know might come to love, and in so doing save themselves from the only kind of death that man should ever fear.

Has yours been a life worth living? For the answer, you must only ask yourself one question: “have I loved?”

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What Do Creative People Have That I Don’t?

Image licensed by Shutterstock.

“How did you come up with that?”

Artists get questions like this all the time. Those who admire their work marvel at the originality of their ideas, and can’t help but wonder why some people are able to come by such concepts so easily. They often ask themselves, “what do creative people have that I don’t?”

Many believe that creative individuals are special, that they possess some unique gift that’s forever out of reach to the rest of us.

They’re wrong.

The truth is, we’re all creative. If you think there’s not a single creative bone in your entire body, you’re wrong.

We all dream. We all wonder and we all ask questions, questions about the world, about the nature of life and death. We all have profound experiences that move us emotionally, that drive us to love or hate, to laugh or cry. Even in the most ordinary of circumstances, we find from time to time that our minds wander down strange and unfamiliar avenues. We all have a unique perception of the world, a fresh vision that, when expressed, adds value to the human experience as a whole.

So what is it that sets creative people apart from everybody else? Why do some have all the ideas, while others have none? Why are some lives full of wonder and awe, while others are so dull and boring?

Creativity is a way of thinking.

There are four attributes that separate creative people from all the rest.

1. Creative people value the everyday things that most of us think of as boring.

Creative people embrace the mundane, because they know that the exotic, the beautiful and the strange lie just beneath its surface. Many mistakenly believe that creative ideas must come from somewhere a million miles away from home. They think that unless they’ve scaled the heights of Mount Everest, that unless they’ve hiked across the Sahara Desert, that unless they’ve had the kinds of adventures that most of us can only dream of, that they’ll never have an original idea worthy of articulation. They don’t realize that what they’re looking for is and always has been laying right under their noses.

In fact, the best art is that which builds on the ordinary. Art derived from common everyday experience is relatable. It serves as a bridge between the ordinary and the extraordinary, providing ready access to the world of the unknown and reminding us that we can always find the adventures we seek in our own backyards.

2. Creative people listen to their thoughts.

At any given moment, your mind is filled with countless voices, a vast constellation of thoughts and ideas, all chattering away in the background. Most of the time, we’re not aware of them. They’re nothing more than white noise, an ever-present static that we block out so we can focus on our daily tasks.

Creative people take the time to listen to those thoughts. They make an effort to develop mindful awareness, which allows them to be sensitive to what most of us filter out unconsciously. They scan the background chatter, sifting for ideas worthy of expression. Over time, they learn how to integrate this awareness into everyday life, so that not a thought goes by that isn’t consciously registered.

Creative people understand that ideas are not things to be sought after like buried treasure, but that they come and go as they please, that they’re gifts which are given. Instead of endlessly wracking their brains, exhausting themselves in vain, creative people learn to focus their efforts on optimizing the process of discovery, so that when an idea does scurry by amidst the rabble, they’ll be able to identify and snatch it up before it’s gone forever.

3. Creative people indulge in “what-if’s.”

The difference between someone who’s creative and someone who’s not is that the ordinary person’s mind will conjure a random “what-if” and immediately dismiss it, mistaking it as part of the useless banter that flits back and forth between the conscious and the subconscious, while the creative person’s mind will seize it before it’s lost; like all great explorers, the creative person will plumb its depths, and like all great detectives, the creative person will follow its trail faithfully, fleshing out all of its logical conclusions along the way.

4. Creative people understand that there are no “bad ideas.”

Creative people don’t fall for the lie that some ideas are more worthy of consideration than others. They recognize that it’s precisely those thoughts which others find absurd that are most worthy of exploration. Many of the world’s most artistic endeavors started with a thought that many “ordinary” folks would have dismissed as ridiculous.

This is good news for all who have creative aspirations.

This means that creativity is accessible to all. It means that good ideas aren’t reliant on some magical ability that some are born with and others are not. There may be individuals whose creativity is part of their DNA, to whom artistic expression occurs naturally and without much effort. But that doesn’t mean that the rest of us can’t consciously develop those skills later in life, at least to some degree.

Creative people aren’t gods to be set above the rest of us on some lofty pedestal. They’re human beings, like you and me. Some of us may have been born with more artistic skill than others, but that doesn’t mean that those who are less genetically inclined are therefore excluded from the world of wonder and awe that creative people are fortunate enough to be able to explore. It’s a world that’s open to all who wish to share in her secrets.

If you’re human, then you have all the tools you need to be an artist.

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