My friend/band mate texted me wanting to know if we could meet that afternoon and I’d never read him so eager to meet. I told him it had to wait till after midnight since that was my cooking day (I cook once a week for the whole week). I suggested he could go see a band and have a beer until I get to the studio.
I was intrigued and wanted to find out what was going on so I pushed to get my prepping done and got to the studio at around 12:30am. A bit afterwards he showed up with a slight tipsy jolly and (I’m paraphrasing here) began praising the man:
“I got this book for you… I’ve been on fire, can’t stop thinking about branding!”
I looked at the green on black book, it read: “Crush it! by Gary Vaynerchuk.” I’ve heard the name before within marketing circles, but never got to actually read any of his stuff.
He continued, “I’m seriously thinking about taking a whole year off work to completely dive into the music and give it my all.”
As he said this, I saw the fire in his eyes, the determination. I thought, “He’s got two kids and he’s taking the plunge!”, that scene from The 5th Element film when the heroine jumps off a futuristic skyscraper down onto the oncoming flying traffic flashed through my mind. He resumed:
“What would you do if you could do what you really want to do with… wait…” He paused and looked at me suddenly realizing that I had already taken the plunge, “…you’re already doing it…” I looked at him and nodded as I said, “I’m living right on the edge …but I have no kids.”
We hunged out for an hour or so as he continued to radiate his enthusiasm and then he left; I had a ton of other stuff to do and a mountain of books demanding be next in line but his enthusiasm inspired me to dive into that book right then and there …and Wow! what a dude. If you haven’t heard about Gary, here’s a video. All you have to do is feel his vibe. The man is the real deal.
The one thing that hooked me up was his mention of Steve Jobs’ massive success while being an asshole to everyone. How that attitude is being adopted by new entrepreneurs all over and how he wants to change that and create a business culture where people can learn to achieve anything by being kind to each other …I heard that and I was sold, I thought, “I’m in! …full on dive in!”
I also could see that I was already doing more than 60% of his family first/real passion/authenticity branding strategy, with my weakness being the degree of immersion —He advocates to work 16-18 hour days, 6 days/week, although he also acknowledges that everyone’s DNA is different and you must attune to your own natural organic threshold.
I thought, “I know I can’t do 16-18/6, but after breaking through my procrastination vector (read: The Power Of Inertia), I can max at 12/6”, so I sat down to layout the map and as I was trying to fit all the stuff I wanted to do within one week, it dawned on me that I was biting more than I could chew, let alone digest… there was no way (unless I owned a time machine!) that I could get all of that done without the result being mediocrity across the board.
It was painting along with its correspondent marketing photography, graphic design and video; the website + the myriad of internet/social media interaction and management (these are quite massive!); writing at least one solid blog post per week; study English, study writing, study marketing; write the novel along with it’s piles of research; study and contemplate the Gene Keys; practice guitar and study music theory, learn old songs and make new ones, practice with the band which soon would begin playing live shows …and then fit the bill paying hustle on top of all of that!
I felt a wave of overwhelm… In my mind, all of these were already the absolute essentials! but it wasn’t enough. As I took a few breaths to clear my mind, I recalled the 23rd Gene Key – The Alchemy of Simplicity, which I’d been studying recently —I will be talking a lot this year about the Gene Keys, since a lot of my work includes this transmission, but for the time being here’s just a bit of context before I continue with my story so that you can get an idea of what I’m taking about:
The Gene Keys is the work of British philosopher and poet Richard Rudd. It’s a philosophical treatise primordially based on the Tao and the I-Ching but also integrating the Kabbalah, Tarot, Astrology, Shamanism, Alchemy and a system called Human Design. I found it around the same time that I had my life saving breakthrough with painting (read: How Creativity Saved My Life).
The Gene Keys is not a teaching. It’s a transmission that can only be accessed through contemplation —a vast and immersive system for developing Self-Awareness through personal contemplation. Richard Rudd shares his own realizations through his writing, audios and videos but he also states that what he shares is not truth and it may not even be relevant to another person. This is what attracted me to his work, the fact that it wasn’t someone else’s way for me to follow but a map that can only be accessed through my own intuition.
The 64 Gene Keys are based on the 64 hexagrams of the I-Ching. Each one containing 3 parts: Shadow, Gift and Siddhi. Each Shadow is one of the 64 faces of fear that must be embraced and integrated as part of the whole with the presence of mindfulness. When the Shadow is successfully integrated, it reveals it’s path to one of the 64 faces of love, they’re called the 64 Gifts. This is as far as one can push to reach. The 3rd and final piece is called the Siddhi and can’t be realized, it realizes you on its own time but you can still contemplate its beautiful transmission.
…So returning to my story, the Shadow of the 23rd Gene Key is the Victim of Complexity and it’s dilemma is Timing.
As I sat down to contemplate, I realized that my whole life I’ve allowed this shadow to overstock my life with impossible demands and expectations, subconsciously setting me up for failure due to overwhelm and anxiety. Time and time again I would find myself cornered and the inevitable breakdown would follow. But now I could see it coming and I had the upper hand: I was aware of my own victim of complexity pattern and I knew what I needed to do:
“The Eagle who chases two rabbits catches neither one.”
And I had three! …the Artwork, the Novel and the Band! I knew I wanted to do all three, but I also knew that I just couldn’t do them all at once and have them be excellent …It was all about timing.
So I decided to first tackle only the artwork for a whole year straight and let go of writing the novel (for the year) although I’d still be writing the blog posts and I’d be working on my English/writing skills to better prepare to dive onto it next year.
What really broke my heart was my decision to leave the band; I had already made an outstanding breakthrough in my need for perfection (read: Be Like Water) and the soul of the band was beginning to peek through, plus I felt awful for letting my band mates down, but I had to do it, otherwise I couldn’t have possibly given it my best.
So yeah it sucks! …but music isn’t over yet. This one boat and my brothers may sail without me this time, but I’m aiming to be ready for a new ship next year or the year after…
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Aperture #5, 2016 by Epiphanio Alexander.
36″x 48″ Oil impasto on Gessobord with UV Gloss Varnish.
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