Our Year of Living Heroically

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In his 1974 Pulitzer Prize-winning book “The Denial of Death” cultural anthropologist Earnest Becker said:

“This is the terror: to have emerged from nothing, to have a name, consciousness of self, deep inner feelings, an excruciating inner yearning for life and self-expression – and with all this yet to die. It seems like a hoax. . . What kind of deity would create such complex and fancy worm food?”

We all have a deep, inner yearning to express ourselves in some fashion. For the rare few, creative expression can be channeled into a vocation. But for most, our need to express ourselves is often sublimated as we move, often sluggishly, through our lives of work and family and socially-conforming responsibility.  We might have brief moments when our inner-creativity rises to the top-perhaps an art class or a poem scrawled in a journal (for nobody to ever see). But most of us move forward, ignoring that inner yearning, always wondering, as Becker said:

“What is one’s true talent, his secret gift, his authentic vocation? In what way is one truly unique, and how can he express this uniqueness, give it form, dedicate it to something beyond himself?”

Recognizing this innate need to express, my good friend, Sam Wilder, and I are embarking on a year-long creative journey. We have pledged to each other to create AND publish (via Facebook, a blog, etc.) one form of creative expression every week for the next year. The operative word here is “publish” for sharing creativity with our community is what gives it life and meaning. It requires us to push through fear and insecurity and resistance.

This creative journey was going to be a personal endeavor in which we would hold each other accountable. But then we thought: why not share the fun with the world?  So, with this post, we invite you-family, true friends and quasi-Facebook friends-to join us in “Our Year of Living Heroically.” As for the “heroic” theme, we pulled it from Becker’s book as well:

“Denial of death is achieved by striving for the HEROIC, or in other words attaching ourselves to a purpose, cause, or creation which we believe will outlive our physical existence, thus granting us a form of immortality.”

Reading these words, many of you are likely saying to yourselves: “I’m not creative and would have nothing to contribute. I’ll just embarrass myself.”  BRAVO! Join the club; I’m going to embarrass myself more than I ever thought possible in the coming year.  Here’s the deal: every one of us has innate creative abilities that need to be expressed. Our little experiment is not limited to those who (supposedly) have some innate creative talent. You can join in by:

  • Cooking/baking (mouth-watering pictures please)
  • Knitting
  • Needlepoint
  • Woodworking
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Music/songwriting
  • Poetry
  • Gardening
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Videos
  • Dancing

I’m sure I’ve missed dozens of other forms of expression, but you get the idea.

Importantly, there are no rules on this journey. Sam and I have committed to one project a week as a personal challenge. We will both face tremendous fear and resistance on the road to completing this challenge. I guess that’s what makes it fun.

You can post something as often or as infrequently as you want. (NOTE: reposting a meme or any other stupid post from your Facebook news feed does not count as an expression of personal creativity).

Two suggestions:

  1. There is a myth that creativity waits for inspiration.  The truth is, you have to work at it. Think about what you want to do. Pursue your creative expression, don’t wait for it to show up.
  2. Embrace “micro-progress.” If you think about having to complete a “big” project, you may be paralyzed into non-action. Taking and completing even the tiniest of steps can help build momentum. Instead of writing a poem in one sitting, maybe you just have to sharpen your pencils to get started.

Sam and I welcome you to join us during our Year of Living Heroically. And we look forward to seeing your unique expression of creativity.

Have a wonderful, energizing and creatively heroic 2019!