Raft

“You are the only person on earth who can use your ability”.                      ~ Zig Ziglar

 

I recently attended an event at Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) where local film organizations curated and presented short films. There were several excellent ones, but one of them deeply affected me, called “The World of Tomorrow” by Don Hertzfeldt. It is an animated film with many themes I personally enjoy: life purpose and meaning, time travel, futurism, cloning, etc. Something I usually do after seeing something I find outstanding is to research its creator. I looked for information on Mr. Hertzfeldt, and found an interesting interview with him, where he explains how he comes up with the ideas for a project.

He compares the process as being similar to floating at sea and trying to build a raft. At first, there is only you and the water. But then a piece of wood arrives and you hold on to it. Then a piece of cloth, then some string, and so on. You hold on to these pieces and start building your raft, without a specific design in mind. After some time, you have several pieces of material, and you discard some that do not fit with the ever changing design of the raft. The design of the raft also changes depending on new objects that you acquire, so it is an ever changing process.

I believe our lives function in the same manner as his example. We start alone and should build our own life raft. We obtain the necessary materials in the form of life advice from those close to us, which we hold on. Then our own experiences come drifting in, we meet various people along the way, as well as experience unexpected life challenges. As we get older, we realize we are in this for a long ride, so we re-evaluate what kind of raft we want to build for ourselves: a fast one to get “there” quickly, a comfortable one to avoid strife, or a sturdy one in case a storm comes along. We also start to let go of those ideas that no longer fit with our new design.

The important part is that we are not drifting away in the ocean, waiting for storms, winds, to carry us in a particular direction. We should start building our raft NOW, even though we believe we have no materials yet. But it is really not so, as we have many years of awareness, and no experience or skill is useless, we just need to look for those pieces and start putting them together. With patience and dedication, soon we will be floating along in our uniquely designed raft, perhaps find others working on building their own rafts, and we can pass along our tips to them. Keep sailing!

Watch a trailer of World of Tomorrow.

 

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Still of Emily Prime from “World of Tomorrow” by Don Hertzfeldt, taken during PAMM exhibit.

 

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Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Freedom

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

~Declaration of Independence of the United States of America – July 4, 1776

 

I went to see a therapist as a last resort. I was going through the most difficult time in my life, a separation after a 9-year marriage, and my sweet sister suggested this professional counselor, who came highly recommended. I finally went, had nothing to lose anymore, and maybe, just maybe, it would help. In one of the sessions, he told me something I will never forget. He said “give yourself permission to do such and such”. I jumped up and said “what do you mean, give myself permission!?”

The painful situation that I was going through and that I had been confiding in him had not happened because I decided or did not decide to do something. It was out of my control and it was caused by other people and or external forces or situations. But he told me in his wisdom, after all he had seen hundreds if not thousands of cases, that people have certain behavioral patterns in reaching decisions. We feel obligated to act in a particular way or take on a role in life because of what we learned as children from our parents or those who raised us. Then we use techniques which helped us survive when young, based on our personalities and values, and keep doing them as adults.

He said I could stop doing things I did not want to do. Give myself permission to say no to a situation I did not want to do. Or to pursue something I wanted to do. Ever since that day, I started to become the director of my life. I know we all think we do that already, but before deciding to do something, do you stop and think how your actions will be perceived by others? What will they think of me now? How will it affect them? I really don’t know what other people think, people are funny that way, but I like to believe they are too busy collaborating with others on their own mind stories. Of course life has compromises, that’s what makes it interesting. But you should not self sabotage your life.

Now if I think I should do something out of obligation only, I do not. If I had a tough day and I have not finished all activities on my “to-do-list”, I take the evening off and relax, guilt free. Or if I am hesitant to do something out of fear, I tell myself do it “to the best of my abilities.” Basically I removed the pressure to be perfect or not do it at all mentality that I had when younger. Because of a single comment heard many years ago, I have given myself permission to find those activities that light up my life, and stop those that take away the fire. So on this day where we celebrate freedom as a nation, I urge you to write your personal Declaration of Independence as a person, and declare that from now on, you are free from those mind blocks that have been with you during your whole life. Starting now, go and pursue your happiness!

 

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Photo by Junior Moran on Unsplash