Manifesto Introduction

CONTENTS:

Your Irrefutable Right
My Intention
Experiential Learning
Using Self-Observation
Worth It
The Many Powers of Your Ensemble
Ensemble Roll Call

 

 

 

Photo – Dewin Anguas Barnette

____________________

 

Your Irrefutable Right

We ALL have the irrefutable right to be independent, meaning that we are not relying on or subject to any of the following life-limiting fears:

  • Fear of Not Being Picked
  • Fear of Perfection
  • Fear of Imperfection
  • Fear of Shaking the Boat
  • Fear of Judgment
  • Fear of Failure
  • Fear of Humiliation
  • Fear of Wasted Time
  • Fear of Rejection
  • Fear of the Spotlight
  • Fear of Never Being Noticed
  • Fear of Not Being Up to the Challenge
  • Fear of Taking a Risk
  • Fear of Loving Someone Else or Yourself

We ALL have the inherent ability to sculpt the world around us with our creativity. This powerful part of our being is untapped potential waiting to be strengthened, expanded and inspired by ourselves, our dreams and those around us.

 

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My Intention

Why? Why this? Why this now?

 

Intention is key. Why someone does something is as important, if not more important, than what one does. My artistic work relies heavily on understanding and owning one’s intention. So it is true to the spirit of reciprocity and mutuality in this manifesto to start this book with my clearest intention for myself and for you.

I WANT TO:

Strive towards living in a centered world.

Switch from knee-jerk reactions to conscious choices.

Balance information with internal understanding.

Feel at the helm of my life, not at the beck and call of others.

Accept others for who they are right now on their journeys.

Love myself, where I am right now on my journey.

 

The more I put it off, the more these wants become needs. I need this change in myself in order to be healthier, happier, more creative and centered in this rapidly-evolving world.

 

If you feel the need for a more centered life…

I wrote this for you too.

 

If you feel pulled in multiple directions…

I wrote this for you too.

 

If you are becoming cynical, but don’t want to…

I wrote this for you too.

 

If you know in your heart you should be making your own choices…

I wrote this for you too.

 

If you love your dreams and want to make them realities…

I wrote this for you too.

 

If you want to discover and own your process in life…

I wrote this for you too.

 

I’m curious about what could be possible in a world where people take responsibility for their choices, are actively releasing themselves from life-limiting fears, and are conscious of how they work together.

 

If you feel the need for such a world…

I wrote this for you too.

 

____________________

 

Experiential Learning

How to use this manifesto

 

This manifesto was written to encourage, provoke and offer a way of envisioning what life can be when we are no longer requiring, relying on, or subject to our life-limiting fears. It is a call to action to creatively sculpt the world around us through play, community and awareness. It is a call to stop giving weight to fears that keep us from taking life-enriching risks and start embracing that which makes each of us unique and invaluable.

The time is now because in the world around us, where fear is so tangible, calming our fears has joined the ranks of basic needs like eating, sleeping and finding shelter. To add to the confusion, scientists are showing that we are hardwired to meet short-term needs before long-term (and often more wholesome) needs.

So, if fears are being confused with needs, then short-term fears become the loudest. No wonder that unexpected phone call from your ex keeps you up at night instead of, say, pondering whether you’ll have healthy teeth when you’re ninety.

In order to change our long-term journey for the better, we need to rewire how we respond to the short-term fears. Studies show, time and again, that we are in fact addicted to fear itself. But there’s no need to wean ourselves from our fears by ourselves.

Humans are interdependent creatures. We need accountability. We need a group to bounce our questions and self-observations off of. This group will ask us a deeper, non-judgmental “Why?”*:

Why are you doing this?

Why did you focus on that?

Why did you hold that belief?

Why did you think that was suppose to be the outcome?

Why did you pick me to partner with?

Churn out those Why’s like a bouncy 3-year old does! (It’s the simplest question that can open up a world of understanding.) We need to be able to offer that same sounding board to others. This work does not happen in a bubble.

This is why there are support groups for virtually any endeavor or recovery effort. For our process, we will call this your “ensemble”.

Your ensemble helps you with the little steps that make the long journey possible.

Set up your ensemble now. List a few people—or even just one– who can be there for you unconditionally on this journey.  Can you reciprocate this presence?

 

Do you need to find people

to work with on this journey?

Visit the online forum to connect,

interact and move forward

in the work.

 

Each section addresses and explores elements of your creatively independent process, your point of view and your ability to creatively explore the world around you with others. The manifesto is divided into the following parts:

  • Self-Awareness – Who are you right now?
  • The Ensemble – How does your group help you? How do you help your group?
  • Rhythmic Revolution – What tools, or rhythms, can you explore to become more creatively independent?
  • Creative Cycles – How do you support the on-going creative process within you and your ensemble?

This manifesto was written to be part of your ensemble: to sit with you, poke at you, laugh with you and challenge you. After each section there are “Self-Observation” questions for you to consider solo and with your ensemble. They are meant to be writing prompts, conversation starters and even themes for creative projects. They are offerings through which you can make the manifesto your own, relevant to your present outlook on life.  So take your time with this book: read, play and process.

Feel where the manifesto rubs you wrong. Observe where you nod your head in agreement. Breathe. Observe your breath. Take your time.

 

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Using Self-Observation

No, It’s Not Navel Gazing

 

Self-observation is a tool for assessing how you really feel about a given situation. Your body and your emotions are tried-and-true messengers. They are your internal ensemble, continuously supplying you with valuable feedback. If you wish to hear the answers, you have to observe and listen to what they tell you, see it for what it is, and feel what you’re actually feeling (and not, perhaps, what you wish you were feeling).

Most of the time we rush through life. Time is a form of currency and we can feel as if we live in a debt-burdened (inner) world. Or we assume despondently that a debt-ridden world has been shaped for us, and we must try to figure out how to afford to live in it.

 

We can change that by taking

the time to self-observe.

Aren’t your health, happiness and

independence worth not having

to declare time-bankruptcy?

 

Self-observation is scientific and nonjudgmental. See if you can break down each moment of embodied reaction by assessing your physical responses to stimuli: breath, heart rate, body tension, gaze, posture, body language, internal dialog, etc. Assess the quality of you in the quality of the moment.

Often we jump right to judgment (good vs. bad) or conjecture (unfounded conclusions). Judgment lives in the past. It holds up your current position against past experiences or information and then assigns (warped) value accordingly. Conjecture lives in the future. It holds your current position against what might come of it, the “what if’s” that lie ahead. It then assigns value to your current action, weighing the risk against the imagined (or feared) outcome.

The impulses of judgment and conjecture are both an angel and devil perched on each shoulder, overly quick to evaluate your current situation. Self-observation means locating the real you, smack in the middle of the present moment—what you are seeing, feeling and taking in. Try to remain in this place of utter freshness.

It could look something like this (and beware of writing off the mundane as insignificant too quickly):

Right now, writing these words, I observe myself scratching my head and shaking my foot. I observe a dull pain in the left side of my back. I observe the aroma of food and my growling stomach. I observe my head nodding in time with a song in my earphones. I observe my typing is sporadic.

From self-observation comes the next step: asking why? 

Why do I find myself just like this in the present moment?

Your response will inevitably blend considerations of past and future (judgment and conjecture) with real data. For example, from my self-observation I decide I’ve been sitting long enough in this chair typing, leaning on my left side—either because I’m right-handed or because the window’s on my left and I’m “leaning toward” being outside. I’m hungry. This song makes me want to dance. And I’ve slowed down my typing because I might be feeling self-conscious (and so hesitant) about making my own self-observations transparent in this chapter.

So, what’s the big take-away? I learned what I need to move forward consciously into the next moment. I’m going to stretch and get a bite to eat.

 

SELF-OBSERVATION:

Manifesto, I Observe that I’m Observing Right Now

 

Do you self-observe regularly? Occasionally? Rarely?

How do you assess your actions? By your emotions? Physical states? The reactions?

When you make self-observations, does it slip into judgment?

When someone asks you “How are you?” do you answer truthfully or politely?

What does it take to stop and self-observe on any given day?

As an exercise, observe yourself right now: physically–heart rate, quality of breath, intensity of gaze, body tension/ease, emotions, mental-chatter (your inner-dialogue).

It’s important to practice self-observation in neutral scenarios. With repetition, the roll-call of internal ensemble members will become second nature. This way you can access self-observation in more stressful or fearful scenarios, when you “really need” the answers.

How does it feel to address these questions?

 

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Worth It

 

Before you can call on your ensemble, you have to do the first step on your own. The step of saying, “This is enough—enough boredom, frustration, pain, sadness and feeling less-than. Enough.” The remaining steps will be in the company of your ensemble of like-hearted individuals, who are living different examples of the same goal: being creatively independent.

Living life creatively independent of life-limiting fear and surrounded by a supportive community is worth it.

You are worth it.

I ENCOURAGE YOU TO:

  • Get your ensemble together.
  • Set up regular meetings.
  • Set goals, deadlines, projects. This work reveals itself in the play, in the creation, in the doing. There are tasks suggested to encourage play. The body cannot lie, so get it involved in this process and listen to what it has to say.
  • Step fully into the work. Don’t tiptoe; even if you only complete one exercise or section each day/week/month, commit to that moment with your full attention and playfulness.
  • Write in the margins of this book. It is yours to use as you need.
  • Start a notebook. Whether this means journaling, doodling or gathering photos, the physical act of expressing yourself helps you own your experiences. It also helps you own and articulate your future.
  • Breathe. Observe your breath. The simple act of inhaling and exhaling, holding your breath, yawning, etc. can inform you on how you are taking in the moment and what you are open to.
  • Add your own Self-Observation Questions, if questions come to you that are not on the list.
  • Document your discoveries. The documentation could be as simple as a sentence on a scrap of paper, or as in-depth as a blog. This allows you to step back and see your discoveries. Sharing what you find also allows you and your ensemble to move forward together.
  • Take your time, but be diligent. Lean into the work. It will be a different process for everyone. Only you know when to move into the next section, or when to revisit a previous one.

 

“When our gift is unwrapped,

the whole community benefits.”

— Thea Elijah

 

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The Many Powers of Your Ensemble

 

Amazing feats can be accomplished with the healthy support of your ensemble and a creative outlook, which we all can access. This chapter describes some of the benefits of having an ensemble and how to intentionally gather them together.

Your ensemble understands and challenges you. They are healthy influences. They inspire and surprise you. They respond and encourage your true nature and intention.  They get you and they get at you. Although each member may focus on different points on the horizon, a sustainable ensemble embraces their different modes of learning, exploring and playing to empathize and encourage.

Your ensemble members will most likely not all be of your generation, your sex, your culture, your race, your location, your economic bracket or your occupation. If you look for them solely in familiar places or categories, then you’ll find only more of the known. In order to support, challenge and expand yourself, you need to go into the unknown too.

 

The members of a beneficial ensemble

are found sprinkled throughout

time and place:

where you are, where you were

and, most importantly,

where you want to be.

 

I mean this literally and figuratively. Your ensemble can be gathered based on location, project, interest, etc. For example, because of how I like to work, play and be inspired, my main ensemble is constructed like this:

“Where I was” THEN

  • Friends and Family – A select group of people who have a history with me but can still see me in the present moment. It’s a delicate balance and there are a select few in this group.
  • Past Mentors – Another small group of educators in various fields with that share a common passion for play, ownership and high stakes. We know one another’s process and influences and yet can stay current and forward-leaning in the work.  Some have died, and yet I still look back on their advice for guidance in my ensemble.

“Where I am” NOW

  • Community Artists (musicians, visual artists, writers, actors, circus performers, dancers, directors and choreographers) in the pockets of the world where I create art.
  • Like-Minded Seekers – people of any age searching for more answers inside progressive education. These people don’t necessarily live near me, but we connect online through forums.
  • Collaborators – Artists, educators, friends and strangers whom I currently create with in my different fields of theatre, dance, education, creative writing, business and music.

“Where I want to be” SOON

  • Innovators – Because I want to live on the leading edge of my work, this section of my ensemble is vital. Some are innovators in their career, some in their everyday lives. Some are people I’ve had the honor of engaging with, like Seth Godin, Kathleen Marshall and Gregory Hines. Some are influences from afar, like Brené Brown, Aaron Sorkin, Simon McBurney, Ani Difranco, Julie Taymor, Sir Ken Robinson, Amanda F. Palmer and Malcolm Gladwell.

Many of the members of my ensemble don’t fit into one category. They float between categories, depending on how our relationship changes, or they straddle many categories because of the nature of my work with them. For example, my three-year old son Griffin is in both my Now and Soon category. He challenges and inspires me in the moment, but he also gives me opportunities and reasons for leaning forward into my future. My little muse will be popping up in this manifesto a bunch.

We can be a part of many different ensembles at once depending on our needs and our contributions to the group. Our level of engagement can also vary depending on the ensemble. How many you are a part of, or how you interact with your ensemble(s) is a personal choice with unique outcomes. The important part is that you recognize your groups and make conscious connections.

 

ENSEMBLE ROLL CALL

 

Who’s in your ensemble now? Remember to consider those that you may have not personally met but who’s work or life choices inspire you.

Take a moment to list out your current support network. Then ask yourself how they contribute to your ensemble:

  • Who would you add to your ensemble?
  • See what might be needed or missing from the above ensemble. List more people to engage with in your ensemble.
  • Here are a few prompts to get you going:
  • Who inspires you?
  • Who challenges you?
  • Who has your back?
  • Who calls your bluff?
  • Who do you enjoy helping
  • Who do you aspire to work with or meet in the future?
  • How does it feel to ask yourself these questions?

 

SECTION 2: SELF-AWARENESS                                                              BACK TO TOP

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