For accessibility and ease, you can listen to this post narrated by Mike:
We live in a pretty mediated world.
I’m writing to you right now through the media of my computer and a website, newsletter, or social media. I regularly meet clients and colleagues through Facebook. I even catch myself living more in my thoughts, fantasies, memories, and anxieties about the past and future than I do the present moment.
Everything’s just a little bit separated. Just a little bit derivative.
I’ve listened to far more music from my iPhone than I have live. And I’ve seen far more stories from my TV than I have from a stage. And—okay, I’ll admit—I have staged a photo or two in my day when the candid photo didn’t look “good enough.”
With all of the busyness, noise, and pressure all around us, it can be really hard to actually exist in the moment without mediation.
In college, I remember a professor describing the most surreal moment of her life when she took her family to Paris, and her son said of the Eiffel Tower, “Oh, it looks just like the one in the Rugrats movie.”
If everything is mediated and derivative, which is the real one anymore?
As a visionary, it’s something I think about a lot. When I’m in my meditation and I leave the moment to think, “I’m so relaxed.” Uh yeah, I got that. I felt it purely. No need for a story to mediate the experience.
But then I journal. And I’m intentionally removing myself from the moment of living to reflect on that living. To spend 30 minutes each day pulling myself out of life and into analysis of that life.
If I’m so deep in it, I can’t take a close look at it. Because it’s all around me.
Maybe my journaling story of what happened yesterday is the derivative. But, without it, could I ever really reflect on what happened?
Artists, visionaries, have always played with mediation. One foot in the world, and one foot out of it. It’s the only way we can see from a different vantage point. We have to temporarily step out of a moment to be able to see it clearly.
We’re forever Nick Carraway’s “within and without.” To only exist in the moment is to miss the opportunity to analyze and critique it. But to only exist in mediation is to miss living at all.
We visionaries walk that line every day. Being so fully invested in the experience of living so that it fuels our art. And being so fully reflective of our experiences that it enriches our lives. It’s cyclical.
I’ll be the first to admit I suck at being a millennial. I’ve never used a dating app. I rarely ever Venmo. I just yesterday learned how to make an Instagram story. And I pretty much don’t photo-document anything.
It’s so sad, in fact, that when a blog wanted to recently feature me and asked for a picture of Garrett and me, the only one I could easily find—that wasn’t from my wedding—was from four years ago.
We actually had to have three separate talks about how we’d get pictures of ourselves in Aruba this trip. And we ended up with one.
It was with all these ideas swirling in my mind that I decided to start my new conceptual art project yesterday: The Unique Genius Experiment.
The idea is that every day for at least a year, I’ll do something outside of my comfort zone, led by one of the six aspects of my genius. And Sherri gets to choose which aspect I’ll spend each week on. And I have to document the whole thing via Instagram stories (hence just learning how to use them).
And, I won’t lie—it kind of scares the shit out of me.
Because I want to explore the way mediation can lead to more subjectification, more genius, and more intimacy. Rather than everything being curated, scripted, and dead, I want to see if coming out of my life to document it can lead me to deepen my experience of that life.
Though all of the Experiment is happening online, all of the actions (or a good majority) are happening out in person. It’s forcing me to use mediation to get out into more unmediated moments.
Introducing myself to strangers, writing tell-all letters to people I love, starting dance parties, maybe even jumping out of an airplane.
To be both within and without my own life. To see it as a witness, just as much as I’m living it.
As visionaries, the creation of our lives is always our greatest art. It’s the place from which every other container can be born—our work, our relationships, our friendships, the way we dress and decorate our homes.
The ability to travel between being inside the experience and outside looking in is exceptionally powerful. We learn to see the world not just through the possibilities we envision, but also as it is right now.
And we ultimately bring more genius, more life, where it wasn’t before.
I want to live a life where I’m so in love with the moment that I forget to leave it for thoughts and anxieties. And then, in between those moments, where I’m consciously choosing to temporarily step outside of my life to reflect on it from the outside.
Allowing the moments to fuel my reflection. And my reflection to deepen into those moments.
Not leaving it because I want to curate my “best angles” or praise-worthy attributes or feel like I have something to prove. Not leaving it because I’m riddled with fears and anxieties and fantasies of a different reality.
Leaving it so that I can dive in more fully next time. So I can be more alive. So I can share my genius with the world.
Growth is the constant evolution of experience and reflection. It’s how we step into our genius more fully. It’s how we transform the world—starting with our own.
Questions for Reflection:
*Answer in a journal, in the comments right here, or take it over to the Sacred Branding® Facebook group where we can support one another:
Is your life mediated or in the present moment?
— Do you ever get pulled out of the moment with thoughts, anxieties, or fantasies about the past or future? Or, conversely, do you get so caught up and busy with moment after moment that you never pause and reflect on them?
— Do you ever crave more “real” experiences or conversations? Do you want your reflections to help you deepen into your life and feel more like a genius and more alive?
— What if you’re a visionary and your role is always to be both within and without the world? To be so full of genius and life and also to be able to see from the outside what others cannot see? What if the ability to travel between experiencing the present moment and reflecting on it is how you grow into your genius?