We listen but we don’t follow

This is a letter to an artist friend of mine who has been suffering from illness and pain for a while.


I woke up this morning and the first thought came to my mind was your illness. Why does it bother me? And more importantly, what can I do?

I rewind my memories for several months. Leading up to my departure from the employment world, I created various symptoms in my body and mind: depression, migraine, hernia, kidney stone, etc. After my departure, I have no symptom that bothers me constantly.

I believe the symptom wasn’t exactly induced from external world. It was my body sending me signals to stop doing what wasn’t working. The signals continued until I admitted that I was wrong.

The scary stuff is that my life did not look self-destructive at all. I socialized, held a stable job, and enjoyed the freedom to pursue my passion in my private time. I did believe that I was doing the best in the given situation. I even thought that I was smarter than my body was, and therefore refused to listen to those symptoms and instead kept giving myself orders to follow my imaginary blueprint that should have led to a “balanced” life.

Fast-forward to the present day and I know that I was never smarter than my body was, my “balanced” life plan was in fact totally imbalanced—for me. I don’t say ditching a paycheck was the best option. I simply couldn’t figure out other ways. But it was surely much better than continuing the way I operated.

Call me arrogant or what-do-you-know-about-me or delusional or whatever, but I believe what is happening inside you is the same. It is time for you to be really, really, you. I don’t know what you think, but from what I see you can grow and shine your potential much, much more than it is now. I love you dearly for whatever and whoever you are, but I also really want your body to stop punishing itself and just do what it wants to do.

Now, here is a truth about people like us. We might be good listeners, but we are terrible followers. We remain polite, take notes, and even nod enthusiastically, but we never move our ass by listening to a speech. Think of a sad old guy on a stage preaching how to love each other. Everything he tells us is spot-on and we keep saying Yes. But somewhere deep inside, our true reaction keeps ringing: When is the last time you got laid? That’s what we follow.

Therefore I know I can keep churning out suggestions on and on and you may politely nod and say thank-you but you never follow my foolish advice. Ditto! And that is the right thing to do.

To truly encourage you, what I should do instead is to show, not tell. Therefore I will try to—forgive me for using that weak term—stop giving you stupid advices and just be more awesome myself as I go along. Then you will see me and only then you might really consider doing something different.

It doesn’t mean you are skeptic. It just means that you do what you do as an artist: copy. To copy is not to cheat. To copy is to feel the vibration coming out of someone or something, resonate with that frequency, and tune into it.

Regardless of the field, all artists do the same thing. Feel the vibration, catch the melody/phrase/image/whatever, and share it. That is how we communicate. No, that is the only way we know how to communicate.

So my friend, I shall vibrate loudly so that I can shake you up more profoundly and internally. That is the help I should be able to offer. Off to my writing…