Walking in my pajamas from the nice cool house outside to the porch, the heat unexpectedly smacks my face. The buzz of the overworked air conditioner compressor drowns out the sounds of birds, yet the bugs’ buzzing is drowning out the compressor. In the distance, the rap of a hammer — someone is up early, working on their dream home.
Building a dream home has never been high on my bucket list, yet every home, every building you pass, was at one time or another someone’s dream.
I often look at old, crumbling buildings, often near the point of being condemned or razed, and think that building was someone’s dream at one point. Someone spent their life coming up with the money, working diligently over the plans, working with the builders (or building it themselves) over months or years, spending endless amounts of time working on their dream. If walls could talk, they’d reveal what took place within those buildings and the outcome of those dreams.
Old Vs. New
Though headaches can abound with old buildings, if given a personal choice of a brand-spanking-new home or building versus something old with character and great design, I’d choose the old. Maybe I’m an old soul, mentally living in another era. I like old paintings, old buildings, old houses, old boats, and old books.
Though I sometimes fantasize about living in historical times and hanging out in the cafes with painters like Monet or Van Gogh, thinking how magical it would be, in some ways I feel as though I’m living that life today, and that people will look back on these times, wishing they could have been a part of the art movement today. Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I realize a great artist is staying in our world famous artist’s cabin.
I feel extremely blessed to spend time with the greatest painters of our day, some of whom will come to my event in the Adirondacks next week, and some of whom will be discovered there once I see them paint and end up doing articles on them. I can think of several unknown painters, now famous, whose careers were given birth by attending that event and others.
Two Special Movements
Though it’s fun looking at other times as romantic and a place we would love to be, we need to realize that the time we are living in is one of those special times in history. If you’re reading this and are not an artist, there are two movements going on at the present moment that will go down in history as two of the most important in the history of art. I feel fortunate to be able to play a small role in each of those movements.
Cocktail Party Stories
A little piece of art history for your next cocktail party … today’s plein air painting movement (“plein air” is a French term for “outdoors,” as I explain on my podcast) is the largest movement of any kind in the history of art. There are more people going outside to paint, more events, more shows, and more participants than at any time in history. Art historian Jean Stern of the Irvine Museum says this is the largest movement in the history of art. Of course, I also call it “the new golf,” because people love the challenge, the social aspects, and the lifestyle.
A Youth Movement
The other movement is what I call the modern realism movement, which is led by droves of young people who are moving away from their parents’ and grandparents’ modernist roots and, like generations before them, shedding the old for the new. The new, in their eyes, means realistic painting practices perfected by the Old Masters 400 years before them, whose techniques were almost lost after the modern movement was launched in the early 1900s.
These artists are painting works at levels of quality that match some of the great masters of the past, though their subjects reflect modern sensibilities. Our little role in this was to start a magazine focused on this movement about 15 years ago, when we saw some early signs, and today we try to fuel that movement with a training event and convention and the magazine.
In both cases, those who have the gift of owning paintings from these eras may end up with the high-auction pieces that fund future generations of your family, just as if you had owned a Monet or a Raphael. But what’s most important isn’t the money, it’s the pleasure of having these works on your walls, enriching your life.
One never knows how history will treat one’s own times, but I believe historians will look back on these moments as rare and special, and look upon the artists as part of a special time in history, especially when there are two major movements happening simultaneously.
Living in Special Times
Each of us is living in a special time, when special things are going on. I remember my grandmother talking about inventions created in her lifetime that she could barely believe; they seemed to her beyond science fiction. I’ve since realized that you and I will be telling our grandkids about things we’ve seen that once seemed impossible. The rate of innovation in our lives today is greater than the rate of innovation at any time in history, impacting everything around us, including our health.
I Can’t Believe I’m Here
During the dot-com boom of the 1990s, I was an outsider looking in. I heard stories about “idea people” who ended up changing the world and sometimes making billions. Some stories became legendary. One day I woke up and told myself, “I don’t want to be an outsider, I want to be an insider. I want to be one of those people trying to change the world through technology.”
So I went to Silicon Valley with an idea, raised a bunch of money, started a company, hired employees, and changed the world of Internet audio forever. The people I was encountering in my daily life were all with the young startups that had not yet changed the world. For instance, I met two young guys at a party who had just started a company called Google. I met the young man who started Napster, which changed the music world forever. I met with the founders of startups called PayPal and Ebay, and hundreds of other tech giants.
Insert Yourself Here
Though I was late to the party, once I realized there was a major movement going on, I made a decision to find a way to insert myself so I could be part of the dialogue. Rather than telling my grandkids about seeing things happen in my life, I’ll be able to tell them that I was able to play a small role in those things.
The gift of life may be brief, but why not look at that gift and try to be part of something bigger, something that will change the world, something that will allow you to influence the outcome?
Insecurities and Hangups
Though you may not feel deserving, you have things inside of you that can make a major difference in the world. Your perspective, your lifetime of wisdom, is of great value, and it’s something others need to hear. In fact, most of the people I’ve met in the world of change are no different than we are. They have their insecurities and hangups, they lack confidence in many areas, they have doubts and negative thoughts too. The only difference is that they move forward anyway because their dreams are bigger than their doubts.
You have something inside you right this minute. You may not even know what it is. You may be questioning what to do with your life, or you may have an idea that you’ve lacked the confidence to pursue. Do you want to go to your deathbed with regrets because you did not try? I’m not sure who said it, but it’s better to try and fail than never to try at all.
There are so many things on my bucket list that I’ll need a couple of lifetimes to get them done. Some are old, some are new, but I’m very focused on making them happen.
An Old Bucket List Item
I can only think of one thing on my old bucket list that I’ve not done yet, a dream I’ve had since I was a teen, which is to play a role as an actor in a major motion picture. I’m not sure why the dream is there or what drives it, but I fully intend to check that off my list. Knowing the itch that has to be scratched is half the battle, because you’ll tell your brain about your need and your subconscious mind will make it happen.
Building a Museum
Though this is important to me, there are new bucket list items that hold more importance. For instance, Isabella Stewart Gardner inspired me to create a modern-day museum, just as she did, to reflect the two major art movements and the great artists of our time. I want to create a museum of plein air and one of modern realism. I simply need a major donor to create an endowment. This needs to be done so these two movements are given proper recognition in a major city, so they live on for generations. It’s too important to let the moment pass.
There are many other bucket list items, like teaching a million people to paint. It’s a modest goal, and one I hope to blow past one day, but it’s important because painting changes souls and opens eyes. It remakes us so we have the eyes of an artist, and that is life-changing.
Giving Ideas Attention
I suspect you too have a bucket list. Some are just fun things you want to get done, which may involve travel. Others may be about creating memories for your family, while others may be ideas that will change the world. They are all important, and if you give them enough time and attention, you’ll overcome all the obstacles in the way, including money. I certainly don’t have the money to start an important museum, but someone out there who has the ability may share the vision to make it happen.
What are your big dreams?
What is on your bucket list?
What do you feel you need to accomplish in your lifetime?
Some people start fast, others start slowly. Most of the good things I’ve done in my life happened after 50. Don’t tell yourself there isn’t time, or that’s it’s too late, or you’re too young or too old or too poor or that your circumstances prevent it. Passion overcomes everything. It simply starts with belief.
The world has been blessed with amazing things that would not exist had some woman or man allowed their dreams to be prevented by their negative mindset. We have incredible buildings, institutions, museums, even cities that happened because of the single dream of one person. Most of those people started with no money and no special advantages, but their passion drove their minds to find a way.
Make Your List
You’ve been blessed with a great mind, great ideas, and great passion. You have what it takes. I hope that today, you’ll find some quiet time to make a list, and decide which items are at the top of the list, so you’ll remind yourself every day. Before long, what seems out of reach will start getting into your subconscious mind, which then will find a way to drive it home.
I have confidence in you, no matter what things are going on in your life that may be preventing you from living that dream. Most, if not all, of these things will pass and you’ll find God’s perfect timing. Have confidence, and don’t let go of those dreams.