Droplets fall patiently, one at a time, slowly and methodically, thundering loudly like a stick on a snare on the metal roof above my little brown clapboard studio. Wet decaying fall leaves cover the ground as bright, twinkling blades of springtime fight to take over the ground cover as if to say ‘My turn now. You can come back next fall.”
As I gaze at the walls inside my studio, my equivalent of a man cave, with paintings instead of posters, and model lights inside of neon beer signs, my life flashes before me with each painting a memory of a time and place in history. A little brown church with a glowing red door, surrounded by fall color which I painted beside friends Don Edic, Rick Wilson, and Frances Pampayen.
Painting in Bruges
Another memory of painting quaint canal-facing homes in Bruges which I painted beside Rick Dickensian, Michelle Jung, Roger Rossi. I remember when a local newspaper reporter talked to me, took my picture and it appeared on their website.
Friends painting together
A distant foggy mountain peak painted at my Adirondack event has been hanging here for nine years, a scene I’ve painted over and over with hundreds of friends over the years. And another of a gushing waterfall painted under umbrellas in a roaring rainstorm with Erik Koeppel, Terryl Gable, Kim Hoerster and Rick Wilson.
Who Needs Gold?
Life is rich for me. My life with artists and painting is more valuable to me than chasing bars of gold. I’m not a financially wealthy guy but my wealth is made up of friendships and painting memories, which are far more valuable and things I’d never trade for financial wealth.
If you were to have asked me to envision such a life surrounded by art and painter friends in exotic locations with a paintbrush in hand, I never would have believed it.
A No Talent Hack
I’m the guy who believed I had no talent, not even the ability to draw a stick figure. You simply could not have convinced me that it was possible to come true. Yet it did come true. But for it to come true others had to help convince me that it was possible and I had to start believing them.
What Do You No Longer Believe?
Look back on your life and ask yourself how many things you believed impossible or improbable that you would have never imagined that now seem very much a part of who you are. To adopt new things in our lives we have to make constant adjustments to our belief systems, we have to challenge our own beliefs, and we have to trust that others sometimes see things we need that we cannot see in ourselves.
Can you think about something you resisted, were opposed to, or did not believe that was introduced to you by someone else? I guarantee you it did not happen instantly. It’s something you resisted until you adjusted your own mindset and started to believe what they believed. I can think of many things I disbelieved before believing them.
Changing our minds isn’t easy.
We grow up with the ideals or views of our parents, grandparents, teachers and professors; we usually believe what we’ve been told. Repetition has that effect. Yet we have to start thinking for ourselves. We have to question everything, never assume that even those we love the most were right. We may find out they were right, but we also may find out their thinking was flawed.
Throughout my life I’ve watched transformations. I’ve seen my own transformation on many occasions, and I’ve watched friends morph into butterflies and sometimes piranha.
Determination Overcomes All
When people want something badly enough they become driven by their passion or desire. That’s when the impossible becomes possible. There is no force greater than human determination, which explains why average people end up doing extraordinary things. But it can cut both ways. An obsession with something unhealthy can drive people as well. Thankfully, we each get to decide what’s right for us. I’ve never been willing to make the sacrifices to gain massive wealth, but I have friends with jets and choppers and a half dozen homes who are good at it.
It all boils down to our priorities and our personal belief systems.
Can You Change, Really?
Things really get interesting, though, when you try to change your belief systems. A business colleague in radio fell deeply in love with a woman, so much so that he ignored the fact that they had extremely opposite political views. Though I would have never believed it, he started thinking that maybe those views were worth considering. Yet he was die-hard in his beliefs until he had motivation to challenge his own beliefs.
Most of us are stuck in our ways and almost nothing will change our minds.
Imagine for a moment that you belong to a cult and practiced it with vigor for decades. Then a video was found where the cult leader was talking about how none of it was true and he was manipulating people for their money? There would still be people who would cling to that cult, unable to change their minds even if there was solid proof. They would find a rational way to tell themselves that it was counterfeit or that he was told to say it at gunpoint.
This Can’t Be True
Decades ago I got to know all of the people on the floor of the office building in Salt Lake City. One really nice man turned out to be revealed as a serial killer with dozens of bodies found under his house. It was frightening, and at first no one could believe it was true because he was such a nice guy. But the evidence was convincing.
There is a term called Cognitive Dissonance, which occurs when a person holds two or more beliefs that contradict each other. That’s when my belief systems clash with new evidence that cannot be ignored, such as indisputable evidence. It’s a discomfort where we try to find a way to resolve our discomfort. Most of us eventually come around.
I Was Wrong
Because of Coronavirus I experienced Cognitive Dissonance. For instance: I had a mistaken belief that our modern medicine was so good that we would never have a Pandemic like those of a hundred years ago. I also believed that nothing could put our country into another financial crisis equal to the Great Depression, yet both came true. I had to wrestle my own belief systems to the ground to resolve a new set of beliefs.
Now I’m wondering how many more times I’ll be proven wrong and will need to change my belief systems.
Am I clinging to the idea that things will get back to normal because I’m an optimist? They might, or we may never shake hands or hug friends again, and we may be conducting life as we know it with facemasks and gloves.
I’m guessing that as we get on the other side of this quarantine, we will learn things about ourselves and we will have to adopt new belief systems.
I guarantee that we could be given an “all clear” and no chance of infection, and there will be people who won’t get on an airplane for five years. They simply will not be convinced that it’s safe.
Expect Dramatic Change
My assumption is that our lives will change dramatically. Each of us will end up adopting new beliefs and shedding old beliefs because a new normal will be revealed as a result of these past few weeks of virus. I can’t possibly predict in what ways we will see change, but I guarantee we will.
What do you think will change?
What do you think will be revealed?
None of Us Could Have Believed This
No matter how open-minded I think I am, my mind is closed to certain ideas. Yet I’ll be proven wrong in the next year or two, because of new evidence that forces me to let go of my beliefs. You may want to consider that it could happen to you, too. None of us would have ever believed that the entire world would be in quarantine lockdown, that no restaurants and stores would be open, and that we would experience weeks or months of staying at home.
Grieving The Loss of Beliefs
With new evidence and disbelief comes grief. We grieve over the death of our beliefs. Loving someone only to find out they were an axe murder is a tough pill to swallow. We still want to cling to the good things we liked about them. And although it’s always best to look at the positives, we cannot ignore truth or evidence. Still, there is a loss when that evidence erodes truth.
You and I are on the edge of this virus. Soon, maybe today or tomorrow, maybe another month or two from now, we’ll be introduced to the need to adopt new beliefs. Are you ready?
I for one am excited about the future. I’m curious what it will look like and I’m ready to take it on.