In his book Drops Like Stars, Rob Bell tells a story...

Love him or hate him, Bell is a creative. A man that has a way with words. Call him a heretic, praise him as a genius...I don't really care...just don't miss the forest for the trees...please.

...In his book Drops Like Stars, Rob Bell tells a story of a ceramics class. 

As an experiment in creativity the teacher split the class into two separate groups.

One group was to be graded by quantity of the work they produced.

The other was to be graded by the quality of the work they produced.

When it came to the end of the semester he found that the group tasked with producing quantity had produced the works with the best quality.

While this groups worked and tried and discovered and made mistakes, they learned how to be better at their craft. They failed at things and improved. They tried and got better.

The other group was scared to move in fear of making a mistake. They read books on how to produce quality work. They made theories. They did little else.

The 'quality' group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.
Sometimes we are afraid to create.

Sometimes we fear to try because it won't be perfect. So we turn on the TV. Stare blankly at our smart phones.

The fact of the matter is it won't be perfect. It won't.

but if I write a book that is only 65% perfect, it will affect more lives than if I theorize about a book that is 100% perfect....but just in my head.

Release what's inside of you. Even if it isn't perfect....just keep swimming....just keep swimming....you'll get better. You'll find your voice...I believe in you.

I really do.

*image credit: http://www.fhu.edu/belltower/post/2012/03/06/Ceramics-Art-Exhibit-Visits-Troy-Plunk-Art-Gallery.aspx
found it on the Pintrest
What set everyday life apart from our adventures?

What puts the extra in the extraordinary days?

This earth we walk is big and beautiful and I want to see it all.
I'm adventurous by nature and want to travel and explore and see new things and create .

But as a responsible adult I find that I can't travel everyday. I can't leave the country every few months or when the mood takes me. I have to work and provide and pay Capital One and make my car payments on time and pay the mortgage. 

When we look at the day to day existence of our lives it can weigh us down. It bores us.

Our souls begins to atrophy...they shrivel and die.

Art can revive us, wake our souls from slumber, remind us we are built for more than just to consume, but to create.

I can attest to this. When I sit down to write it actually feels like I'm shaking the dust free from my soul. After I've finished I feel more myself, more who I was created to be.

A higher calling is to see the art in someone else. To look someone in the eye and say there is art in your soul, I dare you to release it. To call the gold out of someone. To help them "wash from their soul the dust of everyday life."

At the end of all things, relationships are the most important things in our lives. We must get to know someone to help them find their creative outlet as we find our own. When I lie on my deathbed I am sure that I will not say "I encouraged others too much, I should not of helped them. I guess I was just too generous." No, my goal is to be the encouragement, that breath of fresh air. 

See the art in a human soul. Ignore the dross, point out the gold. A single kind encouraging word can change the course of a life. 

I believe this.

I willing to bet you do too.
I haven't updated this blog in awhile because I have been traveling. I traveled for sixteen hours in a car from the suburbs of Chicago to my home state of North Carolina. I went to be with my family to mourn the loss of my grandmother. 

This is nothing new. Everyone has lost loved ones. There was no tragedy that took her from us early. She was ready to go. In the days and weeks before she passed she spoke of being ready to go home and getting to see her husband and sisters again. I am happy for her and am in awe of her unshakable faith that she clung to all the way to the end.

We seem to all have this mistaken idea that a quiet life is not worth leading. That no one will champion a name that isn't famous. It is wrong to think that no one will tell stories about a life lived well in relative obscurity. 

My grandmother lived a quiet life. She was astonishingly humble. She never looked for praise or notoriety. She didn't seek fame or fortune. She was so quiet and sweet it wasn't until I looked back at her life as a whole that I realized how amazing she was. 

She was a teacher, first of English and of music. She passed a love of the written word to me. She was a breast cancer survivor and had a stroke that left her paralyzed on half of her body for most of her life. She was tough, but didn't have to yell to prove it, in fact I only heard her raise her voice in anger once in my thirty one years.

I only found this out after she passed that she wrote letters of encouragement to women with breast cancer. Ensuring them that there is life after cancer. Giving them hope, sharing peace with them. She kept this to herself never looking for accolades.

The love story that unfolded over the course of my grandparents life together is nothing short of awe-inspiring. A love story that was loyal and true. That lasted from the day they met until death stole him from her.

This is the legacy I have. It was passed to me. This humble sweet woman who lived in a small house on a farm in the middle of nowhere, who wasn't rich or famous. This is why I think this quiet life is worth celebrating, worth sharing here and now. In the weeks before she passed, sensing her time was short, she made phone calls to us. She called me and after letting me know that she will always love me, she told me to remember to always love everybody. To choose love. In the life we lead of rushing around, trying to make money and build our own empires...at the end what was important to her

That is the legacy. That is worth celebrating.

photo credit http://scififx.com
We are all time travelers in our own way. 

We tell ourselves that we live in the present, that we can only exist in the now. We've convinced ourselves that our only experiences are linear, cause to effect. Past to present. Present to future.

But this is not true. Many of us travel to the past on a daily basis, wallowing in nostalgia, eating the fruits of yesterday. Others completely live in their past. Setting up a camp, laying down at a traumatic moment and existing only there, never moving forward, never experiencing their own present, their own future.

Others look only to the future, speculating, feeling their life can only start in the future and never now. Waiting, waiting, waiting for their real life to begin. Only in the future after I get married, after I have children, after my children are grown, after I move to New York, LA, Chicago, only then can I chase my dream and become the hero to my own story. Never in the moment, missing all that is good about the now. Some wait too long, awaiting some unknown inciting incident and miss their entire life.

There are those I know that lament their years, are ashamed to admit they are in their late twenties, early thirties, forties, fifties. They pretend they are younger, still relevant to our youth worshiping culture. Never embracing the gift that is now. The person they are, the sum of their experiences.

The fact remains that the best time for us is the present. Right now. This is where we belong. The best time for you to start something new is right now, not tomorrow, not yesterday. The best time for the person that you are is this time,this moment. 

You learn more everyday. You become the person you were meant to be a little more everyday. If this is true then your best days are always ahead of you, don't rush to meet them, don't drag your feet thinking your best is the past. 

Stop the wandering, leave the past, leave the future, plant your feet in the present. Experience this moment. Try something new, set a new goal. Start today. It's the only one you have.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
C.S. Lewis