week 1 self isolation down: unhomelikeness

You’re not a human doing, you’re a human being.

I’ve been following the progress of C-19 for a long time. Since around Jan 20th. I was in Japan, walking through a market in Tokyo & my American friend was messaging me how I might get quarantined on my way home. LOL I said to Hayley showing her the messages. “Americans, they’re so OTT. If it was a big thing, we’d have seen/heard it whilst here wouldn’t we?”

So we left Japan, & we weren’t checked out nor quarantined. Nothing was different. But I wish we had been. All of us coming home from Asia, 2 weeks at home & anyone we’d have contact with also kept at home. To keep it in check. Instead, here we are. On lockdown of sorts. Cinemas, cafes, pubs, restaurants, universities, and schools closed. Now, I believe this is the best thing and should have happened about a week ago given the rate of deaths we’re at (177 at the time of writing) and infection numbers of only testing hospitalized patients.

I’ve been self-isolating since last Thursday. Since before the government announcement of attempting to work from home if possible on Tuesday. I’ve been watching other countries and I know where this is going. I’m a person who is at risk. I have super bad asthma, and a bunch of other long-standing issues – that’s well documented on the pages here. So it’s been a week of only walking the dogs alone outside. Everything else in my bedroom and on Skype.

Now I’ve been working from home most of my adult freelance life. At least 2 days a week. So I should be used to it. But I will level with y’all, I have found this week really, really hard. By Wednesday I wondered why I was struggling given the fact that this was my normal activity last year.

The girl who lost most of 2012 and beginning of 2013 to insane fatigue and pain and spent around 8 months laid in bed most of the time, & when she wasn’t would just dream of being back in the bed – is now feeling trapped and uncomfortable in the same space.

I usually love working from home. No horrible Northern Rail commute, the money I save, a relaxed ease into the day. But this week? I can’t concentrate. I feel restless.  Every day I have to reassure my nan that if she takes the precautions necessary, she should be ok. And then I go back to my laptop and I stare down twitter with it’s 9 in 10 tweets about c-19. endless scrolling.

Tonight, whilst re-reading some texts for my PHD, i realized why I feel so uncomfortable being self-isolated.

It reminds me of being sick. And I am struck by the comparisons of the life people with chronic health conditions, disabilities and complex lives live every day.

I am not sick (not in the Corona way anyways) At the time of writing – i’ve been feeling the best i’ve felt in many many years recently. But I realize this lock-down, isolated life mirrors illness/injury in the same way that it affects our ability to be in the world.

Without real life interaction, even if it’s just me writing a bunch of bullshit on my laptop in Starbucks surrounded by strangers, it still feels like BEING in the world. I need some rhythm and rime, the beat of the street, i kinda need that Northern Rail community feeling to feel grounded. It gives my work the context it needs to feel tangible and real, otherwise — they’re just words on a page, drawings of things. Heidegger writes about this well in Being in Time. For him it makes no sense to abstract a paintbrush from the lifeworld of the human being in order to show that it’s mere an object made of molecules. The brush ceases to exist as brush if there is no human-being to use it.

 In other words, meaning and interpretation of our everyday ways of being in the world – underline and anker who we think we are and what we do.

Today we had a Skype with our newish Lab4Living Professor, Peter Llyod Jones, talking through his amazing catalog of varied work, underpinned by his scientific background but his understanding and need of combing art & design & all the other creative fields such as architecture and fashion to bring about the best most holistic and important/innovative works. He asked, “What does it mean to combine both science and art/design together and be a collaborator of both?”

The answer, of course, is simple: Science can in many ways explain *what* we are, but it cannot explain *who* we are and *why* we are.  We recognise beauty when we see it, we know when we feel pain and experience betrayal or joy. We don’t need technical explanations of these things in order to understand them or believe they exist.

The ubiquity of science’s usual calculative thinking can help give us a sense of freedom, and power of a ‘neutrality’ and it’s a sense of Truth. Presenting itself as the best, most sound, way of understanding ourselves and the world (it doesn’t).  So in theory, me being at home – hoping not to catch (or have previous caught & yet to get symptoms) c-19 – should give me a sense of agency in this. But bringing it back to that mirroring of chronic illness life, it does not.

When I was properly, pretty bed-bound sick – i learned fast what tending to the biological body does in medicine, it obscures what it means to *live* in that body, and what it *feels* like to be ill or injured, what it is like to experience the world differently – as ones embodiment shifts and changes.

As Jeffrey Bishop noted, Human life can not be reduced to mere functionality, without doing violence to the other features of being-in-the-world.  When you take away these contexts, or the ability to interact with it – it is a harm, a different kind of suffering.

We take for granted our interrelation of being-in-the-world, and when it beings to breakdown  – we feel like we’re falling out of our normal life. our of the world.

Whilst C-19 rages on, I made well aware of my “unstable body” – this self-isolation for longer, more necessity,  is just another sudden intrusion of the body into the everyday experiences. I’ve tried to explain in many different posts on this blog over the years about what it’s like to live in a body that keeps on changing? it can be frightening, sometimes even terrifying and always confusing. it generates this wild attention to your body that you never had before you was sick. One becomes a prisoner to any perceptible change — a cough, a lump, a pain. Predictability ends. You just grieve about the loss of it, allll of the time. Get forced to admit “new normals” when you just want the old normal.

C-19 is an equalizer in that it is forcing us to look and feel at our bodies and disruption of being in the world in the same way that illness & injury & other events do to others.

We have fallen out of the world, and most of  you have now joined me in what Susan sONTAG FAMOUSLY CALLED “THE Kingdom of the sick”.  But a lot of you aren’t sick.  you have to live a version of the sick kingdom life in order to either not kill other vulnerable people or not get sick yourself. Your way to project yourself into the world is disrupted.

And that’s what I am feeling. This wild uncomfortableness. Or kind of not belonging. An – what Heidegger called an “unhomelike being-in-the-world”. – the way we understand the world into which we know is thrown out.  Our world is no longer homelike, relatively stable. because illness (c-19 processeS) has disturbed our meaning making processes – it’s not just our body but the way in which we gain our being from/.

Having experienced serious illness – it leaves no part of your life untouched. Your relationships, your work, your sense of who you are and who you want to become, your future, your sense of life – and all these things change and it’s terrifying.

This creates a suffering.  The complex and profound suffering that is basic to the human condition – whether physical, mental, emotional, spiritual or otherwise – so something very few of us are willing to confront… fully.  It’s 1 of the reason why a lot of people have difficulty acknowledging friends are super sick, or people who are disabled continue to suffer great inequalities and injustices – because people can’t face their disruption because it means facing that it could also be them.  most of us would prefer not to dwell on the unpredictability of illness and death or the vulnerability of the human mind and body.

I feel like those who continue to keep going out, drinking in pubs having mass gatherings etc are turning away because they can’t deal with the idea of the suffering. They also don’t want to give up, momentarily, this ‘freedom’ that helps to give their world meaning and being. They also don’t want to experience what it’s like for so many people who are housebound due to social isolation, illness, and beyond.

And for me, here I am. In my bedroom. Not feeling real, not in the world. As noted many years ago, & multiple times on this blog – I have felt like I’m not going to make it to 35 (it was 30, but I got there). This feeling has been with me way before I got sick. Like with my poor background, it’s just a given. Now I am feeling it more than ever.  But with the long sickness, and now this – I have finally realized why the idea of dying without leaving a mark really bothers me. And why c-19 really frightens people.

When we can no longer project ourselves into our futures, we come face-to-face with ourselves – that our connection with the world is finite. What we’re really afraid of – is not so much the biological malfunctioning (tho that is scary) but the possibility of no longer to be able to *be* at all.

This kind of living takes away the privledges and luxuries of being to project secure and idealistic futures. It reveals the precariousness of our existences.

When I was so sick and couldn’t leave the house, it was fine because I had 0 energy. Now I’m finally getting my life back to a small part of what it was – and i’ve been thrown back into the life that sooooo many people have to live in, day-in & day-out. Without the imminent threat of C-19.

I see myself as an empathetic person, and i thought I had understood what it means to not be able to do stuff due to illness, to have your world broken and your place within questioned. But I finally think I get why it’s *so* dangerous for the elderly and the most vulnerable – who are relatively  bodily healthy – to be isolated and lonely from people, community, connection and activity. Because it breaks their being-in-the-world, it makes it difficult to ground yourself, and it feels very much unhomelikeness, within your own home.

I hope when we get to the end of this moment, that we will all reconsider how people are living and bring news way into helping connect people whose lives are already c-19 lockdown like.

ETfEKsaXkAo6TSn

 

 

What should you be spending more time on?

I’m self-employed, and a full-time clinical based health-care student – and professional poorly person.  So I can’t stop thinking about work. When you’re by yourself, it’s easy to overwork yourself.

I’ve realized recently that my family (my mom & my bro) is full of people who work very hard. They all work extremely hard and they enjoy it. It took years for me to figure out that that’s a trait that was passed onto me.

When I’m working, I’m being functional and useful to someone, but I’m also making money to pay the rent. When I can, I like to work on personal projects because it gives me an avenue for self-expression – and to try and make change. I can put work out on the Internet that people might like and, by extension, hopefully like me. Which is secretly a lot of what I want from my work.

What I’m realizing is that there are other areas of my life that need that same sort of focus and rigor that I give to work & sleep. There are friendships and relationships and things that are every bit as important.

There’s half of me that is very proud of the work that I’ve made and where it has taken me. But there’s another half of me that knows that I live in Leeds/Sheffield/Doncaster and that I’m very privileged to already have a masters,  be studying radiotherapy and making the work I’m making. When I was growing up, my mom worked 2 low-paid jobs – just to make rent. These days, she only works 1 low-paid job to try and make rent. No one ever told me i could or should go to university – because it wasn’t ever a thing, no one does that in my family. I just discovered it some how in the last year and half of school but my mom has always been so supportive of everything I do, she basically told me ‘Don’t just do something to make money, find something you love and find someone who appreciates you for it. And then try and get a job.’ Whilst she was drunk last weekend she told me to, “Try, take risks, fail doing stuff, because it doesn’t matter – this is always your home. You will always have a roof over your head. I just want you to be happy. I don’t care if you fail or get 100% – because you’ll get there — and I’m proud of you anyways.”

I’m always  aware of where I come from.  My friends parents know all about the league tables of the universities they attend, and their parents help them pay the rent.  They come from homes with hot-tubs, and convertible cars.  No one in my family understands the value of higher education. But it doesn’t mean they don’t support me – even if they think what I do (my art-freelancing stuff) “isn’t a real job” lol.    But I’m also aware of where I am now and how I can help more people get to where I am. Maybe a little thing that I do can make a difference, even if it’s just very slight.

That’s probably a bit naive, but these are big things that sometimes need to be reduced so we can start to deal with them. A tweet, blogpost, whatever, isn’t going to solve the problems we have with inequality and privilege, but it might help us slowly move incrementally to something better than what we currently have.

Empathy is first an act of imagination. I know how difficult it is to get from one side to the other. But if we spent more time teaching, sharing, learning, listening — I think we could make something better.

 

 

Trying To Be Mensch…

I probably should be watching the SuperBowl right now. But tonight, I’m tackling something different, something which seems necessary. Although you know me, I do love a bit of Beyonce!

In my new(ish) quest to try and live life, and live it with purpose with the weight of time baring judgement on me! I have decide that I need to learn the artform being Mensch. A mensch literally translates into “a person” in Yiddish, but figuratively it means something much deeper. A mensch is a person with whom you would be happy to befriend and associate with, because you feel genuine in a mensch’s presence, according to Wikipedia.

It has nothing to do with looks, with wealth, with success or with intellect (which is a relief for me really),  a Mensch is someone who simply makes others feel good when they are around them. I have quite a few friends that achieve this effortlessly, but not all of them would necessarily fall into the ‘Mensch’ category specifically. Not because they’re not good, or saint-like (quite the contrary – if they put up with the Smizz, then they gotta be close to being saints – lets be honest ha!). But more because they’re just socially fluet and happy people.

In theory, we are all decent people. Or that’s how we all start off at least. I’m thinking about “If I live, who do I intend to be?” and this is what I’ve come up with.

For most of my “making a living”, I listen to others. I listen to their ideas, problems, stories, and try and communicate that into visual bite-sizes. I listen to every-single-word they say. Now, you probably think in real life- we listen to every single word our friends and family say. We don’t. When I live-draw, I’m super tired and my head feels super clogged up after drawing for 8 hours of people’s talks. It literally is difficult to string a sentence together after 8 hours of scribing. That’s because i’ve listened to everything, and banked every single word, and it’s context. It made me realize that most of us, just listen to probably about 70% of what our closest friends say. And I don’t think that’s enough.

When I’m hurting, I just want to be heard. Listening is an artform we have seemed to have lost. But by listening, a mensch would make you feel worthy and cared for. A mensch would listen to what you need and what you feel. And I want to be that person. I’m not saying I don’t listen to you now. I do. I just want to be a better,  more empathetic, listener. I want to be a more compassionate listener. Because, now, I finally understand the necessity for someone to feel genuinely listened to.

Leo Rosten, the Yiddish maven and author of The Joys of Yiddishdefines mensch this way: *(http://blog.guykawasaki.com/)

Someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being “a real mensch” is nothing less than character, rectitude, dignity, a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous.

And these are some of the ways to become Mensch.

  1. Help without the expectation of return.
  2. Help many people.
  3. Do the right thing the right way.
  4. Pay back society.

 

They’re all things we know already. Almost religious, bible-like. I’m not religious. But I’m learning to believe. Believe in things, people, believe in other peoples things. Because, really – That’s all we have.to believe in ourselves and others.

So here I am. I’m like Smizz, here’s an excerise:  it’s the end of your life. What three things do you want people to remember you for?
1.
2.
3.

I’m gonna throw this question out on Twitter too.

This much I do know: (reflection on 2012 & life in general)

Intro:

2012 has been a year of awesomeness but a huge steep learning curve for me. Things started off amazing. I got the SITE Gallery Residency, met some awesome people, and I quit Coca-Cola, I still had my bookstore job and things felt good.

But I started to feel really unusually tired, and worn down. I brushed my shoulders off & blamed the no drinking coke thing, started to drink it again to reverse the supposedly effects, and ignored what my body was trying to tell me: that something wasn’t right. I started getting incredible bone ache around my left side of my body-specifically my shoulder, and drenching night-sweats. I lost over 1.5 stones in weight (that I had somehow put on a few months previously) without even trying! I got nosebleeds regularly for no reason, had an enlarged spleen for a while, lost my appetite, lost my get-up-and-go. I kept up with work, and took any opportunity open to me, but I slowly lost my connection with a whole community of people because I couldn’t make it to their exhibition openings and such – as I felt so poorly/tired. Which sucked more than anything.

Great work:

But I carried on working, regardless. Thanks to the amazing Doc/Fest crew, I got another chance at being their resident artist – and they recommended me to draw a TEDx talk in Sheffield, which got me my new part-part time job in London that I started in November!  Drawing a TEDx talk was a dream come true, and continuing to work with Sheffield Doc/Fest is one of the best-things ever.  My role on the Gravity Lecture series at Sheffield Hallam University has grown substantially. And I feel equal to my colleagues, where my ideas are often pushed forward. Which is insanely awesome. Even gaining some teaching opportunities – which I never thought would happen unless I did a PhD.

The “Unifying diagnose”: 

I went back to America to work for the YMCA for my 3rd year in a row. That place is now like family. It was here where people were pretty concerned about my mystery illness that my UK doctor had said was just “probably a mono-style-virus”. They made me see a specialist in haematology & oncology (despite me not wanting to) who told me that “a unifying diagnosis is a lymphoid malignancy”. Yeah, pretty hardcore stuff.

In denial  I carried on ignoring all these signs. Against doctors orders, I continued to work & do our legendary roadtrip from coast to coast in a month. But things became apparent on my roadtrip, that this was probably no virus. I left it until October to go back to my GP with a cough I still have, Taychicardia, & some lumps and all the above symptoms, and 2 months later I started fainting, and getting blinding white spots in the bottom half of my vision, i flunked my field of vision test at the Opticians when my actual vision is fine, and now my immune system is completely compromised. I’ve picked up pretty much everything that’s going around. The naro-virus, I just have to look at someone with a cold and I find myself full of snot. My tongue also looks like i’m diseased and i’ve had a  numb big toe for about 6 weeks now – which i think is in part due to what i’ve been taking medication wise.  It still hasn’t been disproven that I don’t have cancer. But, at least I’m sort of being treated with something at the moment. I  have Christmas off and go back in January for more tests, treatments & hopefully a clearer view.

What it revealed & what I’m learning from it:

This illness, whether as serious as predicted or not so serious, is humbling and extremely revealing – it has forced me to survey my life- perhaps super early than i would have- with an unforgiving eye. There are some shameful, lazy, hurtful, and weak acts in there. Everything I thought was important, suddenly seemed kind of unimportant. Everything I thought was unimportant, became important. I read a book about a guy diagnosed with cancer who said “If I live, who is it that I intend to be?” I read this and found that I too had a lot of growing up to do.

Even now, I was pissed off and taken aback when I went to see my hot GP about 3 weeks ago, about the blinding spots in my vision, who then freaked out  with me for changing my appointment with a specialist because it clashed with a work commission (ironically for the NHS). I said, “But you don’t understand, this is important” (This being Money firstly, and reputation secondly, getting more work thirdly) he said and quite aggressively for a GP, “No, Sarah, I don’t think YOU understand…. You need to put yourself first sometimes.” He was right. I don’t understand. I don’t understand why I’m still not back to normal health, and I still haven’t learnt my lesson that there ARE more IMPORTANT things in life than money, or fitting into what is socially acceptable. Dare I say it, that, you know, MY life/health is important. Reader, YOUR life is especially important.

I didn’t think people even cared about me. Until this year. I’ve witness kindness and amazing generous acts. Even from strangers. A woman who I met in the airport line, scrambled against the line at the end a plane journey to give me her card, told me to keep in touch and offered to do a bone marrow drive in NYC if it turned out I needed one.

But the one thing I am exceptionally grateful and humbled by is my friends. I keep saying it, but this is because i feel like I might have taken them for granted, or not shown them my appreciation until now. Friends are supposed to be there for you in tough times. But these guys are everything and more! They are my mirror back board. I wouldn’t have done ANY health thing if it wasn’t for them telling me to get myself checked out, or the doctor needs to know about this, ect. Even when there are moments of doubt and somewhat fear, they are there.

It made me realize that I need to make more of an effort with keeping in touch or caring about the needs of others. My art or resume won’t keep me warm at night. And if all of that ended, what would I have to show for it?

So here I am, I am trying to make every obstacle an opportunity. Doing something amazing takes so much effort and risk. Trying to fight against the inertia is wicked hard and tiring but it is ultimately the fight that counts. I’m asking myself what is meat and bones important?

I’m still figuring out stuff, but i know i see more beauty now than I ever did, I take care of my body way more now even with limited energy reserves. I try and keep and document my life just incase. It helps me see if this is what I want my life to look like. I know in 2013, I’m going to give back, help others in need. I’m going to work so much harder, I’m going to get up earlier, go to bed earlier, waste less time (harder than it looks!), i’m going to be kinder, I’m going to learn new things, I’m going to try and not let anyone down. i am going to be a better person, a better friend, a better friend to world whilst remembering it is the FIGHT that COUNTS.

 

 

 

 

 

Making the most of my time: The Roadtrip Begins

My friend sent me this awesome quote ina  great email yesterday:

“We shall never have more time.  We have, and have always had, all the time there is.
No object is served in waiting until next week or even until tomorrow.
Keep going..Concentrate on something useful.”   -Arnold Bennett-

As recently, I can’t get out of my head just the potential of the idea that I have less time in this life than what I bargained for. With everyday I feel more tired, or every stabbing pain in my abdomen or everytime I feel the enlarged lymph nodes in my neck & under my arms.  Although I am 100% sure I will be OK, as well, everyone keeps saying i will be OK in the end (including tarot card readers, and dodgy healers), it’s just about the ‘journey’ – or something like that. But I definately want to take quality over quantity. Any day, any time! It’s almost selfish, but I don’t care.

And that’s why it was imperative for me to do the roadtrip instead of going home a few weeks earlier like recommended.

The plan, for now: I have some time, and if I use it well, it will be more than enough. I want to do everything this trip, that I’ve used excuses for normally – like money, fear, failure, time, ect.  I’m going to immerse myself in the Pacific Ocean – which I haven’t done in over 2 years. I’m going to watch the sunrise and sunset in many different time-zones on different types of rocks and landscapes, I’m gonna make hobo-dinners (sANDY iSLANd thing), try food I normally wouldn’t, and write, draw and take photos along the way.

I want to gamble in Vegas, roll around in some beach sand, feel the infinite power of the universe from the skys up above in the desert lands of the south west. I want to eat some proper shrimp from New Orleans, even though I hate seafood, and dance on the streets.

As my friend Alex said the other day, I’m going to tick things off my bucket-list I didn’t even know were on my bucket-list.Image

So the ROADTRIP – — – IT STARTS NOW!

FIRST UP —- PHILLY & DC – DAY 1. Friday. Get this bitches.

Time is Uncertain, yo.

Time is uncertain. I’ve always known this. I have so many other blog posts dedicated to my mind-boogle with time. Time is a personal construct: an ever shifting, ever evolving phenomena. Where in some parts of the world it’s linear and in others it’s more circular and whole (which it should be viewed as).

We should never live by the clock, or feel forced to do something, or indeed put something off because of the amount of time limited.

Most people don’t know this. But 4 weeks ago I was told by a Haematologist Oncologist at Boston Medical Center to go back home to the UK for a Bone Marrow Biopsy to see if I a type of Lymphoma or not (as my USA Medical Insurance policy doesn’t cover to have it done here).  I ignored this advise ( not without cause: mostly because I have already had a pretty decent work up including CT Scans earlier in the UK – which were clear – and what’s a few more weeks?). I will of course, in 3 weeks time be coming home – earlier than planned – to indeed get the test.  But in the limbo between my in denial of ‘my doctor in the UK said it was just a virus’ and ‘what if I really do have cancer?’ I’m left re-evaluting things.

I’m using this time to really use it as an excuse to do everything I want to do. No other excuses, like money, time, fear, failure, ect. And when I find out that I don’t have any serious potentially impending doom senario  (here’s to hoping, yo!) – I will learn from this moment and never again (or try to, anyways) waste my time. Because, I do waste a lot of my time.

I’ve been working with a lot of female mothering artists, who work full time and still manage to bang out loads of works of art. So I should learn from this.  There’s so much I want to do, so watch this space here.

Here’s to a more together, focused, fun, better, kinder Smizz.

Things to look out for that I’m organizing or taking part in:

– I just done some drawings for a workshop at MADE Festival, very exciting.

Sponsored Bike ride in November from The Donx to Sheffield for Lymphoma & Leukaemia Research Charity – Please sponsor us! 

Bloc Projects – Assembly 13, Sheffield.

Researching into Co-working & art —> Something like Jelly.

– CAKE Salon

CAKE RE-LAUNCH – First with newsletters.

SLAM-JAM (realistically probably in Feb 2013)

– Finishing my L3 BTEC in Science

– Continue, developing Re-Advertise with Abi Goodman

But more on all of this soon. Realistically, in October when I’m back in the UK. Being drilled into.

 

Instructions for Life by The Dalai Lama

  1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
  2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
  3. Follow the three R’s:
    –  Respect for self,
    –  Respect for others and
    –  Responsibility for all your actions.
  4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
  5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
  6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great relationship.
  7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
  8. Spend some time alone every day.
  9. Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.
  10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
  11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and
    think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
  12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
  13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
  14. Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.
  15. Be gentle with the earth.
  16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
  17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
  18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
  19. If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
  20. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

Incomplete Manifesto for Growth

Stolen from – http://www.brucemaudesign.com/4817/112450/work/incomplete-manifesto-for-growth because its awesome and food for thought as well as an inspiration, check it.
Incomplete Manifesto for Growth
    1. Allow events to change you.
      You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
    2. Forget about good.
      Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.
    3. Process is more important than outcome.
      When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.
    4. Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child).
      Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.
    5. Go deep.
      The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.
    6. Capture accidents.
      The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.
    7. Study.
      A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.
    8. Drift.
      Allow yourself to wander aimlessly. Explore adjacencies. Lack judgment. Postpone criticism.
    9. Begin anywhere.
      John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.
    10. Everyone is a leader.
      Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.
    11. Harvest ideas.
      Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.
    12. Keep moving.
      The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.
    13. Slow down.
      Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.
    14. Don’t be cool.
      Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.
    15. Ask stupid questions.
      Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.
    16. Collaborate.
      The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.
    17. ____________________.
      Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.
    18. Stay up late.
      Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.
    19. Work the metaphor.
      Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.
    20. Be careful to take risks.
      Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.
    21. Repeat yourself.
      If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.
    22. Make your own tools.
      Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.
    23. Stand on someone’s shoulders.
      You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.
    24. Avoid software.
      The problem with software is that everyone has it.
    25. Don’t clean your desk.
      You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.
    26. Don’t enter awards competitions.
      Just don’t. It’s not good for you.
    27. Read only left-hand pages.
      Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our “noodle.”
    28. Make new words.
      Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.
    29. Think with your mind.
      Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.
    30. Organization = Liberty.
      Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between “creatives” and “suits” is what Leonard Cohen calls a ‘charming artifact of the past.’
    31. Don’t borrow money.
      Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.
    32. Listen carefully.
      Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.
    33. Take field trips.
      The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.
    34. Make mistakes faster.
      This isn’t my idea — I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.
    35. Imitate.
      Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.
    36. Scat.
      When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else … but not words.
    37. Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.
    38. Explore the other edge.
      Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.
    39. Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms.
      Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces — what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.” Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference — the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.
    40. Avoid fields.
      Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.
    41. Laugh.
      People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.
    42. Remember.
      Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.
    43. Power to the people.
      Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.