What if you gave brave living a try?

PHOTO CREDIT:  Kinga Cichewicz

PHOTO CREDIT: Kinga Cichewicz

I never thought about the dangers of bravery until I heard Kyle Steed, artist, and muralist, give a presentation about his work and the resistance one of his murals received. When telling people to live brave, I ask them to leave where they are, to change, and you and I know that change can be hard. It requires work, perseverance, humility,  and self-discipline. It also challenges current notions of identity, ways of thinking and firmly held beliefs. That is what Kyle's artwork encountered painted on a public space in Fort Worth.

Should then the artist, in my case, the writer, or the singer not ask? Not ask you and I, the receiver, to change, to be more, to leave established comfort zones? Of course not. Asking introduces new ways of thinking, and it produces ideas and innovation. It also makes us a more inclusive society. I'm sure Jonathan Haidt is shaking his head because, yes, sometimes "diversity can be divisive," but we should still try to move closer to communal oneness (click here to listen to Jonathan's interview with Krista Tippett on On Being)

Asking my readers and those who show up to my book tour to be brave is asking them to be who they know they can be. At least that was the case in the story I heard from an older gentleman today named Lonzo. I'm sure Alonzo had no idea what he was getting into when he sat at the small circular table positioned directly behind my book signing set up. But what he received was two millennials, my husband and I, who love to engage strangers and encourage those who have turned their backs on their dreams for whatever reasons. Lonzo wants to be a singer. He has had the dream since he was young, and now as an old man, he sings in his Baptist Church's choir. But Lonzo wants more. He wants to create a life and provide for his wife with his vision. Lonzo merely is too "afraid" to go for it. After an hour of corralling, encouraging, and strategizing with Alonzo about the potential technology, especially Youtube held for him, he smiled and thanked us for the uplifting conversation. Who knows, we may have given Lonzo exactly when he needed.

The dangers of living brave are this, today you occupy a space in the world but you, like Alonzo, want more. More cannot be found in your comfort zone; it cannot be found in the habits of your today, it cannot be achieved through good intentions, it takes action. It takes an artist like Kyle, writers, poets, filmmakers, and teachers to challenge, ask, and reveal the flaws and potential. But you must be willing to look at that which disturbs, that which calls out, that which stirs you.

Engage that which disturbs. 

The Japanese Paper Cut Artist

lime green windbreaker japan

He called himself the Paper Cut Artist. At least that's what was written on the sheet of laminated bluish construction paper he handed me. He spoke no English at first, just nodded and pointed to his name and his artwork around the small knick-knack shop. I liked the small man in the lime green windbreaker the moment I saw him. 

Judging by his work, it appeared he had been at the craft for more than thirty years. His cut out's appeared studied and intentional. The work of a man with a steady hand and a quiet mind. The artist is not throwing paint meticulously at a canvas. I imagine he wakes in the morning, boils water, adds a bag of Japanese Green Tea and heads to his desk to begin art making for the day. The desk is wooden with one shaky leg. Once he completes his work, he heads to the small shop located a few feet from Arashiyama, the Japanese Bamboo Forest, and waits for tourist.

The "Paper Cut Artist" does not sell his creations. My husband and I asked, "I do it for hobby," he murmured in broken English. 

A younger  PAPER cut artist    IN THe top left. 

A younger PAPER cut artist IN THe top left. 

paper cut out artist