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The Art of Re-Invention

At the beginning of each calendar year thousands of people make a list of the many things they would like to change, improve, or enhance about themselves.  They invest in self-help books, seek advice from friends, and/or search for online secrets to success as they look for the blueprint or schematic diagram that will show them the clear and obvious path.  My guess is that a very large percentage of those that take on this quest fail and in failing add to an already growing list of reasons that point to why they will never change. 

I have another idea.  What if in the attempt to reinvent yourself, you approached your life like an artist?  Instead of re-engineering yourself you would re-imagine.  You would embrace failure as a critical and essential part of the creative process.  You would not apologize for wavering between being inward focused and outward focused.  Artists come in all sizes, shapes, and create in a myriad of different genres.  When you look at yourself and think about who you want to be, think about what you would do if you were an actor, a painter, a sculptor, a photographer, a musician, a singer, a poet, a writer, a videographer, a dancer, a designer, or a director.  I’m not advocating that we all reinvent ourselves to become artists (although I think the world would be a much different place if we did) but I am suggesting that  when striving for whoever it is we want to be, what if we did it through an imaginative and creative lens?

For example sake, what would happen if you attempted the following?

1.       Pretend you are an actor.  Write a character description of the person you would like to be.  Be specific on what this character’s motivation is; identify the key relationships in his/her life, and how other people perceive him/her.  Now take a week and play the role.  Feel free to adopt any technique to accomplish the task whether you need to write out the script and memorize it, practice in the mirror, or adopt “The Method” by tapping into feelings and emotions that are similar to the person you want to become.

2.       See yourself as a painter, stimulated by all the visual inputs around you.  Look to color, form, and tone as you imagine who you want to be.  Is your masterpiece light, dark, abstract, romantic, symbolic, spiritual, or provocative?  Don’t forget to focus on the texture of what it feels like to change from where you are to where you would like to be.  Will it be soft, nappy, sleek, smooth, or perhaps tangled?

3.       Imagine you are a sculptor and face the vision of yourself in all three dimensions.  Don’t settle for a cardboard cutout of who you want to be, but give your sculpture height, depth and width.  Don’t be afraid to scale high, contemplate the multitude of materials you already have to work with and how you will be perceived from all angles.

4.       Take notes in the art of composition as you approach yourself through the lens of a photographer.  How would you like to frame yourself?  What is in the foreground and what is in the background?  How focused or unfocused is your depth of field and why?  And how does your composition look if you decide to shoot it from a different angle?

5.       When you re-imagine yourself take a moment to analyze the score, figure out the tempo, the key signature and dynamics.  If you were a musician, first you would learn the notes, master the technique, but true mastery only is accomplished once you allow the music to flow from you with your own phrasing, interpretation and breath.  Once you have the basics, don’t be afraid to improvise, collaborate and offer your own unique style.

6.       If you were a singer, you would be critically aware that your body is your instrument.  How you breathe, what you subject yourself to as far as diet, exercise, and wellness is all part of taking care of the instrument that produces lyrical and human music.  Make sure you are taking care of the vessel that has to deliver this great new invention.

7.       Don’t be afraid to dance your way to your vision.  Step lightly, stomp loudly, leap without fear, and don’t be afraid to pirouette wildly with discipline.  That is what dancers do.  Imagine how you would approach yourself if you were weightless and then imagine again what you would do if you were grounded.  Dancing is finding the beauty between being shackled and free.  Think about who else you would like to dance with as you create your choreography.

8.       Be willing to be live and in color, catching the moments in real time as you push “record” on your video recorder.  Videographers have the ability to capture motion, moment, and action in one continually moving tape.  Strive for the continuity of your story, don’t be afraid to be cinematic, and every reinvention needs a few special effects to liven up the story.

9.       Be the stage or film director of your transformation.  Be decisive and don’t be afraid to call “cut” when you find yourself straying away from the vision.  Keep that director’s view at the forefront of your journey, understanding the interplay of all the various elements including lighting, character development, dramatic pacing and understanding what the climax or penultimate moment of your reinvention will look like.

10.   Finally, don’t be afraid to be a poet.  Any reinvention or creative endeavor gains resonance from reflection and emotion.  Distill the journey into words that are like rare drops of perfume, leaving a memorable scent, letting the emotions and the inspiration for your journey to linger in the air long after you have grasped the golden ring.