Continue

Dâm-Funk reshaped the word “continue” from a task to an artful and unquestionable push towards the mystery of what’s next. He might write about something difficult happening in the world on Twitter (where he is legit the most positive human), and cap it off with a “Continue.”

This in mind as I drove around West Tucson bumping Architecture III a couple of months ago, riding the heaviness of another inevitable wave of overwhelm, grateful for his lead, positivity, and gravity.

Continuing feels very Buddhist. It’s repping for the hard times and good times equally—everything combining and we stay on our path towards whatever is happening. The forever easier-said-than-done practice.

It’s hustling for what we’re capable of. Our inner-David Goggins continuing to crush, one foot in front of the other. Goggins talks about the mind stopping before the body, something that came to him while running laps for 24hrs straight to qualify for an ultra-marathon. We can witness our minds getting in the way of our ability to create and live fully too. Trying so f’n hard to distract us from our path.

Lately, I’ve learned to listen more intently to elders, and especially elders of color. DUH, you might think—but this isn’t something that I was taught to value explicitly growing up as a white kid from the burbs. I’m lucky that part of my work puts me in touch with many of these wise women.

Innesse is probably 75 or so and part of a faith-based anti-racist group I worked with. She passed down this quote from her grandma, “Inch by inch, it’s a cinch… yard by yard, it’s hard.” What’s incredible is she shared this in reference to a defensive reaction to our film and partnership from a high-ranking white leader in her community. Unfazed in her badass self, she guided us to continue.

Continuing is also quite anti-capitalistic (so is chilling), as it’s going at our pace. Continuing, not because of made-up rules created by capitalism and social media, but because we’re doing what we want to do at our core.

It helps me feel less daunting and overwhelmed. I don’t need to do something extraordinary today. Continuing on this path is extraordinary. Its work and growth and effort and lounging all wrapped up into one. Breathing.

It’s acknowledging the work we’ve been doing. It’s good. It matters. Keep doing this stuff! I like to catch myself feeling my art and make a little note (7/22/21 — digging this!). These end up being super helpful weeks later when I’m feeling less confident.

Continuing allows us to make mistakes and grow, judgment-free. “Fucking up on my own terms,” as my bud Nisey so honestly put it in a conversation we recorded. Cruising with change and learning how to do more of what drives us. Here, to continue is recognizing the real us. It forces us to see where we put our energy and reveals what this looks like behind the curtain. We can discover more deeply where our intention and attention are landing.

Following our path, our heart, our hype. Learning about one artist from another. Taking a rabbit hole towards more of what we love and inspires us. Pausing for a sec to see what’s unfolding in front of us and trusting ourselves to move forward towards these paths opening up every day.

^Maya <3

I hope this is helpful for you too. I hope it empowers the choices you have to live this life and keep going. To continue listening, learning, and doing.

CREWLOVE!
n

Originally shared via my newsletter

forward is awesome and hard

Hosted a talk with my crew about the misogyny within us 2 months ago. How we unintentionally hold up norms we on-paper don’t support. How we can decide to stop holding up these norms, to be more accountable, to check ourselves, to ask questions like, “Is this cool with you?” Instead of, “Just tell me if you got an issue.” How these two paths are very different.

People got excited. Shared love and gratitude. People got defensive and dismissive. We brought all our stuff into a heaping, not-super-organized, pile and gave it a go. It went aight. It was amazing. It was really hard.

I didn’t come up with the idea, it was brought to me and I went with it. This feels important to note, as I wasn’t noticing what others were. I was intentionally/unintentionally hiding from this truth. When it was brought to my attention I initially got defensive too.

This mirrored a work situation where I recently stood up to some toxic boys club shit. As difficult as it’s been, it’s showing me things get easier over time. In this particular situation, we still need to work together to some extent. And in the case of my crew, we still need each other as friends. We still rely on each other for so much support. We’re still buds. This is just a new place to grow.

Rotating from feeling defeated to properly challenged. Repping for growth.

Sitting in the fire.

At work, I got banned from dude’s building in Phoenix and don’t get polite exclamation point-layered emails back from him and his team when I need stuff from them. Stuff I’m OK losing.

Sitting in the fire.

With crew, wondering where I stand with some of my fav peeps. Trusting in myself to move forward. Stuff I’m scared of losing.

I wrote about how the only problem with the response is expecting a response. I want to believe that and embody it. Be able to rep and walk away. Not be a fixer, but a liver and truth-teller.

I can pretend I’m just here as a conduit spreading this message. “Don’t shoot the messenger.” But I am a representative, the messenger, the problem, and sitting at the table of folks working to make change. I’m repping me. I’m repping how I am as a tall, lanky, privileged white man.

If we’re so down to be who we are with action, how are we acting?

Could replace “we” with “I” any day of the week.

If I’m so down to be who I am with action, how am I acting?

“Talking bout you ain’t scared of nothing, why you so afraid to change?”

—Vursatyl, Double-Up

Trying to get that this is my role as a white man in the crew. I initially wrote that sentence as “I get that this is my role…” And that’s just not true. I want it to be. Sometimes it is. And other times I feel like, “Do I really need to go through this?” LOL, yes.

Why is talking about building inclusivity looked at as less fun?

In Buddhism, we look at stuff as more in the middle, not super hype or super not hype, just stuff. I love laughing with the crew. I also love chatting about our mental health, our roles, how we can improve, what we’re doing to be more us. This part is exciting to me. And I know that you can fully joke during these conversations too. I hear leaders in movement spaces do it all the time. They have a ton of practice so they’re able to add humor. Like when you’ve got your job so dialed you can crack jokes during the busiest rush. They acknowledge we’re not going to fix this tonight, or this week, or probably even in our lifetimes. So we can do some work and we can laugh. We can have some food, share some art, and enjoy our moments.

I hope this means we can recognize it’s OK to work on this stuff, to be openly imperfect, and laugh about it all in the same convo.

Change and occasional clarity

next stunts > past fronts

photo of Confetti Lantana plant, an amazing flowering desert bush
The Confetti Lantana that appeared by my studio after a few monsoons.

“come to no end that is not

a Beginning”

— Diane Di Prima, Revolutionary Letter #100, Reality is No Obstacle

As much as I love and support change, the gravity of this change feels like grief. Where the parts that are opening up aren’t fully clear, there’s fear. On the newer path, looking back at what was—more fear. Space for longing. Who and what’s next? And excitement. Knowing I get to rep for me. All of us on our own slow transition from Zev Love X to DOOM.

If we allow them to, our defaults drop when we move to a new place. We can be exactly who we intend. When we start a new job with folks we don’t know.

Can’t we do the same when we wake up in the morning? Don’t we always have these powers?

The opposite of putting on a front, we can ditch the front we’ve been wearing. That was unintentionally put on us by folks to make things easier for them. Staying the same is desirable. Change is at first batted down, eventually witnessed, and rarely encouraged.

Our heartbeat actions moving from clarity to being clouded by fear and back.

We get tired of existing in what was. We move forward. We lay low. We step up. We speak up. We’re going to miss folks and things and activities. Some that were awesome and some less so. What are we willing to lose?

Here with the privilege to do almost anything. I can change jobs. Get what I need to create. Road trip. Bike. Run. Eat great food.

I can enter change at its slowest and most impactful pace. The type of change that’s actually surprising. When a friend we don’t see for a bit learned a new language, moved, got sober, or found a new way to express their art. They’ve learned to weld. Ditched a toxic job. Taken an internship or volunteer gig towards something they’ve always wanted to do. They left a space no longer accepting of their greatness.

GogginsThichJuliaPatrick.

Thinking harshness doesn’t exist is harder than living with it.

Expecting a response is the only problem with the response.

To compete VS ourselves and continue.

capital G = capital C

LOVE

This was originally shared on my newsletter — here’s a link to sign up

ride the serpent

During a test run for our monthly WTV show DREAMS, my bud Willie and I got to talking about tapping into that nervous feeling you get when you’re doing something you’re excited about.

He called it “Riding the Serpent.” Moving towards what we’re scared of and ready to ride it through whatever is giving us these vibes. If we trust we’re doing something we love and growing, we can at least hope the anxiety will be worth it.

I immediately wrote “Ride the Serpent” on my whiteboard and it’s been so cool to apply it to more parts of life. From this show, to writing and sharing work, to my paid work in film and hosting film events and Q&As. Just did one for 350 folks (my biggest audience yet) and nailed it— my “Ride the Serpent” reminder just off-camera.

These K-Mart model kids for sure know what to do when things get real.

Our serpent isn’t in the way—it is the way. It’s showing us a path. Spotlighting our fears and inviting us to ride past them. Not saying they won’t be back again, but cruising into these fears can teach us we’re capable of so much more than we might think.

Riding the serpent meant switching up the DREAMS show format from a maté-fueled Party Boy Seminar™️ of my fav jams on blast to an herbal tea reading and conversation with friends. The idea came from nerding out hard on Tara Brach’s hundreds of talks thanks to a tip from my therapist. Tara’s website is epic. It has the vibe of a pre-YouTube archive from the early 2000’s hosting years of talks and mediations—super highly recommend!

Tara just sits and speaks to the camera. She brings decades of research, personal stories, and is always explaining cartoons about therapy and life. It’s very dry in some senses, really just her and a camera, but it works. She owns it.

I know I’m nowhere near Tara’s level but I decided to give this format a try. I was expectedly hella nervous but knew I needed to ride my serpent past at least the first episode or two to get more comfy (turns out the serpent is still lurking around 4-5 episodes in). It might seem like ndb since I’ve performed a bit of music over the years but the truth is sitting quietly, and staring into the camera saying, “Hi everyone, welcome, I’m Nick,” is so much harder!

For the first show in this new format, I prepared some notes to share and tried to holler out people who showed up in the chat. I did a few readings from current hype/art books on my shelf and it for sure felt like one of the more awkward hours of my life. I eventually ran out of things to say and asked if anyone wanted to call in to chat. My friend Tom called and spoke to what he was up to. Something about the call coming in felt good—it came up naturally and I was completely out of other ideas. After the call I wrapped things up, walking back inside thinking, “What just happened?”

I try not to be too hard on myself but definitely questioned ever doing something like that again. At the same time, I was proud. I got through one of the more awkward hours of on-camera performance of my life and I knew that if a next time were to exist it would be easier (Can’t get published without getting rejected). All props due to my crew for sitting through it with me.

A couple of minutes after the show I got a text from Willie saying he dug the show and really appreciated hearing our friend’s voice. He said it was powerful to connect with friends like this during the pandemic. To top it off he shared some art he thought we could try to add for future episodes if I was going to do it again.

I totally flipped out. Riding the serpent of supreme awkwardness lead me to this text and even an offer to join up for the next episode from a brilliant artist-friend who I wouldn’t have thought to bug about helping out in the first place. It was as if this was the goal I couldn’t see when I dove in.

Now we’re 5-6 episodes deep with Willie producing and running the video, placing me into ridiculously dope scenes no other human could dream up. And it’s getting easier! And also harder! The serpent ride chills and gets hectic on repeat.

My lesson is getting past the initial trip of WTF just happened, and landing on the other side OK. Not hurt. Not in danger. Ego bruises heal and if growth is the goal, moving on. Things I relearn pretty much every episode.

Massive thanks to this dope, nonjudgmental, forever-serpent-riding, accepting, and supportive crew.