What Is And Is Not A Tool

Does this happen to you? You’re going along, just living your life, and then, BLAM, a cluster of seemingly unrelated things come to your attention that each address something you really need to hear. I call that God, others might call it the universe, or synchronicity, or coincidence. Whatever you call it, it just happened to me in less than 24 hours.

1. The Artist’s Way by Julia Campbell: Week 6, Recovering a Sense of Abundance

“All too often, we become blocked and blame it on our lack of money. This is never an authentic block. The actual block is our feeling of constriction, our sense of powerlessness. Art requires us to empower ourselves with choice.”

2. Seth Godin’s blog: Thinking About Money

“If money is an emotional issue for you, you’ve just put your finger on a big part of the problem. No one who is good at building houses has an emotional problem with hammers. Place your emotional problems where they belong, and focus on seeing money as a tool.”

3. Brain Pickings: How to Worry Less About Money, about a book by John Armstrong:

“The crucial developmental step in the economic lives of individuals and societies is their ability to cross from the pursuit of middle-order goods to higher-order goods. Sometimes we need to lessen our attachment to the middle needs like status and glamor in order to concentrate on higher things. This doesn’t take more money; it takes more independence of mind.”

4. Brain Pickings again, an article about Milton Glaser (graphic artist):

“Do you perceive you live your life through love or fear? They are very different manifestations. My favorite quote is by the English novelist Iris Murdoch. She said, ‘Love is the very difficult understanding that something other than yourself is real.’ I like the idea that all that love is, is acknowledging another’s reality.

Acknowledging that the world exists, and that you are not the only participant in it, is a profound step. The impulse towards narcissism or self-interest is so profound, particularly when you have a worry of injury or fear. It’s very hard to move beyond the idea that there is not enough to go around, to move beyond that sense of “I better get mine before anybody else takes it away from me.”

5. Writer Unboxed post by Jeanne Kisacky: What Not to Think About When You’re Writing, in particular the advice not to “indulge in endless fantasies” about how a piece of writing is going to change your way of life:

“A good story is like a dream brought into momentary focus. It is ephemeral, fleeting, perhaps even surreal, but whole and perfect unto itself. During its crystallization (the process of writing) prosaic thoughts that take the writer outside of that coherent whole turn the writing from a story into a tool. This makes the work simply a step towards something mundane (a better life for the author) not an otherworldly destination of its own (a shining jewel of believable characters, delightful interactions, and gripping tensions).”

6. Sermon on how we often come to God with a list of things we’d like him to make happen for us, and, in return, we will praise him, thereby making God a tool for making our dreams come true.

Some themes I pull out of these quotes:

  • making the wrong things into tools
  • making tools into things to get emotionally twisted about
  • living out of fear rather than love

The idea from the sermon that stuck with me was, “A tool is at its best when it’s being used for what it was designed for”;  God is not the tool, I am the tool, designed for love and worship and service. A story is not a tool to make my fabulous life happen; I am the tool for bringing a transportive story into the world.

Money is not a tool for happiness, but it is a tool for food, clothes, housing, transportation, entertainment, doing good (aka, giving), but also for facilitating creative expression, even mine; I need to stop feeling guilty when I spend money on my creative expression and stop finding excuses not to spend on my creative expression.

Twitter and blogs are tools for exploration and connection. Are they also marketing/networking tools that will be important to my writing career? Yes. But I need to stop getting myself emotionally twisted up and discouraged because they are netting me limited marketing/networking opportunities (not to mention the puniness of my numbers) now. I need to stop projecting the scarcity of now into the future, because that makes me anxious and doesn’t help me use Twitter and my blog for their proper uses. I have enough Twitter followers and blog readers for now, and there are enough in the world that there will be more in the future (aka the time in which I will actually have something to trumpet via marketing and networking). In fact, using Twitter and my blog as tools for exploration and connection will be the thing that will get my numbers higher and make future networking/marketing possible.

But the thing all of those articles above spoke to me most about wasn’t writing, storytelling, publishing, money, or God. It was dance.

I want to dance on stage again, in a group, doing choreography that is not my own. I want to be in class again. Which costs money, and means that I will have a schedule that other family members will have to work around. I’ve been making every excuse for why it wouldn’t work for years. But I can’t do that much longer. I’ve still got a reasonable amount of flexibility and strength, so I think now might be the time. This might be the year it will not denied. That I will not deny myself.

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3 thoughts on “What Is And Is Not A Tool

  1. love it…“A tool is at its best when it’s being used for what it was designed for”… knowing your talents…and using them…wonderful! This might be the year it will not denied. YAY!

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