Craft is a part of who we are. It's what we care deeply about, even if nobody else does. And that's OK. View newsletter on the web.
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Issue #35: You Get to Do This!

Last night, for the first time, I joined a group meditation. (Technically it was called “centering prayer” — a form of mindfulness meditation in the contemplative Christian tradition).

As I sat there in the host’s living room in total silence alongside my fellow acolytes and the minutes dragged on (turns out doing absolutely nothing for twenty minutes is, y’know, not very easy!), I noticed a sensation begin to wash over me.

It was gratitude.

Gratitude is something I’ve been working hard to cultivate as of late—particularly as it pertains to the creative work I publish online. Whether it’s a vlog, a blog, or a slog (OK, you may shoot me now)…whether I’m posting a photo on Instagram or pushing open source code up to GitHub…one of the biggest challenges for me has always been the question of the “reward” I get from my work.

Is anyone liking my photo?

Is anyone downloading my code?

Is anyone watching my video?

Is anyone reading this newsletter? You are! :)

But lately I’ve discovered something. Constantly seeking out the reward of doing creative work is kryponite to the cultivation of gratitude. Expecting to receive accolades from fans is a total buzzkill when it comes to sustaining your craft over the long haul.

Because the greatest art you create is what you make when you’re making it for yourself.

In the excellent book How to Be Here, author Rob Bell promotes the idea that as creative people we shouldn’t be striving for success, but rather to learn to relish the craft itself. Whatever it is we’re doing, it’s the doing of it all that matters. “There is a difference between craft and success,” Bell says. “Craft is when you have a profound sense of gratitude that you even get to do this …Craft is your awareness that all the hours you’re putting in are adding up to something, that they’re producing in you skill and character and substance.”

In other words, success is fleeting and temporary and oftentimes a major letdown (the hype can be more thrilling than the final result). But craft is something we can carry with us every day. It’s a part of who we are. It’s what we care deeply about, even if nobody else does. And that’s OK.

So gratitude… I’m grateful that I live in an age where publishing is easy and the tools to create amazing media are easier to obtain and use than ever before. Success is never promised us, never a guarantee. But craft is something everyone has access to. Learn to enjoy the craft, and your creative endeavors will become reward enough as you take that next step to express your truth each day.

“Success says, What more can I get?
Craft says, Can you believe I get to do this?
–Rob Bell

Speaking of What I Get to Do…

Added some podcast episodes and videos to the website…w00t! In case you haven’t seen them yet, here’s a brief rundown:

  • Podcast Episode 42: Facebook 2020 — in which I pontificate on the future of Facebook in the face of upcoming U.S. regulation and renewed excitement around social network interoperability.
  • Podcast Episode 41: Mental Health and the Creative Freelancer — in which I dive into my history of depression and how freelancing has sometimes contributed to it (and how to get out of a funk!).
  • VIDEO: Backlash Against the Tech Backlash — in which I argue we shouldn’t feel guilty about the technology choices that we make. Just be mindful of what those choices are. The real danger isn’t getting addicted to technology. It’s not realizing if we have. So stay aware…but also, celebrate the magic!

Items I’ve Posted Recently…

Incredible afternoon sky colors viewed from the eastbank. What a day. #portland #oregonexplored

Many Americans are unsure about a number of digital topics

A new Pew Research Center survey finds that Americans’ understanding of technology-related issues varies greatly depending on the topic, term or concept. While a majority of U.S. adults can correctly answer questions about phishing scams or website cookies, other items are more challenging.

Well, another equally valid headline would have been Many Americans are unsure about a number of topics. 😜

Sereiously though, of interest to me is the stat that only 29% of those interviewed correctly identified #Facebook as the owner of both Instagram and WhatsApp. This is hugely problematic not only from the perspective of consumers understanding their choices around smartphone app usage, but it’s a major issue for Facebook as well. Facebook’s brand has become tarnished in recent years, yet it continues to move towards tighter integration of WhatsApp and Instagram into the Facebook platform and ecosystem. However, this could end up backfiring as people increasingly question their usage of the more “positive” apps which have escaped some of the ire directed at Facebook.

Every time I talk with a friend or colleague about how I’m not on Facebook but still use Instagram, I immediately add “yeah I know, it’s still part of Facebook.” Most of the time the folks I talk to know this already, but most of the folks I talk to are fairly digitally savvy. Farther afield, I fear a great many people just have no idea that even when they’re using Instagram or WhatsApp, the buck still ends with Zuck.

In case I don’t get another issue out before October 31…Happy Halloween! Watch out for spooks and spiders and goblins and…goats? (Because, um, goats are sometimes associated with Satan? I dunno.)