Why learning how to box made me a better artist

Just go paint some shit , okay?

Just go paint some shit , okay?

There you are, remote in hand, the kids driving you nuts, trying to read the mood of your significant other, feeling defensive and/or pouty.  Out of the corner of your eye, you see the table, piled with clutter, where, if you weren’t so "lazy" and "untalented," you would be creating. But the thought of creating is so blah, who cares?

Its not that you don’t have the time, because you sure keep up with that favorite show (or two or three) week after week.  It might be that you think you don’t have the energy, because, like everyone with responsibilities, you put your own creative needs at the very bottom of your priorities list.

Guess, what I am doing here? I'm dancing. I'm sharing a picture of me, painting badly, dancing badly. 

Guess, what I am doing here? I'm dancing. I'm sharing a picture of me, painting badly, dancing badly. 

It is exactly like exercise. Oh the dread!  It is so awful, doing that work, and the results of it aren’t immediate. And if you’ve never been fit, you really, truly don’t know what those benefits feel like.  It seems like something only other people have access too.

Creativity is like that too.  You need it.  It is part of what makes you a healthy human.  But it is hard to get going on it, and often when we do take time for our creativity, the shit we create is disappointing. If you think it is something that only those with talent can benefit from, if you make yourself an outsider to those benefits, then the ugly, messy, uncoordinated, stupid stuff you are making seems like evidence of not belonging.

Which is bullshit.

Do you hear me?

I used to think of myself as a non-athlete, clumsy, completely lazy. I just couldn’t do it, didn’t have the energy, looked stupid. Just no.

And then my girlfriend, who is completely athletic, started taking boxing. “You should do it!  It will help you be more assertive in your classroom!”  So I tried it, just to prove her wrong, just to see that look on her face when she saw that indeed I certainly did not belong in any boxing gym.

Unfortunately for me there were a lot of other beginners there. Unfortunately for me, the coach didn’t give a crap that I was hopelessly untalented when it comes to anything athletic. She just yelled at me to keep going.  She urged me to come back.  It didn’t matter that I would never compete, it wasn’t about that at all.

I’ve gone from prancing around like a total dork, flailing my limp wristed hands at the bag to really freaking punching it. I went from feeling like I was going to puke after 30 seconds of barely moving to being able to get through 5 rounds.

The point of this story is that way too many people think that art, writing, dance, acting or music is only worth doing if you are talented.  That to be an amateur is to make a fool of yourself.  But I’m not asking you to make a fool of yourself in front of the whole world. I will never actually fight anyone, and I’m not asking you to perform or to try to get into galleries. I box in the safety of a boxing gym that supports me doing it for my health. And I support you being creative even if you suck at it, because I want you to see that you still get something out of it.  And that you get better.

I hate what I painted, but I did it!

I hate what I painted, but I did it!

One day, you will be ready for the mind blowing truth that out of tune singing can be as beautiful as opera, skill-less painting as emotionally moving as the Sistine Chapel. That someone with two left feet can dance a powerful truth that moves you to tears. We have to stop consuming and outsourcing our creative spirits. We need to create, for ourselves and for each other. 

So give yourself an hour or two. Send the kids to a friend’s house, create some privacy and quiet, hide that fricking remote, and do it.  Don’t know where to start?  Use my free eBook or video series.  Be open to what comes up.  And then come back and share it with me here, in the discussion below. Because, if you didn't notice, I shared with you pictures of me painting, in my pajamas, AND! I think my painting sucks. Your turn!