Hey, Creator: A Mix Tape for the Creative Class

Life is a dream

published14 days ago
4 min read

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I have a friend who likes to say, whenever you ask him how he’s doing: “Livin’ the dream.”

That always bothered me a little. Perhaps this is my melancholic artist side showing, but I was like, “Really? You’re always having a fantastic day? Life feels like a dream… all the time?”

How, I wondered, was that even possible?

But now, I think he was right… just not in the way he probably meant it.

One of the most interesting parts of my journey as a human has been these past few years of re-contextualizing my understanding of reality. Which is a fancy way of saying I had a mid-life crisis. But what’s so bad about a crisis?

Doesn’t every great story begin with some dramatic moment, an “inciting incident”? I heard it said once that every moment of crisis is an invitation to greater awakening, deeper awareness. I liked that. After all, what good is life, or anything for that matter, if you’re missing it?

It seems that the artist is especially sensitive to such reckonings. Anne Lamott once wrote that “this business of becoming conscious, of being a writer, is ultimately about asking yourself, ‘How alive am I willing to be?’” I never fully understood that until recently.

If our job is to build new worlds and imagine alternative realities, then awareness, I should think, is a vocational requirement. We have to be so tapped into life to even be capable of inviting others into deeper experiences of it. We would have to be more in tune with the way things are if we wanted to be true to our craft and calling.

And that, my friend, is exactly why I think so many artists go crazy—truly. Because life starts to feel a little shaky when you are weaving in and out of dream states. You start to realize that everything is an idea, a projection of the imagination—maybe even yourself. Or, as Morpheus says in The Matrix: “What is real? How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain.”

What we call life is often not as real as we might think.

Ever rushed through your day and failed to notice the clouds?

Ever met someone for coffee and struggled to look them in the eyes because you were so nervous or distracted?

Ever driven down the road and seen something for the first time that was probably always there?

As humans, we are often discovering deeper ways of being, sometimes without even knowing that’s what is happening. As artists, we have an opportunity to guide others into this exploration of themselves. At least, that’s how I think of what we do.

This week on the podcast, Kelton and I talk about his tattoo and explore the tale of the “Ten Bulls,” a series of short poems in Zen Buddhism. We also discuss Pedro Calderon de la Barca's classic “Life is a Dream,” the seemingly subjective nature of reality, and what all this has to do with creativity.

Listen in here.

If you’ve ever wondered what all of this is really about or had a nagging suspicion that there is more to life than meets the eye (and are not content with simple explanations), then you’ll probably enjoy this one. It’s one of my favorite subjects, because it is immensely practical.

If life is a little less serious than we thought, then there is a lot more room to play, to have fun, to explore who and what we are. And if art is anything, shouldn’t it—at the very least, and essentially—be fun? I’ll let you decide for yourself. I could be completely wrong about that.

Then again, maybe you’re just dreaming.

Don’t forget to check out the latest podcast and be sure to leave a review if you’re enjoying the show!

All the best,


P.S. Some of you wanted to hear more about the upcoming writer’s workshop we’re doing later this month. So here’s a little more about it:

This is a small virtual workshop (hosted on Zoom) that I’ll be teaching live. We will record every session, but you are encouraged to attend as much of the live experience as possible. At Bestseller Bootcamp, we will guide you through the process of writing a great book proposal, which includes:

  • coming up with your big book idea,
  • finding a structure that works, and
  • producing a plan to write, publish, and market it.

In addition, I’ll give you my book proposal template for clients that almost always leads to six-figure deals and is what I use to plan my own books. I’ll also include a sample proposal, so that you can see what a finished product looks like.

If you’ve ever aspired to get a traditionally published book, you’re going to need a great book proposal, and this workshop will ensure you leave with just that. If you want to publish on your own, you can follow this same process.

The dates for the workshop are June 28-29, starting at 9:00 a.m. and going to 3:00 p.m. Central Time each day. We’re limiting the workshop to 20 people and only have nine spots left.

Since this is a high-touch, high-value offering, we aren’t letting just anyone sign up. The ticket price is currently $1500 and will go up from there. It’s a live, two-day workshop with me for a process that clients normally pay $20,000 for; and with it, you also get every single course I’ve ever taught. It’s not for everyone, but it might be for you!

If you’re interested, please reply to this email with why this would be helpful to you, along with any questions you have. If you’re a good fit, we’ll send you a link with more details, and lock it in!