Mitchell Richards [Words]

Month: November, 2010

Artsy is BS

I was at the thrift store yesterday and was looking around in the pictures/art area. I overheard this little girl asking, very politely, her mother to buy this big painting.

“Mommy, I want this so I can look at it and paint it myself. You know? Like I just want to paint this myself. I want to be an art teacher.”

The mother was standing right next to this girl, looking at some pajamas or something, but she said nothing. She didn’t even glance in her direction to acknowledge the comment. The child began to mutter.

“That’s okay…”

She then began to list off reasons why it was a dumb idea and she walked off to another part of the store.

I don’t have kids, so I’m not going to berate this mother for missing an opportunity to learn about her kid, I will just let you do that. I really just want to talk about ignoring the call of art in your life and how we can make 1000 different excuses to not do creative things.

We are made in the image of God. Since day one, God created the earth and subsequently, us. He then gave us the ability/privilege/authority to create, something he didn’t bestow on any other creature. Why? Because we are made in His image, and part of that image is creativity.

I’ve heard too many people say that they cannot do creative things because they aren’t artsy. I am here to separate those two words.

Artsy, is BS. It’s a lifestyle really.

Creative is a thought and an action, the same way water is liquid and gas and solid, or the way light is…just weird. Creative is knowing something should be happening, something should be moving forward, and it is your response to getting it there.

Creative is not paint brushes and paint. But it is too.

Creative is not rhyming words at the end of your stanzas. But it is too.

Creative is gardening. Journaling. Doodling. Noodling. Creative is taking something that is void in your world, and giving it life. Creative is ___________. Creative is filling in that blank with your soul.

We must recognize that call, that soul’s yearning, and make our world a better place through creativity. It is our responsibility to redeem the wrongs of the world, natural or human made, through creativity. It is our responsibility to redeem the wrongs of our own life through creativity.

Don’t make excuses to not create. And like the kid in the store, don’t let the world’s inability to listen stop you from creating.


Cut & Run (The A-Z Story of Derrick & Gregory)

Albeit slowly, Derrick was moving forward in his life.
Breakups and time zone changes had plagued him in his past year.
Courage was found in hope, but hope wasn’t something poor Derrick could hold.
Driving away from that place he loved, he knew it was time.
Everyone pushed him in one direction while everyone else pulled him in the other.
Forgetting about himself was Derrick’s only release.
Gregory was his brother, but only in the quotations sense of the word, and his companion on the trip.
He would listen to Derrick drunk ramble for hours about her and about this place.
Inebriated by alcohol was the only way Derrick would talk to him.
Joking turned serious when Derrick came down with the last shot.
Killing off the bottom of the shot glass he muttered, “It’s time to go.”
Leaving the bar as lonely as they had found it, they returned to the car one sober and one drunk.
Meaningful banter was also left in the bar, and they turned their back on the town one last time.
No one would have expected them to leave, they loved it, if only cities could love in return.
Opening and closing his eyes, in and out of sleep, to the rhythm of highway lights for hours, he slept.
Portland, their destination, was still hours, if not a day away.
Quickly passing cars on both side, Gregory was trying to shave hours off of their time.
Rightfully so, because Derrick was useless for another few hours until he sobered up.
Switching lanes and memories, they drove through the night, leaving behind everything.
Two guys in a car with not much else, a metaphor for their lives.
Until they reached a new city, so far the sun would set on, they drove.
Victory can only be found when you understand defeat, the simple difference of winning.
When she left Derrick, he left there.
Xanax wasn’t doing the trick, but the miles behind them were.
Your turn, Gregory said to him because he knew what was ahead.
Zion, their new city, their new love.

The One Thing About Dandelions

Earlier today, I watched this video of a dandelion blooming, then dying. (Yes, I watch nerdy videos like this on YouTube in my spare time.) I found it interesting that the most beautiful moment in the dandelion’s life is well before it spreads its seed.

I remember when I was little I would pick dandelions up from the ground when they reached that bright yellow and I would gather as many as I could and give them to my mother. I’m sure that this is standard for most children.

But I noticed today that the bloom of the dandelion is almost brief in comparison to its actual lifespan. Time lapse reveals that the bright bloom of yellow is just a speck on the life span of this flower.

Which of course makes me think about life. Void of wasting your time, I want to live like this dandelion. I want my bloom to be brief, I want to be plucked and given as a gift. Except, I guess I want to be replanted quickly because what happens next is the key.

The dandelion must die.

Another standard of childhood was picking the dandelions after they would turn all white and fluffy and blowing on them, exploding the fuzz into the breeze. I didn’t realize at the time that the “fuzz” were actually the seeds of the dandelions, it’s how they survived, it’s how they moved on.

I don’t want to sound…I don’t know…dark, or anything, but I hope to live a life like this as well. I want my flower to bloom, then I die, but in my death I hope to live on. Maybe through my children or grandchildren, maybe just in words on a page or a screen. It seems as though I have some work to do. I don’t think I want to be famous you know, I don’t want to sell millions of books or anything. I think I would be more satisfied with a life well lived.

In the movie “City Slickers” Billy Crystal’s character’s name is ironically Mitch. Instead of me describing, let’s just play the clip:

I’m slowly coming to realize that my “one thing” isn’t what I thought it would be years ago. I’m 25 now, and I think I want to grow up. Have a family. That sort of thing. I’ve always been the baby in my family, which is great because you get away with a lot more and when you have siblings who do awesome things, it cuts you a little slack. I’m learning now that my one thing is to bloom, to live a life well lived, so that in my bright yellow I can live on.

It won’t take selling books to live on. Nor will it take a great invention or my name in bright lights. These things are temporary, a chasing after the wind as the Bible says. But dignity and honor, living up to my namesake, and leaving a legacy are the things that don’t go away so easily. Even hundreds of years from now, my however many great grandchildren will have no recollection of me, no story to bring a smile, but I hope that my bloom is passed down from generation to generation. I hope my seed gets scattered in the wind and replanted. And while they may not know my name, they will share it in legacy because of the life I choose to live now.

I always found it weird that in order for seeds to become something greater, they must die in a sense…

I’m A Loner Dottie…A Rebel

There is a fine line between being a loner and a hermit. I suppose the word “loner” may conjure up some negative vibes, so from now on when I reference myself as a loner, I really mean someone who appreciates being alone. As I was saying, there’s a fine line, and in the next few days I’m about to move out and live alone. I guess I’ve really been living alone for a year or so now, taking care of the house I grew up in while it’s for sale. But I’m really moving out into a place of my own, free of emotional attachments and that “homey” feel.

I also like doing things by myself, sporting events, movies, pretty much everything one can do with someone, I like to do alone as well. Don’t get me wrong, I love hanging out with my friends and meeting people, but I think sometimes we all just need to disconnect for a couple of days.

I once realized that silence is the most beautiful thing one person can ask for. But it is a dangerous thing as well. I believe that it is the silence of a room that drives people mad because they are forced to listen to their own brain chatter for once. No music, no TV, no cell phones. Does this sound like hell to you?

I think it’s important that we have moments of silence, ten maybe fifteen minutes a day without these things. Freedom.

But you will inevitably say that you cannot sleep without some sort of noise, a TV or a fan. But all I hear is that you refuse to listen to the silence. I’m not saying that you have to graze the line of hermit and loner by doing everything alone, I’m just saying when was the last time you took a step back, disconnected a little from the hustle and bustle, and actually thought about yourself? Your priorities and goals? Where are you headed in life?

Because it is those questions that scare us.

I do a good deal of talking to myself in the car when I’m alone. It’s a good time for me to think creatively and think of things to write. But I’ve learned that when I cease to create, I cease to talk. I’m more likely to listen to music. More likely listen to other people talk. More likely to strike up a conversation on my phone. And so even though I am technically alone, I am filling the silence with other things and not with creativity.

As documented earlier in some posts, I have also learned that when I cease to create, I become a generally bitter person. I sort of did a scientific study on myself a few months ago and when I don’t write, I hate life. I hate my job and I get annoyed by my friends. But since I started writing everyday again last week, things become more pleasant. I have been thinking more rationally about things like my job, and am cherishing moments with my friends instead of constant;y thinking of what’s about to happen next.

So seriously, here is my challenge to you: spend some time alone this week. Lock yourself in a room, turn your phone off, shut the internet down, turn off the music, disconnect the TV, and just think. Let your mind wander and wonder until you are breathing ideas. Be creative.

[On a side note, I just want to say thanks for all the positive words you guys have encouraged me with lately. Since I started the 30 day challenge last week, I’ve had more traffic on the site than I ever have before and I cannot thank you enough. I appreciate you, the reader, and would love to hear your input. Please feel free to add me on Facebook, send me an email, or leave a comment below. I value your comments. Feel free to post topics you’d like me to write on, or send your friends links to the site. Thanks again.]

The Best 50 Cents That I Have Ever Spent

I was spending some money earlier this morning on food, and I thought to myself, “What is the best dollar I have ever spent”. It’s hard to find things that are a buck or less these days that are worth mentioning. Dollar menus at your favorite restaurants only provide food that eventually finds its way out of your body and out of your memory almost as soon as it enters. I began running through things that last that I have purchased for a dollar, and I think I came up with the best dollar purchase that I’ve ever made, and it was actually only 50 cents.

I didn’t used to read much, and even to most people, I don’t read much. But I think that I have read about 10 books this year, and I honestly haven’t read that many in 10 years leading up to this year. I guess it all started when I got writing more. The desire to read and write seem to intertwine. It also started at Powell’s Books in Portland. When I was on vacation there earlier this year, I wandered the halls and rooms of the US’s largest independent bookstore, that takes up and entire city block. I was walking around, thinking of the millions of words spread throughout all of those books. I dreamed that one day, a book of my own would one day occupy a slot or two on its shelves.

I purchased a few books for the plane ride home. When I got home, I fell in love with our own little gem of a bookstore in Oklahoma City, Full Circle. I was wandering the rooms in it one day with a friend, and we were in the classics section. She pulled a book off the shelf while she was telling me that it was her favorite book ever. “You should read it.” She told me, and handed me a very thick book that I wasn’t ready for the weight of.

One look at the cover of “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck made my memory race back to the basement of the Stage Door Theater here in Yukon. The Friends of the Library were having a book sale one weekend that I went to, where I bought one book months before it was recommended to me. Sometimes, I actually believe that moments in life find you, or in this case a book found me, instead of the other way around. These kinds of book sales are essentially piles of used books, hard backs are a dollar and paper backs are 50 cents. It’s like trying to find one specific, obscure thing in a thrift store, it very rarely works out for you.

Anyways, for some reason, the title of the book caught my attention, so I shelled out my 50 cents and tucked the book away in my car. It stayed there for a few weeks until it got moved into my garage. Then when my friend told me I should read it, my mind raced to its location.

When I got home that night I cracked it open and never wanted to put it down for the next couple of weeks. I had never been soo engulfed in a story in my life. I became attached to the characters, tearing up in moving moments, and cursing the villains of the story.

This was easily the best dollar I’ve ever spent. What is the best single dollar you have ever spent?


A quote from EoE:

“I guess if a man had go shuck off everything he had, inside and out, he’d
manage to hide a few little sins somewhere for his discomfort.  They’re the
last things we’ll give up.”