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  • Writer's pictureJohn Lewis

Two Guiding Principles

A healthy tension -- in art, music, in life -- might in its proper application give rise to meaningful creativity.

A foundational point of return, for me, is the mutual competition between these two principles:

One -- A genuine desire not to change the mind of another.

Two -- Develop the courage to speak my truth.

It's unsurprising I fail to live up to either on a daily basis. But I think they are lighthouses offering clarity toward a useful passage.

First, why would I not want to change the mind of another? Surely I value my insight. I offer advice to friends and colleagues. Only that, when I look back, the best insights have almost always come from others. The few that haven't have come from experience, and experience frequently follows the contours of what the others have warned us against. I can't remember a time discovering wisdom from within. The things that have helped the most are often from inheritance. A hundred million people have gone before, and I do well to honor their hard work.

Second, how often do I remain mute? Alas, too often when I should not, and often not enough when I know I ought to shut up. Speaking truth predictably promises disharmony. Strife. This brings to mind the saying: "The nail that sticks out gets hammered down."

The point is, I too often speak with desperation and often not my truth. Like most, I suspect, I constantly desire to change the minds of others, to make them see things my way, even when my way is not entirely what I believe. And too often, when I know something to be true, I keep it stored inside, dank and cold from fear. Fear of what? Arousing antipathy. Abuse. Contempt.

So... the goal becomes, to share insight truthfully but without the aim of changing another's mind. This appears to throw meaningful interference toward personal pride and vanity. But it leaves the door open for those who are waiting for the thing that might enrich their view, opinion, or understanding of something. Giving voice to my truth, while acknowledging I have no business changing the mind of another, might just be good enough for some stranger, somewhere, at some unknown time, to encounter a particular thing she or he has been needing to know.


Iconoclast-ish. Irony. Humor. Tasteful Irreverence. Sometimes... heresy. Vulgarity only if it's useful in its contrast. Nuance in defiance to orthodoxy. Redemption. Love of fiction, its truthfulness and invocation of irreducible ambiguity. In art... These are a few of my favorite things. One can find them in brown paper packages tied up in string.

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