The News from the Workbench: December 10, 2016

EBJ Photography 2016

EBJ Photography 2016

Today began as so many mornings do, with the blaring noise of the alarm breaking the cool serenity of slumber. Once the hopes of further excursions in the dream-world subsided, I was able to rise from my bed and look out on the world in all its glory, lit by the soft morning rays of sun cutting through the icy winter chill. After my morning run, somewhat longer today at around five miles, I was sufficiently awake, present, and chipper to begin working once more. But this morning was different, because when I walked out the door this morning, I was eager to get going and start working on my writing and my musical work for the day. I haven’t felt this ambitious or motivated in six to eight months.

Today, I thought I would touch on some of what has made me return to the basics, the fundamentals of my art and also what has allowed me to keep going after all the struggle and pain of this year. Only recently have I been able to return to the process of my art, my writing, and my music after months of strife, lack of motivation, and insecurity with where my career path has been leading me. Though it is hard for me to admit, I think that my personal life and the circumstances of my life have affected my work and artistic life over the course of this year, something I will always be ashamed of.

The last months have been filled with a sort of longing for the piece of me that makes me unique, what makes me essentially me. Every hour of every day has been spent in search of something that can’t be found, unsure of the road forward or of how to create the life I want to live and the art I want to make. It has taken me months to realize that this is a journey that for all of us is uncertain and never-ending. Upon reflection, I have been able to find new comfort both in the doubt and unease and in the small daily routines that center my mind and push the days onward.

It has been through reading the works of great authors, listening to the music of great musicians, and admiring the artwork of the masters that I have been able to find my voice again. What I have realized is that this voice I have found within myself can only truly be found in the tireless awareness of myself and of my actions. True, my path is deeply intertwined with the stories and paths of many others, but only in self-knowledge and personal discovery may I find the stories which must be told, the ideas that have yet to hatch, and the memories that are so crucial in my psyche.

In the last week I have had a much needed reprieve from the day-to-day busy work and lists of tasks and appointments. Time spent alone—thinking, observing, and remembering—has reawakened my soul. I no longer search for the unique energy of my actions and thoughts or for where my path should lead; I now search within my own mind and body for that true self that we must all find inside. My true self drives me towards my passions and I have now found the motivation to work once more. Motivation comes not from how I think I am perceived, but in what really matters to me.

So I read, I write, I play music, and I think. My voice has returned for now and I must remember how I got here. I must recognize that when one gets past the petty, menial, daily slog, inner truth may emerge and the drive for love, storytelling, and immersive beauty will return.

That’s the news from the workbench this week…

-Ethan Brown Jones

Perception

CT-757-lg

My lamp shreds the dim, morning darkness agonizingly. The room is the same way I left it only hours ago, diving into the warm blankets and the unconscious equally as ferociously. Yesterday is done, soon to be completely forgotten. The work piled and undone, which felt so pressing previously, now feels motivating and exciting. I can hardly contain the passion I feel, rising promptly from bed, rested, even on so few hours of sleep. The office glistens in the crisp wash of lamp light. Today will be a good one, I feel.

My day has only just begun and already I feel powerful, motivated, and ready for what is to come. So much like the others is this morning, but it feels unique somehow. In hindsight, the events that tortured me so over the last weeks seem miniscule, so much less implacable than I once felt they were. The onerous happenings seem to fade away, leaving in their place a sense of renewed hope for the future.

Not so much was it about the instances themselves but the arbitrary set of emotions assigned to them each day. The places I went, the people I met, and even that actions I took were, and are, shaped by the unsupported, often undecided views I took on them momentarily.

Perception holds such an incredible place in our lives as human beings. For, while other creatures observe their world on a subconscious level, we are able to not only observe, but also cogitate on our perceptions and explore them in order to glean comprehension.

Only a week ago, I would have told you that only two basic categories of comprehension exist in this world. I would have described to you the reality as I believed it then— we either observe and perceive the world in order to understand it or we are passive to all objects around us by concerted effort to shelter ourselves from reality. But what I now hold true is that our comprehension is also highly dependent upon the specific way in which we perceive every moment, emotionally, physically, and cognitively. I too used to believe that one simply viewed the world as it was, that I could easily perceive the difference between the reality in my head and the reality exterior to my mind. My view of this has changed as well, even in this short time period. Our internal ideas, preconceived notions, and a lack of true objective perception often lead to the horrible phenomenon of miscomprehension and misperception, I now understand.

After a bad week, Friday felt the worst of all, despite the inherent reprieve that is naturally associated with the end of the week. And in hindsight I realize that Friday was in fact the end of my sorrows though I didn’t feel so at the time. My deep resentment for all that had happened that week had poisoned my perception of all experiences and actions for the entire rest of the week. My thoughts had been negative towards all around me and I was stuck because of it. But I didn’t exert any effort to change this fact; I felt so comfortable in just allowing my negativity to stew and eventually boil over, thinking that my attitude towards the world was set in stone, unchangeable by mine or anyone else’s hand. But the weekend brought with it the time to journal, converse, and reflect on the week as it had been. And what I realized was that the week had gone exactly as my poor attitude had predicted going in. One misfortune on Monday morning had soured the rest of the week, promoting numerous conflicts, anger, and eventually, unproductive self-pity and depression. And it was my fault. No, the world had not sent me a week full of problems; my own mind had created all of that. The way I dealt with tiny daily issues had sent me into a downward spiral from which I did not recover quickly. Instead of seeing the value in all of my experiences or noticing the smallest beauties of every moment, I had fallen prey to the easier, yet more detrimental cycle of negative energy, unproductivity, aggression, and irrationalism.

I now view positivity as a personal choice, rather than a predestined factor. As I have chosen over the last week to think positively in the face of adversity, I have been much happier and felt less stressed too. Yes, the inconveniences, the conflicts, and the stressors still exist. But I have been dealing with them in a very different manner. Even when I find it difficult to remain positive, I try to utilize the passionate emotions as motivation to keep growing, keep working hard, and keep moving forward.

The beauty of perception is that it is unique, manageable, and easily controlled— this is what I try to remember each and every day.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

The Road to Recovery: Late Once Again

Once again, I was late. As with many times before this one, I had cut it way too close, not left on time, and tried to cram way too much into a single day. I hustled out to my car, spilling coffee on myself in the process. My bags, my papers, and I flew into the car splaying ourselves across the seats. The engine roared to life as I cranked the key hard in the ignition and I raced furiously out of the driveway to my meeting. I turned on my podcasts in an attempt to calm myself with NPR but it was almost futile with how stressed I was. Swerving around corners, I drove with one hand, putting on makeup, eating a snack, and scratching down a quick note with the other one. I saw the car ahead ambling along at a less-than-satisfactory pace and roared past it in a hurried fury. Each second that ticked by was one more second of lateness.

Was it just my imagination or did every car in my way secretly wish for me to be horribly and utterly late? Each driver ahead of me went slower than the last; each one drove a little worse. I fretted and yelled obscenities inside the charged comfort of my car.

Finally making it to my parking space, I sped in and frantically gathered myself and my belongings. I slammed the door, locked up with shaking hands, and ran. Rushing into the meeting, I excused myself for the millionth time, citing the atrocious traffic as the cause of my tardiness on this occasion. It was on this day that I realized it wasn’t working anymore; something had to change drastically in my life.

And so I set to work on a plan of how to change my life for the better. My realizations scared me; I realized that because of my constant procrastination, I was constantly putting things off until the last minute, and thus, constantly being late. All of this led to a lack of stability and control in my life and so I set out to change it all.

I researched for months on end and tried a multitude of things until one night, tonight in fact, I decided that my new life was ready to begin. Tomorrow, all my plans will come to fruition and I’ll be organized and on time, or at least that’s the plan. After all, what is life if not a constant work in progress?

Every day, I work towards my goal: that one day I will be on time to everything that happens in my life. Every day too, I research more and more, learning each and every moment how to make my life better and continue to improve the problem areas. I get more inspired as well as more discouraged when I realize how much more work I still have to do. But each day, each hour, each minute is a new one, and the next one is an unprecedented opportunity to go forth and work even harder. I must have faith, and I do, that I can accomplish my goals and live a more fruitful and successful life, and thus, a more happy and fulfilling life.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Why Do We Fear Change?

change-management-word-cloud-from-wordle-net

I fear that which I cannot predict yet I also fear the truth.

Why is it that we fear change so much? Life moves on around us constantly and it would seem that we are rooted firmly in the past, knowing not what the future holds and resenting ourselves immensely for that. We like stability and security, and so change scares us.

I have always felt like a person who’s prepared for whatever comes my way. But recently I have feeling substantially more fearful of the future. I will be moving not only towns soon, but also to a new state and region entirely, and I will be doing that alone. I think we fear change in this way because it is a loss of security, a loss of basic comforts that we must face alone. When we embrace change, we are going out on a limb and becoming someone new; we are doing that entirely on our own, and that frightens us.

In our everyday lives, although we may not realize it, we are constantly met by things that are normal for us and thus subconsciously comforting. And so when life changes, we are then forced to acquire new comforts and create new normalcy in our new lives. Newness is what scares us; we are afraid of the unknown future. But we must travel on in our lives, or we will never go anywhere.

Change is often the best thing for us, but it is also one of the scariest things. We fear change mainly because it means that all we have known will not be the same anymore which is undeniably terrifying for everyone on this earth.

As I look back at my life thus far, there have not been many changes of magnitude. But as I look forward, my career, my location, and my personal life are all uncertain which alarms me. I am a person who likes to be in control and the fact that I am not and will not be for a least a little while horrifies me.

What we all need to realize though is that we are the sole creators of our future and we have the power to change our destiny any way we want to. In my own life, I have realized that while I make the transition from rural Colorado to Long Island, New York, I must be willing to sacrifice some control for the benefits that the change will generate. And I must also be willing to step up and take control of my life to change my life the way I want to change it.

I was talking to someone the other day who was describing how she was close to retirement and scared of both a change in her future financial security and a change in her purpose in life. And the primary emotion I heard was fear, fear for the future and of things she could not control. And what I thought to myself was that this woman had a right to be scared. I understood her fear, because I have those same types of concerns for my future.

I think people are remarkably similar and vulnerable too, when it comes to their fears for the future. But what we all must realize is that fear of change is okay, but we must embrace change in order to move forward. Change is a piece of life and it’s the reason that life is interesting.

So accept your justified concerns as a way of comprehending your options. And overall, embrace your future and live your life the way you want to live it; change is just part of the journey.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Confusion of the Individual

Flowery Individualism

Yearning for uniqueness, we travel onward in this world. We strive for a futile individualism that seems unreachable in our age of growing monochromatism. But we somehow lose sight along our way; we forget whom we are just as everyone else seems to do. On day, we wake up in the morning and don’t recognize the visage staring back at us in the mirror. And we stop and wonder- when did we lose track?

When did we ever really know exactly who we were?

There are moments in each of our pasts that illustrate at least a small portrait of who we were, but do those moments exist in our present lives as they delicately used to do? If we ever really had and clarity about who we are or who we were, it was futilely ephemeral as most things in life truly are. We remember temporary states of unambiguity, but if we were really sure of our path at any point in life, why would there even be a purpose to keep on going.

Life is as much about finding oneself as it is about the confusion we all face each and every day. Although we won’t admit it, we are all a little bit lost, continually tangled in webs of memories, hopes, dreams, and emotions.

If any of the journey of life were genuinely easy, it would be meaningless, another pedestrian, pointless experience. But the fact is, it’s not simple; it’s not without adversity or plight; it’s not free of heartbreak and failed aspirations.

The confusion we all experience at some point along the winding, fickle path of life only assists in our growth and maturing process. For to grow is to have been lost and to have realized a new enlightenment. Without losing sight of whom we are, we will never truly gain insight into the person we are today, the person we have left in the past, and the person we aspire to metamorphose into.

Our confusion helps us to learn and grow as individuals, professionals, and unique personalities. When we lose ourselves completely, we finally see the person we have never known, the person we have always hoped to discourse with but have never had the courage. When we lose ourselves in the confusion, we find out what lies within, and that is what’s truly transcendental.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Defining Our Own Persona

8840_1280x800

How do we define ourselves at the end of the day? When we get home after the longest of days, what is the single most important thing we do to maintain inner clarity?

Our careers define us more than almost anything else in life. They are often what we spend the majority of our time thinking about, so why shouldn’t they define us? For the luckiest among us, our career is both our livelihood and our passion. But inevitably, we will spend many years of our lives if not a majority of our adult lives at work, whether we enjoy it or not. Work sets the stage for us not only economically, but also socially and culturally in many ways. Our work friends become our only friends at many times and our work almost certainly defines our values and outlook on life in a lot of ways. But is career really all that we hold dear?

Relationships with people in our lives also play such a vital role in our overall being and emotional health. Relationships outside of the ones we have with ourselves make up most moments of the day and so the way we interact with people, the ways we organize and categorize relationships, and the deep relationships we possess all have an unforeseeably-large impact on our life path and daily happiness.

So much of daily contentment is based on this principle as well. The ways we define and thus advertise ourselves in the real world greatly influence our emotional stability and overall health on a life-size scale.

Each piece or ourselves that we divulge to the world is not communicated by mistake, but is rather shown as to “create” for ourselves and others a whole vision of a person, one who is happy, healthy, and enjoying life.

We define ourselves by the many characters we assume each day. From professional, to peer, to coworker, to fellow empathetic human, we assume many roles each day which each highlight a different definition of the real us. We are all incredible actors when it comes to assuming a single person at one time and cunningly concealing the complete remainder of us.

But what is so important about how we define ourselves is the fact that when all else fails, we can fall back on to the plush cushion of the person we have cleverly built for so many years. Whatever else happens in life, we somehow never manage to lose sight of that fragile, amorphous character deep inside of us. Each definition of us works to point the way for us in the rest of our life.

We are our own person as defined by us and only us. We have the sole ability to define our lives as they are today and as they will be for eternity. We truly are the solitary creators of our past, our present, and most importantly, our futures, and we must never forget that.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Thoughts on Life

Hero-Image-LifeSciences-General

Recently I realized something while listening to someone attempt to improvise while playing a jazz piece. I realized the reason that so many people don’t like playing music, and for that matter, can’t play music well. The reason, I realized, is that people don’t think enough about being creative, don’t think enough about their real feelings and emotions. Doing anything creative like music or art or designing involves thinking and thought so much. But what do we really think about? Do we think about our lives, our friends, our journeys, the people we love, or simply about creating the piece of art? What I have found is that so much of making art, designing clothes, and playing music is about thinking beyond the the piece.

It’s about thinking about expressing your emotions and ideas through that piece. When I play music, I try to create a story with it. I try to tell about my life and soul and try to say something meaningful. When I design, I try to put a piece of me into each design. My emotions, my thoughts, my personality, they’re all there. When I write, I try to dig so deep within myself that I am completely connected to my work. And when I make art,  I make it mine, about my life, and the way that I see the world.

The way I look at life and love is the reason I am me. I think about life every day. I think about my dreams, my passions, the people I love, and the things that I love to do. I am artist because I love to express, I love to let everything go and just see what happens. Art isn’t about creating something for other people, it’s about letting your life and emotions out through the art.

I love to think about my dreams. I love to think about my life. I love to think about every person and thing that I have loved and miss so much now. The way I live is all about thoughts, it’s all about making life the way you want it, while still just letting go and seeing the incredible things that can happen. Life is about closing your eyes and just listening, feeling, and experiencing the world around you. Life is about putting in your ear-buds, and taking a walk, just to have time to think on everything that needs to be thought about.

I love to just sit without trying to think about anything. Just sitting there looking out over the world, your mind wanders to where it wants to go, where it needs to go. Your mind knows more than you do. You know deep down how you feel about people, how you feel about love, how you feel about life. But your mind already knew all of these things.

As I write today, I sit on the deck, looking out over the aspen grove in front of my house, the pea green meadow beside it, and the dark green mountain and blue sky above it. I see what I want to see, I love who I want to love, I think about whatever I want to. And what I see is beauty and light and warmth all around me. Whom I love is Ian and Max and Clay and Evan, and all my friends. What I  think about is the love I’ve lost, the places I dream about, and the world I want to lose myself completely in. That’s what I think about. I think about life: my life, my future, and my past.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

The Lovesick Blues

americas-love-affair-with-capitalism-comes-to-an-end

As I wake this morning, I have no desire to move, for fear of forgetting love and losing what isn’t even mine. I fell so hard for Ian, yet I don’t even know his last name. He made me feel as special and loved as any guy ever has, and yet we were never even together. I cried for hours yesterday, not because I was lonely, but out of fear that I would never see Ian again. I miss him more than I can say. I feel like I am a unique person every day, but it’s rare that someone like Ian comes  along and makes me feel so special and beautiful and lovesick. My heart aches for him. I imagined myself falling in love with him so many times over the last week. I imagined the love we’d share and I imagined never letting him go. I could’ve spent the rest of my life deeply in love with him, I guess fate just isn’t on my side.

I spent the last week at Jazz Camp, the second year I’ve been there. I always get incredibly emotional while there, surrounded by the things I love, music, cute boys, and a common love for Jazz. I feel so special when I’m there playing music with people that love it just as much as I do. I love those people, because they get who I am. I love Ian because he loved me. I love him because he’s so sweet and cute and funny. I love him because I felt so at home with him. And now I feel like I’m loosing him.

Love touches us all in different ways. It makes us feel happy; It makes us feel lonesome; It makes us cry; It makes us feel completely passionate and involved with someone. That’s why I love love. I almost enjoyed crying yesterday. It made me feel that at least I loved someone so much that I had a reason to cry, a reason to live, a reason to keep on living and loving. I feel no reason to move on though. I almost want to continue feeling lost without Ian, just because it reminds me of him and all the feelings that I had for him. It reminds me of every minute I loved being with him. Maybe I hold on to long, maybe I move to fast, maybe I never forget. But all these things are me, the person I am and will always be.

Music holds a special place in my heart. It lets me feel; it lets me dream; it lets me hold on too long and love to much. Music lets me express that which cannot be expressed with words and lets me love every moment of every day. It lets me think of all the people I love, the places I remember so well, and the love that I can’t forget. I try to put love and rememberance like this into everything I do as an artist. I am an artist of music, of fashion, of design, of love. Love is my art.

I feel lovesick and lost, I just want some way to never forget Ian. I would give everything to spend the rest of my life with someone like Ian, someone who makes me feel so special and warm inside. I want someone to inspire, someone to be inspired by, someone to rest my head against and look out over the world with. I want someone like Ian. I want someone who loves every day of their lives, the tears and the laughter equally. I want someone who makes me want to smile and cry at the same time. I want someone who makes me fall in love with them more and more each day, just as Ian did. I fell in love with Ian, maybe too fast, but truly in love. I fell for that smile, that personality, that person. I fell in love so fast, but it felt so real and so right. That’s the way love should feel, right? Like crying and laughter and heartbreak every day. It should feel so right and yet so wrong. It should feel real and never ending. That’s what love feels like for me. That’s why I love the lovesick blues, it makes me feel what love truly is, and what it will be. I let out my love through the music and the art and the designing. Art and love and life are all one for me. I love Ian, and I always will. I love the lovesick blues. I love life, and I always will love it in some inexplicable way.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

I’m an Artist, and I Always Will Be

il_fullxfull.376725320_rpql

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately, and I was thinking about all the ways that I define myself. I think of myself as a fashion designer, as a pianist, as a blogger, as an interior designer, as a landscape architect, and as a fashion expert. And I thought to myself the other day, what would I call myself? Who am I? What defines me overall as a person? And there it was, as clear as day; I am an artist! I design, I play, I write, and I inspire- the definition of an artist. But what does that mean to me? Why am I an artist? It means to me that I look at things in a different light than most people. It means that I look for the beauty and creativity in every part of life. It means I have a big personality and even bigger sass. It means I feel emotions on a deeper level. It means that I take time to think over my life whenever I can. It means I can love someone forever and never let go. And most of all, It means I am me and nobody can change that.

I am and artist because I love fashion, clothes and style. Because I love designing, color, and personality. Because I love writing, journaling, and reading. Because I can feel every emotion that every piece of music, artwork, and literature feels and evokes. I am artist because I love what I do, and I wouldn’t give it up for the world. Art shows me things: values of life, feelings of anger, resentment, sadness, joy, inspiration, and incredible heartache, and love beyond reason. I’m moved, heartbroken, and elated all at the same time.

I forget who I am, yet I feel a deeper understanding of who that is. I am an artist because I want to feel that I can and inspire emotion in others. I love being able to make something that defines me, every single day. I like to be known for things people love, and things that people will remember and cherish. I make clothes that I hope will mold a person into something of beauty and expression. I write pieces that I hope will be read and remembered. I play music that I hope to inspire and evoke feelings with. I am artist to help others define themselves, to help people remember, and to help people move on.

Truly, being an artist for me is about reaching the inner core of me and pulling out the raw emotions and ideas that define me. I put my ideas to paper, to fabric, to sheet music, to my house, to my yard, to my life. I hope to gain a better understanding of every piece of the world around me. I hope to refine my mind, better myself, and become so sure of myself that nothing will ever bring me down.

I love to see the spark in a person’s eye when they can see every part of an art piece laid out before them. I love to see the creativity churning in an artists mind. And I love to feel the satisfaction of creating a masterpiece of art. That’s why I’m an artist, and I always will be.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Truly Living

Route_66

Recently, I found myself down and dejected, feeling no ambition, no love, and no promise. My friends had all left me for bigger and better places. My grandparents had passed away. And in the midst of all of this, my first date ever, one of the most exciting moments in my life. Well of course, being me, I overworked everything. I shaved my legs, painted my nails, styled my hair, put on my makeup, and dressed in cute but seductive attire. I was ready for love, but as usual in life, it was not ready for me. I loved everything about the date: his eyes, his sweet smile, everything about it was wonderful. That day was wonderful. I went home feeling promise and lust in my heart. Then I got the message that of course, no relationship seems to work out in my life. It didn’t work out and it probably never will. Well, I felt down, distraught, and unloved.

Me being me, I stewed over every moment of that date, each little detail, and every small mistake. And what I decided was, I needed to turn my life where I wanted it to go. I had to take responsibility for doing the things that I wanted to, and getting all of those things done. I decided that just like anything in life, I needed to make time for love. I needed to make time for blogging, for reading, for sketching, for journaling.

All my life,  I have made promises to myself, promises that were rarely kept for long. And now, as I look at where my life is, and where I want it to go, I realize that my life is mine and no one’s but mine. I want to and have to steer my life in every direction that I want it to go.

And so right then and there,  I decided that I would no longer laze around waiting for life. Life would have to wait for me. And so I have made myself a promise to do certain things for me and my life every day. I am living the way that I want to, not the way that just happens. I do things I love. I journal, I blog, I take care of Thomas Park and Eve Ponds, I sketch fashion designs, I play piano, I read, and I style. I do everything that I love to do, that I need to do. And I have never felt better about my life. It feels like me, like the person I am supposed to be and the life that I am supposed to live.

If there’s one thing that I have learned from the recent death of my grandparents, Thomas and Eve Brown, it’s that life is short and you should never take a day in it for granted. I read something recently where someone was asked how they get through so many books and make time to read. And what they said inspired me. They said that they made time for it, just like family and relationships. They told themselves that they must make time for reading every day. And so I am doing both of those things. I am living the way that I want to, making the most of every day, and I am making time in my life for everything that I want to do.

As a designer, so much of designing is about inspiration and emotion. And so making my life the way I want it to be is my inspiration and my drive. I drives me to make my life feel like I want it to, full of love and expression and all of the people and things that I love so much. So do what you love, never stop dreaming, and make your life all that you want it to be. I know I do.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones