Lost Words, Empty Promises

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Source: topwalls.net

I didn’t think I would care this much, that the words of my life would be so significant. When it comes to words, I always used to believe in a sort of unalterable importance. There was this sort of mystical, unravished honesty to all words. I guess my beliefs go back to a time where words still meant something, a time still remembered in the trivial ideals of modern novels. Once, despite the corruption and dishonesty that plague our society, words had meaning, had weight and consequences. No longer is this true. As an entire country has been rearranged in the modern, technological age, the once-assumed significance of language has been forgotten. And so, as words lose more and more of their influence, I have realized I care about this loss of verbal and linguistic sincerity on a much deeper level than I once thought.

Take the phrase “I love you” for instance. At one time in my life, I believed these the most consequential and truthful words a being could utter. But as so much else in the world has changed, so has the depth of this phrase. Where once these words meant a depth of love so intense that it almost pained an individual, now they are used passively and unthinkingly.

This is not to say that certain virtues don’t exist in the lack of sincerity our words now hold. Far fewer of us are hurt by a nasty insult or a fight among friends. They didn’t mean it we tell ourselves; what does it matter anyway? We are probably right in some sense, what’s the use in getting overly emotional over a couple of words thrown without thought? Especially with the speed of life today and the growing number of responsibilities placed upon us, what’s the point in placing meaning behind words, our own or otherwise?

However there is an aspect that seems to be overlooked in all this: the unique emotional experience words once opened us up to. Where once we read books for the beauty of the language they contained, we now seem content with the same storyline regurgitated over and over. I pity the writers of today too though. How can today’s writers compete in the career marketplace when they actually take the time to write something decent and meaningful? They have to produce quantity to make a living, and inevitably, quality falls through the cracks.

As I write this draft I realize how I dramatize this subject. I’m still writing for emotion and meaning, others must be too. Yet it is hard not to feel like a lone ranger on the final frontier when I look at the new best sellers list and wonder where quality writing died and when meaningless stories became perfectly acceptable. I just hope there are others out there on this night that are working equally as intensely on this same craft of writing.

Good writing to me isn’t even so much about the writing itself. Good writing is about passion, emotional experience, and simply taking the time to sit and think before thoughts are even put into words. Half the struggle of writing, at least for me, is just finding the motivation to sit alone for a while, contemplating experience, life, knowledge, and everything in between.

Writing can even be as simple as writing a letter once and a while (assuming I’m not the only one still writing those!). Journaling has so much to do with the practice of writing too. If we just had a few more people in this world sit down and think about their life, actions, and words I guarantee we could fix so many of today’s ailments. Maybe it is simply naïve optimism, but I truly believe that with a little more writing and a few less empty words, we could become a better people.

I once believed in that indescribable power of language, but it seems now to be just and empty promise, words lost in the space between reality and utopia. One day, hopefully that promise can regain its prowess. Just a few thoughts from a writer on a dark night…

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Working Hard at Work Worth Doing

The hours go on and I sit in my office, working away, waiting for inspiration, and scratching away at one of my numerous drafting pads. Desk drawers full of notebooks, shelves full of books, and file boxes full of papers line my office- hopeful reminders of my past and decidedly present inspirations. Black pens quiver in anticipation of something new and truly great. Papers clutter the wide, seasoned desk, remnants of former busy nights.

The morning comes early, dreary, and cool. Promptly, I rise and get moving, eager to start working once again. After a quick run and then prepping for the day, it’s an hour or so of emails and notes. I write and play piano and design all morning, and then it’s off to a couple of meetings before coming back to the office for more creativity, more work, and especially, more coffee.

Theodore Roosevelt once said “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

I’ve always loved that quote and felt that it describes my life and goals in many ways. When I reread that quote, which is hung above my desk, I am reminded of why I spend long hours doing research and working on numerous projects. I remember that I am working to make the world more beautiful, more elegant, more equitable, and more loving.

Often in the course of our professional lives, we are forced to work on unnecessary, rather uninspired, and unworthy tasks. It is at these moments that we realize how rewarding it is to work away at things that are truly worthy of our efforts. For, lest we turn into lonely, saturnine individuals, we must work every day to ensure that all of our energy is utilized in making the world a better place.

When I finally fall to sleep in the deepest hours of the night, I always try to look back on the day with gratitude, but also with austere, censorious meticulousness. Because the day I lose those compulsions toward detail- especially as it is corollary to the beneficialness of activities, is the day that my efforts and my work will no longer be worthwhile.

I pride myself on my constant pursuit of my better self, yet I am also forlorn when I look back upon the mistakes of my past. And so, it is with regret, but also motivation, that I go about my work, striving for greatness, but not getting lost without the most-important, larger picture. Work is only worth doing when it is done with the utmost passion and impressive scrupulousness. At no other time will work be worthwhile, no matter the honorability or meritoriousness of the work itself. It is what each of us instills in our daily duties that gives our lives meaning and gives relevance to the words of Theodore Roosevelt.

If nothing else, we owe it to ourselves to nurture our lives through thoughtfulness and hard work. One day, we too may look back and see that our endeavors were worthwhile. If nothing else, it’s something to strive for.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

A Perceived Reality

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Sitting, watching, rolling along in the world, people go by, places disappear, and we never wake up.

Lounging, observing, living life to its fullest, people go by, places disappear, and we will always remember.

A tree can be many things. A tree can be a botanical oasis, a deciduous wonder, or a sculpture of nature. A tree can be a companion, a goldenrod firework, or simply just that which it is, eternally a tree.

Driving along a highway, one’s eyes dart from the roadway sporadically, leering at a passerby, observing a provocation of mild interest. But do we really reminisce or even simply ponder what we are actually observing?

Being an artist, a musician, a designer, or a writer, one learns early on that perception is paramount to one’s own art in addition to one’s reception and comprehension of others’ art. For an artist, it eclipses purely the art world and so perception and observation become the rawest essence of daily life.

Perception is fundamentally applicable for all though, not simply the artist. From the way we perceive sounds and lights and noises and colors, to the way we observe the more subtle and inconspicuous world of emotions, personalities, ideals, and aspirations, the observations we collect and the assessed perceptions we feed off of fuel our minds and our lives more than we can begin to cognize.

And so for some the tree may be just a tree, a biological organism complete with cells, molecules, and a carbon-based composite we call wood. But to the lucky few among us, that tree is something more, something existentially greater than originally assumed. That tree is a manifestation of beauty, courage, joy, transcendentality, and most of all, vivacious, unabashed life. That tree may be gold or green or even red, but that tree is a pictorialization of life and death, pain and resilience, and most importantly, love and loss.

So perceive life how you will, but comprehend and discourse with it each day. For each day is uniquely divergent from the last; lessons are learned, people go by, places disappear, and we will always remember.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Life of the Designer

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I wake up, looking towards the deep blackness above me, my alarm blasting away in the night. It’s 5:35 AM which I state not as a malign reality, but simply as an assertion of fact. The arresting cold of the air outside the warm cocoon of my blankets is abrasive on my skin. But it is morning, and if nothing else, we can be sure of this. The day has begun, if not gracefully, at least assuredly. I turn on the desk light with a clack and boot up my computer, ready for whatever work the day has in store.

After a quick glance at my calendar and my inbox, I slip into the frosty dark of the hallway and scurry quickly into the bathroom where an encompassing, massaging, warm shower awaits. I dress in the clothes that have been so cautiously, delicately laid out the night before, style my hair, and apply the makeup that has been so neatly displayed beneath the big the big wood-frame mirror above my dresser.

Breakfast comes with toasty, cheddary, steaming eggs, a crispy piece of toast, and dark, rich, creamy coffee with sweet orange juice on the side.

It’s still dark outside as I sit down expectantly at my desk. I check the news briskly and then start the processes of work I know all too well. I sketch a little and then play a little and work on each minute task that is yet to be completed. Designing and sketching gives way to playing piano and arranging music and before I know it, it’s lunch time.

Lunch is spent on the couch of my studio answering emails and updating my calendar with a warm burrito and a chilling smoothie for comfort. I check Facebook and twitter while I’m at it, seeing if anything is new with the vast and diverse world outside of the luxuries of my office and studio.

Lunch passes on quickly and my afternoon is spent researching, reading, and writing away furiously. Hours upon hours of time wander by while my pen glides swiftly across the paper and my fingers race agilely around the keyboard. Words become sentences which in turn become pages upon pages of drafts in my notebook.

The sun has gone down by the time I emerge from my office to start cooking dinner.  Cooking a creamy pesto pasta with fresh herbs, tomato, mushrooms, and garlic chicken sounds like just the thing to take my mind off of work for a while; and the glass of merlot help too. I spend dinner watching TV and going through more emails and contacting clients before heading back to my studio to journal and read until it’s late in the night.

When one day turns to another, I move to my office where I finish up going through paperwork and typing and editing publication drafts. And when the clock lazily flips to 1 AM, finally my work is done and my restful night sleep can commence. My dreams are of designs and stories and music, that which is my greatest comfort and contentment in life. For tomorrow, the rollercoaster will begin anew, another day in the life of a designer.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Sublimity in the Simplicity

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What do we look for in life? Is it meaning, fulfillment, or destiny? Or is what we look for really just truth and reality? When we sit in front of the mirror in the morning, studying each miniscule but perceptible blemish and imperfection, are we searching for something to fault ourselves on? Are we looking for something to scratch felinely away at? Putting on our makeup and doing our hair, we tend to just tune out what we’re doing, remembering what Sally said to us yesterday or prepping for that early morning meeting. But why do we really work so hard to make ourselves beautiful each day? Is it because we fear ourselves? Or because we understand the power of looking, feeling, and being beautiful every single day? Do we really recognize anything about ourselves anymore? Or are we more likely simply drifting on in our lives hoping for some sign to appear pointing the way?

When we look at now, today, this moment, is our day outlined with clarity? Life seems to be less about clarity and what is, and rather more about finding the hidden nuances between black and white, the subtle niches that circumscribe each moment of perfection. In the hidden secrets, we find solace in knowing that somewhere buried beneath the rude noise of unrealistic, sublime idealisms, is a path for us to follow. Somewhere deep in the darkness of the unknown is, we convince ourselves, our calling, a purpose for life. But when we wake up in the morning thinking about work, putting on our makeup, driving to work, and shopping for groceries, do we really have any idea of what our purpose is or will be? Are we drowning without a guide to pull us on?

What we realize in the ordinary, lonesome moments of life is that no help is coming. No guide or visionary is there to pull us out when we get stuck. And so we trudge on, knowing that life will reveal our true calling only when we are ready for it. We must learn to push on through the boresome days of our lives, waiting for the transcendent. We must look for meaning in the ordinary simplicities of each day. Each thought is sublime. Each moment portrays the exquisite beauty of life. But we must push ourselves to realize these sublimities. For a life without perfection is a life without purpose.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

Manage Your Life

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So much of managing life is about being able not only to focus well, but also to know how long everything takes. As a business owner, musician, writer, and designer, I constantly have to manage my time, not only in what I’m doing, but also in the breaks I take, my personal life, and in what is not getting done. Scheduling becomes a nightmare when personal life, professional life, and entrepreneurship are all put together. But when one adds in more layers of logistics such as travel time and other people’s schedules, dealing with one’s calendar turns into hell on earth. It is so key in life to be able to organize logistics and scheduling well.

When my business officially opened in October of 2013, it was one of the biggest accomplishments of my life. But it was also the start of a major time-suck for me, even if I love what I am doing the majority of the time. I am now constantly updating my calendar and am somewhat of a scheduling junky. I don’t attach myself my calendar because I like being attached to a life plan, although I do, but because I realized that if I want my dreams to come true and my life to stay on track, I have  to be incredibly organized with everything I do.  Both time management and organization have become second nature to me because it was and is necessary for them to be.

So many people in this world lack the basic skills of time management and organization, and it is clear to me that we would all be in a much better place in our lives if planning were much more prevalent. One begins to wonder why it is that the most important and relevant people in our society are sometimes the least together ones.

But experience shows us that the most organized people are the ones who get ahead in life. The CEOs and millionaires of this world are the people who schedule in their every waking minute and communicate the best with their peers and coworkers.

So what should one take away from this- when life gives you work, have fun with it; when life gives you more work, get organized; and when life falls apart, schedule in time to fix it!

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

The Greater Impact

The places we’ve gone just once sometimes make the greatest impact on our memories. When I dream about the future, I also look back into the past. I remember the people I’ve loved, the people that I will never forget. I dream about the boy I’ll wind up with, how perfect we’ll be, how I’ll never let him go for anything. I think about my dream job and my dream house. My dream unfolds swiftly before my eyes.

About a year ago, I was fortunate enough to stay at a beautiful resort in Vail, Colorado, elegantly named, The Montaneros. What made The Montaneros undeniably unique was, I think, that it was like living in a dream, living in my dream. Strangely, I had stepped into some kind of dream world, so real, yet so far away.

As I looked around the room, there was a sense of place, a character that seemed very normal to me. I imagined myself entertaining at that ornately decorated table, at home among a group of close friends. I watched myself, as if behind glass. I watched myself cuddling on the couch, a nameless but familiar boy at my side. I imagined myself standing in that kitchen. What a masterpiece the entire space was. But most of all, I could see myself as happy, worry-free, loved. I could see that without a doubt, my life had turned out how I had always envisioned it to be. But the visions faded. The room became nothing more than an elegantly decorated reality. The hopes and dreams sank back into the future.

What that trip really defined for me was a sense of self and an individualism that was suddenly more present. I could feel just a hint of what adult life would be like throughout that trip. I could feel the hardships, the prosperities, the responsibilities, and everything else that comes with being an adult.

Looking back on that trip, I realize how much of me has changed. I can see just how much I’ve changed in a short couple of years. When I look back on the past now, there is suddenly an indiscernibly larger amount of people that I miss, places I have almost forgotten, and dreams that have died off long ago.

In the course of life, one experiences many losses, but no loss is as great as that, the loss of innocence.

Looking back on that trip, I can tell you with complete clarity that it was a turning point in my life. It was, in its purest form, a rebirth of a personality and a growth of self. Since that time I have grown into what I am today. But as I always say, you cannot be who you are today without whom you were in the past and the person you are only yet to be. Our lives are shaped by people, by events, by places;  but they are shaped most extensively by the past, the future, and who we are right now, this very minute.

And that is the greater impact, realizing that all of your life has made you what you are today, and that the future is yours to create. Life’s greater impact is figuring out how to utilize your past to define yourself, while not making your past a roadmap for the future you can write today. Today is your day, will you spend it dwelling and what was or what could be, or are you going to make today the first day of the rest of your life?

Love, Ethan Brown Jones

A Utopian Abstract

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The sun shone warm and bright as I walked down the mall in the middle of September. How charming it was with the golden leaves of fall strewn across its brick walkway, how handsome the men were, how elegant the women. Each shop I passed seemed to both beckon and repel me with equivalent force. Was it just me, or did the people seem happier here, the cars shinier, the landscape somehow more content? Maybe it was all just a façade, perhaps not.

I drove on to the house of my dreams, a villa among houses, a mansion to many. The road bent right and I turned slowly onto my drive, a gravel road that grew somehow more gorgeous with each consequent bend. The road ended seductively in front of a wall of windows, shining in the afternoon sun’s warm rays. Shutting off the engine of my hot pink 1959 Cadillac DeVille, there was only one thing I wanted to do: fall into the arms of the boy behind that dark front door. I wanted to sit willfully at my deep black grand piano and play as I gazed out over the orangy-yellow hills. I wanted to walk up that flight of stairs, into my office, and just sit and sketch, a million inspirations pressing me onward. I wanted to sit back on my deck chair, a glass of red wine in hand, and write, my ideas spilling onto the page like a rushing mountain stream.

Now, I can imagine that crisp air, that perfect house, that perfect lover, that perfect life. But now, I crumple over my notebook, not in that dream house, not with that dream boy. I haven’t just driven up in that impeccable car; I am not brimming with ideas in my perfectly designed office. I sit now, in my cozy room. No lover awaits me. No view seems to inspire my artist’s passion.

But I sit and write, not because my life is absolute Utopia, but because all I want is to express that perfection. My desire is to live in that splendid dream-world, but nothing changes quickly. And as I write these words now, the ink flying effortlessly across the page, all I can think is that I am living, now. I am loving and hoping and working, now.

I must look up. I must realize the almost implausible perfection and beauty of my meager office, my all too familiar, lonesome boudoir. I must learn to accept and live, looking forward, gazing through memories. I must maintain what undeniable animation seems to exist at this very palpably existent moment.

Love, Ethan Brown Jones