Happy 2013!

Happy 2013!

The new year is upon us, and I’m filled with a great sense of anticipation. And dread. It’s a blend of both excitement and suspicion, with more than a little weariness. There’s year-end summaries to write, dishes to put away, Christmas tree to disassemble, taxes to review…you know the drill. In fact, my official stab at 2013 resolutions won’t start until February 2nd, on Groundhog’s Day, which is about when I’ll have recovered enough energy to start thinking seriously about the future. Right now, the only thought I am having is REST REST REST.

Online, my friend Colleen suggested that sometimes one must make a FULL STOP. As I am a sucker for nautical-themed advice, I called for the full-stop and have let my boilers simmer for all of New Year’s Eve. Today, though, I’m considering the lessons I learned in 2012, which are based on the following realizations:

  • There’s still a great deal of resistance within me regarding creativity
  • That creativity and productivity have different expectations
  • That my command of the related skills and process still needs work

These are all related to mastery. I believe I need to get over the idea that there’s a point when I’m “done learning”, and instead fully embrace lifelong learning. I am looking forward to reading up on the subject, particular Robert Greene’s new book, to see how he breaks down mastery. I’ve also started to peck away at another book, Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, which has already yielded some anchoring philosophical insight about the nature of my personal journey.

A second though is that 2013 will be a year of field work. This is a shift in emphasis from the previous seven years, which were mostly concerned (I think) with trying to figure out what I should be doing by trying a whole bunch of things related to design, the most recent leg of a lifelong hunt with side-quests for identity, meaning, and purpose. From 2013 onward, it’s time to leave the metaphorical monastery and test what I’ve learned.

A nice end-of-the-year perk has been being named for a “Naggy Award” from Rachel Z. Cornell for having made stuff that have helped other people. When one is pushing to create a road to one’s personal specification, it’s heartening to know that other people benefit from the work and can make use of it. And you know, that reminds me what is the exciting part of this life journey: seeing people deriving pleasure/utility from what I’ve made. How to make that work and be self-sustaining? That is the Great Puzzle that I have been trying to actively solve for the past seven years. And it is up to me to figure it out, because I’m the ONLY ONE who can understand the complicated reasons for which I’m pursuing this mode of living. And, the final pieces have to be placed by myself; I think this may be the artist in me speaking. It’s not enough just to have the solution delivered to me, or to follow someone else’s prescription for success. It has to come from me, and be of me. That’s not to say that there are answers or methods that already exist, or that I am very clever. I’m just saying that this is one of those steps I have to take by myself.

That doesn’t mean that the journey must be alone. There are individuals on similar paths to mine, and when our paths cross we will offer insights and secrets as we share a good meal; I don’t think I need anything more than that in 2013, and I am feeling optimistic about stumbling into all sorts of fascinating people this year.

Hi ho! Away we go!


  1. Lynn O'Connor 7 years ago

    Happy New Year Dave. There is something particularly nice upon reading this as I wake up (Pacific Time) this morning. I hope you get back out here soon, so we can share that meal together. And being one of those people who use and enjoy the things you make, I can only repeat what I’ve heard, “Life happens while you’re making other plans.” I am not sure why I hesitate when I turn to thoughts like “how can I make more money?” but I seem to identify with some of your struggles. I sure enjoy your blogging as well as your products. My Tibetan Buddhist teacher(s) and teaching make it clear that if upon waking each day I first and foremost think about how I can help others today, things start happening and I feel better. You did that this morning. Happy 2013.

  2. Author
    Dave Seah 7 years ago

    Lynn: I’ve been thinking about the helping part too. I think it’s one of the ingredients that will be part of the 2013 pie, while maintaining a separation between my very specific desires and the desires of others. An interesting balance! I hope I get a chance to travel out to California this year. There’s a possibility of a project in the spring, so we’ll see.

  3. Stephen P Smith 7 years ago

    Good morning Dave, and thanks for sharing this! Re: your feelings of Resistance in creativity – have you tried working through any of Julia Cameron’s “Artist’s Way” exercises? I have found them to be invaluable, for breaking through blocks and achieving inspiration.

  4. Author
    Dave Seah 7 years ago

    Happy New Year, Stephen!

    I’ve never actually read “The Artist’s Way”, though as I’m reading a summary of the book I’m realizing that I’m following a similar path of developing surety; for me, it’s been the recognition that I find uncertainty highly disagreeable and draining. Knowing that, and recognizing that it’s an attitude I can change, I’ve been focusing on daily continuity in small chunks.

    Still work to do! I’m not yet at the point where I need to read another book. To break my uncertainty cycle right now, I just need to experience more of it. The last couple months of 2012 were very instructive with NaNoWriMo and establishing a morning meeting ritual.

  5. Stephen P Smith 7 years ago

    Happy New Year! I mention the book because it has some great tools and exercises for developing in areas that you lack focus, surety, etc.

    I know how much you loathe uncertainty and believe that a tool like the Morning Pages might be really good for you. I wrote a post about my own practice here – http://www.createwritenow.com/personal-journal-blog/bid/78810/How-I-Do-My-Morning-Pages

    Also, I am going to be starting an online workshop where we go through Julia Cameron’s book Finding Water and do those exercises together. It’s free to take part, you can learn more here – http://blog.worklifecreativity.net/creativity-workshop-for-2013/

    Did I miss a post on your “morning meeting ritual”? It sounds like it may be similarly useful as Morning Pages are.

  6. Author
    Dave Seah 7 years ago

    Hey Stephen,

    The morning pages do sound similar to what I’m doing in spirit, but I’m more focused on starting work rather than reflecting through writing. I already do quite a lot of that :-) So instead, the first chunk of time in the day is devoted to movement. I haven’t written about it yet…soon, I hope.

  7. Sarah Johnson 7 years ago

    Hi Dave, I found your site while I was gathering time tracking forms. Great forms! Very useful!

    In regard to your reflection about resisting creativity, I just started Twyla Tharp’s book, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life. It’s fun to read and really eye-opening. I recommend it! Sarah

  8. Author
    Dave Seah 7 years ago

    Hi Sarah,

    That’s a great book! I totally agree with the recommendation.