Posted: December 3rd, 2013 | Author: wesley | Filed under: Blog | No Comments »
Red Oxx Gator and a sandwich in the Kootenays, overlooking Okanagan Lake in Summerland, BC
Well, team… 2013 has been a truly incredible year. 12 months ago, you could find me living in Echo Park, working 3 jobs with some 70 hour weeks, and wondering what might be. Inspired by Vandwellers, minimalist travelers —including Tynan and his 2012 gear post— and my own sense of adventure and festival-making, I began to imagine a major life shift. I geared up my Hyundai Santa Fe (now “Panda Fe”) with a futon and a big Thule rack on top. Now I’ve got some 18,000 more miles on my odometer and a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Mexico and Cuba under my belt. I’ve landed in beautiful, almost-quaint Asheville, North Carolina where I’m shacked up for a couple of months of hibernation, skills growth and business development.
It’s not easy running a one-man roadtrip + consulting business on the road. I’ve spent countless hours researching gear, shopping for deals, entering contests and preparing for my many trips and festivals. I’ve learned a lot on the road and I wanted to provide a definitive “Best Of” gear post for the holiday season. Secretly, my hope is that I might inspire you to take a little life detour and experience some sort of adventure in 2014. You don’t have to do it the way I do it, but these gear recommendations really are some of the most flexible, resilient and smart products on the market. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: October 26th, 2013 | Author: wesley | Filed under: Blog | No Comments »
Veve of Papa Legba
I can’t sit here in New Orleans and not be nostalgic for my time spent in college.
I graduated with my degree from UCLA World Arts and Cultures, after taking on a course load that was … let’s call it non-traditional. Non-traditional in the sense that it came from the tradition of everything is a learning opportunity. There were no lines-to-not-cross, and all modalities of learning were fair game: from the Theatre of the Oppressed to Ballet Folklorico, from Haitian Vodou to Koranic calligraphy.
“So… what are you going to do with that???”
That’s the refrain we often hear when pursuing an education off the beaten path. It seems like an innocuous question, one we often wonder to ourselves. But it plagues the student with the perceived need for an answer to life’s greatest mystery. We learn because we love to learn, for the act of learning, and not to force our will upon the lesson. We never know where or how our education will take us, and the things we learned and forgot years ago live within our DNA beyond the utilitarianism of a skill set.
Some concept mapping for a prompt in a college class
That’s what New Orleans is teaching me. As a Freshman, I took an Intro to Folklore class and was “forced” to watch All on a Mardi Gras Day, a film about the Black Indians of Louisiana. Didn’t seem relevant to much, but watching movies in class is never a bad thing. Later, I had a chance to take a class with Donald Cosentino, whose expertise is on Haitian Vodou, Santeria and Candomblé (check out this syllabus!). Needless to say, it was an incredible class, filled with spirits and santos, a window into a world that was far away and yet living in the botanicas on our neighboring streets.
Yesterday, I went into a Voodoo shop and finally had a chance to visit some of these old friends that I had learned about years ago. I see and respect the power that these spirits have in many people’s lives. They are a representation of Trickster or Love or Anger. It is very powerful medicine and shares commonality with a number of ancient and new age modalities of connection. Walk into a voodoo botanica and you will find nag champa, intention candles, crystals, beads, tinctures and all the other usual fixtures. But you will also find the embodiment of the spirits of the Lwa, whose unique characteristics allow a Mambo to communicate with the spiritual world with great precision.
Today, I’m sitting at a Voodoo-y coffee shop with a porch view of the fabulous above-the-ground tombs that New Orleans is so famous for. I’m going back through my coursework and I’m just amazed at the stuff I was learning. I had forgotten the impact of these conversations. They were so academic at the time. Cosentino reciting the names and characteristics of Gede or Damballah, my creation of a digital alter for the latter spirit as a final project. Just going about my academic career in the path of the dark and light as a naive little college kid.
As Halloween approaches, one shop will have Mama Lola herself speak. I could actually go see, in person, a woman I had read about years ago as required reading, who has come up twice with my brother-in-law as an example of a spiritual networker.
It’s incredible the synchronicities that are happening around our self-education.
You have an experience for no particular reason, only to find years later that there was a purpose. Do you believe in coincidence? You can choose to believe that your existence is completely random and a simple aberration in statistical probability. Or you could accept the challenge to direct your own film, cast a wide variety of characters, and let the screenplay write itself through your interactions. You might be surprised by who comes to visit you. Set up the joke but don’t write the punchline.
Posted: October 24th, 2013 | Author: wesley | Filed under: Blog | No Comments »
I came up with a brilliant app idea. What the idea is, specifically, is unimportant to the story, but just know that it’s such a good app idea that as I thought about it, I realized “someone else MUST have done this already.”
But I didn’t pull out my phone and check the app store (also, it helps that I don’t have a smart phone right now). I took out a pad of paper and I started mocking it up, with the understanding that “if someone’s already done this before, I’m going to see it as a sign that I should at least contact them because we’re clearly very similar thinkers and this person must be very awesome.”
Someone else has already done it. It isn’t available for Android and it’s lacking some of the features I imagine it could have. I’m going to contact the people who built it because one of the founders is JUST like me.
From her bio: “I excel at prolific idea generation, brand voice, dealing with crazy people, thinking visually, team love, gut intuition, powerful presentations, getting wonky with research, digital thinking, voraciously following what’s new, and solving problems.” Right?! Great minds think alike.
Here’s my takeaway from this, and it gets down to the core process of ideation: just because it’s been done before doesn’t mean you should feel like it can’t be done again, or done differently, or at least flushed out past that first moment of “oh, someone else thought of this before me.”
Remember, there’s nothing new under the sun.
Recognize that when you come up with a copycat idea, that you’re connecting into a matrix of likeminded people who are quite likely to be closely aligned to your principles. You can always build it: