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A Personal Reflection On A Creative Project

A little over two years ago, on the day I turned 30 years old, I released the first episode of a podcast entitled, “Christian Anarchy.” It is essentially a podcast devoted to explaining to followers of Jesus that they should not support the violent treatment of peaceful people, alerting Jesus followers to the reality that all Nation-States exist through the violent treatment of peaceful people, and thus followers of Jesus should not support the existence of Nation-States. I was embarrassed to release my first episode.

I’m still a little embarrassed to bring it back up. I do not find the subject matter embarrassing and I’m more confident than ever in the essential message of the podcast. I was embarrassed because at the time, I was a well below average speaker. I knew the podcast would be full of flaws, yet I believed the truth of the ideas themselves would add enough value to listeners that many could overlook my lack of ability. In order to communicate the message in this format, I had to put my weakness in full view of others.

This project resulted in a lot of personal growth. I learned a lot about magic internet stuff and more than I knew existed about audio production. The extent of my previous knowledge of audio recording was: 1. Press record on cassette player. 2. Fart into mic. 3. Rewind. 4. Press play. 5. Giggle. Now I can record, edit, and mix audio and make it sound professional… like a really cheap professional who is bad at his job, but still.

Learning a few new concrete skills in my elderly condition was good for my aging brain. Moreso than this, I became better at things I’ve often thought I could not do. Creating a podcast episode every week was an essential element in working my way up to becoming a mediocre public communicator. I took debate class in high school to avoid speech. I sprinted through every verbal presentation in college. I’ve always avoided monologues. I never thought these forms of public speaking were a skillset I could have. With a lot of practice, and putting myself in vulnerable positions, I’m now a passably decent sermonizer and I crush best man speeches. It turns out you can become better at things you suck when you do it a lot.

Perhaps the most important skill I strengthened is consistent, self-motivated follow through. I have a tendency to be motivated by external factors. Yes, I’ll show up at the event I said I would show up at because others are directly involved. I’ll finish the homework I signed up to finish. I will do the tasks I need to in order to make money. I’ll do what I said I would because others are depending on me. Releasing a podcast every week is different. No one is depending on me, I won’t make money, I have no external obligations. I simply put the work in (sometimes it was a lot) to make it happen consistently because I desired to. My internal motivation was enough.

Despite the near unending list of criticisms I could level at this creative project, it’s by far the best thing I’ve ever produced. I don’t know of any ideas more important and less discussed in our world. Nothing I’ve done has had anywhere near the reach of the podcast. Never have I received so much gratitude and compliments than in email after email people sent me from all over the world in response.

The positive reaction of so many who listened to me talk for 35 hours was disarming. I had to put down the weapons I would normally use against myself because it would have been irrational to use them. Many negative things are true about the show. It suffers from my lack of monologuing ability. It is too dry. It’s too dense for the audio format at many points. The show is redundant in others. It’s boring. My jokes are idiotic. My understanding and knowledge is sometimes very shallow. These things are true, but I cannot use them to shame myself or convince myself I wasted my time. Too many people, too many individuals who are among the most reasonable, open minded, intellectually honest, and compassionate I know, were so happy and grateful I could not take up arms against myself.

One lesson I am in a frequent state of learning is that I should always live disarmed of my own judgment. I do not mean absent of honest self-evaluation, but absent a judgmental mindset which can so easily accompany such self-evaluation. There is little to be gained by self-shame. Nothing to be gained by shaming one’s own creative work. And there is great freedom in being able to create things without fear of what anyone will think about it, including oneself. Shamelessness also creates an inner peace which allows for the kind of honest self-perspective out of which self-improvement can flourish.

In case you are reading this and happen to be interested in glancing at the podcast I’ve been discussing, here: Christianarchy

 

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