Feed your soul … and your dark wolf.

 
 

This episode is a real kick in the pants for anyone with a passion project that’s been languishing for far too long in the shadows of “more important things.”

Photo by Barbara Morgan.   “There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”  — Martha Graham

Photo by Barbara Morgan.

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” — Martha Graham

The conversation between Daniel and long-time friend / songwriting partner J. Hawk (aka Joel Marsden) covers a lot of chronological and geographical territory, but sticks pretty closely to one theme: what it really takes to make a life out of art — and vice versa — without selling your soul. According to J. Hawk, it comes down to discipline, focus, a fire in the belly and — shocker — having something to say.

But we live in a world that values consumption over creation. A system that wants us to swallow whatever it’s dishing out, not learn to feed ourselves.

Fortunately, some of us never got the memo. Sounds like writer / ex-musician J. Hawk would sooner starve than give up creating, having already sacrificed his meager life savings, creature comforts, and any conventional sense of security on the altar of self-expression.

That’s the point at which most of us would get off the ride. But maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe we should all be expressing ourselves like our lives depend on it. Because maybe they do. Assuming they’re lives worth living.

Daniel brings up the native American idea that we all have two wolves inside of us, a dark wolf and a light wolf. And the one that’s the most powerful is the one you feed. But he adds, “If you don’t feed the dark wolf, if you don’t walk him around the block a couple times every day, that dark wolf is going to get mean, and he’s going to find a way out.” The evidence of that is all around us. In the news. On the freeway. On Twitter. In life.

Self-expression is the antidote.

It feeds our souls. The dark wolf AND the light wolf. Howling in two-part harmony (more like Exene and John Doe than the Everly Brothers, but you get the idea). And wouldn’t you rather have a well-fed soul than one that’s empty but comfortably numb? If self-expression is the antidote…

Self-awareness is the delivery mechanism.

During the conversation, J. Hawk and Daniel both realize that they had the same epiphany while on tour together in Europe: that band life wasn’t doing it for them anymore. And with years of touring, sacrifice and record label thievery behind him, J. Hawk got out of the van and into the driver’s seat of a whole new creative pursuit. Like a true Essentialist, he uncommitted, despite his decades-long, all-in investment in music. Proof that Stairway to Heaven was right: “There’s still time to change the road your on.” Unless, of course, you enjoy living with regret and resentment.

Otherwise, as J. Hawk would say, “Get busy.” Let your wolves out. But feed them first.

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