July 19, 2019
I follow Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity’s blog. I like the way he thinks, he and I are of the same opinion on a lot of different things. This morning his entry is about the four burner theory, quoting David Sedaris, “One burner represents your family, one is your friends, the third is your health, and the fourth is your work. The gist is that in order to be successful you have to cut off one of your burners. And in order to be really successful you have to cut off two.”
Chris wanted comments, feedback and thoughts on the issue. I skimmed through the comments and was surprised to find that most of the comments ends up straying from the issue and attempts to define SUCCESS. Or the comments are about creatively combing different burners so that one could achieve SUCCESS.
In PR, they teach you that if you don’t like the conversation, change it. Give them something else to talk about. I believe that to be true when we discuss large issues in metaphorical terms as well. Sometimes the metaphor is incorrect, inappropriate, limiting. The metaphor sets you up to be self-defeating. Alright, then lets change the construct, lets find a new metaphor.
What if instead of seeing our lives as 4 burners as we talk about in terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Divide your life into 5 separate yet equally important parts much like the 5 major organs in TCM: heart, lung, spleen, liver, kidney. In TCM everything informs everything else, all inter-connected, all inter-related. Your body will not function properly without any one of the 5 organs in place, would not function well without any one of them in good health. Why would you assume that your life would function properly, if you cut off any one aspects of your life?
Sure, competition is tough. We are all glued to our blackberries / iphones. My blackberry is the first thing I reach for upon waking and the last thing I see before I turn out the lights. I do not fall short on ambitions or my desire to change the world. But I believe that true success is being able to have all 5 organs healthy and happy. I believe that I could have great relationships with my friends, family, be healthy spiritually / mentally / physically and I could still achieve world domination while finding time to play, frolic and dream.
When I was learning photography, my fellow students would always ask how was the particular photo created. Our instructor, Bobbi Lane, would always say, well, it depends. What do you mean? How was it lit? What was the f-stop, the shutter speed, how far where you standing from the subject, and on and on. Well, everything depends upon everything. All of those variable will change depending on everything else. Her comments elicits an incredible amount of frustration amongst my classmates. My life informs my art and my art informs my life. I cannot create unless I am well, in all ways. When I am not, whether be it physically or mentally, the work suffers. What is harder is giving myself the permission to take the time I need to see to that part of my life that is in need of attention.
Once again, you may protest and say but the competition in tough. Yes it is. My mom argued with me fiercely when I told her that I wanted a life in the arts. She said she wish that I would pick something easy. Be a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant. I said, “Mom, you don’t think the competition is tough in the world of lawyers, doctors and accountants? What job comes with a no competition, stress free guarantee?”
What can you re-define today?
What metaphor / construct is no longer working for you? Can you create a new one?
* I think Eddie is doing what you think he is doing…..from Backspacer Tour, Sept 2009. I was fortunate enough to have access to shoot them that day from the front of stage.
All copyright reserved Charlie Grosso Photography 2009
No four burners, choose five organs instead. Got it.
Thanks, Charlie – you're awesome. But you know that.