What it means to stay on the bus

Make Stuff #39

SENT ON October 29, 2021

It is so tempting. Things don’t work out. We didn’t get the reception we expected. We see others succeed by creating something that feels a bit too easy (funny how it’s never “too hard”). We start to think about pleasing our imagined audience, making stuff that we believe they’ll want. And we get off the bus.

Does that ring true? Then read that piece about Arno Minkkinen right below—it’s worth it.

One of my projects failed this week, so I started two big ones. Like podcast-level ones (but it’s not a podcast). It took me so long to learn to reframe failure and not dwell on it. There is this parable in Buddhism that I find helpful: The second arrow.

Once, the Buddha asked if it was painful to be struck by an arrow and if it was even more painful to be hit by a second one: “‘In life, we can’t always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. This second arrow is optional.”

Failing happens and is usually ripe with lessons. Dwelling on it is not helpful, and there’s a lot to gain by dropping the narrative.

I hope that you enjoy this issue, friend. I’ll be back on November 12. Until then, be well and keep making stuff!



“Stay on the f****** bus” 🚌

I’m a sucker for a good metaphor. This one, by Finnish-American photographer Arno Minkkinen, as told in the Guardian is about persistence and originality. I will quote it often.


How is creativity connected to our mental health? 😩

A compelling article about the toll most creative professions take on one’s mental health, especially for folks starting their careers. And also the beautiful paradox of what heals and hurts at the same time.


Learn anything faster by using the Feynman technique 👨🏻‍🎓

I’m ambivalent about Feynman, the brilliant physicist with killer self-help quotes, but I still found this idea worth sharing: four steps to learn anything. That’s it. My advice for step 2: Don’t pretend—teach!

Bonus content: Feynman’s last words were, “I’d hate to die twice. It’s so boring.”


Our voice is more than the notes we play 🎶

I loved this Instagram carousel by Tanner Guss, aka @thehappymusicians. His definition of a musician’s voice is a lovely code of ethics that each creator can apply to their craft.


“How to Grow Old” by Bertrand Russell 🧓🏽

A short and sweet essay, full of things that are worth implementing while young-ish. The river analogy is lovely.

RELATED: Portraits from Memory: And Other Essays by Bertrand Russell (Routledge, 2020)

📢 Prompt time!

Try this next time you create something that you want to label as “bad.”

Stop working on your piece
Sit in silence for a moment
Look at it
Listen to it
Perform it
Touch it
Now pause
And sit in silence once more
Pay attention to what comes up in your mind and your body
Is it a thought? A felt sense?
What are they telling you?
Listen without attachment or aversion
Write everything down and put your work and your notes away

Repeat these steps the day after
What has changed?
Write everything down and put your work and your notes away

Repeat these steps for a week if you can
What do you notice?
What has changed?
Would you still label this work as “bad?”
It’s Ok if you would
What have you learned about your work?
What have you learned about yourself?

Hit reply, friend, if you feel like sharing your thoughts with me ❤


Twitter wisdom 🦉

For some reason, this tweet from 2020 has popped up in my IG and Twitter timelines again. These lists are super toxic.


“Whether I’m painting or not, I have this overweening interest in humanity. Even if I’m not working, I’m still analyzing people.
-Alice Neel


How to think clearly 🤔

In this essay, Tom Chatfield shows how clarity is essential for self-knowledge and communication. I’ve been writing a lot of marketing copy lately, and the idea of really *really* knowing one’s why is an asset to anyone who has something to promote.

RELATED: How to Think: Your Essential Guide to Clear, Critical Thought by Tom Chatfield (Sage Publications Ltd, 2021)


Same energy 📷

Same.energy is a visual search engine that returns images that share the same energy (as in vibe). The Creative Commons feature is a great way to look for assets that are easier to use than copyrighted ones. I apologize in advance for the hours you might spend getting lost in a sea of similar images.

Thomas Deneuville

Thomas is a creativity coach and mindfulness meditation teacher. Originally from France, he lives in Upstate, NY, with his family and a couple of bagpipes.