I used to see myself as the mystic on top of the mountain: a deep scout of the mind, investigating the vastness of consciousness, living off the land, spending my days meditating in caves, practicing exotic yoga poses, and expanding my soul with deep breathing.
This was the romantic childhood version of my future. If we’ve met you know that I’m not nearly wise enough to claim anything close to mystic status.
I experimented with being a lone wolf: wandering the country by motorcycle, car, and bus; challenging myself to find out what it means to be alive, asking what it means to be a man, and pondering how we are all connected. It was an incredible adventure that I sold to myself as exploring the edges of my emotional universe.
That lifestyle had a richness to it, but I could feel that something was missing. In a library just off of a rural highway, I stumbled across the cinematic adaptation of The Razor’s Edge starring Bill Murray. I watched it again and again. It is the story of Larry, a man who is disillusioned by his suburban life and seeks spiritual awakening in a remote Himalayan temple. Larry is asked why he eventually left the temple and his reply changed the course of my life: “It’s easy to be a holy man on top of a mountain.”
I was astounded! I was not physically isolated, but emotionally I was a closed country. Whenever I found myself in a group of people, I saw that I enjoyed being in the mix. But I would always hold something back. In time, I challenged myself to share my ideas. I realized that I actually thrived when I was with people, my people. The best times were when we would work together to achieve a creative goal. I loved it! And I still do.
When I first get an idea, I swim in it. I experience it to its endpoint. Then I let it go, let the idea live the way it wants to live. I share what I have and allow it to mix and mingle with others. I have found that some ideas are best expressed as a purely singular vision, but most will benefit from the input of collaborators. Even if they only retain a whisper of another’s voice.
I now see creative collaboration as communion. All of my experiences go into it, and it provides true self-reflection. My ego still gets tested when I collaborate, I
think everyone else’s idea is better than mine. So I take a deep breath, get over myself, and enjoy the process of sharing with people.
I still ride my motorcycle alone. I need to recharge for my group experiences, but now I look up at the mountain and smile. If I want to go to the top, to explore what it means to be alive, I’ll do it with others. As a truly wise man once said, “We move better together.”