James T. Green is a conceptual artist, radio producer, writer, and educator from Chicago, Illinois, and now in Brooklyn, New York.

thoughts + feelings

68: Beautifully Flawed

This week’s essay: “Beautifully Flawed”

C’ne and I saw that new Pixar movie Inside Out. It was a Sunday and we were the only adults in a theater of families and small children. It was one of the best films I’ve seen in a while and made us both wipe our eyes with our sleeves. For 102 minutes, I was doing mental gymnastics between processing the film and thinking about the feelings I faced when first starting The Studio Visit.

If you don’t know the premise of the movie, it takes place inside the mind of a young woman and focuses into the controlling of emotions, how they work together, nostalgia, and letting go of memories. Without spoiling the film, it hammered home how we are beautifully flawed creatures that are impossible to functionally exist in society with just a one-track mind. In order for us to be a well-rounded human, we must tap into all of our emotions and embrace, for they build upon on one another like puzzle pieces that dynamically take up space according to circumstances.

When I think about the first time I wrote one of these letters, I remembered the place I was—confused, frustrated, scared, nervous, wary towards what to reveal and disclose. I hated myself for those emotions and simmered in disgust over my constant state of flux. I thought a weekly writing prompt would fix it.

It didn’t fix it, but the only difference now is I’m okay with existing in flux.

During Inside Out, I thought about the times (past, present, and let’s be honest, future) that comparisons to others took the foreground of my existence, either while sitting across from them at a bar, or scrolling past their message online. That gut feeling raised from my belly button to my esophagus, the bile in my mouth swirling around the voice that snarles “you don’t have your shit together like everyone else”; how everyone around me seemed, from their external projections, full of joy, confidence, and direction, when in fact they are that same ball of emotions that cry, get angry, and fuss like me.

Then the next time that voice pops in my head, I take a deep breath and remember, we are all beautifully flawed creatures wound in tangled webs of emotion, and we wouldn’t be human without it.

Did you ever have a wake-up call to the validity of your emotions? Hit reply and tell me about it. It may get featured in next week’s letter.

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Responses to last week’s letter, “Quitter”

★ Lauren Ash’s of Black Girl in Om: “Don’t (wait) until you’re ready. Ready is a myth. Go for ‘it’—whatever ‘it’ is to you—now. Let people in on your dreams and desires and watch with fascination how quickly people will come to support and manifest along with you!”

★Saya Hillman of Mac and Cheese Productions: “Make it so you don’t have to do ‘sales’ — create a community that’ll sell your product or service for you via word of mouth, sharing, singing your praises, referrals. The best way to create this community is to go where you don’t belong, e.g. if you’re a designer, don’t always just go to design events; go to an improv class or a tech conference. Also, when you go, GO SOLO. It’s scary, yes. But you’ll meet tons of people.”

★ Cher Vincent of the Open Ended Podcast: “Are you familiar with the ‘Freelancers Union’? They are a great resource for local networking events, great articles, and if you become a member, which is free, they can show you how to get benefits, like health, through them.”

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What did I find interesting this week?

★ I’ve been spinning Hudson Mohawke’s new record, Lantern, on repeat, especially for writing spurts. Here’s a solid interview of him. 

★ Speaking of writing, I keep a pretty rigid routine, aside from the weekly letters. This piece by Shawn Blanc on routine and tricking your mind before it blocks was interesting.

★ Something I can’t listen to while writing is podcasts. Those voices don’t jive well with writing words. Every time I’m not writing, I’m listening to them though, so this New York Times profile on the slow growth of podcasting was a delight.

★ Since freelancing, I’ve been learning even more about money managing, which makes me really wish The Society of Grownups existed in Chicago.

★ Lastly, this quote has been my new go to:

“Being the one in control of what moves me, what I feel obligated by, and what attachments I have to fleeting experiences is not an authority that I’m willing to concede to the arbitrary whims of an app on my mobile phone. I think more and more people are going to retake this agency over their feelings about being social, as well. That’s a joyful thing.”

Read the rest here.

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What’s coming up?

★ Cher and I have a new episode of our podcast, Open Ended, called “Dunkin’ on Fools” with our first guest, Daniel Zarick! You can check out our latest episode on our websiteiTunes, or in any other podcast player.

★ I’ll be in a group exhibition titled Three the Hard Way at The Logan Center in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood with Ayana Contreras and David Leggett. The opening’s on July 10th.

★ I’m going to be showing a (semi) new art piece at this year’s CHGO DSGN: WHEREVER show at LVL3 in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood. The opening’s on July 11th.

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Thanks for reading, and see you next week.

-James

James T. Green