Last night, I attended a fundraiser for two organizations I adore who have partnered in the fight – and for assistance in the cases that the fight is lost – against pediatric cancer. Une Belle Vie, a cremation urn company here in Denver, and The Morgan Adams Foundation, a nonprofit that funds pediatric cancer research, came together to create a fund that helps parents who have lost a child to cancer and need assistance with laying their child to rest. It’s real – it happens every day – so we gathered at a place that proved to be a hootenanny of a good time to live it up and raise some money to provide some relief for people who need it way more than you and I hopefully ever will.
The destination was a place called Canvas & Cocktails, which (you guessed it) lets you consume alcohol AND play with paint – color me tickled. Nearly forty of us offered a donation of $65 and then gathered around our easels with our allotted paints, brushes, and libations of choice and got to work on a step-by-step guided lesson on painting an owl.
Here’s the owl:
The instructor guided us first to create the box in the lower left hand corner. I mixed some paint, hit the canvas with my “medium brush,” and well…that’s about where I got frustrated. Fuck this owl. Fuck the owl, the leaves, and its stupid little curly-q decorations.
So we’re getting slapped: you need to own your fucking owl.
When we wake up every day, we pay the price of admission to life. No matter where we are or what we’re doing, we’ve paid. We’re in, and anyone who wants to tell you differently can get bent. Every day is your goddamned owl and it’s entirely up to you what you’ll do with it.
There are some things I know and own:
- I am a shitty artist. I can paint the walls in my house but I have no “vision” – the Sistine Chapel ain’t coming from my brushes.
- I have never done anything that someone told me to do (especially that I didn’t want to do) WELL. I did it adequately (and reluctantly).
- Life is too short to live someone else’s vision, much less paint someone else’s owl.
Own your fucking owl. Over the next two hours, I had one helluva good time painting Apathetic Hipster Owl (complete with horn-rimmed glasses and social statement letter in scarlet hues). Someone else painted what I dubbed Acid Owl.
And then there was the Anti-Owl.
While tons of people in the room opted to go through the instructor-led owl creation process, there were plenty who said fuck that owl and set out to accomplish their own vision. And it’s fine for those who wanted to create a paint-by-process owl. Sometime’s it’s just fun to go through the steps. Yet I think most of us are better suited to our own rendition of whatever our owl might be on any given day.
We live in a world that’s ripe with people who will line up to tell you what you should be doing and just how you should go about doing it. Which I think is precious, because these are the people who I just want to kick in the junkola. Except they’re not worth a kick in the junkola because they’re never going to understand that they have to own their fucking owl. Owning your owl is about living life on your terms and embracing the process. There is no X-step program that can get you to being a self-actualized human and there’s certainly no two-hour process that can turn you into an artist. When you own your (fucking) owl, you embrace the responsibility to pick your colors, choose your path, and if you very well feel like it, you tell the owl to beat it and you paint something else entirely.
I think we all forget way too often that upon waking up each day, we’ve paid that price of admission. The fund I chose to help raise money for didn’t make any less money by my choice to color outside the lines. In fact, its importance in my mind was reinforced by the fact that I decided to own my fucking owl and experience the evening on my terms. It doesn’t matter three fine frog’s ass hairs if I painted an owl that looked like the one the instructor was demonstrating. I had fun, I laughed, the fund raised some money, and I left knowing that I didn’t phone it in.
Quit painting someone else’s owl. And remember – you don’t have to paint a fucking owl at all. I spent the past six months of my life writing a book where I was bound and determined to NOT be that “should” author. You know, the one that makes it sound easy – like every goddamned thing is a step-by-step process and once you follow the steps, BAM! Instant success! Life’s not like that and since business is but a mere subset of life, business sure shit isn’t either. I figured that the best I could do in this book is offer readers:
- Who the hell I am
- Why the hell there’s a book with my name on the cover
- Here’s what I’ve experienced and know to work
- Here are people JUST LIKE YOU (real business owners, not the Zappos and Southwest Airlines and Disney jackwads we’re exhausted hearing about) and how they got things done
There are no juvenile workbooks, but there are suggestions you can take or leave. It’s a book designed to help you own your fucking owl because god knows – I’ve never done well with the shoulds and other associated orders. I’m thinking most people who will pick up what I’m putting down aren’t much a fan of the paint-by-numbers Owl’s Guide to Life, either.
So, yeah. You’ve bought your ticket and there’s no one who can tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing and what fruits your labors will produce. Whatever your destiny in this life, whether rock star, owner of a dry cleaning shop or any iteration in between, it’s your fucking owl. Wake up, pet the sonofabitch, don’t let it get away with biting you, and most importantly FEED it. We’re pussies if we let the owl own us and tell us how it’s going to turn out in the end. And y’know what? If the owl isn’t right, trade it’s ass in on a hippopotamus. And then own your fucking hippopotamus.
You’ve been slapped.