JustJinx blog

What Do You Hold Dear?

This first appeared in China’s Ningbo Guide Magazine in January 2015 in a monthly column called Just Jinx.

Gestation is important to each of us, for we are repeatedly granted the process of developing new life and birthing it into the world. May each of you rebirth yourselves and may each of you ponder what it is that you hold dear. You are dear to me. – Jinx

 

 

Hold your vulnerability dear. Claim the invincible vulnerability of the human heart. Dismiss any teachings that vulnerability is weakness. Vulnerability is your strength. Everything will not go your way, nor should it do so. It is when life wrestles with you and tells us that we must learn a lesson that we mature, and seldom before. We cannot evolve into our potential when we remain frustrated and defensive. Connection is why we are here and in order to feel connected we must be excruciatingly vulnerable. Without claiming our vulnerability we cannot feel our own worthiness. Do not medicate your vulnerability. Researcher Dr. Brene Brown says that “vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper or meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” Vulnerability is where courage and fear meet.

Hold engagement in life dear. Commit to sustaining your attention and effort to something, whether it is work, raising children, a creative endeavor, assisting the marginalized, or a relationship. Use your own personal skills, crafts, strengths, passion, and interests to lead the way. Commit to a relationship with someone or something. It is the engagement and continued effort to affirm, trust, problem solve, forgive and respect that enhances each of us and sustains our worthiness by allowing us to recognize our strengths and pursue our goals.

Hold a child dear. You do not have to be a parent, teacher, or coach. Children are everywhere. Learn to leap tall buildings for a child- any child, anywhere. Children are wise. They sense all that we deny. Offer them a sense of safety even in the midst of danger. They know the danger and are the first to experience human wrong. Commit to helping one child know that not all is wrong in the world. Help a child desire to understand and feel effective in the social world.

Hold laughter dear. Release the endorphins that make you feel better and change your body chemistry. Laughter spans all ages, cultures, and languages. Laugh with strangers, with lovers, with everyone. Laughter creates connection and fosters intimacy. Risk it. Risk it repeatedly.

Hold assisting someone dear. In many parts of the world, an 18-year-old can graduate from high school without ever having had to do a piece of work on which somebody else truly depended. There are too many of us who live without ever having cared for, or even held, a baby; without ever having looked after someone who was old, ill, or lonely; or without ever having comforted or assisted another human being who really needed help. No culture can long sustain itself unless its member has learned the sensitivities, motivations, and skills involved in assisting and caring for other human beings.

Hold leaky margins dear. As cultures are becoming more permeable, the deep culture of our own interior space is rising up to give us perhaps more access to the possibilities both within and without ourselves. Have leaky margins and honor a sense of connectedness and interdependence with others. Broaden your ego boundaries so that other people can be experienced as part of the self.

Hold responsibility dear. Responsibility is when you are aware of others and aware of their feelings. Responsibility is taking charge of yourself by looking at others around you and seeing what they need and seeing what you need…and taking the initiative. Responsibility is seeing one’s daily actions within a larger social context and owning that one’s actions have social and political implications. Live in ways that are consistent with your values.

Hold gratitude dear. Expressing gratitude for something or someone positive in our lives erodes the ability for us to take things for granted. Be aware and appreciate all that is valuable and meaningful in your life. To take food, shelter, love, friends, family, and work for granted simply means you walk with blinders. Take nothing and no one for granted. Learn to bow to all.

Hold the arts dear. The minutiae of existence, the micro-narrative, can drown out the voices of the past and future- the memories and echoes of what humans hold dear. The arts, culture, and the world of ideas allow us to hear those voices loudly again. They allow us to hear once more who it is we are and what we dream of doing and all that we have suffered through in our attempt to live. Make some form of the arts your pursuit and your favorite pastime. With every book, play, performance piece, sculpture or painting there is a conversation. Inviting the arts into your life takes you on a journey with others. Art is always made together.

Hold equality dear. “No person, I think, ever saw a herd of buffalo, of which a few were fat and the great majority lean. No person ever saw a flock of birds, of which two or three were swimming in grease and the others all skin and bone.” –Henry George, American political economist (1839-1897). We are different from each other and that is the way it should be. Yet the economic, civic, and health dangers are apparent with the world’s growing inequality. We pay a high price for massive inequality. The fundamental issue is whether we fight each other for access to basic necessities or whether we recognize each other’s needs and share access. Each day find some small way to find room at your table. Share.

Hold freedom dear. Life is a risk we’re incredibly fortunate to experience. Freedom without action does not exist. Freedom is the experience of a desire being acknowledged, chosen, and pursued. Desire concerns the changing of something. Desire is wanting. Freedom does not constitute the fulfillment of that wanting, but the acknowledgment of its supremacy. Choose what you want carefully and assist others in their pursuits.

How to Reframe Your Problems

Photography by Joshua Rawson-Harris

There are problems and then there are problems.

The big ones are fierce, ugly, life-threatening, and gut-wrenching. The rest are created (and nurtured) in our heads.

I know this personally. I have sat in the belly of the whale for years not working on skills I wanted to learn, books I wanted to write, damaging relationships that needed to end, ways to become financially independent, and dreams that yearned for attention. Ironically, I was successful at the really big problems that endangered my physical and mental survival and I was good at solving other people’s problems.

Yet I found dozens of reasons not to accomplish many things I held dear: I was unworthy, I was too old, I was a fake, there wasn’t enough time, no one would care, I lacked training, money, time, and connections. The list went on ad nauseam. 

Recently I have been complaining about the massive learning curve and budget required for website marketing and SEO of my new site JustJinx.com. I hadn’t owned the fact that it would take more time, energy, and skill than creating hundreds of art pieces. I whined and groaned inside. Oh, woe is me!

I thought I had solved a problem by creating an imaginative way to raise money to assist those in need of assistance and recognition.

I wanted to believe that I had created a website selling printable art as a rational decision. This was not true. I made an emotional decision and then created a rational explanation to justify it. Most of us do this. My goal is to learn to make decent art available at affordable prices and donate part of the proceeds to the Living Arts Corporation to assist those that I know who are truly struggling as a result of the pandemic.

If my goal was to help people, I had better create better feelings.

Finally, I had a chat with my lonesome self and owned the truth about my problems. 

We solve one problem only to exchange it for another problem.

And this, dear reader, is a good thing. 

All human activity boils down to this: we trade one set of problems for another. Problems are simply a component and attribute of life. Problems hold the promise of moving us forward.  There will always be problems, obstacles, complications, and struggles.

Each time we solve one we get to welcome a new direction with different problems. 

Our problems become our possibilities. 

May we all be pregnant with possibility.  

Jinx Davis is an actress, artist, and entrepreneur. During the Covid pandemic, she created hundreds of paintings that she turned into printable art to help support the Living Arts Corporation.

Taking First Steps

Taking First Steps

Photography by Yang Miao

My year-old grandson took his first solo steps this week. My son sent me the video. The child is standing and leaning on the couch next to his mother’s legs. The father is standing by a door and calls, “Come here, Buddy. Come here”. The toddler laughs, turns, and suddenly starts walking towards his father. He makes 6 or 7 steps before he falls and is scooped up by a beaming Dad.

Children don’t plan to start walking. Plans are great but they won’t get us walking. We learn by starting. We take that first step.

Across the decades of my life, I have been many things: a one-room school teacher; a pineapple picker; an actress, a children’s librarian; a pro se litigant winning 26 federal and district court cases (including patent infringement); made many solo journeys across the nation to understand my culture and create theater pieces; a radio producer; a shop owner; a kindergarten teacher; a storyteller in over 500 schools; a restaurant owner; a performance artist; a theater director; a cocktail waitress; a serial entrepreneur; a roofer; a director of a charity; a website designer, etc., etc. I had little or no plans to do any of the jobs and projects I undertook.

I am not bragging. Just like a toddler, we build on our experiences and survival instincts, not our plans. We take our first steps because life demands it. 

Yes, I have plans for what I would like my art for charity website to become.  Yet, I know something far more important than my plans:

We learn by doing. Doing demands effort.

Jinx Davis is an actress, artist, and entrepreneur. During the Covid pandemic, she created hundreds of paintings that she turned into printable art to help support the Living Arts Corporation.

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