Each year I hold a vision board party. I invite a handful of creative friends over, make a pot of chili and cornbread, and we make a mess on the floor of my apartment as we get to work shaping what we want our lives to look like for the next year with glue sticks, pictures from magazines, scissors, spoons, bowls, and posterboard.
Some years, a really talkative bunch comes over and we get into some really great conversations about what we want all the specific areas of our lives to look like: career, family, money, relationships, love, friendships, health, etc. Other times, it’s a very introspective, quiet group of artists - this year the room was nearly silent - and conversations took place in other ways besides words.
As I’ve come to better understand the vision board and my creative process, I’ve also come to understand how community intrinsically builds change: My biggest and most important ideas have come when I’m in the midst of others - not in isolation. I may paint in my studio, play the piano in my practice room or write alone at my laptop, but my spark always comes from another place, a place connected to others.
Every year, I tend to run into an obstacle that prevents me from making my own vision board. As a free spirit, I’m apt to rebel against authority, even when I’m the authority figure. My conversation typically goes something like this, “Who do you think you are telling me I have to make a vision board with these materials, with these people during this prescribed time?”
And so, I usually end up making - if I even make one at all - a really lame vision board. (It’s my own little rebellious vision board secret). Everyone thinks it’s because I’m attending to all the hosting duties - making sure my friends have scissors and refills - but it’s not.
I like to apply my own golden rule: If You Have a Good Idea Don’t Do It. What does this mean? The same ideas often lead to the same results. How many times have you comforted yourself by ordering Pad Thai at the same Thai restaurant or watching The Princess Bride for the hundredth time? Having your own private rebellion against yourself sometimes leads to new and different paths where there’s no telling what you might discover.
This year, during the party, in the midst of my private mutiny I was hit with a flash of divine inspiration, something I define as a “Moment in Rice” in my recent TEDtalk.
Rather than comply with the usual rules of typical dreaming - pasting **yawn**yawn** onto my posterboard **yawn**yawn** pictures of all the things **yawn**yawn** I’ve been dreaming about for the past year: Becoming a Dad and a husband, having a New York Times Best Selling book, performing my solo show on Broadway, taking storytelling into large stadiums - I envisioned an idea that was so outside of the box that it was outside of the box that was outside of the outside box.
I decided I wanted to tell stories on the moon. Yes, the very moon that shines down on all of us earthlings. And when the thought hit me, I was nearly bowled over by butterflies. It seemed so crazy and so outside the box of the outside box that I was too nervous to tell anyone.
As I began searching through magazines for a good picture of the moon, I knew I was onto something. From past experience I know the recipes for the best dreams always include: a few hundred butterflies, a sprinkle of fear, a bit of “I don’t know how in the world I’m going to pull this off?” and a teaspoon of “If I tell anyone this they’re going to think I’m crazy.”
And so, I created a vision board with a photo of the moon and the word storytelling (cut in the shape of an arrow pointing to the moon) and gave it a home on my kitchen table.
Your vision board will speak to you in subtle and not so subtle ways. It’s inevitable. The typical rules of time and space don’t apply. You must learn to listen. After a few weeks of listening to my vision board during my morning bowl of cereal, it became clear that my vision board needed a theme song. It’s purpose? Something I could carry through the streets of my travels and sing aloud, sprinkling and spreading my dream into the ether and the minds and hearts of others. The video below is the result. It is what I define as phase two of the vision board.
Slash Coleman, M.A.Ed. is an award-winning writer and performer best known for his PBS special and Off-Broadway one-man show, The Neon Man and Me. more...