Here are the eight things I learned from Danny during my conversation with him in episode #27.
1) Ego & Confidence
“Ego muted, confidence boosted.” - Daniel Clifton Colvin from conversation #27.
How could this be? This statement doesn’t make any sense. How can someone have a humbled ego while still maintaining a high level of confidence?
We often equate ego and confidence to mean the same thing, and that’s why this quote feels so awkward. Nonetheless, the ego and confidence are two separate things.
Ego, in the sense of a “Kanye West like” ego, is something that will always carry with it confidence, but not all confidence carries ego.
Have you ever studied intensely for an exam to the point that you felt confident you’d pass? Have you ever bought a pair of shoes with confidence that you were getting a good deal? Have you ever had the confidence in a family member or a friend where you could share things with them you’d never tell anyone else?
All of these examples may be mild instances, but you can easily see how confidence can take place without ego having to insert itself.
Having an ego is our mind’s attempt to protect itself from what it views to be potentially threatening. Confidence on the other hand openly acknowledges vulnerabilities and proceeds despite them.
There’s a chance that you could’ve failed that exam, bought a cheap shoe, or told someone something that they shared with other people against your will, but we make these types of decisions on a regular basis despite all the things that could go wrong.
With the limited amount of time we have to enjoy life, it doesn’t make sense to identify ourselves with thoughts and ideas that aim to protect more than we seek to find the truth. And with the limited time we have on this planet, it doesn’t seem to be useful to walk around not sure of yourself or of the decisions you’ve made.
Turn up the confidence while turning down the ego.
2) ThE Valley
Danny believes that people settle in valleys and that those who aspire to the mountain tops are also those who strive for bigger and higher things.
He tied this into the Mahoning Valley in that he felt that we’re settling. This idea isn’t to put down Youngstown, but it does point to the potential that Youngstown and cities like it have to offer future of generations.
Whether you’re in a valley or not doesn’t make a difference because the only thing that is going to make a difference in your life is you.
It reminds me of a quote from the book Letters from a Stoic by Seneca that I penned down and left on my office desk right before I took off to the West Coast for the first time.
After a week spending time out west and being blown away by the beauty, warm weather, and culture, I came into the office the next Monday to read this:
“…instead of traveling you are rambling and drifting, exchanging one place for another when the thing you are looking for, the good life, is available everywhere.”
It’s a quote that I needed at that time, and it reminded me exactly why I wrote it down in the first place.
Whether you’re in an actual valley or a metaphorical one, salvation is not going to be found outside of it because the only place it can come from is within you.
3) CLINGING TO THE PAST
“You can’t have what isn’t there". Danny said in his episode of the podcast.
This quote was about Youngstown, a place that has a rich history and although a promising future, some people in the area are stuck in the past.
This mindset goes beyond Youngstown or wherever you’re from because the only way regret exists is if you allow the past to live as well.
This isn’t a knock on history or the memories that you cherish, but all the things you beat yourself up over is always about things that happened in the past. How can you move on? You can’t because you’re stuck in the stories that you believe to be the past and allow it to define who you are currently.
I’m reading a great book recommended to me by my cousin Araya, that’s titled “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle.
The title is pretty self-explanatory of what the concept of the books is, but a fascinating point it makes is that time is an illusion that the mind uses to make itself useful and to gain attention.
Just think about how the mind uses time to either place us in the past or put us in the future, two areas that are out of our control and also not the present moment.
The only thing that the universe grants us is this moment in time, and when we find ourselves “time traveling” via the mind, we also find ourselves in a place that isn’t real, that isn’t controllable, that isn’t us.
If you’re experiencing pain right now, ask yourself if that pain is coming from the present moment. When I’m dealing with pain (psychological/emotional/spiritual), it’s happening due to my mind regretting the past or worrying about the future.
Clinging to the past is hopeless because there’s nothing to hang on to. We subconsciously understand this concept, and that’s why we start freaking out when we become attached to the stories that we tell ourselves about what did happen and about what might happen next.
You can't have what isn't there, but you can have what's right here: This present moment in time.
4) WHAT IS ART?
“Art taps into something invisible.” - Danny Clifton Colvin
Have you ever felt something after hearing a song you liked? Or felt a sense of anticipation at the end of a scene that leads to the next in a movie? Or re-read a sentence in a book that seemed explicitly written for you?
What is that feeling? What does it do and where does it originate? I don’t know, but I do know that that type of energy is invisible.
It’s not like someone forced you to bob your head to that song, or get nervous about what’s coming next on screen, or make you say ‘hmm’ when you read that sentence.
There was energy there that brought this "magic" to you or instead, from within you.
That’s god. Not god in the sense of an older, greying gentlemen with a beard who floats in the sky, but in the sense of the intangible that is felt.
Art is a vehicle for that. Author and marketer Seth Godin's definition of art is “Art is the ability to create change as a result of your work.”
That change delivered can come in infinite ways, but the intentional focus you put towards working on something to express your perspective which gives us a small glimpse into your consciousness is art. The change created, and the intangible spirit felt is what brings us closer to oneness, closer to the source, closer to the whole.
5) STORIES EVOLVE
One of the things Danny alluded to during his episode was that his screenplay he’s working on, “At Long Last,” has evolved over the past 20+ years of working on it.
Stories evolve because we evolve.
Stories are dynamic, and they change. Why is this important to understand? Because humans view life through a narrative form and if you know that stories constantly flux, then the changes that arrive in your world won’t have such a significant blow to the way you view life.
It’s also an essential concept to understand when it comes to learning. I’ve read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius numerous times and each time I go back to it I learn something new. This is because certain things hold different meanings during different parts of life.
So don’t give up on yourself when you feel like you’re life has changed to the point where it’s no longer recognizable and don’t give up on learning from the people, places, and books because they may have more to offer over the span of a lifetime rather than just experiencing them once.
6) Everything is One
“Everything is a microcosm of eternity” - Danny Clifton Colvin
This idea is simple yet also profound. Of course, everything that happens is just a small part of the whole, but sometimes we get so caught up in the momentum of life (I.e., bills, TV, sports, relationships) that we find ourselves consciously separated from the fact that we are all one.
How can this be? How are we one when you are there, and I am here? Well, aren’t we on the same planet? That is in the same solar system? That is in the same galaxy? Which is in the same universe?
We’re one at some level which means we’re one at all levels.
By sharpening our focus and broadening our awareness, we can see the whole universe reflected in the smallest of acts.
Your Mother buys you a sweater, and that’s a small example of how mother nature provides for you. You hear a song that makes you move which is a small example of vibrations that harmonized to the point of transferring energy in your environment. You sit at a red light and use that time to be present and grateful for all the good in your life which makes you one less anxious and obnoxious driver on the road.
Every small step is part of the big step. Every inch is part of the mile. And everyone is part of the One.
7) The SPIRIT OF NATURE
During the conversation I had with Danny, we readily acknowledged the environment we found ourselves in at Mill Creek Park.
The “spirit of Mill Creek park” as Danny phrased it. There’s something special about nature that brings a sense of peace and tranquility to mind. I love sitting in nature, and when it comes time for me to leave, I feel a sense of being ripped out of a place that makes me stronger.
With our modern lifestyle of living in climate controlled houses, working in office buildings, and riding around in metal tubes called cars, it may seem a shame that this type of lifestyle isn’t conducive to the environment the outdoors provides.
How can I find that same peace, tranquility, and strength at the office, or in the kitchen, or at a stop sign? The answer is that I can find it anywhere because it is everywhere.
Peace, tranquility, strength, among others, are aspects of life that come from within and not from outside. You cannot purchase the feeling or obtain more objects to receive more of it. You cannot leave it because you do not go to it. That same state of consciousness we receive in nature merely is our nature revealing itself in an environment that has fewer stimuli to distract us from it.
We can carry that same natural feeling with us by being aware and present of what’s within us.
You don’t have to drive to a national park or live in the mountains to find you, you just have to be willing enough to be yourself, to be with yourself, and that road will ultimately lead to the same spirit found in nature.
8) UNITY, JOY, PEACE
One of the central themes I’ve picked up from all guests I’ve had on the podcast to date is a similar desire for humanity to reach a deeper level of unity, joy, and peace.
I don’t know if this is the hippy in me, but perhaps a scenario could exist where a world of people realize that we’re all in this together and trying to figure out something that didn’t come with a manual: Life.
Life is better when we’re united because it exposes us to experiences and perspectives that add to the wellbeing of our existence.
Life is better when there’s a sense of joy because happiness is good. Even if you're a sadist, you’re happy when you’re not happy so… yeah.
When I think of peace, I picture myself with my shoulders dropped, and my jaw unclenched. Doesn’t the thought of this position alone make you feel better? Doesn’t it feel more relaxed and encourages the thinking that things are going to be okay?
We want that feeling and having that feeling makes us a better person, and in a world that’s filled with people, a better person brings us that much closer to a better world.