Let’s Dance!

Ziggy Stardust

“So, what do you do,” an attractive woman asked me at a party in Colorado years ago. 
“I’m a filmmaker,” I said, taking a swig of Fat Tire. I’d just produced a TV commercial, my first, for the magazine where I worked. 
When she stepped away a few minutes later, a friend sitting nearby said, “So now you’re a filmmaker, huh?” His snide tone cut me.

In the ten years prior, I’d been a stockbroker, a film student, a production assistant, a chauffeur and an ad salesman. Was I a filmmaker? I certainly dreamed to be. Did I get paid for my commercial? No.

Recently, I heard a wise man say, “We tend to grow into the labels we place on ourselves.” 

No one shaped-shifted more or better than David Bowie. He was Ziggy Stardust … because he said so. And a huge swath of the world thought him batshit crazy for it. But he never flinched. Very few of us take the idea of persona as far as Bowie, and even fewer have the courage to withstand being mocked for our choices. Yet, at some point, we must each ask ourselves the question – What am I? And then we must publicly affirm it … whatever it is … without hiding behind the fear that perhaps our self description is inaccurate.

No one else gets to define you. So make that definition count.  

All the Information You Need is Right Here. Mixed media, 2015
All the Information You Need is Right Here. Mixed media, 2015, Stuart Sheldon

“Fake it till you make it,” is another way to put it. A mantra I’ve somehow succeeded by.

The moment I sold my first painting for $250, I was a professional artist, as far as I was concerned. Why? Because I said so. And because that is who I always wanted to be. Could I pay the rent? Hell no. But I’d crossed a threshold and decided to make it more than just a cute moment.

First painting I ever sold. Rocks, acrylic and paper on wood, 14x11" 2001
First painting I ever sold. Rocks, acrylic on wood, 14×11″ 2001

The haters and skeptics will always project onto you their own fear and unwillingness to live their truths. They don’t, nor will they ever, have the backbone to put their passion first. I was thirty-eight when I sold that first painting, ten years into my creative odyssey. James Michener wrote his first book at forty. 

“For years and years I roamed, I gazed a gazeless stare.” David Bowie, from ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ (1970)

I too gazed a gazeless stare for years … out the window of the penthouse where I sold stocks and bonds. I didn’t have the guts, like Bowie, to hang it out there as an artist at the time. That fear cut a deep wound. But wounds heal. Now, twenty five years later, my fears of being who I truly am have evolved into fears of being excellent at who I truly am … a very material distinction.

Run Boy

I want my children to not only dream big but chase their big dreams. Catching them is secondary. It’s the chase that builds the muscles … in our hearts and minds. Sometimes, we do catch them. My butterfly net is full right now. And I’m giggling with amazement. 

I’m delighted to share with you this stunning write-up from The New Tropic Magazine, chronicling my best work to date.

The New Tropic's glowing review of Fancy Nasty

Thank you, David Bowie, for a lifetime of ruthless courage and left-field genius. You showed us all how it’s done for 50 years non-stop!

Bowie & Iman

Now, it’s OUR TIME to shine, people. 

This is YOUR year!
This is YOUR year!

And …….. ACTION!

 

33 thoughts on “Let’s Dance!

  1. Stu,
    First, love your blog; always inspires (mentally and creatively).
    Second, as I guy sitting in a cube gazing the gazeless stare out the window at the bare concrete jungle I work in, I want to thank you for showing me, us, the world that anything is possible. I need to find the cajones to pursue the dream. Stay nasty and congrats on your well-deserved success.

  2. Inspired thoughts, simply put. Words to live by for us , our children and the world. Here’s to you chasing and catching your dreams and never giving up! V proud.

  3. Your post delivers the gem once again…wise words to live by and strive for…thanks for continuing to inspire…Stuart and Bowie

  4. what to say. I love ya man, I really love ya. Different in talents, but extraordinariiy talented, both of you. And MENSCH. I am so proud to know you both

  5. We’ll stated! The starman returns back to the stars in a capsule bellowing his mantra: “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” echoing for all eternity…….

    “If you’re ever sad, just remember the world is 4.543 billion years old and you somehow managed to exist at the same time as David Bowie.”

  6. “Time may change me but I can’t change time”….this has been rattling in my head ever since I heard Bowie died. I too am inspired to “build my muscles.” thank you, brother!

  7. Ah Stu, once again you did it…… The pressure pushing down on me! Can’t we give ourselves one more chance? You are so on point. Your children are very lucky.

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