Hmmm. My turn, heh? Got a little theme goin’ “Branding” Well, my last name is aliBRANDO so I should have something to say …
I relate to Christopher because I think my brand is kind of “schizophrenic” [even though at least 2 of my numerous personalities seem to not be schizophrenic]. However, I believe when we practice something a lot our “brand” sort of gels before our eyes.
With a mere two books published I can hardly give a seminar on branding but I did write a column in a small mountain paper for more than 12 years. I started out doing what I really liked experimentally and over time developed something of a rhythm and recipe. I liked it. It guided me and I felt comfortable within a framework no one forced on me. The “branding” became somewhat like a franchise where “customers” anticipated the flavor after some regular consumption. Sure the articles were different and went all over nature and science and even a little philosophy. I used humor but avoided mentioning God or quoting scripture or getting argumentative. I had developed a sense of identity [branding?] in my persona / character / attitude / approach / genre … I really didn’t make a decision and the best part is I didn’t feel boxed in but … at home.
To see 10 years worth of articles in one body of work (the book) and hearing that folks are reading it to elementary school kids is unbelievably rewarding. Like I say to wife “I can die now.” That’s not a morbid statement but a proclamation of satisfaction.
Just today I was asked to be a columnist for a new Christian glossy magazine for Christian educators. That is public schools, youth pastors, pastors and other influential types trying to help others with positive influence. I’m honored of course but immediately shared my concern about whether to do the nature articles or something slightly different. I agree with that “franchise” idea and maintaining some consistency. After one or two articles I am still pretty free to go any direction I want because the pattern is not really established. The founder of magazine told me to do whatever I wanted (that’s trust). She also said I could have color photographs accompany my articles and of course a byline. Sooo cool. Unsolicited. Going to educational leaders and who knows? I am thrilled. (The first issue may not be until January but could be sooner. I’ll mention it when it happens).
My point is I think genuine identity comes from passion and a deep sense of what our motives are. It may be a calling, a deep hurt, a militant resolve, an endless fascination or something else. Now that I’m old [53, but I easily look 52] and don’t fear error as much as I used to, “comfort” is a bigger guide for me. That’s because I’ve been living with me all my life and I have learned that I am not comfortable doing anybody wrong. I am not comfortable being insincere. I am not comfortable with facades. I am not comfortable with half-heartedness. I am not comfortable with considering anyone unimportant. So I have learned that if I am comfortable nowadays, there is a good chance I doing the right thing.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying I’m all stable and secure and certain about everything I’m doing. Like Christopher, I am a glutton for life and once wrote a song with that very title. I will never live long enough on this side of the grave to do the things I deeply desire to do but my anxiety turns to rest when I consider “The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (New American Standard). I also rest knowing eternity will be a creative, wonderful productive time, not a heavenly hammock.
I would encourage all [me included] to be passionate and honest with ourselves, add a dash of courage and mix it all up with love and see the branding God can uniquely make of your life. After all, no one can be you nearly as good as you can.