James Wisdom realized at age 40 that he was going to die someday and, while he loved what he did and the life he had built, he felt like he was going through the motions in a lot of ways and doing all the things he was supposed to be doing. So he made some changes and his life looked very different at the end of the year than it did at the beginning, which included changing his career, ending a long-term relationship, changing his friends, and even where he lived and his lifestyle. He talks a lot about discomfort and how it can be a useful feeling, despite how much we all work to avoid it. James uses the language of art and philosophy to reflect on where he’s been and where he’s going.

Guest Bio

James Wisdom is a nationally exhibited and world-renowned fine artist, illustrator, and tattooer. James, is currently enjoying a thriving art, illustration, and tattooing practice; he is also an educator, scholar, and author. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a specialization in oil painting from the American Academy of Art and his Master of Fine Arts degree in studio arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In addition to his artistic interests, James has contributed to various publications such as Ninth Letter, Studio Visit Magazine, and he is a contributor to the upcoming Anthology of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit (Philosophy Portal, 2022). He hosts a weekly drawing and tattoo-themed stream that can be seen on Reinventing the Tattoo, streamed on YouTube, and Facebook.

Meet James Wisdom

Forty was a big year of transformation for James Wisdom. He was in a long term relationship, a full time instructor at an art college in Chicago and, though he loved what he did and where he was, he felt like he was going through the motions in many ways. Then came the realization that he was forty and was going to die eventually and that he was doing all the things he thought he was supposed to be doing. He resigned his teaching position and went back to his true love, tattooing.  

Quitting his job gave James the space to be creative and to build something new, even though he didn’t know exactly where he was going. He became more open to friendships than he had been in the past and felt like there was a wide world of opportunity for him to step into. 

James has a weekly tattoo and drawing themed podcast that streams on YouTube and Facebook in partnership with a tattoo education company. He says he’s teaching a lot of the same subjects he taught at the art college, without the barrier of tuition. After years of study and teaching, he developed his own interpretation of the fundamentals and he’s presenting that in an accessible way now, which he finds rewarding. 

He has also separated from his long-time partner and moved out of Chicago. His new tattooing job is in Indianapolis, about a 4 hour drive and a world away culturally from Chicago. 

Living Intentionally

Around the time he turned 40, James began to reflect on who he was and what he was doing. He wondered about destiny. He appreciates where he came from and knows that he wouldn’t be where he is now without all of the things that came before. He tries not to live with regrets. He says it’s difficult to accept who you are and everything that you’re responsible for. He thinks that if you’re demonizing yourself or your past, then you’re not appreciating the big picture.  

James is doing his best to accept and be present for the transformation taking place in his life now because, he points out, this part will only happen once in this lifetime. He’s optimistic for the future because of the seismic shifts he’s already experienced. They’ve given him a new perspective of what’s possible. So rather than regretting past choices, he approaches those reflections with the perspective that he’s learned from those experiences and won’t make those choices again. That’s how we can accept who we are and not have so much resentment for ourselves and for others. 

If we’re not being our true selves, or who we truly want to be, it’s probably out of fear. The way to overcome fear is experience, learning how to navigate situations and doing better when we face them next. 

Values

Another thing James reflected on was his values and how the path he had been on was not in alignment with things he valued. He values family and friendship and says there were a lot of ways that he had neglected being a good family member or friend. He feels like, in his earlier years, he had focused on seeking pleasure and looking for the easiest way, even though he values hard work and excellence. And while pursuing these values may cause discomfort, there’s pride in not taking the easy road and delaying pleasure seeking until you’ve accomplished what you set out to do. 

This is something James learned through drawing. One of the things he teaches is how to draw the human body. People tend to want to start with the thing they’re most attracted to, whether it’s a foot or a fingernail. And while it may be pleasurable to start with that right away, you’ll end up with a better result if you follow the process and build the foundation. 

James thinks there’s a lot of value in delaying gratification, laying the foundation and preparing a place for the thing that you want. 

Visual Art is a Language

James is philosophical about the role of visual art in the world. He says visual art is a language. There’s space between us as individuals and we can fill it with language and other forms of expression, including visual art.  He says visual art resonates with people because it speaks to their consciousness. 

James thinks artists are important because they create culture. And while people may be afraid of calling themselves “artist,” he thinks that also comes from fear – being afraid of judgment and criticism. But the simple act of practicing your art helps you become more comfortable with who you are. “The more familiar that you are with how it is that you make things, the more comfortable that you are with it, the more confidence that you show. And confidence is sexy.” 

There’s something rewarding and freeing, James says, about having the confidence to use a language, whether it be spoken, drawn or another form. But using any language requires practice and experience and that requires being uncomfortable sometimes. 

Life is a Journey

James says that, while “life is a journey, not a destination” is a slogan that’s so common it’s become banal, the experience of those words is something else entirely. He says that if you’re planning for something in the future, whether it’s retirement or getting into heaven, you don’t have to be as present because you’re focused on the destination. You can become detached, alienated from now. Living in the future can be just as detrimental to us as living in the past. 

The more interesting thing to do is to be present in your daily life. If you focus on enjoying the journey rather than the security of the anticipated destination, the reward is the experience. If you overlook that in your hurry to get somewhere else, you’re missing a big piece of life. And, besides, you’re not guaranteed to reach that anticipated destination. 

James met a Buddhist who said to him, “”The next time that you’re sitting in your car and there’s traffic all around you. Don’t ‘I’m in traffic.’ You have to say that ‘I am the traffic.’” We’re always a part of where we find ourselves and once we separate ourselves as being different from what’s going on, that’s where we can become resentful of others and feel a need to escape. But if we’re willing to be present, we may find that the fear was worse than actually being present.

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Transcript

Stephanie: Hey James. Nice to meet you. Thanks so much for joining me today.

James: Absolutely. Stephanie, thanks for having me. It's a pleasure to. To be on your 40 Drinks Podcast and to meet you finally.

Stephanie: I'm really interested to hear your 40 story, in part because you are just a few days shy of turning 41 and this year has been transformational for you. Is that correct?

James: Yes, that's correct. Yeah. Big year.

Stephanie: Before we get to 40 in the transformation, tell me a little bit about where you were in your life in your late thirties. Just sort of set the stage for us.

James: Sure. I was teaching full time as an instructor, at an art college in Chicago and, really, really loving it, to be honest. It was a lot of responsibility, but it was also this incredible challenge and just really fulfilling to have students and to watch them matriculate and to, just to be a part of their story in some small way. So, majority of my thirties I was an art teacher. In my personal life, I had a long term relationship and I was renting an apartment in Chicago and, uh, I think just kind of going through the motions in many ways. And so, I think when it kind of dawned on me that like, I'm 40 and I'm eventually I'm gonna die, eventually somebody's gonna have to take care of me. You know what I mean? When I get old and I get sick and I didn't have a family and I didn't own anything and, you know, and, um, all my education, was really expensive. And so I was doing these things that I thought were, what I was supposed to do.

Stephanie: Yeah.

James: And I think that like, maybe there is a bit of supposed to do, and maybe there were other things I was supposed to do, too, possibly that I missed. But again, I think, it's been this unfolding of, reality, the way that things occur has been, um, It's been very instructional for me. So anyway, I resigned my position at at the academy and I went ahead and, I got back into tattooing. So I'm a tattoo artist. That's really my history. I tattooed for many years and then I went into academia now I'm tattooing. I'm working as a commission based artist, rather than just relying on just becoming a teacher. I still educate and I still have students, but, I'm also pursuing a professional practice and I'm continuing my studies in academics as well. I was recently a contributor to a philosophical book. It's an anthology of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, so if you're into philosophy, it's coming out in just a couple of days.

Stephanie: Wow. Tell me about how it felt to walk in and quit your job.

James: Well, it was, you know, of course it's, it's terrifying, to leave the security of your job, especially if it's, one you consider a real career and one that you've really worked hard to achieve some success at it. There's some trepidation to be sure, but I think that in the long run, it's gonna create more space for somebody new, you know, somebody else is gonna come along and do a really great job, and then also it's gonna create space for me. It's gonna allow me the space to be able to be creative. It's gonna allow me the space to do something new as well. I was anxious when I first did it with a little bit of hindsight, I'm glad I really think it was the right decision for right now.

Stephanie: When you left your teaching position, did you know what you were gonna do next, did you have something lined up or were you just taking a leap of faith? I know you had a talent to go back to, but did you know where you were going?

James: No, I didn't. I'm still working on that, still working that out, too. But, at the time, you know, um, I think I was meeting a lot of new friends and I was starting to be more public facing, I think. I'd always avoided social media and I'd always avoided like, I probably avoided a lot of like, relationships to be honest, you know? Anyway, I was just becoming much more open to friendship and much more open to suggestion. So, it really seemed like a wide, wide world out there with lots of opportunity. That's what I wanted, I wanted to explore that a little bit more and I was beginning to start to develop a really fun thing that I do - I have a weekly podcast. It's a tattoo and drawing themed stream. It's seen on YouTube, we cast to, uh, Facebook and it's also through a tattoo education company. So there's a similarity or there's a parallel to what I was doing and to how I'm doing that now.

James: So

James: Instead of the incredible tuition, I'm essentially teaching a lot of the same things subject-wise, that had that barrier to entry and it had that sort of there's, there is something you get, right? You get this certificate at the end of your college experience. If you pass everything, you get this degree and it can certainly open doors for you, but the knowledge that is retained within, I think, I wanted to like give more access to that. So after years of careful study, I've developed my interpretation of what I think are, are the fundamentals for my subject, and so I'm trying my best to disseminate that in an accessible way now. And it's been really rewarding. That's what I was starting to go through, you know, as I was preparing to leave my teaching position.

Stephanie: Very cool. You mentioned that you had been, in your thirties, in a long term relationship, anything shift there?

James: Well, yeah, we've since separated, and I think that's for the best. We have different paths in our lives. We were together for a long time and, I think we helped each other out a lot. And so it was, fairly amicable and now we're totally separated. We never got married, and so that ended up being kind of a blessing in the end, because now there isn't any messy divorce.

Stephanie: Right,

James: We're all the way separated. You know, she took her stuff and I took my stuff and there wasn't anything to fight about. So, I think that's, that's a real blessing, you know, that I don't have any of that entanglement in my life.

Stephanie: Yeah. You said you even shifted your home and your lifestyle. Tell me a little bit about those.

James: well, sure. I moved away from the city. I was living in Chicago for many years, over 15 years, the same place too, the same neighborhood with the same neighbors and stuff. So, since then I've been really relying on my network of family and friends to sort of hold me, you know, and, to provide places for me to be, uh, while I'm trying to figure out like where it is, I'd like to be more permanently. But my tattooing job is in Indianapolis, Indiana. So, I've been spending quite a bit of time down there.

Stephanie: For those of us on the coast, how far between Chicago and Indianapolis? Is that a drive? What kind of space is that?

James: They are fairly close, you could hop in a jet and be there in a few minutes, but it's also, it's about three or four hours by car. And they're just a world apart, too. They're totally different places, you know, which is amazing. I think that's awesome, I appreciate the differences.

Stephanie: Is one feeling like it fits better for you than the other now?

James: I try to make anywhere that I'm at like, feel comfortable and feel like home, to be honest. I'm trying to embrace the identity of that place. And, um, yeah, I don't know if I look at it that way, I mean, I try to enjoy the wherever I'm at, have a great experience.

Stephanie: Yeah. Now jump into the lifestyle piece of it. You said your lifestyle has changed.

James: Sure. Well, Illinois is a marijuana friendly state of legal recreational marijuana. I now live in Indiana. it's not the case here. So, you know, that's just one simple piece. Right? No marijuana right now. And so here, this is, what's how we do it. I think also, there's just a difference in terms of the cultures. There's a difference in terms of the landscape. I didn't have a car when I lived in the city, for instance, I would walk everywhere, to be honest, I walked a lot. I need to integrate more of that, it's an important part of my life. So I haven't been walking as much, more driving and stuff lately since I've been out here in, um, more rural settings, but it'd be tough to walk everywhere around here.

Stephanie: Yeah. I lived in Boston for a dozen years and much the same, you know, walking six or eight or 10 blocks was reasonable for almost everything. So you did that and you took the train and all the public transport. And when I moved back to New Hampshire, now you can go to the grocery store in a car, drive, park, put all your groceries back in the car and just drive home. And you don't have to walk home with 40 or 50 or 60 pounds of groceries as I used to do when I lived in the city. So it's funny. I know for me, there were some elements of living in the city that wore off for me. And that I enjoy a more suburban lifestyle. It's a little bit easier, I think. Not as much of a difficulty level as this city.

James: That's excellent. Yeah, that's a great way to look at it too. There are good things you had from your experience, and then there are new positives that come from negating that first one, that first experience you're no longer in the city or somewhere else, but there are new dimensions that have emerged and they are really something you appreciate. And so I think that's awesome. It's a great way to look at it.

Stephanie: Nowhere is perfect. Right? There's gonna be trade-offs no matter where you are. There are trade-offs for being in the middle of the city. There's the vibrancy, but then there's some things that make daily life difficult and then you move out to the suburbs and there's maybe not quite the vibrancy, but then some of the daily life items are a little bit more easy. That's any choice, right? Any choice we make, there are positives and negatives and we just have to weigh which ones are weigh heavier for us at different points in our lives.

James: Absolutely.

Stephanie: I don't know if it was when you turned 40 or as you were approaching 40, you started reflecting on where you were and what you were doing. Tell me about that process and I'm sincerely interested and curious because a lot of times I don't find myself to be a wildly introspective or reflective person. Certainly with my 40 Drinks Project and the transformations that I went through around age 40, I got them all in the rear view. I had to look over my shoulder and go, "Oh, that's what happened." So I'm always so curious about people who have the ability to sit and do that reflection before they have to bumble their way through, like I did.

James: To be honest, the reflection part is probably somewhat retrospective. It does happen to us and then afterwards we tell ourselves a story about what it was that happened. Just being honest. I really think that's a big part of it and so I really relate to what you're saying. There's a lot of retrospective, weighing of what happened. But I do think that, uh, the process of my life was going on way before 40, you know? I don't know what exactly to attribute it to and as far as is there some coincidence, is there some sort of like, um, uh, larger destiny at work? Don't know. Uh, but I do, I, I am appreciative of, where I find myself now and where I sort of think I've, come from. I wouldn't be here now without all of it, without the whole thing. So I really can't live with any, um, you know, regrets. I think that's, that's difficult. It's difficult to accept who you are and everything that's you're responsible for. But you really shouldn't, you know, uh, you really shouldn't I think demonize everything it's like, you're somehow like not appreciating the whole thing. Right. 'Cause everybody plays this part. Everybody does, you know, everybody does their thing and um, and, and consequences occur. Right? I think the process that I've been going through has been you described as transformational, I think that's a good way to put it. So I'm, trying my best to accept it and to be present for it, 'cause this part will only happen once in this lifetime, so I'm gonna enjoy this, and then there'll be something else later, 'cause that's the only inevitable is change. Right? So things will keep changing and things will keep happening. So again, I think what brings about the optimism for the future it's the seismic shifts that, that I've experienced. They really give me, um, I think a new perspective on what's possible, in the future rather than just saying everything is so fixed and everything's so solid right now, it could at any time melt into air. And for me, I think that's the evidence, you know, that shows me that we can live with intention, right. So rather than trying to go back to all of the consequences for our actions and things and not feeling regret, but there is probably a way where you could say I learned from that experience and I will not do that again. I will not do that. And that's a way that we can sort of, accept who we are and not have so much resentment for ourselves and for others, you know, but to have a bit of contempt for where it was that you'd feel like you weren't living up to the, you know, to the intentions that you, that you actually have. You're not being who it is that you are, probably out of fear. And so if you can overcome the fear, it's probably because of experience that you've had, where you can sort of know how to navigate it, you know how to identify it and you can do, uh, you could do better next time.

Stephanie: That's profound, really, your comment about navigating fear and using experience to help you make your way through. I have never heard it put like that before, but I'm really resonating with it a lot.

James: Well, thank you.

Stephanie: Earlier we were talking and you said when you were doing this reflection you weren't achieving what you wanted and what you valued. And I'm curious to understand more about you digging into your values and determining that the path you had been on wasn't living up to them. Can you tell me what some of those values were that you're more in alignment with?

James: I'll try, I really value family and I really value friendship. And, uh, I think that's even, you know, it's more important than just being a good neighbor or, you know, or anything else. I think there was a lot of ways that I had neglected, uh, being a good family member and like just engaging with it. Sometimes you, sometimes you have to fight. Sometimes you have disagreements. You can't just always avoid that stuff. There are, uh, there's all these excuses that we would probably give, um, and a lot of them for me were always seeking pleasure, always seeking the easiest way. and I I don't think I really value that. I value hard work and I value excellence. And so these are things that you know, I want to put into practice and I can experience an enjoyment out of this discomfort. It may not be the same thing as seeking a pleasure, but I think there's enjoyment, that's there for us. And so you can sort of, lack of a better word, you can negate that drive for pleasure seeking and, and turn it towards something that might be, you know, much more intentional, something that could be much more, aligned with your values. Then through that, there might be a pleasure that you do get from putting it off, right. Delayed gratification, right. You delay the gratification and through that there's something better that you get.

Stephanie: I could also imagine that there might be pride in there for pursuing something that you value despite discomfort, not taking the easy road, not pleasure seeking, delaying that pleasure seeking until you've accomplished or achieved the thing that you're pursuing. I could imagine that that would be another one of those feelings that could weave in there.

James: I agree with you. I really do. I think that's a really good way to put it. It's something that I really learned through drawing. One of the things that I taught, and I still teach it, is how to draw the human body. And so when students, myself included, when you first start to draw the, you know, the human body, well, you're gonna be attracted to the thing that you're attracted to the most, right away. And so sometimes people wanna start, you know, they wanna start and draw like the eyeball let's say, or they wanna draw the nipple , or they wanna draw like a fingernail or something like that, because it's just where you're, you know, you sort of, you're attracted to that spot for some reason, you fetishize it. And that's the it's pleasurable to achieve that result right away. But you delay that, delay that gratification and you structure your approach, so that way you can achieve something. There's a higher sort of, um, result that you wanna get. And so you forego the pleasure of doing the thing that you wanna do and you save it until it's just the right moment. And then it will happen. Right. You're gonna draw that eyeball or that nipple or that fingernail or whatever. And it's gonna be so much better because you, you prepared a place for it.

Stephanie: You built the foundation.

James: Right, right. So I think that was something that you know, It naturally emerged through just this practice of drawing, trying to construct something, um, trying to make something that, you know, a project that is for the other. So you draw it, but it's for the pleasurable consumption of somebody else. And so art is an incredibly, you know, expansive and diverse field and you know, of course you can eventually get to a space where you're just doing some idiosyncratic thing and people will enjoy it. I know that's true. And so, and I think that's cool and that's amazing. Um, but there's other ways to approach. And so this is just one way and I think that there can be a lot of value in delaying the gratification, laying a good foundation, and, uh, I think preparing a place for the thing that you want, because you know, getting the thing that you want might be the worst thing that ever happened to you. You know, it could be

Stephanie: comes at the wrong time. Yeah.

James: Yeah. Mm-hmm

Stephanie: Yeah. Wow. Life lessons from drawing class. I'm loving it. It's profound. You're truly describing a great way to approach life from an adult perspective, obviously, you know, when we're younger and more impulsive, we don't necessarily always have the willpower or the sticktuitiveness, as my dad would say, to follow the path. But, this is a really, really nice recipe for life. And I see it myself, in my spare time, I work on stained glass, which is sort of a family thing. My grandmother did it for many years on my mother's side. And I have some of her pieces and they are literally my most treasured pieces. And then on my dad's side, I had an aunt who did it for a long time as well. So through my twenties and thirties, I always thought, "Oh, I wanna do stained glass." And finally, a couple of years ago, I got the opportunity and there are things that I won't make yet because I know that my skills aren't there. I know that if I make it, I want it to be great. So I know that I have to keep building my skills and keep working on things that are the steps between here and there. So yeah, I'm again, resonating with what you're saying really strongly.

James: I think that's incredible. Visual art is a language. I think it's an extension of that gap between us, right? We have this space between us and what do we fill it with? With language, with expression. And so, it makes sense, you know, that you're this communicator and you also you also make visual art and people resonate with that. People resonate with visual art for a reason, because it speaks to their consciousness. That's where I place it, that's where I like to think of it is that it is, you know, an extension of language, and so we should value visual artists. I really do. Sometimes they get short shift, especially in education. There's not the focus, there's not the emphasis. So like STEM subjects are, are super crucial, especially for girls. And I think there should be more access that way too. But you know, a lot of times when I speak to, you know, my nieces and nephews who are either going through school now where they're just getting finished with school, you know, their arts education is pick one, do a theater, do a visual arts, maybe, you know what I mean? And, and that's it. They don't get to specialize in it or emphasize it as part of their, their curriculum. And then it's always an elective. It's not valued. And, you know, as well as, uh, just, you know, societally the way that artists are generally sort of viewed and positioned as, hire them, fire them. Culturally artists are important because they create culture. So there probably there probably could be a bit more, um, love, love for them cause they need it. Right. There's great artists out there that need you to hire 'em so, so find one and hire

Stephanie: to buy their work.

James: mm-hmm

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. I spoke to another artist a few weeks ago, a lovely woman, down in Savannah, Georgia, and she never called herself an artist until she turned 40. And one of the things she said to a friend of hers, "Well, I can't draw." And her friend and her friend said,

Stephanie: "Well, of course you can draw, you just have to become comfortable with the way you draw." And I thought that was quite profound. And I, please don't think any less of me, but I truly have a hard time drawing a straight line with a ruler. I, I am no good, with drawing. So I was, really inspired by that, by her friend who had said that, because I just wonder how many other people are not calling themselves artists, not pursuing their passions because they think what they do doesn't look like what it should look like.

James: I think that it's really common. It's probably a really common feeling and, again, it's fear, right? It's the same thing we're afraid of the judgment and the criticism, which I totally understand. And I totally get it. So a regular practice if you really wanna achieve some sort of a higher level, then you'll take your practice very seriously and you'll seek out mentors and you'll receive feedback constantly and criticism, you know what I mean? And you'll really, you'll really try your best to, you know, to achieve a high, high level, but just the simple act of practicing it, again, I think gets you more comfortable with accepting who you are because everybody is gonna make their mark differently. Just like you said with a ruler, you know, I mean, even if, even though it's mechanical, you got a ruler there, people still make ruler marks differently. There's still a little bit of your own, um, quality that you are going to put into even that bit. And so the more familiar that you are with how it is that you make things, um, the more comfortable that you are with it, the more confidence that you show and confidence is sexy. So, if you feel confident about what it is that you're doing, it's just more, there's more desire in it. It's just becomes a more desirable thing. Perfect practice probably makes you, you know, like, this higher level entity, but certainly a daily practice makes it, you know, gives you enjoyment. By being uncomfortable, by going through what it is that is important and you value, there's an excess of enjoyment that you can get from it. You probably would have to forego a pleasure or two to dedicate the time to do this more uncomfortable thing. But again, there's something that's very rewarding and freeing about having the confidence to use a language of drawing or even a language like this, like us communicating in this, this way. We both had, uh, you know, a lifetime of experience of chit chatting, probably, um, in order to be able to speak this freely and confidently with another person. So, um, it takes experience and it takes being uncomfortable sometimes.

Stephanie: Yeah,

Stephanie:

Stephanie: I have one last question for you. When we first connected, you told me that you had learned that life is a journey and not a destination. And you said while that may be a slogan, the experience is something else entirely. Tell me about your experience of life as a journey and not a destination.

James: Hmm. I think it's like an Aerosmith song or something like that. There's others, it's overused, it's a banal saying it really doesn't mean anything. So that's it. If you are planning on, you know, retirement, if you're planning on heaven one day, um, I guess there's a bit of like non presence that you're foregoing. Right? You don't have to be as present because you know that um, there's this destination that you're, that you're gonna go to. So, you know, there's a way that you can, I don't know, be detached, be alienated from, from now. And so what might be, um, a more interesting way to look at things is like, is to be present now. Do what you have to do now. Um, you need some foresight. You need to do a bit of planning, but like living in the future can be probably just as bad for you as really living in the past. That's probably the best way I can explain that or to illustrate it more, 'cause it's so overused, I don't even know if it has the sort of like profound quality that, that it ought to because it really is that, even though it's so common, it's so duh of course that's the case, but if you actually put it into practice, you actually like focus on the, the joy and enjoyment that you get from your journeying rather than, you know, sort of seeking out this, uh, let's say the security of the destination that, you know, you're gonna have - 'cause you don't know that either, obviously. You don't know that there is this destination, you're assuming it.

Stephanie: Yeah, you're not guaranteed to make it there.

James: Mm no, no, you're not. So you gotta work hard, probably. And through that process of journeying and, and discomfort, you know, the reward is the enjoyment. The reward is the, you know, the experience. So, yeah, so don't overlook that just in this, uh, you know, in this hurry to get somewhere that, you know, you're not even guaranteed to get there. You're already there. Right. So I don't know.

Stephanie: And yet this being present is one of the most difficult things you can do.

James: I met a Buddhist one time, sorry to interrupt. I met a Buddhist one time and he told me, um, you know, he says "The next time that you're sitting, you know, you're in traffic, right. You're in your car and there's traffic all around you. Don't say that I'm in traffic. You have to say that I am the traffic, right? you're a part of it, right. We're always already a part of uh, where we find ourselves. We're involved. And once we sort of separate ourselves out as some, you know, like as we're different, you know, we're sort of we're apart from everything that's going on, I think that's where you can get into these pernicious sorts of states where you, you know, you where you can resent others and I think you can sort of find that there's, uh, um, there's this need to sort of escape constantly. As opposed to being present, facing some of the discomfort, facing some of the horror, the terror, some of that stuff, it's tough. But I think if you're, again, if you're willing to be present through it and to navigate it, those fears, you probably find that it was the fear that was worse than actually being present. Sometimes. There's probably times when, when things are worse, but,

Stephanie: there's an exception to every rule.

James: Right. You can't say it as a universal, but you can, I think sort of, make them as principles that could help you out as you're starting to, you know, like make your way before 40, after 40, all that stuff. Hopefully you live a nice long time.

Stephanie: Yeah. Yeah. So to sum up, you're feeling much more optimistic about your life and yet not quite as comfortable as you were a few years ago.

James: Yeah. Yep. That's uh, that's certainly, that's certainly the case. And I'm alright with it and I've accepted, uh, not only you know, these new potentials, but also, um, I'm really, uh, grateful. Grateful to still be alive and to still be, um, be present. So these are the things that I'm, um, that I'm looking at now that I'm, you know, over 40. Again, this was a really great experience to, to sort of work through these things on your show to talk about some of this stuff.

James: Sometimes I don't think, uh, I mean, you know, try to be reflective, but it can, it can be so difficult to, you know, to have perspective. Uh, and so narrativizing, it making a story out of what it is that you're going through, something that's gonna have resonance, like you said, or also, you know, like intelligibility, like you can, you can follow it, you know, you can follow this narrative, hopefully. Um, I think that's not only good, you know, it's how you communicate, but it's also good for you on a personal level, right? You, you know, as you tell your own story and it's one that, um, one that can appear to make you likable and stuff, this is like, this is what we do, right. This is what people do. And it's, uh, and it's an important thing.

Stephanie: Yeah.

James: It's really important.

Stephanie: Before I let you go, tell me where people could find your podcast and your streaming drawing class.

James: Yeah. So, um, It's through Reinventing the Tattoo, reinventing the tattoo.com and the name of my show is Drawing for Tattooers with James Wisdom. That's me. It's every Monday at, uh, 9:00 AM Eastern Standard Time on the Reinventing the Tattoo Network. Uh, and it's available on YouTube and Facebook. You can go to reinventing the tattoo.com and you can watch, uh, older episodes or you can also, um, you can get a Zoom link and you can join for the time being, you know, like we have, I have amazing students that, that join in the Zoom, and, we're always looking for new for, for new students and new friends. So, so yeah, feel free to come on by mm-hmm.

Stephanie: Excellent. And, I want to wish you a happy upcoming birthday. I hope you enjoy turning 41 and I wish you continued success and all the very best.

James: Thank you, Stephanie so much, this was, uh, such a pleasure to be on your program. And, uh, yeah, I really enjoyed it. And so, um, best of luck to you and to your, to your project. I, I think it's really amazing. Thank you so much.

Stephanie: Thanks.

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