In an early draft of The Good Life Book manuscript, I lamented the fact that Dallas was, in my view, a "blank canvas" and a "point to point" city, as opposed to places like London or New York, where I'd spent significant time.
Although that particular lament didn't make it into the final draft of the book it sums up what I thought and how I felt at the time. Moving here just under four years ago I missed the vibrancy of my former hometown of London. I was travelling to New York during the week for work and I felt that Dallas suffered by comparison. The city of Dallas didn't seem to have the life and the soul of those other cities.
The "point to point" element was as much a comment about Dallas' preferred method of transport i.e. the car (or truck) as it was about getting to know people here. Instead of walking or catching public transport, where you naturally rub up against all walks of life, in Dallas we're cocooned inside our private air-conditioned spaces.
The type of creative abrasion effect that happens as a result of diverse inputs and chance encounters seemed to be lessened here to the point of almost being imperceptible. When I walk around in New York, in comparison, the city seems to assail me, forcing me to react with a thought or feeling.
In Dallas my ideas have been generated not from looking outside, but instead stepping inside myself, while cycling at the lake, for example. The only exception here on the being-assailed front is the conspicuous-consumption-on-steroids that exists in some parts of this city. That is something to react to, else be consumed by.
Over the years I've been here, an observation began to chip away at me. A lot has happened while I've lived here. We've had two children. I joined my first writers group, wrote my first poems and articles here. I became an occasional musician here and a songwriter. I wrote my first published book here. I left my corporate job and started a (social) business here. I started a podcast here, with my first guests from Dallas. Despite spending so much time in creative cities, much of my creative output has been here.
I have begun to "own" my initial idea of Dallas as a blank canvas, to turn that seeming weakness into a strength. A blank canvas means that anything can happen. You are unencumbered by the past, you can create the future. That is what I'm trying to do.
There are many talented artists, creative businesspeople and community minded folk here. What hasn't changed for me yet is the effort required to search out and connect with like-minded people. Networking in Dallas is certainly not a passive activity for the feint of heart.
You need the patience to metaphorically "prospect and drill" socially to get at hidden resources in the same way as those other resources that are found underground. The irony is that, eventually after so many individual meetings, you find that everybody knows everybody else and it couldn't be any other way.
With new people coming to the city from all other parts of the country and the world the closeness of networks will inevitably change. For now I'm enjoying the support of the various individuals who've helped further my efforts so far.
Through Total Life Complete I'm trying to create a community, an overlay to the city, that makes the creative beating heart of Dallas visible and tangible. A reaction to the big, wide-open empty skies here might be to consume, it might be to trade goods or services or money, or it might be to create something from nothing. Then turn those sparks (others' and my own) into a flame. Let's see.
Dallas - anything CAN happen.
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