A wanderer from Oregon trekking along a path less traveled, his rebellious spirit in search of answers. From spending long questing days in the Mojave desert to an unexpected stint making ends meet as a carny, he soon found himself in what would seem to be last on his list of life paths – the Marines. Determined to create his own destiny he continued the search for hope and purpose and later found the answer within his own silence. Tath Ashcraft, writer and spirit behind the new book, “Fearless Giving” uncovers the internal battles we so often face around consumption, materialism and perceived scarcity. He reconstructs old ideas and brings forth light to all the gray areas of our lives, inspiring a more congruent and purposeful life. Follow along as he unpacks the truths behind his personal mission, inspiration and creative process!
“The answer is not out there, it’s in there and what you can give the world is so much more important than what the world can give you.”
-Tath R. Ashcraft
A conversation with Tath.
What’s the inspiration behind “Fearless Giving”?
Tath: The inspiration behind Fearless Giving … a lifetime spent in a culture of consumption and fear- acquisitive, materialistic BS, for lack of a better term. I’ve always been into self-help and personal development. As I read throughout my life, studying those kinds of books and that kind of work – the ideas of other people – it was always about “get more” and “be more” and “create more” and I just didn’t think the answer was more. I explored a` kind of a minimalist movement. Getting rid of things, minimalizing my life and arranging things better but that didn’t tend to resonate either. After a lifetime of that, I decided to really sit down and look at what I was about and who I was and realized that 1. – It takes action. After knowing something I can’t just sit and complain and gaze at my naval and somehow become a better human and 2. – It’s really not about getting or acquiring or starting anything more, its not necessarily going to be about less but it’s not going to be about acquiring something and everybody does that. I don’t like that energy, I don’t appreciate it. That wanting energy, that desperate energy. That reeks – always wanting more …
M: Yes, as if we are living in scarcity …
Tath: Yeah, I’m here but I need to be there. I have this, but that looks better. I didn’t like that, I didn’t appreciate that lifestyle. So I really thought about it and got down to it and started practicing it and living it. Several years ago it came down to giving -the act of giving, the energy of giving, the life of giving, the mentality of giving, the philosophy of giving, and not in a moralistic, altruistic way but in a soul-originating way. It’s when you wake up every morning and don’t think, “what do I want to get out of today” “what do I want to acquire what do I have to do to survive” “what do I have to do to for my job and my family” but rather, “what do I want to give to my job” “what do I want to give to my family, myself, my circle, my world.” And that’s really made all the difference and I really wanted to share that. I would say that’s the inspiration behind Fearless Giving.
What is your personal mission in life?
Tath: You know, for a long time, I didn’t have the answer to that question and I wish I had found it out a lot sooner. I thought that I knew several times. I was convinced I knew several times having lived a couple different lifetimes in one. Now I would say to be honest … I think uniquely and come from a rather unique background and a rather unique place in life and I just want to share those ideas, and the things that have made my life easier, more abundant, more alive, more free … I think everybody needs that. Everybody needs exposure to someone with a different perspective and I know I have driven down a unique lane in life and I’m happy and excited to keep sharing not only “Fearless Giving” but also with future ideas hopefully.
Any big fears? Anything that you fear most in life?
Tath: Oh, uh just falling backwards … in old patterns of thought, going back to that person you work so hard to grow beyond I think. You work hard everyday on the issues you have and the lessons you have to learn and the thing you have to give. There’s always that lingering ghost no matter how deeply you go, there’s always more work to do. I’m willing to do the work. I try to do the work everyday. I guess you could say the feeling of contentment, like “it’s done now, I can just rest on that one and take a little break and be okay” I think that scares me. Because eventually that ghost or that fragment or whatever it was that you were working on from your past is never really gone it’s just maybe gone underground or you diminished it .. there’s always more work to be done. Get up everyday, do the work, pay the price.
M: Show up!
Tath: Yes, show up! Show up for what you want everyday, my only fear that maybe I would forget that, that maybe I would miss that day or two, that I’m supposed to get to, you know?
Advice to a writer going through a creative block/writers block?
Tath: Ahhhh, that’s a good question. Every time you’re writing or engaging in any creative endeavor, I think one – you have to “call on the muse,” you have to realize that not only are you doing something that comes of your mind but also something of the universe is coming through you and to be very respectful of that. And I hope you aren’t turned off by the term but it’s a “sacred” kind of space. You have to put your mind and your heart and your body into that place first before you attempt anything creative. 2 – when you write, realize that you’re recording it, it’s coming from your mind and your voice … your heart … but also it’s being what it wants to be, it’s telling you what it wants to be at the same time you’re telling it what you think so it’s a partnership again and 3. – blockage, it’s usually because you have an idea and have pre-determined how something should go.
M: We set those expectations high!
Tath: Yes, expectations, pre determined notions about something, judgments, fears … again getting in the “right spot” mentally and physically ahead of time will help with that, It’s not the writing that’s hard, it’s living the life that makes the writing possible that’s challenging. That’s the real joy and the real art but when you get blocked and stuck and you’re in your head, just do the work. You know, sit at the page if you have to sit there for 6 hours and you just write one word, well you wrote one word and that’s one more than what was on the page before. Eventually it will let loose. If you’re not sitting there at the page, if you’re not putting in the time for the life you want to live and hope to create, then go out and fill the well, go and be inspired -go out and motivate yourself. That’s your responsibility in life, it’s nobody else’s. The gods don’t smile down and motivate you. Life doesn’t suddenly knock on your door and deliver you inspiration. It’s YOUR job. Find the things that inspire you, find the things that motivate you, really set your soul on fire and then when you come back to that page the next day and that one word is there, suddenly there will be a thousand words then 10,000 words there and then you don’t even need to worry about it. That would be my advice.
Tath: Why, thank you. I try.
Describe your creative/writing process and why it works for you?
Tath: Writing really is a dangerous profession. You have to take care of your health. Mental and physical. A lot of people don’t tell you that when you’re first starting out. Rudyard Kipling said, very clearly, “The most powerful drug in the world is words” It’s language. He was a pretty powerful writer. And when you start thinking of it like that, you have an immense responsibility to use them wisely and to indulge wisely with your own words.
M: Oh wow, that just shifted something in me. They are extremely powerful.
Tath: Very, so it takes a lot of responsibility and when you talk about process, it’s kinda like you’re going to work in a construction zone, you put on your hard hat, you wear your protective suit and you have to stay mission oriented, to stay very practical. I break it up by the week. Mondays are inspiration and free flow writing days, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday I work on my existing outline of my next work for at least 2,000 words daily. Friday I always circle back throughout the week of what I’ve written, go over my ideas, bounce them off of a friend, or a writing partner and make sure everything is jiving and things are going well. Saturday and Sunday are fill the well and Mondays we’re right back at it! That’s what I find works for me. You have to generate an immense amount of content sometimes to get the stuff that’s good. Then there are other times when you’re firing well and you’re in the zone and it took you a while to get there. It’s kinda like all those portrayals in movies and in Hollywood and books of the wild artist who won’t leave his room. I promise you, don’t leave your room, be very focused. Tell everyone to “leave me alone, I’m in the zone” because it can be rare that you get there and when you’re there you’ll get so much more work done, that you fought so hard to be there, just ride the wave, ride it, ride it, ride it until you start repeating yourself until … *sighs* in exhaustion. Then put it down and lay it to the side. You know, what you write the first hour isn’t good, it’s just a warm up. What you write the second hour isn’t much better, it’s warm up on your warm up. Third and fourth hour you start to get a little tired. You’re tired, hungry, maybe coming down from coffee and then things really begin to be true, the key is you want to write something authentic. You want to write something that matters. Everybody does. Whether it’s fiction, non fiction, or whatever it is, you want something true at the end of the day. But to get to something true, you have to get through your BS. So, whatever gets you through your BS, do it and then sit down and capture whatever comes through and that would be my advice.
M: Yeah, and I see you. You work really hard. You’re always on your computer, jotting down words and my god, it takes a while to get to that space! To get past the resistance, it goes back to that novel, “The War Of Art” get one word down, it doesn’t matter if it’s perfect. Just get it down.
Tath: Yeah, Steven Pressfield. He’s the man. You have to move beyond you, that’s the thing. It’s never going to be great unless it comes from you but it’s also not of you. It’s something that you record as you think these other thoughts, you go to these other places, something that’s bigger than you or better than you. Creativity, it’s magic. It’s like our ancestors, dancing for rain or evoking the gods or voodoo or whatever you think of it as. It’s magic. It really is. And to get into that space, it’s the best feeling, and you don’t ever want to let go of that. And you have to arrange your life in a way where you can spend as much time as you possibly can doing it. Resistance is normal, resistance is everyday life. Resistance is bills and family and all the things you do, that we do as part of the model from this life we’ve all accepted. But art and creativity, that’s something eternal. You have to step into that archetypal self … that primal heart and when it works, it’s there and its awesome.
So, we’ve talked a lot about writing and your creative process. Are there any other creative art forms that you delve into outside of writing that people don’t know about?
Tath: Wow, that’s a good question … really good. I believe in creative cross training. Like when you’re an Olympic runner you take up swimming, why? Because you become a faster Olympic runner. You’ll never be an Olympic level swimmer, you may never even be a really good swimmer but somehow training the muscles adjacent to the running muscles in a different way makes the running muscles more intelligent. Does that make sense? This is a big theory with physical conditioning and it’s a BIG theory. It’s cross-training. I’m not just lifting weights, I’m also doing yoga. I’m not just playing football I’m also taking ballet classes on the bar. Why? Because it makes me a better football player. I believe it’s very important in any creative pursuit and anyone who wants to live a creative life to “creatively cross train” If you like to write, then also paint, if you’re into interior design, if you like to garden make sure that once in a while you sit down with your mom and have a coffee and discuss her macrame or her knitting. Whatever you do, creatively cross train those muscles that are “creativity” Because they are indeed muscles and they have smaller muscles that support them. For me, I like to paint. I don’t like doing it enthusiastically. *laughs* I love to cook, I’m actually getting semi-good! SEMI good. And you know those are my two big ones. But anything that’s creative. Anything creative I can participate in or do it with someone in a space where they’re doing their art. Once in a while, I’ve been known to hit the boards on stage, take a small part in a play. It’s very important. It gives you a different perspective on creativity, particularly on your own, it keeps you honest, it keeps you in shape. Keeps you strong.
M: That’s a great way to look at it!
If you knew you only had 1 year to live, what would you accomplish within the next 12 months?
Tath: Oh geez. Finish the book I’m working on. Done. I would spend as much time with my family as I possibly could. I would go spend two weeks in Prague and I would be like, “dang it, I wish we had more time.” But, you know. This will do. This is enough. I have very few regrets. I feel like I lived it pretty well. You play the hand, you’re dealt with.That’s all you can do. But not to deny hope for the future – of course I have my hopes and my dreams. But I like to think that I come from a family of honor and people of honor and that means living each day well and being the most kind human being you can be everyday for as long as you live. And trust me it’s easier some days but I’ve done that to the best of my ability and I would just keep doing that for another 365 and hope to pump out this last one just as well as the one I pumped out before
M: That’s a lot to process. It really is!
What has been your greatest discovery so far along your journey?
Tath: In life?
Tath: Generally, that what I want doesn’t matter. It’s very humbling. What you want to get, what you want to achieve, in terms of the outside world and their approbation or derision, realistically and momentarily, it doesn’t matter. And the more you pursue it, the further away you get away from what does matter. The answer is not out there, it’s in there and what you can give the world is so much more important than what the world can give you. I think of Gandhi, Lincoln, Mother Teresa, JFK you know, “ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country?” What you can do for me is a ridiculous question. What I can do for you, means the world. The whole world is in that question. That’s the right question. So, I would say what you want is ridiculous what you can give is eternal, universal, exquisite and immortal.
M: Thank you so much for that.
Tath: You’re most welcome!
“We live in an era of rampant, unmitigated consumption and fear. When the world is advancing faster than our spiritual and emotional resources are capable of keeping pace. We want and we desire, recklessly, without considering the costs of this mentality and attitude.”
– Tath R. Ashcraft
“Fearless Giving” is absolutely remarkable and is easily now one of my favorite reads. Give yourself a moment to breathe, a moment to explore the gray areas of your life. Practice the art of giving FEARLESSLY to the world around you. Pick up this book and follow along to explore the counter-intuitive yet profound pathway to congruency! This one has easily made it to my “Must Read” list! Thank you for reading.
Grab your copy of “Fearless Giving” below!
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