Letter from the Founder

June 2019

“It’s not painful per se. It’s just pretty much the most uncomfortable you will ever be in your entire life.”

Respite Letter from the EditorThat was the description of the Kambo cleansing and healing experience that kept echoing in my head as I began to feel my insides crawling, clawing, trying to erupt out of every pore after the frog venom was applied to the open wounds on my ankle.

Kambo is a ritual in which the poison of the giant Amazonian monkey frog is applied to burns on the skin (called Gates) in order to purify the body and treat various health conditions. It’s not hallucinogenic and it’s totally legal throughout the world.

In between convulsions and vomiting bile into the bucket provided by our facilitator and JH Creator Edward Deull, I would have momentary respite from the horrible discomfort. For a few precious seconds, a deep appreciation for my health and wellness would wash over me before that same wash was replaced by more cold sweats and another round of what I imagined to be a deep scrubbing of the very seat of my soul.

Why would anyone do something like this to themselves?

Most people equate ‘unpleasant’ with ‘bad.’ Yet, it has been my experience that pretty much all growth is prefaced by some level of discomfort. (I used to say pain but I’m kinda over the whole tortured artist thing.) It’s the energetic equivalent of lifting weights in the gym: we tear our muscles to give our bodies time to recover and grow back stronger.

The first time I received a crushing critique of my photography from my old manager, Hip Hop Eddie, I nearly lost my shit. Okay, I totally lost my shit. On a phone call after a photo shoot featuring Hip-hop artists on our little indie label, he sighed and simply said to me, “they don’t like your photos, man.” It’s been years and I couldn’t agree with him more but boy that still stings.

This whole living thing is hard enough. Adding another layer by taking on the artist’s path is not for the faint at heart. At times it really can seem like we’re in a boxing ring and life is our opponent, delivering devastating blow after blow.

Years ago, after a recording of Crappy Awesome Podcast, writer Mike Sager shared a story about an Esquire assignment, the pursuit of which had taken him on a trek through the mountains. For most of the climb, his gaze was intently focused on where he was placing his next step. But every once in a while, he would stop and look up, where he’d have a moment to take in the splendor of this magnificent vista, a reflection of where he was and how far he’d come.

This, he offered, was the artist’s life journey. Most of the time, we’re just looking at our feet, minding our steps. But every once in a while we earn a respite from the challenges of human existence where we breathe and celebrate how far we’ve come.

What is your moment of respite from the long journey, your view of that magnificent vista, that moment of breath before the next uppercut? Mine happens every time I get to simply create and stop thinking about invoices and bills. It’s happening right now as I strike these keys, the audacity to write a Letter From the Editor while here I am still not even entirely certain how to pronounce the word my team has chosen for Justified Hype’s theme for June. Our collaborators for the cover this month, Miki Vale and Nick Isabella, converged on this exact same idea.

Don’t hide your creations. Let go of your fear of judgement, dive into the next thing, don’t go back and try to fix things – it’s ok if it’s not perfect. Learn the lesson, get better at your craft and do it better next time. And every once in a while, give yourself permission to take a moment and celebrate how far you’ve come. Make it a point to do that more and more often until it becomes the norm – until you get so good at mountain climbing that you don’t even need to stop in order to take in the vista. And that’s not a boxing ring you’re in – it’s a dance floor.