Live Your Purpose
“Happiness is living your purpose. There’s something so fulfilling about doing what you were put here to do. Happiness, it’s a feeling, it fills you up and it makes you feel good. It’s not letting go of your purpose, working towards it, and living in it everyday.”
– J. Ivy
Photographs by Theo Constantinou
Introduction and Interview by Lee Nentwig
To capsize a poet as merely a writer of eloquent words is to blindly undervalue the much grander, majestic significance of the vocation. The sincere task of a poet is that of a messenger, a herald provided to help us unmask the greater truth about ourselves. Looking within to find their words, the poet translates the feeling of a perpetual force which cycles through us all, reminding us of who we are and igniting us with the inspiration to carry out each of our essential journeys. They awaken us to a pure sense of life and existence.
The passion that J. Ivy breaths into his poetry distinctly exemplifies this ideal. His colorful words and melodies communicate a mystical energy which invigorates both the mind and spirit. Drawing from the world around him and his connection to it, he expresses a gratitude to be here, living within this moment, and manifesting dreams into reality. As Ivy quantifies the idea himself, “Dreams Don’t Come True, They Are True.” The ups and downs, the struggles and victories, are all essential patterns in the much greater trajectory of realizing our purpose.
It’s a broad question to begin with, but what is the task of a poet in your view?
There are definitely many layers, but I think it starts from a personal standpoint of just being creative and using the gift as an outlet. I’ve always felt that poetry is therapeutic, so for me it’s a release. I’m relieving any pressures in life that I may be feeling through my poetry. Outside of that, and I don’t know that everyone feels this way, but I believe that for any person that has a voice, that has the opportunity to communicate to the masses, there is a burden of responsibility that comes with that. A major part of being creative is expressing for people, listening to people, speaking for them, and trying to encourage folks – that’s certainly another layer to it. We’re documenting the times. As a reporter for your generation, you want people to look back and be able to have an honest understanding of these times and who we are.
You said earlier that you’ve been in a great writing zone lately, that your work has really been flowing well. When you’re in that place, really in that flow, do you feel as though your writing is expressing a level of purity that’s much harder, maybe even impossible, to grasp and articulate in everyday life?
Yes. When you find that zone, when you’re in that space and you’re channeling that creative energy, I definitely feel that it’s from a pure place, it’s coming from the heart. It’s coming without interruption, it’s just a free-flowing space in time. I believe that we have our higher and lower selves, and that it’s coming from a higher self, it’s coming from a clearer space. I think that’s why it really resonates.
I agree, but on a personal level, I think that the part where it gets tricky is the separation of the realm of poetry and real life. At then end of the day you have to be a man and you have to take care of yourself , and because of that you’re ego is real and you do need it to survive. In a human reality where you have to make money and eat to live, how do you translate the abstract into the reality of your life?
Well, you’ve gotta’ eat! You’ve gotta’ keep the lights on! But it’s the same way that you have to be creative with your art. With poetry, you have to build your poetry, and build your name, and build your brand, you have to get out here and bust your ass, you’ve got to grind! You have to be here and let people know what it is that you do and then continue to build and build and build on that so that you can create a living.
When I introduce myself and people ask me what I do, and I tell them I’m a poet they often say, “Yeah, that’s cool…but what do you do?” Well, I write poetry. “Nah yeah, that’s cool, but what do you do for a living?” People are still unable to connect poetry with a lifestyle because, historically, it’s always been seen that poets are poor and they don’t make money until after their dead. But for me, I’ve always refused to allow that become my norm. At the same time, I feel that when you’re doing what you were put here to do, doors will open. It’s a magnetic force. I think that it’s a combination of doing what you’re supposed to do and being creative with that vocation. While you’re doing that, things are going to happen, the doors will open…and the doors that don’t open, you’ll knock down.
Applying it to the broader scope of the world, you infuse plenty of political and social concerns into the words of your poetry, you’re speaking on complex issues. How does poetry transcend as a solution to the reality of those problems? What does the poet offer to the world that maybe the politicians, the social leaders, even some of the religious leaders, and all of these figureheads that are making the larger decisions can’t?
Well, I feel that everyone, no matter what it is they do or what title they may have, is contributing energy. We are all putting energy out into the universe. So for the poet, it’s an aim to put a certain form of energy into the world that these social leaders may not put out there…and that’s not to say that all that they put out there is wrong, but we all hold a paintbrush for this canvas. It would be an empty space if the poet didn’t put their stroke of genius on that canvas, because it’s a stroke of energy that needs to be felt. We all paint the colors on this canvas, no matter who you are or what it is that you do, we all have an effect on each other, it’s just that as poets we do so by our words, words that inspire and lift people up, give them hope, allow them to dream, and go after those dreams. It puts fuel into people’s lives, poetry is that energy that fills us up and guides us to accomplish what we need to do in life.
So it’s really a selfless act? That’s where a lot of the confusion and anxiety can be felt. When you’re so enthralled with ideals and nobility and the human spirit and the possibilities, you become caught up in the vision and it does seem to steer you away, you feel a bit selfish in a way. But it isn’t really about you. It’s about pulling from others and the outside world, then putting it all to words for others to see. It’s a very abstract concept to explain. You’re not caught up in your own thoughts and your own words, you’re trying to articulate the expressions and emotions that connect people.
Yes, I do see it as a selfless act. We all do have egos, but I try my best to contain my ego. I’m definitely proud of what I do and I’m definitely good at what I do, but I have to understand that it’s not about me. I know that it’s much bigger than me. Knowing that this is all bigger than me helps to tame the ego. If I can put something out there and I receive a message in return from someone saying I helped save their life or brought them out of a dark place, then it’s definitely not about me, I can’t take credit for that. I know my gift, I know that it was given to me. Sometimes I look back on some of the things I’ve written and have to ask. “Where did that come from?” It was given to me. I feel like we channel these words from the other side, God gives each of us something special, and I want to use this gift to help people…and that helps me.
“We all paint the colors on this canvas, no matter who you are or what it is that you do, we all have an effect on each other, it’s just that as poets we do so by our words, words that inspire and lift people up, give them hope, allow them to dream, and go after those dreams. “
– J. Ivy
Absolutely, you have been given a gift. Like I’ve said to you before, your words pick me up on many nights when I’m tired, and frustrated, when I feel lost. And I know that your words have helped inspire so many other people. But what about those who aren’t poets? People who haven’t been given your gift or are have been placed in situations where they are forced to live towards a different direction. As a human being, not just an artist, what defines a meaningful lifestyle to you?
It’s doing what you were put here to do. It’s the first line in Never Let Me Down, “We are all here for a reason on a particular path…” We have all been provided this blueprint, these guidelines, and that blueprint is felt and heard in our spirit and in the things we feel from the experiences we face in our lives. There is a way that life pulls and tugs you in certain directions. I feel that when we do answer that call, when we are not afraid to answer that call – because fear will get in the way of you living the life that you were put here to live – you are living in your purpose. It’s meaningful when you are living in your purpose. If it comes easiest to you, then more than likely that’s what you were put here to do. For me, it’s just so easy to write, it’s like breathing. So it doesn’t really make sense for me to rush into a building and fight fires, because my calling is to write. Someone else’s calling may be to become a firefighter, but then it wouldn’t make much sense for them to keep banging their head against the wall just trying to write something, it’s just not their purpose.
I feel like we all have these gifts that we’ve been given, but many people run away from it because society may tell them it doesn’t make sense, society may say that they’ve got to do something else…everybody’s going to seem to have a perfect plan for what they think that you’re supposed to do. Everybody does! There have been so many people in my life – close people and people not so close – telling me that I should be doing this or I should be doing that or that’s not gonna’ make money or this ain’t gonna’ do that. You have to ignore the noise. You have to decipher what’s good for you and what’s not. So I filtered through the noise and I heard my own voice because my own voice was louder than them all and I allowed my own voice to lead my direction. You can’t be afraid to listen to yourself. And you’ve got to pay attention to the signs. Like I said, I feel like a lot of people do ignore their purpose, but for me…I would go crazy if I lost my purpose.
And obviously there will continue to be times in your life when that fear does overwhelm you, when the inspiration isn’t there, when the words aren’t coming to you. What is it that provides you hope in those moments?
It’s knowing where I came from, knowing the strength and the love that I was created from. It’s relying on myself, on who I am. Life will throw you curveballs all the time, but you’ve got to remind yourself of who you are because things will try and make you forget. So I constantly remind myself of who I am. Sometimes I look back and say to myself, “Well I was able to do this and I was able to do that. When I did this I was in the midst of a hard moment and when I did that I was in the midst of a hard moment.” So this must be another hard moment, and there are always lessons in the hard moments, so let me figure out what the lesson is, let me remind myself to see through the anxiety and the stress of the moment,breath easy, and get through it. That just comes with time, experience, and maturity. The older you get the more you learn, the more you learn the more you know, and the wiser you become. So it’s just a matter of constantly reminding yourself of who you and where you’re at. Sometimes it’s looking back at what you’ve done, but more often it’s looking forward and focusing on where you want to be and how to get there. If this ain’t it, then this ain’t it, but so be it…this ain’t the end either. So let me get there. I feel like stress and anxiety will hold you in that moment, but looking back too often will hold you in the past. It’s important that we don’t harp on things that happened in the past, just as it’s important that we don’t celebrate the things that happened in the past too much. With reflection, it’s healthy to look back at the energy you gave to that moment, but you can’t continue to live in those moments, you can’t dwell in those moments, because then you’re living in those moments and not in this moment.
When it’s all said and done, after all of the energy you’ve been able to take from the universe and put back into the universe has passed through, what is it that you hope that people take from the words you have written?
I just feel that we all have a lot of pain, and maybe it’s not just pain, but we have these imbalances with ourselves and I feel like that comes from a hurt that may have happened in the past. For me, I want to help heal people and I want to inspire people. I just want to encourage them to do more… and to help them be happy! The more happy people that are around me, or that are out there, the happier I’ll be. So I just want to put a smile on people’s face, let them know that everything is going to be alright, let them know that they have a purpose, and not to be afraid to live in that purpose and fulfill that dream. You’re only here for so long, so make the most of it. Happiness is living your purpose. There’s something so fulfilling about doing what you were put here to do. Happiness, it’s a feeling, it fills you up and it makes you feel good. It’s not letting go of your purpose, working towards it, and living in it everyday.
For more on J. Ivy be sure to head over to his official website.