If you are going to spend time with Evan Griffith you need to be ready. You better be prepared. He has an energy, an excitement about him that is contagious. If you are not on guard, you might allow yourself to get sucked into his tractor-beam of joy and enthusiasm. The scary part is…it’s genuine. In fact, it’s not just scary, it’s freaky beautiful!
Evan has only been my friend for the past few years, but my love and appreciation for his work and spirit cannot be measured. There are people (sometimes myself) that talk about purpose – and there are others that live it. Evan is both.
As an art gallery owner in Florida, his business changed overnight when the economy plummeted. Instead of becoming a victim, and closing shop, he and his wife found a way to accept the situation and be transformed in the process. Today, the gallery is still open.
Evan’s inspiration and insights are expressed powerfully in his blog The World is Freaky Beautiful. He is a blog machine! At a time where we are surrounded with what’s wrong with the world – Evan chooses to shine a light with what is right.
It is an honor to have Evan as a friend, and he was nice enough to answer some YES questions!
Travis: Evan, what does living your YES (your purpose) mean to you?
Evan: You ask the tough questions, Travis! Couldn’t we have started with what I had for breakfast and worked up to this?
Living my Yes is engaging in my soul work. For me it’s creative connection — and though this may sound redundant, it falls into two broad, interconnected areas: creativity and connection. Creativity includes creative expression (for me, through words mostly) and creative engagement (with whatever I’m doing). Connection to me means connecting as deeply and light-heartedly as possible with others, and as much as possible with SpiritFlow/SpiritSource.
Travis: How are you currently expressing your YES? Work, projects, day to day, etc.
Evan: Ahhhh, the soul work! How does that fit into a busy day …I’m a find-the-small-spaces-in-the-day kind of guy. It may be of necessity. My wife and I own an art gallery with all the hubbub that a retail environment entails. The Yes work is about capitalizing on pockets of time that open up throughout the day and evening.
Though the gallery is a thrill, my Yes work involves two things every day. The first is writing daily for The World Is Freaky Beautiful (FreakyBeautiful.com), a personal and spiritual celebration site.
The second is writing daily on a book project. Currently, that’s a bookito, a little book called Bohemia in Suburbia . . . and Beyond, which will be finished in a matter of months. It’s about the creativity and originality that can found and lived outside of city centers. I think you and Hollister exemplify one version of that.
Travis: I can’t wait to read the book! As for The World is Freaky Beautiful – tell me about the inspiration behind that title.
Evan: At one point it dawned on me that there is as much significance — and magnificence — in the crushingly difficult as there is when it’s all easy breezy. The World is Freaky Beautiful was launched as an exploration and celebration of this mystery journey we’re all on.
Travis: I know the last few years have been rough financially. How did you navigate these tough times – and respond with such inspiration?
Evan: By getting raw and making changes. I got naked and raw and open in every way possible in my spiritual practice. Asking, demanding, seeking, accepting, subsiding, quieting, listening, reveling (with where I was at), then flowing with whatever presented itself.
Travis: What fears or obstacles have felt the most daunting? How have you handled them?
Evan: My biggest fear was utter failure, failure to be able to live up to my responsibilities. Our biggest obstacle occurred daily, hourly — you felt it by the second — not enough money to pay the bills. We had staff, artists, vendors, businesses depending upon us. That was shattering. And dispiriting. It was of such a magnitude that words themselves pale in comparison to the experience of that onslaught.
Bankruptcy was sometimes a breath away, or a week away, or at most a month away. For three years! We had family members begging us to give it up, declare bankruptcy. We had friends suggesting the same thing. We had our minds imploring us for relief from it all.
Much to my wife Ann’s credit, she jumped on board with some radical life changes. Within four weeks of the stock market crash I knew in my gut this was going to be our generation’s decade of torment economically. Within six weeks the idea presented itself to sell our home and move into something at half the price, as a way of radically reducing our expenses to see if we could survive this thing.
The gallery business is a luxury business . . . sales had dropped 75 to 90 percent overnight. Ann agreed to selling our home, her dream home, rather than try to hang on. And then she orchestrated the most amazing one-month makeover. We sold it quickly — yes! — and scooted out into the great unknown.
Within six months of the crash I started going on the road, transporting artwork. First it was to save the shipping expenses for what we were obligated to ship for artists and clients. Then I plugged into an art transport network, in order to make some money at it with our big gallery van that was sitting mostly idle. That lasted for about a year and a half, up to three and a half weeks a month on the road. It was rough, isolating and relentless. Twelve to sixteen hour days, every day on the road. No days off. Then it would be home for five to seven or ten days if I was lucky, to catch up in a flurry with gallery business, and then off again.
There’s no better way to find out if you really practice what you say you believe than to undergo a sudden collapse of your business. I don’t recommend it as a preferred method for spiritual growth — but I’d never take back that experience. All that is good and great in my life now has emerged powerfully from this shock to the system. The catastrophic losses we suffered . . . turned out to bearable.
I have a favorite Henry Miller quote: I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive.
I get that. I’ve lived that. Oddly, I’ve loved that.
Travis: I love that quote!
During all of your time on the road, alone with your thoughts – what did you learn most about yourself?
Evan: That I am highly adaptable. Resilient. And — surprise of surprises — that I can make an adventure of anything.
I also learned the most invaluable lesson: The more often I connect spiritually in a day, the better that day is. I’ve written about it at Freaky Beautiful — about what I learned about spirituality on the road. It is essentially this — even in the most relentlessly active existence there are small spaces in the day to connect.
For me, then, it was at rest stops, service stations, meal breaks — and out loud in the van whenever needed (and as loud as needed).
To this day I’m a fervent believer the world can be saved by a well-timed bathroom break! You can connect anywhere in a minute.
Travis: The Well-Timed Bathroom Break, that might have to be your next book
What one or two activities do you do regularly that feed your Soul…your YES?
Evan: I meditate every night without fail. And often in the day when I can for short periods. The meditation takes different forms, from deep, soul-rollicking love and appreciation . . . to simple zazen. That time of attentive silence at the end of the day may also alternate from meditation to prayer and back, especially in times of duress.
I have a short drive to work, no more than 15 minutes. Every morning while I drive I speak declarations out loud, addressed to the Infinite Spirit within me — you’d call them affirmations. They are principles I seek to live and aspirations I seek to make real. I speak them out loud, each day bringing its own natural emphasis to something on the list. It ends with my latest favorite statement:
Thank You for all the good that flows my way, and all the good I can flow today.
Travis: If there is one idea…or feeling…you want people to get from you…what is it?
Evan: The Inexplicably Amazing pervades our lives, always.
Travis: And it’s pretty darn freaky beautiful! Thanks brother!
To experience The World is Freaky Beautiful – click here.
Evan is living his YES, are you? Take the YES Test to find out.
Want to live more YES in your life? Find out more about the YES 101 program that inspired this site. You can start now!