With sincerity, I believe that there is nothing in the world you can’t master with enough practice and enthusiasm. You want to be great at something? Work on it constantly and learn to love that work. The author Malcolm Gladwell posited that one would need ten thousand hours to hone a skill to the point of mastery… Or three hours per day, every day, for nine years or so. Working on your craft.

There’s nothing casual about that sort of commitment. Such an investment is not the territory of weekend warriors.  Above all else, in a way that is both illogical and unreasonable, you have to want it. And just like you can’t learn how to be seven feet tall, the desire to do whatever it takes to stand apart is not necessarily behavior that can be taught. It is a burning yearning that emanates from the pit of a person. And while I believe all people have it inside of them to some degree, few ever really come to know it and feel its fevered fervor. Far fewer are able to put that energy to good use.

This intangible, immaterial, internal force, I’ve come to call “the fire”.  It has guided many of us in the direction of our destiny since a time before we are even aware of such lofty thoughts. It burns inside white hot–tormenting us, beckoning us toward our passions, unaware of time or occasion. Mine was recognized and fanned by my father, guarded from the elements by my mother, the coals stoked by my muse. It has raged in flares and smoldering cinders for twenty-five years.

You learn over time that the fire wants what it wants and we are subject to its whim. How you fuel your fire often will dictate your fate. My fire has long been fed by two primary sources of fuel—inspiration and aspiration. And it has always been my responsibility to keep it burning at high temperatures. Typically, the quality of the art and media I consume will dictate the furious clip at which I run. It can come from anywhere and without warning… Hip-hop, literature, film, art, magazines, articles, interviews, images. Even training. Whatever it takes to feed the machine, I will seek out and ingest. Where others have expressed or excelled or endeavored in a manner that provokes thought or promotes change, evoking emotion or emitting desire, I am plugged in… Prepared to nourish my process.

Aspiration is the other potent propellant feeding my fire. Endemic to my personage since my youth, I have always instinctively wanted and sought more. More than I had, more than I thought society had decided I was supposed to have. Not just more in terms of mere material goods. But more in terms of opportunity, security, influence and power. More of what I desire. More of what my folks deserved… More of what my people demand. Aspiration is often born of a healthy chip on your shoulder and a genuine resentment of your circumstances. But what can burn others out, leaving them bitter and eventually bury them, to guys like me, instead throws gasoline on the fire. To struggle and strive and grind for years, and to keep pushing forward, makes aspiration a standard mode of operation.

Like any blaze, to burn its hottest for longest, your fire must breathe. In the midst of our creative process over the years, we came to term outward, shared manifestations of artistic vision as “flames”. A particularly inspired graphic, or a written piece or video could all be casually referred to in passing as a flame. To keep the fire raging, it would need to be expressed–coming into contact with the oxygen of the external world. These flames were intended to catch spark in the minds of others and take on new life, burning in their soul.

And ultimately, that is the purpose of this fire. To perpetuate a positive cycle of creation… Aspire. Inspire. Make fire. To seek more for yourself and never settle. To fight for yours through creating what you alone can see in your mind’s eye. And for others to observe your efforts and accomplishments and to in turn seek to build something substantial of their own. To pay forward this fire within, is your way of giving thanks for the blessing of being infused with this inner inferno in the first place.

The most powerful force in the universe, the fire can be dampened and stamped out by the wet rag of cold spirits. It can be kindled forever to warm a great many. Or it can blaze uncontrollably and incinerate you to ashes from within. The fire is your gift. To cultivate. To channel. To share. To burn this bitch to the ground. Don’t waste it.