I have a robust, running list called “My Life Goals.” It has a wide variety of bucket list-like items that I am excited to accomplish at some point in my life. It’s exhilarating to check the box “done.” I can feel the endorphins rushing through me.
Some of My Life Goals, in no particular order, are: learning to play the harmonica, eating al pastor tacos in Mexico City, be a street busker for a day, give a TED Talk, eat a bowl of Khao Soi Gai in Thailand, and sleep in an igloo. A few Life Goals I have already accomplished are: attending a Green Bay Packer game in Lambeau Field, walk around Red Square in Moscow, become a dual citizen of another country (Luxembourg) and seeing U2 in concert…in Dublin, Ireland.
One goal fulfilled a few weeks ago was the making of my first ceramic pottery bowl. In a few week I will be painting a landscape for the very first time. And exactly one month from today (as of this posting), I will be standing in front of a huge bucket list item: the Pyramids of Giza. Austin Kleon says “Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. You need to make it uncomfortable. You need to spend some time in another land, among people that do things differently than you. Travel makes the world look new, and when the world looks new, our brains work harder” (Kleon, 94). I have been a big Austin Kleon fan for a number of years. When “Steal Like An Artist” was published in 2012 I snagged it up fast, and have loved all of his writings such as “Show Your Work” and “Keep Going.”
He is like a good pencil: simple but sharp.
Sure beats complex and dull.
Two books that I have personally written (albeit self-published) were conceived and executed with “Steal Like An Artist” sitting right in front of me. I imitated the physical size of his books, the punchy sentence structure, and the winsome use of language.
The pottery instructor that worked with me on the making of a ceramic bowl said that I was the “quickest learner she has ever had.” I give full credit to binging three seasons of “The Great Pottery Throwdown” on HBO Max. In preparation for my painting lesson I am doing a deep dive into the late, great Bob Ross. Also, I’m thinking about growing my hair like his iconic fro. Don’t stop me.
You see, it’s OK to copy and emulate others, especially your heroes. Kleon says, “The reason to copy your heroes and their style is so that you might somehow get a glimpse into their minds. That’s what you really want–to internalize their way of looking at the world” (Kleon, 36). All the “greats” have done it, but they didn’t stop with copying, they brought transformation to bear upon their imitation, in order to “add something to the world that only you can add” (Kleon, 41).
So, in one month I will be standing in front of the Egyptian Pyramids, the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. I hope, and will encourage our tour guide, that we start not at Giza, but instead at the Pyramid of Dahshur. At Dahshur, there are two pyramids, the first built between 2613-2589 BC. The architect started this pyramid with limestone but miscalculated the structural weight placed on the soft ground. The enormous blocks used to construct the pyramid did not have their weight distributed appropriately, therefore the pyramid was off-kilter, so the construction was abandoned. It’s now known as “The Bent Pyramid of Dahshur.” 
We could call these pyramids and their architects a “failure” but that would be short-sighted and ignorant. They learned from their mistakes and moved on to, well, bigger and better pyramids. Kleon says “You might be scared to start. That’s natural. There’s this very real thing that runs rampant in educated people. It’s called ‘imposter syndrome.’ It means that you feel like a phony, like you’re just winging it, that you really don’t have any idea what you’re doing” (Kleon, 27,28). I’ll bet the contractors, chief engineers, architects and laborers enlisted by Pharaoh felt the same. 
I am curious to discover, hopefully while on this trip, how the Egyptians, with no technology, sophisticated tools or modern machinery were able to build these amazing structures, the only structures visible from space. Who did they copy/imitate/emulate? Who did they steal from?
Speaking of stealing…you can bet all the money in your pocket that when me and my wife, along with 40 folks from our church are in Egypt, standing in front of the Pyramids, we will steal from “The Bangles” 80’s hit song, “Walk Like An Egyptian.”
Look out Instagram followers.