We had the good fortune of connecting with Cate Montana and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cate, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Apparently I’ve lived a life filled with risk. I say “apparently” because most of the things I’ve done haven’t seemed overly risky to me. They’ve just been the next thing that was “up” and seemed interesting: show jumping horses, paragliding, white water kayaking, camping solo across country. I’ve risked my money on occasion and definitely traded monetary security for the wisdom gained living an introspective and often solitary life meditating in the wilderness.
I’ve risked my heart over and over again.
I’ve changed careers several times, but communication is the running theme, starting off in television, then newspapers, then writing books. Has it been scary starting over innumerable times, expanding into something new? Absolutely. But as a writer, how can I write about life if I haven’t engaged it? Fear is the great dark shadow that makes us small … but only if we let it! When you spit in fear’s eye and do what you feel called to do despite the fact that you’re shaking in your shoes and you want to puke, it reveals itself as the illusion of the mind that it is. And your own creation!
Probably my most defining risk has been spiritual … walking away from all accepted (ie. limited) systems of thought, including religions and eventually “spirituality” itself——finding my own way to the divine and my own true nature.
Arriving at my body’s death with even a short list of things starting with “Wish I’d done ___” is inconceivable and seems a terrible waste of life. What are we here for if not to understand as much about life/God/ourselves as possible and then express what we discover as authentically and fully as we possibly can?
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As an artist—and we’re all artists creating our own lives, moment to moment—I think the important thing is not what sets me apart from others, but what reveals me to be the same as others. It is in our commonality that we find inspiration and comfort, you know? We desperately need respite from the rat race of constantly trying to set ourselves apart and be somehow different and “better than” others—more talented, richer, more beautiful, sexier, more spiritual, blah blah blah. What a tyranny!
If there’s anything I’m proud of it’s that I’ve finally understood this.
How did I get where I am? One day, once choice at a time. Was it easy? God no! Are you kidding? Is anybody’s life easy? I think not. The Buddha was right when he said, “All life is suffering.” Sure, there are lots of pleasant moments. And some people seem (on the outside at least) to have it “easy.” But overall, life is a hard slog for everybody until you finally uncover what the hell “right-mindedness” and “right living” mean. (Part of the Buddha’s Eightfold Path.)
Discovering that and then living it takes sincere dedication to liberation. Possibly even obsession.
Lessons to share? Hmmm … 1) Follow your heart. Always. No matter what. It will NOT lead you astray. Follow your heart. Ignore what everybody else says. Accept how terrifying it sometimes is and take the first step anyway, and then the next and then the next.
2) Keep going. Don’t stop.
3) If you don’t follow your heart or you falter along the way, try not to beat yourself up about it.
3) Be kind … starting with yourself. If you’re kind to yourself, being kind to others naturally follows.
4) Don’t be afraid to care.
My brand? My story? I’ve given up thinking about being a brand. Can love be a brand? Gentleness? Clarity? Passion? Freedom? Humor? Those things belong to everyone. And my story is everyone’s story. The details are wildly different. Everyone’s details are wildly different. But the story is the same.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The Santa Monica pier and the beach. Go be a little kid again.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Every person I’ve ever known, every book I’ve ever read, every film that’s ever thrilled me, every sunset and sunrise I’ve ever watched perched on some mountainside … to all these things and infinitely more … thank you! And a special shoutout to Yeshua.