pine burst

October was quite awhile ago. The other side of the solstice. That’s how long it’s been since I last wrote an entry. There are all sorts of things floating through my mind to write about, but sitting down and actually writing hasn’t happened. Finally the voice in my head that keeps me sane said “stop thinking about writing and write something”. So here it is. What am I writing about? It seems I’m writing about not writing…. However, I’ve included a recent photo I was happy with, so I’ll talk about that.

It’s part of what I call my ‘Leica rebellion’. If any lawyers from Leica are reading this (‘get a life!’ springs to mind) it’s meant as a backhanded compliment. Modern lenses are SO good, they leave NOTHING to the imagination. Point-n-shoots compound the problem by automatically setting the exposure and shutter speed, focus, etc.. So I’ve learned a number of ways to ‘trick’ my camera into giving what some might call ‘less than perfect’ results. One great way to isolate a subject is to make everything else out-of-focus. In this case, to make a close-up of the end of a pine-bough, I stuck a magnifying glass in front of the camera and shot through it.

What does this have to do with writing, or not writing? I think comfort must be the antithesis of passion. The more comfortable your existence gets, the easier it is for your passion to become hidden. Layers of soft plush pillows and soothing TV’s all cause it to recede into the distance.

But with time, the mind and body become restless. My restlessness begins to rear its head and I fidget. I get shack-whacky until finally the voice in my head comes to the rescue and says something sarcastic.

“You’ve been sitting there so long you’re growing roots.”

“Are you sure you still know where all the letters on the keyboard are?”

“Stop trying to write and write.”

I keep coming back to that last line, in some variation or another. It’s been a background thread in my thoughts for years. TV society (what we learn from watching sitcoms) wants us to get points for ‘trying’. But trying is a slippery word. It’s like one of those taco dinner mixes that comes with everything you need. It has a built-in excuse, an escape from failure. “Well, I tried.” My sarcastic little internal voice, the one you can’t let out in company, says a try is a practise. Do or don’t do, succeed or fail. There is no try (apologies to Yoda for the paraphrase….).

Thomas Edison said “I know more ways not to do something than any man alive”. That’s part of succeeding or failing. You fail at something, you learn something and move on. Maybe in failing to do something you unexpectedly learn something else. To fail 10 times makes the success that much sweeter. To say “I tried” 10 times just has a trivial sound to it. Maybe it’s because tried can be made to sound like a whine? I failed has a harsh, anglo-saxon sound to it (yeah I know, I looked it up. French from Latin). A lesson was learned. Well, I suppose that’s an assumption. Failure isn’t much of a teacher unless you learn from it.

Ok, the whole failure thing has other angles, especially in the artistic world. There is an inspirational, and somewhat surreal, interview with Malcolm McLaren on This Spartan Life. A lot of people would say he is best known for a string of failures. Or even that once something becomes successful, he shifts gears and goes elsewhere. He sums up his take on things creative by quoting a professor from when he was a student.

“Any kind of benign success was never worth having. Much much better to fail magnificently.”

Now, I’m not a fan of failure for failure’s sake. By being so against something, so passionately, you still believe in it. Otherwise it would be meaningless to you. But the thought of being willing to fail, magnificently, stikes a real chord. Unless you are willing to embrace the prospect of failing, to accept it, until it doesn’t matter one way or the other, then you are free to do, instead of try.

Ok, enough preaching, thanks for listening and I hope all my new friends in the WordPress world have a Merry Christmas!