Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Getting Off The Dime

I just got in from Chattanooga where I participated in the 4 Bridges Art Festival. I saw some very inspirational clay work there -- Shadow May, Shirl & Jim Parmentier, Andy Smith, and Larry Spears, to name a few of the best. I also met a blog reader or two, and had some time away from the studio to do some thinking.

This youtube seems to be making the rounds of the internet of creative people. Mostly folks who don't need the message seem to be the ones inspired by it, but it's sparked some interesting discussion nonetheless.

I was at first inclined to bristle at the oversimplification behind video's thesis. I think I was mistakenly reading into it that all that was needed to make great work was to get off the dime and get started. Upon further reflection, I don't think that's the idea.

Because he introduced the subject by much repetition of the word "great" (great works to make great impressions on great people), what the writer seemed to be referring to was a specific dime on which he was encouraging the reader (or listener) to "get off" -- the dime of expectations too high. And I know what he means. I think. I think that especially people my age have life experiences -- and, maybe more importantly, tastes -- that intimidate them from even attempting creative endeavors.

It is a concept long referred to as "Sacrificing 'good' at the altar of 'best' " -- the crippling notion that unless one can achieve some standard of excellent, one won't even try for good.

I think that's one reason why, though I dabble in music, I don't write lyrics. My standard -- acquired by voracious listening to the best writers EVER (coupled with the number of times I've cringed at the amateur lyrics to which I've been over-exposed) -- intimidates me from even attempting to write lyrics. I can't get it out of my head that what I write should measure up to the standard exhibited by the music to which I listen.

But what I further take from the writer's charge is that if we DO just get off that dime, we will MOST LIKELY be naturally channeled to the next important step in creative endeavors -- problem solving.

In other words, if we never start, we never advance to solving the problems we create for ourselves by our first clumsy attempts. BUT.....if we do but start, we USUALLY find pleasure in the creativity, and that inspires us to move onward. As we solve the problems we create for ourselves by just DOING, we then tend to grow exponentially.

And, okay, sometimes we fall flat. But sometimes, though we don't meet our initial expectations, we do find:

1. A more educated way of looking at what once were our expectations, and we now judge those expectations through the eyes of experience.
2. New expectations and the surprising realization of just how much sidewalk there is between the gate of what we thought we knew, and the door of knowing.

1 comment:

  1. Great post John! I totally agree that problem solving is the real winner in getting off the dime. So much of what we do creatively hinges on our confidence, and getting over that first tentative step can be enormous for many folks. And accepting that risk is accepting that we can challenge ourselves to learn new things. Thanks for the great post!