Often, the correct course of action is not one that we wish to take.
We resist. Understandably so, in many cases. A course of action suggests change. Change can be (often is) scary. There’s more certainty in what is known.
There is also more pain and sadness, in my experience, in ignoring the call for change. More general disquiet.
Dissatisfaction. Resentment. Anger. And yet, it often takes much suffering, and/or one big sign of the need for change, for many of us to finally take that action.
This is okay. It has to be, I think, if we are to at all improve at narrowing down this cycle.
Growth, obviously, comes up often on the podcast. I had a nice talk about gaining experience, about the importance of forward motion and learning, with the guest for this week’s coming episode. And when Leah Bonnema came on the show, she similarly stressed the importance of “going to work every day”.
All of this to say, I still have room to improve. We all do. Good work begins with the small stuff. I think I’ve been showing up in this way for a long time.
But the big, risky actions? Those can be difficult. But, to again echo a guest on Coffee with Creatives (Laura Goode) I think much of this seeming bigness is illusion. Smoke and mirrors and words both smooth and stinging.
When we choose to make art, which invariably also does cost money, we do not do so thinking of the money first and the art second. But when you aren’t an artist, or acting completely as one within a financial or social transaction, certain additional realities must be dealt with one way or another.
Despite my general practicality, and the cautiousness with which I usually ration my optimism, it surprised me, in recent months, to find myself being misled by various third-party partners, as we went about completing The Videoblogs.
Perhaps this was naive. To again echo Laura, who found it far easier to raise extra money to finish her film after it was accepted to the Tribeca Film Festival — the truth is that most people are conditioned to seek pre-sanctioned, external validation before they commit their full energy to something.
That’s not necessarily unfair. It’s a difficult time for commitment. There is, seemingly, a never-ending stream of options, sometimes even flowing back and forth in time, vying for our attention and resources.
And, so, as storytellers, we have to prove ourselves. Constantly. In order to provide evidence that we are worth The Risk — of money or time.
Still, I think that’s mostly garbage. It’s short-sighted, and arguably cowardly.
It seems to me that, out of fear, we have defanged true risk in our society. We’ve broken it down into pieces, seeking to understand and control as much of as we can — because we’re desperately afraid of failing.
I know I have done this. But I’m growing weary of it. The deconstruction destroys the construction, in a way.
Should we be smart? Prudent? Strategic? In taking a realistic view of the aforementioned market saturation (for content especially) — I would have to say yes.
But to only lean on these preparations, to give them so much disproportionate weight, and to thus unsteady and rob the counter-balancing power of the risky idea at the core of an enterprise — this to me is folly.
A real risk costs much, and yet nothing. It reveals no certain answers in terms of prudence and strategy, instead promising growth and experience, if faithfully executed. It is deeply personal. It draws its power from sources we can barely identify of explain.
Inspiration. Passion. Faith. With these sources of power, a true risk becomes easy to make. If and when we remember to believe in the risking itself, and not only outcomes.
A risk is a story. We need to protect our stories. Their true worth is not measured by intermediaries.
Intermediaries have far less power than they’d have us believe. It can become difficult to remember this, as they massage messaging and make promises or suggest futures that they have no real influence over.
They are struggling for survival as much as we are, if not more so. They likely feel just as frightened or desperate. And I pity them, somewhat, for that — because they aren’t dealing in pure stories. As a rule, they must mitigate risk. To do this, they must find, be shown, or invent evidence. We’ve seen, in this country, how badly that can backfire.
Whereas we, the storytellers, might find flashes of solace — in the knowledge that we are attempting true change.
This is part nineteen of a thirty day trial, during which I am writing and publishing a post every day. No refunds. Comments welcome and encouraged!
Day 04: Circle Up and Laugh
Day 05: On The Future of Labor
Day 07: The Word for World is Earth
Day 11: Tragedy, Remembrance and Wonder
Day 14: Legitimately Va-goo
Day 15: Sex-Bleating and Cat Vomit
Day 16: The Waiting Place
Day 18: How to Decide What to Make Next