Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been pushing you to push yourself. To step out of your comfort zones and try new things. The truth is, we have all kinds of voices in our heads telling us things. Some of these are intuitive voices and feelings that we should listen to, others are lies that limit us and pull us down. I’m not sure where these voices come from, but they haunt us, they follow us around. At times these voices are so loud we swear others should be able to hear them. They block out everything else in our mind. We freeze, like a deer in the headlights, unable to move.
The voices are confusing. They sound like good advice. Who can argue with a voice that says, “Don’t be foolish!” That sounds like good advice. But who says? Why do we have to be dignified all the time? Why can’t we be foolish? Of course there’s a time and a place to be dignified. But, there is also often a time and a place to be foolish, silly and uninhibited. It takes a foolish person, or an uninhibited person to walk up to a complete stranger and to say, “May I take your picture?” Why is it so difficult to do this? Are we afraid of rejection? What’s the worst that can happen? They say, “no.” That’s it! Nothing else. They’re not going to hit you. They’re probably not going to call the police on you, they’re just going to simply say, “No.” Fine, they said no, and you feel foolish. But you also just had a small victory, you have a power over that voice in your head. You won. Now go to the next person and try again.
Another message is, “You’re going to make a mistake.” Okay, so it might make a mistake. I don’t know of anyone who learns without making mistakes. The problem is somewhere along the line we learn to fear mistakes instead of looking at them as steps for success. George Bernard Shaw said, “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” So the choices seems to be, sit around and wonder what could have been or risk it and perhaps make a mistake but learn from it and grow. In his book Visual Poetry, Chris Orwig tells how he had a music teacher give him some of his best advice about learning his cello and how he has applied it to life. He told Chris to make “bold” mistakes. Not just mistakes, but bold mistakes. Mistakes are what we learn from. If we’re not making mistakes were not growing. The famous film director Garry Marshall once said, “It’s always helpful to learn from your mistakes because then your mistakes seem worthwhile.”
Then there’s the voice that’s always telling you to be practical. This voice wants you to do it like everybody else. I guess, being practical is often a good thing. We certainly don’t want to be impractical with our money or waste our time away. But being practical when you’re trying to be creative is a death blow to creativity. Pablo Picasso may have said it best when he said, “The chief enemy of creativity is common sense.”
This past Saturday my daughter and I decided not to listen to the voices in our heads. Jessie and I went out in the morning to a local market. Once there, I gave Jessie and myself an assignment. The assignment was this: We must make four portraits in one hour of four strangers without showing their faces. This flew in the face of all the voices. This was foolish, not practical and I’m sure we would make plenty of mistakes. But we needed it. We needed to be pushed and Jessie needed to see her dad pushes creative boundaries as well. I needed to model what I was preaching. Below, you will see the images we took. I use my iPhone and Jess used my 5D. You will see a couple of the images are almost the same even though we split up and shot separately. You know what they say about great minds.