I am not going to assume everyone knows the title for this post is from a Clash song The Magnificent Seven If you do not know the song, take a listen, I will wait…..
It is time for me to become unstuck from the past. All too often people are trapped in their bubble or loop. They take the same route to the same job, see the same people, read the same things, listen to the same music, and on I could go.
Not that there is anything specifically wrong with these things. There are very good reasons to have a job, a group of friends you see all the time, like the music you like, these things can bring great joy and comfort to our lives.
But, it is good sometimes to try something totally different. I like to think of it as rediscovering what it was like when we were kids, everything was new and exciting. Every experience was novel. That feeling can be recreated when we let go of our past habits and just try something new. It can be terrifying. I have had several people tell me I should try stand up comedy (one person said I would need a LOT of work on my material first, fair enough), and the idea of standing on a stage telling others what I think is funny is so far from my comfort zone. I do not want to do stand up professionally, but the idea of getting in front of a bunch of strangers and doing something that makes me feel that uncomfortable is an intriguing one for sure.
I probably won’t do it, I have other things that terrify me more and I think I need to do first anyway. Writing these postings is part of this process, as I type these words I have to turn off that part of my brain that is imagining you and others reading this and them imagining what on earth you must think of this rambling mind of mine. But, I try to turn that off, and just write, it is useful to me, if anyone else likes it I get bonus points.
My first real photography mentor/ teacher John Gray always would write on the board and tell anyone who would listen COMFORT IS YOUR ENEMY. When I read it as a 19-year-old punk rock kid I assumed it was referred mostly to material comfort. If you have too many nice things you can’t be a good photographer. You know, suffering artist type bullshit. There is an element to that in what he meant, but I think now the way I see it is, if you are doing what makes you comfortable all the time, if you stay in your box, or silo, comfort zone, small town, large town, neighborhood, car, your own head, you will never grow as a person and if you are trying to do any sort of creative work you will be stuck in a creative rut.
These are not at all original ideas, many people have articulated them much better than I am or ever could, but as I have said before, these writings are for me. I need to remind myself every day that the only way to grow as a person and photographer is to push myself into those uncomfortable places, to do something every day that I have never done before.
There is a podcast called Invisibilia that I have been listening to lately as I edit photos. One of the episodes was quite interesting and prompted me to write this post. The main character of the story lived a comfortable life working for a tech company, making a good living, he had good friends, and all was good. But, sensed something was missing, so he wrote a program that searched Facebook events in his area and would choose at random one of the events, and he went. A few times it was awkward, but most of the time it ended up being a really awesome adventure. He met people he never would have encountered in his normal life, it expanded so much of his life, brought him a joy that so many of us are lacking. At the end of the podcast they said he is working on an app that will do this so we can all try this novel way to get out of our own bubbles. However they did not say when it will be done, nor where to look for it. I think they want me to go to their website to look for it, so why am I resisting?
And that reminds me of one other story I heard the other day. People somewhere found a way to capture monkeys of some type. They would get a large piece of wood, an cut small holes in it. Inside the small holes they places something shiny which would attract the attention of the local monkeys. The monkeys would reach into the hold to grab the shiny object, but in creating a fist to grab onto the object their hands could not fit through the small hole and the monkey was trapped. All the monkey had to do is let go of the shiny object and he would be free, but he really wanted that shiny object, so stayed there until the humans came along and captured the monkey.
I am trying to let go of that shiny object today.