The Will, The Wall

closePlease note: This post was published over a year ago, so please be aware that its content may not be quite so accurate anymore. Also, the format of the site has changed since it was published, so please excuse any formatting issues.

Every so often I get the desire to create something. Unfortunately, this desire doesn’t usually include websites. I want to paint a picture, build furniture, draw a web comic, shoot a video, and so on. The problem (besides not having enough time) is that I often lack the muse, the tools, or the technical skills required to accomplish my goals.

Sometimes the feeling is more abstract; I know that I want to create something, but I’m not sure what. In high school, I used to paint after school every once in a while. A friend and I would take a long strip of butcher paper, lay it on the ground, and paint. Inspiration was haphazard at best, and it was during one of these painting sessions that I first learned from a teacher about Jackson Pollock.

This desire to make something without the ability is frustrating, which seems only to fuel the desire further.

I suppose at some point I need to admit to myself that even with all the time and money in the world, the skill required to fulfill my desires will always elude me. Even if I could learn the skills, I don’t know that I could find the correct inspiration. At work, I look at what the graphic designers do and am blown away. Even in film making — something that I do well — I see the work of other directors and know that I would never have thought to do the same thing.

How do you know when you’re the best at something? When people tell you that you are? No matter how depressing it feels to be so far from that level of creativity and skill, it must be equally depressing to know that your success is transitory, and that you are surrounded by your successors.

Is this what the human struggle is all about? Do we live our lives in a vain attempt to be unique? I’m certainly not content to simply be a cog in the system, but without cogs, the system wouldn’t run. Must our passions always only be our hobbies?

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  1. Tom Dineen

    If it is something you created and think it’s right or finished, then it’s far from. If it’s something someone else made and you think it’s perfect and amazing, I guarantee they feel it’s far from either. If they think what they made is, then they are full of shit.

  2. I really need time to write a full reply, but since I don’t have that:


    “I suppose at some point I need to admit to myself that even with all the time and money in the world, the skill required to fulfill my desires will always elude me.”

    I don’t particularly subscribe to this idea. With all the time and money in the world? I look at things successful people have done when they were first starting out, and they are invariably crap. (Sure, Mozart was composing great at age 5, but you should have heard the shit he wrote at age 3. Drivel, I tell you).

    Talent is, in my opinion, overplayed. Skill, acquired through practice and study, beats “talent” every day. If you really REALLY devote time to something, you will improve.

    For some reason I’m reminded of the interview that Darthside-version Darth Vader gave to Anne Arkham:

    AA: If you couldn’t be an intergalactic bully, what would you be?

    DV: Podracer. Or possibly a composer. I do not play any instruments, but if I could devote some serious time to it……..who knows? It would also be cool to design robots professionally. I see some really sub-par robots out there.

    (emphasis mine) I don’t know why that popped into my head. ^_^


    I’m certainly not content to simply be a cog in the system, but without cogs, the system wouldn’t run.

    Some people ARE content to simply be a cog in the system. Actually, MOST people are this way. Did I not forward the article (that came up at the S3 meeting) to you? The one about differing brain structures. The majority of people are satisfied with the world as it is (although this isn’t to imply that they don’t want more for themselves, which is a natural human imperative, but rather they don’t want the world to change). A minority want to change the world.

    This must sound strange, or even inconceivable (I keep using that word…) to you, but that is because you are in the minority. You want to be unique, to leave your mark, to change the world. Most (believe it, or don’t) do not. It’s crazy!

    (For the record, I can’t imagine being a cog either)

    Thirdly, what I hinted at earlier, people are predisposed to being unsatisfied. Enough is never enough. Want more from life? Good. It means you are classified as human (as opposed to, say, a meat popsicle).

    Fourth, grand masters, those that are the best at what they do, are the best at the expense of other areas in their life. Sad but true. Want to be one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of cinema? I believe you can do it! However, you might end up without any friends to share the accomplishment with (as your social life suffered to get you where you are), for example. Do you really want to be the BEST? You will have to make sacrifices. That’s how it works.

    Be careful what you wish for.

    [I really wish I had the time to write my thoughts out properly. Sorry for the thoughtstream in place of an actual comment]

  3. Kiani

    Every time you say things like that, it reminds me of the blood we share. I sometime wish grandpa was here to talk with. I am sure we would find a lot of our selves in him.

  4. I don’t know if this will make you feel better, but I found the article fascinating:

    “In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice-skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals,” writes the neurologist Daniel Levitin, “this number [10,000 hours] comes up again and again. Ten thousand hours is equivalent to roughly three hours a day, or 20 hours a week, of practice over 10 years… No one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.”

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