I’m supposed to write an essay for DEDPXL every month. Which is really freaking cool, because I love Meg and Zack and the whole DEDPXL utopia, and I’m hugely honored to get to share my stories and musings and… blah blah blah.
But here it is, nearing the end of August, and this month’s essay is a steaming pile of shit. It’s full of touching metaphors and five-star adjectives, and it sucks. It makes no sense, not even to me. And I wrote the damn thing.
And last night I kept asking myself, “What the fuck, Self? Why can’t you just WRITE SOMETHING? (But, you know, something REALLY GOOD.)”
Then I had a scotch and went to bed. And when I woke up this morning, I knew what was wrong.
I’m a failure.
I’m a failure because I’m not even a real writer. I’m just some asshole with a keyboard who started typing stuff one day and someone shared it on Facebook.
I’m a failure because I’m a hack of a photographer. I hate technical specs. I kinda understand the One Light. I mostly get how pixels work. I shoot with a 6D because I think the Mark III is a rip-off and who needs a sync port anyway?
I’m a failure because I’m a terrible business person. You know, I have NEVER made a single estimated tax payment? EVER. Every single year I pay all my taxes in one big lump sum that practically drains my savings and leaves me pale and twitching in a corner.
I’m a failure because I haven’t cleaned my bathroom in a month, my fingernails look like a kindergartener painted them, and my desk is buried under a pile of mail in which I just uncovered a party invitation for one of my dear friends and I missed it. Also: I’ve been leaving my house in a pair of huge, men’s work pants I got at the thrift store.
But the really crazy thing is that, if I’m perfectly honest, I don’t care. Not like, “I don’t care about anything anymore” I-don’t-care, but like… I know it’s gonna be okay.
My experience of life so far is that sometimes it’s bad. And sometimes it’s pretty good. And then sometimes it sucks REALLY hard. And then other times it’s magnificent.
Unfortunately, when I’m in a “blah” spell, I can’t seem to see my way out of it.
I’ll sit at my desk for HOURS
You know those times, right? When you have so much to do you want to cry, but somehow you’re not getting ANY of it done? When every single portrait you make looks like a blob of flesh-toned goo wearing denim sprinkles? When every blog post is alphabet soup on your screen?
So I did the counter-intuitive thing this morning, and, before I could even think about sitting down at my desk, I called my best friend. “I’m coming over,” I told her. And I drove my little electric car over to her house and held her tiny three-week-old baby for a solid two hours.
And you know what Adeline didn’t do? She didn’t say, “Put me down, you have an obscene amount of editing to do!” She didn’t gasp in horror at my latest essay attempt. She didn’t cry in disgust because my “almost finished” new website has been almost finished for half a year now and good grief woman would you please just get your act together?!?
No, Adeline just lay there in my arms, squeaking little baby squeaks and being a person.
And that’s it, right there. The only thing any of us can do. BE.
Be in the good and the bad. Be in the muck and the magnificence. Be happy and sad. Be frustrated and fulfilled.
I don’t always make great pictures. But I will always be a photographer, every damn second of every damn day, because I have a camera and I’m not going to stop trying. And some days, trying means putting down your camera and just having a beer.
I don’t always write something worth reading, but I will always be a writer, because I have a pen and a keyboard and I’ll bleed before I give up. And sometimes, not giving up looks like a big fat middle finger right at your computer screen.
Because we can’t indefinitely strive for bigger and better. We just can’t. We burn out and we lose motivation and we need to stop and eat lunch and exercise is pretty good for you, too.
But being means you’re in it, for better and for worse. Being means it’s okay, even when it’s not. Being means you’re a failure, and you’re a roaring success, all in one fragile skin.
Right now? I’m being ridiculous, dejectedly eating dry Cookie Crisp because I’m too pitiful to go to the store for more milk.
But that’s okay. Tomorrow, next week, eventually: I’ll be amazing again.