I was reading Marta Pelrine-Bacon’s post Speaking of Failure and it got me thinking. Partly, because my cleaning lady whom I call Wonder Woman is here today, and I feel energised by her company to tackle the last of the unpacked boxes that have remained unapologetically stalwart against the wall opposite my bed. As I was unpacking a box of materials I’ve bought over time to make various projects, most of which have been used, a few that have not, I thought of Marta’s post and her collection of unused supplies, and put mine aside to send to her. Better that they clutter up her house, right? (After all, she has a whole house in Texas; whereas I only have a small one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan.)
I went back and forth, of course, in my mind: should I keep them for myself…just in case? But, just in case, what? I ever get around to making something with them? Unlikely. There are only so many hours in the day and thinking up more projects is not part of my plan for January, or February, or the rest of the months leading to Summer and beyond.
But I also began to think about whether there is such a thing as failure in the creation of, well, anything?
As I put the kettle on to make tea for Wonder Woman and me, the Monkee’s playing in the background, I thought back to my days as a director and the rehearsal room. Was everything that got “rejected,” “set aside,” “discarded,” “abandoned,” a failure? If we had kept every idea the actor or I, or the designers had, what a bloody mess the whole thing would have been. And nothing successful to show for it; other than a kind of hoarder mentality. Instead, what I learned from Jerzy Grotowski was that you look at the seed of what the actor brings into the room and peel away everything extraneous to the truth.
Isn’t that also the case of all seemingly abandoned “art” projects? Didn’t they begin with an idea, an impulse, an inspiration, to create something that glimmered or flashed for an instant in our mind’s eye? Or perhaps had been contemplated for a long time and finally the moment to begin appeared to knock on our personal doorway to Time. “Here I am,” it said, “do with me what you will. Except I will tell you when you’re doing it wrong by not making it right.”
From there my thoughts carried me to here: What if whatever you believe or think brought about the Big Bang or evolution had never begun? What if [it] had said, “I won’t begin, because I will fail.”? How could we get to know the truth, in even the smallest measure, of how infinite the powers of creation, beauty and love are, if only for an instant?
Behind my office chair is a stack of materials meant, last year, to be put into a creative paper-making scheme. Will I still make paper, cards, collages and other projects I meant to? Yes. Will I use the same elements, am I the same artist I was/would have been then? No. Last year’s materials clutter my space and my spirit, but they did bring some energy and joy, back when.
I have some old seeds to recycle or discard, new seeds to find.
Getting unused art supplies in the mail would probably deliver more than its weight in inspiration. Also, I will always find room for art supplies. Art supplies and books. And action figures.
I especially like your final paragraph here. Indeed. What if?
I’m even worse at getting packages off to people than I am in getting written cards and letters into the post. Exploding Mary (and Jeannine) can attest to that. But I will keep in mind that you are a willing recipient of art supplies and books. And action figures, of course.