I’ve been thinking. For me, one of the most difficult things to do is to act without the fear of being misunderstood; and so I rarely act. Relative to the amount and variety of things I could do and accomplish, I perform them very infrequently; and often the reason is an inescapable awareness of how something I do or say will be received by people around me—particularly on the internet. I feel like I need to make a distinction that I don’t mean that I’m afraid people won’t like what I have to say. In the realm of anything artistic, total disapproval can be just as energizing as being celebrated as a genius. The devastating type of reaction I’m talking about is actually, on the surface, a positive one; but one which totally trivializes the effort. It’s the sort of mild congratulations that I’ve been guilty of myself when someone composes their masterpiece, the sum of their life’s work and uploads it to SoundCloud, and my comment is “very cool bro”.
I’m not sure exactly what I’m suggesting here, but it’s probably along the lines of the old conversation of the Internet removing an element of humanity from the human experience. But I think, more importantly, it also has a lot to do with risk. My “fear of being misunderstood” is a phrase I chose since it’s easy to relate to, but I think I’m suggesting that it’s not really a fear at all. It’s an unwillingness to raise my sails out of a certainty that someone will inadvertently let the wind out of them. I could describe at obnoxious length my storied past of people doing this to me with the best of intentions; but I think the lesson for today is the following, and it’s important for all of us to remember: Even if I was able to convince you that I was legitimately exhausted from trying to create art by years of intentional and malicious discouragement (which, honestly, is rare), a fact of the Universe is that no amount of good will, pity, or empathy from others can take away the necessity of that risk in creating art. No one at any time or any level of fame and success has been or will be excused from the risk involved in putting some of yourself into your work, and putting it out into the world.
Maybe the unfortunate part about that statement is that it’s not good news for me and others who feel this exhaustion from throwing our masterpieces at the massive monolith of the world and watching them bounce off and crumble. But at least, I hope it’s a reminder that it’s not going to happen any other way. We can keep improving the quality of our work; we can change where and how we present it, and keep getting smarter about all these things; but we can’t forget that one certain way to fail is to begin thinking we should be exempted from the risk of failure. To become unwilling to take risks is the same as quitting.