TRY SOMETHING ELSE

TRY SOMETHING ELSE

Another IPS (Inner Peace Symptom):  an inclination to try and see whether you can pull something off.  [Trying it for yourself can lead to some amazing discoveries.]

I am watching a young friend who’s stuck in a major cycle of suck.  He won’t try anything new.  I don’t understand why it’s so hard for him, but there it is.  He sits around moaning about how his life is not working, but he won’t try doing anything different.

I don’t know.  Maybe he took the Icarus story too much to heart.  Icarus and his dad, a mythological inventor extraordinaire named Daedulus, were incarcerated in a famously inescapable prison by some king or other.

Daedulus, it says here, invented a way for humans to fly.  (This was long before hot air balloons and heavier-than-air planes or anything.)

The inventor and his son, the story goes, strapped on wings made of wax and feathers that Daedulus designed.

The wings worked and father and son escaped the fortress strong, but Icarus got so tripped out by the experience that he flew too close to the sun.  The wax melted, the wings fell apart, and he crashed.

At this point, the Greek chorus cuts in and dolefully groans out the orthodox lesson:  “The gods get angry at those who would dare to fly.”  Uh-huh.

(It is worth noting that Daedulus also flew and he got away clean.)

icarus
“Icarus” (at the entrance of the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio) by The Mighty Tim Inconnu via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick had an interesting take on the Icarus myth.  He said, “I’ve never been certain whether the moral of the Icarus story should only be as is generally accepted, ‘don’t try to fly too high,’ or whether it might also be thought of as ‘forget the wax and feathers and do a better job on the wing.‘”

Kubrick is famous for directing ground-breaking, innovative films (in their time) like Dr. Strangelove, Clockwork Orange, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Shining, and Full Metal Jacket.  He was really good at the art of trying something else.

HERD-THINK

We are, all of us, trained to fit in.  The herd is stronger if everybody is all together, doing the same things, following the tried and true is the reasoning.  Everybody agrees.

Don’t stand up.  Don’t stand out.  In Australia, they call it the “tall poppy” problem:  Stand out and you’ll be cut down.

In Japan they talk about the nail that sticks up.  (It inevitably gets pounded down.)  Sheesh!

Taking a turn off the beaten path engenders dire predictions of eminent doom.

the-tall-nail
“What’s That Saying About the Tall Nail?” by Alan Levine via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

The easiest way to “fit in,” it seems, is not to start anything, not to try anything that is not-like-the-other-guys.  It’s also a really good way to get stuck in suck…as my young friend is, unfortunately, finding out.

The problem is you can get mired in a miserable bog of your own making that is a lot like being stuck in high school forever.

fit
“Fit” by Daniel Horacio Agostini via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

SEED THOUGHTS AND SUGGESTIONS

The antidote to all the heavy, herd-induced, foot-dragging, haul-that-barge-tote-that-bale mentality is to get into the habit of trying something else.  It doesn’t seem to matter what you try, it seems.  (Probably, though, experimentation with the latest pharmaceuticals might not be a grand idea.)

Software engineer Matt Cutts is featured in this You-Tube TEDTalk that was published in 2011.  In it he advises, “Try something new for 30 days.”

If that sounds like too big a step for you, there’s an even smaller, tiny-step method, all ready-made and on-line.

In this YouTube video by CreativeLIVE, “28 to Make: Create Something New Every Day This Month,” you can join Makers Kate Bingaman-Burt, Ryan Putnam, Erik Marinovich and Lara McCormick in their romp through a series of daily creative project ideas that show up in your mailbox when you sign up for them.

It’s a “way to get back into the habit of making cool stuff”, they say.

One of my favorite books that I dip into again and again for new things and new “heads” to try on is Mark Nepo’s THE BOOK OF AWAKENING:  Having the Life You Want By Being Present to the Life You Have.

Nepo took 14 years to write the book after coming out the other side of cancer.  They are his beautiful musings about life and loving and being heartful.

The book was published in 2000 and has since gone all over the world, being translated into 20 languages and over two dozen printings.  It is a wondrous place to put your head if you are wondering what else you could try.

Go on…give these things a shot!  Who knows what you might make?

[An update:  Since I wrote this, my young friend has fallen in love with the logistics and geometries of tree-trimming and arborial gymnastics lugging chainsaws and other loud tools, as well as the shaping and tending of lovely old trees and the beauty of wood. We were able to point him towards a mentor — a semi-retired old-style logger dude who was extraordinary in his day.  It’s all good….]

Here’s a poem:


NOT A STORYTELLER

Blocked.

Again.

It just keeps going like that:

Erect a new idea and float it –

One more flying castle in the sky –

Then run-run-run to lasso the thing

And anchor it to the ground.

 

Work your buns off making it come real,

Then watch it crumple one more time

And dodge those stupid falling rocks

Coming down all around you.

 

The wise ones call it a treadmill, ya know.

I think I’m starting to get it.

That hamster in his cage has nothin’ on me except

The squeaky wheel’s starting to irritate the heck out of me,

And he just keeps on truckin’.

 

Okay…

Tell me again, babe:
You are doing this…WHY?

Hmmm….

Where’d I park my Millenium Falcon?

There has GOT to be a better way to do this.

 

Ya know…

I think I figured out why I don’t write novels.

I’m not a storyteller, it seems.

My timelines fall apart and nothing makes any sense.

It does not come together.

 

I guess I wasn’t born to write stories.

Nope.

I’m just doomed to live them.

(Sigh!)

by Netta Kanoho

Header Photo credit:  West Maui Mountain Sunrise by Mike via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below and tell me your thoughts….

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24 thoughts on “TRY SOMETHING ELSE

  1. Before I was working as a waiter in a good company with a promising salary but now I’m quit and start to build a website. I wish someday I could write an inspiring book. Most of the time I got inspired by some brilliant writers. I want to take my part also to inspire others. Now I’m still learning a lot to improve my writing skill. Thank you for bring out the topic to try something else.

    1. Hey, Satria: Thank you for the visit and for sharing your story. I do appreciate it. Please do come again.

  2. I think it is very wise to try new things. Unfortunately from a young age, we start to learn that if we don’t follow other people and do the things they do we will stand out and be made fun of. Kids can be very mean to one another when someone ventures off the path. If you don’t fit in, you will be left out in the cold so to speak.

    I really like the idea of trying something new for 30 days. It takes time to build a habit and find out if something new will fit with your life.

    You have a very inspirational way of writing and communicating your ideas. Great post!

    1. Hey Jen: Thank you for your visit and your comments. I do appreciate them. Please do come again….

  3. What a GREAT article. I so enjoyed it and especially the two videos. I’m definitely inspired to take the 30 day challenge. Sounds wonderful.
    I was also inspired to buy the Mark Nepo book.
    Just a delightful oasis, this post and this author.
    I wish there were more poets/authors like this.

    1. Hey W. Tucker: Thank you for the visit and your comments. I hope you enjoy Mark Nepo’s book. I found it very inspiring. Please do come again….

  4. In order to grow we have to get out of our comfort zone, the work does not owe us anything and it is up to us to make things happen and unfortunately sitting around complaining is not going to make things better as it’s just creating more Negative energy keeping your friend in a negative mood.

    I hope he works it out! 

    1. Darren, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do agree with you.  (Got my fingers crossed!)

      Please do come again….

  5. I have always had a hard time with the “B” word ever since I was a kid.  Of course using the “B” word (Bored) in my house was an invitation to do even more chores to my old school parents.  When I hear people at any age say the “B” word I physically cringe.

    You said your young friend is moaning that life isn’t working.  My mind wandered instantly to thoughts about your friend.  Is he in school?  Is he working …what is it that he IS doing.  Since, my mind couldn’t wander too far about someone I don’t know personally, I concluded that he may be caught in the infamous loop.

    I call the infamous loop…”if you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you’ve always got.  It’s as depressing to write as it is to read, of course but, it’s a truth in my life.

    Being an utter TED talk addict I was stoked to see Matt Cutts’ Try something new for 30 days it’s an excellent process!

     I have had the opposite issue from your friend.  I try everything!  I have skills in so many areas because I am ever-curious and a forever student.  The ‘issue’ part of that was never figuring out a solid income from a thousand different ideas.  So I dubbed myself ‘financially creative’ <~~ another term for ‘usually close to broke but, still happy.’

    My hope, is that you show this page to your friend and hopefully he will be interested to hear what your audiences’ thoughts are as well.  I hope he is surprised by what he learns with a 30 day do or do not or, a create something new everyday for 28 days.  For me, when I am making conscience effort to do something daily…so many lessons come to me.  So much opportunity arises that wasn’t there before.  My last experiment was learning to test software (I’m still a newb.)  I dig it and will most likely continue to learn because it gives me insight and new skills beneficial to the ones I already have.  In the beginning 30 days a huge realization washed over me.  It was a deep appreciation of writing and all the reasons I write.  It made me realize that no matter how difficult it was sometimes that it is what makes my soul happy.

    I wish your friend…a new experience and I hope he shares it with you as well!

    1. Fyre, I do thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  

      Your comment made me smile.  I, too, belong to the Not-Admitting-Being-Bored generation for pretty much the same reason!  (Just mentioning the B-word was totally dangerous since it set the wheels turning in my grandma’s head, and she was way good at coming up with long, long, long to-do lists.  Sigh!) . 

      As a result, I too am a perpetual student with the same rampant curiosity about just about everything.  (It may explain a lot about my obsession with writing, that.)  

      I think that my young friend will be all right.  He just needs to find something that challenges him in the right way, I am thinking.

      Please do come again….

  6. I enjoyed the story of Icarus and the takes on it by the creative and very talented Stanley Kubrick.  I am a former story artist for film and his work is incredible and definitely not the product of the eloquent and accurate title you gave “herd-think”  I see this daily, if you go out of the confines of what is deemed “socially acceptable” than you are put in a place of scrutiny and judgement by the herd thinkers.  I am so delighted to find content of this nature as the ones who do not follow the crowd, will go places the crowd could never imagine.  Thank you too for the book recommendation – the title and knowledge of it were foreign to me before reading your engaging post so I am very appreciative.  I look forward to delving into more of your content!

    1. Bex, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do appreciate it.  

      Please do come again!

  7. Wendy Fisher says:

    YES! Stagnation leads to a flow of unceasing, indistinguishable days. Time flies away and we haven’t created memories or experienced joy or excitement. 

    I love trying new things; it keeps me vibrant and engaged, and often in a flow state. 

    Thanks for this beautiful reminder that we can generate new experiences and have more fun and satisfaction if we seek out the novel. Beautiful post. 

    1. Wendy, thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I love your thought about stagnation leading to unceasing, indistinguishable days.  (Oy!  Been there, done that!)

      Please do come again….

  8. Interesting take on the legend of Icarus – especially Stanley Kubrick’s view about doing a better job on the wings. It can be easy to get lured into a simple routine and stick with it long after it is serving you. 

    Growth happens outside of personal comfort zones, so even though it may be challenging, it is important to occasionally push yourself and try new things in order to grow as a person.

    1. Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts, Aly.  I do agree that pushing against your horizons is the only way to make room for different, other, better, whatever.  

      (It’s also a heck of a lot more fun, once you get used to the dropping-stomach sensation at the start of one of those runs.)

      Please do come again….

  9. Steve Costello says:

    Thanks for this wonderful article. Very inspiring and it’s made my evening.  

    The topic is very relevant to many people and it will inspire hope and possibility. The layout is great and very easy to follow. 

    It’s a challenging niche, there’s a lot out there but your work will stand out in a crowd. Superb work. 

    Steve C

    1. Thanks for the visit and for your kind words, Steve.  I am glad you enjoyed the post.

      Please do come again….

  10. This is indeed a mind cooling poem that taught one how to adapt when life is treating us in a way that doesn’t suit our aim. We just have to be fair to ourself and  be contented. 

    There are many time we will want things to work for us but it refused to do that due to many circumstances that surrounded it. 

    The best way is retry it or start new again.  We know it can yield well in our own way. 

    1. Stella, thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  (I love your description of my endeavor:  a “mind-cooling poem.”  Neat!)

      I always tell myself (when things aren’t going my way), “Flow with the go, babe…just flow with the go.”

      Surprisingly, it does work.

      Please do come again.

  11. Hi Netta. I’m glad to read about this young gentleman and how he has started this new career. It’s refreshing to know he’s doing well now.

    I hadn’t heard the Icarus story. And it has been thought provoking. 

    I understand that flying high or lifting the head higher is not acceptably viewed by the system. But as it also has been suggested, it could also be required to adjust the strategy when flying.

    1. Henry, thank you for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.

      My own feeling is that course corrections are always necessary when you’re flying by the seat of your pants.  

      (Since none of us get issued a user’s manual or a road map when we pop up into this world, it is sort of a given that we’re going to be flying blind sometimes.  Things do turn up and we can catch them if we’re willing to notice and to try new things.)

      Please do come again….

  12. Hi Netta,

    I’d like to read more selectively (classics and well-written fiction) than I do currently. I work from home these days and seem to be too time-poor to make it happen. It recently occurred to me that – in the past – most of my recreational reading was done on aircraft and in hotels. These days I travel less and read less. I’d like to fix that.

    In his book, ‘On Writing”, Steven King expressed the view that good writers read more than they write, much more. That’s a big ask when a professional writer writes for several hours a day – not that I’m a professional writer.

    Congratulations on your poetry. Limericks are as much as I can manage.

    Cheers, 

    Henri

    1. Henri, I do thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  Given the amount of writing the prolific Steven King is wont to do, I bet the amount of the reading he does must boggle the mind!

      I do like your direction — trying to fit more and better recreational reading into a busy life is a good thing.  

      I agree that fitting it in can be a complexity.  (Maybe that’s ’cause travel-time also has a lot of alone-time built in, which is more conducive to reading.)

      I find that having at least one recreational book handy (among all the others) so that it’s available to be read in the down-times (when you are suffering from brain-deadness) is a help.  

      So is demanding that the recreational book be engaging and worthy of the time I spend on it.  (A lot of stupid books get thrown against the wall at my house.  I refuse to keep reading a dumb book.  They get no respect from me.  It’s also why I am not a fan of Kindle.)

      Please do come again.

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