I am the Mighty Worrier. It’s my one true super power. My Clark Kent disguise is my ability to find humor in most things but my real strength is the ability to fret with the force of 10 megaton bombs. Not about normal things, but about really stupid things. I go into a restaurant and I start looking for the ideal piece of cutlery to use as a star of death in case we get overthrown by ninjas. I keep a laser guided nerf dart gun by the bed in case a burglar comes in because in the dark all he’s gonna know is “laser on my forehead… I should leave”. I never sleep naked because if it comes to wrestling said intruder I can’t have my junk flapping around. I worry about the island of plastic the size of Texas floating somewhere in the Pacific. My super power does serve a purpose, however. When I get on a plane I immediately start the process of angsting over everything from ball lightning to vortexes to furry critters on the wing and thanks to my secret power, these things never happen. Oh the lives I have saved over the years keeping the planes afloat simply by covering all of the worst case scenarios. I should get a medal.
But there was a time, a life changing moment in time, when I stopped worrying and simply did the stupid thing that popped in my head without fear of reprisal or fear of the future, the result being that all the kids in high school saw me differently from that event forward. It change me overnight. In a way I have my physics teacher to thank. Mr. Spoto’s name was perfect for him, he was like a cross between a smart alien on Star Trek and something out of Lord of the Rings, he did not exactly inspire through intimidation, though he was a great guy. In class one day I was called to the chalkboard to solve an equation, it was like one of those dreams that has since repeated over and over again where I’m in class for a test and I realize I never read any of the material and I’m there in my underoos. I had, in fact, not studied the material a lick and was not really sure how I would ever fake my way through proving Plank’s constant. But I did notice two things; one was that the chalk catcher thing was filled with about 2 inches of chalk dust that ran the length of the chalk catcher thing and two was that Mr. Spoto was seated about 3 feet from the far end of the chalk catcher thing. I quickly ran the equation and realized I had no choice but to blow the entire mass of chalk dust onto our little Frodo the Science guy. I took a deep breath and let it go, the whole length, and he disappeared in a blooming cloud of inert dust, I was banished from the dork forest for three days and reemerged triumphant to all of my friends. The rest of my high school life was cake.
As this is essentially an art blog, I’ll bring it around. Worry and fear are the key inhibitors to true creativity. How many people paint a certain way or a certain thing because they see that others have done it? How many people are copying the artists that are copying other artists? A lot. Why? and here’s my theory on that, they fear not being accepted, either socially or economically. History isn’t filled so much with the artists who have solved the same equations the same way every time but who have looked for another way. Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, Thomas Hart Benton, Damien Hirst (love him or hate him), Tim Hawkinson, Anish Kapoor, Pollock, all the Ashcanners, these are all artists who have come at the thing another way… taking the other path without fear. Think of it this way, if you were the last person standing on earth after the Apocalypse and you happened to live near a fully stocked art store (because, really, who is going to loot an art store at the end of civilization), what would you paint? Now don’t get me wrong, there is no shame in painting the landscape when a million people have done it before you, there’s always something new to say, I get surprised almost every day at the latest new way to put color and form together to interpret a natural setting. Just saying, think about if you only had a little amount of time left and you knew it really mattered… what would you do? I say go for the chalk tray, I’m trying to get back to it myself.