Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” This was one of our writing prompts this week in Mexico – a line from a poem by Jack Gilbert. I’ve always loved that line. So much permission in it – and really, it’s the only way that anything creative ever gets accomplished. That willingness is required – the willingness to make a mess, to not have it turn out as planned (or at all) the willingness to be a beginner, to be in a process, to not do it as well as the experts (or whoever else we’re comparing ourselves to)
We made paper flowers in San Miguel. Laurie and I thought it would be fun to bring an artisan in to teach us, do something with our hands, play with color. I sent a photo of the flowers I had photographed and fallen in love with on our last trip. “Can you teach us to make these?” I asked naively. How did I know how difficult they would be to make? They looked so effortless in the store.
We ooohhed and ahhhhed at the colored crepe paper and tried to follow along as our darling teacher showed us how to pinch and fold the edges of the brightly colored strips. Oh, and the lesson was in spanish. “Dammit, I can’t do this. Mine isn’t working. Wait, what’s going on? I can’t see. Will you help me? I suck at this. I had it, now I keep losing it. Why is this so hard?”
We were all frustrated. I felt a mini-rage inside me, my inner 5 year old was mad. “I CAN”T DO THIS!!” she wanted to shout. I breathed deeply, didn’t scream and marveled at how seriously I was taking all of it. April wrapped a hot pink swath of crepe paper around her neck. “Soy flor,” she smiled. And suddenly I laughed out loud. I got it. The silliness of it, the ridiculousness of the tantrum I was keeping at bay. I doubled over in laughter.
“This is so fucking hard!!” Laurie shouted.
Our flowers were all different. They were misshapen and wonky, Seussian and off-kilter. Puffy in all the wrong places. A flower only a mother could love! someone said. “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly!” We all said in tandem.
The last night of the retreat we had a slideshow, a time for all of our participants to share a few images they were proud of and tell a few stories in front of the group. We bought a projector off of Amazon and we were excited to try it out. But guess what? Yep. The slideshow was a disaster too!
We couldn’t get the images to load quickly enough, or even show up in their entirety. The resolution was terrible, the saturation of the color (so important for photos in San Miguel) was abysmal. People weren’t particularly frustrated until it was their turn and they realized the setup didn’t do their images justice. “It’s better on my phone!” each person cried.
And then that feeling came over me again, how funny this whole scene was, how we tried something, some new technology, and the wifi was too weak, the resolution was terrible, and we had to futz with the projector over and over again. “Oh my god,” I giggled to the crowd, “this is the worst slideshow in the history of slideshows!”
And you know what? If the flowers had gone all Martha Stewart and the slideshow had gone off without a hitch, I wouldn’t be telling you any of this. It wouldn’t even be a story. I wouldn’t remember it.
We are flying home now to SFO and each time Laurie lifts her carry-on, I see the flower she made peeking out of her bag. It’s gigantic and pink, gloriously misshapen. And it fills me with a very particular joy – something about trying new things, of knowing life is messy, of appreciating the calamity of it all. So much more beautiful somehow for it’s imperfection.
This is Brave Blogging my loves. Sometimes we do it well, and other times not so much! We will practice together. 6 weeks of creative prompts and lessons on how to get your blog (and your authentic voice) out in the world.
Class begins Monday, March 25th (tomorrow!) LAST DAY to get the special price.
P.S. To get the early bird price, register today! Just enter the coupon code – BRAVEBLOGGER19
The regular course price is
$147, but you will get it for $99