How I Met Your Mother and Making the Next Picture

Not too long ago, I found myself watching a late-night re-run of the TV show How I Met Your Mother. Completists might value knowing that I was watching episode 20 of season 4 — the episode has its’ own Wikipedia entry — but familiarity with the show isn’t necessary to understand my point. In the episode, one of the main characters is starting his own architectural firm — or he would be, if he weren’t obsessing over trivial matters like selecting office supplies and planning corporate retreats. In fact, he’s willing to devote time to just about anything except the one thing that might actually get his dream off the ground — cold-calling potential clients.  The point of the episode, I believe, is that fear of failure can sometimes keep us from trying. It’s easier to fixate on minutiae than to tackle those big challenges that might actually yield the results we want.

This type of thinking has often derailed the things I want to accomplish. My work schedule has been pretty full since I created this blog almost six months ago, but when I wasn’t working I found myself paralyzed by choosing a design for the blog and debating the thematic direction it might take over time. The result: no blogging accomplished since setting up the account! Obviously this approach isn’t working…

I have a photographer friend who sometimes says, “All you have to worry about is making the next picture,” in regard to what some folks call creative block. I’ve decided that might be a good approach to blogging, as well. I’ve chosen a name for the blog — Don’t Forget This Song — and decided, at least initially, to focus on music. The next step is simply to write and give it a chance to develop. I’ll see where it goes in due time.

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One thought on “How I Met Your Mother and Making the Next Picture

  1. Hi Chris,

    Neha pointed me in the direction of your blog. Like you, my lasting passions in life are music and photography. I agree with your observation that we sometimes get so focused on the little details of our processes that we don’t achieve much. I sometimes wonder if we take more pleasure in going through the steps involved than in reaching our intended objectives.

    This may not be exactly what you described, but we see it in in the work of artists of all kinds- Sometimes this kind of obsessive attention to minor details is a way to avoid moving the work along- because we don’t know where to take it. After a while, we start to see and hear with the same eyes and ears, and produce art in ways that worked for us before. Witness the uneven albums of Bob Dylan & Eric Clapton to name a few. Brian Wilson was so consumed with tiny details while making “Smile” that it was never finished. In my case I started to take pictures of the same subjects, in the same ways, – and while each new picture was different- creatively, I was taking the same picture over and over again. Pretty good technique- but lacking something.

    I decided to give photography a rest and learned to play the guitar, (badly). I started writing and recording without trying to sound like Jeff Beck, Dylan or Wes Mongomery- and not really caring. I shared some of these recordings with someone I know, who had been playing since he was a kid. He couldn’t compliment my playing ability, but seemed impressed by the melodic hooks, structures and arrangements. Despite my lack of attention to planning and detail, the experience was a creative success.

    I just bought a new camera. I hope that being a bad musician has taught me how to make more interesting pictures.

    Good luck with your blog, Chris. I’ll come back in a bit to see how it is progressing. Hugs to your lovely bride.

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