Something has clicked in the last year and as I parcel up another big sale to go out into the big, wide, world I am reminded of this. My friends think it is because I have got all the arseholes out of my life, I think there is some truth in that but the main reason that I believe things are starting to sort themselves out is because I try and learn from my mistakes.
I touched upon something the other day, about how a bunch of disaster areas in my local community were organising their own singles night. Without knowing the people involved, it sounds a perfectly reasonable and pragmatic thing to do. The organiser was complaining about the lack of eligible men in the community and how they were musing about busing in some replacements from somewhere else… Now being a bloke and knowing enough about the person in question to steer well clear, it is safe to say that the problem isn’t with the local men, but with her. The article also describes her as ‘beautiful’… Now it’s a big old world out there and there is someone who will find anyone attractive but I suspect the market for boss eyed women with flared nostrils that look like they have been used as sausage holders since birth, badly dyed hair and no figure narrows the field somewhat. Whilst I am happy to admit that I am a podgy balding man with too much body hair in an attempt to deflect critism of hypocrisy and spitefulness , we all know that true beauty comes from within, or should do, and in that regard this person criticising the men where I live is positively repulsive in the personality stakes. I must add in case of potential legal problems that I use the word ‘repulsive’ in terms of its truest meaning, i.e to repulse people.
I say all this for one reason, it is not easy for some people to acknowledge that they have a problem that needs addressing and in this example it was easier to set up and promote an event and rather than admit that the reason she couldn’t find a suitable man was because she isn’t actually a very nice person and that is what needs to change. The world is full of people like that sadly, going to great lengths to run away from their own truths. There are those who go on great quests to join everything going, throw themselves into causes, pastimes and good deeds rather than look at themselves and try and change. If you do it for long enough you can die of old age before you have to actually start living your life properly, many people do just that.
Me, I had the mixed blessing of having a complete nervous breakdown in my late twenties, I had to re-learn everything from base principles and learn it properly. I did a lot of work with some wonderful therapists to pick up my life and put it back together minus all the wrong assumptions that lead me crashing off life’s motorway and into the ditch in the first place. It was a long time before I felt strong enough to get back in the dating game, it took longer still for me to realise a basic truth about the world in which I live, which is that there are a lot of very damaged people out there.
The key issues come down to awareness, awareness of how damaged we are inside, awareness of the potential problems in our families, our friends, what we do for a living and how we spend our time. There is no point repairing a puncture if you choose to go straight out and ride down a road surfaced with broken glass and there is no point trying to start a relationship when your world is equally inhospitable. Granted, you can find someone as equally broken inside as you are who is oblivious to the problems you have but in the long term it will end in disaster. It didn’t work for Sid and Nancy, it didn’t work for Kurt and Courtney and it won’t work for anyone else.
Fortunately, being without a terminally damaged relationship to keep shawing up, it has allowed me to concentrate on the more easily fixable parts of my world. I’ve extricated myself from Facebook and in turn the poisonous self absorbed ant farm that is my local community. I have rebuilt my blog, minus the sweary and ranty stuff, I have focused on improving myself, my career and my health and it is allowing me to cope better in this toxic mess of a world. Most importantly, I am learning from my mistakes and I try and make a different one each time rather than the same one over and over again.
In his play, Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett wrote, “I’ll try again, I’ll fail again. I’ll fail better than I did before.” In there lies the answer, if you can wrap your head around Beckett’s circuitous language. Keep trying and every time you mess up, learn and mess up differently.
Being an artist you get used to failure. You get used to rejection emails for prizes, jobs and shows. You get used to wilderness periods of not selling a thing. You get used to making art that is crap, less crap, then okay, then good. One day I hope to be brilliant but that’s all it is right now, hope. I’ve done some good shows, some stuff I’m very pleased with and now fairly regular sales, work and commissions, all from knowing that I need to keep working and, more to the point, working on myself.
Working on yourself is not a universal panacea but if things keep going wrong for you and you aren’t sure why, don’t blame others and do more and more grandiose things to fix that which is going wrong. Take a long, hard, look in the mirror because the thing that is causing you misery might be staring straight back at you.