I am afraid a lot. I cover this frequently in my podcast, and yet the feeling never leaves.
I was doing a lot of thinking in December, and that’s when I heard the story about Inviting Mara to Tea. You can read the story in the link there, but essentially it’s a story of the Buddha who was being stalked by a demon of chaos that he had recently defeated. His aids would alert him to the demon lurking, and the Buddha would invite the demon in for tea. It’s a basic “face your fears” story. With tea and biscuits.
I fear failure. I don’t blog regularly partly because I’m afraid I have nothing to say, but I’m also afraid if I do have something to say it will fall flat, or resonate with no one, or no one will care, or I will miss the mark entirely of what I’m trying to say. In essence, I’m afraid it will fail. (Strangely, podcasting doesn’t fall into this realm because I have to work to listen to something I’ve recorded while the blog post is RIGHT THERE. Brains are weird. Shrug.)
After thinking a bit on this Buddha story, I also thought about all the things I used to do before I feared failure. Back in the early days of podcasting, I feared very little because I had succeeded in nothing. A little bit of success and suddenly I was introduced to something that could be taken from me, and I was afraid to try again.
I stopped making whatever idea came to mind. That’s a damn shame.
In 2016, I want to make weird shit again. I want to come up with crazy ideas and just do them. I want to write the stuff in my head that makes people look at me funny when I tell them the concept. I want to write more Shambling Guides. I want to do a video series. I want to do another audio drama. I don’t do these things because I am afraid of failure.
But I try to think about what Ze Frank said in my favorite video of his from July 11, 2006 (which mysteriously seems to be missing from the Internet, if anyone can find it I would be grateful! Full transcript is here, at least.) He was asked if he ever worried about running out of ideas.
I run out of ideas every day! Each day I live in mortal fear that I’ve used up the last idea that’ll ever come to me. If you don’t wanna run out of ideas the best thing to do is not to execute them. You can tell yourself that you don’t have the time or resources to do ’em right. Then they stay around in your head like brain crack. No matter how bad things get, at least you have those good ideas that you’ll get to later.
Some people get addicted to that brain crack. And the longer they wait, the more they convince themselves of how perfectly that idea should be executed. And they imagine it on a beautiful platter with glitter and rose petals. And everyone’s clapping for them. But the bummer is most ideas kinda suck when you do ’em. And no matter how much you plan you still have to do something for the first time. And you’re almost guaranteed the first time you do something it’ll blow. But somebody who does something bad three times still has three times the experience of that other person who’s still dreaming of all the applause. When I get an idea, even a bad one, I try to get it out into the world as fast as possible, ’cause I certainly don’t want to be addicted to brain crack.
To avoid being addicted to brain crack, in 2016 I’m going to face failure. I’m inviting it to tea. In fact, 2016 is going to be an entire year of tea parties, welcoming failure to come and have a sit down. The above graphic will go along with whatever stuff I come up with this year. I’m not denying failure. I’m not avoiding it. I want to talk to it, and get to know it, and share a cup of tea.
Won’t you join us?
Ah, Failure, my old friend. Earl Grey or are we avoiding caffeine this week? I just got a lovely mild green from Adagio. Would you like to try it?