Define Your Own Good

I hate it when people look at art and say “I could have done that.” “No,” I think to myself, “You probably could not have.” They couldn’t, because they wouldn’t. They couldn’t, because it’s not a question of skill and ability, it is a question of perception, recognition, and influence. It’s knowing just what the world needed at just the right moment. Foresight comes cheap, once we’ve met the future. But knowing what will work when? That’s something special.

The problem is the truest definition of success won’t come from some argument, from some critic, from you, or from I. Only history will provide the context we need. Sometimes, I think art is just the act of constant effort in the face of near-certain failure. It doesn’t matter whether the effort is ridiculous or sublime. Power goes to those who try. History will tell us what really was ridiculous and sublime.

But if history defines success, then that’s both the curse and the blessing. Greatness is only revealed well after it has happened. It doesn’t matter if you could have done that. You either did or you didn’t. But that’s a blessing, too. In the present, before tomorrow’s greatness becomes yesterday, you define your own good. You might be right, you might be wrong, but your guess is as good as anyone else.

There are days I get up, and I just don’t have anything to go on. The tank is empty, and I don’t even know where to refuel. Some days you just want to survive. Those aren’t the days I regret the most. The days I regret are the ones where I was ready to go, had something to say, and let that get lost in the shuffle. Because art is no different than life. It’s not what you could have done. It’s having that great, inspired day, and finishing it out saying “I did that.”

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  1. says

    Speaking of someone who did it; Vivian Maier. To be deemed good or above average or even great even after ones death is an accomplishment. Failure is easy, success is hard, you can fail even while being grossly successful.

    I need to go out and screw up more and out of say 10 to 30 images find that nugget. An old contact sheet was basic but very telling. Are you searching for 100 gems out of 100 or are you looking and striving for that one image that makes “You” scream I succeeded.

    Looking forward to hanging out with you and getting utterly lost in frustration, disappointment and even maybe anger. Say what? Yeah it’s called life and I am not content with where I am at, never ever will be photographically and I am O.K. with that.

  2. says

    Sara,I have question.My hair color is dark brown/black. I want to dye my hair into dark red / bungdruy. I don’t want to bleaching my hair.I want to use permanent dye. I live in Indonesia. Commonly available brands are L’oreal and Garnier. Do you have any suggestions, what color suit me? And which products are right for me and should I use?I also want to have a few streaks/highlights in my hair with bright colors. Such as blonde, or whatever fits.I don’t know if it matters, but my skin is yellow Asia. So it might be to adjust the color of my hair.Thank you so much

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