The Feeling

Remember that feeling you had as a kid? That feeling of being able to do anything? Nothing was outside the bounds of possibility. The world was your oyster, and then you got educated, trained, confined, conformed and molded into what society, and your family, thought you should be.

“When are you going to get serious?” “When are you going to settle down?” “When are you going to get a job?”

This is a strange concept, but it happens to most of us. I can still remember feeling the pressure of these questions, and I can remember watching my friends go through the same thing. Our culture demands it of most and because of this, in my opinion, we have a lot of talented people who will remain nameless, tasteless and unknown because the conformity got the best of them. A house, a car, 401k, suburbia, and the idea of spending thirty to forty of your most productive years doing something you may or may not want to do.

I’m writing about this for two reasons. First, the content of the image included here. I can’t look at this and not laugh. This is a guy named Nick, someone I haven’t seen in years. This image was made in the hills near Mono Lake in Northern California. Nick is doing something that I’m not sure has an official name. I’ll just call it “Hill Running.” The point? To eat complete and total S%$%. The premise, start at the top, start running downhill at top speed until you hit that velocity where there is no ability to stop and then….well….just see what happens. Nick ate complete and total S%$# on this run, and the runs after and people that was the point(He also had a few successful runs.) It was about doing what he wasn’t “supposed” to do. Now you might label this as “stupid,” and maybe it is, but maybe it’s genius. I can only tell you how entertaining it was to watch.

Sometimes when I look around at the creative world I wish we had a bit more hill running in our lives.
The crossroads we find ourselves at is one of success verses failure, and for whatever reason failure is rarely looked upon as a learning experience and natural part of being creative. My personal belief is that this decline in acceptance of failure is tied to technology. I really like technology, but I am also very capable of calling bullshit on most of it. Does it make our lives easier? More efficient? Maybe, maybe not. Ever notice in the spy movies how the commander calls up intel on some fugitive and some lackey hits one key and their real time criminal history pops up on forty-foot-wide screens in real time? When in reality the system would have crashed, the headset the person was wearing would be cutting out, the firmware on the mainframe wouldn’t have been updated and one of the screens would have been littered with dead pixels. In theory I love it all, and I surely love the movies. In reality I wonder if we are better off now or if we are slowly walking into proverbial quicksand. Massive plots of poorly constructed soulless houses being hastily erected, MILES from public transportation, is still labeled as “progress.” If anyone can tell me anything progressive, healthy, forward thinking or sustainable about that I’m all ears.

Several weeks ago I was with a classroom filled with second graders.
This was my second trip to this particular school. I was fortunate because I got to visit art class. I stood in a room filled with paints, glues, papers, inks, brushes, tablets, etc, and all I could think about was gathering a group of my adult friends and putting them in this room. I wanted to turn them loose and say “Don’t worry about what you were supposed to be, just create something.” I wondered what this could do for moral. I wondered how many unknown Picasso’s were in my circles. I wondered how many of my friends had hidden creative skills? And I wondered how we transfer this feeling and belief BACK into our normal lives.

I don’t know about you but the horizon seems a lot closer than it ever has.
I believe less in the traditional theories about life, capitalism and the ever growing sense of needing to have more and more and more. How about have less create more? What if we could share this collective mindset. What if your daily life FELT like hill running? Maybe yours does?

31 Responses to “The Feeling”

  1. “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso

  2. hannah kozak says:

    Great post, Dan. Not only do I love the photo but I can see you grinning while shooting it! When we were children, we had dreams. Some of us had the guts to pursue those dreams and others were already stuck in conformity. This blog is a good reminder to all of us to keep creating and not get bogged down in the shoulds. Walt Disney always said it’s fun to do the impossible because that is where there is less competition.

  3. Robert says:

    It’s been a long time since I played wiffle ball in the weeds … surfed after dark … explored the alley behind my house … snuck in the neighborhood witches back yard to steal her plums … played army-man … I miss those things a bunch! What I don’t miss are all the grown-ups telling me to stop … now, as one I wish other grown-ups would stop telling my son to grow up …

    • Smogranch says:

      Robert,

      I think kids appreciate knowing where the boundaries are, but then we need to let them make decisions and specifically NOT be, well, like us adults.

  4. If this post had a soundtrack it would have to be “shiny boxes” from the first three seasons of Weeds. I live In house made of “ticky tacky” so I’m the pot calling the kettle black. But yes, kid mentality is better than golden. And we loose it before we realize we’ve lost it. Too bad society ridicules adults thinking like children.

  5. alison says:

    Thats really a great quote……….It does say it all.

    Your right It would be great to get a whole bunch of friends/ unsuspecting adults and let them loose with a load of art materials and just see what happens!……………………………… bring out the inner child!

  6. alison says:

    Sorry I meant Serges quote from Pablo Picasso !

  7. alison says:

    Talking about success………………………………… I think the way we judge it in western society is bit screwed up. We worship money and celebrity above all things . Failure is not an option!

    I think your absolutely right when you say failure is part of the creative learning process………

  8. LionelB says:

    In England we have a cheese rolling event, the point of which is to have hundreds of people doing this all at the same time. Actually there is another point, which is for the girls to make notes while the lads try to impress. Time immemorial that.

    Of late, the police have decided there is a health and safety ‘risk’ and have taken it upon themselves to sanitise it, suffocating its spontaneity. Yes, arms and legs get broken but isn’t that trivial compared with minds being numbed (or bludgeoned) into conformity ?

    Today I designed and made a book-case. It will win no prizes but my own hands built it.

  9. LionelB says:

    “There is something about a bureaucrat that does not like a poem.”
    — Gore Vidal.

  10. Chris Fuller says:

    Another insightful post. As the father of two sons I fear that even the joys of childhood are being taken away from our children in the name of safety. I recently learned from my sons (who recently finished middle school) that they were not allowed to play dodge ball in elementary school or to throw snow balls at each other on the playground. Living in Montana, the latter prohibition is like handing a child a Toys-R-Us gift card and telling him he can’t buy any toys with it. When I was in elementary school, Prison Ball (our version of dodge ball) was a rite of passage.

    I also wonder to what degree our notions of freedom inhibit our creativity. As Americans we desire to be free to do what we want whenever we want (as long as we do not hurt someone else when doing). However, does complete freedom elicit greater creativity? Some of the greatest films (e.g., Citizen Kane, The Searchers, Wizard of Oz, etc.) were made during one of the most restrictive periods in Hollywood history. I am not sure that films today are any more creative because those restrictions are no longer in place.

    • alison says:

      Hi Chris,

      It`s the same in the Uk everything is SOOOO safety conscious but to an unhealthy degree , Its completly crazy !! It needs to be addressed because we are creating a fearful society. I agree with Dan when he said kids need bounderies to flourish but these are completly unnecessary restictions. I spent ALL my childhood outside ,falling out of trees, exploring nature …………… Its such a shame if your boys cant even play dodgeball ……….NUTS!!

    • Smogranch says:

      Chris,

      We had “Pinball.” I got my first concussion playing that game, but I LOVED it. We all lived for it, taking out our frustrations by drilling lesser kids in the head. Lord of the Flies urban style. The girls loved it too. Now everything has been replaced by the potential lawsuit, and believe me, if people can sue they will ANY chance they get. Not sure what the answer is other than building a time machine.

    • alison says:

      “Pinball” sounds like fun!!!

  11. Harold says:

    Oh this brings up a ton of stuff. Had I only known. It’s also cautionary for those of us who are raising kids and grand kids. When I was in my forties my mom said to me “we just didn’t know how you were going to make it” [ since I didn’t fit the mould ] Now past three score and still chasing dreams. Hill running is good sport if a bit hard on the joints at this age.

    • Smogranch says:

      My mom shakes her head in disgust at both my brother and I. My sister doesn’t get the head shake, but gets her own version of puzzlement or alarm. My brother and I would ruin all family photos by both making prearranged faces at the same moment. “God Da%$#$” my dad would yell.

    • Jason Timmis says:

      I can’t help chiming in on this one…I’m 44 and the ONLY family orientated photo that includes me (in front of the camera) since I was about 13 that doesn’t include me covertly flashing my middle finger as the shutter pops is one that includes my wife holding my fingers bunched together so hard that I am slightly out of frame from the group laughing so hard. It burned my mom to bone every time :-).

    • Smogranch says:

      Jason,
      My brother and I perfected the art of ruining the family photo op. It went on into our forties. Alas, dad is no longer with us, and mom doesn’t get as ticked off. And now, everyone is taking a photo on their cellphone every 10 seconds so the power of it all is completely lost. Have to find something else to do to ruin the family outings.

  12. “Hill running” is brilliant, love it. Agree heartily and I am going to keep running. Never “grow up”, stay gold.

  13. Yann says:

    One of your best post Dan. Keep the child’s dream alive !

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