The Freedom of Zero Expectation

2009 Self-Portrait I made while messing around with a curtain on my NY apartment rooftop with zero expectation.

My sister and I have decided to start blogging together at the same time. For very different reasons, but it’s something we decided to do together. She had the idea to do blog first you see, during the summer. But she held off about six months pulling the trigger because she wanted to think about her approach.

I had a haphazard impulse to start blogging about a month ago. I had heard someone declare on a podcast “everyone should blog every day!” so I decided to take up the challenge. I just started writing things down once a day. I wanted to see if I could keep it up- and so far so good. I’ve been at it for a few weeks now with no signs of slowing.

My sister said to me tonight: “How can you come up with something to say every day?” (she is doing hers more like 1-2x a week)

I think the reason this has been an easy project for me is that I actually don’t care. It’s easy to do things we don’t put much weight into. If we aren’t pressuring ourselves in any way, the task at hand becomes quite simple.

I know this because I also suffer from the opposite side of the spectrum- caring too MUCH.

Starting my photography career was easy because I never had any investment in becoming a professional photographer. I could just go in and mess around with my camera and walk away feeling fine regardless of whether the experiment succeeded or failed.

Starting my film career, however, was much harder. Not because filming is harder (although it IS), but because I actually gave a shit whether it was good or not. I knew I really wanted to be a professional filmmaker, and so I was deeply invested in the outcome. That investment became crippling.

After I shot my first film, a “practice project” which I made without any resources- I hid the project away for almost a year, never finishing it. I was filled with self-loathing and humiliation every time I watched my mistakes play back over and over in the privacy of my own apartment. It hurt. I vowed that no one, not even the people who worked on it, would ever see the film.

Thankfully, I eventually got over that hurdle. After much coercing, my sister finally got me to show her the film. To my surprise, she thought it was great. She then convinced me to show it to my family, who gave me the confidence I needed to submit it to festivals.

Well, thank god for them! That stupid little film ended up opening the first doors which led me to much bigger and better projects. From that, I got my first proper grant and the rest is…. well, in my biography.

All this to say, gosh, wouldn’t it be nice if we could approach all our projects with the same freedom we have when we DON’T CARE so much? Wouldn’t it be nice to just dive into things whole-heartedly, without all the phobia and self-hate? How much more could we accomplish by relinquishing our expectations?

I need to try and apply the freedom I feel here in this blog to the script I’m writing right now. I’ve been too precious with this movie for far too long. Time to stop the preciousness and approach work from a different perspective: the perspective of play. Just because it’s serious work, doesn’t mean I have to approach it with a grim attitude. A spirit of carefree play is a necessary ingrediant in the recipe of creation.

No matter how many times I learn this lesson, it never stops being relevant.


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