There’s a scene in the movie “Gentleman’s Agreement” where the two main players , Philip Green and Kathy Lacy ( as played by Gregory Peck and Dorothy McGuire respectively) must come to terms with their burgeoning love. Philip Green is a widowed man with one young son and Kathy is divorced. Both wondered if they’d ever find true love. In the story Philip is a journalist who’s passion is to write about anti-semitism.
In an intimate moment following a brief passionate embrace, Philip says something like ,” Marriage can be a such a good way to live…all these years I kept hoping”. To which Kathy replies, ” I kept hoping too…but when you made a mistake once you’re afraid”
It’s often unfortunate that Life comes with a rear view mirror.
Retrospect was likely intended as a means of protection. We’ve all heard it said that we must learn from our mistakes. The funny thing is what we often learn is the fear to not try again or the ignorance to do it right.
Artists are not immune to this. Perhaps you thought your uniqueness as an artist would shelter you from the distinction from being human. It may seem cliche but to err is human. Sadly what is also human is the ability to dwell on the past. So let me add, “to err is human but to forget, divine!”
Someone once said “If we’re always looking in the rear view mirror it’s hard to keep our eyes on the road ahead”.
We need the past…some. It is a record of both the bad and the good. Focusing on failure and thus making it too personal will actually hinder our moving forward. Moving forward will most definitely bring with it new mistakes and with them, new fears. However no one learned to ride a bicycle without band-aids.
An artist friend of mine told me that what she needed was not someone else to motivate her but to find it in herself to do the art . She is one of the most gifted artists I know yet sometimes personal fears and struggles rob her and us of certain creative beauty. I’d like to tell her that not even a flower can grow on it’s own. It must have water and light from an external source. Even plants need some sort of support. Imagine the beauty of climbing vines against rock walls and wrought iron fences.
They exist with support!
Often artists are told throughout their lives that their gift is special. It sets them apart. Are we not human? “If you prick us,do we not bleed? If you tickle us,do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die…?” If we make mistakes then we are afraid of making new mistakes. It is natural. It is, however, a fact of life. Be it marriage, employment, friendships, etc we all have regret dogging our heels .
It’s okay to find support. It’s okay to feed ourselves spiritually and experientially. Sometimes that means looking for help outside of our comfort circle. The point is to get back up no matter what it takes.
“You may have a fresh start anytime you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.” Mary Pickford
This is why we have stories, quote, articles and the arts,etc. We draw from their depth what we need to carry on.
Philip puts the question to Kathy, “You’re not afraid now?”
She chooses to go on and face new mistakes hoping for something better.