Thursday, August 13, 2015

On the Verge of Success and Failure - Garry Winogrand / Mason Resnick / Trent Parke / Spencer Lum

Eros - Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain / Piccadilly Circus / London (Fri 12 Sep 2014)

Garry Winogrand on Art, Success and Failure:

the most successful art is almost on the verge of failure
via Coffee and Workprints: A Workshop With Garry Winogrand by Mason Resnick.

A favourite quote, from the many I've collected here over the years. I like it because it is so true in Art and Photography, but also Paddling and Life.

I am reminded of it every now and then in my own life, through my photography and paddling experiences. And today was one of those days ...

The Sun rose over the City skyline as we did our Thursday morning high intensity session in two, six person outrigger canoes. We do short interval efforts (level 4, level 4+) over repeat efforts of 8, 4, 2 and 1 minute. It's at a pace and intensity that can be maintained for these short time periods which is a bit higher than our race pace intensity (level 3) which we maintain for much longer periods.

We are pushing ourselves at Level 4 and the rhythm in the canoe is often not quite as nice as it would be at level 3 or 2. Our effort and technique is on the edge, on "the verge of failure or breaking down".

As I reflect over a 10 year paddling career, I have found that the best Training Sessions and Races have been the ones where everything is just a little out of control and uncomfortable. It's like a being on a knife edge or the edge of a precipices. It's that boundary between the known and unknown, good and bad, success and failure, and courage and fear (thanks Kayleene). And ultimately, the fault line between our past and future (thanks for that one Chantel).

It can be stressful and can feel like a feisty prickly relationship. A disonnance. And often questions and self-doubts rise to the surface.

When you are on the edge, you are pushing yourself to the limit of your abilities and beyond. And, with that comes the risk that you push too far and fail, or you just find that easy comfort zone and also fail through a lost effort and opportunity.

Disappointment may come with the failure, but if you reflect and abstract a learning, then you are more experienced and capable for the next effort. And often, as Trent Parke succinctly notes:

mistakes and accidents usually lead to the best discoveries.
You are learning, broadening your experiences and creating the future opportunity for "successful art", if you keep caring and trying.

I love that feeling of "being on the edge of failure". Instead of fighting it, try to find it and some comfort in the uncomfort, and in the knowledge that this is, as Spencer Lum astutely notes:

where all the good stuff happens
As Jenny said, Give it a try, step outside of your comfort zone. You might be surprised where it can take you ...

Don't wonder 'What if?' - Jenny P

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