Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Funny Thing About Progress

Here's the funny thing about progress: it keeps moving.

Six months ago, progress meant buying a camera to revive that facet of my creativity. Six months later and progress has evolved into making prints of the pictures I've taken. Six months from now and progress will be defined as the display and sale of same.

I can almost understand why people dislike progress. It's more work, for one thing, and despite the so-called Protestant work ethic which is a plague in North America almost no one is willing to admit that despite how little vacation people take the North American worker is pretty damn lazy. Going to the same place every day and taking a paycheque out of it every two weeks isn't work, just conformity to habit.

Or it could just be that, as I embark on yet another six-day work week, everyone else with their five-day weeks are starting to look like slackers.

There are times when it seems like progress of every sort has been put on hold. I scarcely have the time for housekeeping, let alone establishing myself in some mythical career as an artist-humanitarian. Still, I persist. Where once I would have quit, satisfied merely to be a consumer of culture, I am now pushing myself to become a supplier of culture, in every spare minute I can find.

The picture below represents the long, slow process involved in becoming me. Ruthlessly, I've been using my friends to get ahead. Disguised as a gift of art, this image is really my first commission. True, the friend for whom it is taken isn't paying for this work, but I'm treating it like it's a commission nonetheless. From it I am learning (in fact, re-learning) entrepreneurship; the fusing of my abilities with the wants and desires of another.

It's not an ideal shot, but it is better than previous shots, so I call that progress. I hope someday to look back on the angst it has caused me with the same amusement I now get from reading my old high school journals. Even in its eventual form I suppose it will always produce a kind of sentimental amusement in me, how for one agonising season I struggled to create for a friend something he might come to cherish.

For the first time in a long time I am staring success in the teeth and success still frightens me but this fear isn't going to stop me. I'm not afraid of the work, I'm afraid of not having work. I'm afraid I won't be able to afford my own comfort. I'm afraid of not finding the perfect picture. But I'm no longer afraid of progress.

And that, as they say, is progress.
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