#077 The Only Way Through
Common Discourse is a project designed to help others (and ourselves) think through creativity, focus, and intentional work—from Alex Tan & Alice Otieno.
Every Tuesday we share words from a journal, a few ideas, a quote from somebody else, and links worth sharing. On Fridays we invite a guest to share images from their camera roll and a sound that resonates with them. Words from the Journal come on the first of every month.
I went on a backpacking trip in New Mexico when I was 17.
Half my body weight on my back, holding everything from my tent to the food and water I needed to make last for the duration of the trip. Nearly 10 miles every day for twelve days in an elevated, dry heat.
Wake up, hike, get to camp, tie up everything that could even remotely have a scent in a bear bag, go to sleep, do it over again. You start to forget what normal life is like after day three.
It had been one of the rainiest years that part of the country had seen in the last decade, meaning the trail that took us through a normally dry river bed led us right up to a creek nearly 10ft wide and several feet deep.
While looking at the map and trying to figure out how to stay dry, I heard my friend say “The only way through is through” as he hiked up his pants and walked straight through the water.
I laughed while following his lead, thinking about how ridiculous the phrase was that he blurted out so confidently.
All these years later I find myself saying the same, unironically. When I’ve spent way too much time trying to find another way, avoiding the work, or delaying the conversation that needs to be had.
Sometimes the only way through is through.
A few ideas
Accidents only happen once, maybe twice. This is usually defined by a moment when we’re “surprised it worked.”
After that we’re there because we’re meant to be.
Magic happens to all of us, but the ones who believe it go further.
II. SOMEWHERE IN THERE
I did not make this diagram but I look at it often and try to do two things:
Identify where I am in the midst of projects I’m currently frustrated by
Remember that every great idea takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. The path is hardly straight.
III. PROBLEM SOLVING
More time spent deeply understanding the problem means less time struggling to solve it.
A problem well put is half solved.
A quote from somebody else
"To be a human who resembles the divine is to become responsible for the beautiful, for its observance, its protection and its creation. It is a challenge to believe that this right is ours.”
— This Here Flesh, Cole Arthur Riley
Links worth sharing
🎷 The Take Two series nurtures a vital young loft-jazz scene in Brooklyn - I attended one of their gigs the other week while I was visiting New York and it was such an incredible experience. Dimmed lights, imitate seating and an attentive room — the best way to listen to jazz. Would highly recommend an upcoming gig of theirs on March 15th, for anyone in the area!
📷 Ming Smith at the MOMA, another recent New York visit that I would recommend to anyone currently there or visiting.
🚨 The Warning! book by Bafic features a collection of images downloaded from the @warning.camera Instagram page, a self-referential photo archive that records the distribution of, and interaction with the ‘Warning!’ sticker, designed by the artist in 2019.
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