The Origami Master, Los Angeles. Leica M240, 50mm Noctilux 0.95
Being great at something looks like this. I mean, flawless. Where you know your subject so well, you get to enjoy the sun and people and a garden the way it was all meant to be enjoyed. I’m talking about being a Master. The reward of being that good at your technique is getting to live life.
Until you’re that good, you can’t enjoy it. Not like this. You can have your moments of thinking, this is nice, nice day and I love you. But striving for masterfulness is painful, like being folded in fourths all day long. And not just for the work - work is fine. But because of feedback.
If you can avoid trying to become a master, do it. Feedback stings. Apathy is the shorter road to happiness, even if it’s a life lived in a beautiful prison. At least you can avoid the water torture of feedback.
Until you are the master, you are the student. Doesn’t matter your title. Titles mean nothing, unless it’s Master. Not to me, anyway. I don’t care if someone’s title is Director, President, CEO or Doctor… you’re still getting feedback. And feedback tears at you. It’s a constant reminder that you are not the master and for those of us who care, who are striving, who want so badly to feel the sun on our face and back at the same time… it’s like holding ice. Guaranteed, the President holds ice all day long. Because he deals with feedback more than anybody. And nobody gives feedback well - least of all to the President.
The guys I don’t like are the ones who don’t get feedback, don’t seek feedback and for whom everyone is afraid to give feedback to. You see that in Hollywood a lot. Business owners, but also in the privacy of bad homes everywhere. Those folks like to play Master, but they are not. It’s painful to watch as they dress up their prisons with self-portraits and beautiful acoutrement and turn their peers and loved ones into set pieces.
Feedback. I get it every morning. It’s ingrained in my job. I throw out ideas all day. I write them up. Nobody has ideas and they need them. And in the morning I wake up and everyone has feedback. And it’s terrible. Every job is like this. You can always flip a burger a little better. And it reminds you - you are not The Master. And before you can walk outside, you have to confront it. And it makes it hard to stop and enjoy the sun on the way to the origami factory.
One day, the folds will fall like a perfect paper rose and the throngs of learners will sit impatiently around, hoping to glean a bit from our practiced and weathered hands. This sun will shine and our cheeks will be dry and flush. Until this day, far far off from now, hold the ice and try to smile - and don’t let the feedback kill you.