Stance 5: Everything is useful, nothing is wasted.

manifesto

I’m acutely aware that some synchronicity is a result of extended work and effort, consistency and iteration, and determination over time. What I take umbrage about is when it’s assumed that, because I’m a self-proclaimed jackknife, that insufficient attention to detail, learning, or work has gone into my collage of a life. Nothing could be further from the truth.

What’s more, it is written nowhere that a series of pursuits is less valuable than a long-running single pursuit.

Yes, “slow and steady wins the race” has its moments as an encouraging tale about showing up and keeping going… but the competitor in that story was vain, and overconfident

What I took away from The Tortoise and the Hare was a message about getting in the game despite the appearance of the odds, because your unique tortoise abilities might be just as valuable for such a thing as a race.

That said, the classic story doesn’t (for good reason) go on to belittle people who get in the race by trying a sequence of new techniques. That would be a very different story.

I squint my eyes at the tying together of “slow and steady wins” as a counter or remedy to being experimental and creative. These are not forces in opposition, or even mutually exclusive. Furthermore, experimental and creative is not representative of the overconfident hare in that beloved tale.

If I were to tell a children’s story, it might be about a multi-faceted fox who was made fun of by all the other animals for trying and testing a variety of different things, many of which failed. But then, when the fox leaves the forest, all the other animals realize how helpful and capable that he was. They send a team on a journey to find the fox and invite him back, only to discover he has built a magnificent traveling home out of which he sells his many services for a pretty penny, and he’s not only wealthy, but feeling quite fine. When they see what wonderful and useful wares he is selling, they ask if they could use them for different things around their forest, and he is eager to help. However, he would now be charging for the wares, in order to survive on the outside. His former neighbors explain that they are very sorry, and that he can return to the forest, and that they never meant to drive him away. The fox laughs and says, “You didn’t drive me away… this was what I was working on all along! I simply didn’t put it together until I had all the skills together!” And, the moral of the story is: many diverse pursuits might be a sensible part of a person’s larger identity and plan. You can never assume the smallness or greatness of another person.


In 2013, I wrote a book called Epic Fail Super Win under my old moniker, Serena Andrews (which now functions as my musician stage name, and gender identity dead name). The book contains interviews with 27 working artists who are pretty much regular people. Each of them told personal stories about how failure and success are connected, and they talked about the challenges and rewards of being an artist and what motivates them to keep doing their work. The book was meant, at first, to help me sort some things out for myself as I considered retiring from music, but I felt it could be inspiring to other creatives exploring their careers at any stage in life. I’m in the process of re-wrapping and redesigning the book and its workbook for re- release. You can find the original on Amazon, Kindle, Kobo, Lulu, and at epicfailsuperwin.com