If you think I have no business attending the NYTV Festival, I don’t blame you. I’ve never seen an episode of Mad Men or The Walking Dead, I was just introduced to 30 Rock in the past few weeks, and I’m still stuck on episode 2 of Breaking Bad.
And as the creative keynote speaker started talking, I was right there with you—it was clear the intended audience was the next generation of television people (producers, writers, other jobs in TV I’m not aware of though am certain must exist). But as Mitch Hurwitz (the creator or Arrested Development, just in case your TV knowledge is somehow even more lacking than mine) kept talking, I realized that what he was saying could be broadly applied to all creative fields. And also life.
Such as, “Life is choice and choice is loss,” referring to the inertia people feel when they are too afraid to make the first step toward something—anything!—because they’re worried about what other doors might be closing as a result of opening one door. (I don’t think he was referring to the paralyzation I experience when faced with two menu items that seem equally delicious. But it applies there, too.)
And, “Give yourself the freedom to explore bad ideas.” Again, Hurwitz was talking about television writing, but this concept obviously applies to all writing; in my life, it could work as a daily mantra. I’ve been so much better about this ever since…well, since starting this blog, really, but I still find often find myself choosing to do nothing rather than something that might turn out to be the wrong thing. Which is especially ridiculous considering—first, who exactly gets to determine what is wrong, and if I don’t even know, why should I care about what they think? But also—I don’t necessarily want to be right. One of the questions on OkCupid (stay with me) that annoyed me the most—and believe me, there were plenty competing for this title—was, “Would you rather be normal or weird?”
Some people choose normal. This fact still regularly stupefies me because 1.) apparently my life is so exciting that I daydream about questions on a dating site, and more importantly, 2.) I can’t fathom what must have happened in these people’s childhoods to suggest to them that the better choice is to be normal. It’s safer, sure. But those of us with any sense of adventure—and here I’m using the term extremely loosely, so if the most adventurous thing you’ve done lately is order pad see ew instead of your typical pad thai, you still belong in this category—know that it’s usually when the safety net is removed that the most interesting moves are made. (According to Google, today’s the 216th anniversary of the first parachute jump, so, you know, fate. Or something.) It’s only when some doors are left closed (or pushed shut, if you feel like being dramatic) that you can finally get through the one that leads to success, or creative release, or possibly a delicious dessert.
Anyway. Overall, this was the best television talk I’ve ever attended, and while you could argue that’s just because it’s the only TV talk I’ve ever been to, I think that’s a colossal waste of your time—go throw open some doors instead.