Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Why Being A Robot is Easier

Life is full of choices. We can choose what to eat for dinner, what to watch on YouTube, and what to listen to while we go jogging. We can decide what we want to paint, or which model to hire, or what sort of landscape you want to research. For the most part, we have agency.

Agency is the ability to make choices. It's basically the foundation that American was founded upon - freedom. Without agency, we'd be trapped in a pre-programmed cycle that is boring, predictable, and completely out of our control. We'd basically be robots. We would do whatever we were programmed to do, function how the overseers would tell us to function. Pretty craptastic life, if you'd ask me.

So while I don't think any of us would want to be mindless robot sheep-lemming creatures sitting in a box, often times we make the mistake of giving up our agency to others. We decide that its a lot easier to go the way of the robots and just throw our hands in the air, close our eyes, and follow blindly.

You see, responsibility is the burden that comes along with agency. If we choose to do something, we have to take responsibility for the consequences. Too many of us want the freedom of agency yet make excuses about not acting how we'd really like to. If you want to get into galleries, you have to send gallery owners/curators your work. If you aren't showing in a gallery, and you haven't sent anyone your portfolio, you can't say "Oh, they wouldn't take me anyway" - that's being irresponsible. You need to take ownership of your life and take responsibility, even (and especially if) that means fessing up: "I'm too afraid to send my portfolio to gallery XYZ." There is nothing wrong with being afraid. Fear is a biological necessity that keeps us from killing ourselves doing stupid things. However, we have to learn when being afraid is holding us back from realizing our potential as amazing human beings.

Lots of time we cut ourselves short and underestimate how great we really are. Excuses prevent us from really growing because it shields us from the sometime harsh reality - we have a lot more agency than we think. While we might constantly give it away with excuses like "I ran out of paint," "my boss won't let me," "the bus was late," we need to take responsibility for our shortcomings so we can overcome them. Buy more paint, or borrow some, or ask for some on Craigslist. Quit your job, tell your boss off, call in sick. Get a cab, steal a bike (please don't), start running.

The scary truth is that we are often at fault. While we don't condone victim blaming here at Monkey + Seal (ie survivors of domestic violence, women being harassed for wearing short skirts, people who are mugged in areas of a city with a higher crime rate), we do think that for a lot of our life if we want to grow and shine and realize our true potential, we have to accept responsibility and move beyond our limitations. The difference between victim blaming and owning up to your life is that if you are a victim, you have had your agency taken away, and if you are a frustrated artist who wants to take your game to the next level, you're giving your agency away.

So, while being a robot is probably a lot easier (they also have laser beam eyes, which is useful for just about everything), you're not a robot. You're not even an automaton. You're a human being with the power and responsibility to shape your own life. Realize that you're stronger/wiser/craftier/talented/amazing than you think, and choose to do something that is a step towards realizing your dream today.