“Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring two pence how often it has been told before), you will, nine times out of ten, become original without having noticed it. The principle runs through life from top to bottom. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life, and you will save it.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
I’ve been chewing over this idea and concept of originality for some time now. In fact, it always seems to be on the back of my mind. It forces me to ask myself: why do I care so much about a completely novel idea or being the first? Because, at the end of the day, it’s all been said and done and photographed before, right? Then I get concerned that I’ll adopt the mentality that if nothing is new under the sun, why try at all? But, what I’m gathering is that I’m asking the wrong questions. That stuff doesn’t matter. It’s just noise distracting me from focusing on creating something. And that something is probably inspired by something else, by what someone else has said or drawn or painted or sang. The question I need to ask myself is: what is worth using for inspiration (imitation, essentially) and what is worth leaving behind (Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist)? What I choose to imitate will eventually become “mine” if I focus on simply telling it as I see it, infused with the people I know and the experiences I’ve had. As Lewis said, simply try to tell the truth.
I cam across an idea that I think is worth imitating. A group of photographers started a project called kids were here. It is the documenting of the everyday messes and findings that serve as proof that little people live in my home (I mean, can you really escape it anyways?) But I loved the idea. It’s actually helped me to smile and grab my camera when I see the mess (ok not all the time, but sometimes), rather than focus on how much I feel like I have little tornadoes living with me.
The kids were here. They won’t always be. My version and my truth.