Every once in a while - often when we least expect it - we encounter someone more courageous, someone who choose to strive for that which (to us) seemed unrealistically unattainable, even elusive. And we marvel. We swoon. We gape. Often, we are in awe. I think we look at these people as lucky, when in fact, luck has nothing to do with it. It is really all about the strength of their imagination; it is about how they constructed the possibilities for their life. In short, unlike me, they didn’t determine what was impossible before it was even possible. John Maeda once explained, “The computer will do anything within its abilities, but it will do nothing unless commanded to do so.” I think people are the same - we like to operate within our abilities. But whereas the computer has a fixed code, our abilities are limited only by our perceptions. Two decades since determining my code and after 15 years of working in the world of branding, I am now in the process of rewriting the possibilities of what comes next. I don’t know exactly what I will become; it is not something I can describe scientifically or artistically. Perhaps it is a “code in progress.”
The grand scheme of a life, maybe (just maybe), is not about knowing or not knowing, choosing or not choosing. Perhaps what is truly known can’t be described or articulated by creativity or logic, science or art - but perhaps it can be described by the most authentic and meaningful combination of the two poetry. As Robert Frost wrote, a poem “begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness. It is never a thought to begin with.”
I recommend the following course of action for those who are just beginning their careers, or for those like me, who may be reconfiguring midway through: heed the words of Robert Frost. Start with a big, fat lump in your throat, start with a profound sense of wrong, a deep homesickness, or a crazy lovesickness, and run with it. If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time. Start now. Not 20 years from now, not two weeks from now. Now.
Excerpt from Debbie Millman's 'Look Both Ways'.