Sunday, September 21, 2008

Quotes for the Bathroom Mirror

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."

--Thomas Edison


Roy said...

It goes well with the quip by W.C. Fields:
If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. Then quit. No sense being a damn fool about it.

If you put them side by side, and then try to reconcile them, you will come up with Kenny Rodgers' The Gambler:
You got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when youre sittin at the table.
Therell be time enough for countin when the dealins done.

Seth Ward said...

Wow! That's encouraging Roy!

Moral of the story: Know when to quit. Hmmm. I don't think that'll make it on my bathroom window anytime soon. If I'da had that attitude, I would have never married Amber! ... or started playing the piano at 16 (on to get a masters degree) started composition at 24 (finishing a doctorate)... and that's just me! (By the grace of God!)

Good thing the Lord didn't have that attitude hauling that cross up Calvary for yours and my sins. ;-)

The fools are the ones who give us the the most admirable things in life, whether it be in the man who turns his back on college and career as a famous Bach organist at 40-something to study medicine and be a missionary, (Albert Schweitzer) or the orphan who defied all odds to become the greatest baseball player the world has known. (Babe Ruth.) or that guy who thought someday we could be driving machines instead of riding horses... or that doctor who was just about to give up on finding a treatment for infection... the list goes on.

I like these quotes by J.F.K.:

"We need men who can dream of things that never were."


""But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

Whatever you are passionate about, don't give up Roy! Go for it!

FancyPants said...

Ha ha. Well, when I head out the door every morning, I'll choose to ignore Fields and Kenny and listen to Edison.

At auditions, there's a person we call a monitor. He or she sits at a table and manages the audition, lines people up, calls people's names, acts as the middle man between auditor and auditee.

When you begin to attend the auditions regularly, you recognize the monitors, since you may have the same one multiple times. They, too, are actors, and being a monitor is a day job for them, but not their reason for being in New York City. Many are monitors by day, actors by night. Many are monitors in between acting get the drift.

Anyways, there's one woman monitor who at her table always has this particular Edison quote written on an index card sitting next to a bowl of orange candies. And every time I see her when I walk into an audition room, I read this quote, and every time I read this quote I am inspired that what I am doing, this one day and this one audition, matters.

She was the monitor at the audition for A Wonderful Life, where I booked my first musical theater job in New York.

It was at that Equity audition where I waited all day long, from 10 AM to 4:30 PM, to get called in to sing. I had to be a work at 5 PM. But I never know...if I can just wait here a couple more minutes...I can make it to work on time...I just need to wait a little longer.

And I did. And I booked the job. I was tempted to give up that day and leave, but I didn't. And I'm very glad for that. And I'm thankful for that monitor and her index card.

Roy said...

Moral of the story: Know when to quit.

Actually, no. That's only one half. You also need to know when not to quit (when to hold 'em).

And although my first comment was flip, since it's sparked a somewhat serious bit of contemplation, I'll expound a little more:

You can keep the same goal and try other approaches. If one approach is getting you nowhere, you might change. That's what Edison did: he found 10,000 ways that don't work. He didn't find one way that didn't work and keep trying it 10,000 times.

There was a Paul Harvey's "Rest of the Story" about a painter — a successful one — who, in spite of a crippling illness, continued to paint. It was thought by some that his devotion to his art is what kept him going. And maybe it did. But it was the fact that he licked the brush tip to form it into a point that caused him to ingest the chromium-rich paint, which was the cause of his illness. If only he'd known to do things a bit differently, he could have painted longer, and in health.

So I think that persistence is important. I don't think that one should quit when the going gets tough. But I do think that there are times when you have to change your approach. Sheer determination is not the only key to success.

One more quote I like: "For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, elegant, and wrong." — H.L. Mencken

FancyPants said...

You can keep the same goal and try other approaches.

Sure. But I wouldn't call that quitting, or folding the cards. Trying other approaches to meet the same goal is just good sense. While sheer determination is not the only key to success, it's a mighty big one.

That's why I wouldn't put Fields or Kenny's quote on my bathroom mirror. If I have a goal in mind, the last thing I want to think about is when the right time to quit might be.

I think that's why this is an interesting discussion. Why you would feel it's necessary to add those quotes to the bathroom mirror...

And as far as the Mencken quote goes, I like it. But a goal or a dream is not a problem, it's a direction. So keeping the direction simple and positive is the most healthy and effective way to arrive at the destination.

A runner doesn't think about all the other ways around the track, he keeps his eyes forward and concentrates on one foot in front of the other.

Roy said...

If my biggest obstacle is discouragement, I'd put Edison's quote up. If my biggest obstacle is choosing ineffective or counterproductive strategies, I might put up Fields' or Rodgers'. But what I really like is the notion that Edison + Fields = Rodgers, keeping in mind that folding doesn't end the game, it's just one hand.

a goal or a dream is not a problem

Achieving the goal is a problem, in the sense of being a thing to be solved. It may not be a complex problem ("How do I get to Carnegie Hall?"), in which case, the solution may be both obvious and correct (which is not to say easy).

But as part of the larger problem of "how do I live my life?" decisions about how much to devote to any particular goal become more difficult. Edison's family suffered for his single-mindedness.

I may need a quote for my own bathroom mirror about overthinking things to death. Or being more relevant: I don't think you're in danger of wrecking your life! But I have caused some unhappiness in my own marriage by pursuing things I wanted to do at the expense of family time. So I guess that's where this is coming from.

But not my first comment. I just thought that was funny.

In conclusion, I have started too many sentences with the word "But".

FancyPants said...

That all makes sense. I definitely agree with: "But as part of the larger problem of "how do I live my life?" decisions about how much to devote to any particular goal become more difficult."

I could use the example, as I've done here before, about not auditioning for tours. In a sense it's an easy decision because I can't imagine being away from my husband for 9 months to a year. But I will say, that an actor has to be careful to not get caught up in it all and follow a certain path because it's the "norm," when it shouldn't be the "norm" for oneself in particular. It becomes hard when "they" say it's the only way and one says, well I'll do it differently, or not at all.

I have no idea if that made sense to anyone but me.

Anyways, I hear ya, Roy. But still...I'm not sure I'm deterred from my opinion that Edison's quote is far superior on all accounts. =-) If there's a challenge put before you, (and I agree with you that a goal or dream is something to be worked out) I don't know a single person who wouldn't benefit in hearing "Don't give up today."

Thinking about your song and your approach theory: Many times, there are multiple right ways of doing something, but there's usually a smarter way, a more effective way, a better way, maybe a best way. And I think what constitutes "smart" will depend on the individual, and therefore will look different from one person to another.

See, this is why I love blogging. One quote about light bulbs and you've got a great discussion!