I date like an artist. In both works of art (especially writing) and in dating, I cannot approach the marvel in my imagination and bring it into reality without trembling with the bowel-wrenching fear of devastating failure, terror at pondering the imminent collapse of my fondest dreams. I see potential—whether it be an idea for a novel, or noticing a girl I think is a brilliant, interesting, beautiful person—and I just sit there and contemplate the possibility for a while. There it is, being full of power and capacity, but simply remaining potent, not ever becoming actual. But eventually my fear of tragic failure is overcome by my fear of never realizing any meaningful achievement in the given realm, and I try to bring the beautiful dream into reality. That’s when I put pen to page and write, or get on the phone and ask her out. Sometimes, I’m blessed with strokes of genius. Other times I bumble like a fool, words fail me, and I’m left to my uninspired self.
This is a problem, perhaps the problem. As a result, my achievements in writing and in dating are both spectacularly dismal. I can only seem to bring about things that are short in duration: a poem, a date, a short story, a conversation. But when it comes to the longer-span creations that are truly a revelation of the amazing possibility the human soul (a novel, a relationship) I fail. I have nothing. The feelings of frustration and despair at what might have been but is not are the same in each instance.
For every great artist, how many would-have-beens were there who could never approach the marvelous vision within them for fear of destroying it? For every happy relationship, how many could-have-happened are there? How many opportunities foregone because of fear of destroying the opportunities themselves? How is the gap bridged between possibility and reality?
By the way, this video is, strangely enough, what started me thinking about this. It’s only tangentially related, but it’s very much worth watching: