embrace your limits

Limitations are important. Make some up if you're running low.

What if Leonard Cohen had a better voice? What if Hunter S. Thompson had better organizational skills? Why couldn't Breaking Bad have been a series of movies? Surely that would have meant a better budget and better quality.

But I love how deep Cohen's monotone sinks. His less than perfect voice fits his lyrics about less than perfect situations perfectly. There's always something lurking under the surface in a Cohen song.

And if Dr. Thompson wasn't always rushing to meet a deadline, I'm not sure he would have been able to conjure up that manic, irreverent edge that defined his work. Maybe he simply didn't have the time to pretend to be objective. In his rush, he created some of the most honest portraits of American thought to date.

Finally, Breaking Bad, part of a new wave of long stories told in short episodes. Had the story been told in movie format, Aaron Paul would likely have been killed off in the first or second movie. After all, Vince Gilligan planned to kill him off in Season 1. The story could have ended up just as good, but it would have been very different. The limitation of episodes allowed a show with great long term vision to adapt to the fact that they'd found such a great actor for the role. And certainly the lower budget of a television show must have made the often claustrophobic, bland sets more appealing. Could you imagine the show without that grit?

Becoming a better artist is often about pushing past limitations, about improving in our craft. But maybe that tree branch that you can just never get right is a hint at a subtle genius in your drawings. What if you left it that way? What if you went out of your way to draw attention to it? Never stop improving, but part of that may just be about embracing your limitations.

I decided to make the first sentence of every post on this blog ten words long because it made for an interesting block of text on the front page. It's a silly rule. But it has a huge effect on how these posts are written. Will I regret that decision? Maybe.