The great Steve Martin, in his book, Born Standing Up, defines naivete: “That fabulous quality that keeps you from knowing just how unsuited you are for what you are about to do.”
With that logic, every person who’s ever done anything great is undeniably, unequivocally naive.
If we were all aware of how hard something was going to be before we embarked in projects or work, I believe very little would get done.
Think about it. Doctors are like, “Eight-thousand years of college?” No sweat. But what they don’t account for before enrolling for their first $2 million class is the tedious lectures, the endless research, the nerve-jarring tests. Not to mention no money, no food, no sleep. College has its perks, but we forget how much dehydrated noodles can make us gag after the thirtieth consecutive cup.
“Let’s make a movie!” Easy. But first you’ve got to scrounge up the money for filming equipment, put out ads for crew members and actors to work for cheap (or for nothing at all), not to mention the hundreds of takes, waiting for the traffic to die, the weather to clear, the dog to stop barking. . . And the grueling editing hasn’t even begun.
Writing a book? Easy. Just tappity-tappity on the keyboard and off to New York you go! (I’d hate to be the one to break it to that naive amateur that you’re lucky if you sell six copies even after less than fourteen rewrites – of course when I broke that news to myself after years of writing, I wanted to kill myself.
My wife says, “You don’t know when to quit, do you?” I take that as a compliment. No, I don’t know how to quit because I’m too naive to believe I can fail. Even though I probably will. But who knows.
Steve Martin failed as a comedian for eight years before he achieved even a modicum of success. And then he had to refine everything he ever knew.
But it’s a gamble. And the odds are in no one’s favor. For every gazillion stand-up hopefuls, there’s only one Steve Martin. For every gazillion-billion-trillion writer (because, let’s face it, who’s not?), there’s only one J.K. Rowling.
How’s that for a drop of inspiration? No? Not good?
Try this: Nativity makes the world go round. So help me keep spinning it.