Friday, March 05, 2010

Side by Side

So, I'm sure I've talked of it before, the undying passion my mother has for Stephen Sondheim. When she had her stroke (5 years ago almost to the day, my god) I wrote to Sondheim and told him about mom, he wrote her a note we had framed.

The first few days after her stroke were hard, we brought in some Sondheim cd's and that was the only time mom's mind clicked. She would sing along and it was...excruciatingly touching. She's taken me to see any/every Sondheim show she could. Now I too love Sondheim, he's unbelievably intelligent. And for a gay man, he gets into the mind of heterosexual relationships better than any heterosexual every could. He knows much.

We saw him speak last night (everything went very smoothly, praise jebus). I've seen Sondheim speak before, many many years ago at a Humanities Festival event. He was so neat and I remember him talking about the first show he ever wrote - Saturday Night. My mom and I went to see it once here and it was not good. She and I were both relieved it wasn't, it made him more real. He talked about it then, about how it wasn't up to par and how could it have been - it was his first show.

With all my "art of non-conformity" and Chris Brogan's and Zen Habits, all these people are my mentors for my business and each one of them embraces failure. It's hard to believe it's not just talk and "try try again" and all that malarky, who needs failure?

But wow, Sondheim talked of almost nothing else. All of his stories involved sitting in bars drowning sorrows after the audience laughed through his entire incredibly sad musical (Passion). He and Jerome Robbins arguing after something failed. He talked about all the mistakes he made, mistakes other people made and this was just in the course of talking, probably no one noticed it like I did. Because really, he was talking about what he learned, he was talking about creation, he was talking about inspiration and to hear him tell it, almost every one of those things was born out of failure.

And that's because he was risky. He would not have failed if he hadn't risked.

There's something in knowing that a personal hero has failed more times than he has succeeded. Because he's succeeded A LOT, so imagine all the failures?

I get scared of failure sometimes but haven't felt it in my bones (business-wise) in awhile. You know what that tells me? Not that I'm tells me I need to risk more. Jump out on a limb, stop playing it safe, if I'm not failing, I'm not trying.


Erica said...

Beautiful post. And you are absolutely right. We can't really even move forward without taking risks--everything new and exciting starts with a risk!

But speaking of Sondheim bombs--remember Bounce? Oof. Though when we were in Michigan a couple weeks ago, I kept singing that dreadful Michigan song.

I am glad last night went well. You are awesome.

Hixx said...

Thanks Erica! Oh man, Bounce, that was a total flop. Although, we were at opening night and rode the escalator with Sondheim. It was me, then him, then my mom walking up it because it was broken. My mom said "don't fall Mr. Sondheim!" And I said "It's okay, he'll bounce!" And Sondheim laughed not at all. Oh man.