September 24, 2020:
Andy Goldsworthy taught me how to fail. Watching his creative process and listening to him reflect on his work has helped shift my mindset around making mistakes and failing. Sometimes I even look forward to it now.
Time and temporality feel like enemies to a creature of finite existence. We often feel like we’re working against the clock. Andy talks about working with time, not against it. In an exchange with an onlooker during the filming of “Rivers and Tides,” the man asks Andy what will happen to his driftwood whirlpool sculpture when the tide comes – “Will it stay intact?” Andy says “No, no, it will not stay intact. It will float away.” He goes on to say “It doesn’t feel like destruction…that moment is really like that part of the cycle turning.”
Each piece is planned and executed with destruction and transformation in mind the entire time. “The thing that brings the work to life is the thing that will cause its death.” The unstoppable movement of time, the natural flow of progression.
Whether something seems positive or negative, all things come to an end. Endings are part of transitions, flowing into the beginning of what’s next. Keeping the cycles of ups and downs, ins and outs, movements and changes as an underpinning of experience softens the edges of failure. When something ends or doesn’t work out, part of me feels good knowing that this is part of a natural cycle. It’s doing its predictable thing: changing.
All kinds of emotion will still come when a failing happens, but by anticipating and appreciating change, it won’t be a blindsiding event. Andy’s emotions are visible after the 4th collapse of a stone sculpture on the beach with the tide inevitably rising behind him. He says “It’s disappointing, but every time I got to know the stone a little better. Each time it got a little taller. I’m trying to understand the stone. I don’t understand it well enough…Yet.”
Time and tides are relentless. Everything is part of the flow.