All things considered, I’d rather be here now.
COW Library : Letters to the COW Team : Tim Wilson : All things considered, I’d rather be here now.
Ah, the wisdom of bumper stickers. That's where I got the title for this column. "I'd rather be here now" is a Zen-like antidote to the many variations of "I'd rather be [fishing, flying, fly-fishing, knitting, bowling, grandparenting, riding my Harley...]" bumper stickers we've seen for so many years. It officially replaces my previous favorite, "I feel so much better since I gave up hope."
This column's title might also remind you of comedian W.C. Fields, who joked that his epitaph should read "All things considered, I'd rather be in Philadelphia." In reality, it reads "W. C. Fields 1880 - 1946," replacing an oft-told gag with a Zen-like clarity.
The truth is that I only know enough about Zen to know that it's more complicated than it looks, except when it's simpler. But the concept of "mindfulness" found in some schools of Buddhism resonates with me. One practice of it uses the pauses of daily life - say, stopping at a traffic light - to take a few breaths, and clear your mind before moving forward. I can't say I'm getting any closer to enlightenment, but I find when I slow down that the things making me frantic look more like what they are, a series of steps to be taken, starting with this one, now.
Of course, Master Nishijima reminds us that if we think that mindfulness is something to aspire to, then we can never achieve it. Now that's Zen.
I started thinking about this again a few months ago, when we were drowning in all those "Best of the Decade" lists. I appreciate their intent -- reflection on the difference between what was new, and what remains important. A form of mindfulness, even. In practice though, these lists can be more lazy than reflective, and too often, simply wrong. You can find your own examples of "wrong" -- seriously, how many of them have you ever agreed with? -- but I saw the difference between lazy and reflective in a magazine I get that re-ran articles from earlier issues, verbatim!
We thought about doing something like that, I admit. But as we talked about some of our favorite articles from the first three years of Creative COW Magazine, I found myself wanting to revisit the writers. Of the over 100 COW authors we've published who aren't me or Ron, barely a half-dozen have written for us more than once! And so we've begun asking some of the folks we haven't heard from in a while -- and will be asking others -- what they're working on, and seeing, right now.
In this issue, they offer unexpected insights into the current state of cameras and lenses (including HDSLRs), best uses of social media for building your business, the latest multimedia technologies, and a documentary about a family who truly exemplifies living in the now. The authors of that article also have some great advice about new possibilities for indie film distribution available now.
How cool is that? By paying attention to what's happening now, we find the ways in which the future, and its new possibilities, is already here.
Generally speaking, the further you design along the cutting edge, the faster your work will look out of date. The Peter Max and Andy Warhol vision of 1960s pop art was so "modern" at the time that, now, it looks positively quaint.
Which means that it's time for another one of my patent-pending Liberal Arts Nerd Digressions. The entire concept of "modern" falls out of date fast. At least in the West, the modern era is thought to begin around 1500 (the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the "discovery" of the Americas). Authors, architects and other artists in both the West and the East were widely using the word "postmodern" to describe their work by the end of the Second World War!
So in this issue, as much as our authors describe the latest technologies, workflows and business practices, they remind us that some aesthetic values are more enduring than others -- a good thing to remember even now.