In photography class, though, I learned that we can never make photographs that come close to what our eyes see, because our eyes are so much more sensitive and sophisticated. I suppose I knew that, but it’s important to keep in mind.
I was talking with a writer-friend yesterday about writers groups and people who’ve come and gone in our lives. She mentioned a gal who’d been in her group and had quit writing when she was “thisclose” to getting an agent.
I said I think that’s the most difficult time.
It reminds me of a scene in Dune, Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novel. It’s been a while since I read it, so forgive me if I get the details wrong. As a test, the young hero has to place his hand inside of a box. He’s told he’ll experience excruciating pain in his hand, but if he can withstand the pain and keep his hand in the box, he’ll receive a reward he’s seeking (I forget what). If however, he tries to pull his hand out, a blade will slice his hand off at the wrist.
Most people can’t take the pain and give in to the desire to pull their hand out, losing it forever. Our hero, naturally, overcomes the fear that his hand is being destroyed as it feels, and emerges victorious.
It’s one of those scenes that makes the reader feel good about ourselves. We like to think we’d be like the hero. We would know that our hand is okay and why would you give in and yank it out, if the certainty is losing your hand? And yet, deep down, we all know how really hard it is to persevere when fear and pain become overwhelming.
This is why the “thisclose” is so difficult.
The proximity of great reward somehow makes the pain of rejections and setbacks just that much worse. It’s really difficult to stay there, with your hand in the box. At some point, losing the hand altogether, so you don’t have to wait and suffer a moment more starts to look really attractive.
That’s why people quit a lot of things. And yes, giving up on a dream is a lot like losing a hand. Oh, you’ll live, but you’ll be missing a vital piece of yourself. Something you could have used to do something special.
To all of us with our hands still in the box? Cheers and steady-on.