Issue Nº 11
Printed Newspaper Journal – Spring 2016
“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst”
I used to hang with my grandpa down in his garage when he was tinkering away on weird little projects. He would be glueing school shoes back together or putting the balance back into rickety dining room tables, whilst I looked on in admiration at his bruised and battered hands, from years of fixing things instead of replacing them. When his work was done, he would sit there with a VB in hand and with the dulcet tones of ABC Radio as the soundtrack. We didn’t always talk a whole lot down in the garage, it was more about watching and learning. After his chores were done, my grandpa would often set me little projects of my own. He would use the old clamp on his workbench to fasten a piece of timber, then pass me another piece of timber, a couple nails and a small hammer that he felt he could trust me with. “Nail those pieces of wood together, I’ve put some glue on but it needs extra strength,” he would grumble with his gravelly voice.
He had shown me more than enough times how to hold a nail and how to hammer it in safely, so when he would watch me clearly about to ignore all those past lessons and simply bang my thumbnail with the hammer, he would just let it happen. Tears and frustration would ensue. He would come over and comfort me to some extent, but as I was blubbering and whining he would grab my hand, put the hammer back in it and then place my other hand back on the nail. How it should have been done in the first place. He would then say, “Come on, you know how to do this,” and walk back over to his rickety stool. Very timidly I would pause until he encouraged me from his stool a little more kindly this time. “Don’t worry I do it all the time, that’s why my thumbs are always black and blue. You’ll be right.”
Sure enough, I would eventually nail the pieces of wood together and the sheer excitement that I had just accomplished such a complicated task would rapidly relieve any pain I was feeling from earlier mistakes. See as a kid, probably like a lot of kids, I tended to rush things, not always slow down and recall the mistakes I had made in the past. My grandpa often had this funny way of letting me work things out for myself, especially if he had already shown me once or twice how to achieve something stress and injury free.
Recently I’ve been thinking about how caught up we get, specifically as we get older, with other people’s actions. We always know what’s best, we can’t believe they did it that way and we love to give advice on how it should have been done. There is a lot to be said for learning and good teachers but that’s very different to letting our ego criticise others, based on our personal beliefs and ‘ways of doing.’
What if we just let people make mistakes? Maybe before handing over that advice we should really stop and think, is this possibly a mistake that needs to be made? Maybe you’re right, maybe you’re wrong, but in the end, we are all capable of finding our own path and sometimes it just takes people a few extra pages to get there.