How the Film Beginners Applies Directly to You

Have you seen the Mike Mills’ Beginners?

Ewan McGregor plays Oliver, a 38-year-old fellow who has spent his years pulling away from serious relationships because somewhere deep within, he’s not convinced that relationships can work.  He spent his childhood watching his mother and father (Christopher Plummer) live side by side platonically for 40 plus years.

When Oliver meets Anna (Mélanie Laurent), she tells him that it’s easy for her to leave people behind because she’s always traveling, always moving from one hotel room to the next.  And Oliver confesses to her that it’s easy for him to leave people without ever leaving town.  He finds it difficult to be vulnerable, to step in too close in case the relationship falters in the end.

I won’t disclose any more details.  Trust me, it’s better I tell too little than give away the entire movie.

As creatives, Oliver’s predictability is all too familiar.  A masterpiece is an extension of the artist, and we sabotage our work in subtle ways to keep the outside world at arm’s length.

We hide our stories, our sculptures, our songs so they cannot be torn apart with revisions.  We fear the rejections, the negative criticism, the failure in store for us.

This could mean that we never publish, never exhibit, never play in front of a live audience.  And this could mean that we never put our all into our work.  We write fearfully, unwilling to show any vulnerability, always writing stories without substance.

But the world needs to hear those stories and admire those paintings and tap along to the beat of those songs.

When you begin a creative endeavor, don’t look ahead to the failure you assume will follow.  Don’t allow the fear of failure to undermine your art.  Instead, be willing to be more vulnerable, not only with your art but also with your audience.

Art is a reflection of the artist in his/her truest, most uninhibited form.  Be willing to share that vulnerable version with the world.  Your art will never suffer because of it.

In the end of Beginners, Oliver asks “now what?” of his new relationship with Anna.  Apply this to your art.  Now, how will you write?  How will you paint?  How will you act?

How could your world be different if you didn’t fear the possible failure ahead?