Some days I just don’t know what to write about.
So I just start writing.
I call it The First Pancake Rule. Whenever you make pancakes, usually the first one is terrible. I have to do the same thing with writing. Some days the first paragraph is just gibberish, like literally just random words thrown down to get my fingers moving, my brain flowing and hopefully an idea forms and that becomes an essay.
Life is like that. We just have to get started, and then find our path. Oftentimes it’s the dead ends and wrong turns that we learn from and will show us what the right path is.
All great successful men and women have had to experience this. Edison is famous for his thousands of attempts at finding the right filament for the light bulb. Henry Ford has been quoted as saying, “If you want to double your success rate, double your failure rate.” Babe Ruth and his famous 8,399 at bats and 1,330 strikeouts.
I was reminded of that this weekend when I went to see “Particle Fever” at the Laemmle on Second Street. It’s a movie about the Large Hadron Collider that was built in Europe. Basically it’s a machine that smashes atoms together to find cosmic answers. They do millions of collisions to find the one thing they are looking for.
It’s precisely what I need to do in the romantic area of my life, although on a lesser scale, I hope. I need to attempt more dating. I need to attempt more relationships and it is incredibly hard for me.
Which is really quite odd when you consider that I am very comfortable getting up in front of a room full of people and speaking for an hour. Heck, I don’t even need the people. I just videotaped my fifth Continuing Legal Education course for Thomson Reuters Corp. I train lawyers across the country on various aspects of divorce and family law and I do it to a camera, a computer screen and there’s no one else in the room.
But for me to ask a handsome man if he wants to go out, that scares me. I’m not unusual in this regard. Most men have the fear of asking someone out. It’s a fear of rejection and for someone who wants to be liked, that can seem terrifying, and paralyzing. It’s partly rooted in a sense of sexual shame that is pervasive in our country.
We’re odd like that. We use sex to sell everything from hamburgers (remember Paris Hilton’s Carl’s Jr. ad?) to bodywash (I give you Old Spice ads to look at) but we simultaneously mock those who are sexually accomplished (think of the many names we have for them) and those who make attempts that fall short of the mark. The bumbling, fumbling man who isn’t smooth is the source of how many comedic moments?
We make it difficult to acknowledge that we have sexual feelings for people, even if we have no intention of acting on them. We don’t discuss sexuality openly and comfortably in our society. It is considered taboo by some. Dirty, nasty, unseemly by others, and yet it is to be saved for marriage for that “one true love we cherish.”
As a gay man I’m often confused about what to do when asking a man out. First off, I have to do some reconnaissance to figure out where he is on the spectrum of gay to straight, because I’m afraid that if I make a pass at a straight man he’ll be offended. That’s just my own fear from childhood and I’m told it is no longer realistic in Santa Monica.
Then if he’s gay and I like him, I’m afraid that he’ll say no. No is not a rejection of me, but it can feel that way. He may have an untold number of reasons for saying no and I probably wont know what the real reason is unless he shares it with me. However, in any case a no still is uncomfortable because I’ve put myself out there, exposed my feelings and thoughts (ironic since I’m putting all of this in a newspaper). Being shot down still stings.
But the point of this column is that you have to take a shot. You have to try to find the solution, to get the answer you are looking for, and as one of the great men I listen to on a regular basis reminds me, failure is an event, not a sentence.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles divorce and child custody lawyer specializing in father’s and men’s rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969. You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra