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Quite Contrary

By January 19, 2015No Comments

Remember attempting “Opposite Day” when you were a kid? I say “attempting” because it was impossible, mostly because it devolved so quickly into doing and saying all the bad things you weren’t allowed, or couldn’t normally bring yourself to say or do, and that would feel so yucky you’d quit by the second recess for sure.


I mean telling your best friend she’s “ugly” and you “hate” her because “dude! it’s Opposite Day and that means you’re “beautiful” and I “love” you” just sounds hollow, and you start to wonder how you really feel.

When you’re a kid you think it’s as simple as a choice between “ugly” or “beautiful.” When you get older you know it’s impossible to separate the ugly from the beautiful, or the feelings you have for the person you are “judging” from your feelings about that sort of judgement in general, or the utility vs. the futility of any sort of debate regarding beauty, period.

I guess my feelings about “Opposite Day” are pretty clear — I thought it was “ugly” and I “hated” it — which is why it might seem counter-intuitive to those of you who don’t know what a rebel I am, that in spite of being older and firmly mired in the “there is no black or white, only grey, zone,” I am thinking of applying the rules of “Opposite Day” to my own life.


Think about it. This is not a new idea. In fact some of the best rebel thoughts are Mega Opposite Day ideas:

“Pay it Forward”

“Commit Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Beauty”

“Want What You Have, and Give What You Need.”

These are concepts to live by, and they are all the opposite of ideas we got used to taking for granted until some very smartasses turned them on their heads.

I’ve always played a little game with myself where I decide what I think I want — 100% for sure — and then I list alternatives, and sometimes I end up changing my mind and going with one of those alternatives instead.




This is that same game only with higher stakes.

I’ll give you an example. One of the single most difficult things to do as an artist is to price your work. I can hear the “Amen, sisters” from here. And so there are some stirrings in the arts community that there might be some alternatives to the way we get paid for what we do as artists.

Amanda Palmer has a book about this topic, The Art of Asking, which I haven’t read yet, and a TED talk I’ve seen twice that’s pretty interesting.

Another artist doing something different is Andy Mort, a musician who goes by the stage name of Atlum Schema, and who like Amanda Palmer is doing the unthinkable and (WT double F?!!) letting the buyers determine what they will pay. Opposite Day!

As a visual artist making a variety of work in a variety of media, some pieces taking weeks, others just an afternoon, it feels a little different not setting your own price, from a musician selling CD’s, MP3 downloads, or tickets to their concerts. But in fact I think it’s the same. No one is going to offer you five bucks for a piece you’ve obviously spent 6 months producing — and if they do it’s up to you whether or not to take it.

I’ve actually done this a couple of times and the best way to describe how it’s different from the way I usually do it is to say it’s a little like tasting arugula for the first time when you’re used to spinach. In England they call arugula, Rocket. Well letting your patrons determine what to pay you for your work is definitely shooting the moon.


And here’s the thing — I actually made MORE money when I didn’t tell my patrons what to pay me.

Now I’m a little obsessed with looking for the opposites. What are the alternatives to my “for sures”? How can I turn this idea on its head? Upside down? Inside out?

I’ve even started wearing my Goofy watch again — it tells time counter-clockwise.

The Opposite Day perspective is simply consciously looking at things from a different angle. Go ahead and give it a whirl. What’s the worst that can happen?


Here’s mud in your eye!