I have the most interesting conversations. It is one of the true delights in my life; conversation.
It also scares the hell out of me. (Seems to be the way that kind of thing goes in life, but that’s the topic for another discussion).
Anyway, the conversations I have are so interesting because, much like this blog, they allow me to solidify my thoughts on any given subject.
Conversation, and writing, help me to understand. To understand you, them, the world, but most importantly, to understand me.
(That, you’ll find if you’ve looked, is often the most difficult thing to understand: one’s self.)
So what does this strange prelude about my wondrous conversations – that you should so totally be jealous of – have to do with how this post is titled?
Glad you asked.
I was having a conversation, recently, with a friend when just such a moment occurred. We were discussing various projects and how sometimes we can stall out on them for various reasons. My friend and I share an unreasonable penchant for pursuing perfection in our own works. (I suppose an artist, of any stripe, never does quite think the art is finished). I also have a problem that he doesn’t: depression.
You’ve read my mentioning of it before, no need to delve quite so deeply into it now.
So we were talking about various obstacles to completing projects when I said two things that happened to be personally, seriously true – without intending to do so.
The first is that I spend a lot of time managing my mental state.
(This is probably why I seem, outwardly, fairly normal to anyone that isn’t having an interesting conversation with me).
The second concerns stalls in projects. This will require some more explanation for you to understand.
(Sometimes there are no shortcuts; no TLDRs. Sorry.)
So, one of my primary mottos is: engineer around your own shortcomings. (Find what keeps you getting in your own way and work around it. Know thyself – basically – and act accordingly). I do this a lot. And by a lot, I mean, a metric fuck-ton. Like all the time. I’m always trying to discover if I’m stepping on my own dick and if there is, just maybe, a better place to put my foot.
Now, because I have been a lifelong depressive, and because I have been a lifelong creative – no those two aren’t necessarily intertwined – I have the urge to create; almost constantly, but I have no energy or motivation to get started.
Knowing this about myself, I find ways to engineer around it.
For me, the best way has always been: let the initial inspiration/ motivation/ what-have-you get me going and ride that for as long as possible, re-invigorating it – as often as possible – throughout the process until either I have completed the project, or I have set a temporary habit well enough in place to let that momentum carry me on as the project progresses.
There are, if you’re at all quick, some inherent problems with this approach.
I am not quick.
The biggest problem is outside interference. Bad weather, unavoidable, intractable schedules, sickness, injury, that kind of thing. Those throw a huge monkey wrench into my program. They create breaks in my momentum. Spaces for bad things to happen.
You see, it is in my nature to doubt, and doubt myself most of all. If a sufficiently long break – and that length can vary, one week, one day, one hour, etc.. – occurs that knocks me out of my practice, doubt creeps in.
Wait, creeps isn’t the right word.
Yeah, that’s closer to it. (If Tsunami can be a verb. I tsunami, he/ she tsunamis, they tsunami…).
Doubt and an unreasonable desire for perfection.
And those two things can fuck me right off a project, if they get enough of a hold on me.
Here we come to the second of my conversational realizations: Doubt and perfectionism stall me out and send me hurtling back towards the earth, but somewhere, just before I hit the ground, I reach “Fuck it”.
“Fuck it” has pulled me out of more deep dives than anything else in my repertoire of coping skills.
“Fuck it” saves me; probably more often than could be reasonably expected.
(I’d send “Fuck it” a thank you fruit basket, but “Fuck it” wouldn’t care. Also, the postage would be murder.)
When the depression, and the doubt, and the unreasonable standards for myself push me further and further down the hill towards despair, sometimes I get to “Fuck it” and it gives me the energy I need to get back up the other side.
I’m not perfect
I’ll screw it up.
I’ll look like a damn fool.
Sometimes “Fuck it” is all I have to keep me going.
Sometimes “Fuck it” is all I need.
So, here’s to finally getting to “Fuck it”, and being able to get moving again.
Feel free to use it if it works for you. Maybe you’ll find a little bit of comfort in it too.