The older I get the more I discover that everything revolves around how we perceive things. If we are not open to the finer nuances and maintain a rigid mind-set we risk the real possibility of not enjoying our lives as much as we can. The sad thing is that all of us can be this way at times. We make up our minds as to how things should be and are disappointed. If we delve deeper we might be surprised. It all depends on how we perceive things. I found myself enmeshed so deeply in this that I wondered how it applied in our daily lives.
As fate (or just plain coincidence) would have it I came across an article entitled ‘Why you suck at stuff and how to get better’. In it David Marchese says life “is suffering. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get out of bed in the morning. It just means that humanity’s default is the blooper, not the highlight.” Bloopers are common to all of us. We can’t automatically be good at things, even things that we love. We may have a perchance for it, a certain talent but it won’t prevent us from making mistakes. How we perceive our bloopers can make a huge difference to how we feel about ourselves.
Lauren Schwartzberg, in this same article uses ceramics as an analogy. She says its “hard to come up with a vision for what you want to create” and then “there’s a phase where the gap between what you’d like to do and what you can do is enormous, because it’s so hard to learn the technique.” What if the gap never closes? It doesn’t matter the subject (in my case writing) the doubts are still the same. We can become disheartened. Do we stop what we are doing, or do we look at the experience in a different way. Lauren suggests we can enjoy the fact that focusing on our preferred task even if we suck at it can make “whatever you’re doing at work or elsewhere just goes away.”
So sucking at it becomes irrelevant to the fact that we are achieving satisfaction in a different way to what we expected. I know I suck at ballroom dancing yet all my woes disappear the minute I take a step in my dance shoes, or barefoot for that matter. Do I want to be good at it? Do I want to glide and turn as light on my feet as a butterfly might be? Yes, of course I do. As a realist however I know I don’t have it in me but I will be darned if I let it stop me enjoying myself. I can honestly say for that short space of time on that dance floor my enjoyment couldn’t possibly be any less than someone with expert skill. The dance matters more than me.
My Unexpected Obsession hero on the other hand hates not perfecting whatever he does, including dancing. He wants the mantle of the expert. His approach is logical – you work hard at the steps. Yet as single-minded as he is in this the outcome is not the desired one. It frustrates him even as it entices him. He continues the activity knowing something is missing and so his passion is bittersweet. He wants the gold medal. But, the truth is we can’t all win gold medals. All of us can have satisfying mini-highlights if we are realistic about our bloopers.
I was reading a post by a favourite author of mine, Rebecca Zanetti in which she gives a breakdown on her writing routine. After drafting out that first copy, going back to add layers of emotion, getting rid of unnecessary words, doing more editing, printing a hard copy, more editing she finally sends it to an agent. It sounds a lot but it is a process and if we step it as such then it isn’t as difficult to follow as might appear, unless you are a novice when it may take longer to follow a routine and all too often end up missing things. The key word to note is novice because having thought it I suddenly realised how hard I was being on myself because of my expectations, or my perception of what the expectations should be.
Like Nico I get frustrated. My passion is real so this is one area I don’t want to suck at. Alternative perceptions are not satisfying! This doubly sucks. Writing is supposed to be therapeutic. I agree the blooper is a normal default but in this I want a highlight. I can’t help but wonder whether you out there, reading this, feel the same about your passions. I wonder if you too are going to need a bigger boat like I do. Not as random a thought as you might think. I have been reading another post by Rebecca about subtext:
One of the best examples of subtext is from the movie Jaws. When Roy Schneider, the sheriff, gets a good look at the shark, he says, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” What he thinks/feels is, “Holy crap. The shark is monstrous, we’re all gonna die, and I’m scared to death.” What he says is, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
Most people are afraid to say what they really mean because they are afraid to show their fears. A subtext is a clever and safe way to hint and have the reader/listener pick up the clues. At the moment as I wait for reviews and comments on my novel I keep asking myself if I need a bigger boat. Do you?
Until next time,