I don’t like a lot of my individual things. I do tend to like my work in the aggregate, when I think of it or see it laid out together. But I’m my own worst critic. Sometimes I’m my only critic, because I’m the only one who’s seen the thing I made. This is normal, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to release everything up front.
But art never seen by any non-its-creator is incomplete. Art requires a second participant to be fully realized, to be whole. I think art is—in addition to being essentially human—a group activity when it’s “completed.” That is, once you’re done making a work, someone(s) else must experience it to finish it.
I know this is a bit convoluted. It seems like double talk. But as valuable as it can be to simply create on your own, your work is left unfinished until another person engages their senses with it.
Today was a series of decisions that took all the free hours of my day off. They were:
Scrolling social media feeds and alternately seething and laughing (1.5 hours…be fair, 2 hours)
Reorganizing space on my laptop by deleting unused and outdated apps (2 hours)
Traveling to the court house to get my address updated, since they seem to think I still live at my previous. (2 hours)
Squeezing in a single coding class Pomodoro (.5 hours)
Editing my podcast and queuing it to publish (5.5 hours)
Making dinner while adding things to my Netflix queue (1.5 hours)
Listening to All Things Must Pass while reading and writing this post before bedtime to get up at 5:30 for work. (1 hour)
There isn’t much of a point to this. Just that there are the same hours in every day, and looking at where they go can help identify where to change or cull choices of time spent. Time is all we’ve got, really.
Sleep deprivation. Satisfaction. Weariness. Lack of motivation. Minor disorientation. Relief for happy pets. Minor anxiety that one has spent too much money, didn’t read as much as one imagined, complained once too often instead of enjoyed the moment, you know, in-the-moment.
There’s a noticeable lack of disdain for fellow humans, a live-and-let-live undercurrent to encountering others. It’s possible that Oscar Wilde—via the little squib—was right.
So here we are, and there’s a habit to keep on track, and it was pleasant to have the routine both there and back again.
A few things I’m learning, because school is never completely over while you can breathe, are as follows:
Despite ambition, drive, ideas aplenty, and opportunity, I am still very, very, very good at procrastinating. If I could market that skill, I’d be CEO of I’ll Do It In A Minute Just As Soon As I Look At This One Thing, LLC. (Market cap: $1.4B)
But two things are helpful in overcoming that trait—Pomodoros and doing the hard stuff first.
If you aren’t familiar with the Pomodoro Technique, here’s a short overview. Basically, you work on tasks in 25(ish) minute chunks and take a 5(ish) minute break in-between, then a long break after 4 of those cycles, of 15–30(ish) minutes. Use a timer. This helps keep you focused during work periods and builds in a recess. Our minds need both concentration and free play to make connections and build memories efficiently. It’s the same with bodies, working out needs sufficient rest to build and strengthen. For me, at least, it helps to know there are breaks coming at specific intervals so I can trick myself into starting and staying at a particular task. One note: I’ve tried to do this just watching the clock, no timer, but I end up going way outside the time blocks. Usually with breaks. Timer.
Making a to-do list before bedtime is working well for the getting more stuff done, and for keeping up with the blog, particularly. Getting started on the hard bits first, I’m noticing better attitude, less sulking, and less angst when I’m not working on things.
And sleep really is, really is, the best component of physical and mental health. If you’re in school, it’s extraordinarily difficult to get your 7.5 hours, I know. But keep it at the forefront of any health concerns. No more midnight oil burning outside of major research papers and final projects, seriously. Putting everything to the side for bedtime has been better for remembering what I’m learning and improving the stuff I’m making.
Clickbaity title, I freely admit, but I’m specifically talking about the picking-and-choosing-things kind of discrimination, not concerning people.
My friends and I were talking about the firehose of media, which is, of course, a rather definitive first world problem of having way too much available for one person to take in. Nobody can possibly keep up with all the TV shows, nor movies, nor books, nor podcasts, nor music being churned out. And beyond that, there are blogs, vlogs, streams, and comics (both web and dead tree). Never mind all the bleeding video games I can’t even start.
We make our choices of the most appealing media to consume and favor, and have to chuck a big portion of the rest. But recognizing this isn’t sad, it means we have to value our time and our attention. While social media companies are trafficking in that very attention, it’s time to reconsider how precious and limited it is.
You’re worth taking a stand for the things you enjoy and eschewing what you don’t. The things we then choose become commensurately more valuable, themselves.
“We were talking about heroes,” said Lynn. She was still standing in the water, small waves oscillating into her legs, making her sway every few seconds. Hakim didn’t look at her. He stared ahead, at the horizon, an imaginary line where sea met sky. The infinite, transparent above and the deep unknown below.
“I thought this would be the catalyst for me, I thought it’d be where I did my work and played with my friends. It doesn’t feel like a place for me, any more. Maybe it’s too big and I need something small to figure things out from. Maybe I can only figure out those answers away from here.”
She went on. “My favorite ones were all ordinary people who felt something. Maybe they’d always felt it. They didn’t necessarily want to answer the call, they just had to.”
“So, this makes you a hero?” He was smiling just a little as he said it.
She grinned, but then stood up straight in the water. “Yes,” she said. “You’re damn right it does.”
They laughed, and looked at each other, and walked back out of the water.
About the Author
Marcus is a maker of things and thoughts. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon.