When I was younger I would be so excited about projects in school. I’d immediately start envisioning how I would create my masterpiece. I’d see myself striding into the classroom weeks later holding my work – complete with moveable parts or stunning paintings, drawings, poetry, etc, that’d score me top marks. But more importantly, I wanted some recognition – so many kids did projects for a grade, I did them for that, of course, but also because I wanted to create. I wanted people to look at my work and see how good it is. Look at how innovative! Look at how much effort and passion!
I’d carry this mindset with me for weeks – still dreaming of every detail of my newest project. But then, the most difficult part would come – finishing it or even just making forward progress. I’d sit and stare at blank pages much too often. I’d draw and build half of something, then tear it down and start over – even if my mother was desperately standing behind me with her head resting in her hands going “Lisa it’s beautiful. It’s great. Don’t erase it.” I’d come up with incredible ideas, only to “realize” that I didn’t have time for them (who has time to build a mechanical mini chairlift for a paper-mache ski mountain?), and occasionally, especially with my writing, I’d basically have finished, but then would delete it and start over – because that day was the day I decided that everything I ever produced wasn’t good enough.
It continued in college. I wanted to create – but then I’d spend two hours scribbling out a tangled web of random stories and paragraphs and it’d look like I had done nothing. I’d struggle in this cycle for weeks, and then the deadline would approach, I’d furiously cut and paste my mess of a half-complete project into something worth submitting, print it in the ten minutes I had before it was due and, in the worst of times, sprint across campus to breathlessly slide my imperfection across the desk while feeling very disgusted with myself. Normally, everything would turn out fine and I’d get decent grades and usually, people would really like what I had done even if I didn’t – and then I’d feel better, but not completely – because, remember, I had perfection planned in my head.
I now live in a city with a guy that famous for only getting to deadlines for other people while he self-murdered his own projects because they “weren’t good enough.” Just down the street and around the corner from where I’m sitting, you can see Michelangelo’s Florentine “Pieta” (not the one in Rome) that he started in 1546 at 71-years-old. In 1555, after working on this block of marble for years, he took a hammer to it in anger and frustration – destroying half of it before an apprentice walked in and told him he was being a lunatic.
Before the museum was redone a few years ago, the statue sat very much alone in a building just behind the Duomo in Florence. Every so often when I used to roam the city center sans french bulldog, I’d duck into museums when I could and one afternoon, I sat alone with Michelangelo’s self-proclaimed “terrible” piece of work.
I’ll let my Instagram caption do the rest of the talking (please note the wonderful words of agreement from Ryan. Suck knob definitely turned sarcastically way way up):
What do I think the problem here was? Mike didn’t have a deadline. This was his “side project” for his own tomb. The only reason he finished other masterpieces was because there was usually an extremely impatient Pope tapping their foot behind him wondering why it was taking so long? Michelangelo took only four years to carve The David, honestly, to perfection – but I bet it still wasn’t perfect to him when he had to hand it over to the city. Yet, he wanted to destroy his Pieta – and could – because the only deadline he set was for himself and so he broke it in a tantrum of frustration that I have come to know well.
If you haven’t caught onto the theme here, I respect deadlines for other people but not for myself. Deadlines set by others make me close my eyes and throw my work out into the world and hope that it is appreciated – just like I hoped my wolf poster in the 6th grade (complete with original artwork thankyouverymuch) would stun audiences with my wealth of knowledge – even if I didn’t have time to record a soundtrack of howls to give the viewers “ambience” as they walked past my desk at the academic fair (yes that was actually part of the original plan and, yes, I was an odd child).
I thought at this point in the year, I’d be toting my laptop around the city and writing at my favorite cafes with Stitch happily lying at my feet. I’d be making more money than I had in my last job, have at least 100 blog posts up on this damn blog, and hell, even turn into one of those yoga people that get up to see the sunrise with a smile on their face (which I can barely do even at my embarrassing hour of AWAKE which is usually much, much later). I was going to make fruit smoothies, make it to rugby, my inbox would be flooded with work, and I’d be so confident with this new lifestyle that I’d even set aside time each week to write for me and get a book going.
Welp, guess what? It’s June. Today I woke up at 11:30 and had a latte instead of a fresh-pressed juice. I have more drafts of blogs than I can count, but none are even close to being completed or posted for you to read. I meet all my deadlines for others, but break them every single day for myself. If I try and sit at a cafe with Stitch, he still either needs to be standing on my lap or begging for pets from the locals and tourists passing by and that little smiley aura that yogis have? Nope, don’t have it…yet.
But today, in the middle of June, with the sun getting hotter by the minute and my tomato plants in the garden growing a foot a week, I am setting myself a deadline on the internet – and this time, I’ll have to stick to it, because you, the one that is reading this, will make it completely impossible to break seeing that it isn’t just my own anymore, I’ve made a promise to keep writing, keep posting, keep updating regularly and not let my voice grow weak again. This blog is the first step to improve my own deadline discipline. I hope that like Michelangelo’s apprentice, you’ll make sure I don’t destroy beautiful work that I just can’t seem to perfect, and I hope that as I create, I get closer to my own perfection, but also learn to just finish it – because it may be pretty perfect to the rest of the world already anyway.