The House of Tatterdemalion

Unfashionable, unskilled, inexpensive--but still sewing.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Always two steps behind. . .

I have been meaning to post here for quite some time. I still wanted to talk about another book by Adele, as well as a book by Kenneth King and a book by Roberta Carr. I seem to be keeping quite busy, though, and just haven't gotten to it yet.

You see, I'm in the midst of a brutal battle of one-up-man-ship. She is clever, and creative. She never runs of ideas, and she is terribly critical and rarely satisfied. She won't be satisfied with doing the same thing twice. She actively looks for challanges--for difficult things to not only attempt, but to succeed at.

I am competing with her. If she has made something beautiful, I will make something twice as breath-taking. If she has made something technically stunning, I shall come up with something twice as brilliant and complicated--and, of course, take twice as long to finish. My projects seem to be taking exponentially longer, not shorter. When we aren't competing, she is
standing over my shoulder, insidiously whispering in my ear, prompting me to take longer--or maybe never even finish.

I keep telling myself I'll ignore her. I won't let myself get sidetracked by her great ideas for fussy little projects that are supposed to be "quick". And I certainly won't go off on another harebrained quest for a masterpiece that takes years to finish--so long to finish, in fact, that by the time I finish it I am so sick of the project that I am no longer elated or delighted by it. I am tired of looking at it, and in a hurry to get away from it.

I tell myself I will do things quickly and efficiently. I won't listen to her; I will make things, and I will have things to show for my work. Not a year from now--or two years, or three or five--but now I will have something to show for it. No more grand schemes, just regular things.

I know that she means well. And it never starts out as anything complicated or long. But it always grows bigger and longer and harder. I just don't have time for it!

Every time I say "Enough! No more! Just let me be; I'm not doing anything complicated anymore!" She seems to comply.

"But of course, I shan't trouble you anymore." But then she comes back.

"You don't really want to do it like that, do you? Wouldn't it be better if you changed this part here a little?" Well, yes, it would. And it wouldn't take any longer, anyway. Or not much. And it certainly does make it look a lot better.

And then again, later---"But shouldn't you change this part? And how about over here?" Yes, those are just little things. They won't take much longer. And look how it transforms the project! See how much it is improved! Thanks, that was a good idea.

And before I know it, I've let myself be talked into it once again. The project is dragging. Yes, when it's finished, it will be glorious. When I finish it. If I finish it.

She convinces me that I must begin at the beginning, and never take any short-cuts. These short-cuts, or these building off of inferior work--they pollute things, ruin things. Why destroy your precious hard work with things that degrade it and disgrace it? Your work is worthy of better things. You musn't ever leave such a weak link in your chain!

Her logic is impeccable. I begin to climb feverishly, certain this the right way, the only way. And then I tire. Things begin to seem more difficult. I stop and look up, and the top--the glorious, wonderful top, where I long to be-- is so far away, and the climb so hard. I begin to get discouraged. But I cannot stop now, or turn back. I have tasted enough of what is at the end that I can no longer be happy with any other way.

So I labor and toil on, but with nothing--yet--to show for it. Nothing but the certainty that I must get to where I have set out to go. And I am tired of it. I want to see the result of my hard work now. I want to stick my fingers in my ears when she begins on her great and endless plans. I want to send her away for a very long trip, and actually get something done.

But I can't.

Because "she" is me (as I'm sure you've already figured out).

In reality, this is nothing more than a rather complicated way of saying--"Me and my big ideas! I should have just kept my mouth shut. Why do I keep biting off more than I can chew?" But that is a good deal less satisfying than blaming it all on someone else--even if it is just an imaginary character.

One (there are many) of the most highly annoying things about taking so long to finish is that I have plenty of time to figure out what to do next--and the longer it takes to finish, the greater and more time consuming the next project becomes. Other days, I get so fed up the original project taking so long, and so impatient to see in my hands what I see in head, that I put it aside and begin on the next thing--and then I have two impossible projects to finish! And then three--and four!

Someday, I tell myself, I will finish it all, and it will be great and glorious. But no, she says. After you finish it all, you will finally be able to begin on something truly spectacular. Right now, you're just warming up.


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