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Wednesday, January 18, 2006 

Perfection

Shaw says that I shouldn't try to be perfect.

I half agree with him.

I think I should try to excel at what I do but trying to be perfect will kill me, as it would anyone else.

What do you think?
Entry By The_Lex

We could always throw that old cliche at you... "perfect is the enemy of good."

Which is true, y'know. At least most of the time. And almost certainly pertaining to anything you've got going on.

I agree, but I'd phrase it a different way.

I think everyone should strive for perfection as a matter of course...but only once they've chosen to define "perfection" as an emotional state and NOT an objective ideal, specifically "that space where what you do feels right, satisfying, and wonderous."

I'd be more comfortable with "at least mostly right; sometimes, ideally frequently satisfying; and allowing for occasional moments of wonder, or at least mellow happiness."

That "wonderous" thing especially is going to fuck up your life, man. I seriously doubt even people who get to do what they truly love for a living would routinely refer to any part of their work routine as "wonderous."

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Because I wanted to fix dumb typos...or at least, some of them.



Post:


Novena: If you don't love your work and find wonder in it, then you use words like "routine" to describe it.

I've never, ever used that word in reference to my own work. I hold it in reserve, in fact, as a symptom of "time to get the hell out of here ASAP".

Instead, I get to do something CLOSE to what I truly love for a living. In some ways, LESS close than what I had for the past seven years. And it's still more than I deserve.

A serious and significant portion of each and every day of my vocational life is wondrous.

Today, for example:

- I stopped a fist fight in someone else's classroom and managed to counsel/connect with the kids on their way tot he office.

- I got praised by the assistant principal...for volunteering to spend my prep time checking on suddenly darkened classrooms to see if folks needed support, with intercoms and phones out. Dark school corridors + walkie-talkie = fun chaotic powerness.

- as a result, I got to be seen as "the helpful guy" to teachers, and kids everywhere high-fived and chatted me up as I stopped in.

- I got through, in some small way, to a good several dozen kids, both in groupsetting and in short one-on-one moments. This included making jokes that they got, introducing the concept of the earworm to a class of 14 year olds, and actually praising and teaching so many of them in tiny epiphenatic ways.

- I escorted several dozen kids, in groups of three, to the dark bathrooms in our power-outaged school, and laughed at every single encounter from "if you hear the pee you're in the right place" to "there aren't any clowns in this bathroom, are there?"

- my kids stopped by with my wife for a 15 minute stop-in, and everyone glowed at us. I did, too.

- I got through to the kid no one could get through to. Every teacher in the school gave me the appropriate kudos. The coworker who hates everyone smiled at me for once.

- I hit a dozen homeruns with a half-dozen teachers...and made it feel like it was natural and easy for each one.

- I counseled a sub who's thinking of going it full-time.

One day of many, and all are more wondrous than not, in fact. It's all in how you approach it, and how you count the moments.

So: My advice, The_Lex, is to ignore the pessimistic Novena, aim higher, and relax more, and enjoy everything.

Perfect it is not.

But no wonder? Wonder as rare and precious?

That's what makes wonder seem so fleeting. Treating it as fragile makes it so. Don't fall for that.

Doubt all you want; we'll make more.

This has been some interesting input, especially from a half jesting post just looking to start some interesting conversation.

Granted, I suspect working with kids has a higher-than-average incidence of wonder. Unfortunately, I just don't like other people's kids enough to get that involved (and since I have none of my own, I can't offer an opinion on them.)

Me, I work in the arts. I work in both creatively and in an educational/public advocacy capacity. I work FOR film, in that I work continuously to promote the medium, to bring new people in, to help make a home and venue for those people, and to contribute to the artform. And that work means everything in the world to me, seriously. I also usually maintain a dayjob of some description, so I've got a very clear delineation between my job and my work.

I don't get "wonder" and one of my regular work benefits. I get to deal with apathy, indifference, and a near-total degree of illiteracy in my particular field. And when someone does show interest, most of the time it's short-lived, misdirected, and misguided. Maybe one time out of fifty I meet someone who's worth knowing, or see work worth watching, or get any kind of gratification for all this slogging. And that's the time -- the only time -- "wonder" comes into play. (Probably not the exact word I'd have chosen, but since it's the language we're using here, I'll keep it.)

But I'm going to keep doing it anyway, because it's that important to me. And it should be that important to you, too (and that "you" refers to everybody) because it's people who do this work that enable anything of any value or interest whatsoever to bubble to the surface where it can be enjoyed by everyone else. We let the wonder slide and mostly deal with the bullshit so you don't have to (but mostly for the people who are actually managing to do something valuable and interesting in film.)

But don't "ignore" that there are things worth doing even if they don't bring you endless amounts of "wonder."

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