Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Eating Elephants

The other day I did not work on any jewelry. I wouldn't sit at my work table, I convinced myself I just wanted a reading day. But really, I know it was because I was afraid. I was shying away from the stress of not doing well, of not being sure of my designs. I've done this before, I get good at a hobby then stop practicing it because it becomes too stressful. Because when I get good at something, I must then always succeed at it. If I don't, then I'm not as good as I thought I was. It becomes not a hobby, but a stress inducing test of my skill and art. Not fun. Why do I turn something enjoyable into an evaluation of my worth?

I'm a perfectionist. I have a tendency to dislike my older pieces, constantly reevaluating them against my newer abilities. But that's a part of art that I should embrace - the desire to keep learning, to keep pushing forward. Why can't we strive for a new skill without demeaning our previous endeavors? It reminds me of Margaret Salinger's book Dream Catcher - she described her father's tendency towards perfection or obliteration. She illustrates this with the question,

"How do you eat an elephant?

The correct answer: First, cut it into little pieces.

The Salinger answer: Drag it deep into a cave, all alone, and attempt to swallow it whole.

Or, declare that anyone who would eat an elephant is beneath contempt and then stalk off in the other direction."

I'm tired of eating elephants alone. Of not allowing myself to admit defeat, to admit fault or even fear of failure. So here goes, I can admit this to you internets, but I probably can't utter it aloud. I'm going to go upstairs and work on some jewelry. I'm afraid I don't have any fresh ideas today. I'm afraid I won't create something today. But I'm going to try.

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