Saturday, June 30, 2012

Doing What You're Not

I had another one of those lovely conversations with Bogha Frois last night which comes precisely at the time I need it - and sparks a massive amount of thinking afterwards.

No lies - this was a long and hard week, long to the point that on Tuesday it seemed like it should have been Wednesday.  Virtually the last thing that happened before I left was the discovery of an error which had been reviewed and re-reviewed 15 times.  All the old accusations of failing and not paying attention washed over me like a tsunami, and I crawled home dragging worse than I had all week.

And then I talked to Bogha Frois, and found that she had a week just like it.  There is a peculiar comfort in shared misery.

As she walked me her through week - rising frustrations, rising disconnections, changes in physical well-being and mental attitude - it was like looking into a mirror and hearing myself speak.  She put into words everything that I had been feeling - everything that I have inside but could not express.

Overriding everything for both of us was this huge wall of frustration, this wall we simply cannot get over.  It's as if the cliff is crumbling behind you and the wall is too high in front of you and there is simply no place to turn:  you do not want to plunge to your doom, but neither do you want to be pressed up to a wall, unable to do anything except beat your head against it.

And then the thought occurred to me as I got ready to make cheese this morning:  I'm not doing what I am.

I am simply not a detail person.  Yes, I understand that we all have to have some attention to detail (in writing and cheesemaking as in all else) and of course it's easier when it's something you're interested in.  But I'm not the kind of person that happily sits at a desk, reviewing and re-reviewing, reference and cross-referencing.  I take little joy in the thought that I have corrected an error.

What am I then?  I'm a creative person - a broad brush painter, a starter.  I love to create things.  I love to see the possibilities.  I love to make things - things of beauty, things that are of use to others. 

And like a smack on the side of the head, all became clear.  My frustration mounts because I'm not doing that which I do best.  The frustration I feel is because I am not creating or making anything; instead, I'm correcting and cross-referencing. 

The result?  Not only everything mentioned above, but an additional factor that I seem to be losing interest in almost everything I like to do.  Career has become like the Ring in The Lord of the Rings in Frodo's mind:  A burning wheel of fire dominating everything.

What to do?  I'm not sure.  Creative careers are surely much harder to come by than those of execution and detail are required. 

But there's another simple fact.  Doing what you are not is like putting a freshwater fish into seawater:  it will not survive long.

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