‘Normally, in anything I do, I’m fairly miserable. I do it, and I get grumpy because there is a huge, vast gulf, this aching disparity, between the platonic ideal of the project that was living in my head, and the small, sad, wizened, shaking, squeaking thing that I actually produce.’
– Neil Gaiman
‘You know what your problem is? You are a perfectionist,’ Busy Bee stared at me, fuming mad.
‘You want things done the exact way you saw it in your mind. You start off enthusiastically, planning things in detail and setting wheels in motion. But when it starts to deviate from your plan and mutates into an imperfect expression, you give up. You get disheartened and lose interest. You call it quits. And that’s why you’re always surrounded by so many unfinished projects.’
She was right. I had unfinished art work, unfinished time lines, unfinished cases… it all reeked of failure.
We were doing a post-mortem of our projects in 2007 and her feedback on my performance was… not good. Instead of walking away though, Busy Bee faithfully stood by me, even when she only wanted to slap my face. She taught me to be committed, to accept failures and value the potential in results that are far from perfect. Since then, our partnership has deepened to one of nurture. We understand each other so well that in our arguments, there’s an undeniable love and respect. We truly desire to bring out the best in each other.
Tonight, I remember these things vividly, as I survey the mass of unfinished projects in my hand. Each of these items began with a dream. In my hands though, they looked naked, distorted and admittedly, there were many times today I want to throw in the towel.
But there is a new fight in me. I will not give up. I will keep working on them until my heart, and my heart alone, feels ready to let go and say, ‘I’ve done my best. Now… God, do the rest. Make them spectacular.’
With heart. Is that they only gauge we have for this life?
If we live life according to our expectations, we fail. If we live life according to the world’s set standards, we fail. If we live life merely wanting to maintain protocol and follow guidelines, isn’t that a failure of dispassion too?
But living life with heart – is that the only way we can gain actual satisfaction with every little task we complete?
‘Hey PD, will you have ten minutes today? I need to ask you about something…’ I texted him.
‘Sure. Come on up to my office.’
I needed some advice about a matter and PD was one person I thought could help shed some insight on my confusion. I updated him with a year’s worth of journey in five minutes and then sat back. ‘What do you think I should do?’ I was hoping for a clear direction.
‘I don’t have an answer,’ he said. ‘I know you want me to tell you what to do but I can’t. I can tell you this… if there’s one thing I’ve learnt in my life, it is to follow my heart. I’m not there yet and still make decisions based on what I think is best, but I’m learning that even when things may not yield the best results, it’s important to know that we followed our hearts.’
I sighed. He smiled.
‘What does your heart tell you?’
‘My heart says that I don’t want to do this.’ I answered.
‘And are you ready for the consequences?’ He asked.
‘Yes, I think I am.’ And as I walked out that office, I know I am. This is going to be one of the toughest things I’ll need to do but I can’t do things out of obligation or fear. I need to know that I made the right choice. Hopefully, those affected by my decision will understand that too. Hopefully, the bridges I think I’m burning can be rebuilt again.
‘There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.’
– Sarah Dessen
Last night, I didn’t sleep. Last night, I asked myself many questions.
I was in the midst of completing my article on Paddington and the Fair Maiden’s loss and found myself torn between wanting to report things as I would normally, from my point of view, and wanting to write as one would, for the publication.
My writing voice was contrived and it frustrated me that I didn’t feel the words that were coming through. When sunlight creeped through the curtains, I gave up. I headed in to the office and openly declared to everyone that today was my writing day so please, leave me alone.
Fat chance. I was roped in to impromptu meetings and found myself saddled with an additional three more scripts to write.
‘This is not funny,’ I whispered to the Dream Maker. ‘How am I going to be able to do all this by Sunday? I have to hand in my overdue article, meet some people at 11am tomorrow, followed by a rehearsal, another meeting at 3.30pm and if all goes well, the earliest I’d be at home would be 6pm. That effectively gives me another late night!’
I groaned inwardly.
And did what I knew best then. I burst into song, this time adding a few pirouettes for good measure. With heart.