And one of the best songs from the show:
Another stellar rendition here.
(h/t Sara Bareilles)
From a must-read Facebook post by Anne Lamott:
“[P]erfectionism […] is the great enemy of the writer, and of life, our sweet messy beautiful screwed up human lives. It is the voice of the oppressor. It will keep you very scared and restless your entire life if you do not awaken, and fight back, and if you’re an artist, it will destroy you. […]
Do you mind even a little that you are still addicted to people-pleasing, and are still putting everyone else’s needs and laundry and career ahead of your creative, spiritual life? Giving all your life force away, to “help” and impress. Well, your help is not helpful, and falls short.
Look, I struggle with this. I hate to be criticized. I am just the tiniest bit more sensitive than the average bear. […]
Yet, I get to tell my truth. I get to seek meaning and realization. I get to live fully, wildly, imperfectly. That’s why I’m alive. And all I actually have to offer as a writer, is my version of life. Every single thing that has happened to me is mine. […]
Is it okay with you that you blow off your writing, or whatever your creative/spiritual calling, because your priority is to go to the gym or do yoga five days a week? Would you give us one of those days back, to play or study poetry? To have an awakening? Have you asked yourself lately, “How alive am I willing to be?” It’s all going very quickly. […]
It’s time to get serious about joy and fulfillment, work on our books, songs, dances, gardens. But perfectionism is always lurking nearby, like the demonic prowling lion in the Old Testament, waiting to pounce. It will convince you that your work-in-progress is not great, and that you may never get published. […]
Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen. Repent just means to change direction — and NOT to be said by someone who is waggling their forefinger at you. Repentance is a blessing. Pick a new direction, one you wouldn’t mind ending up at, and aim for that. Shoot the moon.
Here’s how to break through the perfectionism: make a LOT of mistakes. Fall on your butt more often. Waste more paper, printing out your shitty first drafts, and maybe send a check to the Sierra Club. Celebrate messes–these are where the goods are. Put something on the calendar that you know you’ll be terrible at, like dance lessons, or a meditation retreat, or boot camp. Find a writing partner, who will help you with your work, by reading it for you, and telling you the truth about it, with respect, to help you make it better and better; for whom you will do the same thing. Find someone who wants to steal his or her life back, too. Now; today. One wild and crazy thing: wears shorts out in public if it is hot, even if your legs are milky white or heavy. Go to a poetry slam. Go to open mike,and read the story you wrote about the hilariously god-awful family reunion, with a trusted friend, even though it could be better, and would hurt Uncle Ed’s feelings if he read it, which he isn’t going to. […]
At work, you begin to fulfill your artistic destiny. Wow! A reviewer may hate your style, or newspapers may neglect you, or 500 people may tell you that you are bitter, delusional and boring.
Let me ask you this: in the big juicy Zorba scheme of things, who fucking cares?”
Time to Do. The. Work.
(And for a broader sociocultural take on the destructiveness of perfectionism, see my musings here on Timothy Ferris’s excellent The Science of Liberty.)
(via Brain Pickings; photo by Mark Richards)
“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”
— Martha Graham
as spotted in a bathroom sign at Siggy’s Good Food, in Manhattan
Steven Spielberg praises teachers, talks about how he fell into filmmaking, and offers inspirational advice:
When you have a dream, it often doesn’t come at you screaming in your face, “This is who you are, this is who you must be for the rest of your life.” Sometimes a dream almost whispers. And I’ve always said to my kids: the hardest thing to listen to — your instincts, your human personal intuition — always whispers; it never shouts. Very hard to hear. So you have to, every day of your lives, be ready to hear what whispers in your ear. It very rarely shouts. And if you can listen to the whisper, and if it tickles your heart, and it’s something you think you want to do for the rest of your life, then that is going to be what you do for the rest of your life, and we will benefit from everything you do.
Jay Smooth of Ill Doctrine speaks truth about self-censorship, self-doubt, perfectionism, procrastination, and creativity:
(Check out his YouTube channel and click around for more of his wit, honesty, compassionate politics — and his adorable cat.)
I particularly like the last bit of the second video — “The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources” — which reminds me of the conclusion to Tom Piazza’s essay “Trust the Song” (from Devil Sent the Rain):
A few years ago, while I was attending the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Saul Bellow came to talk to us for a few days. In addition to a reading, he conducted a workshop and a question-and-answer session. During the Q&A one student asked him about “stealing” from other writers — borrowing techniques, structural ideas, entering other cultural milieus. Bellow smiled wanly and said, “You are entitled to steal anything you are strong enough to carry out.”
All of this, of course, is to psyche yours truly up enough to tell myself: Enough guilt, enough doubt.
The stories in your head are waiting.
Time to get to work.