I worked on a painting this afternoon. I call it “Voici my unfinished violin.” It doesn’t have strings. The color isn’t really right. There are a ton of little things I can see in it that I want to change or add. I love the lines I made on the tailpiece and fingerboard. The f-hole didn’t turn out how I wanted. The angle is wrong. That swirl just to the right of the violin is too big and too perfect, but I’m pleasantly surprised by the way the colors blended. I made the body of the instrument flat when I wanted to make it three dimensional. But that’s just not what came out when I started painting.
I can think of all these criticisms. Yet, when I stand back and look at this painting and think about what it means to me, I feel affection for it. To me, it represents inspiration and beautiful sound. It represents a swirling of disparate feelings, memories, times and places. Dark and light, sunshine, twilight, midnight, the range of emotions I could feel if I gave this violin strings and played it. It also represents world travel. The violin could be played anywhere in the world. Each player would pour his or her unique sound and soul into it. I love this painting. At the same time, I have feelings of agitation about the flaws I see in it. But I love it anyway.
I didn’t plan this painting. I was just sitting at the kitchen table disliking another painting I’d been working on and watching Mozart in the Jungle. After a few episodes, I thought, I need to paint a violin. So I did. It feels good to make something without overthinking it.
On a normal day, I spend a lot of time overthinking. I debate with myself about what I should work on.
work on my mommy blog?
work on my other blog?
build my editing website?
plan my week?
make a grocery list?
go for a jog (aka train for my 10k)?
write my book?
sign my little one up for summer camp?
I know that if I didn’t wring my hands about it and just did some stuff, I’d get more done. Or at least something done. I read a good quote about that this week:
“Life gives you plenty of time to do whatever you want to do if you stay in the present moment.” —Deepak Chopra
In spite of the good advice of Deepak Chopra, I get caught up in this horrible and never-ending cycle of dreaming up a million brilliant things and then overthinking them all and not doing many of them. There are a variety of things at play. How will I find time? Should I even start if I can’t finish right now? Do I even deserve to do this work that is special to me? What if I’m a fraud? I know. I’ll plan the shit out of this and then it won’t fall apart. Plus, if I have a plan, I will know if it is going to work before I start.
Does any of that sound familiar to you? Or is it just me?
But, as I said before, just sitting down and making something feels good. In my experience, making something unstructured often provides a little momentum I can use to work on the longer term projects. Like my novel, which I have also worked on today.
So, go make something. Don’t overthink it. And if you’re done with it before it is finished, name it unfinished and let it be.
Because, like, we are all in progress. We are all unfinished.