Perfection & Productivity Can Kill You

Big IslandThe Lure of Being Productive

This weekend I was highly productive. I wrote three queries, worked on two essays, did a painting and caught up on my reading. I also spent time with friends, went to a museum, a farmer’s market and a coffee shop.

In the midst of all my doing, however, I started to wonder if I was veering way too far off course. In the process of all that doing, was I neglecting just being?

There were a few bread crumbs that led me to question my latest endeavors. There was this post by writer hero and friend Jordan Rosenfeld who I once interviewed here.

And then there was this passage from Gregg Levoy’s Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life: “The beating heart of self-esteem is the feeling that we’re acceptable as we are, without having to earn it.”

And the feeling of dread as I put down my paintbrush when I saw that the painting before me was not the beauty of perfection I had hoped.

In Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening he says,”What we need is always harshly and beautifully right before us, disguised in the wrapping of our nearest urgency. We just refuse to accept this, because it feels so difficult to face.”

The True Purpose of Life

All experiences reminded me that perfection, production, completion are not the goals of this life. That one does not need to perform perfection in order to earn love and self-worth. I was reminded that although we creatives often need validation, we should not be seeking it through our work.

The process, however, imperfect and painful is part of the journey.

Learning to hold ourselves in that process is the key to truly living a meaningful, purposeful life.

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