Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Perfect Post

Where to begin?

It's been nearly a year since my last post, so there's a lot of pressure to make this one worth the wait.  Who's putting that pressure on me?  Me, of course.

In fact, the pressure to write the perfect post has actually kept me from writing anything for a while.  There have been quite a few times that I've started to write something, thought "no, that's not good enough," and just deleted the whole thing.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that I've had that mentality about quite a few things over the years ... and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
  • I was going to start that diet, but there's a holiday coming up, so ...
  • I was going to start that exercise program, but I can't do one part of it, so ...
  • I was going to start cooking, but I'm just not good at it, so ... 
  • I was going to start that craft project, but ...
  • I was going to ... 
Time and time again, there have been things I've wanted to do, but I have gotten in my own way. If I couldn't do it perfectly, I wouldn't even start.  I've taken the famous Apollo 13 idea, failure is not an option, and twisted it to work against  me.  If I can't write a life-altering, mind-blowing, universe-inspiring blog post, I just won't write.  If I can't work out for an hour, I just won't exercise.  If I can't make a restaurant-quality meal or professional-quality craft project, I won't bother doing it at all.

See what I did there?  I didn't fail.

See what else I did there?  Nothing.  I didn't write.  I didn't diet or exercise, so I didn't lose weight.  I didn't cook.  I didn't craft.  I did not fail ... but I didn't succeed either.  In fact - forget failure or success - I did not live.
I've been so afraid of doing things wrong that I've completely overlooked the possibility that I could do them right.  Or even if not, that I could learn from my mistakes, and do better next time.  But even that is not the point.  It shouldn't be, anyway.  It isn't about doing it right or wrong; it isn't about perfection.  It's about taking the time to actually live: to do things we enjoy and to enjoy the things we do.

When I write, it's not about creating a masterpiece; it's the cathartic process that helps me when I need it most. When life's challenges are so overwhelming that I don't know what to do anymore, I can sit down with my laptop, have a good cry, and get it all out.  Occasionally, I can even make myself laugh along the way.  If it can help someone else, even better ... but mainly, I'm writing for myself.  Yet for some reason, I haven't allowed myself to have that experience, because I didn't think I could do a good enough job at it.

The same goes for diet and exercise: it's not just about the end result.  Sure, I want to lose weight and look better, but that's not the only point.  I actually like the taste of healthy food, and feel better after eating a reasonable amount than I do after gorging on too much of the wrong thing.  I even enjoy the feel of exercising.  OK, maybe not exercising, but I love the feel of having just exercised.  That moment right afterwards - when you're still dripping with sweat, when your heart is still racing, and you're still trying to catch your breath - it's exhilarating.  But how many times have we all thought about exercising but not done it, all because we didn't think we could do enough to make a difference?

I've always been a believer in the idea that if you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself.  An extension of that, I guess, has been that if I couldn't do something perfectly, I shouldn't do it at all.  I realize now that this attitude has robbed me of many experiences over the years, out of fear of failure or embarrassment.  I'd like to say "that all ends now," but I know it's harder to break habits than that.  Still, I can say that I will make more of an effort to try new things, to do things that might need more work, and to not expect perfection as my only possible outcome.
So ... here I am, writing again, and feeling good about it.  It may not be a perfect post, but it's better than a blank one (I hope!).  I'm even making a healthy(ish) dinner - it's nothing fancy or complicated, but it requires both the oven and the stovetop (and not the microwave), so that's got to count for something.  Up next: 20 minutes on the elliptical!  (Ok, maybe that'll wait 'till tomorrow - we don't want too much excitement in one day!)

**If you like what you read, tell a friend.  In fact, tell me too - post a comment below.  If you don't like it ... well ... I'm all for honesty, but please be gentle!