Until I write
“I cannot see what I have gone through until I write it down. I am blind without a pencil…But it does seem a slow and wasteful process. (Like walking, tapping with a cane.)…There is so much waste in creativity, always. But there is something curious about creativity: the trying-too-hard for results seems to defeat itself.”
— Anne Morrow Lindbergh
Sometimes when I look at all my husband and others like him have accomplished, I feel woefully inadequate, tapping away at my keyboard, addicted to reading and writing as I have been for as long as I can remember. I often feel guilty for not producing anything more substantive, even though I have never had to rely upon it as a source of income.
Yet, as Lindbergh attests, there is no such thing as forcing results when it comes to creativity, no matter what form it takes. Because I tend to think and talk rapidly, it took me years to realize how much more slowly I work compared to most people I know. In crafts, in photography, even in cooking and household tasks, I find that I’m unable to function well under time pressure. I can get things done, but there is no satisfaction in anything I have rushed through.
For me, it’s much more rewarding to complete something slowly and thoughtfully, not in a perfectionist, nit-picking way (an easy trap to slide into when time allows it), but in an attentive, relaxed state of mind. Given the rushed nature of modern life, it’s easy to become impatient and see a relaxed pace as a waste of time. In reality, though, perhaps haste really does make waste. Even if the end result of rushed work is satisfactory, there may be collateral damage to our moods, our relationships or the flow of our day.
Next time you feel impatient with yourself for “wasting” time, think about what you are doing, and how you feel about it. Is it really less wasteful to spend thirty minutes on unhappy, pressured and self-imposed stress, rather than spending the hour it might take to actually enjoy what we are doing? Wouldn’t our time be better invested in savoring the pleasant details of our lives, focusing on the quality of what we do rather than quantity?
Admittedly, leisure is not always possible. But it might be a worthy goal to give ourselves periods of time when we are off the clock, free to go at a natural pace, focusing on the process more than the product. I have a sneaky suspicion that even the mundane details of work would be more interesting if our minds were not in a hurry to move on to something else.
What activities are more enjoyable to you when not rushed?
One year ago today: