There’s something I’ve noticed lately in building projects that I really love. I push through the initial ‘I hate this whole thing I should just give up forever’ stage and make it to what feels like a euphoric stage: suddenly, I love every little detail of the work, and this new idea of ‘wow I can’t believe I made this!’ makes it’s way to the fore.
I’ve found that, while this second stage is undoubtedly much more pleasant to be in than the throes of the first, it can be as equally unproductive.
Because now, I have this thing that I love that I wish to preserve, and any change to the current form might ruin its essence and therefore my whole life.
This is of course not a particularly helpful mindset to be in, because preservation is inertia, and it slows things in their tracks, often to a total standstill. You enter a paradox of creativity, of knowing that the thing is nowhere near close to be being ready to be considered ‘finished’, but not wanting to change anything about the thing because you’re so in love with the iteration.
If you’re the type of person who harbours this desire to hold onto something good, it pervades across the entire spectrum of your experience. You fall in love quickly (with a project, a person, an idea), and then struggle to adapt as your relationship with what you’re in love with progresses and evolves — as all things should. You can find yourself nostalgic for last week, yesterday, an hour ago, because your appraisal of how you felt in that moment is narrated back to you retroactively, and you can only appreciate the happiness you derived from it by diminishing the happiness you feel now in relation to it.
My advice in this situation is to just keep doing what needs to be done to allow the process to continue to evolve, and to let your brain ring the alarm bells as much as it wants — you don’t have to react. Alarms can be false, we’ve all been dragged outside the building at some point because some dipshit managed to burn their cereal. What you’ll probably find is that this ‘past self envy’ will attach itself even to the things that that same psychological phenomenon was actively fighting against yesterday.
Suddenly you can’t imagine how the melody you added in the second verse, or the extra tower you added to your flying house monstrosity (more on this to come), or the odd-looking tree in the corner of the composition, could ever have not been part of the thing you’re making. Your brain was just fighting against novelty, because novelty can be a threat to the comfort of being happy with your project as it is, and what it will be might not feel as good as is does right now. It would be novel to find a tiger in your living room (unless you have a pet tiger, but if you do I doubt you’re reading this), but probably not an ideal iteration of the project of making your living room somewhere safe to, y’know, live.
Once you know this why your brain does this, you’ll see it for what it is, a suggestion, and suggestions by their very nature don’t need to be factored into the making of something in order for the something to finish being made.
Have a bloody lovely day.
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About the curator - Matt Jenko
Hi my name is Matt, but my friends call me Matt. I’m on the wrong side of 29 (damn I hate it every time I have to update that number), definitely feeling my age, but never felt happier and more content than I do at this point in my life. I’ve been through some rocky patches (who hasn’t) and lived to tell the tale, and boy do I gots some stories.
When I’m not giving opinions absolutely nobody asked for, I’m doing a worldbuilding with my passion project, vivaellipsis. If you like offbeat nonsense delivered through immersive escapism, then go and get involved. Or don’t, I’m not telling you what to do. I’m not yer boss.
I’m a simple man with simple interests. I like Yorkshire tea, the sound of rain on the window, and a bloody good story.
9 August 2021
What today’s insight has granted me is the knowledge that if you don’t check in on yourself, you’ll lose touch with yourself. You’ll become unfamiliar with each other, and it feels very strange. I honestly think this is what it means to feel out of sorts.
27 May 2021
The cinematic score to your psychological journey with Matt Jenko. Featuring artists like: Bonobo • Yotto • Emancipator • CamelPhat • ODESZA • Carpenter Brut • Tinlicker • Four Tet • Jacques Greene • Tchami • RÜFÜS DU SOL