The myth of competence
Woah, there goes another tumbleweed bowling past.
Yes, sorry about the dusty ghost town feel around here of late. There is a very simple reason. 365 Jars has been kicking my ass. Hard.
In my enthusiasm for starting a new project – ‘yay, new art project, yay’ – I forgot that new projects are always intense and all-consuming. 365 Jars is especially full on because it is a ton of work: I seriously underestimated how much time it was going to take every day. Plus starting a new daily walking habit has been a shock to the system. Don’t fret, I’m OK but between all that and recovering from The Hideous Flu, I’ve been distinctly overwhelmed and I’m still behind with everything.
I don’t know about you but I live with the pretty fiction that I can somehow Get On Top Of Things.
Let us pause for a moment for the hysterical laugher to subside.
Despite 43 years of solid evidence to the contrary, I persist in believing in a mythical point at which I will be Up To Date.
I secretly believe that it’s possible that my inbox will be empty, the laundry will be washed and put away and I won’t have any urgent outstanding work. Furthermore, I believe that it’s possible for all this to happen on the same day!
There is no indication that this is humanly possible but like a fervent believer in the Loch Ness Monster, absence of hard scientific evidence does nothing to dissuade me. The truth is out there, Scully, the truth is out there.
Surely it’s theoretically possible that one day I will complete all my unfinished knitting projects? And all my paperwork will be correctly filed with no missing bank statements and my accounting shall be done to a level that would make the Inland Revenue smile and pat me on the head. And the floors will be clean and I will have cooked in recent memory. And angels shall sing and fairies shall dance in my spotless kitchen and all will be well with the world. And all this shall happen before civilisation crumbles into oblivion, the sun explodes or we are invaded by aliens who eat our brains.
In short, I believe that it is possible that I will be On Top Of Things Like A Real Person.
Now, I do not know who these Real People are but apparently they are capable of a mystical level of organisation that I can barely aspire to.
In truth, like many people, I exist in a state of barely controlled chaos.
Recently I had a staggering insight. There will never be a point at which everything is working. Never. There will always be something undone, something lost, something falling off the bottom of the list, something a mere moment away from a crisis. Always.
So what to do with this insight?
I could forgive myself.
Hard for a perfectionist but OK, I’ll give it a go. But then I just wind up crying into my cornflakes about how I’m not forgiving myself perfectly enough. Oh wait, I see a slight problem with this approach.
I could seriously cut back on what I’m doing.
Ah, this feels better. Is everything on my list really necessary? Is it all equally important? Will the world end if the laundry is not put away? Ah wait, perhaps this is that mythical ‘prioritising’ of which I’ve heard? Why, goodness me, I do believe it is.
But truthfully, right now, even the thought of prioritising makes me want to cry. It seems to demand more competence and energy than I currently possess.
Oh dear, we’re back to forgiveness again.
So I’m falling back on that old standby: ‘tiny steps’. It’s not big and dramatic but it works. I’m not taking on new responsibilities and I’m patiently nibbling away at existing ones like a harvest mouse.
In the meantime, does anyone want to come round and put my damn laundry away?