Saturday, April 4, 2009

The impatience of the “montage” mindset

Sometimes I wonder how all the TV I watched while I was growing up effected who I am now.

I particularly wonder about this when I am faced with a big project that will take ongoing focus and a lot of commitment and hard work. I don’t have a great track record with self directed big projects – I do a lot better when I’m accountable to some sort of authority, and the threat of “getting in trouble” or letting someone down spurs me through each stage of a project.

I wonder about the TV because, when I’m planning or working on a project like this, I fantasize about just having a good montage instead of studying. I think, in a montage I could just sit here looking focused and weary for a moment, surrounded by my books. Then I could take off the glasses that I don’t have (but they would make me look more serious) and I could rub my eyes and turn back to my books with noble resolve. Then, maybe I’d fall asleep on my books. Then, I’d arrive at my exam and sit there, focusing intently for a few more moments. Finally, the test results would arrive and I’d open the envelope with nervous anticipation, and maybe hug an attractive loved one in celebration before collapsing, exhausted, into a big comfy chair. That could take under 2 minutes on a TV show.

And for some reason, I feel like that makes the work harder. Some bit of my mind expects to achieve something meaningful and ambitious in just a few dramatic minutes. How silly.

These days, I’m making a conscious effort to remind myself of how good it feels to work hard to achieve something. When I show up and do my work, I congratulate myself sincerely. This is a big step, because I used to think things like “it’s about time you got off your butt and took care of this, you lazy jerk.”

It’s painfully obvious that if I show up to work, only to admonish myself for not having already done it, I’m not going to look forward to showing up. I don’t know where this habit of self-abuse came from, but I don’t think that’s what’s most important. I know how I want to face my projects, and I’m going to spend my energy working on that. No more emotional scar forensics for Eliza, no sir. I’m going to try to starve the beast of my resistance and put my energy towards creating what I do want.

Or, maybe I should just watch more Jim Jarmusch movies and re-calibrate my perception of how long things should take.

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