In file folders on my laptop, I have a number of projects I’ve started, and never finished.
In my studio, on shelves and in drawers, tucked into drawing pads and sketchbooks, I have a number of projects I’ve started, and never finished.
Pithy words about ‘starting’ abound. We talk about one door closing and another opening, about the journey of a thousand steps beginning with one. About how to begin anything you must take the first step.
And all of that is true. Taking that first step is important. The next step and the next are also important because, the fact remains, without follow-through, you will never cross the finish line.
When I stop to survey my started/not finished accumulations against my completed projects, I find there exists a delicate tension between the two.
I could look at the ‘started/not finished as an example of my failures, my lack of discipline, commitment, staying power.
I could see them as stepping stones that taught me invaluable lessons along the way.
Sure, I sentenced some of them to the pile of forgotten flotsam that crowds cupboards and drawers, but, each of them helped improve my techniques, my abilities, my capacity to create, AND my understanding of myself.
Each piece of forgotten flotsam adds value to the whole. And the whole picture, actually the whole truth, is… the projects I have completed are the ones where my follow-through was motivated by my passion to cross the finish line.
But, here’s the thing.
The reason I don’t cross the finish line on some projects isn’t that I don’t have the discipline or willpower to not ‘give upl.
The reasons I don’t cross the finish line on some projects are more a complex psychological dance with internal messaging about my self-worth than a ‘this art isn’t good’ kind of decision-making process.
Finishing a project is exciting. Fun. Self-rewarding and satisfying.
Not finishing is an opportunity to grow my self-awareness, to strengthen my commitment to me and my journey, and to learn and grow through every step of that journey.
And, isn’t that what life is all about? Learning from this journey that grows in value with every step we take.