Enthusiasm. As a child and even into adulthood my level of enthusiasm for certain things has been a source of inspiration to some… a severe irritant to others. If you get me on the right topic I’ll latch onto it and run it into the ground and beat it into a fine pulp. I remember one evening after a particular instance in college in which I’d been put down a bit for over-talking a subject I was particularly jazzed about an older friend said, “I hope you never lose your youthful exuberance no matter what anyone says about it”. I heard that loud and clear not only because it in some way validated my total geekdom, but because it was the key to something. It took someone else to confirm for me that there was value in what I’d been led to believe was a character flaw.
If you’ve ever watched a child do something they love you’ve no doubt noticed the way they throw themselves into it without reserve. That abandonment to the thing that engages oneself can get lost as time goes by. It’s an easy thing to lose… like car keys or drunken friends. Life gets hectic. Sometimes projects take longer than expected or you hit a point somewhere in the middle where you’ve lost your enthusiasm for the piece. Enthusiasm is hard to come by when you’re up in the air about how to proceed with something or you’re exhausted from the daily grind.
It’s at precisely that point when your enthusiasm is at it’s lowest that you have to persist. Maybe you put the project in question off to the side for a bit and work on something else, but whatever you do don’t stop. Momentum is an easy thing to lose and a hard thing to regain. Bull-headed determination has always come through for me in times like those. By way of making the decision to see something through to the end we solidify the act of completion in our minds. Being stubbornly adherent to a cause may not be youthful exuberance… it may even be a bit quixotic, but it’ll carry you through when your inner child is too pooped to pop.
That’s where the good things happen in my book. When you’re beat down and looking for answers (or worrying about deadlines) you get creative. You’re inclined make decisions you might not otherwise make. You take chances. You look for new perspectives. Your wheels get to spinning. Next thing you know you’re excited about it again.
I’ve floundered a bit on my current project, but the simple fact is that I have work to do. I made some big changes and I’ll be showing them off soon. In the meantime I’m taking some time to put time into some other pieces. Giving myself the opportunity to get perspective and to recharge. The new work’s got me excited again.
I watched my youngest son tonight with his new paints he got for his birthday. He painted and painted until the table was covered with canvases and streaked with colors. Seeing him do that was a great reminder…
What you put into something you get back out. Equivalent exchange. Between the enthusiasm and conviction and a hell of a lot of hard work you get the best out of yourself.
It’s 11:15 in the P of M. I’m going to go throw down in the studio.