Please Stop Beating Yourself Up, Please.

September 27, 2016

Today, I took a walk.

Back up, let’s get to something more useful. I spent a year of my life that now feels like a waking dream: like I wasn’t present and it never occurred. I spent a year feeling like life happened and I watched. I don’t know why, and I don’t regret it, but about two months ago, I woke up.

And today I took a walk.

Making Thrift Store Symphony has been this immense labor of love from day one of planning until now. I first looked Andrew in the eyes and told him that now was the time to make TSS happen almost two years ago to the day. It’s been thirteen months since our journey across the mid-US came to an end. In those months, I feel like I have accomplished nothing, though that’s a lie. I tend to think we’ve made no progress in post-production of TSS, but that’s not true at all. I’ve done a lot of beating myself up and feeling disappointed, but truthfully, without [real] reason.

We’ve made a lot of progress. I just haven’t spent any time looking at the progress.

If the documentary were a painting, the canvas is still blank. I’ve done my preliminary studies and sketches. I’ve bought supplies, stretched and prepped the canvas, mixed my paints, and prepared my brushes, even making a few test strokes here and there, but the canvas is blank. I’m the kind of person that spends entirely too much energy focusing on the blank canvas, and not the prepared workspace; the big picture, and not the progress.

I broke my foot this summer. I’ve talked about how it gave me perspective. It “woke me up” and made me beg the question, “What am I doing?”. My life-long mentor made me realize during that time that I have to focus on and make what progress I can, when I can. I spent wasted a year waiting until I “had some real time to get some work done.” What that ended up being was a lot of lost time, where, if I had only looked away from the overwhelmingly big picture, I could be a lot farther along now than I am. I wouldn’t feel so disappointed in myself about this.

But it doesn’t matter. It’s happened.

And today I took a walk.

Now, I hate walking. I hate exercise, really. I like to go on leisurely walks, but the minute I feel like I’m pushing myself, I’m immediately ready to be done. Nonetheless, I’ve been making myself do more physical activity, and get into shape a bit.

I set an alarm for thirty minutes, and started walking. When the alarm went off, I planned to turn around and go back the way I’d come. One hour total. At about the twenty-five minute mark, I started getting tired (remember, I never claimed to be in shape, and I am still recovering from a broken foot). I looked up and saw a bench that was far away. I didn’t feel like sitting on the ground, and I wasn’t sure if I could make it to the bench in five minutes, if at all. I got the point where I thought I might just forget it and take a seat. But I remembered the alarm, and my goal, and I kept pushing.

Then I saw a leaf.

The season is changing, so it was bright and yellow and contrasted the pavement of the walking trail. I got alongside it, and then I saw another, another few yards ahead. And then another. And another. Eventually I realized all I had to do was walk leaf to leaf, and I’d reach the bench. Suddenly it didn’t feel so far away.

I never reached the bench. My alarm went off within ten feet of it, but I turned on a dime and headed back, to honor my plan. It gave me some perspective, though. Obviously, I can do more than I think, if I just take it leaf to leaf. Also, for next time, I learned that the track team uses the walking track on Mondays at 2:30, and I should go at a different time. Most importantly, I reminded myself that sometimes the best way to get back on track, is to take a walk.

And today, I took a walk.

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