Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dread & Uncertainty

Several people have asked me about being snowed in. Can I get out? Well, you can see from the picture above and below that no, I cannot. What about food? I had the foresight to stock up before the storm hit so I am fine for quite a while. It's more the lack of mail that bothers me. Below you can see just how close to the main highway I am, a highway that is plowed and passable. The truck passing by is right where my driveway comes out. There's a fence that runs on either side, obscured by the snow banks, and on the other side of that a rather wide shoulder where the mail and paper boxes are. The paper delivery person just tosses my paper onto the snowbank on his/her way by if he/she can't manage the shoulder. The post person, on the other hand, just drives on by. No mail in, no mail out. Disconcerting. Have I lost power? Thankfully, no, although many have. The snow of the weekend was very heavy. The 7-1/2 inches that fell today was very light. If I did lose power, I think my gas earth stove would still work and keep me warm. I've not had to test that.

Does being snowed in make me uncomfortable? Not really, since I'm not one who goes out every day anyway. But then I got to thinking about what if there was a fire? Or I got ill and needed to be transported to the hospital? Emergency equipment would have a time getting in. Then I got uncomfortable.

But all is well now, at least for the moment. My landlord's groundskeeper made it out today and got the majority of the snow shoved off to the side. I even think the post person will consider delivering my mail tomorrow and taking away my bills. Here she is doing her thing. And while I appreciate the driveway being passable, I was not thrilled with the 2 ft high, foot wide berm she left piled up next to the car. I had enough to move without her adding to my pile. Oh, well, be thankful that she was here at all today.

All this wild weather has helped me identify something about my character and habits that I've been struggling with. I suppose this is pretty obvious, but it dawned on me that much of my procrastination behavior is fueled by dread or uncertainty. One feeds off the other. Both drain me of energy, incentive, motivation, will.

A single bad experience can stay with me forever, causing me to dread having to face the same situation again, even if I've had positive experiences with it. This was what slowed me down last week with both projects. I kept avoiding the printing trials because I dreaded the possibility of fighting with the process as I have before. I also tried to avoid making the mount for Grid 4 because it involved using a large piece of Decor Bond. I had great success with Decor Bond up until the last 3 or 4 times when suddenly I was getting bubbling and distorting. It wasn't reacting as it always had; I couldn't think what I might be doing differently. I mourned the loss of my favorite stabilizer. I dreaded using it again because I'd lost faith I could apply it successfully.

In both cases, the answer was to take a deep breath and go slowly and meticulously through the process. In both cases, I had excellent results and got control of my demons.

Of course, there are all kinds of things in the rest of my life I dread too. Anything that might result in a confrontation. Anything that might catch me off guard and looking stupid. Anything I think is more than I can handle. When I dread facing something, I find lots of ways to procrastinate including doing nothing at all, not even something I would enjoy doing. I hate that about me - it is so counter productive and illogical. But the reality is, dread over one thing drains me of my will to do anything. I've dreaded many mornings lately, knowing the chore ahead of me with the shovel, unsure if I have the physical strength and stamina to keep up with this snow. But once I get out there and get going, I seem to manage ok, and I can get on with my day. If only I'd convince myself to get out there earlier.

As for uncertainty, it also leads to procrastination at times, but for a different reason. Uncertainty breeds worry, and worry, even more so than dread, absolutely saps my energy, my enthusiasm, my motivation. In my present situation, I never know exactly when rental maintenance will get taken care of. It could be a few days, a few weeks, a few months. I can't get the powers that be to commit, and I am very low on the priority list. So a lot of the uncomfortableness and unease I felt the last two weekends was tied to the uncertainty of if and when someone would come to plow. When the plow showed up, there was such an immense change in demeanor that it surprised me. I hadn't realized how much I was letting the uncertainty of when I'd be able to get out sap my ability to function and encourage me to procrastinate about studio work.

It got me thinking about the fear that sometimes seizes and freezes me as I approach my work. Things I have mastered, have no uncertainty about I can dive right into, thoroughly enjoy, feel good about the results. Those that are new to me, or that I have little experience with, or worse, have had a bad experience with, well, those are the ones full of uncertainty that make me want to hold back, leave me tired and lethargic and sure I cannot face them on this day. Again, the solution is to forge ahead, take that first step. But it is oh, so hard to convince myself of at times.

Now that I've identified this, I need to pinpoint strategies for controlling this fuel for procrastination. Any ideas?


Pat said...

I think one thing that breaks the fear barrier for me is having the belief that my creativity isn't a gift purely for my own pleasure, but is meant to be shared one way or another. And what if it never finds its way out to being shared?
On the other hand, you share a lot of your creative process already.

Feather on a Wire said...

I think this is partially a female thing. For me it's fear of failure. Men regard things as a challenge and a failure a learning experience. We women take it far more to heart and avoid similar situations in future.
I don't think we're alone. Almost all my women friends are the same.
It what stops women getting to the top. Half of the problem is recognising it, then know that when we have achieved something, be it making a decision over what next to do with a quilt, or shovelling the drive, we feel fantastic, but we can only get that feeling by trying and sometimes failing.