The Harness is off. It’s over there on the floor.
Curious, to see this thing I’ve worn for 30+ years… Who made it? Why so tight? Why the rough rope? It’s ingenious, actually. There’s a pull cord I see that will jab thumbtacks into my backside when I’m slowing down, and simultaneously tighten the collar around my neck… added incentive to get through the last 10% of every project?
I recognize that this harness was designed by me, however unconsciously, from the inherited protestant ethic of Work as Suffering. Life is work, therefore (inevitably) Life is Suffering. Extrapolated: If you don’t suffer, you’re not working hard enough. This idea can take the joy right out of any task – even if it’s your highest calling. It can in the extreme lead to the wearing of hair shirts, to self-flagellation, martyrdom/victimhood, the false rationalization of the need to live like a starving artist …
To be clear – I’ve had a super-productive, satisfying time since April, when I began work on the #Selfie project. It’s been an experience full of engagement, surprise, transformation – rich with reward on every level. I also met my harnessed self full-on several times, too, and recognized someone driven in a way that is not healthy.
With several new projects on the table now – each one full of promise, potential and fascination, I find myself wondering about this. As I take the breath one takes before diving in, I wonder
Do I really need the thumbtacks?
Does it need to come to suffering and self-denial, this finishing?
Must it be a battle, every time?
At the very least I need to radically alter the design. To find and use material that I like – softer, padded. No thumbtacks, no injectors full of anxiety, no neck collar. Maybe it should be more like a well-crafted tool that will help me to pull a heavier load.
Or maybe the work isn’t heavy, and I don’t need a harness at all.
This is quite a thought.
Maybe I just need to change my mind.
This is exciting. So is 2014-2015. So many neato, challenging collaborative and solo projects ahead. So many Incredibles to work and play with. Without suffering for any of it.
So, Honoured Protestant Ancestors. What you lived and suffered in protest to is no longer life-threatening; the ethic no longer applies in any way that’s healthy and life-affirming. Sleep in peace, with big smiles. Grins, even.
“If you bring forth the genius within you it will free you. If you do not bring forth the genius within you, it will destroy you.”
– Jesus, gnostic Gospel of Thomas (which didn’t make it into the bible. Too bad.)