Reading Circles – {This Is How}

reading circles

We’re in the middle of a short series, where we read Augusten Burrough’s kick-in-the-pants of a book called This Is How and share snippets we’ve found to be insightful or thought-provoking.

As we round out the end of a year and turn towards a new one, where many people start making new resolutions or coming back with renewed resolve towards previous ones, I’d like to share this piece from him:

I am a complete and total fuckup. Which is exactly why I am equipped to write this book and tell you how to live…

{He explains how he got into ring making.}

…Each time, I tried to make one nice ring. Each time, I totally failed.

Until ring number 301. Which was suddenly, inexplicably cool.

Now I make more good rings than lousy ones. There are always new mistakes to make. But I almost never make my old, rerun mistakes.

Perfectionism is the satin-lined casket of creativity and originality. If you are a perfectionist, at least stop telling everybody you’re one and try to get over it yourself, alone in your home with the lights off.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t try your best or that it’s okay to get lazy. What it does mean, though, is if you approach a piece of writing or a photo or a canvas with thoughts to making it “perfect” you are not thinking about the art. You are thinking about yourself. You are not being present in the moment. You are only rubbing a soft, familiar spot on your ego. Why? Because you’re already thinking about what other people will think of it and of you, before you’ve even made a mark on the page.

Moreover, perfectionism suggests that there is an ideal, a standard of “perfection.” If there is an ideal, then that suggests everything else is not that ideal. If there’s only one way to do something, then practically by definition, that one way becomes unoriginal.

So, do the best you can, but do it your way. Don’t fear failure; if you do something to the best of your ability enough times, you might just strike on gold you’d never have found if you hadn’t given yourself the opportunity.



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