Sunday, August 10, 2014

The High Price of Perfection...and the Principle of Good'nuff

I spent the first 56 years of my life feeling like I wouldn't be loved if I were not perfect.  There, I said it.  This obsession with perfection led me down a path that ultimately defined me.  My basic formula (Formula #1): 

 Hard work + determination = success, excellence and possibly perfection.  

But excellence carries a heavy burden.  Once you've achieved it, it becomes your identity.  Let the perfection continue, or you will feel like you've failed, you will let people down, you will be considered a less-than.  Welcome to my world... 

By the time I hit my 20s, I had developed a careful plan of attack to avoid failure.  Here's an example.  I graduated from LSU in 1978, magna cum laude (almost perfect, right?).  So I've got my diploma in one hand, and a bar that I set way too high in the other!!  What happens if I interview and get a job in my field...and I fail?  Panic set it.  I put my diploma of excellence in my box of memories...and began work as a waitress at a sit-down fast food restaurant instead.  I knew I could do that, and do it well!  Here is my basic formula for avoiding failure (Formula #2):

When fear of failure + lack of confidence seem > my ability,

There have been times in my life that I might have set the bar way to low, by using this particular formula!   (That might explain why I'm a prolific songwriter...never run out  of stories to tell!  Yet I digress...).  

NOTE:  For those of you who know me personally, did you know I graduated from LSU magna cum laude?  Probably not, unless I told you.  No one knows.  No one cares.  But the need to achieve this level of excellence CONSUMED my every waking hour. To commemorate this honor, was I awarded a special sticker on the diploma that is hidden in my box of memories?  I don't remember, but I think I'll check.  Think of all the fun I missed out on, seeking perfection, for a little sticker that no one knows or cares about.  

I'm developing a formula for my new life plan of attack.  I'm deleting the "P" word from my vocabulary as of now.  (No, don't make me type it again.  Just look at the title if you're in doubt.)  I'm resetting the bar and coining a new moniker for myself!  Ready?  Good'nuff.  I took my new attitude out for a test drive last night, and I gotta say that I sure had more fun when I avoided trying to be p*#%(#t.  

I'm a musician by trade.  Guitar is my go-to instrument, but I also play mandolin, uke, dulcimer and keys when called upon.  I bought a cello 3 years ago, and spent hours at home, working through books and practicing, but when I took her out to play, I wasn't, well, you know the word.  According to Formula #1, I sucked.  I decided either I had to IMPROVE or I was gonna give her away...I couldn't have something in my house that reminded me of failure!  

Three months ago, I joined a wonderful group, The Adult Music Club of Baton Rouge.  The brainchild of the ever-talented and amazing musician Dave Hinson, our club brings together a group of adults wanting to learn how to play music, in a group, under Dave's tutelage!  Just last night, my band (The Blue Meteor) had a gig at Chelsea's, a top Baton Rouge music venue.  We played 8 Beatles songs and me and my cello were part of the action!!!  Did I nail every lick and play every single note in perfect tone?  No,  I'm a beginner.  Did I have a few moments where my playing was pretty spot-on?  Hell, yes!  Did I have the most fun I've ever had playing music out in the world?  YES!  I can't wait for our next gig...and all the others to follow.

You know, I joined the club to have a place to make peace with my cello and I am, in fact, learning the cello!  But it's working out that I'm learning so much more.  Last night, on stage at Chelsea's, I learned how much fun you can have when you live completely in the moment, doing something you love, with no expectation of the "p" word.  I think you could ask everyone there, and they'd agree, I was Good'nuff!

Until next blog post, peace and love to you...dorothy