measuring & judgement

August 09, 2015


I went for a walk in the woods today.
The first time in a long time.

I was pondering measurement ... to determine the point at which a task...a goal...has been achieved.
A success.
Or not.
And the judgements that result.

In my art life, measuring success hasn't been that important to me. I can easily look at someone else's goal or task ... a gallery show maybe... and think, "Good for them!" because that isn't important to me.

In my body life, that isn't so clear cut. Even if someone else's goal is not my own, I lament that I don't measure up and am therefore a failure.

In my art life, seeking new skills is very important to me. And I know that with any new endeavour a learning curve will exist. And if I practice, I will learn proficiency. And if I don't? Well. Maybe that skill just wasn't for me. Or I wasn't ready. Or I need to come back later. Regardless ...no recriminations. No battering ram of self.

In my body life, these realizations do not come easily. I feel for some unknown reason that I *should* know. I *should* be better ... faster... stronger... thinner... even though my skill level may be very low on that particular learning curve.

In my art life, I sometimes lament that I don't "produce". I've gazed longingly at "makers" and their festive summer and winter markets thinking, "That would be so much fun! Why don't I do that?!" even though the idea of making 2 of the exact same thing makes my eyes twitch. If I dig deeper, it is the idea of a sustained goal or having amassed a body of work that intrigues me. My hunter gatherer loves having a full larder! A slightly less full harvest does not make me a non-producer. I can quite happily attempt a cohesive body of work or a sustained making goal with the addendum that I can stop if it doesn't feel interesting any more. Or give myself time off or stretch the boundaries of the goal. This doesn't make me any less successful!

In my body life, someone else's goals are not mine. I may not want to devote the time and energy to achieving what they have achieved. That does not make me a failure.

We can never know where someone else is on their own trajectory so how can we judge them? And if someone makes that judgement about me, well doesn't that suggest more about them?

Goals are important.
And knowing when we ...I... achieve those goals is important.

But allowing myself to be free from judgement of these tasks and their results is equally important.
I need to remember we are all on our own path.

And if ...when... I start to lament my lack of progress or as a perceived failure remember to ask myself, "Is it important to me? Do I want that?"

Only then, can I judge if it has been a success or not.

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11 comments

  1. Thanks Jackie! A little side step from eye candy. But necessary pondering. :)

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  2. great post Jen. I am always re-evaluating what success means to myself. It definitely has changed over the years.......and as each year goes by it becomes less tangible. I think it's good to have goals- I am a capricorn after all! But my goals have turned more inward.

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    1. We Caps, huh Bri? ugh! and yay! lol
      For me, it's becoming necessary...or at least desirable... to nail down those intangibles as I have a tendency to focus on things that weren't part of the goal at all. Vague enough for ya? ;)

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  3. It never gets easier, you just get faster. :-)

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    1. Spoken like a triathlete/athlete my son. ;)

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  4. There is only one thing that is important to me in the judgment/measurement arena--don't--to myself or others. I'm not sure why I don't find it necessary to judge or measure where I am in my life or art trajectory. But I don't. My art is by the seat of my pants- it whirls out of me from some unknown cerebral function, and manifests itself. As to my body...maybe being 69 has freed me from thinking about it too much. Breathing is my main focus...which is challenging with asthma and all the forest fires we have around us. I keep harkening back to advice which saved my life: The '11th Commandment': Thou shalt not SHOULD upon thyself or others. That is a judgment word I have stuggled to rid from my vocab. for nearly 15 years. I simply AM.

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    1. *nodding* I too am less measurey/judgey in my art life and further it is the place I feel most "me". My body life likely will remain a struggle as I certainly never expected to be treading... RE-treading... these paths at my advanced age (said totally for your benefit my friend! lol). But it seems I am meant to. So I will take what I learn and apply, apply, apply! xo

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  5. As Corinne says, "I simply AM," acquiring the skill or habit of simply being, and of that being enough, is rare. There is probably a word in another language that describes it more accurately for what it feels like is permitting, allowing, us to sink - as into a soft feather bed - into ourselves. If we are very fortunate and unnaturally still, we may discover clues to why we are here. Some will build space shuttles or the Hoover Dam. Some of us will stand complete in our us-ness, taking up any small task as wisdom guides us, knowing we bring a light unlike any other. xo

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    1. There are moments when I understand that 'sinking into ourselves' feeling... light, effortless, portent. And then I crash to earth. Wanting. Needing something... other. And I live between these two worlds. Wearing that path, thin.

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  6. It has been a long process, that of coming to know and to trust that sinking into. I turned 70 this year and still have so much to learn. Some mysteries are only solved by time and the wish for an answer. The notion of making peace with what is, whatever that is, is relatively new to me. I do it imperfectly. xo

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