What Today Brings
“One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important.” – Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness
There is nothing so tragic as going to pieces over something that, after time, will seem like nothing. I have learned this lesson over and over, and a few tutorials really hurt. Once upon a time, there was a movie I believed was destined to be a huge success. When this did not happen, I quite literally beat my head against the wall for years wondering what I did wrong, what turn off did we miss, what person did we not include, what edit did we fail to make that turned what was supposed to be into what never was. This classic example of believing one’s work to be terribly important can turn life upside down.
Think of the artist ripping through a painting he has worked on for months because he can’t pull out the perfect picture, or the piano player slamming down on the keys because she has plateaued and wants desperately to reach the next level of musicianship. Perhaps most tragic is the businessman throwing himself out a window because he lost too much money. We are so serious about our work. It’s hard to have a sense of humor about that which we interpret to be the whole of our lives, but it is only with a sense of humor can we shake off such disappointments and misguided assumptions.
Leo Tolstoy said, “In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.” It’s hard to imagine the man who left us with “War and Peace” and “Anna Karenina” did that too much himself, but it is good advice. Special are the times when we allow ourselves to spend a day reading and napping or watching the dog sleep for twenty minutes, or seeing a movie and right when it’s over, turning on another one. What is the hurry? Always this massive hurry to make the kids have that perfect last summer before they are off to college or going out on the town with that client even though you are exhausted, hurrying to make one more deal so you can stop making deals.
My hope is that we can breathe a collective breath of peace into the air… or, more impactfully, into the media, to remind us that we are not machines but flesh and blood and imagination. We deserve to take the time to unapologetically look around this place we were placed and not strive for anything, to just be. That is my wish on this Labor Day, to strive for nothing in September, to take some time and just be.