Saturday, September 26, 2009
Is there such as thing as wasted effort?
Last night, I went with a friend to see The September Issue. The documentary was a fascinating look at the behind the scenes life at Vogue, and its infamous editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.
While I never quite "got" Vogue (I'm more of a InStyle reader - easily accessible - put a blue shirt with these pants), I realized watching the film how much art truly goes on in those pages. And the main woman creating the visual stories is called Diane. It is clear from the film that she sometimes has a hard time with her relationship to Anna, but she has stayed at Vogue over twenty years now. And she explains somewhere in the film, "If you don't have a place to showcase your work, it's not really valid is it?"
I'm paraphrasing her line, tempted though I was to whip out a pen and jot it down on my popcorn bag.
But I remember thinking that was a good question. If we never get to "showcase" our efforts, are they still valid? And as I'm looking at waste this week, what are wasted efforts?
Have you ever cleaned your entire house, shopped for some special snacks, and then had a friend cancel at the last minute? Have you ever taken on extra duties at work, but not been paid? Did you ever play on a sports team that never won a trophy?
I went to the estate sale of a neighbor a few years back. He lived in a fairly small duplex and at the estate sale there must have been thousands of Christmas decorations. It turns out he owned a small house in a neighboring town and every year would decorate it to the hilt inside and out. Clearly he was never paid, and I doubt the people who enjoyed driving by sent him thank yous, so was it wasted effort?
He took on this endeavor because he wanted to do it. I've often read the idea that it is a mistake to work only for end results and not for the joy of working. Because if the results we want don't come, we're disappointed.
In the book Being Happy, Andrew Matthews writes that if we can put in the effort to any endeavor and see it as a privilege and a joy to learn, to test ourselves, to experiment and experience, we will succeed.
"Getting to hung up on results takes us out of the present moment. It is possible to be always focusing on what is ahead and not on what we are doing. This approach removes us from the enjoyment of the present moment. As we detach ourselves a little from the results, we can enjoy what we are doing for the sake of it."
Or as Emerson put it,"The reward of a thing well done is to have done it."
Writing this blog is similar. I often find the writing a joy. But if you wonderful, more appreciated than you'll ever know fourteen followers hadn't given me the encouragement that your little profile icons do each day, I'm not sure I would have the inner pep squad to keep typing. If we ever make it to Oprah's book show, we're going as a group!;-)
In closing, my goal for today is to do at least one task for the sake of the task itself and not for some future reward (I plan to start with something easier than say, an annual pap exam). And to find at least one opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of others.
P.S. Today is Saturday and Kai and I ran to the libary, the park, picked up a boy scout application at the city pool, then walked past the post office. Pulling in, having just finished his route, was our postman, a truly friendly guy who always smiles and takes the bigger packages right to our doorstep. I flagged him down to give him a quick thanks - just in case his inner cheerleader was out sick today;-).
Have a great day! Eileen