Wednesday, 15 January 2014

I did the best I could. Honest.

Friends, I have the flu this week. I don't think I'm going to die from it, but it's certainly thrown a wrench into my plans.  I had to postpone fun outings, although I may be making progress on the job front.  However, any face-to-face meetings or fast-paced conversations will have to wait a few more days; I simply don't look or sound the part of a competent worker now.

It's also given me the gift of introspection.  Yesterday, I gave myself the job of pulling weeds (because I simply had to be outside and feel the breeze) and while I sat there, performing that repetitive task, my mind started to wander in that wonderful way it does. I thought back to different tasks I've been assigned and asked to do over the years, and once in a while I haven't knocked one out of the park.

(Astrological insight: my Capricorn ascendent is something that's followed me like an addiction throughout life, whether it was scoring high in the "Takes pride in work" category on a grade-school report card or fashioning my own checklists to ensure that work tasks were done thoroughly at prior jobs, I'm one of those people who pay attention to detail. Typos drive me up a wall! But once in a while, my own brain won't let me recognize my own.) 

I thought back to jobs I've held, places I've lived, the book I'm writing (which chronicles some very challenging conditions during this recession, which I still think is going on), my past creative projects, and everything I've tried where I've rated average or less.  The thought popped into my head:

I did the best I could. 

I came up with a few concepts, a few rhymes, and wrote them down on a Word file.  Then, apparently I neglected to save them, because when I opened the document today to review it, only the first 2 stanzas remained. The first 2 stanzas contained the words from my weed-pulling inspiration, so they were probably the best part of it anyway.

Ah well.  I told you I was sick and halfway checked out of my own brain.  I tried to write a whole poem or song, but all that remained after my absent-minded fumbling was the first part.  It's OK. I did the best I could.

Future Husband and I have discussed this concept a lot.  Every day that dawns brings new challenges and opportunities, and sometimes your personal best for one day is far better than your personal best the next day. It's like carrying around a tool belt; what you can get done is completely dependent on what tools you have with you.

Are you familiar with singing in harmony? This requires that some of the singers don't follow the main melody of the music.  Back when I sang and danced in musicals, guess who could never sing harmony no matter how well it was taught? Sorry, former directors.  I tried.  In fact, I did the best I could. After getting into costume and character, bounding out onstage to find my mark and start to dance, though, something had to give.  You will never see me perform at Carnegie Hall, but trust me.  For all those times, I did the best I could.

This carried over to me with different projects I've worked on, namely those that are inadequately communicated and difficult to decipher.  Twice now I've worked with lawyers who expected a great deal of mind-reading when handing me assignments.  One was appeased by being assigned to a new writer who also happened to be a law school graduate.  The other may have been appeased when I stopped working for her firm. The jury's out on the second one (ha ha).

Fast-forwarded to today, I now have 2/3 of a book manuscript done and I'm going to go out in search of an agent and all that stuff.  I am of two minds on this: will the mistakes of the past serve me well because they taught me things about the process, or will I just try new things and find new mistakes to make?

The concept of "I did the best I could" fits well into the story; in fact, whatever it turns into will be the epilogue, which is the thing you read at the end of the book that wraps up the themes contained within it. It also can literally be appreciated as something the author communicates to the audience after she's written a book.  Hey readers, this is my book. I hope you liked it. I did the best I could.

Back in the fictional setting of Winterville, where I was tortured for about 5 years, I did the best I could.  I was trapped in a bad real estate investment in an area of the country that, according to the Wall Street Journal, is still in recession and may be for years to come. I tried, and mostly failed, to make friends there, but I succeeded in meeting a lot of crazy people whom I wanted to hide from.  I tried to make enough money and couldn't bring myself to play the good-old-boy game or subvert my personality enough to pass myself off as passable to the people who judged me harshly. I tried to have roommates, and ended up dealing with theft and other trashy issues. I even tried to date in that wasteland, and came away from that feeling much like someone who drinks Drain-o and lives to tell about it.

I did the best I could.  It was miserable, though.  I wasn't the picture of positivity or health by the end of it, though.  I was preoccupied with escape.  Can you blame me? I did the best I could.  It was difficult.

So this brings us to the present.  There were some things I wanted to get done today that will have to wait.  But also, I'm sweating out a fever.  And, I did get some things done today.  I did the best I could.

All my best to you, today and ever day.

Yours truly,

Jane Q. Phoenix

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