Self-imposed Deadlines


Around 11pm my daughter came into the room and hovered over my bed in the dark. I woke up with a start because anyone hovering over your bed in the dark is scary. "What's wrong?" Tears started bubbling up and she told me in a broken, wavery voice that she was worried. I sighed heavily, not because I don't care, but because this is not new. And usually it's not the life crisis that most parents fear.

It turns out she was worried that she wasn't going to make the deadline for the Doodle 4 Google contest. This is a project that she decided to participate in on her own. She read all the rules, planned out her project and proceeded to work on her piece. A little bit every day. I really had no idea what was happening. In the periphery of our own Life, our children grow up, become independent and choose their own paths. We only hope that things are going well and that they willingingly share their journey. And then we have to pay attention. Sometimes I forget that part.

So, one day I paid attention. Or more like I walked in her room and her work shouted out at me. I was amazed at the progress and her dedication. She's started a lot of projects and most of them don't get finished. I congratulated her on what she had accomplished, broadcasted it to family and friends (because that's what crazy in love parents do) and then went to make dinner.

Then she came to me at night. Stressed, worried and crying over a self-imposed deadline. After I sent her back to bed and we had a good night's rest, we then worked through it in the morning. We looked at the number of days she had left and the amount of work she had to do and she realized that she had plenty of time. In fact, last night we sat down together as a family and submitted her piece, about a week early. (On a side note: it took three of us to fill out the entry form because it was THAT confusing.)

As an artist, most of our stresses are self-imposed. For example, I have a job that gives me plenty of stuff to worry about and yet I choose to create more stuff to worry about when I decide I have to get my work into a show. Why bother? Why not just paint in my little hole and let it be. I can choose to not create anything and then maybe I won't have to deal with the stress of an impending deadline for a project that I don't have to do. However, there's something extremely satisfying about creating work and then sharing it with others. To plan something and finish it AND be satisfied with what you made. After my daughter submitted her doodle, she did a happy dance around the room. THAT's what it's all for.


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