Ugh, I couldn’t finish. I quit. You ever have that ONE thing you want to finish but… you just… can’t?
So I gave up. I did “productive procrastination”.
Instead of doing my “A thing,” I did my “B thing”. We always have a B-Z.
I watched a vlog by my recent podcast guest, Casey Neistat. The video was called “Quitter“. It was done in typical Casey style: he’s doing various fun things while talking and then he gets into the heart of the matter.
This gives action to the video while he gets his emotional message across. It keeps the mind dancing.
The video was about when you should quit a project you have put a lot of love and effort into.
It reminded me of my divorce. Not the marriage part, where maybe too much energy was put into.
But when I was getting a divorce I had started a business called “Jungle Smash”, which allowed people to crowdsource commercials for mainstream brands in exchange for monetary prizes.
I still think that business could work.
The other thing I started was a hedge fund.
Any way, both businesses failed. Not because of a big blowup or running out of money. But simply because divorce and fear and despair take up a lot of energy.
My mind was very busy: with loneliness, with fear, with anger, with pain.
Drama on the outside of your life will crowd out the drama your imagination can create and do wonderful things with.
Here’s the two things I learned from Casey’s video:
1. THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS QUITTING
He described several projects he stopped. But are they dead?
They are sitting there: in his head, on his computer, in his heart, in the minds of others who participated.
Some of those projects he’ll return to when the alchemy of his passion mixed with his mind figures out how to continue them. To make the best possible project. To make it “right”.
It’s okay to follow your gut and put something aside for awhile while your brain figures it’s way out of the beautiful labyrinth that has been created.
It’s okay to quit.
Do you know where the word “labyrinth” comes from?
It was used originally to describe the maze-like way the intestines digest and push food out of the body.
If you stretched out the intestines in a straight line they would be 30 feet long .Instead they are scrunched up like a “labyrinth” to fit inside your body.
Sounds disgusting. And yet … a labyrinth evokes mystery, evokes exploration – the way an idea begins somewhere, goes around corners, finds dead ends, comes back, explores, and ultimately exits into the light, creating the work it was always intended to be.
You can’t quit a project. It sits there, in your heart, somewhere in the labyrinth. Maybe it will come out.
I just looked at a story I wrote 23 years ago. I quit it then. But maybe…
Don’t blame yourself if you don’t finish something. Congratulate yourself that you started something.
2. CONSTIPATION OF CREATIVITY
In the middle of the video, Casey takes a camera that is no longer working for him and smashes it.
It’s a great way to vary up the dialogue about “quitting” and give us something to anchor on in the middle of the video.
Learn from that technique in writing, video-making, painting, public speaking. It’s a critical technique. Break the routine.
Wake people up.
But 100s of comments underneath were outraged. “How can you break a valuable camera!” Or ” Why didn’t you give it to someone!” or “Why didn’t you try to fix it!”
People were angry. People hated Casey. People hated so much they took the time to comment on a YouTube video in the middle of the galaxy.
People forgot the entire point of the video in order to feed their anger. Anger only gets larger if you feed it.
He finally responded: “I did everything I could to fix it. It was worth zero.”
That didn’t stop the comments. The next several hundred were: “But the lens!” “Why did you throw out the lens!?” “There are many video makers who could’ve used that lens!!!”
He didn’t respond. Nor should he.
People weren’t unhappy with Casey. Or his camera. Or his actions.
They are unhappy with who they are. Their inability to create. To do. To push through the labyrinth.
They are constipated with their lives. They do what is called “junk status binging.”
When constipated they need to find some outlet to feel like they are better than Casey. So they comment.
Do you get angry and comment about art? Or do you create art. Right now.
Don’t get angry.
Don’t be inside of yourself, constipated and scared and angry. Because anger is just the uniform of fear.
Do something you can quit.