Friday, September 28, 2007

Start to Finish

BlogFriday is a weekly challenge to write a blog post themed by the "word of the week", and submit it to this website to share with others. The word changes each week on midnight (GMT) on Friday.

The word for this week is: START

Some people are not good starters, because to start means to begin to do (something) which requires decision making, action taking and making a change. It's important, too, to make the distinction between starters and self-starters, because those who are unable to start on their own without a laid-out plan, or who start only because somebody told them to aren't really starters at all, they are just doers, which requires no individual thought-process at all.

It seems that starting is easy.
But finishing? That's the trick.

To finish takes time, and lack of time is a convenient excuse. Nobody has the time to finish all sorts of things, so when the teetering stack of books (all unread past page 15) sits gathering dust, "I just don't have the time right now," is an easy-out. Everybody understands. Nobody judges. Time is precious and in short supply, and it seems to not have enough is part of life.

To finish takes dedication. A commitment to finish, or more specifically a lack thereof, is tougher to explain away. To start is to be involved with something new, exciting and shiny. But like many things, after time, it can become faded and dull, and then dedication quickly turns to resentment. The mundane isn't much fun when there are new things to start, and once any started project begins to drag down in the mire, it's hard hard to remember why you ever wanted to start this drudgery to begin with.

To finish means to see it through until the end. To finish means it will end. And while completion marks success, it also means an end. No more pages to turn in your book. Snip the last thread and throw another completed sewing project in the "done" pile. No more tinkering with words and phrases. Hit PUBLISH POST and you're done.

No more.
Kind of sad.

Why sad? There are always more books to read. There are always more projects to undertake, and any writer knows they could spend from now until doomsday editing, re-editing and re-re-editing paragraphs and never be satisfied.

It's just the whole finality of the thing. There is so much time and energy invested in any given task, not to mention the investment of SELF. And when it's over, it's over. The time is spent. The energy used. And if you have given yourself over to this project, you've traveled from start to finish, and now you're in a different place from where you began.

And what if that different place isn't better? What if it's worse? What if it's just different? Then time spent becomes time wasted. Energy spent becomes energy lost. And the journey that you've taken from start to finish is racked up as a big failure.

So maybe, if you're unsure what the result might be, you don't finish.
Because if you don't ever finish you won't ever have to find out.
And you will never have to admit failure
because you will have never moved,
except maybe in circles.
Tracing familiar footprints,
digging a rut deeper and deeper,
because that's the only path you know.
Starting and starting and starting
but never finishing.

This summer I made a conscious effort to start finishing all sorts of things. Not everything has turned out perfectly, or even as I might have expected, but as I look back over the last several months, I recognize that I am in a different place. Sometimes it seems better. Sometimes it seems worse. Sometimes it just seems different.

But at least I'm not moving circles anymore.
I'm starting to aim for something better,
and I'm not going to stop until I'm finished.

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

Cheers for bigging up BlogFriday - much appreciated :)

I can relate to wanting to "finish things". I'm terrible too. Perhaps nobody is really that good at finishing things - but we all think we are the worst.