Thursday, May 17, 2007

letting go: a physics lesson

Inertia is a deceptively powerful force. I have always had trouble with transitions and have recently placed some of the blame on my ADHD-like hard-wiring+, simplistic though that may sound. Contrary to what most people think, people with ADHD don't just have difficulty focusing on activities they find dull, like conjugating French verbs and balancing their chequebooks, many (especially highly creative ones, like Mozart) also have a tendency to hyper-focus on activities and subjects that interest them. The impulsivity and ability to make lateral connections that causes them to follow where their ideas lead often results in great work. They seek distraction and when they find something that piques their interest, discover that it takes hell or high water (or laptops whose hard drives crash) to tear them away from the object of their passion++.

If I let it go for a couple of days I have an excruciatingly hard time settling down at the easel again. But once there, I can get so obsessed with a painting that I can't leave it alone until it's done ~ or plastered against the wall, riddled with bullet holes. If I do leave it alone it will languish for weeks, taunting me to break the inertia and get back to work. And so it goes with the rest of my life. It affects my relationships and my daily routine and my career aspirations. I am well aware of the power of positive momentum and recognize that letting something go means possibly never getting it back again.

Let's take relationships. Recently, a friendship was showing all the signs that it had run out of gas and was dying a natural death. Inertia aside, the laws of physics also state that something that is gradually slowing down will eventually stop, but that means transition. I hate transition. I wanted to fight it. I made a last stab at resucitating the friendship but it was not to be and the truth is, I felt some ambivalence about it. Many of my long-term relationships still exist on some level, even if maintaining contact is simply a duty I perform out of a sense of obligation (smile when you say that). In most cases, the transition from friendly or intimate to merely cordial was difficult. There have only been a couple of occasions in which I've had to cut loose toxic people for good. But it's not just people. Those moments in my life when I've suddenly realized that staying in a job or situation or even country will be more painful than leaving have had such a powerful impact on me that is seems as if they happened yesterday. Maybe it's because the right thing to do is rarely the easy thing to do (and other cliches). One of the hardest things I ever did was leave my teaching career, but with any luck I will be painting until death us do part.

As for the present moment, I'm having a hell of a time finishing this post and disengaging my butt from this chair.

+No, last time I looked I didn't have ADHD
++Let's not discuss whether ADHD is an actual disorder or not. Schoolyard moms and tabloid rags are not reliable sources of information and that's not what I'm discussing anyway.


Blogger Alda said...

In most cases, the transition from friendly or intimate to merely cordial was difficult.

Very well said. I have a friendship I've had to consciously make that transition with and it's definitely a challenge. But like you, I wasn't ready to cut her loose completely.

Excellent post.

18/5/07 7:31 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Thanks, Alda. Good to know there's somemone out there who's reading more than the pictures! :)

18/5/07 7:55 a.m.  
Blogger Ian Lidster said...

There is so much to consider here, Andrea, that it would take a few hours of good conversation with you to glean through just part of it. You have much wisdom and insight (something of which I'd have no doubt) and I also saw many reflections of myself therein, especially the aspects of avoiding a task for ages and then getting utterly immersed in it. I could go on and on and on to the nth.


18/5/07 8:56 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Ian: Boy, do I ever have you fooled! :) Seriously, though, it's hard to post about this sort of thing because of all the nuances. A glass of chardonnay and a deck with a view would be far preferable! (or at least a latte at Esquire's)

18/5/07 11:52 a.m.  
Blogger dinahmow said...

I can do Chardonnay and a deck.Not sure about the of yesterday, the view to the south is a concrete massif.The view to the north(the ocean) is suffering gardener neglect.With huge yellow daisies.
Good post.Insightful.

18/5/07 1:38 p.m.  
Blogger Merisi said...

This is a great post, Andrea, a cathartic one, I hope. While reading I was thinking, I have all those symptoms plus I love to conjugate verbs and balance the check book. If I get to it, that is - but that's obvious, or?). I always fool people into thinking I am the most organized person in the world, one of my great talents (true, I do my stuff, but I am always dancing on more than one ball, and sometimes I feel like that little princess who can't stop dancing in those shoes that get hotter and hotter). People who don't know that a have four kids, are surprised, as if "when did you have time for that", on the other hand, people who know me only as the mother of those kids, act surprised at how I ever did anything else but take care of them. It must be so that I am born to dance, if only I could select more often a slower rhythm. Then again, I cannot stand still.
So, where was we? Oh yes, seriously, Andrea, I cannot figure out how you manage to produce so much presentable work, i.e. the things we get to see here on the blog, to me you seem like an incredible hard worker. So give yourself some slack, and enjoy your ever evolving talent. Your are doing great in my eyes. :-)

18/5/07 2:37 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Thanks, Merisi. It was the coming togetehr of a number of things. i love it when I can segue neatly! As for me, I am the queen of space organization but can't plan my time to save my life!

18/5/07 4:51 p.m.  
Blogger kj said...

hi andrea, i can identify with so much of what you say in this post. i strive for balance and these days try not to overdo one way or the other. but sometimes when i write, or garden, the passion of it makes it hard for me to want to do anything else.

i'm happy to say i have very few toxic people or circumstances in my life. i've learned to lose and move on quickly, i guess.

best of everything to you. you deserve it.


18/5/07 6:45 p.m.  
Blogger Ces said...

I just let go, at the very first sign, I let go emotionaly, even if I remain civil or "nice" to a person. I am surrounded by toxic people, hey I work in healthcare! Aging helps me, or is that suppose to be growing?

18/5/07 7:34 p.m.  
Blogger susan said...

purging in every sense of the word is a really healthy thing. recognizing when to do it is always the tough "first step"... i have been through that process with a couple of people in the past year and it is hard to make that first move. once you do though, somehow it becomes easier. i hope that it is for you andrea! no need for anyone to sway you from you path to the easel...

19/5/07 6:02 a.m.  
Blogger HMBT said...

Transitions...never been easy for me either. I can so relate. The people thing...I can so relate...really, really. The work that isn't finished mocking's all over the studio....I bribe myself to do housework and chores...i.e. "you can paint all day if you just clean the kitchen first, ect.
What a freaking great post, one that made me feel...less alone in my own quirkiness...thanks!

20/5/07 4:29 a.m.  
Blogger Philip said...

i identify very strongly with much of what you say, The thing is though that these days, I look back at all the changes I have made in my life and realise that I have learned the most from these experiences. I don't regret a thing even though I have given myself seemingly impossibly high mountains to climb.

As for friendships and relationships, I accpept that sometimes they reach a conclusion. Part of the reason I think is that we don't all 'grow' with each other at the same pace or at all. Just a thought.

20/5/07 7:22 a.m.  
Blogger Within Without said...

Wow, Andrea. These are beautiful, intimate thoughts and I also found a lot of it rang true for me.

The whole "letting go" thing, whether in work or relationships or anything else, can be a tough thing.

You don't want to admit defeat, or that it's over, especially if you don't think it is.

It's all about coming to some sort of peace, even though it may not be a tranquil, total peace.

Lovely, insightful post.

20/5/07 9:12 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Thanks for all the great comments, all. I always feel a bit like I'm going to school in my pyjamas whenever I write this kind of post. The feedback makes me glad I did.

20/5/07 1:34 p.m.  
Blogger homo escapeons said...

When I get bored or frustrated I go and look at those cheesy T SHIRTS and I saw this one the other day that I can totally relate to..

I have ADH-hey look something SHINY!

I completely identify with your self inflicted constraints and general annoyance at the whole space/time continuum thingamabob in the first place.
As for toxic relationships..why did it take me so long to figure out that they cannot be repaired..WHY!?

21/5/07 10:49 p.m.  
Blogger Tori said...

I am experiencing the transformation of a long term friendship right now. I am the one wanting to rescue it, but I am stopping to think at what cost to me should I compromise?
Thank you for sharing your insights and the lovely photos.

22/5/07 7:39 a.m.  
Blogger Bibi said...

Good post Andrea ... I can relate to a lot of it. Focus and letting go of dead/toxic friendships.

23/5/07 7:23 p.m.  

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