“What if you wake up some day, and you’re 65… and you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life?
- Anne Lemott
When I was a kid I couldn't seem to concentrate, or focus and sit quietly long enough to read a book from start to finish. I'm not exactly sure why. I can speculate I might have had a little ADHD or the type of kid that lived in her body, and was always on the go doing some kind of physical thing, climbing trees, jumping off a roof, looking for frogs along a riverside, or dancing around the living room with an ethereal look on my face, while my mother played the piano, as I imagined I was a great ballerina. I danced every chance I had, because I had a need and a desire, and I was always encouraged to do it. This was a good thing because I believe it is so important that kids are connected to their bodies and to the physical world.
By grade four, I knew I was not going to be a good student in school, as I didn't fit in, and the quality of my teachers went noticeably down.
I wasn't able to retain facts; memorizing and then regurgitating information that I was supposed to be learning. It was all too boring and dull. I preferred daydreaming and looking out the window, engaging with my fellow classmates, dancing and making art when ever possible.
The first book I read on my own, from cover to cover at the age of 12, was Lewis Carroll's , Alice in Wonderland. It opened up the imaginative world of books. I spent night after night in bed with my flashlight, under the covers, reading until it was finished. I not only wanted to go to Wonderland, I really wanted to be Alice, and fall into that looking glass. I learned the satisfaction of reading a book from start to finish.
I still do my reading in bed at night, minus the flashlight.
I continued to read, although far from voraciously, but by this time, I had a thirst for the power of imagination. I consider myself to be very fortunate to have had a family that knew the importance of learning and reading, but it was never forced upon me. It happened rather by way of attraction and osmosis, through example, and my own learning evolution. The books I loved when I was a kid, were mostly books about the children and animal adventures, like Huck Fin, Black Beauty, etc. Once in my late teens I was drawn to reading about world religions and philosophy.
I think one of the other books among many, that helped me immeasurably as an adult, is Bird By Bird: Instructions On Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott. She is one of my very favourite authors and she writes about about spirituality and the human condition. Her books have given me strength and guidance. She is great at reminding me to keep things in perspective, with honesty, humour, and humility, as a imperfect human being. She continues to inspire me to keep writing. I love what she has to say about perfectionism and creativity.
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.”