There is nothing like the joy of bringing something new into the world—something you worked incredibly hard to produce. A baby, a book, a barrel of whisky—they’re all boxes I’ve been privileged to tick off.
The thing that brings absolutely no joy, but is also heavily represented in the realm of the world of production, is the waiting that comes with it.
I am not a waiter.
I am a pacer, a tosser and turner, a nervous finger drummer, and a clock watcher.
I wear out carpets, pound and fluff pillows, and have more scraps of paper containing chaotic time-tables than the TSA currently, as they’re scrambling to fill “no-shows” in their employee work schedules.
Yeah, a bit like that.
And whether I’ve been hauling around a growing human, chattering on social media about an emerging tale, or taking far too many samples from the barrel “just to check its progress,” there is one thing certain about all of them:
They ain’t done till they’re done.
The element of time is something I cannot alter. And altering it is the one thing I wish were at the top of the “to do” list for a few more scientist, physicists, and local crackpot sorcerers.
I’m really not fussed who it turns out to be is the person we all bow down to after he or she has discovered how we can tinker with a timeline to suit our needs, but surely someone is going to wear that sash and crown eventually, right?
For years, whenever visiting universities for my daughter’s college campus test drives, I’d manage to find a way, specifically out of earshot of my “I’m going to help conquer space” child, to have a private conversation with one or two of the professors we’d met. I’d inquire about space/time travel, they then made a wide berth of me for the remainder of the tour.
It’s only now, maybe six or seven years later, that the chatter on that subject is finally one that fills the internet with graphs, pie charts, and spreadsheets made from multi-degreed scientists and not just science fiction authors.
It’s a teensy bit ironic that I’m having to wait for time travel.
Weirdly, just as strong as the desire to leap forward to arrive into the moment of accomplishment, there is another want that travels at its side, in its shadow: the yearning to leapfrog back.
It is impossible to do, of course, but anyone who’s ever endeavored to journey through a long haul production will likely agree that at some point within the undertaking—whether halfway through or at the finish line—you will feel a desperate urge to return. To tweak, to adjust, to unclutter. To reappraise, jigger, and amend.
But again, science is moving molasses slow with their participation in giving us this option. A bit like the speed of a snail with a limp.
And thus we are left with a few paltry alternatives. First—be circumspect with your work from the get go. Second—suck it up and deal with the regrets. Third—hide, Thelma and Louise it right off a cliff, change your name and buy a food truck/mammogram van to fill the need for cancer prevention through comfort food. Call it Two Boobs for a Biscuit. I don’t know. I’m riffing here.
Anyway, the point is that we can’t go back.
We can’t unmeet that man. We can’t revise that chapter. We can’t redistill that spirit.
The results are the results.
The good, the bad, and the ugly. And in some worst case scenarios—failure.
But … what people often misunderstand is that right up until the moment of the outcome is not a colossal waste of time or effort. The result may be called failing, but the rest is called learning.
I know that’s a small measure of comfort when you’re on the precipice of seeing your results unveiled. It brings little relief to those of us in charge of a gazillion dollar mission to Mars that sees catastrophic calamity in its “all done and dusted phase” to have the ability to say, “Well, at least we know what line of code doesn’t work.”
But it’s a necessary and unavoidable part of all progress. Period.
And the concept of ‘progress’ brings us back to the whole idea of time, movement, and achievement. The text missing in this chronology is the word reflection. When our efforts are spent and we’re left with an outcome, sure, we can choose the food truck, but we can also choose the food for thought.
Mindfully revisiting and diligently muddling through a postmortem are key for advancement, for if there is one thing I feel certain of, it’s that I simply do not want to be good enough to keep my feet on the track, I want to keep my feet moving forward.
So yes, the waiting for our books or babies or booze to be complete must be reframed as not stalling out. Reflection and projection might be very capable methods to utilize at these moments. We can learn from our past—and one day, if science will finally hear my beseeching petitions, we can learn from our future. All so that we will not just survive the present, but thrive within it.
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