Possibility is my chosen focus for this month, and I've been thinking it through a little differently than I have in the past.
The upside to possibility is the dizzying sense of abundance, a heady combination of imagination, ability, and desire - the belief that virtually anything could be done if I put my mind to it. (Sadly, I've had to let go of my childhood dream of being the first person to walk on Mars, but pretty much everything else is still on the table.)
The flipside to that (and I'm trying very hard not to say downside, but it feels that way) is that I can't do it all. More specifically (since my feminist sensibilities are bristling): while it is entirely possible to acquire many and diverse abilities, and even to practice them simultaneously, there are real limits to the number of projects that one can accomplish in a given span of time, and those limits are even more restrictive if one hopes to do them well.
As someone whose entire persona is constructed around the notion of the overachieving underdog, who survived the first several decades of my life on the blunt strength of Never Never Never Give Up, this pruning of possibilities doesn't sit at all well. It feels an awful lot like loss.... like giving up. As though every sweater not knit, every design not realised, every creative thought not acted upon, is a kind of death to be regretted and grieved over. Add kids into the mix (a project unto themselves), and after a while there seem to be far more creations thwarted than completed and anticipatory loss begins to dwarf the joy. Toss in an overabundance of "sky's the limit" inspirational articles and a jealous look at the magnificent accomplishments of all those childless fellow artists with limitless round the clock hours at their disposal, and the whole notion of possibility begins to seem like a cruel joke.
It was getting to be a death spiral, and thus my new outlook for the year began with redefining my relationship to possibility.
I took an unflinching look at the real available work time in 2011 (rather startlingly smaller than the numbers free-associating in my head), set out my project dream list and began tallying up the required hours. The initial imbalance was on the order of 5:1, and for the first time in my life, rather than resolve to drive myself harder, I began to prune. I found it helped a great deal to reframe the process as decluttering, rather than loss. I discarded anything with a whiff of guilt about it (ie. Use Up All the Seconds), set aside projects that were sensible but failed to really excite me, and gave myself room to explore and permission to stumble and regroup along the way. (It sounds obvious, but this is really breaking new ground for me.)
One of the projects that made the cut launches with tomorrow's update, and I've been caught up in a white heat of inspiration playing with it this week... so much so that I have to give you a wee teaser: