Anti-Goals, Part Deux

Comedy and Tragedy, Which is Which?

Ya know, I think I really got me onto something with those Anti-Goals from my last post. I wrote mostly in jest, but then again, not really, as those are behaviors and thoughts that I struggle with and it was good to name them with high irony. And while I don’t think I’m alone in my difficulties, I must work through them alone in person in realtime in this life.


What’s that quote about happy and unhappy families? Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy, first line…. Being “unhappy” in one’s own way, even if it seems mundane, means needing singularly specific “happiness apps” as remedies, which requires close and personal attentiveness.

Point is, once one knows one’s devil-enemies, the playing field and/or battleground cannot help but change as well. And that, too, demands a tricky and confusing mobility of soul, not to mention of thought and behavior.

No wonder it’s so hard to attempt to change for the better! Everything is changing anyway, my mind, my mood, my give-a-shit…what the hell does it take? How, oh how, to sustain Positive Change through All Change? I loosely quote the insightful potter Annie Chrietzberg, “What don’t you get about the change-yness of change?” Exactly.

Well, I get that I am a Contrarian. I get that I need to take on both sides – the Either/Or – before I resolve to the Both/And or The Third….which brings actual change to sticky places. Once The Third is perceived, duality crumbles and all manner of 4ths, 5ths, 6ths…..Infinite-ths arise. It gets juicyfun again, too.

Continuing in the vein I started last post, I need to counter those snarky S.M.A.R.T. goals, whose very left-brain linear clarity propels me smack into petulant inaction.

I tried making my Anti-Goals S.M.A.R.T. by identifying their Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound components. That led to Action Items like this one: Raise FreeCell Win Percentage from 34% to 35% by end of the week. What a beautifully written goal, but just as unmotivating as any.

Instead, I found it edifying, even cleansing, to propose S.T.U.P.I.D. goal criteria and here they are:

S.T.U.P.I.D. Criteria

S = Self-Sabotaging
T = Time-wasting
U = Unhealthy
P = Punitive
I = Impossible
D = Diffuse

This is my happiness app, doing things like this – though it is ultimately about the liberation of getting out by going through.

I pretty much find both the S.M.A.R.T. and S.T.U.P.I.D. criteria examples of the Either/Or camp and now that they’re resolved a tad – because I am more aware of what I want and of what I don’t want to aim for – I get to boogie around in the Both/And arena hopefully discovering what I truly need to do, be, attract, attain and what discipline and order I need to bring to those practices and tasks. If that’s what I get out of this, great, but if I get something else, I’ll deal.

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Working with Live Models

Question: Is there a “Do By” date on some visual art endeavors?
Answer: Yes there is, especially if you are working with subjects that will manifest change, such as moveables,  mold-ables or mature-ables.
In the case of these daffodil bulbs, that means if you want to model an assortment of carefully observed and individually rendered ceramic bulbs, you need to get to it before they inevitably sprout into daffodil plants and flowers, or go off trying. It’s Nature’s Way.
Bought last September during bulb planting season here in the Mediterranean climate of California’s Monterey Bay, they were going to be a quick study and then plunged into a pot of rich earth for the winter. Instead, they spent those months in a paper bag on a shelf in my warm studio. The still green and unfinished  “quick bulb studies” happened this past week and some of them ring the bowl of wimpily sprouting models in the photo.
Although I think this particular bulbous tale has a last minute happy ending for both art and nature, it has got me thinking about timing in new way.
Carpe diem! Sometimes the timing is obvious. Paint the cut flowers and sliced fruit still life arrangement before it sags and smells. Sketch your kids before they grow out of that breathtaking innocence. Photograph the mountain trail sunrise should you very likely never walk that way again.
And sometimes the timing is insidiously glacial or blastingly unforeseen, meaning you probably should hie yourself to the studio lest you change as well. You might lose your stoke, get a better idea, or just get called away by Life. No, not might, but assuredly will.
To paraphrase Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig, “The ‘Do By’ date you’re working on is a date called ‘yourself.'”  We are live models as much as the subjects we attempt to capture. We can’t step in the same river twice because the river keeps flowing and so do we, us moveable, mold-able and mature-able change manifesters. Carpe Narcissi!
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