Last evening I was watching The Voice, and Pharrell Williams and Rihanna were coaching a young singer. The singer seemed to struggle with confidence issues, and the two coaches kept trying to get her to believe in her abilities. It was starting to work, but very slowly. Then Pharrell said the following:
"Do not let perfection be your veil between the window of opportunity."
I immediately put down my computer and wrote that statement down on a piece of paper. If only Pharrell Williams would come hang out in a rehearsal studio some time and whisper that in my ear. Or find me in the coffee shop where I'm trying to write, sit down across from me with a latte, and just say that. He wouldn't have to stay long. Those words would suffice. Then he could be on his fashionable, merry way.
Point being, we all need these kinds of reminders. I've been making work in similar ways for many years now, and it's only when I push myself out of my comfort zone that I find new ways of being. On a street, in a field, out in the rain. That's where I make discoveries, and those places won't allow for perfection. The freedom is extraordinary. And empowering. Can it be that way all the time?
Long ago, I had a teacher, Nancy King, who asked us to work with visual images in a writing class. She had us paint images and then write in response to those images. She required us to work with finger paints. Why? Because it's really hard to be perfect with finger paints.
I've never forgotten that moment of explanation, yet somehow it's hard to remember that I can apply the message to my own work as well. In other words, get out of my own way. Stop trying to be perfect. Let the rough edges show. Rediscover imperfection as a basic human quality.