As a creator in different media, I have had to learn to let go. As builders, designers, and makers of every kind, we put everything we have into a project or piece. I include actors and writers in this group, since what they do also has to be put down in some way—which brings me to my point. The things you make become extensions of yourself. You are giving away something that contains your energy; thus, a part of you is left behind when that furniture is done, that piece shipped, that script written. Sooner or later, the directors yells, “Cut!” Until then, the process is so busy, your mind so consumed by the finished product, the small details
When I start a project, my mind is swimming. The project engages different parts of my brain at the same time. I am working on the creative aspects but also the budget constraints, gradually shaping these parts into a unified whole. It is calm chaos, but essential for the end result I crave. I want the image I saw in my mind’s eye to stand before me in all its embodied glory, every detail exactly how I wanted it.
But that isn’t always the case. Things happen; situations arise. Some are out of our control, others artefacts of the process. For many years, I pulled my hair out when things happened. I freaked out if a certain veneer wasn’t available or, god forbid, I made a mistake—meant to cut the material at 16 ¾, but it was a hair under and wouldn’t be glueless tight and would leave a micron gap. . . and so on, and so on.
I had to learn to let go. It had nothing to do with my work ethic or pleasing the client. I was learning to do the best job possible considering every aspect of the circumstances involved and moving on. As creators, we want perfection. And I learned that perfection for us is usually an entirely different animal than it is for our clients. We see things that most don’t. If I pointed one of these things out, would others see it? Maybe, but they might conclude I was a lunatic perfectionist who drives an old truck and fits the bill. They are happy to have my work in their home and pay my bill without question, and that’s enough.
There has to come a point in any project when it’s finished, when the symphony has ended and the band goes home, the table is placed, the tile has set. I can think of a hundred images that would take you right there, but you understand, because you are one of us. You always wish there was something you could have done better or differently; it’s human nature. But there comes a time when the next project in the cue is ready to begin, and the whole process starts again.
So do yourself a favor: Don’t let the anxiety of the job run your life. Remember always that you have earned that phone call, or part, or job. They want you and everything that comes with it. All your imperfections make you perfect. The very things that drive you nuts about you are the reason they come back, time and time again.