#2: The Disadvantages of Anticipation

Saturday / 15 June 2013 / 2 pm / Lower East Side, NY

She liked to suspect that the reason why she had very few people to call her own was because she could read people too well. There was a feeling she got, as she judged each person that walked by, that there was something that wouldn’t… work. It was a comfort to her that her solitude resulted from a skill rather than a deficiency.

Only occasionally would she consider the possibility that she was using her judgements as a shield. It was far too difficult to admit that the rationale for this practice might be fear – fear, not of the commitment to any kind of connection between her and any other person, but rather of the rejection that might arise out of that commitment. What would be the consequences of this admission? A damaged pride, or the recognition of a pride already damaged, that had never healed? She had been far too eager, once – more than once, perhaps, but only one incident was deserving of being the pallbearer of eagerness, one incident under which all preceding incidents and all the incidents that followed would be subsumed.

She tried to focus on the task at hand; after all, she had set out today to look outward, not inward. Entering and leaving those ubiquitous white cubes, she found herself unable to appreciate the objets d’art that each space offered up to her; at least, not without a persistent sense of envy. Surely it wasn’t the works that she envied – she felt no sense of aspiration, no desire to make what had been made. What she envied was that the people who had made these objects had managed to attain a level of satisfaction, such that they had been comfortable enough to present their creations without trepidation, to finish them without even questioning whether it was worth finishing.

They were too easily satisfied, she thought. Had they felt at all that their creations could not live up to, could not wholly and decisively reflect their intentions? How had they managed to arrive at a point where they felt that what they were creating deserved to be created, deserved to be seen, deserved, indeed, to be torn apart? That was the hurdle that she could never cross.

Deep down, she knew she was going about it the wrong way. That is, there was no way about which to be going; the only path was a sort of confidently blind process of making, and then looking back upon it, picking it apart, putting it back together even better, even if not ever good enough. For some reason, she could never allow herself to be lost, to fail in that way. She wasted time worrying about time that might be wasted. As long as you do your best, that was what they always said. The problem was, she would always be conscious of what she could have done better. There was always a better.

She could see the potential in herself to make something great, and that was the greatest hindrance to the completion of anything.

Berny Tan