Monday, December 1, 2014

The importance of doing things before you're ready


As I work on a new book, I am reminded of one of the basic rules of life: If we wait until we are fully prepared in order to do something, we may never get it done. Perfection is not available in our human condition. It's important to do things before we think we are ready.
    A case in point, mined from my own journals in the period when I was working on my book The Secret History of Dreaming: 

I've spent the past few days reading and sketching my way into a chapter about Jung and Pauli. I have been prey to both the temptations and the performance anxiety associated with this theme.
    One of the temptations is to wait until I have read or re-read the 18 volumes of Jung's Collected Works (I own nine of these volumes, plus five volumes of selections from the others) and his memoirs and letters, and at least half a dozen of the biographies, and a dozen of the studies of his approach to synchronicity (all of which are also on my shelves or my desk). 
    There’s also a strong temptation to wait until I have found someone to explain Pauli’s Exclusion Principle, and Riemann Surfaces, and Violation of Parity and the Fine Structure Constant to me, and exactly where and why he differed with Einstein and (on another front) with Niels Bohr and the Copenhagen School, and the whole debate over symmetry - and until I have found someone else to disinter and translate Pauli's full correspondence with Aniela Jaffe and Marie-Louise von Franz. Oh yes, and of course to delay getting on with this chapter until I have hunted down the text of Schopenhauer's Essay on Spirit-Seeing, which turns out to have been a critical influence on Pauli's approach to dreams and reality and - after he pushed Jung to read or re-read it - on Jung as well (but is almost completely unavailable in English today and which I have - so far - been unable to locate online).
    At the very least, I realize, I want to go through the entire Jung-Pauli correspondence yet again (and the 400 Pauli dreams summarized and analyzed previously in Jung's Psychology and Alchemy) page by page, checking every reference, grounding every allusion in the personal and general history of their lives and their time, making sure I have missed nothing and understood everything.
    The performance anxiety centers on knowing that I understand Pauli’s physics no better than Jung, and do not have the advantage of having Pauli around to give me personal tutorials. And on the fact that there are a thousand Jungians (maybe many more) around ready to howl at any misrepresentation of the master.
    There is only one satisfactory response to such temptations and concerns.
    The only recourse is to get on and write the chapter NOW, regardless.

7 comments:

Mokihana Calizar said...

I like, I love this commentary. Proceed without Perfection: my many dreams of being at the wheel of vehicles -- many sorts -- red convertibles, speeding black ones, blue ones and last night a big old leather seated tan one. All of them are somehow just out of 'reach' ... the steering wheel too far because my seat's tipped back, the brake out of foot fall; and last night my toes just beyond the touch of the gas. STILL THE CAR GOES and life is full. Surely it is important to do things, drive the car, even so!

Madison Meadows said...

Thank you for posting! That is just what I needed today! Sychronicity is amazing, just when I thought how am I going to write about this...BAM! The universe speaks to me thru your blog. Now I can move forward.

Patricia said...

Great statement at the beginning of this walk through of how the temptation of perfection can halt a project. "Perfection is not available in our human condition." Glad you found a solution to perfections temptations.
Did you ever find Schopenhauer's Essay on Spiriit-Seeing?

Patricia said...

PS. I see my answer on your FB page.

Karen Sides said...

Beginning before we are ready provides an opening for miracles and happy accidents to happen. Beginning before we are ready allows us to approach the world with wide-eyed wonder. What joy!

Janine De Tillio Cammarata said...

Through the writing comes understanding. Good advice, Robert! I have been delaying!

riverpopes said...

I love reading your references and am often amazed at the depth of your research and the ways that you share so much with such courage and with such a generous heart! Synchronicity strikes again! I was thinking of how often I thought to thank you for so much, and now I am taking the opportunity, ready or not!