Before going to graduate school, I spent a year working at New York University as a lab technician. As a farewell gift, I received a popular book called “At The Bench”. It was supposed to act as my springboard into “real”research.
In addition to helpful descriptions of common lab techniques, it also contained some practical life advice. One story that stuck with me through the years is about “standing at a bus stop”. It goes something like this.
Imagine that it’s raining (hard) and you are standing at a bus stop waiting for a bus. You don’t have an umbrella. You are soaked and hungry. Miserable. You’ve been standing there for a long time and the bus is still not coming. You know that just around the corner there is another bus route that you could take home. But you have invested some much time into waiting for this bus! It’s about to come any moment, right?!
The story provides a great analogy for how we often approach science. We are so invested in making a project work, that we are often blind-sighted to the fact that it might be a dead end. It is no longer worth our time and effort, and we need to pivot to make better use of our time. But we have invested so much time an effort into it!
I think you get the idea. Sometimes we just need to cut our losses and start fresh.
We are so invested in making a project work, that we are often blind-sighted to the fact that it might be a dead end.Tweet
This is how I felt the other day about my artwork as well. Over the years, I have often commiserated that beadwork is much less forgiving than painting. You can’t just cover up a mistake and keep going. You need to plan everything to a T, and make sure not to make any mistakes.
And make sure that you are at the right bus stop.
After switching to a new job at a flavor and fragrance company, I decided to start a new art project that shows the olfactory epithelium in our nose, including the olfactory neurons that give us the sense of smell. It seemed like a pretty straight forward project that could draw on my experience from projects like “Attraction”, “Fragile Memory”, and “Finding Your Self”. I got through about 33% of it and then got stuck. The started piece spent over 8 months lying on my windowsill untouched…
I knew that I messed up, but just couldn’t bring myself to starting over. And then I decided to seize control.
I ripped off the Band-Aid.
Do you ever feel like no matter how much you have done already, it is easier to start over? Please share your story below.
Art is my emotional outlet and my oasis. I use art to express my feelings and work through life issues. Come join me on this journey of letting go of control and letting the creative process take over. You will get access to all of the behind the scenes footage and see the major breakthroughs that translate into new artwork.
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