Swimming in deadlines

What drives me today is deadlines.

One of my favorite authors, Douglas Adams, has a great quote about deadlines. He said:

“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

I set myself a deadline at the beginning of this month to be finished with my van renovations by the end of this month. That, combined with other deadlines I’m obligated to meet for my clients, has made this month a little hectic.

But it’s a good hectic.

People often say it’s better to be busy than not, meaning that if you’re not busy then you’re likely out of things to do. And having nothing to do usually leads to being bored, which is something to avoid.

Laughing at my existence

Earlier this year, I met a girl who observed me rummaging around in the chaos of my van trying to find something. She giggled, and I said, “What?!”

She responded, “I’m laughing at your existence right now.”

I laughed with her and thought about how my life, from the outside, could seem a bit tops-turvy. But I often liken it to those role models (whether real or fictional) who thrive under seemingly disordered and disheveled conditions.

A madness to the method

Captain Jack Sparrow is a great example of this. Think of all the scenes where Jack is in a tight spot and not only manages to successfully escape, but escapes with pizazz. Specifically, I’m thinking of a scene from the fourth movie in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

At the beginning of the scene, Jack is tied up to a chair inside a dining room. There’s a buffet of every kind of food imaginable displayed on long table in front of him.

His first course of action is to try and steal a biscuit. Before he is interrupted by his captors entering the room, he manages to kick a biscuit up towards the ceiling. The biscuit becomes stuck as it is impaled by a sharp point on the chandelier.

Then, the usual tomfoolery ensues as Jack makes his fantastic exit by swinging across the room on the chandelier. As he lands safely on a balcony, he is in prime position to snag the biscuit off the point of the chandelier.

He makes eye contact with his captors, takes a bite of his commandeered biscuit, and calmly leaves the dining room.

I like to take regular clichés and turn them around. Like there’s a method to somebody’s madness. With my process, and the movie examples, “madness to the method” is a more fitting description. There’s clearly more madness than method.

Take Jackie Chan in Drunken Master for example.

Unlike most of us who experience the feeling of being enhanced with liquid courage, the Drunken Master actually gets better at fighting the more he drinks.

Everything that drowns me makes me wanna fly

I’m not drowning in deadlines… yet.

But as fatigue sets in, and it feels like there’s more work to be done than time will allow for, I loathe the pressure that builds. When I get to that point where I think I can’t breathe, I focus on what I can do to be productive.

It’s the messy, the broken, the incomplete, and/or the lacking that motivates me to act.

For people who operate like Jack Sparrow, the Drunken Master, or myself, we crave the imperfect in our creative environment because it leaves more room for improvising. And if you don’t know what’s coming next, then there will always be something to do.

Let’s go swimming!

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