Advice from the Good Doctor Garden

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I’ve decided on a few goals for 2017.

One: get published in Voiceworks or other Aussie Lit. Journal. Two: Don’t start another Goodreads reading challenge. Two and a half: Finish reading Infinite Jest. Three: Try not to believe in the meaning of numbers. I’m going atheist on the whole number subject.

In 2015 I set myself a number of similar goals for this year: Finish uni with flying colours (pretty much complete), read 30 books (just finished, see above), get published anywhere (well, I done it in a way), write for a living (close) and even return to Europe (not yet, but soon).

There are a whole lot more of these, residing in the back of my sticky grey lobes somewhere, but I shouldn’t really go into them. What I wanted to talk about today, what I wanted spill out of my guts, is an admission of guilt. I’ve finally done my head in. I need to go see The Good Doctor for advice on over-consumption and perfectionism.

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Symptoms

There’s a pressure building, slowly releasing through the ears like a kettle boiling metholated spirits. The edges of reality become blurred and wet for the subject, gathering a patina of slick oil. Eyes fuzz, ears ring and legs buckle under the pressure. Skull hangs heavy, dangling on a weakening neck.

With an overwhelming urge to raise numbers, or be seen as having numbers exceeding the average amount, it is easy for the subject to lose focus on tasks such as reading or enjoying other forms of entertainment. The subject reports that their desire to complete things, tick off the checkboxes alongside classic movies, books, events, experiences, causes them to rush and skim, rather than sit and enjoy. The subject has grown increasingly aware of this rush over the year, finally realising that the rush is a detriment to happiness. Memory, recall and concentration suffers as the cost of over-consumption.

Possible Cause

The worship of numbers.

The subject feels a powerful desire to use numbers to prove one’s worth among a friendship/peer group. The subject requires validation through these numbers for any and all work undertaken, even if the work is meant for pure enjoyment. If the numbers gathered do not match or exceed the numbers of only the most high-achieving compatriot, then the subject’s symptoms worsen.

Numbers in the subjects world are a very real and present danger, this Doctor has determined. As a young Australian with a media degree and aspirations towards a creative career, networking, soliciting, attention-grabbing, profile-building, SEO optimising, sharing and analysing are all vital aspects of career-building. At times, this can prove overwhelming for the creative brain. The eye in the sky always watches. Murders of human-faced crows gather on telephone wires to judge and compare. Creativity and vibrant expression is absorbed and lost (not lost… perhaps, changed) in the sea of big data. Can’t risk upsetting the crows. Better to Murder-please at this early stage.

Treatment Options

The subject is here-by commanded to take a less-serious approach to numbers. Numbers grow and fluctuate at surprising speed if left to their own devises. In truth, behind all the numbers and analytics is creative work and self-expression that must flourish of it’s own volition.

Numbers can’t grow off of a blank slate, like mushrooms can’t grow from a clean, polished floor. Flowers and fungi grow from the mud if it is infused with failed life (decaying matter and bacteria). Failure in nature leads to new beginnings and more beautiful creations. In the same way, the subject must allow himself to fail, to try, to strive without fear of career- or reputation-damaging consequence.

Perfectionism is bathing a forest with bleach in an attempt to make the trees prettier. Over-consumption is growing fifty species of tree in a single paddock. At some point, the roots are going to strangle each other.

The subject’s treatment should involve spending serious time among nature, and among the fruit and glowing fungi of their own mental landscape. The subject should aim to plant new creative seeds away from the cloying roots and influence of successful nearby plants and the heavy bombardment of rain. This new garden should not be over-filled, over-watered or perfect. It should be a fertile plot for more plots to emerge from. Grow enough to feed oneself and no more. Grow to enjoy.

Take two and call me in the morning. If symptoms persist, keep trying.

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