Yesterday evening, as I sipped my cocktail and followed the suggestions posted by other Keurig owners on some discussion board or another, I noticed myself looking forward to posting my success on Facebook.
That sentence is worth unpacking:
1. Attempting home repair of a device with dozens of teeny tiny components should probably not be attempted, but since it’s out of warranty, and I don’t want to drop another $150 on a new one, I may as well try.
2. Yes, I realize the Keurig is a profoundly wasteful consumer device that produces inferior coffee. I am, however, not a morning person. Which is to say, I more than once attempted to operate my small espresso maker at 6am with various parts not reinstalled, leading to messes and near-injuries from steam.
3. If one is going to attempt such a repair, one should probably do it completely and totally sober. Of course, having a drink may have provided the courage needed to attempt said repair. Vodka as tautology.
4. My tendency toward anticipatory celebration has gone digital.
The last is why I’m writing this blog post. Because I spend a great deal of my time alone–especially in the summer months–and because I tend to spend a lot of time in my head–as my wife will tell you–my reflective tendencies have also gone digital. But that’s another rumination for another day.
Today, I want to talk about anticipatory celebration. I’d like to blame this on social media, but my habit long predates the interwebz. I remember as a child starting some project–say, practicing free throws on the playground or writing a story–and immediately imagining the scene in which others congratulate me on my success, where I talk about my work and how I accomplished my goals.
I imagine lots of successful people do this, of course. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to project a good result, provided one actually focuses on the process by which one will achieve that goal. That means simultaneously keeping an eye on the proverbial prize while working on getting there, continuously reassessing the long-term goal as well as the short-term strategies.
Instead, those of us prone to perfectionism become fixated on the vision, on that moment of achievement, and any impediments along the way become land mines rather than stumbling blocks. And that vision is less about how we’ll feel about our accomplishments than it is about the praise we’ll receive from others.
Perhaps I could blame this on talk shows–on watching Merv Griffin and Dinah Shore as a child, listening to folks at the peak of celebrity discuss how they got there. I wanted to tell my story, like that, whatever that story was. So I invented that moment, while I was dribbling the basketball, and once I missed a few shots, that vision would fade, and I’d grow bored, and I’d move on to the next activity.
Or maybe it’s just my brain chemistry. I’ve only recently begun treatment for ADHD, because like many women, the early signs were dismissed as daydreaming and foolishness, rather than a different way of thinking. And all of the “just do it” advice failed to stick, since it wasn’t accompanied by any concrete strategies for maintaining my attention or working through challenges.
And then again, maybe it really is a character flaw, a moral failing. If I’d been born on a North Dakota farm, like some of my forebears, I’d just have had to buck up and survive, right? I would probably have been the kid who drifted off while milking the cow, to be yelled at time and again to get her head out of the clouds. But perhaps I would have learned some self-discipline.
So, what does this have to do with Authorship? I’m working on the syllabus for my senior seminar on authorship in the digital era, and I was thinking about self-narration, and the urge to tell everyone what we’re doing and what we’ve accomplished. In a sense, this is fundamental to writing, to sharing a story–me on Merv Griffin’s couch next to Totie Fields. Facebook and Twitter and other social media outlets give us a space to do this now, immediately.
And so I report that, in fact, I have yet to get the damn Keurig to work, though I have yet to work my way through all of the suggestions provided in that forum I found. I may end up with a machine in pieces, in which case I’ll have a very different story to tell, one in which I’m less the hero and more the buffoon. More of a short-lived character in a Terry Pratchett novel. Or a red-shirted Star Trek crewmember.
I understand that humility is good for the soul.