Not long after we bought our house, I decided to paint our bedroom olive green. A colour similar to this blog’s background colour (if your computer’s able to display it). I had this colour in my mind’s eye – this bold, deep and soothing green. I grabbed a handful of colour samples from the hardware store and picked the green of my dreams. Then I had second thoughts. Was it too bold? Too deep? Too green? Bowing to caution, I selected a softer, paler, safer green at the paint shop. Perhaps predictably, it didn’t quite meet my expectations. It wasn’t awful though, and not wanting to put us through the painting process again (and I hate being wasteful), it was another three years before we tried again with the shade I should have used in the first place.
I don’t trust my instincts enough. My impending-failure internal sensors can’t seem to distinguish between mistakes that matter and ones that don’t. In this instance, not only did the mistake not matter, but I only made the mistake in my attempts to save myself from it. *Creates wormhole*
This is taking fear of failure to Level Stupid. Which, oddly enough, reminds me of this poem:
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I’ve always loved this poem, but often wondered if that love was born from envy. I remember reading it for the first time at secondary school unable to share the author’s inclination for the ‘road less travelled’. I mean, why was it ‘grassy’? What was wrong with it? Did it flood? Did it peter out until you were lost? Did it take you to a cliff that had partially slipped away and you had to either turn back or rock climb? Perhaps its use had ceased when someone discovered it ten miles longer and took you to exactly the same place as the other road. My instinct to pre-empt mistakes is so strong, I even question metaphors.
On the upside, I reckon I’ve saved myself from many inconveniences and embarrassments, and because I can perceive problems before they arise, I’m a great sounding board for issues. Equally, though, I’ve made decisions that have kept me on the safe road at the cost of experience and discovery, and I worry about things before they happen, even when events are out of my control and I hesitate at the point of doubt and procrastination, and I’m unable to move beyond it. What if there’s a avenue for failure I hadn’t predicted? So I stop, half way through a creative project with an overwhelming desire to quit before I fail. Leading to not failing, but not succeeding either.
This is one of my many idiosyncrasies that I’m trying to resolve. Sometimes I need to trust that it’ll work out, that the repercussions of it not working out on the scale of importance from Stupid to Death, is off the scale at Inconsequential. So this week I painted the spare room a deep turquoise blue without second guessing myself.
And yes, it’s perfect.