When I was writing about my feelings about Boston area after we moved here, I got to thinking about why it was taking me so long to get through it, which in turn, got me to thinking about the impatience of those who have don’t have to struggle, or have little trouble expressing ideas or performing tasks, or learning things quickly with those of us who are more deliberate, or seem “slower.” I usually find those who are impatient with people who don’t get it the first time — or even the second — to be a generally intolerant and non-empathetic group as a whole. There’s an arrogance, and a smugness which accompanies impatient people: they feel they “must” explain things twice to others when they (of course) understood or learnt the first time. They simply can’t understand why others have to be so stupid or dense — or so SLOW! “Why does it take so long for them to do it?” or “…get the job done?” Well, some of us just need a little more time. It’s not that we’re stupid or retarded; usually it has to do with making sure whatever it is we are doing is done right — the first time, as much as possible.
I am NOT a believer in multi-tasking. It’s a foolish and virtually impossible concept, and invariably leads to second rate, or worse results. The business community has adopted this concept with the nitwit idea that getting someone to try doing three or four things simultaneously will increase productivity saving time and money. Of course this is a fallacy, except for the unique profession of the Organist/Choir Director (which I don’t feel like explaining at this point) it is physically impossible for someone to perform two things simultaneously, much less three or four. And even if it were possible, would you really want your surgeon double as your anaesthesiologist? I didn’t think so.
But, I digress. For me the main reason for my plodding along is (and I for once don’t think I stand alone here) an obsession with perfection, or what I perceive to be perfection. That means fussing over details: choosing the precise word, or notes/phrases. I certainly do not presume to think that in my case what I do is superior to others; quite the contrary, I feel that I have to slave over everything I do in order to at least achieve a level of parity to others. With words it is the constant rephrasing of a sentence or obsessively trying to find the precise word to express my thoughts. Unfortunately, I am not blessed with the encyclopaedic memory or razor sharp wit of Oscar Wilde or, musically, mon cher maître Malcolm Williamson. No, I have to scratch and clammer my way in order to achieve a few notes, phrases, words, sentences. Luckily there are the slow geniuses: Gustave Flaubert comes to mind, as does Ernest Chausson and Henri Duparc in whom I can take a modicum of consolation, though a I am far from a genius.
I have always admired prolificacy. I look at Bach and Mendelssohn; also Frederick Church and Thomas Cole come to mind: people whose individual output was astounding, not only for their quantity, but the quality of their work. It is very humbling indeed. Unfortunately (yes I know I’ve been using that word a lot), as someone who has more than likely suffered from some form of ADD (w/o the H nowadays) it has been very difficult to prioritise, or at least focus on any one thing. As a result little gets done. Ironically, once I do focus on something then nothing, I mean nothing gets in the way. I remember one summer I lost about 3-5 lbs because I would spend the entire day learning and memorising the Franck Grande Piéce Symphonique. Of course I also had access to one of the biggest organs in the country upon which to practise. Such is not the case presently, or probably forever.
So, I hope that explains a little as to why I’m so cumbered in my attempts at some sort of productivity. I may have more to say on this; but now, I have to go practise.