Perfecting the “Art of Worry”: How I got a “CLU” from “TRON”

The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.  – Anna Quindlen

This past weekend I went with my family to see the movie TRON: LEGACY and to be honest I wasn’t sure if I would even like the movie; however, I LOVED IT, but for completely different reasons than my family did.  They sited things like the special effects, the geek factor, the music, the story line, etc and while I enjoyed those things as well, I got a little more food for thought from this particular movie.

As anyone who has been around me for more than a day knows, I tend to speak in metaphors from time to time (ok all the time), and I tend to look the lesson to be learned in any given situation.  Here is what I thought about after the movie.

As the back story of TRON unfolds, the main character, Kevin Flynn, explains that TRON fights for the end user, and CLU is tasked with creating “the perfect system”.  Above all else these two points in the movie stuck with me.  As we left the movie I jokingly said to my kids, my husband and friend who was with us, as I quoted a line from the movie, “I am TRON. I fight for the end user.” Imagine how surprised I was when I heard variations of, “No you don’t, you’re so caught up in being a contributor you forgot how to be “the end user”.  They even said, “No you aren’t, you worry to much about everything being perfect.” See where this is going.   OUCH!

Hearing those unexpected responses led me to ask myself,  “What happens when seeking perfection gets in the way of simply being the best me or doing the best I can in any given moment and actually slows down or halts progress?” I needed to be reminded that, nothing is perfect, and at times “perfection” becomes the enemy of “good enough” and it’s never too late to get back on track. Can you think of a better way to be reminded of those things than a really awesome movie with a killer sound track?

In the movie, TRON had been “re-purposed” for a use other than what he was originally intended and I wondered how often I’ve allowed myself to be”re-purposed” or lost site of my original goals in life.  I asked myself,  “When did I become this expert in the “art of worry” and when did trying to be the perfect *anything*(mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, volunteer, contributor, employee etc.) replace simply being the BEST me in any given moment?”

As a result of asking the question, and having my lens of hindsight clearly in focus, I realized, being the resident “art of worry” expert was an unnecessary waste of time and energy and only seemed to accelerate things like burnout, frustration, unrealistic expectations for self and others, which only served to increased my list of disappointments. In addition, being the resident “art of worry” expert, made things such as happiness, joy, and a sense of personal accomplishment seem to only to shine through the breaks in the worry as if it were the sun playing peak-a-boo through the clouds on an overcast day. (Sounds terribly dreadful doesn’t it? Don’t worry!  I’m actually very happy and content in this self-realization)

While I don’t have all the answers there are a few things I do know.  I’m not suffering from Volunteer Vertigo and High Tech Hangovers anymore (thought I am sure the potential is there) and as I return to a balanced life from both the physical and literal burnout, I am suddenly realizing it’s OK and NECESSARY for personal growth to make a few mistakes. After all, I didn’t learn to ride a bike without skinning my knees a few times, nor did I learn to play a trombone without sounding like I was butchering large farm animals, and I didn’t learn to cook with setting off the smoke alarm a few times. (You get the idea right?) The world didn’t end, the “Amber must be perfect police” didn’t come and arrest me, and I was a lot happier when I had the attitude of, “oops that didn’t work, let me try something else”, rather than the “if I don’t get this right, someone will criticize or not like me”.  I can get everything right and someone, somewhere, will find fault in someway.

If you are thinking, “DUH, how did you not know all of this?” you’re not alone; I thought that as well.  As I am sure you are aware, there are many things we all know that we know, yet we have very artfully mastered the skills of ignoring all those things we know that we know. ;-P

Hopefully you haven’t been “re-purposed” into the resident “art of worry” expert in your neck of the woods or into something other than your intended you, and if you have and don’t like it, plot a new course and just begin enjoying being you.  I just did!


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