Broken, Creating, Perfect. (or, What's a Workshop?)

Design by Frances Macleod

Design by Frances Macleod

I’m sorry to break this to you, human, but you're a fixer-upper.  

It's been this way for awhile -- your life even began with flaws. Someone had to put food in your mouth and discard your waste in your early days. You eventually grew teeth, but they all fell out rather quickly, don’t you think?

Your situation may have improved slightly over the years, but if we’re honest, each of us could point out mistakes we’ve made in the past couple of days, maybe even minutes.

I'm working through something as I write this. I recently opened a shared office space, but it’s 10am on a Thursday and at the moment I’m sitting here all by myself, sharing space with no one. Perhaps I’ve done something wrong. The plan seemed great, but the results seem less than perfect right now.

We’re not flawless and never will be. We need to own that.

But don’t let that slow you down, because we have centuries of history to prove that humanity is best in brokenness, battles are won by the underdog, and light seems to seep through the cracks when you’re looking for it.

Why is being flawed so captivating? Because life is a story. A long story, with many chapters, new beginnings, and surprise endings sometimes. Good stories have conflict, problems, needs, and pain and are written by real people, like me, who seem broken and have been literally and metaphorically cleaned-up after for their entire lives.

It gets beautiful when the broken people muster up courage to address the conflict, and whatever happens next is less relevant as far as I’m concerned. Courage and beauty are in the work, not the result.

Reconciling my imperfection is where I live. There’s always an opportunity for something to be made better, and I'm starting to believe that’s ok and rather lovely.  At best, my life will always be at the intersection of flawed and learning, a constant state of betterment. I have been provided tools and a setting to work in. I am the project. So in this metaphor, my life is like a workshop.

 

I am a workshop.

 

And what I build in these moments makes me creative, because finding a way within constraints is my definition of creating. It will never be quite done, but I believe that was the intention, with the linear development of human life and its ups and downs. What would happen if you became flawless, anyway? You'd be uninteresting. Your story would be over.

We were put here to work together -- it's the only way most things get done. Perfection is when someone helps you with your courageous project (life) and you help out with theirs. The working is the point, because the things you do and the things you are as you navigate your life are telling the story. The consequences simply lead you to more work, and the cycle continues.

If life is about results for you, you’ll be disappointed, in a constant state of frustration because you never arrive. Even the best workers, the boldest storywriters can’t always control the ending. But we control the writing, the work, the growing and fixing.

So if you're working, you've arrived -- we all have from the day we were born. Life isn't about avoiding mistakes or perfecting results. Everyday, your life is telling a story.

Now go find your project, find your tools, and get to work.

You're a workshop, too.

 

- Ben Skoda, Workshop Co-founder & Director