Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fear of the Middle

Lately I've been thinking about why I have trouble finishing projects.  It's a funny kind of blockage, I guess. It presents differently with different projects, but the end result is the same: unfinished projects.

I have started many projects: quilts, reading, exercise, learning to speak Spanish or French, learning various computer programs like Excel, Word, Publisher, HTML; learning Physics or Math or some of the other subjects that I have on my lecture DVDs.  Then there's crocheting or model building, but probably the greatest stall is writing.  And even in this there are variations: fiction, screenwriting, non-fiction, poetry, oral history, autobiography.

I like starting new projects.  I like buying all the gear I'll need for those projects.  But somewhere down the road to completion, I stall.  My beginning efforts look good, sound good, read well, etc.  But when I have to keep plugging away, for some reason I avoid it.  Then after a while I start something else.

Obviously, there is a psychological boost from starting something--the hope of a new adventure, I guess. But what causes the bogging down half way through?  That I'm not too sure of, but I want to get to the bottom of it.

I know a lot of people suffer from this particular malady, and I also know it's got something to do with brain chemistry, so that's why I'm writing about it here.

It's a kind of fear--I know that much, anyway.  Where does it come from, though, and how to fix it?  Those are the big questions.

Where does it come from?  Well, it comes from my brain, of course, but why? How to explain my brain's apparently irrational response to the requirements of the middle?

If I look at it from the point of view of the primitive human, maybe I'll think of something.  Does my primitive brain fear the middle for some reason?  Hmmmm.

Let's say the beginning represents the quest for food. Out on the hunt, you might say, looking for a new source of sustenance--berries, let's say.  The hunter's walking along, fairly close to home, finding berries and gathering them, excited to find so many, maybe eating some of them, not noticing how far afield she is going.  But then the supply of berries begins to peter out and eventually the berries are no longer there and she must stop and look around her.  She's gone too far; she doesn't know where she is any longer.  She's alone and possibly in danger because now she's in unfamiliar territory far from fellow humans and--she fears--close to predators.  So she hightails it for home and safety, retracing her steps, and no doubt, eating all the berries she's gathered in the process.

That fear of being in unfamiliar territory, where there are no longer any rewards and possibly punishments on the horizon--could that be what's behind the fear of the middle?  Maybe. Maybe.