This past Tuesday I was listening to a review on NPR of a new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City called “Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible.” It is a collection of works by major artists, each of which—for reasons that may or may not be apparent to the viewer—is considered unfinished.
I will leave the art criticism/commentary to those more equipped than I and focus instead on a quote from Cezanne that was included in the NPR review. Apparently M. Cezanne said,
“Finishing things is a goal for imbeciles.”
Still more intriguing.
Now if you are someone who struggles with procrastination, I have no wish for you to embrace this as your new mantra.
If, however, you are in the midst of learning or refining a new skill set, or creating anything from a garden to a groundswell of support for your newest product/idea/business—and you are frustrated by your lack of progress—I think M. Cezanne has something to offer you.
Because sometimes working with a fixed idea of what the end product ‘should’ look like (or sound like or be like) when it’s ‘finished’ keeps us from exploring the full potential of what it could look like (or sound like or be like).
And when we stop exploring—when we think we “know”—we forget there is always something we can learn; we short-circuit our creativity.
We limit our potential.
And that is, indeed, a goal for imbeciles.