Hole in being Whole 

Art by William Reynis

Day 261 Week 39 Q3  Sunday September 18, 2022

Music and Prose by Howard Lieberman

What does it mean to be whole or to be made whole? Well, in financial and legal terms, it means being made solvent or back to where you were before something wrong happened and ended up being righted. There are so many different kinds of wholeness. Spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, artistically and dare I say it creatively whole. I tried looking up definitions and found myself swimming in an ocean of them. Everyone seemingly has an opinion, so why not throw in mine?

Remember, this is addressed to a population I loosely call creative outliers, loosely meaning more creative than normal. Of course, this, too, can have very many definitions. But most people agree that holiness is a good thing, whether you get there from restitution or diligent application of effort. But what if you never get there? Many people have a hard time holding themselves and others to the standards they cling to or espouse. I have known of people who have fired others, gotten fired, or even resigned because of the inability to make things whole as a shorthand for the way they things to be.

There seems to be a hole in wholeness, one which I noticed this morning when waking from distressing dreams about things imagined not lived, or at least not in a long time. After feeling, I thought whole for quite a while, and I suddenly realized I was not and then gave myself some dreams to feel the pain of it. I guess one had better not cling too tightly to being whole because reality rarely is. Things come up. Mathematicians talk about closed-form solutions. These are equations that completely describe how things operate or are in the world. And it is comforting to know that Newton’s Laws can help us design and build a bridge and that Ohm’s Law can help us understand the behavior of an electrical circuit both with very high degrees of accuracy.

But creative outliers do not live in a world that can be completely described mathematically or with words which is why they often express themselves using other mediums for their creations. And this is why it can be hard to tell when a painting or a music composition is done. Of course, usually, if you want to monetize creativity, you have to deliver results. Innovators do not just have innovative ideas; and they have to produce innovations.  Ah, but the wholeness issue rears its head – when is the work whole, when are you whole?

And this is why I say there is a hole in wholeness. Because it can be hard to tell if you are ever there, then you can feel incomplete (not whole). This is sometimes reasonable and sometimes not. And this can be time-varying in that some days what you did seems terrific and others days inept, and I am not talking about two different results; I am talking about the same result evaluated on two different days. This is why there seems to be a hole in wholeness if you try to define it too precisely. If you are an engineer, a salesperson may take away your product and say we have to ship this because I promised it to a customer, and if we do not deliver, then you do not get paid. Artists and Musicians also have to give something to someone, and they may be perfectly happy or even thrilled with something that you do not feel is whole, or you do not feel whole about.

The way out for me is to think and evaluate relativistically or comparatively, not absolutely. Sometimes it makes sense to just do the best you can and then move on and not spend too much time looking in the rearview mirror because you might crash if you are not liking in front of you. Wholeness can do that to you when you are pursuing it too single-mindedly. We have all heard the phrase paralyzed by perfectionism, and most of us have experienced this upon occasion.

Maybe the holes in wholeness are where the light comes in?   Maybe the holes represent the nonlinearities that make expression authentic. Maybe authenticity is more important than perfection.

Can you feel whole even if you are imperfect? I sure hope so because if you can not, you are going to be very hard to deal with because you will be having a hard time dealing with yourself.

Do not try to perfect – try to be real. Reality is not perfect. And I can feel whole about that. Just some Sunday morning thoughts after a bad dream.