On Finishing

10 June 2019

Out of the fever \ Life will never be the same \ I'm a believer
— Madeon, All My Friends

I find that one of the most mentally challenging tasks is figuring out when I have finished with something — not a task, but an object. For some it can be easy: the bar of soap diminishes to none, or the sponge falls apart, but with others it is not so clear.

This is a constant source of frustration for me. In the abstract, it is the struggle of not wanting to waste a resource (the object and the initial expenditure) which then translates to a genuine loss of happiness — the inverse of what the object was designed to bring. In the tangible, it is the Palomino Blackwing that is just smaller than my palm, but still long enough to write, or the last pages of a notebook that aren’t enjoyable to write on, but are between me and finishing.

This is a daily struggle. Where is the line between joy and practicality, and how do I handle this delineation?

My solution is suboptimal, but emphasizes what I find personally important: joy over practicality. That means I dispose of the pencil when it is too short and hurts my hand to write, and that I start a new notebook when it is no longer enjoyable to write in the current one. It means that I sacrifice some portion of an item’s utility: I’m finishing before the end of the its lifespan.

This is what I am trying to internalize: not the idea that I need to prioritize joy, but that sometimes doing so means compromising on other ideals.