Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Toward Better Gun Handling

My gun expert gave me his notes on my gun usage this weekend, and I was able to incorporate them all yesterday, so this week has already been more productive than the last two. Which is good, because right now there's a workman covering my hardwood with black plastic preparatory to gutting my back porch, and I expect to be a little distracted for the next four months.

Anyway, there is a moment of frozen stupidity I have to go through right before I look at any notes anybody gives me on a work; a moment in which I feel certain I'm about to find out exactly how inept, ignorant, and unworthy I am. This is the sensitive ego blocking the path forward, and as usual yesterday I shoved it aside and got on with business. The notes were exactly what I needed. Now Len's ears ring for the correct amount of time after her gun battle, she does not hear a bullet whine through the air because they only do that when they ricochet, and she does not release a non-existent safety or skip cocking the weapon. I also know more about how sound travels in the Hill Country.

Although it wasn't in his brief, my expert also asked me a question in passing about another matter, which caused me to look for the answer, which made me realize that in the press of trying to write an action sequence I had made a factual blunder, which is now corrected. So if my expert had been paid, he would have earned a bonus. As it is, I think I need to bring game snacks he can share next time.

The ego is a peculiar thing, and more often a hindrance than a help in any kind of real work. I am far from unusual in having that moment of frozen stupidity, which makes us want to avoid reading critiques of our work, and which will also lead us to argue with critiques of our work, regardless of the nature or value of the critique. As human beings, we have a tendency to prefer to maintain our opinion of ourselves; but this works contrary to our best interest, as it leads us to prefer to ignore, or even defend, a mistake rather than to correct it.

This is the same destructive force that will prefer the appearance of integrity to its reality; that leads us to remain ignorant rather than gain knowledge by asking a question that we fear will make us sound stupid; that keeps us tackling problems over and over again with techniques that have failed repeatedly, because we think they ought to work, and because the alternatives offend our sense of how the world ought to operate.

I have witnessed more than one diagnosed paranoid, and it struck me that the methods by which these people distort their perception of the world is indistinguishable, except in degree, from those the rest of us use. Many of us would rather be miserable and ineffectual for the rest of our lives than admit to having once been wrong.

Whatever work you're doing, it's not about you. It's about the work. Put yourself to one side and focus on the work, and then you won't have to pretend your way to self-esteem. You'll have good work to build it on.

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