Ask an artist the difference between complete and finished and they will usher you to a studio with countless renderings, sketches, and paintings in varying stages of “done.” What the world sees as whole and conclusive, the artist sees as incomplete and just not “good enough.” While I acknowledge the smiles of recognition from my artist readers, I see this as a metaphor for life beyond the art community.
When faced with perceived disappointment, criticism or inadequacy, we all-to-often ruminate upon the “if onlys”: if only I worked a little harder, if only I loved a little more, if only I gave a bit more effort and in the case of the artist, if only I added the dog!
Terms like whole, finished and enough are not defined quantities. They are elusive and fleeting in nature and far more personal in definition (modified from Apoki Charles). So when is enough, enough? Consider the decisions of the lawyer in making her closing argument or how the teacher designs his instructional delivery for learning or even the mental debate of the friend who desires the latest iphone; in life situations there may be no instruction manual with a defined protocol for how to reach your conclusion. So you search for the balance between complete and done.
Many artists may describe “done” as much as a feeling as an actual benchmark. So “the next time you are faced with a ‘How much is enough?’ dilemma, take a few deep breaths, dip down into the silence, and see if you can feel the stronger pull. And then follow it. It may not lead where you thought, but it will bring you the golden treasure of enough.” (modified from Elizabeth Lesser)
Finally consider yourself, the art lover and patron in this equation. A work of art traces its origins to your memories and its conclusion to your dreams and without a defined beginning or ending, cannot be measured as complete. Yet, it can be finished.