My Why-Statements

“Why do you want to succeed?”

This is the central question of lesson 2 in Little Coffee Fox’s course Fast-Paced Productivity. The goal is to “dig deep and find motivation for your productivity” in the form of a “short explanation of your core motivation”.

I was advised to sit down and try to formulate what it is that keeps me going, and what has the potential to motivate and re-align me in moments of stress. So I went and scribbled down a whole page of would-be Why-Statements, but nothing felt quite right. It was over the course of a few days where my thoughts kept returning to Why-Statements that I finally came up with my three Why-Statements, and in the right order. I will spare you all the ruminations and get right to them:

  1. I want to make myself proud.
  2. I want to be conscious and open towards it all, good and bad.
  3. Les Instants Radieux.

1. I want to make myself proud.

… for me is the motivation I get from the prospect of having acted and decided in a way that makes me proud of myself. This combines two aspects:

First, I am proud of myself when I do my best, no matter the outcome. This refers to days where nothing goes right, but I do not let myself be side-tracked, I do not procrastinate, I just keep trying diligently and calmly. At the end of the day, even if nothing went right, I can be proud of myself. This is a reason for pride intrinsic to my work the activity.

Secondly, I am proud of myself when the product or outcome of what I did is good. This is a reason for pride intrinsic to my work the product. This has long, perhaps since I started primary school, been my primary motivation, and this is problematic for a number of reasons – suffice it to say I believe it to be the root of all perfectionism, and therefore anxiety, self-doubt, and procrastination. But I believe it is still a fair and useful motivation to have alongside the balancing factor of doing my best no matter the outcome.

2. I want to be conscious and open towards it all, good and bad.

… for me is a reminder that there is value for me in my experiences, my being alive and consciously perceiving both what I do and what happens to and around me. It goes in the direction of neutral acceptance; perhaps it is a form of grace, of transcendence without religion. It is about losing the self with its problems to a somewhat stoic, non-judgemental sense, however temporary, of being a conscious part of existence, of the world, of my life as a story. “Less of me, less of me, concede and believe.”

This is a curious and open perspective which I wish to take up more often and which gives me a perspective within which to detach myself from the intense emotional nature of being me in my everyday life, if that makes sense.

3. Les Instants Radieux.

… are about a deep sense of joy; the moments that make life worth living. This joy is not simple hedonistic pleasure, but a more profound, shimmering joy of moments that feel just right, meaningful and authentic. There is a sense of the transcendent here, too; but it is less stoic and instead more connected to what I like, what I think is beautiful, to whom and what I personally love in the world. “Magic moments” might be a more accessible formulation, but I personally love the beauty in this expression taken from Alcest – La Nuit Marche Avec Moi (who have given me so many of these moments with their music).


A Literal Instant Radieux cycling home on the “Promenade” in Münster

Last Sunrise in the Wasteland

Last Sunrise in the Wasteland

I got myself a trio of the fabulous Pentel Aquash brushes I saw on Little Coffee Fox’s blog and vowed to not let perfectionism stop me ever again. So here it is: my first watercolour painting since secondary school!

Oh Joy!

In fact, this painting even has its root in a lucky mishap:

A copper paint marker I meant to write with emitted huge splotches of copper ink. I drew those away from the original splotches to suggest hanging copper bridges between tall mast buildings. This inspired me to try painting an abandoned urban wastelandscape. The idea was further cemented by watching The Divergent trilogy – I have to say I’m quite infatuated with the idea of post-apocalyptic scenarios at the moment.

Of course this painting turned out wildly different from the original idea once I’d started. I will have to revisit the copper, possibly combined with grey tones and on a smaller canvas.


Evocative title adopted from the song “Last Sunrise in the Wasteland” by “At the End of Times, Nothing”