Thursday, June 27, 2019
What I learned about letting things go from Father of the Bride (1951)
It's a funny movie and one of Spencer Tracy's best parts; Taylor is good, too, as is Joan Bennett and the supporting cast, especially Leo G. Carroll as the wedding planner/caterer.
There are a couple of great comic everything-goes-wrong nightmare sequences, sort of like the ones that every academic I know gets before the first day of class--e.g., you can't find the room, you have to give a spontaneous lecture on 15th-century French horses or something else you have no idea about, you're dressed in clown pants, or, worse, no pants--you get the idea.
One is a real nightmare, where his clothes start coming apart, he can't get up the aisle of the church because it's turned to some kind of rubber trampoline, and so on.
The other is the wedding rehearsal, which is total chaos with people milling around and talking over each other. When Stanley Banks (the Tracy character) says, "okay, let's have the REAL rehearsal," the clergyman says it was all fine and it'll be perfect on the wedding day--and he's right. Everything goes without a hitch despite, not because of, Stanley's frantic perfectionism.
You can see where I'm going with this. I spent a lot of time this week laying out timelines and project deadlines and start and end dates for a project. Heck, I even looked up a Gantt chart template and investigated Trello, though I backed away from that in favor of lists. Charts and lists are a way of controlling your sense of a project for a certain mindset, and that mindset is mine.
But when I gently hinted at timelines and "deliverables" to others, they strongly hinted that really, the wedding rehearsal went just fine and I should stop worrying about it.
It wasn't a waste of time, because now I have a better sense of how to put together my part of it. Did I take most of my timeline work out of the collaborative part? You bet. It wasn't going to help the project, though it is still going to help me, and it was going to confuse or annoy everyone else.
This is the important takeaway for me: I know what targets I have to hit, and I don't have to announce them to hit them. Like Elsa, I can let it go.
I just have to show up, do my part, and have some confidence that others know better than I do how this whole thing is structured and that they're seeing a vision that I'm not just yet--the perfect wedding,
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