I’ve been thinking a lot about the systems we buy into. Everything – everything – is a structural system. The internet has made structural systems into the general rule of success. Whatever we do, whatever we are, whatever we want to be: there is a system to buy into. It strikes me that those who are successful have a system, and those who want to be successful are trying to buy a system.
If you want to lose weight: there are a hundred thousand million people on the internet and in the bookshops who will sell you their system. From Weight Watchers to green/clean eating, to veganism to lots of fat or no fat, cooking well, eating raw, only eating potatoes. Every one of these has a website and a system of guilt – a way to be successful and a way to lose. The website for each of these systems is a structural system – lots of food preparation photographs, with highly manicured hands showing you how to cut an onion just so or how to whisk an egg in a chrome, Danish bowl bought on the King’s Road. We all believe that by clicking through and buying in to these systems, we will have the perfect life on offer.
Big business is obviously based on a structural system and the selling of this. B2B is a thing, people! Businesses used to be: I make something, I sell it. Then it was: I made a machine that makes something, I sell the machine. Now it is: I sell the way to sell the machine. Structures upon structures upon structures. They get smaller and more refined, the higher up they go.
The key I’m trying to get to is: perfection in business, in bodies, in art or even in writing doesn’t come from doing what they say. It comes from doing what they do. You need a system. I’m trying to do three jobs at the moment, while contending with more work being done on the house. If anyone needs a system, it’s me. And yet, because of my age, and my ability to juggle due to always having a complicated life (four children will do that to you) – I seem to get by with very little systematic structure. I look at people who are working successfully within the worlds I work in: writers and illustrators have ways they gather information and disseminate information. They advertise their work on websites, they share working practice, they are selling of their work from a very early point in their working lives. Me? I seem to pause, think, move forward in tiny, snail like slides, and I often wonder why that is.
So. Today I shall buy box files. I shall unpack my study and repack it so it is neat, and all ideas are accessible. I shall start to use my computer to notate the way I work. I shall…oh, GOD it sounds exhausting. It sounds like I am archiving my life into an automated process. But it is what is needed. Watch this space. Who knows? In a few weeks, this blog could have pictures of my hands cutting onions, pouring them into stainless steel bowls, and my mouth smiling with shiny white teeth, selling you a lifestyle dream… of what? Nothingness. I will sell you nothing. That’s what it’s all about: we are in a new world, where our time is taken up with people selling us nothing.
Which is why I am now going to do you an enormous favour. When you finish this article, I suggest you take the best structure of all and spend time with it. You are surrounded by them. Remove one – any one – from the nearest shelf to you. Pour yourself a cup of tea/coffee/wine. Find a comfortable chair. Sit down. Open the structure, trying not to crack its spine…enjoy. This, my friend, is what life is for.