Our Best Work

“I want to see your best work. I’m not interested in your new work.” — Jerry Seinfeld

A couple of days ago I read a newsletter that contradicted Seinfeld’s quote about. The writer premise was that one should accumulate readers, and the best way to do that was to always have the newest and freshest content up top. There’s merit in this, I suppose, if your newest and freshest content is your best work. In a perfect world where we continue to evolve and grow as artists, this might be true. I don’t live in a perfect world, do you?

Based on average likes per day, my greatest hits collection plays far better than most of my current work. I’m not exactly Joan Didion or The Beatles, we surely agree, but they too had work after their greatest hits that didn’t peak as high. It’s natural for us to have peaks and valleys in our creative work, while climbing ever higher. Some peaks we’ve previously attained rise above where we currently are. This is either an albatross or a simply a milestone. I haven’t broken 6 minutes on a 2000 meter erg piece since my early 20’s, but that doesn’t stop me from rowing. It should be the same for our creative work, don’t you think?

The thing is, we all want to see our best work emerge from whatever it is we’re working on. We aren’t here to waste time, we’re here to do something with our time. That something ought to measure up to the greatness we aspire to. When it does, it tells some small percentage of the world, but mostly ourselves that we’ve done something bigger than we previously thought possible. That becomes something to build on, whether we reach it again or not.

When we accumulate a body of work, some of it will naturally rise to the top. The aspiration, it seems, is to reach a higher plane, where consistent greatness resides. But don’t trust me on this one, for I’m merely a work in progress. Best to find out for yourself and let me know.

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