Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Just Do It

Okay. I am back again.

And totally bored with writing. Perhaps I need to get out in nature tomorrow for some inspiration.

The idea is to practice. I do not have the goal of wowing anyone with amazing words of inspiration. The goal is to write. Sit down and write. I remember back in high school I took a journalism class and helped make the yearbook a couple years. We carried around our cameras to snap shots. Our teacher would often tell us it is necessary to take hundreds of photos to find the one true piece of art that captured a moment.

Hundreds. Maybe even thousands. The idea was to get out there and shoot. To practice with lots of apertures, levels of shadow and sunlight, to just do it. Kind of like cooking.

I started a marvelous course early this year on happiness. I went to see a counselor for a few visits to work on a couple of areas. Depression related to the weather, the loss of a couple of significant girlfriends, spiritual stuff, relationship navigational help. You know, the stuff the average middle class person has to deal with at various points in life. Along with helpful EMDR sessions, some wise words suggesting what i have been going through is fairly normal, and homework that involved meditation, she recommended a course on Coursera called "A Life of Happiness and Fulfillment."

It was great! Okay, when I started to feel happy again, I quit the class. Perhaps in the dark days of winter I will pick it up again!
What I am getting around to is that one lesson was centered on mastery. The professor cited studies done that show one needs about 10,000 hours to reach mastery in most subjects. 90 minutes a day for 20 years or something like that. As I listened to the professor, I thought about how certain things in the bakery require less brain effort than others. I have over twenty years experience, learning to work the dough. I don't always get it right, I still have fails, especially when I introduce new things. But the basics, well, they are pretty consistent, unless other variables get in the way. And at this point, I have seen enough to typically catch the variables. And at least recognize them. After twenty years.

The lesson brought to mind the sage advice from the high school journalism teacher. I thought of my mom and her painting, and piano. It isn't effortless. She still puts in hours of work each week. Well, she did, before they moved here. Now a broken arm (daddy) and a pulled, torn tendon and boot (Mom) and new home, adjustment, etc. has wrecked her schedule. But it will take very little time to regain lost ground, after the decades of constant practice.

Sometimes we only want to do when we can do well. When we can shine. When we are inspired.

It is rough, not just rough, but occasionally humiliating to show the rough stuff to the world. It is hard to be vulnerable enough to let someone else see the practice sessions.

Philip used to talk about how valuable baseball was to help one learn to live a rich and full life.

Haha! I tried to see it, and since I was sort of a Yankees fan, due to my Oklahoma dad who loved Mickey Mantle, I pretty much got the drift, even if a full nine innings felt like torture to me.

He would call up batting averages for different players spanning decades of baseball games. How do people store that information and then be able to recall it???? He would marvel, saying that batting in the 300 range was fairly normal. Which meant they would miss 700 pitches for the 300 they would actually hit. Or something like that. Baseball taught a person how to fail, and not give up, since there was much opportunity to fail. It was expected. No one got it right all the time.

Why do we think we need to get it right all the time?

I certainly have an issue with crappy, mediocre output. Whether in my gardening, my housekeeping, my parenting, my baking, my writing, whatever.

It makes my stomach clinch to think of a job poorly done.

I do many things in a half-baked, get it done fashion. I am a widow, a single mom with five kids, a son with special needs, some parents and friends and family in my community, animals, a business, etc, and consequently, like millions of other men and women in the world, to get anything done at all, I have to surrender a lot of quality and perfection.

But the things I care about, the food, the parenting, the writing, these things occasionally leave me feeling quite anxious when I consider I am not working and performing in what I consider an excellent fashion.

For this reason, the blog is a good medium for me. The idea is to practice. Not to edit, perfect. Just get those hundred photos shot. Knock it out. Knead a few more thousand loaves of bread to find out what the good ones feel like. For my mom, get the paint on the brush. Again. Sit down to the piano. Again. And when the whatever emerges, the photo, the loaf, the column, and it is good, may we recognize it. And be willing to keep on allowing mediocrity as our practice. Even great big, giant fails.

A thought comes to mind.

What if the practice is the whole point anyway? What if reaching excellence serves little purpose, but a daily practice helps me to remember who I am? I guess that is worth it.

Well. The timer went off twenty minutes ago.


Anonymous said...

Actually, I'm really glad you're writing again. I enjoy your posts and even though you don't know me and I don't know you, your writing brings back vivid memories and is thought provoking. The post you recently did on visiting your grandparents took me right back to my childhood and when I would visit mine. The descriptions were spot on right down to the different smells of each house. Also, maybe there is a lot of people who need to read your writing because they can't do it themselves. Maybe they (I) need to live vicariously through your writing because their (my) life could never explore and live an openly free life. Thank you for being so honest. Melaka said...

Hi Melaka.

Your comment is so encouraging and kind. And it makes me sad, because I hope for ALL beings to be able to explore and life an openly free life. That is my special prayer for you. It is apparent you are a writer, and I hope you will find a safe place to be true. Your comment is a hug to me and I receive it.