Patience is more important when everyone’s rushing. Calm is more valuable in a storm. Joy is most appreciated when it’s trouble all around.
It can be more valuable to do something when it’s inconvenient, uncomfortable, or just plain difficult to do it. Like showing up when you really wanted an evening off, already exhausted, had to get up early the next day. These are good excuses – reasons, even. But putting in the effort, when it takes more effort than it would on a good day – that gets noticed. And it’s not about being noticed, or about being appreciated, but rather, giving others something to appreciate, and feel good about, and aspire to. A better example than what they had, something or someone to lean on when they’re the ones struggling to get there on time, to get there at all, to do what they set out to do.
Sometimes showing up is getting dressed, get in the car, go somewhere, meet someone. Sometimes it’s pick up the instrument, the pen, the axe, the tool, whatever is needed to finish something, to practice, to hone your craft. Whatever it is, it’s worth doing. Joel Salatin was right:
Anything worth doing, is worth doing poorly.
It’s worth doing poorly, in the same way that everyone makes a first draft first. We all start with something shitty, broken, amateurish, mediocre, and worthy of great embarrassment. But the critical part is Take II: starting over, doing it again, even if not making it any better – just doing it again. That takes showing up. The first is motivation, the rest is practice, discipline, patience.
I’m on Day 17 of 2019. So far I have written at least 500 words, every single day. Every day. I have practiced guitar for a minimum of 10 minutes a day, for every day except two. And I have done the exercises that are taking me one step further on the road to a full physical recovery every day except one. That’s 8,500 words, 150 minutes (2.5 hrs) guitar picking and a whole bunch of cross-crawls and ball squeezes and bridges. I don’t know how long I can keep the streak going, but each time, resisting the urge to not do these things gets easier: I’ve pushed past the resistance a couple of times (and you should read more Steven Pressfield if you don’t know what I mean by resistance. Start with The War of Art) and it doesn’t get easier every time, but it’s getting incrementally smoother to feel the resistance, and move past it anyway. Like that rude guy blocking the exit: it gets easier to shrug it off and walk past him. And now I notice that I’m finding ways to make the doing of these things easier. I did my physical therapy in the morning, so it’s already done by the time I get to the end of the day. Next up will be the writing — and then, hooray, maybe quality will even improve. I like having the guitar at the end of the day, so that might just stay; it’s a nice way to wrap up, after everyone’s left the room, and it’s just me, the guitar, and a single lamp.
(But leaving it all to the end of the day leaves it at high risk of being skipped over. I’ll have to look at that in another post, because I’m already past 540 and my bedtime).