On Friday I performed a headstand and a handstand in yoga class. I surprised myself. But that is part of yoga. You push yourself and stretch yourself. You find your edge. It isn’t about hurting yourself or falling over that edge. It is about stretching, both physically and mentally. It is about unkinking yourself too – getting rid of rigidity in thought and body.
I’m in a process of self improvement. I’m in a process of body modification, but piercings and surgery aren’t involved. I’m transforming myself from the inside out. I’m not interested in the quick fix or the short term. I plan on walking on this path for the rest of my life.
American society doesn’t teach this. It teaches mindless living. It teaches eat whatever you want and take a pill to fix the resulting health problems. It teaches live for the moment and don’t plan ahead. It teaches that somebody else will save you, fix the problem, make it better.
Eating well and exercising and being creative are some of the most counter-cultural things you can do.
It has taken me a year of yoga and three years of water aerobics to be able to perform those moves. Either I needed all that work to be physically strong enough to do them, or I needed all that time to feel confident enough to try. Or I needed a teacher to suggest them to me and show me how. Or all three.
I’ve made a habit of writing every day, and now I’ve added in drawing every day. Everything worth having starts in such simple ways. Who knows where this is leading to? What will I surprise myself with a year from now, three years from now?
I read once about how the Japanese grow such amazing apples. They look at the small apples when they are just beginning to grow and they pull off the ones that they don’t need. All the ones that look a little scraggly or misshapen they pull off. Because of this, the other fruit gets the energy that was going to them. So instead of having 10 good apples and 10 ok apples, they get 10 amazing apples. Quality over quantity.
I think it would be a good idea for us to apply that concept to all of our activities. In this, I’m specifically thinking about hobbies, or things we do for fun that we would like to get better at.
Rather than getting scattered trying to do too many things, select the ones that look the most promising. Pick those that look fruitful, if you will.
What do you enjoy doing most? What do you think you would like to spend more time on and get better at?
We have only so much time in our days and in our lives. It is wiser to pare down and do two things amazingly well than 10 things only ok.
I’ve read that the difference between an average artist and an amazing one is practice. The main difference is time – specifically 10,000 hours of time – spent honing your craft. This applies to music, to writing, drawing. It is the same for a seamstress or a surgeon. Want to get better at it? Do it. A lot. Make a regular habit of it.
Some natural aptitude is helpful, but the real difference is work.
Nobody starts off an expert. Of course your first attempts look wonky. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else – they aren’t you. What is important is that you hone your craft, your skill.
There is a Chinese saying that the best time to plant a tree was 100 years ago. The second best time is today.