Today is special. Well, every day is special, truly a gift not to be wasted, but this Tuesday, September 27th, is the one year anniversary of this blog. This post is the You-Did-It-For-One-Whole-Year post!
I almost can’t believe it. Except that the anniversary reminder on my calendar is sitting there, and I have 48 other posts in my archives that have publish dates on them to prove it.
I remember when I first started, first took that scary leap, and it seemed like forever before I maxed out the number required for the Recent Posts widget and an Archive was actually started.
On the one hand, I feel very proud of myself for this accomplishment, and I hope it has been helpful, of interest, and/or entertaining to others. It’s been helpful to me as an artist and person trying to push through barriers of fear and self-doubt, trying to extend my self-perceived limits, working at being creative and living an art full life.
On the other hand, beyond the handful of people who have given positive feedback, I’m not really sure how many people I’m reaching (if my email list sign ups are any indication the numbers a sadly low), or if that even matters. And though helpful and (mostly) enjoyable for me, I’ve been questioning whether now is a good time to rethink the blog, perhaps cut back on the frequency. Or stop writing altogether for a while.
With limited time in a day, in a week, maybe my writing time would be better spent working on art…DO it rather than WRITE about it.
Pushing Your Limits
I recently read Diana Nyad‘s memoir Find a Way (and concurrently tried not to feel like a lazy, good-for-nothing human). What a truly amazing and inspirational story. If you don’t know about her, in 2013 she was the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West…and she was 64 when she did it.
AND it was her 5th attempt! Talk about persistence. It’s hard to wrap my mind around what she endured to make that dream a reality. She didn’t give up (although personally, if I were to be stung multiple times by killer jelly fish I might have to throw in the towel).
Her story embodies the concept of “living up to your potential” – something that I think about a lot. If we are given certain talents, if we are capable of doing better, of contributing more, should we not reach and strive for those outer limits of strength/endurance/creativity/generosity/accomplishment?
As it is, I tend to be hard enough on myself without having the pressure of trying to be “better,” but if you want to work at this concept, how much do you actually work? Diana Nyad’s story certainly pushes the concept to its very outer edges: whatever I think I’m working hard at, I’m not doing 10 hours a day of it, like her daily practice swims. I think I can work a bit harder/smarter at not wasting time (I have removed the Facebook app from my phone, and reinstalled it, one too many times), but I’m not driven to pushing myself too hard.
But should I be? And what is too hard? Are we obligated to do what it takes to push ourselves simply because we have been given this chance to be on this planet? Do you push yourself towards that talent or talents you have been given, or work at that skill that you really desire, at the expense of something else?
I’ve been working at some balance in my life: letting it be OK when I take down time, working at being fully present and getting things done when I’m working, whether it be Work or Art, and not getting sidetracked by unnecessary and meaningless diversions. And balance is a very good thing.
But I still question whether I could be pushing myself more.
Steven Pressfield shared on his blog an article written by concert pianist James Rhodes titled Find What You Love and Let it Kill You (which apparently there is no evidence that Charles Bukowski, to whom this saying has been attributed, ever wrote those words, but that doesn’t change the sentiment…) It’s a great article on pursuing your dream, and making the time, although the costs in his case might be considered high (which underscores my question: do we push harder at the expense of something else?) Mr. Rhodes writes:
My life involves endless hours of repetitive and frustrating practising, lonely hotel rooms, dodgy pianos, aggressively bitchy reviews, isolation, confusing airline reward programmes, physiotherapy, stretches of nervous boredom … and perhaps most crushingly, the realisation that I will never, ever give the perfect recital. It can only ever, with luck, hard work and a hefty dose of self-forgiveness, be “good enough”.
And yet. The indescribable reward of taking a bunch of ink on paper from the shelf at Chappell of Bond Street. Tubing it home, setting the score, pencil, coffee and ashtray on the piano and emerging a few days, weeks or months later able to perform something that some mad, genius, lunatic of a composer 300 years ago heard in his head while out of his mind with grief or love or syphilis. A piece of music that will always baffle the greatest minds in the world, that simply cannot be made sense of, that is still living and floating in the ether and will do so for yet more centuries to come. That is extraordinary. And I did that. I do it, to my continual astonishment, all the time.
We can’t all be like Diana Nyad or James Rhodes (although that would be quite the world, wouldn’t it?), but what if we just strive to be the best that we can be?
I don’t know, maybe that’s too much like the old Army recruiting slogan of the 80’s or a Hallmark card sentiment, but it seems like a truly possible thing to at least strive for.
On the Ledge Again
I may be on the metaphorical ledge, ready to take another leap, but I can’t literally fly (as much as I would love to). And I can’t make there be more than 24 hours in a day.
So. I love writing, but perhaps my push needs to be with the art. Narrow my focus. Do I continue to write but less frequently? Maybe a hiatus of some time? Or maybe I continue to push my limits and do both. I’ve been doing it for a year, I know it’s possible. Just thinking maybe I need to refine my focus.
Still questions, no answers yet.
If anyone has any sort of constructive input or feedback on my blog, any of my posts, and/or the question of frequency of writing, I would love, love, love to hear from you. Please, don’t be shy: firstname.lastname@example.org