I’m taking the months of December and January to visit my hometown of Stillwater, MN.
Some of you know that I’ve been on the road as a traveling dance instructor for the last several years. While traveling as a dance instructor, I get to take a look at the people around me and see into their lives; see what makes them tick (a bit) and see patterns arise between the way they approach dance and the way they approach the rest of their existence.
Some are totally messy, except for some focused obsession, some are fastidious in life and their home, but most people lack the dedication and drive to real mad genius or even discipline at their hobbies.
Here’s the difference. Most people are hobbyists and a few are looking for a discipline that approaches art.
I’m interested to notice that in most cases there seems to be a correlation between the care and attention they take in their lives as dancers and the way they live at home.
Some people are very loud and passionate about what they believe, but put no action in to actually practicing the skills they claim are important to them.
Others (though far more rare) put in the work, diligently honing their craft and getting the work done, progressing and improving- though plateaus are inevitable in most disciplines.
The bountiful prosperity offered to us by virtue of living in the western world allows us to survive without really working that hard. In fact, there are messages everywhere that hard work is bad. That laziness is a sign you’ve “made it”.
You wouldn’t believe how many people I know who say they “want” to do something, but don’t because TV is more important to them. 22 minutes of being pacified (plus 8 minutes of being manipulated into buying crap that is either unhealthy or unnecessary). 30 minutes that could’ve been spent doing something people claim is important to them.(When I say that TV is more important to them, I don’t mean that people would say that TV is more important to them. That would sound terrible.
People hate to sound terrible way more than they hate being terrible
People are tired. Most of us choose a life of doing the seemingly safe thing, which is to work to enrich someone else and make their dreams come true rather than finding out what really turns us on.
We secretly don’t really believe we’re going to die. No one wants to think that their going to die. So we don’t. I was reminded recently of a quote by our arguably most badass president; NO, not campaign trail brawler Abraham Lincoln- his record was 300-1 btw…. I mean of course, Teddy Roosevelt. Here’s what the Big Game Hunter, Inventor of the National Parks System, Bull Moose had to say:“Only those are fit to live who do not fear to die; and none are fit to die who have shrunk from the joy of life and the duty of life. Both life and death are parts of the same Great Adventure.”
He makes an important point about people squandering the gift of a life that we have. Whatever you do and whoever you are, if you hate what you’re doing… why are you doing it? If your answer was “because I have no marketable skills” then, I have news!
Using 15 minutes per day you can develop a skill. Anyone can! Spend 15 minutes that you spend on Buzzfeed or youtube to do something. It will take time, but you’ll find that you reap a more rewarding life as you’re beoming who you want to be.
Lastly, and related: people tend to be on autopilot. I’m guilty of it too on occasion. Most people go through life not practicing a skill, not choosing something because they don’t know who they want to be. Most people never ask themselves the question.Here’s what I want you to do: Take an average non-holiday week. Write down everything you did on Tuesday, Saturday and the following Wednesday.Then see if any of it is stuff that you would be interested to hear someone tell you about if you weren’t there or take a picture or recording of whatever you created during that week.
For bonus points, plan your next week to include three (3) activities of 30 minutes or longer during your free time that were not in the previous week. (so for you dancers, going dancing doesn’t count- you’re already doing that).
The only caveat is that it has to be real. No Movies, TV or passive entertainment.
When you’ve done this a few times, take a look at the difference that 1.5 hours less of Facebook during the week has made and see if it’s better.
You only have so many years left on this planet and no one knows the day or the hour… So, use Carpe Diem or YOLO to mean what they should mean, not their douchier current meanings.
Originally it meant to make the most of the day by achieving some philosophical or spiritual fulfillment and one of the best ways to do this is to find a discipline that uses your hands to make something.
Whether a chair, music, a poorly-conceived blog entry; make a permanent record of it (Print it in the case of the blog entry).
Then you have something to show for your time here.
Back to my original point: most of us get so wrapped up in our lives that we are never able to see that there are other ways of living. I’ve been blessed to see many different lives and many philosophies and situations that create them. I am constantly surrounded by different teachers. Some teach me how I want to live, some how I do not want to live.
Regardless of who you are: thank you for being in my life and I hope that in some small way I continue to improve as a result our having met.