This morning I was feeling a little flat. You know, it was one of those weekends that didn’t go quite as expected – meaning, I suppose, that I didn’t knock quite as much off my list as I expected. And that was a long list, let me tell you. There were unexpected additions – staying out late on Friday night; an 8-mile hike that took a loooong time Saturday morning (but damn it, so beautiful, so worth it); re-arranging furniture in my office and purging a corner of old magazines, not on the forecast, nor was a four-hour odyssey to pick up essentials for my husband’s upcoming backpacking trip. Whatever. The details don’t matter. What matters is that starting out I felt a little flat. I was ready to face the week, yes, that’s true – I’d still made time on Sunday afternoon to review my calendar – but still just not feeling as clear as I wished.
So when I was thinking about what to write I went back to a list of blog ideas I keep on WorkFlowy. They're good ideas, but this morning: meh. I picked up Steven Pressfield’s Turning PRO and The War of Art, in turn, leafing through, looking for much-needed inspiration, something to spark me to write this morning, to find something possibly helpful to say.
And then it hit me.
There are no shortcuts. There is only practice.
The problem was that I was thinking about what to write. Instead of, duh, just writing.
Yes, I can keep a list of blog topics as prompts and maybe one day that will work for me. Yes, I can leaf through the stack of books I keep on my desk – those books I think of guardians, sentinels, keeping watch over my endeavors here – but mostly I just have to sit down and do the work.
Just sit down and do the work.
Don’t think about who is going to read it in the end and what she might think. That’s a distraction. I just have to do the work, every day, like clockwork. Because.
And that’s really how it is. If you want something, you just have to keep moving in that direction, even when you feel a little flat. Even when you’re casting about for “inspiration.” The way through is the way through. By which I mean, just do that thing you’re avoiding. If it’s writing, because you don’t think you have the spark, bullshit: just write. If it’s launching a new blog or product, because you don’t think you have it 100% right, bullshit: just launch it. If it’s throwing your new business idea out there, because you don’t think your family will be on board, bullshit: just fucking do it.
And here’s where all those years of yoga and Steven Pressfield’s Turning PRO intersect, when he writes:
“When we do the work for itself alone, our pursuit of a career (or a living or fame or wealth or notoriety) turns into something else, something loftier and nobler, which we may never even have thought about or aspired to at the beginning.
It turns into a practice.”
Oooooh, a practice. That I can understand. Returning again and again to the mat to work through similar sequences of poses that are every time new and fresh, at the same time that they are familiar.
Practice, it occurs to me, is an absence of thought. Practice is a Just Do mentality. And through the Just Doing, so many unimaginable, unforeseen rewards.
So it goes with the writing. And with anything you want to make really. It requires a discipline that yoga is so good at instilling, because it’s a practice. And all that time spent in Warrior poses, marshalling the ferocity required to hold it, and hold it, and hold it – that practice teaches you, at least it taught me, to be a warrior.
Be a warrior in pursuit of your art, your work, your life.
There are no short-cuts. If you want it, you’re going to have to do the work, over and over again, without glory, without seeking any other glory than the work itself. And in the end, who knows? Who knows what form it will all take, where this path of discipline will lead. You just have to stay on the path, day in, day out. Hold it.
Practice, as Pattabhi Jois said, and all is coming.