My recent change of schedule has yielded me more free time. This is exactly what I intended, of course, but free time by itself can be tricky. There are pitfalls all around (tv, internet, opening the fridge and cupboards repeatedly, etc.) I was aware of these pitfalls and their allure, so I had a plan: carve out specific time for my creative endeavors.
It turns out that statement is too broad to actually be helpful. While having a plethora of outlets for creativity is awesome, I can get lost in contemplating my options and end up doing nothing at all. Enter tv, internet and the endless quest for snacks.
The big thing keeping me from these pitfalls over the past few weeks is a refreshing desire to become more skillfull.
To practice skillfulness is to practice patience and diligence. These are things that I have needed to practice for… well, forever.
I have discovered how gratifying it can be to place my focus on something basic. The thoughts and ideas that swirl around my mind are both wonderful and distracting. When I hone in on a single task the swirling stops. I am consumed by the work. It is meditative in fact.
I am also reminded that basic does not mean easy. Refining a skill is hard work! Something as “basic” as practicing guitar scales can make me want to throw my guitar across the room. Scales may be simple, but they require a lot of patience (and many infuriating mistakes) to get them right.
Same goes for the basics of dance: tondues, plies, releves. We learn them as toddlers in tights but they are fundamentals for a reason. They condition a dancers body to be strong and lithe and it takes work!
And guess what? This work feels good! If I can endure the frustration and feelings of incompetence, I am rewarded with satisfaction.
So I have developed a new mantra as I progress in my attempts at skillfulness: Just this. Just now.
This mantra not only serves me in my creative expressions but in living more robustly. One thing at a time, done with love and care, is wholly satisfying. I want to enjoy my life and surround myself with beauty. I want to try my veritable best to express myself honestly in word and movement and music. I want to teach from my heart. Skillfulness, and the patience and persistence it demands, gives these aspirations flight. But it does so one moment at a time.
May you get skillful at what brings you joy! Spend a moment on your fulfillment. And then another. And another. Infuse those moments with practice, patience, beauty and love.
Just this. Just now.