practice makes practice; life is only perfect in practice

guitar fingers

When I practice my guitar, to get a song down or a smooth finger-picking riff, I have to run through it about a thousand times. I wish I could say I’m exaggerating but I don’t think so. Maybe I’m slower than the average, maybe not. I wouldn’t know.

I do know that rehearsing can carry an air of boring at times. But then I remember that just like writing practice, it’s incubation. Staring at the ceiling/sky looks like laziness but that’s gestation, too. That’s where I pluck poems or unearth song snippets or capture phrases for rant-ology! Or where those things discover me because if I’m not focused and willing to just show up, they can’t find me.

Incubation can be tedious to the mind and given our cultural child training of dividing work from play and calling one a chore and the other fun, labeling one good and one bad can turn practice to doldrums. But practice is life; there’s no real division but in the head.

Ask my broody hens who sit 23.9/7 on their eggs for 21 days. Talk about devotion and sustained intention. If they weren’t willing, if they got “bored,” there’d be no chicks. What fabulous girls they are; I believe they meditate and deep think during this time.

If I don’t pick up my guitar two or three times a day, there’d be no music either. I don’t have to pick and strum for 4o minutes each time; I just have to play. Whenever.

Notice the word: play. Yes, the brain’s dictator mutates play into: nose to the grindstone, humdrum, monotony, tyrannical lists and iron-fisted one-step, two-step, three-step, don’t look out the window or take any breaks. And then there’s the dreaded music theory before music actuality.

Play the music and the theory will come. Trust me, you’ll want to know.

I also like to stop on a good note. Literally. When I’ve gotten the phrasing right, when the riff was played through without a mistake or I’ve written a fabulously structured sentence, I cease. I’m left with the music-worm/poem-worm traipsing “correctly” in my head as I weed & water & cook & sing & read. When I go back to it, I’m jazzed.

The Zen folks call their work practice; us yogis do as well. All of life is a practice. We’ll never get it perfect because life isn’t flawless. That’s a truly boring unrealistic patriarchal myth and misery comes from pursuing what doesn’t exist.

So, “practice” the hard stuff in life first—just for a little bit—then move to the more polished exercises and before you know it what was difficult gets easier. Keep adding on merry-making challenges (no matter how complex) to keep the river flowing. Close on a spirit-filled, soul-ful satisfied note. Cultivate fun in all its forms, be it “work” or “play.”

These endorphins are free; clock in and claim them.

after ecstasy, the laundry

immaturity

I weary of our sophomoric culture where what adolescents/emerging adults value and how they think (or don’t due to unfolding brain development) is deemed cool, the dreck they choose to eat is favored, mistreating of bodies is worshiped & their sprouting adult shapes are considered the the apogee of achievement but most of all that stimulation is venerated to the exclusion of self-reflection.

Girls as young as six eschew kid-ness to look and play-act like 19-year-olds, and boys can’t play together as it’s uncool or “gay.” Many full-grown adults just won’t let themselves age gracefully choosing extreme exercising/dieting, plastic surgery, teen clothing and beauty rituals. We now have to endure everything from “hot moms” to old-fart six packs. Who’re they impressing? Sorry, sexy doesn’t last forever be you female or male, celebrity or hoi polloi. Nor should it.

What happened to workaday maturity? And I don’t mean the stodgy middle-aged image. I mean the ability to grok some of life’s profound truths. The capacity to perceive the extraordinary in the ordinary. The ability to see that freedom happens because one willingly grasps responsibility, and that a big part of the seemingly endless “ecstasy” our culture greedily snatches after is contained within the challenge to unearth it not in the actual getting.

Immaturity is repeatedly appreciated as an ideal, not a shortcoming; it’s equated with having fun. Being sensible and sophisticated = boring. Doing something well? Anal. Understanding there’s a (private) place and a (personal) time for…private and personal actions? Conventional. Empathy? Weakness. Respecting your body/honoring your spirit? Cowardly, if you’re male; prude, if you’re female.

Society denies ebb, revering flow. Never a shadow, only a chin-up! No yin, just yang. You can’t break the laws of the universe no matter how arrogant or jejune you are. Our unwillingness to recognize certain realities has almost no effect on their existence but it sure makes living in this society unbearable.

I don’t want to be regarded as an object of use, be it sexually, economically or otherwise. I don’t want that for fauna, flora, stones, elements or anything. None of us are things. We exist in our own right.

An immature mind can’t see beyond what they want; every thing/person narcissistically occurs only in relation to them. That’s understandable for children; it’s their natural evolving state. But, as George MacDonald wrote: Free will is not the liberty to do whatever one likes, but the power of doing whatever one sees ought to be done, even in the face of otherwise overwhelming impulse.

Children learn by modeling. What message are we marketing AT them? You’re never enough, and we’re never enough…unless you fit this claustrophobic shape/size/pattern/place/value/hot/happening/phat? The societal bar of “coolness,” the polarizing of hip and not-hip really needs to be cross-questioned, and thrown out.

There’s no “all or none.” We get to have “and & both.” All inclusive. Ants aren’t better than bees, hippos greater than worms, snakes superior to dogs, white over black, male over female.

Celebrate all that is, AS IT IS.

Reality? Reread this post’s title; accept both.

newness: routine vs. rapacity, part 2

For me, it’s really irritating to live in an indulgent society where greed for “stuff,” bucket lists, extreme experiences, and lately any experience/substance/body that one hasn’t encountered is considered cool (see wagging dicks, bouncing bosoms: newness, part 1). “Doing” instead of “being” the quintessential.

The extremes are obvious but it’s the ubiquitous invisible beliefs constantly studied and then media-fed to us that slay me. One crystal realm to see this subconscious struggle is with pre-teens and teenagers—one of the most beautifully vulnerable and most denigrated groups in our society— between what their spirit was born to do: connect, care, do “right,” play and what this dysfunctional society says is phat, hip, cool, or “fun.” Most of them forgo real fun for what’s hot, trendy.

Doing something one loves more than a couple of times, eating at the same restaurant, going in depth with an avocation, well, that’s “boring.” NEW is usually better than the same hike, meal, restaurant, the same genitals, activity, shoes, city, country… And even if we do repeat (and we all do) what we love that isn’t deemed cool, it’s like some senior-old-person guilty pleasure that we often justify or apologize for.

I like adventure and I like routine. We confuse NEW with true challenge and depth with monotony. Too many shallow “challenges” in life create chaos. Not enough sagacious varietal experience generates boredom.

O, the societal sin of being familiar. There’s middle ground; extreme breeds crazy.

Previous generations who stayed where they were, took road trips with the kids, (mostly) stuck to ethical mores, acted responsible (able to respond), invested serious effort in vitalizing their kids, had valid fulfilling work, well, celebrations and NEW were significant and meant something. “Special” wasn’t a daily seek & slake.

As with all mammals, routine establishes a sort of safety that authentically gives us the courage to face authentic stimulating challenges. Think art, writing, starting a business or learning to play an instrument. The NEW, the extremes, they see-saw our lives into addiction, impulsiveness, dot-to-dot existence and acting the goat. This is the stuff of undeveloped brains, like adolescents or emerging adults, because their cerebral matter isn’t all there yet.

If you’re under the age of 25, you get to be foolish and not see the bigger picture; this is your job. NEW is made for you! This is how you discover your bona fide Self. If you’re older than that, geez, you’re choosing immaturity and there’s no excuse.

Our culture is sophomoric because marketing likes it this way. Many of us don’t spend time thinking beyond the first spoon fed media thought. Time to act the adult and think deeper.

Being mature doesn’t have to mean humdrum, sexless, unmotivated. Really people, the infantile United States-ian “forever adolescent” is pathetically vanilla. And boring.