Monday, October 7, 2013

Climb Out of That Box

Sometimes I think I am my own worst enemy. I have boxed myself and my talents into a neat package. It defines me. It makes life easy and predictable.

But, something I have learned in my 30s is that really any thing-any talent, any skill-can be learned. We really can do anything that we set our heart to-even being a brain surgeon. (Gifted Hands, anyone?) There is very little that is impossible or outside the realms of practice and sacrifice.

Thomas Edison maintained that genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. This from the man who invented the incandescent light bulb.

Malcom Gladwell, in his book Outliers, repeatedly states that the key to success in any field is in a large part due to practicing that skill for 10,000 hours.

How much is 10,000 hours? Years. At 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, reaching 10,000 hours would take over 4 years. At 70 hours a week, it would still take over 2 years.


Most of us aren't that dedicated. Or crazy-depending on your outlook.

I love this pic of Meres. I love her swinging arm. I love her independence.
 I love her determination to do despite the obstacles.
Some times these things drive me nuts, but I love her beautiful spirit.
One thing that running has taught me is that I really can do anything. Anything that I am willing to work hard for and spend time and effort on.

I started my running journey less than 5-1/2 years ago. Before that time I had all kinds of excuses as to why I couldn't run. I was too voluptuous. I never ran. I could walk quite fast, but not run.

I went from not being able to run a city block to running a half marathon. Yes, it took almost 2-1/2 years to get there, but I did it. And have run over 13 miles quite a few times since.

I realized that if I could start from that pathetic point and reach this other point, there were a whole lot more things I have said I couldn't do that I probably can do. If I want to.

How do I limit myself?

Some things I will never pursue, because they are not my cup of tea. I have no interest in investing 10,000 hours into them. Things like sky diving or downhill skiing or becoming a master gardener.

Some things I will never pursue more out of a combination of laziness and lack of becoming an Iron Man triathlete. I don't think I want to do that even for my bucket list. But, I may change my mind...

Some things I will never pursue because my dreams have changed. Like running a Bed and Breakfast or becoming a Marine or a lawyer.

Some things I haven't pursued purely because I have limited myself. And by limiting myself, I think I absolve myself from responsibility.

I limit myself all the time by saying I'm not an artist. Thus I get off the hook for house decorating and art projects.

But, the funny thing is, I have learned the past year or two, that while these may not be my strengths, I do love beauty. And while these my not be my strengths, I can still learn and improve my skill set (or lack of skill set) in these areas.

I can learn the base colors behind colors-like in paint-so I can my educated choices for my home's walls.

I can learn what patterns and colors go together because they are neighbors or because they are opposites.

I can put a tablecloth on my table and flowers in a vase. I can arrange food colorfully and ascetically.

I can learn to be a traditional artist. To the extent that I want to. By following tutorials. By practicing for an hour a day. Or a couple hours a week. By learning from others.

I am certain of this. Because practice breeds confidence and skill. And it feeds off itself in a wonderful cycle.

I am certain of this because ALL artists started somewhere, sometime. There was that first drawing or painting or sculpture. And they continued on from there. It may have been when they were 3 or 5 or 13 or 35 or 75. But, they all started...

I drew a peony with LC today. Let me repeat that...I drew a peony with LC today. We were illustrating her haiku and we looked at pictures of peonies on Google. They were so complicated. This stick person person was over whelmed. But, then I googled how to draw a peony and there was step by step instructions. As we did it together. And, it looks like a peony.

This person (me) who can't draw, learned how to draw a peony today.

I think sometimes we have to be willing to climb out of the boxes we have built for ourselves or allowed others to ensconce us in. The box is comfortable and familiar. It is easier to be static than to make the climb.

But, it is much more rewarding to climb out and to accomplish something we never thought possible.

It always seems impossible until it's done. -Nelson Mandela