Thursday, February 21, 2008

Just do it.

The first night in my photography class, our teacher said, "there's a two year learning curve on this stuff so don't get discouraged if you don't get it right away." Huh? Two years? That's crazy talk! You can forget two years from now, I'm already discouraged.

I think I'm getting better already - no Photoshop required!

I want instant gratification. I want to show up to yoga class looking like a schlumpadinka* and leave looking like Christy Turlington. When that doesn't happen, I have a hard time dragging myself back. Without results, it's tough to get motivated.

I've realized lately that motivation is kind of a lie. An excuse. You don't really need it. Sure, it helps, but you can accomplish the same exact thing with or without it. Am I motivated to do the dishes every day? Not even close. Do I do them anyway? Yes, on most days, I do. Can you imagine if I sat around waiting for motivation to strike? I doubt that would ever happen. (If it did, I think I'd be concerned. Motivated to do dishes? Get this woman a job!) Sometimes you have to take action first and hope that motivation will follow. Usually it catches up with me. About half way through the dishes, I actually feel motivated to finish. For me, that's huge.

The other concept that would really inspire me if it didn't instantly get an Aerosmith song stuck in my head is the whole, "life's a journey, not a destination" thing. (Now you probably have the song stuck in your head too. You're welcome.)

Think about it. If I do something (yoga, a photography class) just for the end-result (hot yoga body, mad photography skills), I am pretty much missing the point. If it's not fun or challenging or somehow rewarding to do something, why should I waste my time? I don't even know if it's possible to reach a destination if you don't enjoy the journey. If it is, I doubt it's worth it. You would feel totally unsatisfied.

This should have become abundantly clear to me following graduation from college. The whole time I was going to school, I just wanted to finish. My parents always stressed that they wanted my sister and I to graduate from college but never really told us why. I had no idea what I was supposed to get out of it other than a diploma so I just went for that. I never made friends or got involved or challenged myself to grow. I didn't enjoy myself or feel like I was learning. I didn't even think about it. I just kept going, and going, and going. Finally, after 8 years, I was done. Finished. A college graduate. And you know what? It was the biggest let down I have ever felt. Almost immediately I realized I had missed the point. I didn't have any college buddies or experiences I would look back on and laugh. I didn't network. I never let a class or assignment challenge me in any way that made me grow. I just took classes, did the work, and got my diploma.

It was all destination and no journey. If you ask me, it was totally pointless.

A picture of a picture that is stuck in a frame.
My sister is getting her Master's this spring.
Fortunately, she is taking a LOT more from her experience than a piece of paper.

Last summer in Hawaii I read a book about writing called Bird by Bird. The author stressed that most writers never get published so if that's the only reason you want to write, don't bother. I had always assumed I wouldn't get published so I never bothered to write. At all. That's the same reason I never drew or did art projects. Unless I had a specific wall space I wanted to fill with something I couldn't find in a store, I didn't see the point. Once I asked an artsy friend of mine what the painting she was working on was for. She just kinda looked at me. "I mean, like, are you going to sell it or do you have somewhere in your house you want to hang it? Why are you painting it?" She said she was painting it because she couldn't not paint it. I guess you call that inspiration. Or the desire to create for the sake of creating. The process.

Ah, the process, the experience - that's the point! Writing for the sake of writing is a perfectly fine reason to write. Or do yoga. Or go to college. Or take a photography class! Learning is the exciting part. Doing is pretty great too. Getting better at something you enjoy doing is amazing. Achieving? That's just icing on the cake.

*this was a test to see if anyone else saw Oprah yesterday.


Erin said...

You have me motivated!

And, uh, I still have that book, by-the-way. If I ever get to see you I will give it back.

Courtney said...

Looks like you had a one of those great "A HA" moments! Love this post! A good reminder to enjoy every bit of the process. I'm trying to do this too now that I'm a SAHM and have more "time" to pursue what I want, whether learning to be a better baker, or blog writer ;). Patience through the process will be a bigger payoff no doubt. Have fun with the photography! Have you ever read Twyla Tharp's book The Creative Habit? A great read!