Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Wobbly Bits

One of my theories on happiness is that much of our lives is path dependent. Tiger's dad happened to love golf. The Polgar sisters' parents loved chess. Perhaps we could have had Grandmaster Tiger and the Polgar Golfers had circumstance been different. I am not just thinking of superstars or the influence of parents. Maybe you meet a friend who loves cartoon drawing so you start and go on to be Zapiro. I have no idea if that is how Zapiro started drawing, but some random set of events led to it. 'He' (since he wouldn't be he) may have been born into a situation which didn't support creativity.

It is nice to think we will eventually discover our inner talents or sources of joy whatever the lay the land. One issue is that the initial bit of picking something up and realising we love it presents some barriers. Whether parents, friends, circumstances or frustrations stop us, I get the sense that sometimes we might be living our lives parallel to an 'alternate self' that has discovered a great source of meaning, pleasure or satisfaction.

So I have been thinking of the concept of 'first 100 hours'. 100 hours is a chunky period of time, but not something so intimidating that you can't fit it in. If you can find 5 hours a week, it would take you 4ish months. If you are super keen and have a week off you could put in some intense hours. There are lots of things that give other people meaning or satisfaction that aren't immediately enjoyable. They require some investment. I am interested to see how close you can get to seeing why these things give such joy by investing 100 hours. I am going to pick up a few of these projects and would love it if the readers of this blog would pick up some of their own. It would be great to be in touch and get your stories. I would like to see how much of a dent can be made in learning to dance, surf, ice-skate, rock-climb, speak another language, cook, play chess, etc. etc. in 100 hours. It is not so much about the time. I am less interested in the efficiency part of it and more in how you overcome the barriers to get a taste of the juices of the pursuit. Why is it that others love these things?

An example of the barriers is wobbly fingers. I am trying to learn to play the piano. I have a little video clip I attempted to share in this blog post, but figuring that out is clearly something I have to learn too. The clip shows my fingers wobbling like an infant learning to walk as I try get them into an awkward configuration. Another area it reminded me of is Yoga and various bits wobbling as you try and stretch and strengthen them. Piano seems like Yoga for the hands. The body and mind do have 'use it or lose it' tendencies and are very efficient at shifting muscles and energy to where they are needed. This does mean that the initial stages of saying that you actually want to use those bits that haven't been used are somewhat awkward. Like walking though, once you get through the wobbling, it just comes naturally and you can think and feel others things. The pianist dives into magical worlds of emotional expression. The walker listens to audio books or enjoys nature. The yogi is able to sit comfortably and think of nothing other than her breathing.

You just need to get through the wobbly bits.

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