Whistling, Ice Skating and Doing Everything
Originally posted: 02.02.2015
This post is about how to do everything you've ever wanted. Here's the secret, you just have to continuously do it. While to some this is blatantly obvious, you'd be surprised how many idealists and strategists like myself have trouble doing even one of the thousands of things we think about throughout the day. Every evening I make lists of the tasks to accomplish and actions to strive for. However, I often find myself falling short of these goals. I believe the secret to getting these things done is in repetition, and in doing.
I learned to whistle by looking like an idiot for months. During high-school, I had the absurd desire to whistle (I never could before). So what I did was spit everywhere, make weird noises with my tongue, cheeks, and lips, and generally fail to whistle. For months. Really, months. Driving to or from school, walking to or from class, and whenever else I could or got the urge, I would fail to whistle. The failure isn't that important, what the message is here is that I did it so many times that eventually I could whistle for a second. Then a few seconds. Nowadays I feel confident about my whistling. It's weird, but I swear, one day after the period of time when I could haphazardly whistle I suddenly found the right mouth position. I was so happy that day. Whistling everywhere, looking like a fool. But I realized what had happened. I had accomplished something that I really wanted to learn, by doing it again and again and again.
More recently (over the past month) for some reason or another I have been ice skating like three times. For me, this is a lot - I rarely go ice skating, and when I did it was fairly awful. I would fall consistently and although I was never afraid of skating (I still liked it), I never looked forward to it. This has changed. Guess how? Yes, I did it a lot (well, three times...). The first time was still pretty bad, I honestly didn't learn much that time. The second time I just focused on learning not to fall - to balance properly, and in the end, I guess I fell less than usual that time. It was a little surprising how much faster skating came to me after I just straightened my back and controlled my legs/ankles. The third time, I picked up speed - I feel as though I could really pass people, go where I wanted, and kind of enjoy the whole experience more. The third time felt as though everything had come together, I still fell once, right at the end (bummer right?), but holy crap did it feel good getting off the ice after the third time. I am so ready to go again. I learned a skill that I previously simply didn't have, and how? by doing it - again and again and again.
The Process and The Results
I hope the message about doing actions repeatedly in order to accomplish them has gotten across. At this point I want to just mention a related idea. Too often we think purely about the results - I want to be an astronaut. The thing is, wanting to be an astronaut doesn't make you one. Acting like, and being an astronaut makes you one. Wanting to do 100 push-ups per day doesn't make it so. Getting on your hands and knees makes it so. I think that if you want something, don't want it - want the process, look forward to the doing, not the done. The doing is where learning, and joy and mindfulness take place. The done is a place for contentedness, and laziness, and false happiness (is there a word for false-happiness?).
Now hopefully this didn't get too weird at the end, and I was still lucid. Doing things is one of the harder parts of life, so hopefully I can learn from my own writing and apply these principles to other things that are good for stuff like careers :| . Anyway, until next time.