Day 14: Drum beats and email management.

I launched my new website today.

www.smilodoncreative.com

Getting this long-awaited activity has somehow unblocked a whole slew of things that I'd been stuck on. It was like a really sad dam of sticks and dead fish and stuff, but in my mind. I wrote about this somewhat on my business mailing list.

One thing I am struggling to remember: Maybe you need to do a bunch of stuff, or maybe you just need to do this one task. It's always a better idea to do the one task.

What I really mean to say is I feel all caught up in some big change, some big momentum, and it takes a lot of willpower to surf instead of drown. But the water is starting to crest and I think I'm in the right place. Yesterday I got a haircut after 3 years of waiting. I launched my big website today. Tomorrow I will have some big progress in my ongoing money journey--I will know where all my money is going so I can really start budgeting.

What is it to feel stuck? It's sneaky, actually. It doesn't feel like when you can't get a jar open. It feels like when a screw is stripped and you spaced out while unscrewing it. 15 minutes later you're still twirling the same screw. How to get better about noticing the stuck feeling, attending to the detail that's holding me back? I don't know. Frustration is the wrong feeling to tie to this behavior.

What is it to feel unstuck? It's scary. It was scary to walk into the salon and say, let's do this. It was scary to tweet about my website. It's scary to keep writing, night after night. It's scary to get a dozen important things done and to know there are a dozen more waiting. It's also---it's like fresh air, or camping. Invigorating. Timeless.

I know there's a whole book on flow state, which I have not read, and I guess that's what I'm talking about--but I am looking for flow in the crevices of my life, not just in my Work. When do I get to a state of flow with my planner? What about my inbox? I know how to find flow while dancing. I know how to find flow while writing. But in the day-to-day, either I'm overrunning myself or dragging behind the cart when it comes to the boring stuff.

In any case, it's late. I launched a whole damn website, which has a lot more to it than some changed DNS records. I have to get to sleep. I have to move forward and find out where this goes next.

Today I listened to Questlove's interview on Fresh Air because Prince. At one point, Terry Gross asks a terrible question: Did your dad make you practice all the time, or were you just obsessive about it and practiced on your own all the time?

A alarm bell went off--that's not REAL, Terry Gross, that's not how humans ARE. But before I could articulate it in my mind, Questlove swoops in with a very good answer. He said that when you're young, you don't understand that practicing the same drumbeat for 30 minutes will get you somewhere. You don't know that you'll buy your mom a house with that practice. You want to hang with your friends. It's only when you're an adult that you begin to understand how it all works.

I was so relieved to hear him say that. The myth of the obsessed child prodigy (though if you are one, I am not sick of you) is boring and fake. We do what we do for so many reasons. It's only now as I'm trying to put together a life that is better and more interesting than what I've had so far that I understand where we sharpen our knives. And often it's something like playing a drum beat for 30 minutes. I finally understand that to be an artist isn't to just suffer operatically every day. It's not just to sit down and hammer out 2500 words every morning. It's not just to go to dance class or every show you can get tickets to or to sketch instead of listening at a work meeting. It's also the ways you seek understanding and mastery of your every day life. It's all small parts in the big picture. It's being obsessed with details and also realizing that the work will carry you along sometimes, if you let it.

But you still have to do the work, whatever "the work" is, which is a topic for another day.

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