"In every job that must be done there is an element of fun.
You find the fun and snap! The job's a game." ~ Mary Poppins
I'm a compulsive sharer. Sometimes it's almost impossible for me to get excited about doing a task unless I'm also sharing the process of doing that task in a way that might help someone else (or myself in the future). I'm often more fascinated with process of doing something than the something itself. As I sit here drinking my delicious Americano with sugar-free caramel at Grounds for Thought in Bowling Green, Ohio and gear up for my third Tuesday teaching marathon of the semester, I am drawing on the famous lyrics from "A Spoon Full of Sugar" to get my mojo going.
I've been meaning to blog for quite a long time. I had a blog years ago that I put sporadic effort into over the course of about seven years and it was pretty fun to have interactions with the occasional reader that got inspired. It was also fun to see that there were readers in different countries and I loved thinking about someone across the world having a slightly better day because I shared something about flute playing or teaching music that was meaningful to me. Here at the beginning of this blog, I think I'm going to go purely "selfish" and just write to help myself, knowing that all challenges are actually universal in nature and that anyone who stumbles upon my posts will be able to find something that sparks the inner knowing they have about what will work for them.
The longer I play flute, teach and become more of the human being I was always meant to be, the more I realize that everything is related. Like, everything. The micro is in the macro, the macro is in the micro ... you can solve problems, find motivation and "find the fun" in elements large and small of any task or moment in life.
As mundane as it sounds, I actually (finally) started writing this blog post because Inbox Zero has been fiendishly eluding me for weeks now. Ever since I read How to Be a Productivity Ninja by Graham Allcott, Inbox Zero has seemed like a worthy and often accessible goal. Unfortunately, just like when practicing flute, I always have the dual possibilities of a healthy, productive relationship with the concept or a toxic (never good enough) perfectionist one.
I am literally writing this post to get myself to face my Inbox. I know where the resistance is coming from. It's coming from thoughts like "too many emails," "too many steps to complete each task," "I'm not sure how to respond to this one," and "I don't have enough time." Luckily, I know that practicing music cannot thrive under such conditions and 90% of the time (now) I practice in a blissed out, timeless mental environment that allows me access to magic, mystery and a sense that anything is possible. Can I find that with these damn emails? Let me try ...
Here is my attempt at transferring what I know about practicing and teaching to the task ahead of me. I'm going to employ one of my carefully cultivated superpowers which I'll just call "free association." I breathe, relax my neck muscles, notice the easy mobility around my A-O joint (worthy of a blog post on its own) and remember that "Slow is fast and fast is slow ... controlling is chaos, instead CTFO." I connect to rhyming couplets like some people connect to hard facts. If it rhymes, it seems real. And ... ah! My first free association epiphany has landed. It's not about Inbox Zero. It's not about getting it done. Inbox Zero is the bonus prize, not the goal. The fun is in the process. It's in this email, right here right now. Just like when I will practice this week for upcoming recitals. It's not about getting the practicing done ... it's about this musical moment right here right now.
It's about the human being on the other side of the email. It's about the future possibilities and the current momentum that I have fueled with tiny action steps and gentle progress. One thing at a time. One breath at a time. One typed sentence at a time. It's not about a to-do list. It's not about busy brain. It's not about being perfect and winning the award for most emails sent. It's about connecting to this moment in my life that is happening NOW, not after I finish my emails.
I love the Brene Brown quote, "You cannot selectively numb." I can't just turn off my artist brain and my sense of wonder and awe and force myself to type type type until the to-do list is done. The emails will just flow in 3 minutes after I see Inbox Zero anyway. And on that note, my life does not resume after my Tuesday teaching marathon; it is happening in every moment of every lesson during the marathon. Every sentiment shared, every note played, every ounce of learning that happens on the student's part and mine ... it's all life, and I don't want to miss it.
Mission accomplished. I have not sent one email yet this morning, but I already know my inbox is not intimidating anymore. I am a beautifully flawed human who will respond to each and every email with the perfect timing, even if it's later than I thought it was "supposed to be." I also made progress by diving into this blog without knowing exactly how I'm going to proceed after this. Just like music and teaching, I realize in this moment it's not about the whole staircase, it's just about the next step. All will be revealed in time.
~ Terri Sánchez