Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dementors and Other Excuses



My goal of blogging every week has had a bit of a set back. Last weekend I was out of town for a family event so, I put blogging on the back burner. Then I got home and things started to unravel in me. Things in general have been a little off, been feeling like I'm just not where I want to be and not quite sure how to get there. Then I  had one of those weeks where it feels like a Dementor is standing on my chest. I had been deluding myself about a relationship and last week I was disabused of that delusion. And it sucks. It really really sucks. There's been a lot of pain and panic. Thursday I had a "sick day" because I couldn't eat, couldn't breathe properly, couldn't think about anything for too long without getting dizzy. When the one person who knows you better than anyone else in the entire world decides that they don't want to see you anymore, it's hard not to let that destroy you. The worst part is that I'm the one who ruined the relationship in the first place. To feel like this, like small parts of me are dying and bloating and filling up all the spaces where things like air and food are supposed to go- to feel like this and know that the only person I have to scream at is myself, it's hard to figure out what to do with any of that. It's hard not to just let the Dementor have his way with me. My mind sometimes just goes there. And it's calming. Thinking about giving up, it's like imagining yourself on a beach somewhere that you never have to leave. It just seems...so easy... So, I just keep telling myself that I'm stronger than this. I keep telling myself that everything will be ok. I keep telling myself that there are people and things worth fighting for, that I am worth fighting for and I am more than what I feel right now. And I'm not always going to feel like this. And I'm going to keep telling myself all that until I start to believe some of it.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

You too can be successful in only 10,000 hours!



When I worked at Borders The Tipping Point was one of those books that we always had in stock in abundance, and one that people were always looking for. We shelved it in the business section though, so I had no interest. I don't read those types of books; I'm a writer. I read novels, and poetry, and I dabble in history and science, and philosophy and...and well, anything BUT business books- or romance novels.

So, I judged The Tipping Point by the company it kept on the shelf, and its author as a result. But then I found myself in possession of this free copy of Malcolm Gladwell's new book, Outliers, so I figured I might as well read it.

I was hooked from the first paragraph. It's an easy read, but an interesting one. Gladwell looks into the lives of select groups of successful people and shows how talent is really only where you start from. In order to be truly successful you need a combination of hard work and opportunity. Which is pretty much what our parents have been telling us our entire lives, isn't it? It never really sank in with me though.

I've had issues with hard work for pretty much my entire life. Any time something was difficult, instead of telling myself that I just need to keep working at it, I told myself that it was hard because I wasn't good enough, or smart enough. I'm not entirely sure where I picked that up, or if I made it up, but it has had a pretty powerful impact on my life. I gravitate towards the things that are are easy and shy away from challenges, even if, and maybe especially if, it is something that I really want to do. -I am trying to change that though.

Let's take, for example, the guitar that has been quietly judging me from the corner of my bedroom since my parents gave it to me for Christmas 4 years ago. I was excited when I first got it, I mean, I did ask for it. The problem is I wanted to play guitar; I didn't want to learn how to play guitar. I tried to teach myself a song (the aptly named "Please, please, please, let me get what I want this time") found it challenging, and decided that meant that I wasn't capable of mastering this instrument.

Look ma! Guitar hands! (see I HAVE been practicing!)

Outliers gives me hope though. According to Malcolm Gladwell all I have to do is log 10,000 hours of practice and I'll make this guitar my bitch. If I practice 2 hours a day, 5 days a week, I'll be performing at Carneige Hall by my 52nd birthday.

Enjoy the spotlight while you can, Esteban. In 20 years I'm coming for you!

So the moral of the story is A- Go ahead and judge a book by it's cover (there really are some truly terrible covers out there) but not by it's shelving. I'm reading The Tipping Point now and it's quite fascinating as well!

B- Practice, practice, practice and I'll see you at Carnegie Hall.

oh yeah, and C- Read Outliers and let me know what you think!