I have been trying to do VEDA (vlog every day in April) this month, but I am horrible at finding something to vlog about. Mostly I’m terrible at picking up my phone and vlogging even when I don’t feel like it. (Yesterday’s VEDA was about my board games.)
It’s like the same muscle you use to write, or do anything creative I think. You have to do it even when you don’t want it. It’s not learning to do that thing. I know how to vlog, and I know what works best for me to get the words out. I know that sometimes I have to stop the camera and start again, deleting the old footage. I know that I can’t really edit it much afterward or it will never get done. I know these things.
But the desire to do it, the…what is the word I’m looking for? The stick to it-ivness of things. Going on, and pressing forward even when you don’t want to do it. Tenacity? Persistence? Maybe both.
I think that mental muscle — the one that helps you do a thing that you want to do even when there is nothing in your life to help you do it, nothing to encourage you, no forth coming reward from doing it — has to be exercised like any other muscle in your body. The rewards are so intangible and distant that we have to persevere and find small rewards before we find the large one at the end.
It’s like a dog getting a treat. You give him a treat for sitting, and he learns to sit when you tell him to. While all he cares about is the treat at first, the end result is a better environment, a happier home, and everyone has a better time of it in the end. But that end is so far off the dog can’t see that as the reward for his learning to sit on command. The two concepts can’t even meet in his mind, so instead he gets treats.
Humans, like dogs, can be trained in many ways. Our parents train us when we are younger. They teach us language, walking, sports. They influence our likes and dislikes. They teach us what is socially acceptable. And they even encourage self determination, or sitting in the back of the class and letting life happen to you.
Because that is what it all comes down to in the end. Are you sitting in the back of the class letting life happen to you, or are you actively chasing life by it’s tell and saying “this is what I want, this is what I’m doing, and this is how I’m going to try and get it. And if that doesn’t work then I’ll just try something else.”
My parents were very much of the first type. Sit down, shut up. Do as I say. Actually, it was more of a “we have our life, you go do anything that keeps you busy so you don’t interfere with our life.” My husband was the same. It was reinforced over and over for decades that I should be seen and not heard, and probably not seen most of the time either.
So I completely understand if you are having trouble taking initiative in your life. If you are having trouble coming out of the shadows and into the light. If you want to be seen and heard, and felt. If you want to be counted as a person with individual ideas and plans instead of part of the crowd. I understand, and I encourage it even when others are still telling you to sit down, shut up, and pay attention to what they are teaching. Even when the teachers are insisting that their way is the only way, so learn or get out. Even when the art council says “that’s not art because we don’t think so.” Even when every fiber in your body says “I want to sleep, or curl up on the couch and watch TV” instead of picking up the pen, or the paint brush, or the leather working tool.
I get it. I’m there with you. I want to create, but I also want to watch TV and read books. I want to lay out in the sun and watch the ocean dancing on the sand as the winds play over the vast expanse. I want to breath in the scent of delicate flowers, and fall into the soft nothingness of dreams.
And there is nothing wrong with all of those things. But the people who persevere, those who stretch that muscle that helps them to keep going even when everything is against them, they are the ones that will be remembered long after tomorrow has faded away. And that is a treat worth practicing for.