“Act confidently. Find the courage to commit to yourself.”
When I was watching a master dance class recently, the instructor, Gustavo, was riveting. But I found myself mesmerized by one young dancer on stage. She was so present and “in the moment” in the way that she absorbed the rapid-fire dance steps that Gustavo tossed at the class. The sequences given were complex and had to be executed quickly. Even before the instructor finished demonstrating them, the young dancer I found myself admiring was tracing his motions with her own body over and over.
Sometimes after practicing for a while, the students performed in front of the instructor in large groups. I’m sure one of the goals of any aspiring dancer was to catch Gustavo’s eye. But even when she was standing in the shadows on the side-lines as other groups performed on stage, my dancer was running through the steps on her own.
She was in her own zone focusing on her own body, going through the motions, doing more than anyone else, working harder, practicing more deliberately. She wasn’t just observing the instructor, she was enacting what was happening through her own body and in her own rhythm, using her muscle memory to pursue mastery. Somehow, even though she seemed very young, this dancer grasped that focused practice is the key to understanding. I’m sure she has a great future ahead of her.
What’s this got to do with us? Plenty. There are days when I don’t feel like doing what I’m doing — when I feel like slacking off a bit. It’s easy to stand on the side-lines and relax instead of working at full tilt. I’m sure you know the feeling. After all, who would really know if I didn’t reach the daily writing goal I’ve set for myself? Who would really care? It’s not as if someone is waiting to grab my just-completed pages and rush them into print.
So who’s watching? Well, me, for one. I’ve made a commitment to myself to write dangerously, to strive, to push myself to the next level. And you know who else is watching? My muse. She shows up when I do. And if she sees me slacking off, you can bet she’ll do the same.
How about you? maybe you’ve made a promise of your own to yourself, just as I have. Or maybe, you’re thinking about it. Let’s not just find the courage to commit to our work, let’s find the staying power to honor that commitment even if we feel that no one’s watching — that no one cares but us. And let’s write on.