Scratch the itch

Sometimes in life, you’ve got to scratch that itch. Maybe it’s buying an old camper van you’ve always wanted. Perhaps it’s trying a new career, starting a company, living in New York City, making a road trip across the country, writing a book. Scratching that itch may lead to a significant life change, but it’s also may help you lay the ghost and satisfy you. You might love the old camper van, or you might find it’s a real schlepp to maintain, or that a flat battery on a rainy Tuesday morning really sucks. You might see that there are some really long dull spots in a cross-country trip and next time you’d be better off fliying.

Scratch the itch, it’ll satisfy you no matter what the outcome.

There’s no shortcut to mastery

A black belt in martial arts is earned.

I don’t know if it’s a myth, or there’s truth to the evolution of the black belt…but I like the legend better.  All masters begin their training with a white belt. The belt starts out white, but over time it gets dirtier, and stained with sweat and blood, and eventually it becomes stained black from years of training. In a lot of dojos, you don’t get to train until you’ve proved you are worthy of instruction. Sometimes that means volunteering in other areas and being invited to train after first demonstrating your commitment. It’s not “a pay to play” system. There’s no shortcut to mastery.

Mastering any art is the same. The answer is in the dirt. There’s no shortcut to mastery. Get in there and start practicing. Anyone can buy a black belt, but only some will earn it.

Activation energy

Sometimes the best way to start writing the next chapter of a book is to sit down and write. That sounds obvious, but it’s scarier to do when nothing is waiting to pour out on the page. Sitting down, creating space and time is sometimes the only activation energy required to break through the writer’s block.

It’s the same with exercise or getting some long overdue work project completed. Upfront activation energy is sometimes all you need to break through. A run around the block turns into a couple of blocks. Composing a response to one email you’ve been ignoring frees up energy for other things that need your attention.

It just is 

…”I had a discussion with a great master in Japan… and we were talking about the various people who are working to translate the Zen books into English, and he said, ‘That’s a waste of time. If you really understand Zen… you can use any book. You could use the Bible. You could use Alice in Wonderland. You could use the dictionary, because… the sound of the rain needs no translation’.”

– Alan Watts