Listening: "Carrie and Lowell" by Sufjan Stevens, "Memories Are Now" by Jesca Hoop
Fuel: Colombia Popayán Spring Harvest from Blue Bottle Coffee
Limitation. There is an interesting word. When did it become fashionable to think that 'unlimited' was the way to go? How long has 'anything is possible' been the mantra? I have fallen victim to it many times myself. I have thought to myself 'I can do anything I set my mind to!' Is that true?
Last year (2016), I thought I wanted to be an American Ninja warrior. I started training at the local playground with my 4yo daughter. It lasted about 2 weeks. I managed to get some pretty gnarly blisters on my hands, but that's about it.
I think, maybe, outside chance, I could have done it if I gave up everything else and just focused on that for 2 or 3 years. But whatever was tempting me, wether it was the pull of nationally televised glory, the million dollars, or the thought of becoming an athletic sex symbol, the pull wasn't enough to make me completely revolutionize my life and focus no that singular goal.
And you know what the really fucked up part is? My brain convinced me that I was a failure because I couldn't stick with it. Never mind all of the positive things that I was doing, being a stay at home dad, practicing my craft for hours every day, building a business from scratch in a new city, starting to actually get out of debt for the first time in my adult life. No, my dumb ass brain didn't count any of those things, only the thing I didn't do.
Whenever you decide to do something, anything, you are making a choice to limit what is possible in that moment. And each choice opens some doors and slams, locks, or destroys others.
Saxophonist Mark Turner told Physicist Stephon Alexander, in reference to Jazz improvisation, that "When I'm in the middle of a solo, whenever I am most certain of the next note that I have to play, the more possibilities open up for the notes that follow." That is a damn powerful statement and it's been shaking up my molecules in a big way.
Let me reframe it a bit. Consider this statement: when possibilities are infinite, progress is zero. That probably seems counter intuitive to at least some of you. It still hits me that way even though I believe it. Think of it like this. I'm driving. I come to an intersection. I can go straight, left, right, or hang a u-turn. Until I decide which way to go, I'm not going anywhere, but any of those is possible (barring traffic issues and such. Look, it's hypothetical, ok?). When I pick which way to go, that's the only way I can go until the next intersection.
So that's pretty shallow, but hopefully it makes sense. It's so deep, though. Think about it. If I had made the real choice to decide to do that half-baked ninja warrior thing (the guys and gals who do it aren't half baked, but it was a half baked idea for me to try it), I would have had to stop making music. Straight up, time is limited as shit (sorry if this is news to you) and I know for I fact that I'm not capable of both. The straight up, quantum level, trippy as hell bit though, is that when I was thinking about being a ninja warrior, and then sulking about failing, I wasn't doing either!
Pick a path wisely, and see it to it's end. If that's to much, pick a step and take it, but you better damn well commit to the step and accept the consequences. You can't be anything, but if you do the work to figure it out, you can be one thing, and if you REALLY do the work, you can be the fucking best at that one thing.
May you be creative with every breath!