How many songs do you still know from high school? The old band – cooler than ice cream in its day – revs up the radio and you’re right back, lyrics sure after all these years. Which is why Holistic Boy learns a lot of things through music. He had the optional challenge of memorizing the first 17 verses of Exodus 20 in the King James the past school year and so I went to work. After writing the melody, I found the perfect male baritone (for the voice of God), and recorded countless takes on the piano with Husband and Son on drums. The families in our homeschool community were given the best version to run at home. T and many of his homeschool friends learned it easily as we sang it a verse at a time in our weekly gatherings. The final stage presentation was open to anyone who wanted to perform it this spring, whether they had mastered it or not. Some who made Bible Master were too shy but I was so proud of the kids that night. We had five-year-olds up there. The 17th century diction and syntax were not easy but they got it.
1 And God spake all these words saying, 2 I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. 3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; 6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. 7 Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. 8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. 12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. 13 Thou shalt not kill. 14 Thou shalt not commit adultery. 15 Thou shalt not steal. 16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. 17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
“There are no two words in the English language more harmful than Good Job,” intones Fletcher, the monomaniacal music instructor in the film Whiplash. Isn’t good, after all, the enemy of the best? Fletcher’s psychopathic devices sucked me right into the vortex of the questions I ask as my son’s teacher. How much do I push? And how? With the promise of Pokémon cards? There’s the drum student Andrew in the movie. His single eye upon Whiplash, the jazz piece he determines to conquer, he denies himself even the distraction of girlfriends. Would I have my boy bleed in the pursuit of excellence? Of course not. Except, if he were Korean, the first time Andrew plows through practice as the blood on his finger oozes from useless band aids would’ve been cinematic cliché. Because falling short would’ve hurt more. So logic and genes say I should at least allow my son to bruise a little.
Last year when he was not yet eight, we went for the optional Memory Master challenge in our Classical homeschool program. Tennyson had to recite the hundreds of facts he had learned in seven subjects (English Grammar, Latin, History, Science, Math, Geography, Timeline of 161 events in human history) through four rounds of testing. Beyond the one mistake allowed per subject in the second round, he had to come through with 100% accuracy in the last two proofs. He was so close but made more than the one error in the second sitting. He had rocked the memory review games in class and the teacher told the director he knew his stuff. The director was willing to give him a chance at the next round of testing. I bowed out.
I could see he’d felt the pressure – from me. After some yoga out back under a full moon, his hippy dippy California mother had suddenly shapeshifted into Tiger Mom from New York. She kept putting raw meat in front of him. Testing season came, and once again her Old Self, the one who unblinkingly had bled for grades at his age, she found herself oh, ambitious for her son. On the cusp of the third test, I realized I simply should have started reviewing the material with him sooner. We were running short on time and though the potholes were few, we were cramming. I was drilling Tennyson in the little time remaining and overwhelmed, he got headaches and spilled tears of frustration. Sigh. He had bruised enough. I chewed the last of my raw lamb liver, the mineral taste and feel of flesh a sad memory in the swallowing. And in the privacy of my backyard morphed back into the California homeschooler who wanted to honor the sacred whole child and spare him the pain of that great modern evil, stress. What I really didn’t want was to get in – make the hallowed halls of Memory Masters – by the skin of our teeth. I could’ve kept pushing him and been able to applaud as his name was called in the awards ceremony. But I didn’t want to barely make it. I wanted him to own it. Mastery means mastery, not hope crossing fingers that he doesn’t slip in the testing. I loved how high we set the bar in the program, the tall demands we aspired to. I would submit to them. And when my son reached for them again, they would be his without question.
So he went for it again this year. And he did it. He went up on stage recently, where one-eighth of the students in Kindergarten-Grade 6 received their Memory Master certificate.
I paced the material in such a way as to prepare him months in advance and by the time testing rolled around, the countries and their capitals, the math multiples and linking verbs, each continent’s highest mountain and the history of Western Africa were in his bones. I found myself at peace in the third proof – fingers uncrossed – where he could’ve lost it all. After an hour-and-a-half, he came out of the room smiling. I had told him to enjoy himself and the teacher said yes, he had himself a grand old time. Two days later, he did the Hokey Pokey as we got ready to leave for the final test. So I’m not Fletcher. I didn’t throw chairs at my son for him to get it right. But Fletcher had zero tolerance for mediocrity (well yes, if you despise it) and that’s something to appreciate. I’m still trying to figure out just what it is Tennyson needs to give up while we uphold those standards but I can’t sit with the majority and tell my child he’s doing a good job when he can – and should – be doing an outstanding job. It wasn’t recognition I was after. At the most practical level, the journey was about nailing down a solid foundation of knowledge he can retrieve at will and use in the older years. But the process was really about self-respect. That whatever his resources and abilities, he discovers he can use them to turn possibility into reality. I love the scene where Andrew’s got it. He’s mastered the impossible Whiplash and, when he finds himself in the band competition, it’s a part of him. He sails through the piece, sticks dancing on the snare still stained with blood. His new reality.
Here’s a glimpse of what Tennyson learned this school year. I threw random questions at him from the year’s work for you. I am proud of him for keeping the joy and must say, of myself for not ruining it.
Math: Counting by 12s
What are the major groups of invertebrates?
Sponges, stinging cell animals, flatworms, roundworms, segmented worms, mollusks, sea stars, arthropods
What are the major groups of vertebrates?
Fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, birds
Latin Noun Cases
Nominative – Subject
Genitive – Possessive
Dative – Indirect Object
Accusative – Direct Object
Ablative – Object of the Preposition
First and Second Declension Noun Endings, Singular and Plural
English Grammar A preposition relates a noun or a pronoun to another word.
About Above Across After Against Along Amid Among Around At Atop Before Behind Below Beneath Beside Between Beyond But By Concerning Down During Except For From In Inside Into
Like Near Of Off On Onto Out Outside Over Past Regarding Since Through Throughout To Toward Under Underneath Until Up Upon With Within Without
History Tell me about the Age of Imperialism.
During the Age of Imperialism, the British established rule over India in 1858, and Queen Victoria was declared the Empress of India in 1877. Before his assassination in 1948, Mohandas Gandhi led the passive resistance movement, which helped win India’s independence.
Tell me about the Heian empire.
As the Heian government weakened in Japan, Shoguns began to rule and expelled all foreigners during the period of isolation. Circa 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry of the U.S. restored trade, allowing the Meiji to modernize Japan.
Some kinds of leaves and leaf parts?
Spines, needles, tendrils, bracts, bud scales, palmate
What are the four kinds of volcanoes?
Active, intermittent, dormant, extinct
What are the five major circles of latitude?
Arctic Circle, Tropic of Cancer, Equator, Tropic of Capricorn, Antarctic Circle
After going through my posts on the writing process, blogger Kevin commented that I seem to “write with intent rather than for ‘mere’ expression.” A lot of his poetry arose from the fun of it and the wish to express himself in a particular way. He also asked if I always analyze what I read, if I ever read just for the pleasure of it.
Which leads me to ask you: what is art?
First, the question on reading. I don’t pick apart to death everything I read – in part for the small matter of time. As for intent, let’s visit some accomplished artists. I would almost kill to be able to ask Michelangelo, “Can art be a whim? An accident?” Did he ever “merely” express? Can art be spontaneous? My right-brain readers are nodding away. Can art be discovery? The Sam Francis exhibit that once ran at the Pasadena Museum of California Art showcases some extraordinary work by a most interesting painter. “Paintings are my thinking,” Francis said. “Not about anything…They perform the unique mathematics of my imagination.” Is there then such a thing as chance in the art of mathematics?
Could we consult the Ancients in their wisdom? To this end, I veer off a bit to share some relevant thoughts on my blogging and the homeschooling that converged two years ago. A few months into the blogging, I came to see that what I’d been drawn to exploring on this blog were truth and beauty. Not long later in a seminar on Classical homeschooling, the speaker elaborated on the model I had chosen for our family; it was in essence about truth, beauty, and goodness. I was floored. We went on to hear a podcast featuring Andrew Kearn of the CiRCE Institute on the goal of education, which brought to light the meaning of the liberal arts. I’ve scaled it down to highlight some parts that bear on this post. Which of these insights resonate with your work?
Liberal spawns from the Latin liber [free]. Without these arts, we cannot know the fullest extent of human freedom. The Hebrews and a good many of the Greeks were the only ones in the ancient world who believed truth is knowable. Freedom is intimately related to perception of the truth. Education is learning to see deeply into the truth or essence of whatever is before you – be it spouse or garden. To see beyond the “accident of it,” the things that come and go. The lost tools of truth-seeking are the liberal arts: the art of grammar, dialectic, rhetoric (which make up the Trivium of communication); and arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy (the Quadrivium of calculation).
Harmony The Greeks looked at how people communicate. What leads the community to truth, to harmony? If a good man or woman speaks effectively, that is the glory of rhetoric. The mind wants harmony. Math is the ability to find this in the universe. If I tell you 2 + 7 = 5, you feel the disturbance in your mind. Astronomy is the study of shapes moving. Planet literally means wanderer. The Greeks discovered that when you examine the movement of the stars, you see patterns. Your mind can be disciplined and ordered to see things you cannot see any other way. Same thing for reading or learning another language. If you can’t do either, there is no way someone can get you there virtually. The way you know a scientific theory is by its beautiful harmony.
This approach to learning took my breath away. And it happened to dovetail this post I had been mulling over two months. What is art? To what extent is achieving harmony or articulating the essence of something the goal in your dance, your sport, your music? What is it about your painting that begs visual utterance? Do you find you’ve been in pursuit of ancient and timeless virtues? Beauty does not necessarily express happiness or cheerfulness. There can be great beauty in brokenness and sometimes, it is only among the ruins you find treasure. Years ago I looked regretfully upon some morose paintings by a gifted artist who had grown up in a nudist colony and believed she had a bipolar disorder. Her rich work was a window into a dark psyche. I felt they would reach her promise if her painful confusion were redeemed. I’ve said in The Writing Process, Part 1: Color that the darkness is an easy way in through the door of inspiration. But I now feel great art is more than bleeding all over the page.
Often honored as a process, art need not be defined by its product. But does a story not have a point? A reader quoted for me from My Life and My Life in the Nineties by Lyn Hejinian, “the anticipation of the pleasure of making sense.” In my writing, this expectancy is the wee hours of dark that prelude the stream of dawn, the knowing stillness almost as thrilling as the satisfaction of breaking light on the landscape of my intention. The objective, to get across exactly what I’m seeing. Though a poem may sing in metaphor, should it not sustain a coherence that draws assent from the reader? Is art random? Take the greatest masterpiece we can name, the human body. Illness is simply disharmony. And the life in the womb: there is articulation, a little body forging ahead in full purpose. Though to elaborate would be another post entirely – indeed I find order, truth, beauty, goodness in our wondrous frame.
I’m thinking aloud for the answers, surveying the fields of virtuosity. Instinct whispers the difference between war and the art of war. There’s straightforward violence. Or the boxer who flails struggling at the level of technique, trying to get the moves just right. But observe the fighter who executes with fluidity the right tactic among all the possibilities in that moment, and be enthralled by elegance. Through my brief time in mixed martial arts, I came to see the brilliance in the problem-solving we call fighting. I now understand the sense and logic of the art. It is geometry – angles, lines, space in motion. Just shift and turn to create the space your opponent wants to deny you and make your way out. Fighting is chess. I love the Greek appreciation of disciplining and enlarging your mind to possibilities. The thousand drills you hammer into muscle memory are the tools for conceiving your art. The unspeakable beauty of ballet is borne of training and toil, from endless run-throughs that demand reflex and mastery. I agree with Miles Davis that more than the sight-reader, the musician is the one who can improvise. But you need to know the grammar of the music to be able to create at levels above, though some who have gone without the training find it by instinct. What I’m getting at is that art comes by merit. The endowment suggests a certain caliber of performance, of craftsmanship.
Which then incites the question whether something can be art at the elementary or exploratory stage. How about your kids’ fun on construction paper? We don’t hold up the canvas of children’s imagination against the expression of Monet’s, but isn’t there, shouldn’t there be a standard of measure within a given range of age or capability? Here I circle back to my beloved. Standard.
As I set out in my writing and my son’s learning two years ago (as it turned out, upon the same road), I accepted the guidance of the virtues named in the Classical world. As marvelous our fascination with the Minotaur, so we cheer Theseus on and breathe again when he rids Crete of the senseless terror. The living nightmare makes for a great tale but we don’t really want to live in fear and endless night. We hunger for the true, beautiful, and good because for these we were made.
At seven-and-a-half, Tennyson memorized
the first seven verses of John 1 in Latin and
English in the homeschooling with Classical Conversations, a global home
education program based on the ancient
Classical model of learning. I set each text
to song and he downed them like dessert.
In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat
apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum. Hoc
erat in principio apud Deum. Omnia per
ipsum facta sunt: et sine ipso factum est nihil, quod factum est. In ipso vita erat,
et vita erat lux hominum: et lux in tenebris
lucet, et tenebrae eam non
comprehenderunt. Fuit homo missus a
Deo, cui nomen erat Joannes. Hic venit in testimonium ut testimonium perhiberet de
lumine, ut omnes crederent per illum.
In the beginning was the Word, and the
Word was with God, and the Word was
God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made;
without him nothing was made that has
been made. In him was life, and that life
was the light of all mankind. The light
shines in the darkness, and the darkness
has not overcome it. There was a man
sent from God whose name was John.
He came as a witness to testify concerning
that light, so that through him all might
Does money buy happiness? I’m not sure, but I do know it bought the $200 dollar suit, $40 leather shoes, and $20 dollar hair cut I absolutely needed to get hired. Money bought the civilized means that erased condescension, the social capital to tell my wealthy coworker he was an idiot. To be poor and respected – that’s possible only with the credible threat of violence and most people seem to prefer I avoid the thug life.
My body is made of money. Money buys fresh vegetables instead of bulk Top Ramen, which is another way of saying it pays for my normal, unmedicated blood pressure and didn’t pay for my hypertension as a 19-year-old. It buys my trips to the gym for basketball and medical care when I break a foot or sprain a wrist. Money means I’ll be able to walk when I’m 70. It renders the cost of laundry trivial. Money relieves stress, which is to say it saves me from the void of hopelessness sucking at my stomach. Money frees me from my second and third jobs.
It buys the presumption of innocence from police officers and, failing that, it buys lawyers. Lawyers make you innocent, as I learned firsthand in a rural Nevada jailhouse. The justice system suddenly became my friend. Money buys me car insurance or, when I’m in Korea, housing in the communities that have functional public transportation. In other words, I’d otherwise have no legal means to get to work. Money bought me real estate far enough away from the meth labs that I no longer hear the explosions.
Money buys me weekend getaways and first dates in nice coffee shops. Money buys, in some order, sex, marriage and offspring with a chance to be something in the world. Money makes a family possible. If I’m able to secure enough, money will give me a place the grandkids will want to visit someday, and not the mold-infested dump my grandparents died in. It will keep my future wife from crying softly over a checkbook and spare my children from lying like I did to protect the family honor.
I reflect and wonder if, perhaps, we buy a little more happiness than we’d like to admit.
When my father died, I kept the wooden box in which he had stored his tools. Dad worked as a plasterer, so the box is scarred and coated in plaster dust. But this box reminds me of all that I learned from him about earning a living. From Dad, I learned that loyalty and pride in your work are more important than how much you earn.
I was raised in North East England. For the first decade of my life, we lived in a small flat with an outside toilet. We bathed in a tin tub in front of the fire. Dad could have earned more working for another employer, but he was loyal to the small family firm he’d apprenticed to. He took pride in his work and often carried out jobs for family and friends for nothing more than a couple of packs of cigarettes.
We didn’t have much money, but neither did the people we mixed with. My friends were from our street, from my school. Those who had more money and lived in wealthier areas, those who spoke with less of an accent, were labelled “posh”.
Whether we like it or not, we inherit our parents’ attitude to money. I still carry the values that came from my traditional working class background: the need to work hard, be respectable, not act above your station, respect your elders and “betters”. My upbringing gave me a sense of fairness and a desire for equality. But in some ways, I always felt that I didn’t quite “fit”. I wanted an education and a career but I was the first generation in my family for which that was an option. When I achieved them, I would often underplay my success so that people wouldn’t think I had gotten above myself.
Just as having money can free us, so our attitude to it can bind us. I currently work as an area manager, responsible for a group of libraries and community buildings. My job and my lifestyle now would be categorised as middle class. Yet I will forever feel working class. I can afford to do the things my parents never could, but I’m not always comfortable doing them. I can eat in a fancy restaurant but never quite feel I belong there. I can be intimidated visiting an expensive shop. I value something because of its worth to me, not because it has a name that someone tells me I ought to value. I often feel guilty spending money on myself, because the purchases are things I want but don’t need. I would be horrified if someone called me “posh”.
I still feel as though I straddle two worlds: the world I was raised in and the one I have forged. Inside, I’ll always be that working class girl who never had much money. And I’m proud of the woman she has made me.
A friend of mine who suffered greatly caring for her ailing parents found herself an orphan in her 20s. She was left with such an inheritance that she could – by her own admission – stay in her room and live on take-out the rest of her life. Meaning, she was set. My friend was free to live not to work and to work not to live. As the obligation of employment did not weigh on her life, she was free to dream whatever she dared with the means to transform it to reality.
She lives with the guilt to this day.
Because, she says, it is her parents’ money she is sitting on, not something she herself had earned. No matter that she worked hard all her life in school, that she made it in the world of finance as an Ivy league graduate. When life served her comfort on a silver platter and swept clear her runway, she sank into depression.
Her response back then intrigued me as I looked on while flailing for a financial foothold, after I had managed to study and make it into the world of designer clothes and country club dining, my life before and after this season a hazardous patch of thin ice. I grew up watching my parents scrounge and sweat, life without money struggles a most curious fantasy. It happened to some but surely would pass me over. But the bitterness of the little girl became gratitude; in my newfound Christian faith, I realized that with so little I had nothing to lose. And provisions would come my way in the most timely moments. I was about to shop for wardrobe to interview for head of the Gifted and Talented Program when my mother fell ill. I rushed back home to New York three hours away from Pennsylvania to end up tied to her in the hospital until the eve of the big day. I was going to set out for the interview as unprepared as I could be when Mom sheepishly told me about the suit she couldn’t resist picking up outside a ritzy building on Lexington Avenue before I rushed over to her. She had spotted it in an expensive trash pile after a long day of babysitting. Fit me perfectly and though I walked into my important meeting late, having gotten lost in the rain, I got the job over the women who looked the part of the upper-middle class echelon. I felt like Cinderella, though I’m not sure she was a bookworm. The assistant superintendent of the district put to me a grammar question the Caucasian candidates couldn’t answer. I know. Some of you are smiling. See? Learn your grammar. When later that year I told my principal the tale of the castaway suit, she remembered the way I’d walked in that day, said I looked sharp, she never would’ve known. But Cinderella did have to leave the ball.
When I left the district, there I was again – savings now depleted and too sick to work on my 30th birthday. Money can’t buy happiness but it sure pays the bills and puts food in your mouth. I know what it is to teeter on a tightrope without a net. One semester in college I sold my guitar so I could eat. The black hand of powerlessness slips a mask over your head and breathing becomes difficult. Now, you’d think it’s freedom on the other side of poverty, on the wide green grass of options. But even there you can become strapped, or paralyzed. And instead of joy, you might find despair.
In his book and TED Talk, Barry Schwartz sheds light on what he calls the paradox of choice.
With so many options to choose from, people find it very difficult to choose at all. I’ll give you one very dramatic example. A colleague of mine got access to investment records from Vanguard. And what she found is that for every 10 mutual funds the employer offered, rate of participation went down two percent. You offer 50 funds and 10 percent fewer employees participate than if you only offer five. Why? Because with 50 funds to choose from, it’s so damn hard to decide which fund to choose that you’ll just put it off until tomorrow. And then tomorrow, and then tomorrow. So paralysis is a consequence of having too many choices. That’s one effect [of the power of choice].
Another is the escalation of expectations. This hit me when I went to replace my jeans. The shopkeeper said, “Do you want slim fit, easy fit, relaxed fit? You want button fly or zipper fly? You want stonewashed or acid-washed? Do you want them distressed? You want boot cut, you want tapered, blah blah blah …” My jaw dropped, and after I recovered, I said, “I want the kind that used to be the only kind.” I spent an hour trying on all these damn jeans, and I walked out of the store — truth! — with the best-fitting jeans I had ever had. All this choice made it possible for me to do better. But I felt worse. Why with all of these options available, my expectations about how good a pair of jeans should be went up. I had no particular expectations when they only came in one flavor. When they came in 100 flavors, damn it, one of them should’ve been perfect. And what I got was good, but it wasn’t perfect. And so I compared what I got to what I expected, and what I got was disappointing in comparison to what I expected. Adding options to people’s lives can’t help but increase the expectations people have about how good those options will be. And what that’s going to produce is less satisfaction with results, even when they’re good results.
The reason that everything was better back when everything was worse is that it was actually possible for people to have experiences that were a pleasant surprise. Nowadays, the world we live in – we affluent, industrialized citizens, with perfection the expectation – the best you can ever hope for is that stuff is as good as you expect it to be. You will never be pleasantly surprised because your expectations, my expectations, have gone through the roof. The secret to happiness is low expectations.
Finally, one consequence of buying a bad-fitting pair of jeans when there is only one kind to buy is that when you are dissatisfied and you ask why, who’s responsible, the answer is clear: the world is responsible. What could you do? When there are hundreds of different styles of jeans available and you buy one that is disappointing, and you ask why, who’s responsible? It is equally clear that the answer to the question is you. You could have done better. With a hundred different kinds of jeans on display, there is no excuse for failure. And so when people make decisions, even though the results are good, they feel disappointed about them; they blame themselves.
Clinical depression has exploded in the industrial world in the last generation. I believe a significant contributor is that people have experiences that are disappointing because their standards are so high, and then when they have to explain these experiences to themselves, they think they’re at fault. And so we do better in general, objectively, and we feel worse. There’s no question that some choice is better than none, but it doesn’t follow from that that more choice is better than some choice. There’s some magical amount. I don’t know what it is. I’m pretty confident that we have long since passed the point where options improve our welfare.
He knows me. I hate Walmart. I don’t care about the prices. Store’s just too big and I lose precious time searching for what I want. There are few things I loathe more than shopping for jeans, which is why I’ve stuck with two pairs the last ten years. This is what likely happened to my orphan friend: she became overwhelmed at the gala of work and life options that had opened for her. We pine and claim we could’ve done better if we’d been dealt a kinder hand. Loaded with all the resources anyone could hope for; money, time, smarts, education, she stared into the dark mirror. How could she best use her talents, make an impact, do justice to her parents’ gift of sacrifice? She was naked, stripped of excuses. What if her choice wasn’t good enough? Oh, the burden of getting it right.
Dinner one night, and Tiger Dad pushes wife about the schooling.
Husband: Does he know what nouns, prepositions, verbs are?
Wife: Honey, you know he’s been learning the definitions. He’ll understand better as he gets older.
He’s only seven.
Wife: Wait. Do YOU know what they are?
Funny look. PAUSE.
Husband: I know adverbs. They have -ly.
30 minutes later, 7:30 pm
Out all day on field trip and back from little man’s martial arts,
Mom walks in, puts on apron and gets to work on dinner.
Elbow-deep in dishes after the meal with one eye
on her Holistic Journey upstairs in the office:
“I’d better stop and get on the computer or I’m going to start resenting life.”
======================= Another day
Wife: So you got the mold off the stall?
Husband: Yeah (hanging head like he’s about to break bad news) but I couldn’t get all of it. We’re gonna have to hire someone next time.
Wife: NO. *Snort* You just have to keep it from building, clean more often.
======================= The other day
Dad asks son: Did you like Kung Fu Panda?
Wife: It was violent.
Dad: It’s KUNG FU.
After his fourth serving
Tiger Mom: No, Tennyson. No more. You’re literally eating into your lesson time.
You’re gonna have to stop.
Cub: But I’m still hungry. Please. PLEEASE, I BeG you.
According to Malcolm Gladwell, behind the genius of high-achievers that leaves us awestruck is really just 10,000 hours of practice.
Let’s see what this might look like for you as a drummer, Tennyson:
You’ve put in at least 500 hours thus far.
1 hour of practice a day, 35 free days in a year –>
the next 5 years –>
1650 hours plus the 500 = 2150 hours by the age of 12
The next 12 years, double the daily hour –>
660 hours every year, a total of 7920 hours
plus the ones from the first 12 years = 10,070 hours by the age of 24
Unless an earthquake brings this house down or you find yourself with a single parent, you will continue to have every opportunity to play. And even in the tightest straits we will sell the furniture before we touch your drums. Every hour on the set you’ll get to exchange for more options as an adult musician. Every hour brings your dreams that much closer within reach. You easily played for an hour-and-a-half when you were five. It is up to you whether you want to hit your 10,000 sooner or later than 24. But a good idea to develop your art as deeply as you can, find its place in our world before you settle down? Keep those two hours a day sacred and you will learn self-mastery, excellence, and your happier self. We know the more we love our music, the more we love it, right? Play your joy and never make excuses. I don’t want you to end up looking on as Joe blows smoke out of his set, saying “I could’ve done that.” He just practiced longer than you.