“Seeing yourself from a distance as part of a landscape,” says David Brooks, is crucial to personal growth and the eventual mastery of a skill or a vocation. He’s right, I think: the virtuoso in any field may first excel on the strength of native ability, but ultimate and enduring excellence requires diligence and repetitive, routine daily devotion. And for most of us, that requires a wider perspective and a firm vision of ourselves at the other end of the journey.
But that doesn’t mean we should expect ever to arrive at perfection, as Maria Popova usefully invokes Anne Lamott to point out. “Perfectionism is always lurking nearby, like the demonic prowling lion in the Old Testament, waiting to pounce. It will convince you that your work-in-progress is not great,” it’ll fog your landscape. So, graduates, don’t forget “to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid… Pick a new direction, one you wouldn’t mind ending up at, and aim for that. Shoot the moon.”
That’s inspired advice. How do you reach the “moon”? Visualize yourself on that lunar landscape, and get on with your daily training.
One other thing I want to note this morning: a report from LA that seems to me to vindicate the approach I’ve been taking to my own daily training. “While it may seem counterintuitive to move more when moving hurts, a new study suggests about one hour of walking per day, at an average pace of 100 steps per minute, may be the perfect dose to ward off the debilitating effects of osteoarthritis.”
Not to mention warding off the debilitating effects of directionlessness, limited vision of a wider landscape, and inadequate preparation for that big juicy creative life.
In other words: shoot the moon, one day and one small step at a time.
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